HOON LEE: How To Play A Foul-Mouthed, Transvestite Hacking Genius With Aplomb

Story by Paul Nakayama.

It’s hard to imagine, but Hoon Lee, the 39-year-old actor who plays Job, the F-bomb dropping, bald transvestite hacker on Cinemax’s Emmy Award-winning original series Banshee, is the same actor voicing the sagely Master Splinter on Nickelodeon’s hit reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the award-winning stage actor didn’t even plan on an acting career. Instead, the Harvard-educated Lee studied the visual arts and worked in graphic design during the first dot-com bubble.

“I think that all these creative processes cross-pollinate easily,” he says of navigating deftly between designing and acting. “It doesn’t mean that the skill sets required to perform at a higher level are not specific and hard won, but like with romance languages, if you are fluent in one form of creative activity, you have a fighting chance at picking things up quickly in another.”

Lee’s role as the voice behind the iconic Master Splinter is something of a personal passion. The Korean American grew up on comic books and animation and still considers himself a fan. When asked if he’ll use the wise Yoda-like sayings of Master Splinter as a parental tool, Lee laughs and replies, “My son’s a little young for Ninja Turtles, but I’m hoping he’ll get into it. But the cynical side of me thinks that he’ll say, ‘Aw, Dad, that’s so lame.’”

Lee’s other gig on the action drama Banshee, as the loyal criminal associate of ex-con and master thief Lucas Hood (Antony Starr), who assumes the identity of sheriff in the small town of Banshee, Pa., has made him a fan and critic favorite. “Job is a character that is fairly extreme, and I wouldn’t have really pegged that for myself,” admits Lee. “In the casting process, it’s a succinct description of who this character is supposed to be, so it’s sort of an illustration of the intense generalization that happens in show business, which in and of itself is a reflection of greater societal generalizations that happen. But Job being such a strange collection of things — a transvestite, criminal, computer hacker, foul-mouthed diva — you begin to butt up against the inefficiency of the encapsulation of those terms. I find it very interesting because when people react to Job, I begin to see their own mechanisms for understanding who he is.”

In preparing for the role, Lee found that his background in tech helped inform Job’s character. But there was nothing that could help prepare him for the unique wardrobe requirements. “I had to trim down to fit into those leather dresses, and even then I’m strapped in to the busting point,” he laughs.

When asked about playing a unique Asian American character, Lee responds, “That’s tricky for me as an actor because when you choose to identify yourself or a role as Asian American, it kind of grants permission for other people to use that as the primary identifier, and that’s a really difficult balance to strike. Job is of Asian descent because I’m of Asian descent, but in descriptions of him, the race dimension is only one of many.”

Instead, Lee feels there may be a universal message in characters like Job. “What people are hopefully enjoying about him is that he’s somebody that is explicating that search for who he is, and he’s welcoming all the complexities that it means. And that’s something that anyone who has felt on the outside, and that’s most of us, can identify with.”

Banshee returns for a second season on January 10. 

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

How To Keep Things Steamy: More Reason To Stay Inside All Winter Long

Story by Kanara Ty. 

We’ve come up with plenty of ways to keep things steamy with your partner — all the more reason to stay inside all winter long.


boday candy
BODY CANDY
When it comes to sex, we often underestimate the power of foreplay, especially everyday things like kissing. Slow things down a bit with Good Clean Love’s Body Candy. It’s an edible balm that will take the art of kissing to a new dimension. It works with your body’s natural scent and you can use it on your lips or any kissable body part. Even better? It comes in three tasty flavors (Cocoa Mint, Spicy Orange and Vanilla Chai), and it’s vegan, cruelty-free and made with natural ingredients. Details Goodcleanlove.com.

 


kahnoodle
KAHNOODLE
While Kahnoodle was conceived as a mobile app for those in long distance relationships, it’s still a great way to keep things spicy in any relationship. Take the coupons (complete with naughty stick figure drawings) that you can send to each other: “Good for one naked surprise when you come home from work.” And the other fun part of this app? There’s a love tank that you can each fill up as you race to see who makes the better lover. Now that’s some hot competition. Details Free on iTunes, kahnoodle.com.


masque
MASQUE SEXUAL FLAVORS
For women, you either really love performing oral sex … or you don’t. Usually one of the complaints is the, er, taste. Masque Sexual Flavors may help. It’s a paper-thin flavored gel strip (the flavors — strawberry, mango, chocolate and watermelon — are actually quite overpowering) that dissolves in your mouth and purportedly helps to neutralize other tastes. They make for intense make-out sessions, too. Details Yourmasque.com.


g-vibe
G-VIBE
These days, sex toys are getting more innovative (vibrating condoms, hello!), and I’m always excited to see what new devices are out there. What’s currently hot on my list is the G-Vibe. It may not look like your typical vibrator, but the makers say its design adapts to every woman individually, with two tips to provide simultaneous stimulation inside, including the G-spot — and yes, men can use it, too. Details Funtoys.info.

 


HealthyHooHooProducts
BONUS: HEALTHY HOOHOO
I’ve tried many feminine products, but I’ve never liked any more than Healthy Hoohoo (love the name!). It’s really gentle (no drying or irritating sensation) and removes odor-causing bacteria. Trust me, you’ll love the fresh feeling. And it’s free of glycerin, parabens (according to the company, 99 percent of breast cancer tissue contains parabens!), fragrance and gluten. Details Healthyhoohoo.com.


This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

 

Frances Chung: Living The Cinderella Dream, Literally

Story by Taylor Weik. Photos by Erik Tomasson. 

To anyone else, a 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. workday at the office might be a full load. But Frances Chung, a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, didn’t spend the day in an office. This morning she came into the studio early to change, then spent an hour and a half warming up and working on her technique. The rest of the day was spent in grueling rehearsals with her company in preparation for their tour to New York next week. Any other person would be passed out in bed by now. But Chung’s cheerful voice gives away nothing over the phone.

“It’s been a long day,” she says casually.

A rigorous schedule is nothing new to Chung. Born in Vancouver to Chinese parents, Chung and her older sister were enrolled in piano and ballet classes at their local community center at the age of 5 “because, you know, our parents are the typical Asian parents,” she says. While her sister preferred the piano, Chung excelled in ballet. At 16, while competing in Switzerland, she won a scholarship that would allow her to spend the summer dancing in Boston. There, her talent was undeniable. She was immediately offered a full-time position as a ballerina with the Boston Ballet, but she turned it down so that she could finish high school.

During her senior year, Chung auditioned for 10 different ballet companies across the United States before she got the acceptance call from the San Francisco Ballet. She graduated high school and, at 17, left home for the first time. She’s been with the company for the last 12 years.

“I’m now going into my 13th season,” she says slowly, as if digesting the news. She knows it’s been a long time. “I’m definitely a West Coast girl. I don’t plan on going anywhere, anytime soon.”

And how could she? After joining in 2001, Chung danced for four years before being promoted to soloist in 2005, then another four years until she achieved her dream of becoming a principal dancer in 2009. She’s danced a variety of roles over the years, including the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, the Enchanted Princess in The Sleeping Beauty and the Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote, the latter of which she had wanted to play since she was a young girl. She also recently played the title role of Cinderella, something she describes as being “every girl’s dream.”

 

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“I’m at the peak of my career now; I just turned 30,” says Chung. “I don’t know when I will stop. I’m just going to go until my body can’t handle it anymore.”

Chung’s job isn’t one for the weak of heart, mind or body. San Francisco Ballet dancers work 42 weeks of the year, and then many, like Chung, use the little time they have off to dance in side projects. One of her favorite “vacations” has been traveling to Germany with some of her fellow dancers, which has inspired her to one day form her own project and bring dancers to perform in her hometown of Vancouver.

Another inevitable side effect of dancing? Injuries both physical and mental. Chung has sprained both of her ankles many times and has suffered from knee, hip and back pains. Sometimes she struggles with self-esteem, and has to remind herself that her identity is not based on who she is as a dancer. She has her bad days.

But every bad day is worth the many more good days she has performing with the San Francisco Ballet. She enjoys the freedom dancing brings her, and because the same ballets have been danced many times by hundreds of other dancers, Chung also enjoys the challenge of adding her own style to make the role her own.

But more than anything, she values the opportunities she’s had to meet people. “When I think back — wait, that makes me sound old,” she laughs. “All of my favorite memories are the ones I’ve shared with people. I love working with other dancers, and dancing with different choreographers is a new experience every time.”

Chung knows she’s not going to be dancing forever. She will age, and eventually she’ll be too tired to perform the same movements with ease. Where will she be in 10, 15, 20 years from now?

“Hopefully I will have graduated college, at least,” she jokes.

But for now, Chung is exactly where she wants to be. She’s not a planner. She takes her life day by day, waking up early and perfecting her pointe work and pirouettes until the sun sets. When she’s not dancing, she likes to cook and read up on home design and may even catch up on some movies. And what does she watch to unwind? “Flashdance,” she says. “What can I say?”

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ABOUT FRANCES CHUNG
Woman’s Best Friend: She has a 5-pound Chihuahua mutt named Iggy.
Fast Food Indulgence: In-N-Out double double with grilled onions.
Multitasking Abilities: She is currently taking college courses while dancing at the San Francisco Ballet.

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Dara Shen: Competing In A Combat Sport Where Asian American Women Are Rare

Story by Ada Tseng. Photo by Susan Hale Thomas.

Dara Shen is trying to explain what it feels like to get punched in the face. “Have you ever sneezed really hard?” she asks. “That’s what it feels like. I remember the first few times I got hit, my face was sore afterward, but your neck gets used to it. If you’re strong in your neck, you’re not going to be bobbing all over the place, and that’s what causes a knockout: when your chin turns too much in one direction and cuts off the blood to your brain.”

A Taiwanese American boxer who’s hungry for her first U.S. national championship (she already has multiple silvers and bronzes, but her only gold is from when she fought abroad in Taiwan), 27-year-old Shen is no stranger to black eyes. But she’s managed to avoid major injuries thus far, other than a concussion she got when she fought at the Olympic Trials back in 2011.

Despite her (almost) clean slate, Shen concedes that boxing is a dangerous sport and her loved ones have the right to worry when she’s in the ring. It’s no wonder that her parents can’t bear to watch her fight. They’d rather just hear about the results afterward, and they yearn for the day they can throw her a retirement party.

“Being punched in the face is part of the game,” says Shen. “For me, it’s not painful anymore. It’s more of a mental thing: how you deal with it is what makes you who you are as a fighter.”

Born in San Francisco, Shen moved to Utah when she was 11 (raised Mormon, she describes her formative years as being one of the only Asians in a sea of blond hair and blue eyes), before moving to Virginia for high school. Though Shen participated in many sports growing up, it wasn’t until she was a 20-year-old university student at Virginia Tech (going through a bad break-up that left her with much pentup frustration) that she discovered a boxing club at her school.

“I just did it for fun and to get in shape,” remembers Shen, “but I’m very competitive by nature, so once I found out there was a whole world of competition, I fell in love with the sport. I went to my first nationals in 2010.”

At 5-foot-9-inches and 165 pounds (“My coach calls me ‘Asian Amazon’”), Shen fights in the middleweight division, the highest of three weight classes that were allowed in the first-ever women’s Olympic boxing event held at the London Summer Olympics in 2012. Boxing has long been considered a male-dominated sport — it had been the last-standing all-male sport in the Games for years — and even nowadays, though she competes against other women, Shen does most of her training with her male teammates. (“It’s a treat to get to spar with another girl,” she says.)

All through 2011, Shen competed in numerous qualifying tournaments, fighting to earn a coveted spot at the Olympic Trials, but she kept missing by a hair. The U.S. National Championships qualified the top four; Shen was fifth. The National Golden Gloves took the first-place champion; she came in third. The National PAL qualified the top three; she was four. Once her U.S. opportunities wore thin, she decided to try her luck in Taiwan with her dual citizenship. There, she earned gold at the Taiwan Olympic trials, represented Taiwan in the Women’s World Championships (another qualifier for the Olympics), and there, again, she missed qualifying by one spot.

Eventually, she was able to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials after there was a last-minute dropout, and she became an alternate for the London Olympics. But looking ahead to the 2016 Games, she wants more. In 2014, she will get another chance to qualify, and her past failures only fire up her passion and hunger to win.

“I lost so much when I first started competing,” Shen remembers. “I lost my first seven fights, so as an amateur boxer, being down 0-7, you have to question, ‘Is this for me?’ But I never saw quitting as an option. This is what I want to do. I’ve seen what my sport has to offer at the most elite level, and I know what it takes to be there.”

While there are numerous respected Asian women boxers abroad, including Ana Julaton of the Philippines and Mary Kom of India, Shen says she has only seen three other Asian American women in her seven years of boxing in the United States — and this includes both athletes and officials.

“I know when I go to competitions, when people don’t know me, they think, ‘She probably can’t fight. She’s a girl. She’s pretty. She’s Asian. Asians don’t box,’” says Shen. “You get looks from people, and they don’t need to say anything, you already know what they’re thinking. But being Asian in this sport has made me stand out. If you were to go to the tournament and ask for the Asian girl, there’s only one. It’s just me!”

Though she lives for boxing, Shen acknowledges that the sport is struggling, especially with the rise of UFC and mixed martial arts, and despite all the physical risks involved, boxing doesn’t necessarily pay. There are only a couple American women with major sponsorships, and the rest of the fighters have to make a living outside of the sport. Based in Alexandria, Va., Shen herself works a regular 9-to-5 job in project management for construction and real estate development, before heading to the gym each day for
her training workouts.

“It can be depressing if you read into it too much, so I try to do what I can to stay focused on my own goals and not let that part drag me down,” she says. “And that’s what I love so much about boxing — that it teaches you so much about life. If you pay attention to what everyone else is doing, you’re not going to be able to do what you need to do, the best way you can do it. That’s boxing, and that’s life!”

This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here.

Audrey’s Must Read SEX-tistics

Story by Kanara Ty & Ethel Navales.

Sex is often a taboo topic among Asians. As a result, you have some Asian women who view sex as dirty, some who have no knowledge of sex (and no knowledge of proper means of protection), and some who do engage in sex and are judged harshly for it.

This may account for the married couple in the city of Wuhan, China  who made headlines in 2011 for spending three years believing that lying next to each other would result in pregnancy. Although both individuals were college graduates, it’s safe to assume that neither had any form of sex education.

While many big cities in China have more modern attitudes towards sex, rural areas still refuse to teach sex education. In fact, some Chinese parents encourage abstinence and use sex as a scare tactic. One woman claimed her mother told her sex was like being shot with a gun. It’s no wonder the subject became taboo and many Chinese young adults learned to either fear the act or consider sex shameful.

Although this attitude towards sex changes quite a bit for Asian Americans, there is no denying that the topic itself is rather taboo for many Asians. Seeing as sex is a normal part of life, we’ve decided it would be more healthy for everyone to talk about it.

For starters, we’ve brought you some statistics to show that sex is in fact a common and perfectly normal activity. Check out Audrey’s SEX-tistics below.

 

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This story was originally published in our Winter 2013-14 issue. Get your copy here

Our Winter 2013-14 Cover Shoot With Priyanka Chopra [Photos]

We simply can’t get enough of our beautiful and talented cover girl, Priyanka Chopra.

Not only has she made history by being the world’s first Indian “Guess Girl,” she also became the youngest person to ever win Miss World at the age of 17, has starred in some of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all time, has an album releasing soon, was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child’s Rights in 2010, wrote for the Times of India, and is on our list of The World’s 15 Most Followed Asian Female Celebrities on Twitter.

Clearly, the world wants to see more of this amazing women and we certainly want to help. Here are the beautiful photos of Priyanka Chopra featured in our Winter 2013-14 issue.

To purchase your copy of Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2013-14 issue, click here. Be sure to read the amazing cover story on Priyanka here

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Photographed by Yu Tsai and Stevie & Mada.

To purchase your copy of Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2013-14 issue, click here. Be sure to read the amazing cover story on Priyanka here