Gavin Mitchell as Sex may be a battlefield but ANNABEL CHONG left the body
Casanova; but is
he the hunter or politic bruised and battered beyond recognition. Brian Donaldson
looks at the climax of a porn career.
WHEN ANNABEL CHONG tucked 25l guys on camera, any lasting notions that the clouds ot ambiguity floating around sex could be swept away were well and truly shaltecl No one has ever been ible to conclude guite where Chong inee Grace Queki stood while being laid on that exhausting day in 199‘) was she the ultimate martyr of pre-millennial uber-ieminism or a hacked-on porn star hell—bent oe quitting the business With a bang or simply a deeply confused and psychologically scarred young woman7
Some facts, though, are irrefutable: Quek went west from her native Singapore to become a graduate of gender studies, was gang-rapc—xl in a London subway aged 21, changed her name to Annabel Chong and became the biggest porn star in the States, and allowed her boytiiend ciouoli Lewrs to make a film of the events leading to the moment she made history. And that’s where things get murky.
Chong was less than enamoured of LeWis' lilm. Much of Sex iwliic h stormed and stunned audient es and critics alike at the Sunclance film festival in 1999) shows Chong in a very bleak light looking toked to the eyeballs in her role as carnal Christian thrown to the leerinci lions on jerr'y Springer and taking a blade to her arm in full View of the camera and bitterly complaining later that Lewis had pressed the
'When people think of Casanova, ’record' button they immediately assume sex,’ says While travelling along last year’s publicity trail for Sex, Cliong maintained that she was so gutted at Mitchell. 'But apparently he was only this shocking misrepresentation, that her own truer version of the story would be released lwo with about a hundred women in his questions: where is it and if she hated Sex that lifetime and he always fell in love much, why promote it With such gusto? very easily. It was more about While it’s hard not to have some sympathy perpetuating his own myth.’ With Quek when she is cheated out of
Sexual self-mythologising has hard-earned cash by swarthy Annabel Chang never gone out of fashion; just read poriiographers, if you live by the celebrates a hard Klaus Kinski's autobiography or a sword . . . daY'S Shift Charlie Sheen interview. For all its contemporary approach, the themes Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, of Casanova straddle the centuries. Channel 4, Sat 3 Feb, 11.05pm.
'I think those questions will always be there,’ says Mitchell. 'Sex is always going to be a minefield. Which road do you choose? Monogamy or promiscuity?’
’Creating a modern Casanova is just about trying to tease out how people view those issues today,’ agrees Eatough. 'The play doesn't say "be promiscuous, it’s great". It also doesn't say "settle down, that’s the answer". I think it shows what is attractive about both those sets of ideas and asks you to judge. _ .
'But I wouldn't want people to get 7 the impression that this is a stern, " philosophical debate over contemporary, sexual mores. There is an element of humour that comes out of the situations he finds himself in.’
Thank Eros for that. We wouldn't want anyone to feel bad about not living up to the Casanova ideal.
‘Anyway,’ says Mitchell, articulating those words men love to hear and women allow them to think, \ ’it's not necessarily about looks. Look at Serge Gainsbourg: the man obviously had something.’
Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 14 Feb-Sat 3 Mar, then touring.