Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Oct. 23: Meet Forbidden City, USA’s Author and Filmmaker Arthur Dong at the South Pasadena Library

The South Pasadena Public Library

The South Pasadena Public Library

Arthur Dong

Arthur Dong

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong will be on hand to discuss his new book, “Forbidden City: Chinese-American Nightclubs, 1936-1970”  at the South Pasadena Library in the Library Community Room, 1115 El Centro Street, South Pasadena, California 91030, on Thursday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m.  Books will be available for purchase and signing. Refreshments, t-shirt door prizes, and free DVDs (with book purchase). Click here for more information.

Dong’s “mini-exhibit” of memorabilia from the Chinese American nightclub era featured in the book is also on view throughout October.

Arthur Dong's collection of memorabilia from the Chinese American nightclub era is on display at the South Pasadena Library throughout October. Photo courtesy of Arthur Dong

Arthur Dong’s collection of memorabilia from the Chinese American nightclub era is on display at the South Pasadena Library throughout October. Photo courtesy of Arthur Dong

FC Book front coverlr
“Forbidden City, USA” captures the magic and glamour of a Chinese American nightclub scene that peaked in San Francisco during World War II. Previously unpublished personal stories, along with over four hundred stunning images and rare artifacts, are presented in this “sexy and insightful chronicle” of Asian American performers who defied racial and cultural barriers to pursue their showbiz dreams.

In the mid-1930s Prohibition had been repealed and the Great Depression was waning. With a global conflict on the rise, people were out to drink, dine, dance, and see a show to forget their woes—and an emerging generation of Chinese American entertainers commanded the stage in their own nightclubs. “Forbidden City, USA” reveals the sassy, daring, and sometimes heartbreaking first-hand accounts of the dancers, singers, and producers who lived this story, and weaves in a fascinating collection of photos, postcards, menus, programs, and even souvenir chopsticks. Together they recreate a forgotten era, taking readers on a dazzling tour of the old “Chop Suey Circuit.”

“Forbidden City, USA” is the culmination of Arthur Dong’s nearly thirty-year devotion to the topic of Chinese American nightclubs, originally inspired by his research for his documentary of the same name. His previously published works as editor and contributing writer include the exhibition catalogues for shows that he also curated: “Chop Suey on Wax: The Flower Drum Song Album” at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in, San Francisco and “Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection” at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles.

As a film student at San Francisco State University, Arthur Dong produced “Sewing Woman,” his Academy Award nominated short documentary in 1984. The film focused on his mother’s immigration to America from China. Instead of finding an outside distributer for the film, Dong then started his own company, DeepFocus Productions, and serves as its producer, director and writer. He has gone on to produce many other highly praised films including “Coming Out Under Fire,” winner of the Peabody Award in 1995. Among his many other honors, he’s a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and been nominated for an Emmy five times.

The Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and no tickets or reservations are necessary.

The free program is sponsored by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, and the South Pasadena Chinese American Club. In 2010 Arthur screened his documentary “Hollywood Chinese” at the South Pasadena Library to a full house of enthusiastic fans.

These are t-shirts that were made during the release of the documentary "Forbidden City, USA."

These are t-shirts that were made during the release of the documentary “Forbidden City, USA.”

Other articles about Arthur Dong:
Jun. 4: Meet Forbidden City, USA’s Author and Filmmaker Arthur Dong in L.A. Chinatown
STORIES FROM CHINESE AMERICA: The Arthur Dong Collection, Vol. 2 as 4 disc DVD Box Set, Parties in LA (11/6) and SF (11/13)
Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, has been extended through November 7, 2010
Multimedia: George Takei, Nancy Kwan, Lisa Lu and Tsai Chin attend Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection Exhibition Opening Night
The Chinese American Museum partners with Academy award nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong on a groundbreaking exhibition about Hollywood’s forgotten past
In Arthur Dong’s Hollywood Chinese, Chinese Tinseltown Tales told by Asian Silver Screen Icons

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Tommy Tune, Bob Avian, Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson, Orville Mendoza, Lori Tan Chinn, Raul Aranas, Virginia Wing and More Celebrate 2014 Paul Robeson Citation Award Recipient Baayork Lee
Photos: Art Salon with Artist Yang Chihung and Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang at New-York Historical Society
Photos: Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion on View through April 19, 2015 at New York Historical Society
Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station
Celebrating my Mom – AN ACTIVE VISION: BEVERLY UMEHARA…LABOR ACTIVIST…1945-1999
Photos at Shanghai World Expo USA Pavilion Library of Congress, Hollywood Chinese: Arthur Dong Collection
Golden Globe Winner James Shigeta, Veteran of Film and TV, Dies at 85; Excerpts of 2007 A/P/A Institute Q & A with Sukhdev Sandhu 
Geoffrey Holder, Artist, Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Two-Time Tony Award-winning Director and Costume Designer for The Wiz, Dies at 84; Son Pens Intimate Account of Last Days
Photos & Video: The Wiz’s André De Shields Sang “So You Wanted to Meet the Wizard” in The Black Stars of The Great White Way Broadway Reunion: Live The Dream at Carnegie Hall 
Joe Mantegna to Helm ‘Criminal Minds’ Season 10 Episode to Honor the late Meshach Taylor
Photos: Maxine Hong Kingston, Billie Tsien, Bill T. Jones, Linda Ronstadt, John Kander, Julia Alvarez, Jeffrey Katzenberg Receive 2013 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama 
Late Night Singing with Garth Kravits at 54 Below with The Skivvies, at Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland and Michael Raye’s Soul Gathering 
Crafting a Career
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang Photo by GK

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2014 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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