Saturday, August 14, 2004

The changing face of Singapore?

As Singapore hopes to launch into a new era with the swearing in of PM Lee Hsien Loong, a new face of another Singaporean is also shown on TV ... Steven Lim. A friend of mine asked, if I heard of Steven Lim yet and my answer was "No."

And then I found out about the self professed, "Handsome Boy" who is a street eyebrow plucker (at the corner of Tangs apparently), babysitter and stipper (are strippers legal in SIngapore?).

S'pore Idol: Best local comedy? provided a good insight for me into this new phenomena in Singapore (for I have been away far too long) and lo and behold, lots of opinions about this Singapore-Superaction-Hero!

Meet super Steve;
Singapore's very own Super Action Hero is game for everything


IT'S a bird. It's a plane. No, it's Steven Lim, 28, aka Singapore's Super Action Hero, Protector of Local Civilians, all the way from Ang Mo Kio.

Walk around Orchard Road on an afternoon, or in your friendly neighbourhood, and you just might bump into a buff former boutique supervisor who has upgraded himself into a hyperactive Saviour, ready to conquer the day.

'I am gorgeous, I am a hunk, I am fearless. Yes! Yes! Make me, make me famous,' Super Action Hero says when you first speak to him over the phone.

On his website sghunk1976/SgHunkWeb.html, which has garnered 26,000 hits since it was set up last year, are pictures of himself.

He proclaims: 'U can call me Super Hero if u want to. My dear fans, you can print my pic and make it into poster and paste it in ur cupboards and walls.'

Posing in just a pair of yellow swimming trunks, he goes on: 'I made it look so good! E-mail me for more information on fast weight Gain/Loss and physical training.'

He adds: 'I am more handsome than Pierre Png! Serious!!! N dun keep shaking your head!!! ha ha.'

Bizarre? Quite. A gimmick? Perhaps.

You e-mail him to request for an interview. He agrees immediately, raring to don his gear for a 'Meet-the-Civilians' session in a coffeeshop. 'So exciting,' he says.

When you finally see the man, he is exactly as he says he is - if not more sparky with his uber-talk, and also very likeable.

Extreme makeover

FIRST, we visit the Foreigners' House Of Costumes in Middle Road for a Batman cape. Its manager, Ms Kem K, is almost speechless, shaking her head at our star's pro-activity: 'He's good. He's a natural.'

Super Action Hero shakes his head, too, emphatically: 'No, no, not Batman. Otherwise, the girls cannot see my face.'

He tries on a Tarzan getup, and proceeds to do last-minute pushups for a final toning of his biceps. We eventually settle on a Superman outfit, and when the kit comes on, we saunter to a coffeeshop nearby for photos.

'I shy leh, I nervous leh,' he says, apparently anxious about his first photoshoot in costume. But you couldn't tell from his body language.

He leaps onto chairs and flings his cloak around. Astonished onlookers laugh, point, wince, whisper and cheer.

He sweeps gungho student Agnes Teo, 16, into his arms, rescuing her from would-be evil lunchtime diners: 'Wah, Gigi Leung, I like!'

She swoons: 'Cool. I feel like I'm in a comic strip.' But if this is all an act for her, it is apparently not so for Lim, the man behind the Hero - at least in personality anyway.

'I'm like that. I'm me - always been like that. I want to make people laugh. Even if it's at me. I'm thick-skinned. I'm not harming anyone. Heck the opinions. I'm funny, have above-average figure and am extremely nice. I put a smile on their faces.'

You almost believe him. Every step of the way he is constantly talking, thinking and laughing. At one point, he tells you unembarrassedly: While his effervescence was god-given, the physique has not always been so.

Long ago, he was a shrimp-like Nanyang Polytechnic marketing graduate who wore glasses and worked as a boutique supervisor.

Two years ago, he simply decided he had 'to do something about my life'. He was proud of his poly diploma, and used his marketing knowledge to transform himself.

As the son of well-known local artist Lim Leong Seng, and also cousin to xinyao (Singapore melody) pioneer Liang Wern Fook, he also comes from impressive arts pedigree.

He learnt to dance and sing, watching TV and surfing the Internet.

He went on a weight-gain campaign, putting on 20kg in six months. Now, he packs a 1.78m frame with 80kg of muscle.

He underwent Lasik corrective eye surgery and quit his job. To make ends meet, he began peddling his personality to people on the street as a hyperactive eyebrow plucker.

'I made this decision around the time my grandfather died. It made me think about what to do with my life,' he recalls. 'A friend had taught me the eyebrow skills, and I thought: All I have to do is learn this and sell myself! And make lots of money!'

Today, he still stands around Orchard Road every afternoon, ready to pounce on innocent bystanders to save them from bushy facial hair. 'But I don't pluck so much these days, because I am trying to nurture my new career - as a Super Action Hero.' It's a stepping stone

HE SIGNED up for Star Search 2003, and got into the top 100 hopefuls. He's considering Singapore Idol, when it comes round later in the year, and 'will definitely win $50,000, Surviving The Sky challenge'.

The latter is Singapore's first reality event, to be held at Singapore Cable Car on March 16, pitting different international teams to a seven-day endurance test in the air.

But for all the talk, what does Super Action Hero really know about civil defence? And how many hapless damsels has he saved here?

'Well, not that many,' says the man, who still lives with his parents and a younger brother in a five-room HDB flat. 'But you see, this is a stepping stone to become something greater.'

He wants to become MediaCorp's Next Big Thing. He wants to do movies. Host chat-shows. Make it big. And make it rich.

It sounds corny. But it is not as surreal as you might think: Strange as he may sound, Super Action Hero is really the crystallisation of the hopes of your average ambitious Singapore dreamer, daring to conquer the world with spirit, bravado and gesture.

He says with a laugh: 'As someone famous once said: If you can't be famous, at least you can be infamous. Huhhuhhuhhuh.'

It is a giggle that can only be described as 'silly'. Yet silly as it sounds, it is infectious enough to make you giggle like a schoolgirl, and wish him armfuls of luck along his way.

He gets on his beloved Phantom 150-cc motorbike and revs up. And whoosh - he is gone, off to save the world.

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Copyright 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
The Straits Times (Singapore)
February 22, 2004 Sunday

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