Why these Asian men really want to talk about sex video

When an email lands offering the chance to interview Asian men about sex, you can't say no. This initial thought is this could be hilarious.

It isn't really that funny, though. There are laughs, but the documentary Asian Men Talk About Sex has a serious core.

It all stated as a potluck dinner party, where the subject of conversation was sex. Chye-Ling Huang​, a Chinese-Pākeha director, had pulled together all the Asian men she knew to get their thoughts on sex.

'Let's talk about sex, baby...'

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Her dad was there, sitting next to her friends from drama school, and she passed round a basket filled with questions about sex.

"It was surprisingly not that awkward when we got everyone in the room," she said. The gathering was literally every Asian man Huang could find. At the table, crunching down on a broccoli sesame seed salad, fried rice and a pile of other foods, was one of the most diverse groups you could find.

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James Roque (centre) sits next to Chye-Ling Huang's father during the dinner party that started it all.
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James Roque (centre) sits next to Chye-Ling Huang's father during the dinner party that started it all.

Gay Asian men, fathers and a Singaporean man who had made it past his half century sat talking with a cast of creative types to keep the conversation following. "That was the first time I'd ever talked to my dad about sex," Huang recalled.

Huang held the gathering because she believed there was a serious problem in the media, where Asian men were severely desexualised. 

"When you are desexualising someone, you're dehumanising them too because you're putting them in a box," she explained.

The documentary Asian Men Talk About Sex features the stories of a diverse cast of Asian men living in Auckland.
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The documentary Asian Men Talk About Sex features the stories of a diverse cast of Asian men living in Auckland.

She teamed up with editor Calvin Sang to create a short documentary featuring interviews with Asian men wanting to talk about sex.

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The men featured opened up about having sex in a portaloo. Huang's father told her about having sex against a wall to keep the door closed.

Their film was aimed to combat the traditional representations of Asian men by showing a diverse cast talking about sex, Huang said.

Chye-Ling Huang invites all the people she can find to kick-start a discussion about the sexual representations of Asian men.
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Chye-Ling Huang invites all the people she can find to kick-start a discussion about the sexual representations of Asian men.

As a young actor starting out, Huang said she looked around the industry and saw only stereotypes. She co-founded the Proudly Asian Theatre Company with comedian James Roque​ to foster acts that went against that tide.

"We realised if we didn't create our own work then we weren't going to have work because we're asian actors," she said.

Their latest documentary, the company's first stab at film, was about showing accurate portrayals of Asian men and sex. "That's not what we see a lot, we see a lot of caricatures and stereotypes," she said.

Sang, a filmmaker of Chinese descent, said it was inexcusable for New Zealand to be showing the same stereotypes as the rest of the world - especially as there was such a strong Asian community here.

"Shortland St, where are all the Asians? How many Asians are in real life hospitals versus how white Shortland St is," he asked.

Trying to list Asian men in the media, Sang came up with comedian Raybon Kan and "the spray and walk away guy". 

The documentary team spent 45 minutes interviewing each Asian man willing to tell his story.
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The documentary team spent 45 minutes interviewing each Asian man willing to tell his story.

He said the under representation was bad enough, as it created a sense that the Asian community didn't contribute to New Zealand. The problem compounded, Sang said, when Asian actors managed to get a role that was stereotypical and often harmful.

"The common stereotype I hear a lot of is that Asian dudes are quite nerdy, they spend a lot of their time at gaming cafes," musician Tristan Hemi Colenso explained in the film.

"All the stereotypes I encounter as an Asian guy are things like I am sexually or romantically inept," Roque continued. 

Opening my eyes to racism

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Asian Men Talk About Sex was published as part of the Loading Docs project, and received $4000 of funding while raising about $2000 of its own funding. The crew behind the short film said they hoped to create an extended play, or series, based of the many interviews they filmed.

Director Chye-Ling Huang and editor Calvin Sang interview one of the men who feature in their documentary.
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Director Chye-Ling Huang and editor Calvin Sang interview one of the men who feature in their documentary.

 - Stuff

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