Leslie's childhood was not what most people think, happy life, filled with love and toys, but rather lonely and deserted. His father was a very successful tailor in Hong Kong. He helped many famous people make clothes, such as the Hong Kong govenor, and even some of the stars in Hollywood. (It is true, his father was known as the "Tailor King", but he died in late 70's). His father was busy all the years and Leslie seldom met his father at home. His mother, who helped the family business, was not at home all the time too. As a result, his sister number sixth, a hired maid who raised him was the only one who accompanied Leslie's childhood. Leslie's parents lived far away from him and they seldom came home. Leslie said he never had a chance to live with his parents. At that time, his mother only came to see him and his brothers sisters every Saturday night. His father only came home during Chinese New Year, or some other festivals. Leslie recalled that the longest time his father stayed home was actually 36 hours...
Leslie is the youngest child in his family, but it doesn't necessary mean that he got the most attention. He has 2 brothers (7th and 8th), and the others are all sisters. As you might notice, sisters and brothers are tend to get together in pairs, so did Leslie's. 1st with 2nd, 3th with 5th and 6th(if I remember correctly), 7th with 8th(9th and 4th were dead when they were born),then the 10th, Leslie, was with....nobody. Since the 9th was dead, it created an age gap between Leslie and his 8th brother. Leslie knew pretty well that his 8th brother had tried to care for him. Unfortunately, the 8 yrs different in age between then became a barrier. Leslie was a lonely child since then. His maid (sister No. sixth, as Leslie called her),once told Leslie that he wasn't like a normal boy who played around and active, instead, Leslie was quite silence and quiet.(Poor Leslie...but it is a big comfort for me to see that he enjoys his life now.)
In Leslie's childhood home, other than his brothers, sisters, mothers and maids, his grandmother also lived with him. She was already paralyzed in her sixties. One day, after school, Leslie was picked by his maid and was told not to be frightened, because his grandma was sleeping. Although Leslie was only six at that time, he already sensed something bad had happened. When they got home, he found that all his aunts, uncles, and cusions were gathered around his house with their mourning expressions hanging on their faces. And there grandma was, sitting on a couch with an opened mouth and a blank face. Her skin was purple blue. Leslie was scared by that scene. (I was a bit scared by his description too; he described it in details) She then was taken away by some people.
When Leslie was young, his maid no. six always brought him to the beach. Leslie was drown quite a number of times although he enjoyed swimming. That day, he went to the beach with his maid as usual. He was too young for swimming at that time, so he just sat on the rubber ring, and paddled it as if it were a boat. Suddenly, a big wave flipped litte Leslie over. Leslie joked that his butt was too small for the hole of the ring, so he was stuck and could not get out. He kept struggling for a while and saw his maid through the water; she was not looking at Leslie's direction. That means she had no idea what was happening to Leslie. Leslie thought that he was going to die, while he used his last strength to push. Fortunately, he succeeded and managed to get out. He was almost drown.
The second time happened when he went swimming with his brothers and sisters. At that time, Leslie was lying on a floating bed. Then his "brainless" brother no. 7th, as Leslie referred him(I couldn't help laughing when Leslie said that in a most humorous way), jumped onto the floating bed. Leslie was thrown into the sea. Since his brainless brother didn't know how to swim, he snatched Leslie's rubber ring and swam away. Leslie drank lots of water. He did not really drown because his sister was beside him, but he felt quite hurt and disappointed in his brother. (This is a story I got from a magazine, his no 7th brother said he was only trying to train Leslie to be brave....)
In Hong Kong, men were allowed to have more than one wife before late 70's. Same as Leslie's father, he had two wives at the same time (From all I know, he actually had 3, but Leslie only mentioned 2), one was his mother, the other was a concubine (Leslie's stepmother). You know, when more than one woman share a man, there must be lots of unhappiness going on. It also happened to his family, when his mother and stepmother lived together in the same house. Lots of quarrels were going on everyday, and it was a mess. His stepmother even poured urine all over little Leslie because of her jeolousy.(I don't really blame her for that since it is a tragic for a woman) Leslie said that his father had many other women other than them. Sometimes, his dad would rent a hotel room and invite a beautiful woman in. As a result, the relationship between Leslie and his dad was not really close. There was a time when Leslie pointed to his father in front of his father's friends and said, "We are not close". Leslie admitted that he didn't know what his father thought at that moment (he was only six at that time); probably nothing because there was no sign of changing in his father after that. In another interview that I heard from Leslie, Leslie said that he hated his father at that time.
Leslie's primary school life was an ordinary one. At that time, students were distinguished into two catagories: study type and playing type. Leslie belonged to the study type since he always got good marks. Part of the reason was that his sister kept putting pressure on his study. When Leslie's mark dropped, he would be beaten by his sister. However, in high school, everything changed. His sister did not teach him anymore because high school stuff was very different and much more difficult than that of elementary school. When Leslie relized that the pressure form elementary school was gone, he went wild and did not care anymore, so of course, his marks dropped. Nevertheless, he was still loved by some teachers due to his high English mark. His English was considered to be the best in the whole grade. At that time (1960's), Hong Kong was still a British colony,and everyone considered English was the most important subject; Chinese wasn't essential at that time. Also, Leslie started to enjoy sport, especially badminton. However, he was not a good student, and his unrestrained personality had already shown. One day, he made fun of one of his sport teacher's name in front of that teacher. Among Chinese, especially in that old time, teachers were all regarded as some respectable figures,so no students would dare to say something rude about the teachers. If you did, it could be serious (lucky it is not the case now in Hong Kong; most teachers now are quite friendly and they also get along with students quite well). Well, Leslie did made fun of that teacher. Then the next day, a teacher came into his classroom and said, "Leslie Cheung, go to the principal office!". "Oh Oh, nooo..". Immediately, Leslie knew what happened. He went to the office, and was told to be suspended for one week. "Do not think it was fun" Leslie said, " it wasn't. I felt bad and I was bored for the whole week, and I promised myself that it would never happen to me again!".
Geez..what Leslie had been throught was out of our imagination, especially when he started his career as a singer. He makes me realize that I am a lucky and a fortunate girl. Here it is...I will start from his high school life in England.
Leslie was asked one day by his father if he would like to study aboard. That was the first time, and the only time in his life, Leslie admitted, that he felt he father cared for him. At the day of his departure, all his family were at the airport. However, because of his unhappy childhood memory, he was almost estatic to be able to get away, to run away from his childhood. He left them with only a goodbye wave without a final glance. He was only 13 at that time.(a 13 yr old boy went to a place where he had never been to...holy cow!!! I was surprised by that.) England was a new world and new life for him. He had no relative there. When he arrived after a long and boring plane trip in late August, he was greeted by one of his father friend whom he didn't really know. And then the next day, Leslie was sent to the dormitory of a high school. Nothing interesting happened in those days, I should say. Leslie studied hard and got a scholarship to get into the University of Leeds. He chose textile management as his course. Many people think it is a course of making clothes,but actually it is more than that. You need to know how to draw and design. Being a designer was Leslie's future goal at that time. Unfornately, things didn't go smoothly in his life. After spending a year and a half as a university student, he was forced to quit his study. One day, he received a letter from his family which urged him to go back, because his father was suffering from stroke and was eventually paralyzed.
When Leslie arrived Hong Kong, his father wanted him to stay, so he didn't go back to England. He stayed in Hong Kong and continued his study starting with grade 11 (F.5 in Hong Kong) since his Chinese was not good enough to meet the Hong Kong standard. At that time, he met some friends who also like music, so together, they formed a band.in 1977,His friend put his name in the Asian singing contest, and luckily, Leslie won a second prize, which also led him to the entertainment industry. He then signed a contract with a musical company, and produced his first album "I like dreaming". However, the reaction was not good at all, it was really bad, and lots of criticism came along against his terrible singing style. I heard that his album was only sold for $1 at that time (21 years ago), ironically, his first album is now worth $2500 since it is Leslie Cheung first album! I feel this is so ironic because it is the same person, same song... the only different is the time and Leslie's fame.If you think criticism is already hard to endure, how about this? When Leslie attended a musical award ceremony, which was also his first public performance, Leslie was the only person that night with no award and was booed by 2000 people. Some audience even shouted at him, "Go back to your home and sleep!" (In his 1990 farewell concert, Leslie told his fans that when he heard the criticisms, he went to the shop and purchased all the famouse singers' albums. He listened and listened in order to know what was singing.I think he is remarkable.) After his contract with the musical company expried, one of the manager informed him that they didn't want to cooperate with him again,since the reaction towardshis albums was bad. Leslie was really devastated at that time.He had no luck in music and so did in movie. One of the movie company appoached him and asked him to make a movie. The staff told him that he would be the major actor, and the movie was a comedy. What a great chance! To Leslie, it was a new hope. Having no experience at all and was only about 22 years old, he signed a contract with them. He didn't know it was another trap and downfall. Serval days after the movie was filmed, Leslie knew he was cheated. The movie was not a comedy at all, instead it was called "An Erotic Dream of The Red Chamber", and you can tell by its name, it was just a bunch of erotic sceces. Leslie had not choice but to make it, why? Well, if he didn't, there were some strong guys around the shooting site... you know what would happen if he refused to make it. He would be beaten by them!
As I've mentioned before, early 80's was Leslie's most desperated moment in his life. He was poor, unemployed, and had no family to rely on(I heard that his parents opposed his decision to enter the entertainment industry). He started to hang around in disco where he could perhaps find a flash of joyful moment. There, he met a girl whom he did not even know the name. They went on and spent some nights togehter. Leslie said,"I know this is disgusting...but if you want me to tell a biography, I will always tell the truth." However, when Leslie began to fall for her and wanted to be with her, he discovered that the girl was only trying to get money from him and his family. He was so hurt. In order to advoid her, Leslie left his home and lived in the hotel. Unfortunately, that girl did not stop and got some gangs to go after Leslie. Since then, Leslie said that he simply lost his interest in women. For a while, all his friends around him were male. Leslie was hurt and deceited deeply that felt he was greatly insulted.
After all these unfortunate years, when did Leslie became famous? The first song which brought him hope was "The wind continue to blow". It wasn't a smash hit when it first released; however, as time went by, more and more people began to fall for this song. It wasn't because of Leslie's singing skill, but his emotion and the feeling he gave to that song touched many people's hearts. If you listen to it now, you would know what I meant even though you don't understand the meaning. You feel that you are living in the breeze....However, the song which made him became a mega star was called "Monica". It was a smash hit. He captured every teenager in Hong Kong by his dance and jaw-dropping handsome outlook. At that time, singers in Hong Kong seldom dance around on stage, Leslis was the first one to bring this kind of performance into Hong Kong. I was only six at that time, but I could still remember how the song Monica hit Hong Kong music industry. Whenever I went out, I would hear the song Monica playing in every store, street, and radio. It was the first time I hear the name Leslie Cheung. Too bad that I was too young to admire any artist, even that was Leslie. Leslie's album soon dominated the best seller chart everytime when his album released even now. At the same time, there was also another singer, Alan Tam, who was equally popular in Hong Kong, they soon were compared by the public and the media. Everytime when they appeared on the stage together, the audience was in chaos. This situation became worse when the musical award ceremonies were held. Leslie lovers and Alan fans fighted, and cursed each other.Media called this the fans war. Leslie was booed by Alan fans when ever he received an award, so did Alan. He also received lots of gifts from Alan fans such as letter written with blood, some fans even built a grave in front of Hong Kong coliseum when Leslie was holding a concert. He was shouted by his enemy fans whenever he was recognized in the public. His car was damaged by them...Leslie said that after all these kind of pressure, unhappines and frightening experience, his interest in singing and acting gradually disappeared. Besides, after all years of struggling, he was really tired. In the year of 1989, 5 years after his popularity arised, he announced his retirement to the public. Everyone was shocked. Leslie was the most popular star at that time, not only as a singer, but also as an actor. This news shocked Hong Kong, Taiwan, South East Asia, and even Alan's fans. Leslie held 33 concerts in Hong Kong and immgrated to Canada.