Yeoh Wee Teck
The New Paper
Sunday, May 04, 2014
While the Ah Boys To Men movie series made him a celebrity, it was Ah Boys To Men: The Musical that established Wang Weiliang as a star.
He has been receiving rave reviews for reprising his role as the street-smart recruit Lobang King. (The stage production, which ends on Sunday, is playing at Resorts World Sentosa.) Add to that his legion of fans (just head to his Twitter or Instagram accounts to see for yourself).
But fame has not gone to the head of the 27-year-old local getai performer-turned-actor.
During our shoot, he repeatedly reminded me: "I'm just an Ah Beng." That is also the way he used to dress - until Ah Boys castmate-turned-good friend Tosh Zhang, and local hip-hop artist Shigga Shay started ribbing him about his fashion sense.
"They told me to buck up because now that I am in the public eye, I need to be more careful about my appearance," Wang said. "When I had less money, fashion was not important to me. Anything was okay - as long as it was long-sleeved and covered my legs. "Now, I think about suitability. I have more choices now."
And Wang does not even know how his covered-arms-and-legs style came about.
"I've been this way ever since I can remember. I'm just more comfortable covering them up." It is no surprise he named Zhang and Shay as his fashion inspirations. "I observe what they wear and try not to wear the same thing because they carry it better than me!"
He joked: "They asked me to create my own style, but when I showed them what I usually wear, they told me not that type of style." Wang is trying out more colours and patterns after being influenced by the pair.
He also loves watches, and with fame comes money to buy them. Wang's first major purchase was a pair of Rolex watches, one for him and the other for his mother.
Both timepieces set him back more than $20,000. Since then, the watch enthusiast has bought another pricey one - an Audemars Piguet worth $17,000. He said when he bought the Rolexes, he felt a sense of satisfaction. "It was my own money from my hard work."
He took about half-a-year to save up for them. Buying one for his single mother, whom he worships, was especially gratifying. But her reaction surprised him. "She told me, 'The watch face is so small, how to tell time? You paid so much for it'."
To that, he replied: "A Rolex is not for telling time. Just wear it to show off." Wang, who dropped out of school at the age of 14, takes care of the household expenditure, and declared the reason he is on stage is his mother.
"When she sits in the audience, I can feel she is proud of me and that is important to me.
"After the disappointments I have put her through, I am happy for her to witness my success," he said.GETAI WANG Local veteran getai performer Wang Lei is a mentor to Wang. And when he gifted his protege a stage costume, it was a life-changing moment.
"He gave me this outfit in 2011. He said it brought him luck and wanted to share his luck with me.
"I used to sing on stage but nothing happened for me. So when I put on this suit, I thought I might as well start doing comedy because I thought I looked funny."
His comedy routine caught on and he forged ahead with his career as a getai host. Wang remembers the first time he wore the yellow creation: "It was at Ang Mo Kio Block 419." His mentor's words still ring in his head: "He told me that on stage, I can say anything I want, just don't be vulgar."
This rust-coloured Topman suit was a turning point for Wang, fashion-wise. "I wear only black and white, but I thought it was time I tried something new. So I bought this." He reasoned: "I'm quiet and dull, so at least my clothes should be inviting."
When he is just hanging out, Wang says his go-to garb is the "typical Ah Beng look". "I don't look for brands when I shop. I just buy what appeals to me." He does not have time to hang out anyway. "I used to meet my friends and we'd hang out at the coffee shop till late. Now, whenever I have days off, I'm home - catching up on sleep."
One perk of success? Sponsored clothes. The outfit he wears for work is sponsored by Hong Kong menswear label firstname.lastname@example.org. and his shoes are from Puma. "I prefer not to be too formal when I'm making appearances," he said. But Wang is not always comfortable receiving things.
He said: "When I was performing at getai shows, someone wanted to give me a Tag Heuer watch. I declined because I didn't know the person. I wouldn't accept such an expensive gift. "But if it is a close friend, I don't care how much it is, I'll just take it!"
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