Guy Talk With Michael Yo: Dating As A ‘Blasian’

Story by Paul Nakayama 

This column used to be called The Awful Truth because dating advice can be exactly that. After watching the impossibly racist “music” video “Asian Girlz” by the band Day Above Ground (aptly named since they must’ve been living under a rock), I think the awful truth is that some people just plain suck. But the other side of it is that interracial relations, especially dating, can be a complicated issue. I recently had a chat with comedian and co-host of CBS’ OMG! The Insider, Michael Yo, self-proclaimed “Half-Black Brother with a Korean Mother,” to talk about growing up in an interracial family and his dating experiences.

Q. Where did you grow up?
Michael Yo: I grew up in Houston, Texas, in a predominantly white neighborhood. I was the only “Blasian” growing up. We didn’t even have the term “Blasian” back then. In my neighborhood, they never asked me, “What’s your ethnicity?” It was more like, “What are ya? I don’t understand what you are.”

Q. What were the race dynamics like in your neighborhood?
MY: I had white friends, and small sets of Asian and black friends. It’s weird. Back then, it’s like the stereotypes were kinda true. I was on the basketball team, which was mostly white kids, a couple of black kids and one Asian. You know, ‘cause the Asians were studying most of the time.

Q. What, but not you? You have an Asian mom and you weren’t locked in a dungeon to study?
MY: [Laughs]. My dad has a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, and my mom never went to college. But my mom was always the one pushing me to study while my dad was the opposite. He was like, “School is not your thing.” My dad was very honest that way, and my mom hated to hear that. She was like other Asian moms, wanting to compare their kids to other kids. But she couldn’t brag about my grades. I was the dumb kid out of the whole group. But now, when they say, “My son doctor, my son lawyer,” she says, “Oh yeah? Turn on TV.”

Q. Being on TV, how does that help your game with dating? Inciden- tally, writing for a magazine has zero dating perks.
MY: I’m just a dude who interviews people. So it’s weird to get that kind of attention when you’re on the other side of the camera. The other day I was driving down the street, and this girl pulls up next to me screaming [high- pitched voice], “OMIGOD I love you!” And she almost wrecked her car. They know who you are, but you have no idea who they are. You have to go and find out about them.

Q. It’s similar to how people can stalk someone on Facebook before a date. How do you react to someone knowing so much about you?
MY: Here’s what I like about it: when they say, “I feel like I know you.” That’s like the biggest compliment to me. I’m OK with them not really knowing me, but for them to feel like they know me must mean they have some kind of connection with me.

Q. So, let’s talk about dating with your unique perspective as someone half-black and half-Asian.
MY: Dating is dating. Women are women. I would date anyone: black girls, white girls, Asian girls. With the white girls, you know, they didn’t know what I was, so their parents didn’t know which stereotypes to apply. I mean the biggest thing about dating a white girl is more about how their parents will react. You know, a lot of parents will say they’re not racist or they don’t care until you’re actually dating their daughter.

Q. Do you think this is true for all ethnicities or just the girls that were white?
MY: I can’t say for all the ethnicities, but my own experience with white girls, and it’s not all the time obviously, but there were times when a girl would say, “Oh, my parents will totally be fine.” And then we started dating, and her parents found out, and they weren’t cool. She never knew that side of her parents. And sometimes you experience a side of her parents that [the parents] are experiencing for the first time.

Q. That’s interesting. For me, my first girlfriend was white and her parents were very cool with me. It was actually some of the parents of my Chinese or Korean girlfriends that didn’t like that I was Japanese. I was either a pervert or a war criminal.
MY: You automatically get stereotyped no matter what ethnicity you are. I’m half-black and Asian so what do girls automatically ask? “Oh, so are you big or small?” I get put into a box all the time. It’s just a stereotype, and I get it.

Q. I’m full Asian, so my box sucks. What about your parents? Do they have a preference? For girls to date, I mean.
MY: My parents being interracial, they never cared who I dated. So I never felt that pressure, whereas I know a lot of Asian parents want their daughters to date someone Asian. Now, I’m older so they just want kids. My mom is all, “You have baby? You have baby?” That’s all she cares about. And I do want that. My parents have been married 40 years, so I know what I want, and that’s what makes it so hard to find the right one.

Q. It does take a while to find the right one.
MY: In your 20s, you’re all about hooking up. You don’t really care what they say. True story, I was walking on the beach with a girl, and she looked up and said, “Oh my God, look at the shooting star.” I look up, and it’s an airplane. But all I cared about was hooking up so I said, “Make a wish.” Now I actually care about content. In my 30s I care about what they’re doing, if they’re hungry for life, for a career. Now I want somebody that I can grow with.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelYo, or his website, MichaelYo.com.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.

Accomplished Pianist Trades Keys for Camo as Soldier in Afghanistan

Story by James S. Kim

Making a career change at the age of 30 might raise a few eyebrows. If the career change meant joining the Army, that might raise a few more. If the career change meant joining the Army and leaving behind a career as a classically trained musician, that would downright turn heads.

But that’s exactly what Spc. Anne Pyungan Cho did.  When Cho spoke to KoreAm by phone from Afghanistan last month, she was just a few weeks into her nine-month deployment there. A resident of Los Angeles, she works as an automated logistics specialist and supply clerk at Kandahar Airfield. Her decision to trade in evening gowns and concert halls for Army fatigues and the landscape of a war-torn country is one that she says is layered with her love of music, desire to give back to the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as her faith.

Every Sunday, with her own free time, she leads the worship for three different services and practices with the choir on Wednesday and Saturday nights, although fighting might put these on hold. She said she hopes that she is able to help provide fellow servicemembers with some peace and comfort.

“I’m enjoying playing music [here],” said Cho. “Music is really strong—it can move people, it can encourage people.”

Cho’s relationship with the piano began at age 5, while she was growing up in Korea. She had a knack for the instrument, with a natural talent for sight-reading music, and would often play piano at her church.

After immigrating to the U.S. in her late teens, she attended Union High School in Santa Monica and, by her senior year, was considering applying for Juilliard at the behest of an instructor. But her family insisted she stay close to home while her grandmother was battling breast cancer.  So, Cho decided to pursue a music scholarship at Pepperdine University instead and managed to secure an audition.

The day of her audition, she had prepared two pieces to play before the music professors, but the response was less than enthusiastic. Before she left, however, another professor handed her a piece to play for the group. It was one that Cho hadn’t seen before and was considered a complicated piece.

“When they asked me to play some more songs, I was like, sure. I’ll just do some sight-reading, which the professor didn’t know was my strength,” said Cho.

Cho nailed the piece perfectly, then another, and another, as the professors eagerly fed her music books. “Everyone changed their minds,” she said. “They were clapping, they were saying, ‘Oh my God, you are the pianist we are looking for.’ And then I got the full-ride to Pepperdine.”

Her first year at Pepperdine proved to be difficult academically and emotionally, especially after her grandmother, with whom she was very close, passed away. After taking some time off from college, she returned to earn her music degree, and her career soon took off after that. Pepperdine eventually hired her as its music director, and she became one of the youngest ever to hold an adjunct faculty position at the university.

Cho, a self-described workaholic, was working four days a week at Pepperdine, while also performing at concert tours in Germany, Italy and Australia. She also had the chance to perform at the renowned Carnegie Hall. In addition, Cho traveled the world through her church on short-term mission trips, during which she developed a different calling as a musician—one that led her to a recruiting office last year.

She had long admired the Korean War veterans she met in Korea and the U.S.

“I was honored by their sacrifices and what they did for us as a country,” she said.

Then, after her global travels, she added, “I had opportunities to see other countries where the U.S. helped.” Cho thought it was her turn to give back.

While her job as a supply specialist in Afghanistan isn’t glamorous, Cho said she is right where she wants to be as a musician and member of the Armed Forces.

“I think the experience I had from Pepperdine, and even in Korea, built up and made [me] who I am today,” she said. “I find myself more excited and motivated every day here. I’m doing the same thing, just in a different place for a difference audience—not at Carnegie Hall, but in Kandahar.

Last-1013-AnneCho3

This article was originally published in the October 2013 issue of KoreAm Journal

Throwback Thursday | How The Internet Changed My Sex Life

This story was originally published in our Fall 2011 issue. Get your copy here.
Story by Paul Nakayama and Lena Chen

PAUL SAYS: 
My editor asked me, “How did the Internet change your sex life?”

“It gave me one?” I replied. Never mind that she didn’t laugh. It was sort of true what I said, but it’s not the whole truth. Now, I’m not talking about learning some power moves from online porn and changing my sex life that way (though that’s cool, too). I’m talking about how it became a conduit for getting more dates.

Years ago, after one particularly demoralizing break-up, I went on Match.com and did a quick search to see how many other fish were really in the sea. After inputting just two parameters, my zip code and an interest in women, I eagerly rubbed my hands together to see what lay in the digital land of opportunity.

Well, not much. Sure, there were hundreds of girls, but guess what? Just like in real life, when I walked up to girls in a club, saw them tower over me in their high heels, and I skulked away mumbling, “Sonnuvabitch,” size seemed to matter. Profile after profile, I saw the same damning words: Height must be at least 5’9.” With age, superficial rejections don’t bite as much, but to a 20-something me, it was a spirit sucker.

So, what did I do? I went onto my AsianAvenue.com blog and bitched about it. And then I bitched some more on Livejournal. I guess it was sort of like how I’m bitching again on Audrey. Point is, I wrote about it … a lot.

Before I knew it, people started reading what I was writing. Better still, female readers would start messaging me, asking if I wanted to grab coffee. All right, to be fair, there were more guys than girls wanting to hang out, but whatever, I figured it was due to gender proportions in my city.

I’m a would-be writer, so maybe I could use that to get a would-be sex life. That’s what I tried. But it was an early time for the Internet. There were things I had to get accustomed to. For instance, instant messaging started as a great “pre-date” method: getting to know someone, flirting, building a rapport. I thought it was great since I was better at typing than talking. But my own issues would come to the surface. I’d scream at the computer screen, “God! It’s ‘they’re,’ not ‘there!’” I’d sabotage potential dates if I didn’t like their grammar or if their screen name looked like tHiS. I know, what a snobby dick, right?

But it wasn’t just me with issues. There were women that used question- able photos. I mean, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t talking to Lucy Liu. Or, there were other photos where I had to ask, “Why are you hiding behind this house plant?” There were women that loved the buffet lines more than a conversation. I even had an eerie encounter where a girl invited herself over and refused to leave. Fearing a murder-suicide, I fought hard to stay awake, but losing the battle, I scribbled my last will and testament on a magazine.

Eventually, though, I started figuring it out. I met some really great women online, some that I dated very seriously for many years. I’m a true believer that the Internet can help you find someone suitable, open some doors. Just don’t crawl through someone’s Facebook page before you even get to know them. Nothing says “creepy stalker” or “restraining order” like telling someone everything that you know about them on your first date. But if you’re conscious that the Internet is just a tool for dating and not a crutch, it could totally lead to something great. In fact, you know what? I’m going to try and snag a date with the real Lucy Liu. I’ll just follow her on Twitter and see where that goes.

 

 

LENA SAYS:
When I started an OkCupid account, it was 2008 and online dating seemed to be the exclusive realm of the marriage-hungry or the hopelessly awkward. I went on some dates, but the site’s matchmaking formula, an algorithm that calculated compatibility using answers to personality tests, seemed hit-or-miss, no more effective than meeting a stranger at a bar. Overwhelmed by pages of search results and underwhelmed by e-suitors I met up with in real life, I never found much success with the site. Nowadays, I’m dating someone I met offline.

These days, however, OkCupid has become the go-to destination for Millennials short on time or opportunity. For those skeptical of venturing online for romance, don’t underestimate the prospect for finding lasting love. I’ve witnessed more than one longterm relationship come out of web-arranged dates. (One blogger I know met her husband on MySpace.) Online dating can be charming in its ruthless efficiency and democratic nature. On the web, everyone is fair game — just a wink or a poke away. People I might not otherwise encounter in day-to- day life are suddenly potential romantic partners. In some ways, that’s fantastic. (Who wants to only date people exactly like themselves?) In others, it’s terrifying. (How do I know Casanova666 isn’t an ax murderer? I don’t, so I carry pepper spray.)

When my friend, Danny, 30, was dumped by his girlfriend, one of his first steps toward recovery was to sign up for an account. Soon, he was booking himself two dates a night. Within a month, he’d shared coffee or drinks with so many women he could no longer tell them apart. One evening, he spent the first half of a date trying to figure out which profile belonged to the woman in front of him and what they had previously chatted about. Though his method may be questionable, if Danny wanted to remind himself of the other fish in the sea, then the World Wide Web is perhaps the biggest sea of all.

With the array of choices online, it’s tempting to rely on search features that comb through user databases to spit out results based on age, ethnicity, religion, education and even dietary preferences. The criteria with which you can assess potential partners range from the trivial (pet ownership status) to the maddeningly obscure (foreign languages spoken). Should a romantic decision really come down to whether someone is more of a dog person or a cat person? The Internet can make dating seem like an interview process. It’s easy to get caught up in looking for the next best thing or to falsely believe that you don’t need to compromise on your vision of an ideal partner or relationship, because there’s always that elusive better offer.

Cyber romances also blur the line between reality and illusion. Since you can chat extensively with someone before ever meeting, you naturally develop impressions and attachments that color your expectations. While I cringe at the thought of all the grammatically inaccurate spiels I’ve encountered, I’ve also encountered the flipside: a particularly crafty wordsmith might be able to wield a thesaurus and throw in an esoteric film reference or two, but they can be dismal conversation from across the dinner table. Unless one plans to carry out an entire courtship through electronically submitted data, what goes on online has to eventually get tested out in real-life. When people enter dates believing they’re meeting someone they already know, they can find themselves disappointed by a wildly different in-person impression or an unexpected real-life quirk.
Just as most offline marriages end in divorce, for every MySpace engagement, there are countless deactivated profiles. Citing “burnout,” Danny has recently cut down on the number of ladies he asks out for in-person meetings. This isn’t to say that online dating is any more or less desirable than traditional avenues of courtship. Romantic or not, online dating isn’t a passing trend or a substitute for the “real thing” — in today’s world, it is the real thing. So if you decide to venture into the abyss, just keep the following in mind: winks or pokes are far more effective electronically than in person.

 

More stories from Audrey Magazine’s Archives here.

 

Scary Girlfriend Alert: Woman Arrested for Public Display of Humiliation

Story by James S. Kim

Public displays of affection always make a walk down the street considerably more interesting than most people would like. Still, they don’t draw the attention of crowds and video cameras like public displays of humiliation, as in the case of a viral video uploaded a couple of days ago. It captures a very loud dispute between a man and a woman, as well as an apparent third party.

The five-minute video has over 140,000 views on YouTube as of Tuesday since it was uploaded on Oct. 6. In a crowded street in Hong Kong, a man is shown kneeling in front of his girlfriend, who is scolding him in Cantonese for apparently inviting another woman to his apartment.

At one point in the video, the girlfriend grabs the man’s hair with one hand and begins to slap him repeatedly with the other as a growing crowd watches on. The man, weeping, asking his girlfriend, “Listen to me before beating me, I told her not to come!”

A second woman stands close by, but it is not clear if she is the “other woman.” The man pleads with her several times to confirm his story, but she remains silent for most of the altercation, only making a few halfhearted attempts to stop the beating. Individuals in what turns out to be a sizable crowd start chiming in, but the girlfriend yells back to mind their own business.

Although the video doesn’t show it, the 20-year-old woman, surnamed Cheng, was arrested by Hong Kong police for “common assault” after a bystander called the authorities. The 23-year-old victim, surnamed Chui, was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. The Hong Kong police has labeled the case as a “dispute over love affairs.”

This story was originally published in KoreAm Journal

‘Boat People': The Horror Stories of The Vietnam Exodus

Story by Ethel Navales 

When I began reading Boat People: Personal Stories from the Vietnamese Exodus, I had no idea what was in store for me. I didn’t expect to find each page more difficult to digest than the one before it. I didn’t expect that I would need to pull away for moments just to process what I had read. I certainly didn’t expect to be on the verge of tears, but that’s exactly what happened.

In riveting detail, Boat People brings together the heartbreaking stories of those who survived one of the largest mass exoduses in history — an exodus which had more than a million Vietnamese citizens fleeing their homeland after the Vietnam War. The book’s editor, Carina Hoang, was only 16 when she took part in this journey in 1979. Despite previous hardships — including her father being taken away for 14 years as a political prisoner, her house being confiscated, and nearly unbearable poverty — nothing could have prepared her for the difficulties that were to come as a refugee. “I was not aware of the risk involved,” says Hoang. “I did not realize that once I [stepped] foot on the boat, my chance of survival was very slim — it was something like 10 percent.”

Hoang’s account of her own experiences proves to be just as horrifying as the other stories in Boat People. “There were 373 people on board. It was so crowded that most of us sat with knees to our chins for nearly seven days,” she says. “We were tossed about by a violent storm; we threw up all over each other, and sat with the vomit and the stench for the rest of the trip.” As difficult as this may seem, the hardships of the journey were far from over. Hoang and the others on her boat were attacked by pirates, faced starvation and dehydration, and were quickly overcome with disease. “There were times when I didn’t think we would make it,” recalls Hoang. “It was God’s will that we lived while hundreds died and were buried in the jungle.”

Now, 34 years later, Hoang has dedicated herself to telling her story, as well as the stories of the other survivors. “My main motivation,” Hoang explains, “is to help my daughter, my nieces and my nephews know about their heritage and to understand why and how their parents fled Vietnam.” Of course, a task like this is no easy one. After months of searching and interviewing, Hoang and her co-editor, Michelle Lam, found many people who resisted the idea of digging up their past. “Not everyone we approached was willing to share his or her stories. Some found it difficult to relive their tragic past,” says Hoang, “especially when we touched the subject of the boat people being brutally and inhumanely attacked by pirates.”

Despite these obstacles, Hoang continued to work on Boat People because she understood how important it was to tell these stories. She points out that although the Vietnam exodus was one of the largest in history, many people do not know the enormity and details of this event. To help heal and educate, Hoang organizes trips back to the refugee camps. “Many families lost their loved ones while in refugee camps,” she says. “It is part of our culture to visit the graves of our loved ones regularly, but more importantly, it’s just hard to grieve as the loved ones died in such a tragic way and the families were unable to give their loved ones a proper burial. In some cases, people just couldn’t let go; thus revisiting the graves of their loved ones gives them a sense of comfort or a form of closure.”

Whether through organized trips, public speaking or Boat People, Hoang continues to fight to give voice to these stories. “I believe that as people are more informed, they will have better judgment about refugees and will hopefully approach the matter with more compassion.”

carina


This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.  

Get This Celeb Look: Ellen Wong’s ‘Picture Perfect’ Look

You may remember this actress as Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Although she was heartbroken and quite the mess throughout the film, Ellen Wong is clearly a stunning lady in real life. Hair and makeup artist Anna Barseghian spills her secret on how to get Ellen Wong’s “Picture Perfect” look.

ellen wong

 

Hair:
I used a Rowenta 2 in 1 Ceramic Ionic Curling Iron and I curled the mid section of her hair. This look creates a little more of this disheveled look. The reason why I choose this look is because of Ellen’s dress, seeing that it is so clean and polished.

 

 Makeup:
As for Ellen’s makeup, I created smokey eye using m.a.c eyeshadow called Romp, Black Tied and I finished with lancôme mascara Hypnose. Ellen’s skin is already so flawless I used Giorgio Armani foundation: luminous and putting a touch fluid sheer on her cheek area, this create a great glow in the skin.

 

Get This Celebrity Look: Ana Ortiz’s ‘Urban Goddess’ Look

American actress Ana Ortiz is best known for her role in the ABC comedy-drama series Ugly Betty. Now, it looks like the 42-year-old actress is looking better than ever with her “Urban Goddess” look. Asian American makeup artist Shiyena and hairstylist Pamela Neal dish out their secrets to Get This Celebrity Look

Makeup artist Shiyena on prepping the face:

1) I saturated some cotton with the Fleur Blanc toner and gently buffed it in all over her face and neck.

2) I applied the Serum next and let that dry completely.

3) Then I spread a thin layer of the Day Cream Creme de Jour all over her face.

4) While that’s absorbing into her skin, I move on to her eyes.

Eyes:

1) I like to always start with the eyes first so I can clean it up easier if they are any eyeshadow fallouts.

2) I gently patted on the Lingerie pour les yeux in Medium on her eyelids to prime the eyes for eyeshadow application.

3) I first dusted the lightest color Linen from the Palette Play in Copper all over her eyelids up to her brow bone.

3) I then applied the the color Gilt, the medium bronze color on her eyelids up to the creases of her eye.

4) I then brushed the darker bronze color Suede on the outer corner of her eyes to achieve the Smokey effect pulling the shadow out to create a more almond/cat eye look.

5) On the top lash line, before I lined it with eyeliner, I lined it with the Indigo from the same eyeshadow quad at the lash line and winged it up and darkened the outer corner of her eyes.

6) I then gently lined the top lash line to darken it with Le Joli Crayon in Charbon and used the other end of the liner to blend the line out.

7) I also lined her bottom lash line with Le Joli Crayon in Aubergine and blended it out as well.

8) With the angle brush, I went over and smudged the dark bronze color, Suede, on top of the Aubergine eyeliner (bottom) along with the Charbon eyeliner (top) to soften the lines.

9) Line the waterline with Le Joli Crayon in Charbon to finish up the smoky eye.

10) Eiffel power mascara. Lots and lots of coats. This mascara doesn’t clump at all so it’s easy to build it up without it looking messy.

Foundation:

1) Clean up any eyeshadow fall outs if there were any at this point.

2) I then mixed and applied the Love Me Deux moisture tint in Paris and Provence all over her face and down her neck to give it the seamless effect.

3) I then used the concealer that comes on the cap to spot conceal any blemishes and to highlight under her eyes, bridge of nose and forehead.

4) I lightly filed in her brows with Arch de Triumph in Warm and Dark Brown. She has gorgeous thick brows so not much was needed here.

5) I glided the Vu-On Rouge color accent in Bouquet Rose on the apples of her cheeks and blended it up and out towards her temples with my fingers, primarily concentrating on the apples of her cheeks and making sure the color is not blended away too much.

6) I then brushed on Belle Poudre in Golden Medium with the Kabuki brush all over her face for the nice HD finish.

7) To finish the look, I used Beaute en Bronze Bronzer Duo in Monaco. Pop the cheeks with the pink blush for a hint of shimmer and dust  the face with the bronzer.

8) I like to apply the bronzer where the sun would normally hit the face. Forehead, cheek bones, tip of the nose, and on the chest.

Lips:

1) I lined her lips with the Drawmatic lip liner in Naked and filled it in with the liner itself.

2) I then layered the Lip Lustre lipgloss in Demure on top of the liner so her lips look scrumptious. Juicy and plump!

Finale:

1) I sprayed and massaged in Amour D’Ore body spray to glisten her arms for that sun kissed glow.

Pamela Neal on Ana Ortiz’s hair:
1. I dampened and re-dryed the hair as it had been flat ironed previously and flat ironed hair is notoriously hard to curl.
2. I then took small square sections starting at the front hairline, spraying each with White Sands Liquid Texture Firm Hold Thermal Styling Spray and wrapping them around a 1 inch iron, pulling out the iron and pinning the rolled up section securely before moving on to the next section. I wrapped them all in the same direction.
3. The next row of curls I wrapped in the opposite direction, repeating the spraying and pinning on each section. The next row I curled back in the same direction as the first row.
4. Once the whole head was completed in this manner, I took out all the pins and brushed the hair through, coaxing the hair into waves with my fingers. She then ran out of time and I had to let her go so just sprayed it with Davines No. 7 Firm Hairspray!

 

Flashback Friday: Secrets To What Guys Want Finally Revealed

This story was originally published in our Summer 2012 issue. Get your copy here

Story by Paul Nakayama

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been dreading writing this issue’s Awful Truth for weeks now. Seeing as I’m currently stuck in my hotel room in Jodhpur, India, awaiting the passing of a brutal dust storm, I guess it’s nature’s way of telling me to get off my ass. I just wish my to-do reminders didn’t consist of strong winds scooping up cow dung from the streets and whipping them around town. I prefer the carrot to a stick made of hepatitis. At any rate, the topic for this issue is what men really want, so here’s what I did: I asked my single friends what they look for, and I asked my married friends what they love about their wives. If this works, the answer hopefully lies somewhere between a booty call and a divorce.

 

The Single Guys
Now this is a no-brainer, but with single guys (as with single girls), the company in which you ask this particular question will determine the political correctness and validity of the answers. For example, while I was having dinner with friends in Tokyo last week, I asked a guy what attracts him to a girl. Looking at the two women at our table, he remarked that he’s attracted to pretty eyes, a sense of humor and intelligence. He might as well have winked conspicuously, pointed finger guns at me, and clicked his tongue.

It’s not that he wasn’t telling the truth; those are things that most men would value, single or married. But it’s only a partial truth, a safe truth that can be uttered in the company of women without the threat of eyes being rolled or being gouged out.

I asked some single buddies of mine the same question while we were all crammed in a cab together. Now, keep in mind that alcohol was 90 percent of our stomach content at the time, but based on their answers, it would have been easier to post a multiple choice quiz, like so:
What do you look for in a girl? Is it:
1. A pretty face
2. Awesome bodunkadunk (or replace with your favorite slang term for buttocks)
3. Life-changing tatas (or replace with your favorite term of endearment for breasts)
4. All of the above

You get the picture. Everyone shouted all at once about something superficially physical followed by an unending round of high fives. I wanted slightly more definitive answers, so I asked them, “How about what you definitely don’t want?”

Immediately, I was bombarded with all sorts of things (excuse the graphic — yet verbatim — responses): “Bitches … gold diggers … naggers … trainers [girls that try to mold you].”

It was a laundry list that these men had pent up inside and had simply been waiting for someone to ask. Frustrations were just pouring out of them, like I had just grabbed hold of their gag reflex. If I had given them each a hug and a new car, it would’ve been like an episode of Oprah. It dawned on me that single men might know more of what they don’t want than what they do want. It sort of made sense. Let’s say single guys wanted a cake. They can’t define all the ingredients to make it taste right; they just know that there’s no vinegar or fish oil in the mix.

ad lucky strike holiday

The Married Guys
Now that I had some sense of what the single men were seeking (or avoiding), I wanted to see if what married men had sought as bachelors was the same as what they love about their wives now. A tricky question to answer, I know, but that’s the beauty of anonymous sources (and blackmailing said sources).

A friend I had just met in Tokyo was more than happy to answer the question, from his perspective anyway, but I feel it’s a commonly respected trait.

“I love that my wife trusts me and gives me space when I need it,” he said. “Independence is key.”

“That’s nice, man,” I replied, “but does she know that we’re headed to a strip club right now?”

“It doesn’t matter. I trust her to have healthy fun, and she trusts me to do the right thing,” he answered matter-of-factly. A great situation for him, but I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be blackmailing him for free sushi.

Several other friends agreed that having someone they can mutually trust and believe in is one of the great things about being married and in love with your wife. They also agreed that in their previous lives they would have traded trust for a 34C-28-36.

It’s funny, though, because as several married men touted the beauty of their independence to watch sports or drink with the boys, I got a different story from the wives. Cynthia, who’s both a wife and mother, laughed at what my married friends had said. “They may talk a big game now, but once they have kids, and their wife is now focused on the baby, they’ll be desperate for attention.”

She even recounted some stories where the men became jealous of the baby, then lonely, and eventually cheated on their wives, which of course ended in an ugly divorce. A cautionary tale for us all, to be sure. She bought me a panna cotta to curb the growing cynicism within me.

Guys in General
Having heard some depressing sh-t, I took a shot of Johnnie and then decided to go back and talk to my male friends some more, one-on-one. This time, I asked the single guys what they looked for in a girlfriend. Yes, the words “hot” and “sexy” came up more than a few times, but after signing affidavits that I wouldn’t attach their names to anything sappy in the article, I managed to squeeze out the mushy truth from them. In hushed, whispered tones, so as not to have their masculinity whisked away from them by the gods, they confided in me that in the end all they really want is a girl who can also be their best friend. Well, and sex. Lots of sex. But mostly a best friend.

Then I went back to my married friends and mentioned Cynthia’s comment. Things got real— like they were Bruce Willis realizing he was a ghost all along in the Sixth Sense. The fear that this trust and independence would turn into spousal neglect scared the crap out of them. I didn’t even have to ask them what they really loved about their wives; it was clear they just loved them. Rather than a follow-up interview, we ended up just chatting about recommendations for romantic restaurants. I pictured them slowly canceling their premium sports cable package and taking up ballroom dancing.

Last issue I talked about bromances and how men will often say to their best friends, “If you were a girl, I’d marry you.” Well,after this column, I realized that men do end up marrying their best friends. They just didn’t know it because it was all camouflaged under the boobs and stuff. So when it comes down to it, men, including yours truly, all want the same thing, whether we know it or not: attraction, mutual respect and companionship. And sex. Lots of sex.

 

Throwback Thursday: Olivia Munn Was Adorable Even Before ‘The Newsroom’

This story was originally published in our Spring 2011 issue. Get your copy here.
Story by Janice Jann

It must be really hard to date Olivia Munn. Not because she’s gorgeous in the girl-next door way, with freckles lightly scattered across her button nose and her goofy, toothy grin. Not because she’s got the wicked sense of humor of a teenage boy, spouting racy jokes one minute, shocking hairstylists and photographers the next. And not because she has the curves — and we’re talking curves — of a real woman, unlike other half-starved actresses.

No, it must be really hard to date Olivia Munn because she is probably one of the busiest women in Hollywood right now. After rescheduling six times the first day, only to push the interview back to the next day, only to have her finally call me on the phone while driving between errands, I almost felt like a suitor who just wasn’t getting the hint. “Sorry, I know you had to move stuff around for me all the time,” apologizes Munn. “It’s [just] an amazing time right now.”

An amazing time, indeed. Besides television gigs on both sides of the coast, Munn is also a best-selling author who just landed her biggest movie role to date. I understand, but Munn still extends an offer to meet in person. The next morning, I arrive at her newly purchased home tucked away in the Hollywood Hills, bearing a gift. “Oh, nice!” she exclaims, unwrapping a Japanese jelly energy drink. “I actually needed this.” She shows me around the house, sharing intimate details, from photos of loved ones (there’s shots of her mother with all her siblings) to the contents of her fridge (I spot kimchi). It’s clear that the Chinese-German-Irish Munn is as Asian as she is American.

Growing up, Munn spent a large portion of her youth in Japan and Oklahoma, and it wasn’t easy moving around a lot. “When you’re always the new girl, it forces you to come up with new ways to make friends,” says Munn, “because every time you go somewhere, it’s literally the same battle. Eventually with me, once I built up so much scar tissue, I didn’t have to worry so much about becoming popular or being welcomed or being accepted.” That doesn’t mean Munn doesn’t care what people think now that she’s in the spotlight. “Nobody wants to be un-liked. You want people to respect you,” she says. “It’s really annoying, those people who go, ‘I just want to do art.’ Really? ’Cause why aren’t you doing community theatre in Missouri? You’re out here busting your ass for a Taco Bell commercial. … I think once everybody is honest with themselves on what they’re searching for, you can break down what truly matters at the end of the day.”

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Munn realized early on that what she wanted at the end of the day is to act. In second grade, Munn informed her mother of her dreams and was met with rejection. “She was like, ‘no, no, you be a lawyer,’” Munn recalls. “They took a big risk coming to America with no money and so they think, don’t take risks. And from that moment, I thought I wasn’t allowed to dream that dream.” But the dream refused to die and a couple of years later, Munn begged her mom to move to Hollywood. “Financially, I could have made it [on my own], but because I’m Chinese, I needed my mom’s approval,” Munn says. “It’s ingrained into my DNA.” Munn’s mother, in turn, made her graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a journalism degree and work for a year at a local television station before granting her permission to move west.

But getting to Hollywood was only half the battle. Though the actress is embraced for her unique look now, that wasn’t always the case when she was a struggling artist. “Early on, I knew I didn’t look like everyone else. I used to look in the mirror and cry and literally hit myself [because] my eyes looked so Asian,” says Munn. She did some catalogue modeling that “sucked because I was the shortest and the biggest out of all the girls.” And she set her sights on the future, one goal at a time. “I told myself, my bar will always be higher than what I was doing at the time. Then if I reached that one, I would make another higher one, and another one,” she says. “I’ve worked hard for a long time [so I could] tell myself, I’ll never be the reason I hear no.”

It was a resounding yes for Munn when she got the offer to host G4’s Attack of the Show (AOTS), a tech-gaming live variety show. Munn joined AOTS in 2006 and over the next four years, a geek goddess bloomed. “I didn’t know what [the show] could do or what it could bring; I just knew that I wanted to be myself and I only wanted to do things that I found funny and not conform,” she says. “That was a place that allowed me to do it.” Together with co-host Kevin Pereira, Munn raised AOTS to cult status, with the tech-geek, Internet- savvy, heavily male audience embracing Munn’s quirky blend of humor, tomboy attitude and sex appeal. (Case in point: a video of Munn chugging a hot dog has more than 11 million hits on YouTube.)

Munn’s reign on G4 ended late last year, but her profile is rising higher than ever with the new NBC prime-time series Perfect Couples and as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Despite all her slightly naughty behavior in  front of the camera (Munn’s Maxim and Playboy bikini shoots top her Google images search), the rising star’s managed to stay out of the tabloids, until recently when she was linked to Justin Timberlake. “Over the last year, I’ve dated guys that, if people knew, would be on the cover of magazines. But they don’t find out because I say, ‘hey, would you like to go to Valencia?’” says Munn. “Some people go to restaurants that are so popular. They say it’s really good food. You’re like, ‘what food is worth that?’ The lobster ceviche will be just as good in a to-go box.” Already a pro at handling fame, Munn knows how much to give and what to keep private. “I feel like I’ve been given a lot and I try to say thank you. The only thing I ask of myself is to try to keep my personal life personal,” she says. “I will take as many pictures as you want, I will try to answer every single question under the sun, and the reason I’m doing that is so you’ll realize that I just have to keep something for myself.”

True to her word, Munn’s relationship with her fans is legendary. The celeb is known for her generosity at impromptu fan meet-and-greets and for fulfilling fanboy desires with sexy cos-plays. Her fan club, cheekily called the OMFGs (Olivia Munn Fan Group), totally reciprocate the love. “They’re amaz- ing. I’m very lucky. It’s a really good feeling to know they have my back,” gushes Munn. And though she’s left G4, she won’t be leaving the OMFGs behind any time soon. “They put me on this ride,” she adds. “They’re coming along for the ride.”

So where does Munn hope this ride will take her? “I’m in a place where I’m very grateful and I’m living my dreams right now,” she says. “I’m doing a million things at once, but the next step is just being on the same plane and being able to hold onto that.” Munn pauses and gazes at the plush white rug we’re lounging on. “I believe in the energy you put out there,” she continues. “If you just keep putting it out there and then if it all goes away, well, as long as I’ve been working hard and I’ve been respectful to myself, my friends, my family, then I’ve won and I’ll feel good about that. I just hope it doesn’t.”

 

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Korean Woman Gets Plastic Surgery to Look Like Miranda Kerr

Story by James S. Kim

Complete makeovers aren’t uncommon. Some of us at some point might need a change in how we do things or in how we look. The question is, then, how far are you willing to change, and what type of person are you willing to become?

For one South Korean woman, it was a question of whom. On a recent episode of Martian X-Files, a Korean reality TV show that spotlights eccentric and unique non-celebrities, one of the guests was a woman who underwent plastic surgery to look like Australian model Miranda Kerr.

The wannabe emphasized that she only had work done on her eyes and nose, according to Soompi. Even from a young age, she said, people would tell her mother that she looked like an “adorable non-Korean child” and asked if her father was from overseas. One time, the guest and her mother got into a taxi. The driver, thinking that they were foreigners, asked where they were from and was surprised when they responded in Korean.

The segment followed the guest as she goes through her makeup ritual. She begins with the universal step one, foundation. The next step is her eyebrows, to which she adds a sharp taper to imitate Kerr’s. She spends the most time on the eyes, then adds some emphasis to her lips to round out the cosmetics portion.

The final step is to add in the colored contacts, given that the hair is the proper style and color. Add in some posing sessions in front of the mirror, and she’s good to go.

So why the obsession with Miranda Kerr, who visited Seoul to great fanfare last June. Some say that Kerr’s appeal is because her looks are a perfect combination of cute and sexy, a look many East Asian young women wish to achieve. For some, by any means necessary.

For those unwilling to go under the knife, here’s an extensive but relatively painless step-by-step makeup tutorial on creating the Miranda Kerr look by YouTube makeup artist Michelle Phan.

This story was originally published by KoreAm Journal