Flat Earth theory, internet challenges, kitten videos ... If you wonder where appealing to popular demand can lead, then look no further than the “Category III” adult entertainment trend rife in Hong Kong cinema of the 1990s. The Category III classification was created in 1988 with the introduction of Hong Kong’s film rating system. Films under that rating are forbidden to any viewer under the age of 18, and are typically classified as such due to explicit scenes of sex and violence. God of songs ... and property: Jacky Cheung’s US$55 million Repulse Bay flat Then in 1991, Veronica Yip did the unthinkable. Experiencing tepid recognition as second runner-up in the 1985 Miss Asia Beauty Pageant, she ditched the respectable beauty queen career path and took part in Take Me – an erotic Category III film. It was a huge commercial success, and filmmakers and producers began looking to other struggling mainstream actresses to star in similar roles. And falling prey to some kind of post- Deep Throat curiosity of forbidden fruit, the public was clearly intrigued, going to the cinema in droves to see normally conservative actresses undress to varying degrees on the silver screen. 5 Hong Kong stars who opened up about their mental health struggles But the trend ran out of steam just as quickly. Pornography is also illegal in mainland China, where local filmmakers were turning for greater profits, which also led to the dampening of the trend. It wasn’t all for nought, though, as the soft-core erotica trend did launch a few careers – while causing collateral damage to some. Let’s look back at the familiar faces of that period and where they are today. Veronica Yip This pageant queen that shot to stardom starring in Category III films actually did quite well for herself. With the fame and recognition, Yip was able to transition from erotica to a singing career, and then to starring in more mainstream feature films as well as hosting television variety shows. She’s credited with paving the way for other actresses like Shu Qi to make the switch, too. Yip married New York grocery store magnate Jeffrey Wu in 1996, and together they share three children. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the business hard and it was reported in 2020 that Wu recently filed for bankruptcy, reportedly owing up to US$50 million in debt. Pal Sinn A talented musician in his own right, Pal Sinn was the bassist for Hong Kong 80s rock band Blue Jeans. A talented actor as well, Sinn is noted for his role as wealthy womaniser Ximen Qing in The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus , for which he received a Hong Kong Film Award nomination for best new performer. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jenny Wong (@ilovefilmstillzzzzzz) However, his portrayal of one of the biggest womanisers in Chinese literature stuck. In the 80s and 90s, he starred in a string of Category III films such as Erotic Ghost Story and The Forbidden Legend , which were box office hits. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Gregory Lee (@drift_greg) Sinn married his actress wife Paisley Wu in 2008, and the couple now star in campaigns, variety shows and reality TV. The glamorous lives of Hong Kong’s richest actresses Elvis Tsui Anyone who watched Category III films in the 80s and 90s will recognise Elvis Tsui, who was often cast as the bad guy or, more often than not, a sexual predator. An alumnus of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, Tsui was also a graduate of the 10th class of TVB’s acting training programme, where his peers included Andy Lau , Carrie Ng, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Anthony Wong Yiu-ming. Tall with strong features and dark eyebrows, Tsui played many antagonist roles after graduation and was approached for similar characters when the soft-core erotica trend took off. View this post on Instagram A post shared by LOVE_HKmovie (@love_hkmovie) Settled in Beijing, Tsui has now returned to his artistic roots. He’s formed a creative collective called 混空間, which means “Mixed Space”, to promote Chinese art overseas, as well as setting up the Xu Jinjiang Art Center in Anhui. His works have been on display in Paris’ Grand Palais as well as appearing in a series of China Post’s stamp collection. Amy Yip Known for her small frame and voluptuous figure, Amy Yip famously starred in Sex and Zen , the highest-grossing Category III film in Hong Kong. The films Yip starred in were mostly racy, but she apparently hasn’t appeared fully naked in any of the films she took part in throughout her career. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Алексей Антонов (@moviesmoviesmoremovies) Yip started to retreat from the limelight in 1994, reportedly to spend more time with her surgeon boyfriend Dr Sammy Sek Chiu-lui. In 2006, reporters from East Weekly caught up with Yip walking her dog in the Repulse Bay neighbourhood. She said she was in a steady relationship with her boyfriend, but did not plan to get married or have children. When asked if she was planning a comeback into the entertainment business, Yip dismissed the notion, saying that she was happy with her current lifestyle over the long hours and intense travel of showbiz. It was confirmed in 2018 that Yip’s boyfriend had died from a heart attack. Is this Hong Kong’s best new private members’ club? Diana Pang With her notorious 36F bra size, Diana Pang was crowned “Divine Bosom” by the Hong Kong media. A trained ballerina, Pang often facetiously did the splits in many of her roles and variety show appearances. Starring in many soft-core films – again, without going fully naked – Pang was rarely the female lead, but rather starred in supporting or antagonist roles. In a surprising turn, she became a politician in 2013 when she took on the role as a member of Gansu province’s Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Simon Yam A veteran of the small and silver screen in Hong Kong, Simon Yam is famous for playing antagonistic and ominous roles . Because of his recognition and accolades before the 90s, Yam’s presence in Category III films gave them a certain pedigree. Yam starred in a number of erotic films opposite big-name actresses such as Veronica Yip in Cash on Delivery , Carina Lau in Gigolo and Whore, and Chingmy Yau in Naked Killer . Yam also interspersed his repertoire with gangster films such as the Young and Dangerous series, eventually making his Hollywood debut in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life . Starring in all these Category III films did not make a dent in Yam’s career – it actually might have boosted it, as those roles show his range. He’s now a happy family man and has a new film, Raging Fire , scheduled for release on July 30. Julie Lee View this post on Instagram A post shared by /🌫/ (@chrlshmmk) Making her Hong Kong film debut in 1995, Julie Lee was in her thirties and a bit older than many of the other actresses starring in Category III films. But Lee made it up with shock value, veering closer to hardcore territory with the gratuitously explicit scenes she took part in. She definitely wasn’t shy about what she revealed, and her first film Trilogy of Lust made great returns. View this post on Instagram A post shared by 講CULT所 (@chat_cult_place) But her brand of sensationalism did not last and after making The Ghost (2001) in the US, she seemingly retired from the entertainment industry. In 2013, paparazzi snaps of her shopping in Central, Hong Kong, seemingly living the quiet life, popped up on mainland media ifeng.com. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .