Monday, July 24, 2006

Among C's (left) many attributes is the coincidence that she bears a vague resemblance to a second tier Chinese TV and movie actress named Li Bingbing (right, below) -- very roughly, perhaps a Chinese equivalent of Jennifer Aniston minus the Brad Pitt factor. On occasion she's been mistaken for her better known doppleganger and usually either ignored the "Aren't you...?" question or good naturedly denied it. She loves the attention, does adore Li due to the resemblance but has never played along as I've sometimes urged her to do.
That is until last night. The trick was about half a bottle of wine before she and I went into a somewhat questionable Shenzhen bar in a district called Shekou last where she embraced her inner Li Bingbing with a vengeance. The place was also one frequented by some "chickens" (Chinese slang for hookers) and within about 10 minutes of our arrival every working girl plus customers, employees and the owner were convinced that Li Bingbing was in town.
She played coy at first and then admitted that, yes, she was "her" and in Shenzhen for about a week with an American scriptwriter (me) researching a role she was going to play for a US-Chinese film about a bar girl who finds ruin, redemption and ultimately love and riches.
We were briefly mobbed -- at least she was, I stepped out of the way to gawk -- as she signed autographs, posed for photos for cell phone-cams and other pics the owner took with a disposable camera in order to have prints made and enlarged to hang in the bar.
Through it all, C mined her Li Bingbing trivia bank to answer questions about various TV series', films ("I never heard of one, but I faked it," she told me) a fiery love affair with some Taiwan actor ("I told them he was bad in bad") and what Harbin (Li's hometown is like). "Lucky that I've been to Harbin once," she whispered to me.
They bought us a couple rounds of drinks and then suggested that Li buy a round for the house. She's a big star, after all. No problem, right?
I had about 200 yuan left and a rough count of the employees and customers showed that I'd need about 500 more just for beers or soft drinks, never mind "specials." I began to see this charade being torn apart in minutes with "Li Bingbing" and her unidentified foreign companion savaged in Chinese gossip mags as thankless ingrates shortly after they were stomped within an inch of their pathetic lives in a Shenzhen house of red lights.
At that point "Li's" cell phone rang.
"Tell them it's a producer. We've gotta run," I hissed.
She did a masterful job of taking the call and signing off in hurry. The best acting I've seen anybody do on short notice.
We shot out with apologies and only regretting the fact that we probably can't ever return to see how they've hung the "Li Bingbing drank here!" photos.
My wife just hunted up some photos of Li Bingbing online and I must say: CONGRATULATIONS! :)
Wait a minute?!? You want us to believe that the entire bar was convinced that you were an American scriptwriter? Now there's an acting job!

Too funny.

BTW, which bar, so I can go check it out for ya and let you know where they hung C's picture...?
Were you in Mustang Sally's by chance ?
Nah, 'twasn't Mustang Sally's. Not as classy as that and I've met Sally a couple times and don't think she'd be taken in by a Li Bingbing imposter.
It was at the beginning of Chicken Row, just after the US Food Company store or whatever that overpriced (but great selection) store selling "foreign" foodstuffs is named - on the opposite end of where Casablanca is. I can't recall the name. Notable for its size and professional looking exterior and lighting compared to the others on the strip.
If C looks anything like Li Bingbing you have seriously good looking woman on your hands.
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