What do celebrity fan clubs do? They give stars cards, food... and an elephant

19 April 2016 / 6 months 1 week ago

Hariz Baharudin
The New Paper
17 April 2016

Fans show their dedication to their idols in many ways, including preparing banners and giving them things such as cards and soft toys.

But the fan club for local television personality Pornsak Prajakwit, 34, got him something bigger.

Better known as Pornsak, his 50-member fan club adopted an elephant for his 33rd birthday.

Club president Yvonne Pan, 27, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "We got it for him because we knew he loves elephants, and he emphasises that we should give back to the society whenever we can."

The annual upkeep cost for the elephant of about $130 is outside of the club's regular activities, which include posting online updates about Pornsak's activities and achievements, giving out fliers at fan meets and cheering for him at concerts or road shows.

Pornsak is not the only one with fans doing good work in his name.

Rui En's fans do charity work in her honour. The 35-year-old actress' fan club, RBKD, has organised charity work events nearly every year since it was formed in 2008.

Says 28-year-old club president Peh Xin Yi: "We know that she appreciates all the work that we do, and spreading love is always a nice thing."

The fan clubs TNPS spoke to say the qualities these stars demonstrate strike a chord with them.

When asked what she likes about Pornsak, Miss Pan says: "He is a role model to me. I like how he always emphasises that we should be kind to one another."

Miss Peh shares the same sentiment about Rui En, saying: "Joining our fan club means you feel such a personal connection with Rui En that you want to contribute to her career, so we do what we can to support."

She points out that a year after RBKD was formed, Rui En won the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artiste award at the Star Awards and has done so every year since.

According to Miss Peh and Miss Pan, the average age of their club members is around 20s.

But joining a fan club is not limited to just the young.

Famed getai artist Hao Hao has a dedicated team of more than 120 fans, with ages ranging from 20 to 80.

They are a regular sight at his shows, cheering along to his dramatic performances as they wave banners and scream their support for their beloved idol.


Chairman of Hao Hao's fan club for eight years, 55-year-old office administrator Catherine Lee, says they cook for him and take the food to his shows as they are afraid he will get hungry.

Going a step further, six fans of Singapore-based Shanghainese actor Dai Xiangyu spent about $1,500 each in 2011 to travel to Hengdian, China, to support him while he was filming for China a version of home-grown drama serial The Little Nyonya.

They also took along handmade gifts and a video recording of well-wishes for him.

When asked about fan clubs for celebrities here, sociologist from the National University of Singapore Dr Tan Ern Ser speculates that fan clubs give members "a sense of belonging, identity and common purpose".

But he adds that there is a tendency to be ignorant about the flaws of their idols, on account of this "hero worship".

He says: "One implication is that members are likely to impute wonderful, almost god-like qualities to their idol. They are also likely to rationalise away any bad behaviours on the part their idol."

No regrets defending her idol Rui En

Her defence of her idol has come under criticism from members of the public, but she has absolutely no regrets.

Miss Peh Xin Yi, 28, president of the fan club for local actress Rui En, told The New Paper on Sunday: "No, I don't regret it at all."

The information surrounding the accident the 35-year-old actress was involved in on Tuesday was "flying everywhere", says Miss Peh.

She says, firmly: "I needed to help people to see the bigger picture, so they could present the facts better."

On Tuesday afternoon, the actress crashed into a parked motorcycle at a Clementi car park. According to the owner of the motorcycle, it seemed that the star tried to drive off.

When stopped, Rui En opened to door to ask: "Do you know who I am?"

Miss Peh, president of the RBKD ("rui bu ke dang", or "the unstoppable Rui" in Mandarin), penned an e-mail on Thursday and sent it to "friends of the media".

She urged reporters to "exercise prudence and empathy with your pen (sic) and keyboards" because "Rui En will not shy away from her responsibilities". Miss Peh also presented a point-by-point explanation of why her idol had done no wrong.

Another reason she felt she had to step in: Tonight's Star Awards, where Rui En will receive the All-Time Favourite Artiste Award, which is given to those who have won the Top 10 Most Popular Female or Male Artistes award 10 times.


"We've been looking forward to it for so long. It's been a 10-year commitment - almost like graduating from college. She's the youngest star ever to win 10 consecutive times, so I felt the need to step in."

"But now, there's a dark cloud over what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime moment for us fans," Miss Peh says.

As president of RBKD, Miss Peh helps spread information about Rui En's shows and events online to more than 100 people in the club.

Miss Peh, who did not want to reveal her day job, explains that as fans, they also attend Rui En's promotional events and organise charity activities in her name.

A few months ago, the club distributed welfare packs to more than 300 elderly residents in Ang Mo Kio. Miss Peh says the club spent more than $20,000, which came from their own pockets and sponsors. The event was in honour of Rui En's 35th birthday.

"We have this affinity, and she connects with us unlike any other celebrity," Miss Peh says.

She adds: "Even in the small things, like when we buy her snacks or cards when we visit her on set, we do it for her. I think she appreciates all the things that we do for her."

RBKD is Miss Peh's "family outside of her own family", and the members frequently do activities like hiking and cycling together.

It is this sense of camaraderie that makes the fan club so special to Miss Peh.

She says: "People see her at the top but we have stuck with her through good times and the bad. That's what keeps us bonded together, this journey we have walked to support her."

For the love of their idols

Fanclub for Rui En: RBKD

Example of dedication:

Organising charity activities such as delivering food, distributing welfare packs and baking Chinese New Year cookies for senior citizens and the needy.

Fanclub for Dai Xiangyu, formerly known as Dai Yang Tian: DAINAMICS

Example of dedication:

Six members forked out about $1,500 each to travel to Hengdian, China, in May 2011 to support their idol while he filmed the China version of home-grown drama serial The Little Nyonya.

Fanclub for Jeanette Aw: JEANIUS

Example of dedication:

Since its formation in 2004, the club has expanded its fan base to regional countries such as Cambodia, China and Malaysia. Last year, a group of fans flew to Cambodia to support Jeanette for the inaugural Phnom Penh Cable Television MediaCorp Awards.

Fanclub for Elvin Ng: ELVINOLOGY

Example of dedication:

The fan club has been around for more than 10 years and has organised birthday celebrations for Elvin at all kinds of venues such as country clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants.

Fanclub for Romeo Tan: THE JULIET CLUB

Example of dedication:

More than 20 fans gathered at the airport in 2013 to send their beloved star off to Tasmania, where he filmed the Channel 8 drama Sudden.

Additional reporting by Zachary Soh

Join in the talk