TLC’s ‘90 Day Fiance’ Reality TV Show To Debut China-US Couple

An upcoming season of the “90 Day Fiance” franchise will spotlight a China-US romance through Ella, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA, and Johnny, from Ji’nan, China. 

Their appearance will mark the first time for the reality TV show — which focuses on Americans who have or are planning to apply for a fiance visa to bring their overseas partners to the US — to feature a China-US couple. 

Here’s the introduction to the couple from EW’s preview of “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” Season 5:

Ella, a country girl from Idaho with a self-proclaimed obsession with Asian culture, met Johnny — her “Asian prince” — on a social media platform exclusively for Asian men and white women. Once they started video chatting, they realized they’d found their soul mates in one another. The pandemic has made it difficult for them to meet in person, and China’s borders remain closed, but after a year and a half and a number of false starts, they’re finally preparing for Johnny to visit Ella in her hometown and get engaged. Despite having video chatted “intimately” over the past few months, Ella’s history with rejection from past romantic interests due to her weight has her worried about what it will be like when she and Johnny are together in person. Still, they’re both ready to prove that their love can conquer all, if they can overcome family skepticism and pandemic barriers.

According to a post on Screenrant, Ella and Johnny’s relationship — which appears genuine based on clips — could satisfy fans hungry for more authentic relationships on the show, which in past seasons has seen returning couples as well as plotlines and drama that don’t square with reality (despite it being called “reality TV”).

Season 5 of “90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days” will premiere on Dec 12. You can see Ella and Johnny, along with the rest of the couples cast in the season, in this trailer on Youtube:

Photo credit: Screenshot from Entertainment Weekly post at https://ew.com/tv/90-day-fiance-before-the-90-days-season-5-cast/

Two-Year Engagement: Italian Woman Saves Up Money Before Meeting Indonesian Fiancee

An Italian woman and Indonesian man meet, fall in love and agree to marry. 

Sounds straightforward enough? But not if you include that the two met online, and that it took two years of hard work and saving money for the young lovers to finally see each other in person.

This pre-pandemic love story, published in the Jakarta Post, still had the power to tug at my heartstrings, with details like this:

Ilaria said she conveyed her plan to marry Dzulfikar to her parents in Italy and that they gave her consent to do so. “For two years, I saved money I got from working in a restaurant in Italy just to come to Indonesia,” said Ilaria.

The full story, which you can read online, includes photos of the two.

Wherever Ilaria and Dzulfikar are, here’s wishing the two of them the happily ever after they deserve!

What do you think of this story?

US-China Couple Weds in Beijing with a Little Help from Strangers

I’ve often heard that life is what happens when you’re making plans. Never have we had a more salient reminder of that reality than the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged not only our lives but also our best of plans.

For American Apryl Reagan, a singer and actress in Beijing, and Ma Yinliang, that meant facing a wedding in Beijing where, due to the pandemic, Apryl’s family could not attend in person. So she decided to add a little American flair to the special day by inviting some Americans she didn’t know to join in the ceremony, according to a recent report on the Beijinger:

When asked about her decision to invite strangers, Reagan says that the choice was simple.

“Of course, a wedding is a great place to celebrate our love, but it’s also just a great place to celebrate! And judging by the amount of energy these Americans brought to our group chat, they were guaranteed to make it a party,” explains Reagan. “I also really wanted to give my new Chinese family this opportunity to see how Americans party! But even more than that, sometimes I am afraid they see me as ‘America.’ Since they have never met another American, I worry that anything I do will be seen as what ‘all Americans do.’ So, I also wanted them to be able to have a chance to be around Americans other than me, meanwhile experiencing first-hand some of the cultural differences between an American wedding and a Chinese wedding.”

Americans filled two tables at the Beijing venue — the Palace International Hotel — with many of them meeting the newlyweds for the first time as they went around to personally thank all of the attendees. 

The couple’s romance amid the pandemic actually lifted the hearts of others, as the Beijinger article noted:

Despite the year’s Covid fears and border closures, however, Ma and Reagan kept their hearts open to love. At the ceremony, the maid of honor noted in her remarks that their whirlwind romance inspired many friends present who hoped to one day build a partnership on the same foundation of care and respect. 

You can read the full piece and peruse the lively photos from the evening — which included dancing to the Macarena! — at the Beijinger.

Actor Liu Ye, Wife Anais Martane Stand Up for Sea Turtles with WildAid

While reading China Daily’s newspaper recently, I came across a public service ad starring a rather familiar couple:

Sure enough, I recognized actor Liu Ye and his wife Anais Martane, one of the most beloved celebrity Chinese-foreign couples here in China — and now ambassadors for the nongovernmental organization WildAid:

WildAid released a new series of TV messages and billboards featuring popular actor Liu Ye and his wife Anais Martane to raise awareness about the threats while calling on the public to stop buying sea turtle products. Speaking at the launch event this week, Liu Ye said “we can all do something really simple to help protect sea turtles, and that is simply not buying sea turtle products. We should all also reduce our use of plastics, and keep plastic waste away from coastlines.”

Liu Ye, considered one of the top actors in the Chinese mainland, remains best known in the West for his breakout performance in the 2005 release of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, the 2006 Curse of the Golden Flower and the 2007 Hollywood film Dark Matter. He and Anais Martane, a French photographer, married in Beijing in 2009.

According to a China Daily interview with Liu Ye — Heartthrob Liu Ye Now Enjoying Work and Married Life, published March 11, 2010 — Liu said, “We decided to get married because we share traditional views of the family. I am over 30 and she is one year younger than me. I want to be responsible for her and marriage is a promise.” In response to a question about what he found most attractive about Martane, he said, “She is a very nice woman. She gives me lots of peaceful feelings. She likes reading and has read many classics. She likes Israeli and Russian music.”

And another China Daily article notes Anais Martane stands as “more than just a Chinese celebrity’s wife” as she has become involved in public service projects and cares very deeply about the environment. She told China Daily, “My relationship with environmental protection began with a connection to the sea, as my childhood was spent in a coastal town, and I am crazy about everything to do with the sea.”

You can learn more about the WildAid campaign for Sea Turtles involving Liu Ye and Anais Martane at the WildAid website.

Giant Man Zhan Shicai (Chang Woo Gow) and Catherine Santley

If Yao Ming had lived in Qing Dynasty China, perhaps his astonishing height might have landed him a role in a circus or onstage.

Photo credit: By ralph repo – Chang The Chinese Giant [c1870] Attribution Unk [RESTORED], CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33422368
That was the life of Zhan Shicai, better known among Western audiences as Chang Woo Gow, whose towering stature (he reportedly stood over 8 feet tall) propelled him into such a career in the 1800s, including a stint in P.T. Barnum’s famous circus freak show that toured the US.

Born in Qing-era China in the 1840s, Chang Woo Gow made his first appearance abroad in London in 1865 at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, together Kin Foo, his onstage wife, and the dwarf Chung Mow. An article published on Nov 9, 1893 in the London Times described what Chang Woo Gow’s performances were like in that era:

Amidst a hushed room Chang would arise to the tinkles of bells and a piano playing a Polka. He slowly descended to greet his audience, and to gasps of amazement at his great height, he would gently shake hands with those nearest the front. With excitedly playing music he would “chin chin” to his audience and then, with a great flourish of gongs he would majestically regain his throne – and the exhibition would be finished.

The admission fees to this spectacle of Victorian human curiosity were up to three shillings. Chang’s employers disgracefully refused him permission to walk about town with the shameful excuse that this lowered his value as an “exhibit”. This he found untenable, and longed for a quieter life.

Indeed, as Chang Woo Gow, who went on to tour Europe, the US and Australia as “Chang the Chinese Giant”, lived an existence which the Dorset Magazine characterized as “tawdry”:

Even though Barnum paid him the handsome sum of $500-a-month to dress up in Mandarin robes or the war-mongering finery of a Mongolian warrior, Chang almost certainly wished that it didn’t have to be that way.

He was fluent in six languages, gentle, intelligent, well-mannered and quiet by nature with no natural affinity for the brash showmanship of the circus world.

Still, traveling the globe allowed Chang Woo Gow to meet Catherine Santley, who enchanted him during his visit to Australia. They married in a church in Sydney and went on to have two children, Edwin and Ernest.

The couple eventually moved to a villa they dubbed “Moyuen” in Bournemouth, England, at a time when Chang Woo Gow suffered from tuberculosis. He opened a teahouse and store selling Chinese imports there. But surely he harbored deep affection for his wife Catherine, as the report in the London times stated that in 1893 “he died of a broken heart, at the age of 52, just four months after his wife’s death.”

You can also learn more about Zhan Shicai/Chang Woo Gow and Catherine Santley at his Wikipedia page and this page maintained by the Chinese Museum in Australia.

What do you think of Zhan Shicai/Chang Woo Gow and Catherine Santley?

Photo credit: By ralph repo – Chang The Chinese Giant [c1870] Attribution Unk [RESTORED], CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33422368

The Magical World of Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana in Bali, Indonesia

As summer vacation has begun, this time of enchantment, love and travel feels like the perfect time to focus on a couple whose lives truly symbolize the spirit of the season — Australian Janet DeNeefe and Balinese Ketut Suardana, the duo behind some of the most magical dining and hospitality businesses in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Janet DeNeefe found herself captivated with Bali when she first traveled to the island with family in 1974, and on a return trip in 1984, fell in love once again — this time, with a particular person, as described by an article published on the Four Seasons:

She met a Balinese man named Ketut, who at the time owned a successful art gallery and was studying political science in Denpasar. Within five years, she had moved there, the pair had wed, and they had opened their first restaurant, Lilies, on Monkey Forest Road.

DeNeefe had also fallen in love with Ubud, its people and the idea of helping visitors find their own love of her adopted hometown. This passion would transform DeNeefe into a tireless mini mogul, in a town where most expats are on permanent holiday.

Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana went on to open Casa Luna and the Indus Restaurant, both premier dining spots in Bali, along with the top-rated Honeymoon Guesthouse. DeNeefe also launched the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in the 2000s and, more recently, the Ubud Food Festival. Some have dubbed her the “Queen of Ubud” and even compared her fairytale life to the acclaimed memoir Eat, Pray, Love (though it’s worth noting Janet DeNeefe wrote her own memoir titled Fragrant Rice).

In an interview in the Honeycombers, DeNeefe speaks of how the love between her and Ketut has evolved over the years:

Ketut, my husband – he’s around somewhere! We survive by staying out of each other’s hair. 80 percent of stuff we agree to, the other 20 percent we definitely don’t! You’re never going to be completely in tune after all. As you get older, it’s a different sort of love; it’s a deeper, more solid sense of security – where you know that you belong. It’s about having a family and being happy together.

She also told the Honeycombers she considers her sense of humor vital in life.

I can laugh my way through anything, which works in Bali because there’s a real kind of ribald, slapstick humour here. After meeting my husband, our businesses grew, our families grew, and that was that!

You can explore the creations of Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana by visiting the websites for Casa Luna (which served up some of the most memorable meals I enjoyed on two trips to Bali), the Indus Restaurant, and the Honeymoon Guesthouse. To learn more about Janet DeNeefe, visit her website or pick up a copy of her memoir Fragrant Rice.

What do you think about Janet DeNeefe and Ketut Suardana?

A Trip Backwards: How People Thought of Interracial Marriages With Asian Men in the Past

People often say that to understand the present, you have to look at the past. That’s why I started my AMWF History series, to examine interracial relationships between Asian men and non-Asian women in earlier times.

So today, I’m revisiting some rather telling quotes from posts I’ve featured for AMWF History, in an effort to raise awareness about how people have talked about Asian men in interracial relationships years ago.

As I compiled this post, I found it disconcerting (but not surprising) that a number of the opinions described below still endure, including in dark corners of the internet. A lot of people still believe interracial love is wrong.

This list of quotes is by no means comprehensive. So please, sound off in the comments with your examples too — let’s continue the conversation together.


From the San Francisco Chronicle, 7 April 1883 (per Frederickbee.com) (featured in my post Sarah Burke and Wong Suey Wong, Arrested in 1883 USA (For Love)):

Sarah Burke, who has unalterably set her mind upon a disgusting marriage with a Chinese laundryman, acknowledged that she had passed a dismally and frigidly cold night in prison on Friday.

From the LA Herald piece “Married to Chinamen – White Women Who Accept Mongolian Husbands” (featured in my post 4 Stinging 1890s Quotes on White Women Who Loved Chinese Men):

The average American cannot understand how any human being, however inured by custom, can live in an average Chinatown. That white women should live there by deliberate choice seems to him monstrous, horrible.

She is but twenty-two years of age, remarkably beautiful and possessed of a voice that…would be a fortune. Yet three years ago, she met and loved a Chinaman.

It is also well known that not one Chinaman in a hundred comes to these shores without leaving behind a wife in China; so by the laws of China, the white wife is not a wife…

They have had six children, of whom five are living – bright, intelligent half breeds. And Mrs. Watson (her husband took that name when baptized) is still handsome and pleasant spoken.

From Culture Victoria (featured in my post Mei Quong Tart, A Chinese Gentleman and Leader in Victorian Australia):

Quong asked Margaret’s father, George Scarlett, for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Even though he was a friend of Quong’s, George refused. Quong Tart and Margaret waited until the day after her twenty-first birthday, on 30 August 1886, and married anyway. Quong was then thirty-six. The appearance of grandchildren eventually reconciled Margaret’s parents to their daughter’s marriage.

From Lisa See’s book On Gold Mountain (featured in my post Letticie “Ticie” Pruett and Fong See from Lisa See’s “On Gold Mountain”):

Letticie wrote her brothers of her marriage, and received a terse letter back, in which her family disowned her. How could she marry a Chinese? It was disgusting, they wrote, and she was no longer their sister. She knew she would never see or hear from any of them ever again.

From Moviemaker.com (featured in the post Cinematographer James Wong Howe and Author Sanora Babb):

Aunt Sanora told me that on one particular occasion when they were going out to dine at a Chinese restaurant, a woman had taken the time to follow them to the entrance of the establishment. As she harassed the two of them for being together, Aunt Sanora took the woman’s hat and tossed it in the gutter. Aunt Sanora remembers this woman chasing the hat down the sewer drain exclaiming, “My $100 hat!” When the miscegenation laws were repealed, it took them three days to find a judge who would marry them. When they finally did, the judge remarked, “She looks old enough. If she wants to marry a chink, that’s her business.”

From the Australian Maritime Museum (featured in the post Australian Women Who Married Indonesian Men, Supported Indonesian Independence in 1940s):

Lotte fell in love with Anton Maramis, a Manadonese petty officer, and married him with her family’s support, although she battled much antagonism from the broader Australian public she encountered. Many other young Australian women faced strong opposition from families and friends to the decisions they made to marry their Indonesian fiancés and return with them to their homes once Independence had been declared.

From the South China Morning Post (featured in the post Liverpool’s Lost Chinese Sailors, and the Families Left Behind in the UK)

Married or not, they earned a reputation in ultra-conservative post-war England as being “loose women” and, in another archive, Charles Foley found that government officials dismissed those married to or cohabiting with a Chinese partner as “the prostitute class”.

What quotes have you come across about how people in the past thought of interracial relationships with Asian men?

Guest Post: AMWF ‘Thor and Sif’ Thunder Ahead in Photos

Enjoy this AMWF Thor and Sif photo collaboration by Ana Hudson, a new model and photographer hitting the scene. This is part of her portfolio titled “Project Justice”, which includes her previous posts: Lucky in Love – 21 Photos of ‘AMWF Iris West, Flash’9 Powerful ‘AMWF Superman’ Photos to ‘Save’ Your Day and 13 Sexy, Fun ‘AMXF Deadpool’ Photos to Make You Smile.

What superhero would you like to see Ana feature in her next photo shoot? Let us know in the comments!

If you are an AMXF couple in the Los Angeles area, Ana Hudson would love to offer you a free/donations accepted photoshoot. To find out more information about planning a photoshoot you can reach her at [email protected]


Credits:
Models: Justin Zhang (IG @NoobStrength) and Liz
Photographer: Ana Hudson (@WhiteChocolatePlayer)

If you are an AMXF couple in the Los Angeles area, Ana Hudson would love to offer you a free/donations accepted photoshoot. To find out more information about planning a photoshoot you can reach her at [email protected]


Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Riding the ‘Love Boat’: Ukrainian Woman Falls for Chinese Cruise Ship Colleague

Have you ever imagined romance on the wide, open seas? Meet Mary, a Ukrainian woman who worked on a cruise ship and fell for her colleague from South China. I’m honored to share the tale, along with a lovely collection of photos that document their precious love.

Do you have a love story or other post you’d like to see featured here? Visit the submit a post page to learn more and then contact me today with your ideas.
—–

He asked if he could accompany me on this trip … and he became my companion for life.

I was working on a luxury cruise ship and my day off looked pretty fun. I planned to sail up to Manaus, the capital of northwestern Brazil, for shopping, lunch, a crocodile safari tour in the Amazon river just for crew members, dinner in a traditional Mexican restaurant and clubbing all night.

When my girlfriends and I entered the l boat for the safari tour, which was supposed to take us to see dangerous crocodiles, he was already onboard, taking pictures of the Amazonian waters.

He was the handsome IT engineer on the cruise ship.

I had talked to him on our ship before. He was always very polite and friendly, and this moment was no exception. He asked if he could sit next to me and accompany me on this trip.

I said “Yes,” never realizing it was the beginning of our romance.

The next day we had a date in Manaus city. Then we got together Curacao island, Aruba, St. Martin and Puerto Rico, and along the way our love grew.

Both of us had worked on cruise ships for a few years, traveling all over the world. We shared a lot in common, including the fact that we were both dreamers who were accustomed to taking action to achieve our goals. With him everything always felt easy and enjoyable.

When our working contracts had ended, I flew back to the Ukraine, while he went home to South China. Yet the bond between the two of us remained strong.

Three months after we parted, he arrived in my city of Lviv and we traveled together to all the best places in Ukraine.

Later, I was invited to visit him and his family in Guangzhou, where he proposed to me. I went back home and announced to my parents that I would move to China.

We did not find any obstacles in our way. My parents really liked him, and his parents liked me.

Before the wedding, we lived together for one year. We established our own home and found jobs (as we had resigned from the cruise company). We also traveled together to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau, and had a paradise honeymoon in Hawaii. Our wedding supposed to be small, but we ended up with 120 people in attendance. My parents, a few relatives and friends came from Ukraine. It was mix of traditions, with sea-inspired decorations, Chinese cuisine, Ukrainian embroidered towels, a first dance and a hip party for younger guests on the 65th floor of the Hyatt rooftop bar.

Eleven months after the wedding, we were blessed with our gorgeous daughter Alicia, becoming the happiest parents ever. Now seven months old, she is a very interesting and cute little baby.

When we are together, nothing seems impossible. There are no distances, no obstacles and barriers for us. We are citizens of the world. And we will continue to open up this world together and show all of its beauty to our girl.
—–

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Lucky in Love – 21 Photos of ‘AMWF Iris West, Flash’

Enjoy this AMWF Flash and Iris West photo collaboration by Ana Hudson, a new model and photographer hitting the scene. This is part of her portfolio titled “Project Justice”, which includes her previous posts: 9 Powerful ‘AMWF Superman’ Photos to ‘Save’ Your Day and 13 Sexy, Fun ‘AMXF Deadpool’ Photos to Make You Smile.

What superhero would you like to see Ana feature in her next photo shoot? Let us know in the comments!

If you are an AMXF couple in the Los Angeles area, Ana Hudson would love to offer you a free/donations accepted photoshoot. To find out more information about planning a photoshoot you can reach her at [email protected]


With this particular shoot, I focused more on the comic book character version of Iris West. I noticed how red and vibrant her hair was and thought about how lucky and loving the color red is to Asians. I wanted to focus on the color red for this piece- it’s the color of love and luck. How lucky we are to be alive and to love those who mean the most to us. – Ana Hudson, WhiteChocolatePlayer

Credits:
Models: Justin Zhang (IG @NoobStrength) and Angelique Evans (IG @angelique.evans3)
Photographer: Ana Hudson (@WhiteChocolatePlayer)

If you are an AMXF couple in the Los Angeles area, Ana Hudson would love to offer you a free/donations accepted photoshoot. To find out more information about planning a photoshoot you can reach her at [email protected]ail.com.


Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.