As the Met Gala sets tongues wagging about US celebs and their outfits — and following Nick Kapur’s fantastic thread on Chinese names for NBA players — we’re using our weekly photo theme to dig into some of the more unusual Mandarin Monikers for Foreign Stars.
Fruit Sister is, alas, nothing to do with Brother Orange, but is actually how Katy Perry is commonly referred to in China. She’s long been known as 水果姐 (shuiguo jie) thanks to her apparent penchant for fruity imagery in her publicity photos and videos.
Her name has soured somewhat on the Mainland in recent months however after her donning of a sunflower dress in Taiwan (where the sunflower is a symbol for movements seeking to protect Taiwanese independence) left a bitter aftertaste in the mouths of the authorities here. Perry was tipped to appear at last year’s mishap-plagued Victoria’s Secret show in Shanghai and also had Mainland China dates for her recent Asia tour on the books, but neither took place after she was refused permits by the government. “Sunflower Sister” issued a note of contrition but it was not to be.
In contrast, Bad Luck Bus has had no problems performing in Mainland China — incredibly even bringing a tour entitled 1989 to the country. Yes, 公交霉 (gongjiao mei), or Bad Luck Bus, is one of a number of nicknames for Perry’s arch-rival Taylor Swift. This is a variation on Tay-Tay’s oft-used Chinese nickname of 霉霉 (mei mei) a homonym for 美美 (beautiful) but using the character for bad luck. Apparently her Chinese fans believe that every time she tops the Hot 100 Billboard charts, the feat is accompanied by some stroke of misfortune, often in her personal life.
So why the public transport reference? Well that comes from slightly more mischievous “fans” of Ms Swift noting the speed and regularity with which she apparently changes boyfriends.
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