251 Sexual Acts With 70 Men Over A 10-hour Period - Hero Or Whore

Miral Fahmy

Few Singaporeans have courted controversy like sex star Annabel Chong, but a new play about her life which opens on Thursday aims to reveal the person behind the pornography.

"251" is named after Chong's most famous film, "The World's Biggest Gang Bang", in which she set a world record for engaging in 251 sexual acts with around 70 men over a 10-hour period in January 1995.

Starring, produced and directed by Singaporeans, the play also marks a milestone for this city-state which has long considered Chong a pariah and where oral and anal sex, as well as pornographic films, are banned.

"Singapore has definitely opened up much more in terms of what it's willing to allow on stage," said playwright Yi-Sheng Ng, who has been fascinated by Chong's life since he heard about her infamous film as a teenager.

"She's an icon, a figure of the taboo, of doing that which is forbidden and scandalous in Singapore, she's one of our country's great anti-heroes," he told Reuters.

Chong, born Grace Quek, was born in 1972 to a conservative Christian family in Singapore, where she excelled at some of the country's top schools. While studying law in London on a government scholarship, she was gang-raped in a rubbish tip.

Aged 21, she went on to do graduate studies in California and then started working in adult films. Today, she still lives in the United States, where she is a Web designer, and refuses to talk to the media about her days as Chong.

"251" is the second biographical production about the actress, who is perhaps one of Singapore's best-known exports.

In 1999, a US film student produced a documentary titled "Sex: The Annabel Chong Story", which was nominated for a Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival the same year.

The film, which highlights her substance abuse and tendencies towards self-harm and depression, is also banned in Singapore.

Loretta Chen, the director of "251", said government authorities had vetted the script and laid down some "guidelines" that included toning down some of the language as well as ruling out nudity and scenes that depicted group sex.

But she said the staging of the play showed Singapore's government was also changing with the times.

"Ten years ago, this would not have happened, but with the Internet and the accessibility of porn today, this forces the authorities to address such issues," she said.

Chen, who got Quek's blessings, hopes audiences will come out of the play realising that Chong was a product of Singaporean values, as well as "a person with family, friends and feelings".

"When I started researching, I got intrigued with the idea of her being a national hero ... someone who dared to break boundaries," she said. "The only reason she is not considered a hero is because what she did was a sexual act and we don't consider that to be heroic in any way."

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