China may have mastered iPhone clones and copies of Issey Miyake bags, but celebrities are a bit tougher to replicate. The exhibits at the Huaying Mountain Chinese and Foreign Celebrity Wax Museum in Sichuan province has proven this. Some of the wax sculptures are so hard to identify that Chinese netizens are calling it a mere “farmers’ fashion museum”.
You’re most likely familiar with Madame Tussauds, which in China is being outshined by this newly trending tourist spot. Appalled A-listers are complaining they never authorised the museum to make the exhibits and are threatening legal action. You judge it for yourself; the image above features (from right to left) household favourite Gong Li, the beautiful Zhang Zhiyi, and Maggie Cheung, who was runner-up of Miss Hong Kong 1983 and a semi-finalist of Miss World in the same year.
Whilst the tracksuit-wearing actresses look less opulent than their living counterparts, the men are dressed in suits and communist-era costumes. Toutiao quoted the museum as saying, “The clothing and styles are not chosen by us, in fact the museum is just a venue for wax-artists to exhibit their work, and tourists can visit free of charge.”
The museum admits that the wax models do not look exactly like the celebrities, but that hasn’t stopped them attracting visitors. Indeed, the draw of this museum seems to be the satirical representations of idolised actors and performers. The only one that comes close to replicating the real celebrity is Jackie Chan, whose hairstyle is a spitting image.
Reporters Zai Zuotian and Xia Wu, from a Chengdu newspaper, interviewed the museum curator, Zhang Shouxiang, who is also curator of the Beijing wax museum. He noted that, “For many years these wax models have travelled between different museums in China, and for sure these are made by the most famed professors in the Chinese academies of fine arts.” He rejected the celebrities’ claims over infringing their rights by giving the example of Zhao Benshang, who he recalls as being happy to see his likeness in wax.
It is doubtful that Jet Li can even recognise himself, however, Chinese reporters seem to think the wax Andy Lau might pass for the real deal.
They might have gotten the king of comedy mixed up with the king of pop, going by this representation of Stephen Chow sporting a sort of MJ-looking wig.
by Dan Cunningham