Lost in wonderland

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 1, 2013
Adjust font size:


Wang Xiaohua, a 21-year-old student, from a university in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, is quite a sensation in China, with his cross-dressing performances in his cosplay group called Alice.

He puts on purple eyeshadow and pink lip gloss and then wears fake eyelashes, blushing them carefully with black mascara. Wang Xiaohua has transformed himself into a charming ghost lady.

The 21-year-old student, from a university in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, is quite a sensation in China, with his cross-dressing performances in his cosplay [costume play] group called Alice.

A college art major, Wang says, "I think most people feel uncomfortable with us because what we present is not what they expect men to do."

Founded in 2009, Alice is made up with nine college students, all males aged between 19 to 23. They mainly do cosplays based on cartoon female roles.

Pictures of these boys, all dressed in colorful female costumes, have attracted millions of hits online.

Traditionally in China, a man plays a female role in the opera. The most famous artist is Peking Opera master Mei Lanfang (1894-1961), whose performances won praises from Charlie Chaplin.

However, the men in Alice are not that lucky. Their pictures have caused anger, with some calling them "ugly perverts."

Wang says, "Some people called me 'psycho' right to my face with a look of contempt.

"People may be confused about our sexuality, but we are not. Plus, we don't get in fights, skip classes, drink or smoke. Why do they associate us as being the bad guys?"

After public embarrassment, the Alice members dare not go out without wearing their cosplay makeup.

"I did think about quitting Alice and focus on my studies but then I realized how much I love the performances and I shouldn't quit because of the opinions of others," says Wang.

Despite the down side, Alice has its supporters.

Fans wait for hours for them after their shows and send them presents, including huge adult-size dolls and roses. They have been invited on television shows, cartoon exhibition shows and their Sina Weibo (Chinese version of twitter) fans amount to more than 10,000.

Weibo users have even created a new Chinese word "Weiniang", literally meaning fake woman.

Wang enjoys the attention, but it is more embarrassed to have his family find out what he does.

"My brother found my pictures online and shared them with my parents," recalls Wang.

"I know what I'm doing is not my parents' kind of thing, but they are generous enough to back me, but with one requirement -- I never give up on my academic study for Alice," says Wang, the youngest child of the family, who live in the southern province of Guangdong.

He became a fervent Japanese cartoon fan in high school. Wang then travelled more than 2,000 kilometers to Wuhan to study traditional Chinese painting.

"An essence of traditional Chinese painting is to stress alikeness not only in appearance but also in spirit, which inspires me a lot. On the appearance part, we can never be like a woman than a real woman is, but we can work on the spiritual part to feel more like a woman," says Wang.

Gu Jun, a sociology professor of Shanghai University, believes that "Alice" represents Chinese society. China is more open-minded with tolerance of culture diversities, while the underlying cultural blueprint, featured with Confucianism, has remained more or less constant for thousands of years.

He says, "Today's China is a complicated combination of top-down patriarchy and bottom-up social mobility. Citizens are driven by an ever-present conflict between standing out and fitting in, between ambition and regimentation."

Gu adds, "For the Alice generation, who were born sometime around the 1990s, mostly the only child of the family, they are too young to soak up the culture of alikeness. But they are old enough to form opinions about their social existence."

For Wang, however, he knows clearly his future existence will not be based on Alice. He plans to go back to Guangdong after graduation in 2013 to seek a post in an advertising company.

"I can't be in Alice all my life, but it's a wonderful journey to do what I want to do," Wang adds.

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter