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Dispute over cosplay association growing(2)

(Global Times)

08:52, November 13, 2012

The association soon drew huge attention among the public for featuring cross-dressing in its act, and a total of 197 people reportedly joined up in its early days, most of whom were from Wuhan-based universities.

However, the number declined sharply to fewer than 30 because most of the members were forced to leave due to "social pressure."

"The association goes against mainstream social values that say men should be men and women should be women, and we have endured a lot of pressure from society, schools, our relatives and friends," Hao said.

All the members use feminine pseudonyms to reduce the chances of harassment. Members have complained that audiences sometimes throw eggs and beer bottles at them when they perform. A local university even threatened to expel one member from the Party if he did not quit.

In the end, only two members stayed, including Hao Ge.

Hao never gave up. "Even though society had bad ideas about us, I knew clearly who I was and decided I should carry on with it. After all, there should be someone to break the idea that men shouldn't perform as women," Hao said, brushing aside the objections of his parents.

Hao began to take part in Cosplay shows playing female roles, and even managed to win a number of prizes. Compared with his cross-dressing performances, people have shown themselves to be more tolerant of the Cosplay shows.

The situation improved in late 2010 after they were invited to participate in a TV discussion. "We went on the program and held a debate with our opponents, explaining that we're performers and not promoting anything against social values," said Xiao Hua.

"People began to realize we're not psychos, and we've been invited to a lot of TV shows since then," Hao said.

Invitations from performance companies also followed, and their appearance fees increased from 80 yuan ($12.84) to 1,500 yuan for each member.

To satisfy the curiosity of the media and public, the members of the association began to reveal details of their daily lives last year, insisting that they were "real men" when they weren't performing. "None of us are gay and we are normal boys after we take off our makeup," Hao said.

Half of the members have girlfriends, who sometimes help the performers put on their makeup.

Most of them work in the art and fashion industry. Both Hao Ge and Quan Xiaoyao are makeup artists.

Despite their insistence on their masculinity, they still display many gentler traits: They are slim and feminine, with small hands and feet, and white skin. They also wax or shave their arms and legs to maintain a feminine appearance, spending large amounts of time and money on skin care.

Most recently, they went to Xiamen for a signing event, where they sold hundreds of posters, signed portraits and flyers. Thousands of fans flocked to see them, and the guards had to cordon off fans to keep order.

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