FRANKIE NG HING-LAM leads a double life. Some days he is a Hong Kong Island taxi driver. The rest of the time he mixes with film stars and celebrities. If this is difficult to believe, just take a ride in his cab. To prove his show business credentials, the 53-year-old wheels out snapshots of a veritable cast of famous actors and actresses, from former porn star Amy Yip Chi-mei to Hollywood heavweights Chow Yun-fat, Jackie Chan, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Stay in his car long enough, and out come albums filled with pictures of him and Taiwanese singer Teresa Tang Lai-kwan, rock band Beyond, crooner Alan Tam Wing-lun, Canto-pop king Sam Hui Koon-kit and even Hollywood's Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner. Over the past 13 years, he has amassed 2,000 photos of himself with celebrities. When he's not behind the wheel, Ng works as a film extra. He drives what is believed to be Hong Kong's only taxi that doubles as a mobile photo gallery and is determined that every passenger sees his collection, which he regards as 'free entertainment'. He is convinced his taxi is unique. 'This is the only one on Earth,' he says. His 'starcab' has also had its 15 minutes of fame with features in newspapers, magazines, on TV and radio. He loves publicity and regards interviews as being as good as 'winning the Mark Six'. His in-cab service isn't limited to the gallery. Once inside, his captive audience is treated to tapes of his TV and radio interviews. Ng's motivation for all this is simply to make a connection between taxi driver and passenger. 'I am a chatterbox, I can't bear being bored and love talking to passengers. I learn a lot,' he says. Cabbies are not just faceless chauffeurs, he says. 'Taxi drivers are usually thought to be cold and expressionless, but I want to prove otherwise,' he says proudly. To initiate conversation, he displays several pictures of his most famous fares next to the meter. Inevitably, his passengers ask questions, which is Ng's cue. He hands them his albums, stashed next to him in two leather bags, and discussions invariably ensue. It all started in 1988 when, bored by his driving job, Ng looked around for an interesting sideline. A friend, who worked as a movie extra and had two trophy albums of pictures with stars, gave him the idea. 'I thought what he was doing was brilliant. I thought to myself, 'can I do that too?'.' Armed with an automatic camera, Ng leapt into his extra work and started snapping stars on the set during breaks in the shoot. His collection has grown and now fills 25 albums. About 1,500 are of local and international stars from the US, Japan and even Africa. He used to post the pictures inside his cab, but after some were stolen by passengers, he stores them in his bags. He has an encyclopaedic memory and remembers where he puts each picture, filed under album headings such as 'Miss Hong Kong and female singers', 'Pop queens and movie stars, Number 17', 'China Japan female stars - with autographs' and 'Japan Hot Stars'. Even though they are famous and he is an unknown extra, they are all, according to Ng, his 'other half' in the pictures. Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, Anita Mui Yim-fong, Andy Lau Tak-wah, Leon Lai Ming, Tony Leung Chiu-wai - all were willing to pose with him. Ng makes extra copies to give away. His collection gets the thumbs-up from passengers and movie stars alike, including Hong Kong's top film comedian and director Stephen Chiau Sing-chi, who has also been a passenger. Ng has a photograph of himself with Chiau in his first role as a gambler in a TVB comedy, but the star couldn't remember him. 'He looked at my pictures and praised me, saying, 'you are the only one with such a huge collection of pictures taken with movie stars',' Ng says, beaming.Not everyone approves of his hobby. His wife Siu Oi-wah, 41, is jealous, he says. 'She is afraid that I'll meet girls by taking pictures with them. Actually, only about 10 per cent of the movie stars know me, they forget me as soon as the picture is taken.' The father of two is no matinee idol - he is short and chubby and sports a pair of thick, old-fashioned glasses to make his eyes look bigger, after passengers accused him of sleeping at the wheel. But his wife is not happy about his collection. Once, several years ago, she threw away piles of his photos. Since then he has kept them in his cab. Whenever his wife rides in the taxi, the pictures are hidden away. He demonstrates his quick-fix technique by swiftly yanking down sticky tape attaching several on the dashboard and tucks them behind the visor flaps. He tells his wife that he no longer takes pictures with stars, and so far he seems to have convinced her. After all, he is an actor, say his friends. 'His acting is good - he becomes very involved in his role. Whenever he is on the set, he is very serious,' says fellow film extra Peter Kwok, who has known him since 1995. Ng loves to act, and has been an extra in more than 150 films and TV dramas, for TVB, ATV, RTHK and even Macau TV. They're not everyone's idea of plum roles - mostly he plays perverts, incestuous fathers or loan sharks. He has also been a beggar, watchman, taxi and mini-bus driver, bank manager and big spender. His favourite role so far was as a justice of the peace in Kawashiwa Yoshiko, which starred Anita Mui as a Chinese spy who betrayed her country in the Sino-Japan war. Working as a film extra is not the only way Ng gains access to the stars. He also reads entertainment news and gets tip-offs from friends on celebrity hangouts. Sometimes the stars get away - he missed the chance to snap Sylvester Stallone after he picked him up at the airport. 'He got into my taxi and seemed to be very interested in the photos. I really wanted to take a picture with him, but I had forgotten my camera,' he says. After snapping every noteworthy local star, Ng widened his viewfinder to include anyone high-profile, including union official Lau Chin-shek, legislator Andrew Wong Wang-fat, television tycoon Run Run Shaw and socialite couple Kai-bong and Brenda Chau. He gets close to local prey with the help of a part-time philosophy teacher at the University of Hong Kong who takes him to annual balls and cocktail parties at festivals such as the Double Ten. Not surprisingly, Ng met the academic in his taxi. Passengers ask him about stars and gossip, and for pictures. Ng prepares colour copies of the most famous, which he gives to passengers free of charge. Others even follow him to TV stations to meet stars. Emily Au Yeung Yin-ping, 36, another fare, discovered Ng one night in 1995 when she and three friends took his taxi. The shop assistant was overwhelmed by his collection. They left him their phone numbers and, a week later, he called. 'He said he would take us to ATV, I was so excited I couldn't sleep,' she says. Several dozen passengers have become his friends, and some have even asked him to introduce them as extras, which he has managed to do for a few. His hobby has brought him not only interesting conversation, but also more fares and extra tips. 'Often passengers are pleased with the photos and force tips on me, they say the money is for the 'free entertainment',' he says. He was once paid $1,000 for a $300 ride after taking a Japanese tourist to ATV to see Jackie Chan on set. But creating more enjoyment in his work is what motivates him, rather than the money, Ng says. To substantiate this he tells the story of handing in a purse containing $100,000 left on his back seat by a Taiwanese couple. For this he was recognised with a good service award from the Hong Kong Tourist Association in 1995. After taking pictures of others for so many years, has he been asked to be photographed himself? 'You've guessed,' he says, pausing, 'of course, many tourists ask to take photos with me, they even video me in the taxi. They say I am a star, I tell them I am not, but they don't care.' Want to ride the 'starcab'? Call Frankie Ng on 6086 1792.