Book on striptease queen Rose Chan launched

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 23 Jun 2013

GEORGE TOWN: Some 100 people crammed into a small reading room to learn about the story of striptease queen Rose Chan who rose to prominence during the cabaret heyday of the then Malaya in the mid-1950s.

They were at the By, In, For and About Penang (BIFAP) community reading room in Che Em Lane here for the launching of Rose’s biography “No Bed of Roses: The Rose Chan Story” yesterday.

The 279-page book features details of Rose’s triumphs and struggles before she succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 62 in 1987. Some of the attendees also bought the book after the launch.

“It is a sensational first-hand, unvarnished narrative of the life and times of Rose,” said her trusted confidante and award-winning poet Cecil Rajendra who authored the book.

Cecil, who remained Rose’s lawyer right up to her death, said the book gave an account of Rose’s poverty-stricken childhood in China, her life in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as her five marriages and personal struggles.

“She is a legend who is proud of what she had done in life,” said Cecil.

Rose, who was born Chan Wai Chang in Soochow, China, in 1925, gave everything she owned to charity at the age of 55 after doctors told her she had only a few months to live because of breast cancer in 1980.

Cecil said other details like how Rose found a way around colonial British decency laws and her battle with cancer, were recorded in the book published in Singapore by Marshall Cavendish.

Rose had reportedly enjoyed her unexpected fame after a “wardrobe malfunction” happened when her bra strap snapped during a dance. The incident launched the career of the country’s best-known striptease dancer as the audience went wild by giving thunderous applause as they thought it was part of her stage act.

She was 27 years old when she changed her dance routine to a striptease act and a Malayan legend was born.

Rose retired at 51 in 1976 after her last show in Kuala Lumpur and subsequently became active in charity events before she died in 1987.

State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow, who launched the book, lauded the setting up of the BIFAP reading room to encourage the reading habit among Penangites. The book is available at all major bookstores at RM49.90.

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