Gigi Chao - reluctant celebrity
Wealthy people are definitely different. Not content with having her father publicly “out” her and drag her through the world’s press by offering a HK$500 million bounty for a husband to make her straight, lesbian Gigi Chao has now given a full sit-down talk to Hong Kong Tatler. Sorry, that should read full sit down helicopter ride, with pilot Gigi at the controls as she whisks the scribe over dad Cecil’s Pok Fu Lam spread Villa Cecil, which also doubles as her helicopter pad.
What emerges from the several pages of surprisingly unsycophantic prose is how sanguine Gigi claims to be about something that must have caused her considerable embarrassment. And for most daughters, would have been enough to sour relations with Papa for years. Not so Gigi.
Her description of the events last September which followed her low key Paris civil partnership wedding to fellow lesbian and partner of seven years Sean Eav will no doubt raise a few eyebrows.
Bachelor Cecil, 76, warned she’d never be accepted in high society unless she was married to a man.
This is indeed rich, coming from the notorious lothario, who proudly claims to have bedded more than 10,000 women, and never married any of the mothers of his three children, of whom Gigi at 33 is the eldest. The following day, Tatler reports, he called a press conference and announced to the media that Gigi was neither gay nor married.
More than 20,000 would be swains besieged her Facebook page. War veterans, gay men and even George Clooney’s former body double made offers. One man wrote every day for five months, describing his erotic fantasies about her. A mainland Chinese woman offered her own husband. The things people will do for money.
There was also hate mail, abusive and threatening emails and a package of medicine to cure her of her “ailment.” The poor girl was so run off her feet she had to employ someone to process all the messages. She was amazed to find a crowd of Casanovas camped out in the lobby of the family offices, Cheuk Nang Plaza in Wan Chai, when she tried to go to work – she runs model management and public relations company Haut Monde Talent. Bearing chocolates and red roses they had flown in from Africa, the Middle East and Europe to try to woo her.
The Story Goes On…Screen
Hollywood comedy director Sacha Baron Cohen, famous for Borat, sat up and took notice and is set to play Cecil in the movie – working title The Lesbian.
Bizarrely, Gigi tells Tatler that dad Cecil was just expressing his fatherly concerns by saying she was not gay and needed a husband. “It was just Daddy flexing his social muscles. I think he meant it in a light hearted way but there world media picked up on the story and took it a bit too seriously,” she tells Tatler. She claims she actually found the whole thing quite entertaining.
“Daddy thinks society won’t accept me unless I marry a man. He was just expressing fatherly concern. I actually feel lucky to have such a loving parent.” In fact, she claims all this has brought her closer to Cecil, with whom she lost contact after moving to live in the US aged 11 with her mother, former actress Kelly Yao. She says her mother is “the most critical voice in my head.” The evangelical Christian taught Gigi that if you want your children to be good people you have to be tough on them. “I always think if I can handle mum’s harsh criticism then everything else is smooth sailing.” That thick skin must come in handy now she’s an unwilling gay icon. But no tears for Gigi. “I’m just a normal girl going about my daily business.” Like I said, the wealthy are certainly different.
Despite being out of the closet herself, Gigi is not comfortable opening the door for others. It seems Hong Kong society is packed with closeted guys and girls. “A number of well known Hong Kong people have asked me to help them to come out,” she confesses. “I felt very humbled because they said I would give them the strength to help them to finally do it.” The Hong Kong Tatler scribbler must have been on the edge of her seat.
But rest assured, the social pages of the socialites’ bible are safe for another month. ”Of course I’m incredibly supportive, but I tell them it’s something they have to do for themselves,” says Gigi, sensibly. Gigi admits that many in her circle are still stuck, miserably, inside the closet. She says she knows people in high society who are forced to live a lie because their family won’t accept who they truly are. “Some are sent away to live abroad. Others just settle down here, have a family, and pretend to be straight.” Tatler readers will be all-aquiver with this news. “It’s a tragedy that people still feel this way, but Hong Kong is still a very conservative place,” she laments. Well, if these folks seriously need a little help with coming out, they should just ask Gigl’s father Cecil.