Leisure, $6.99, ISBN 0-8439-5504-X
Historical Erotica, 2005
If this second book in Jade Lee’s Sexpot Taoists Gone Wild series is anything to go by, I’m starting to see a distressing pattern in her stories: apparently our Taoist heroes (not the boring mainstream Taoists that are supposed to live a life of moderation – this particular branch of Taoism we are talking about advocate all kinds of hedonistic pleasures that will literally send us to heaven) love their pale-skinned white women very dumb and very buxom. It is the “very dumb” part of the pattern that makes me want to cry.
Our heroine, the American dingbat Joanna Crane, doesn’t want to do scholarly stuff and all. She wants to have adventures, you see. She wants to kill her horses and run wild and free. Never mind that she tends to ride her horses down until they end up lame, what’s more criminal is the fact that her father doesn’t institutionalize her the moment that she displays her first hairbrained tendency. Her latest escapade is to run away and join the Boxers in search of adventure. Now, the Boxers are mad that the foreigners are dividing up China among themselves. The people are starving. The Boxers blame the foreigners for all their problems. They are trained in martial arts. Now, Joanna believes that the Boxers will welcome her because she wants to help them free themselves from the tyranny of the foreigners in China. Can you imagine what happens when she approaches a bunch of Boxer rebels?
If you haven’t thrown this book down and fled for the hills, you will learn that our heroine is rescued from her huge idiocy by our hero Zou Tan, a name that translates to “smelly egg” in Cantonese. Zou Tan is trained in the Tigress aspect of Taoism by Shi Po (whom you may remember from the previous book White Tigress), of which all you need to go to heaven is to exercise plenty of onanistic activities when there’s nobody around or hedonistic shaggies when there’s a willing partner around. I love the idea of such a religion. I always wanted to go to heaven and become a goddess so that I can spend my days among the clouds playing bawdy songs on my genitalia-shaped harp when I’m not helping the world become a more peaceful and loving place. The Tigress way sounds like a wonderful way to go. Where do I sign up?
I don’t know how the Dowager Empress turned into a cackling evil witch of a caricature when in history she’s crafty woman willing to exploit the Boxers’ zeal to stave off the foreigners encroaching on her power but she provides a lame subplot to give the story some obligatory “good versus evil” showdown when the main characters have run out of dragon seeds and the jade flutes are too worn out to be played anymore, if you know what I mean (and I’m sure you do). The story ends with an unintentionally hilarious moment where our hero and heroine shag in front of an appreciative audience (that includes their fathers) to… um, symbolize that they have achieved the perfect ying-yang thingie, I guess. I can only imagine the conversations at the dinner table for these people.
However, instead of being an outright camp comedy of sexual excesses, Hungry Tigress is misguidedly sober. Instead of kinky comedy sex, I get plenty of tedious psychobabble, psychoanalyzing, and pages after pages of Tigress philosophy. Considering how ridiculous the plot is and how irritating and stupid the heroine is, giving me the assumption that Ms Lee is taking this story very seriously is probably not the way to go about doing things. Zou Tan remains a stereotype of some exotic Oriental master, only this time he specializes in sex rather than kung-fu, kinda like Pat Morita with washboard stomach and a thirty-inch penis if you will. This is a story that is virtually impossible to be taken seriously, especially since I’m Chinese and I find this story absurd in how hammy and desperate it is to pander to the non-Chinese notion of how “exotic” and “mysterious” China is. Therefore, I really do not know what to say when Ms Lee gives me this impression that this one is a serious erotic romance and I should be rooting for Zou Tan and Joanna to shag their way to world peace and what not, other than a big HA HA HA.