Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Bugis Street (1995)

English title: Bugis Street the Movie.
Chinese title: The Queen of Tranny Street.

Bugis Street (1995)A few Chinese directors – WKW and Ang Lee – had made some gay films, but Yonfan covered the whole of LGBT spectrum, and this movie started his future direction of directing.

This story is brought to you by the letter 'T' in his LGBT Trilogy. It looks like Yonfan is working on the 4 letters backwards.

Anybody who comes to live in Singapore today for a period but knows nothing about its colourful past would be surprise or maybe even shock by the revelation of this film given the popular - yet an incomplete at best, misleading at worst - image that Singapore has today: strict, ordered, and puritanical.

I have the opposite preconception about Singapore (I suspect it's a minority in this distorted view). Growing in the 1970s, my whole impression of Singapore was coloured by a single image that an adult impressed on me. He told me that Singapore was famous because of a street that populated by trans-genders.

I never knew what that street was until I come across this movie, and a final piece of jigsaw in my childhood puzzle is now completely filled in. In fact, I have been visiting Bugis Street for a number of years since I arrived in Singapore, and never in my mind would I connect this street with its colourful past. The area around Bugis Street today is a typical busy retail shopping, dominated by Bugis Junction and the nearby sleek National Library Building, where I frequented. No hint here reminds me of this past associations whatsoever.

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