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Friday, Jul 01, 2022

Hong Kong’s got the hots for handsome butcher for more reasons than one

Hong Kong’s got the hots for handsome butcher for more reasons than one

Why are Hong Kong housewives and aunties so obsessed with handsome local butcher Samuel Lau? Maybe it’s because Hongkongers are desperate to feel more ‘local’ to reinforce their identity.

Meet Hong Kong’s newest – and most unlikely – heartthrob, Samuel Lau Sung-wai, known to his legion of fans as “Wai Wai”.

Not long ago, Hong Kong husbands and boyfriends took to social media to lament losing their women to Canto-pop boy group Mirror. Now, a year later, more hearts are being broken as women flock to the butcher’s shop where Lau works, to snap a photo or steal a glance (or both).

He has gained a loyal following on a fan-made Facebook group, which has amassed over 16,000 members and counting.

A few jealous commenters – probably “neglected” partners or envious male observers – have even quipped that Wai Wai is not actually that good looking without his mask.

Lau with fans on his YouTube channel.

Nevertheless, a few negative online comments and observations have not dampened the intense enthusiasm of Lau’s fans – mostly housewives, middle-aged aunties, even a few uncles – who have been swarming the modest meat shop in Tsuen Wan, in the New Territories, to take selfies with the handsome butcher.

Some have even gone as far as purchasing “souvenir” pork chops that were selected and sliced by the man himself.

Lau on his YouTube channel.

The media response to this new-found Hong Kong heartthrob has been no less vigorous as Lau’s star continues to rise. Besides coverage by Chinese-language Hong Kong media, he has been featured in an online article by an English-language outlet and in popular social media groups such as “Subtle Asian Traits” and “Subtle Cantonese Traits”.

In response to the public attention, Lau has happily admitted that his life will never be the same again. He now has an official YouTube food channel and an Instagram account in which he showcases his culinary talents, much to the delight of his fans.

He is even endorsing products, and his cooking videos are being sponsored by a public utility company.

Lau on his YouTube channel.

Nonetheless, Lau remains humble and says he will not give up his day job because it has continued to provide him with a stable income.

His humility and down-to-earth personality have won him even more applause from fans and the Hong Kong public, who have lauded Lau for his good looks and equally attractive character.

How did this social phenomenon come to be? Why have so many women – and even some men – fallen under the spell of this Average Joe?

Lau on his YouTube channel.

There is no shortage of stories about celebrities, their lavish lifestyles, extravagant spending and the occasional scandal. We love to read about them, look up to them and covet the lives they live.

As regular people, we will never become them or acquire that kind of life. Our interest in them can be treated as something of an escapist pleasure.

That said, we admire and honour the celebrities who opt to remain humble and live simple lives that do not necessarily reflect their fame.

Lau on his YouTube channel.

Canadian actor Keanu Reeves is a popular example of someone who lives like “the rest of us” – not out of necessity but because of his humility, which is driven by his down-to-earth personality.

Reeves is an international icon whose stardom puts him out of our reach, yet he still seems so close to the rest of us.

Creating a star out of an Average Joe not only provides hope that brightens up our mundane days, it also gives us the power to become a kingmaker, even if it is only for a fleeting moment.

Keanu Reeves at the 2016 MotoGP of Australia at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

And, of course, looking at a person who is both beautiful on the outside and inside helps to capture the hearts and minds of the public, as some celebrities have a reputation of being disconnected and “unrelatable”.

The success of Mirror, a boy group formed on a popular talent competition show in Hong Kong, is a classic example of king-making by Hongkongers, and Lau’s rise to fame is a sequel to that, one which will surely be followed by many more.

We may be seeing a growing urge among Hong Kong people to create home-grown icons just as we regularly crave dim sum. It has become a part of the Hong Kong identity and the city’s way of life now, as Hongkongers want to feel more “local” to reinforce their cultural identity.

Lau at his store. He says he will not give up his day job.

Being able to create something like a local star that we can call our own is an identity booster that can serve as a security blanket.

So once Lau’s star descends and his 15 minutes of fame are up, don’t be surprised if you see more Average Joes and Plain Janes being discovered on our streets.

After all, what harm is there in indulging in a little escapism – and a passing celebrity crush?


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