Love, Love, Love “Forbidden City: Chinese-American Nightclubs, 1936-1970”, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong’s new book which captures the magic and glamour of a Chinese American nightclub scene that peaked in San Francisco during World War II.
I read it cover to cover during my Thanksgiving holiday with my family in Las Vegas and highly recommend it.
“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. I first met Arthur when he came to New York to interview dancer turned manager of Asian American talent Jadin Wong (my former manager) for the documentary. The tome is Dong’s virtual love letter to those who paved the way and made their mark for today’s Asian American performing artists.
“Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970,” co-authored with his sister Lorraine Dong, features excerpts of interviews with Forbidden City owner Charlie Low; dancers Jadin Wong, Dottie Sun, Ivy Tam (Mrs. Charlie Low #4), Jackie Mei Ling, Jade Ling, Mary Mammon, Noel Toy, Tony Wing, Dorothy Toy and Paul Wing of Toy and Wing; singers Frances Chun, Larry Ching and Toy Yat Mar; and choreographer and producer Walton Biggerstaff.
Previously unpublished personal stories, along with over four hundred stunning images and rare artifacts, are presented in this “sexy and insightful chronicle” of Asian American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.
Purchase the book from Amazon.com by clicking here.
In the mid-1930s Prohibition had been repealed and the Great Depression was waning.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.”
The slideshow below features Contemporary photographs taken by Arthur Dong during the making of his documentary, alongside vintage glamour promotional images.
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. Dong has produced, directed, written, edited, and ﬁlmed independent ﬁlms on social issues such as gay rights and the Chinese American experience. He has gone on to produce many other highly praised films including “Coming Out Under Fire,” winner of the Peabody Award in 1995. A two-time Rockefeller Media Arts Fellow as well as a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Dong has served on the boards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Film Independent, OutFest, and the National Film Preservation Board at the Library of Congress. In addition to the 1995 Peabody Award for his highly praised film “Coming Out Under Fire,” he honors include three Sundance Film Festival awards, an Oscar nomination, the Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy Award, Taipei’s Golden Horse Award, a GLAAD Media Award, and ﬁve Emmy nominations.
Other articles about Arthur Dong:
Oct. 23: Meet Forbidden City, USA’s Author and Filmmaker Arthur Dong at the South Pasadena Library
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
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