YOU want provocative? Try Short, Fat, Ugly and Chi nese, created by that British-born phenomenon, Pui Fan Lee. ''She's short and a little chubby, but definitely not ugly,'' says Benny Chia. The Fringe Festival director is right. The irrepressible Ms Lee, daughter of humble immigrants from Hong Kong, is undeniably cute. And she probably felt 10-feet tall after winning the Commission For Racial Equality's 1993 Radio Drama Award for her brilliant one-woman autobiographical play. What triumphed on BBC Radio 5 works even better on stage, reckon London's theatre critics. ''Full of exquisite comic trauma,'' wrote James Christopher in Time Out after seeing Short, Fat, Ugly and Chinese. From January 15 to 18 at the Fringe Theatre, Hong Kong audiences will be able to share in Pui Fan Lee's romp through her formative years in Nottingham. It includes her first snog on a London-bound train - a complete stranger, if you don't mind - and her scathing reaction to the ''tacky bargaining'' over her sister's arranged marriage. It should be a dynamite piece of theatre and its underlying message could well be the theme for the 1994 Fringe Festival, to be held at venues across the territory from January 14 to February 5. ''At last we're independent,'' said publicity head Elaine Wong yesterday. It's true. For the first time, there will be no overlapping between the Fringe Festival and the month-long Hong Kong Arts Festival, which kicks off on February 15. Timing apart, there is no danger of confusing the two; not that there ever has been. From the start, founder-director Benny Chia has made the Fringe synonymous with the daring and offbeat, and imposed none of the restrictions of more formal arts festivals. ''We don't really have a selection policy; the Fringe has always been a free-for-all,'' says Chia. ''On the other hand, having an open platform hasn't stopped us from seeking out things that we felt should be in the festival. ''I don't see those two philosophies as being contradictory. They've worked fine for us for 12 years and we're quietly confident that the 1994 festival will be seen as the most innovative yet.'' As usual, local talent will dominate, and it's significant that at least one major outfit, the City Contemporary Dance Company, chose to go with the Fringe rather than the Arts Festival for 1994. As for the imported fare, take a deep breath because much of it is sure to leave prissy Hong Kong gasping. Total nudity, cross-dressing, blood-lust; name your favourite shocker and you'll probably find it in festival's action-packed programme. San Francisco's Osseus Labyrint (The Inner Ear), featuring in-the-buff performers Mark Steger and Hannah Sim, typifies the adults-only fare, though voyeurs had better be warned: this is Butoh, taken to the most esoteric limits of that Japanese art form. What's more, there will be a double dose of it. ''Back-to-back, actually,'' says Chia. ''As well as the Americans, there will be an Asian group interpreting the same piece.'' Going solo will be some of the festival's biggest attractions. A special coup is Boston's Richard Lerman, who will not only present his acclaimed electronic music theatre, but lead an astonishing open-air spectacle at Tolo Harbour on January 25. It will coincide with the Fringe Festival's Arts Fair at Sha Tin, though threatening to upstage the bevy of street performances and handicraft stalls will be Lerman's Travelon Gamelon, featuring a small army of cyclists making music through plastic pieces attached to the spokes of their wheels and amplifiers fitted to their handle-bars. In a more conventional setting will be several other barrier-breaking performers from abroad, including Budapest's Yvette Bozsik who will lead her company in The Soiree at the Fringe Theatre from January 27 to 31. ''She looks like a young Brigitte Bardot,'' says Chia of the ex-ballerina described by another admirer as ''one of the most hotly tipped young theatrical talents in Europe''. In her most notorious show, Living Space, the blonde beauty performed naked in a sealed perspex box until she ran out of oxygen. In Hong Kong, Bozsik and her fellow artists will be dressed, though The Soiree, based on Jean-Paul Sartre's play Huis Clos should be absorbing. ''Precise, sexy, comic and brilliantly characterised,'' said The Independent. Lavish praise has also been heaped on American actor-mime Daniel Stein (Fringe Theatre, January 20 to 23) who will be teaching his art as well as performing in Hong Kong. ''A genius,'' says Chia, who recently took a workshop conducted by the Paris-based protege of French master mime Etienne Decroux. Making a sizeable impact at the Hong Kong Fringe will be Australian talent including leading Sydney photographer William Yang whose slide show Sadness will be presented at the Fringe Studio from January 29 to February 1. Born in North Queensland, this descendant of Chinese migrants, who went to the gold fields 100 years ago, describes himself as ''a photographic witness of our times''; often harrowing times, as Yang shows in studies of friends afflicted with AIDS, thoughthere are also many warming images as he traces his family history. Celebrity of a different kind from Down Under will come to M at the Fringe (January 26, 28 and 29) in the riveting form of Paul Capsis, winner of the Diva Award for Best Live Performer in 1991 and described in the Los Angeles Times as ''a transvestite cabaret singer who can actually sing''. Threatening to rival the Diva will be Melbourne's five-member Hunting Party whose assorted talents - a capella singing included - are said to fall somewhere between ''feminism, comedy and blood-thirsty Amazonian war-mongering''. Conventional theatre? Loads of it, with some of the best coming from Britain. Playing at the Fringe Studio from January 25 to 28 will be Rose R: A Brief Awakening, adapted from one of the case studies in the book Awakenings by neurologist Oliver Sacks, and featuring Margot Nies. Dramatising one of the most controversial murders in American history will be Britain's Arts Theshold with The Lizzie Play. Did Lizzie Borden take an axe to her family on the morning of August 4, 1892 at her home in Fall River, Massachusetts, or was there a violent miscarriage of justice? See Deirdre Strath's splendidly Gothic drama at the Fringe Theatre from January 14 to 19, but make haste to the box office. In London, The Lizzie Play was a sellout.