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Tuesday, January 04, 2005


The Falun Gong Show

If you live in New York, you are familiar with the Falun Gong group that has made itself a continuous presence on our streets over the past few years. It seems like a day just isn’t complete unless you see their happy faces in a city park, acting out scenes of torture. But who are these Chinese folks? What are they doing here? What the hell do they want? Hairshirt sat down with Bobby Gong, the vice-president of the American division of the group, to get those questions answered.

Hairshirt: Thank you for speaking with us today.
Bobby Gong: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Hairshirt: Your church has really taken off in the States. What’s the secret to your rapid growth?
B.G.: How could we not do well? This is the United States of America, where you are free to practice whatever religion you want. You live in a land where your President thumps his bible harder than anyone! This place is lousy with religion.

Hairshirt: I guess we sort of take that for granted sometimes.
B.G.: You bet your ass you do. In China, we don’t have it so good. You know how those communists are. They never met a religion they didn’t hate. This is meant to imply that they are the opposite of your folksy Will Rogers, so that you when you think of the Chinese government, you will think of them pissing on Will Rogers’ grave. That makes them vile in your mind, yes?

Hairshirt: Not really, but don’t let that stop you.
B.G.: We, the peaceful followers of Falun Gong simply wish to practice our religion. But the Chinese government prefers that we practice getting the shit kicked out of us instead. Man, they are one surly government.

Hairshirt: How did Falun Gong get started?
B.G.: Falun Gong was founded seventeen years ago by a community theater director named Falun Chung. The wise and infallible Falun was coming off of an incredibly well-received production of The Fantasticks, which he directed and in which he also played the part of El Gallo. The closing night cast party got a little rowdy and the provincial police were called in to restore order. The all-hallowed Falun organized the drunken party-goers into a fighting force and successfully defended the party by dumping boiling hot bean dip on the police as they approached the front door. The party then continued on into the wee hours, with all involved having an incredibly good time.

Hairshirt: Awww. That’s so cute.
B.G.: By the end of the party, Falun had come up with his brilliant idea of doing the first ever production in China of the female version of The Odd Couple, performed in repertory with the male version. Clearly, this was inspiration from the heavens.

Hairshirt: That sounds daring.
B.G.: It was. High ranking party officials made their displeasure known. They distributed many leaflets throughout the country, stating that the only acceptable version of The Odd Couple was the original male version, and that Falun and his followers were spreading sedition with this “modern” bi-sexual approach.

Hairshirt: What did they do?
B.G.: They closed all of the theaters. The government was determined to stop us any way they could. The actors were destitute. They gave up hope and were ready to return to their day jobs, mostly as lawyers and teachers. Then the Divine Falun came to us and told us that he’d found a venue, right in Tiananman Square. This was in ’89. The place was crowded with student protestors, many of them despondent and bored. We brought art and enlightenment to the masses until the government crack-down, when we were thrown into prison.

Hairshirt: What was that like?
B.G.: Our captivity was hellish. Only the spirit of the Divine Falun and the translated words of Neil Simon got us through. We were changed. We had felt the power of community theater. And we began to spread that power throughout China. The government arrested us whenever they found us, but jail has little effect when you can spend your captivity doing scene work on Ten Little Indians.

Hairshirt: You persevered, though.
B.G.: Eventually, the police began beating us in the streets. Instead of jailing us, they killed us. That didn’t stop us, though. We fought on, doing a sold-out run of Annie Get Your Gun in our second season. Then the government launched its most insidious plot. They fired the critics from all of the nation’s newspapers and replaced them with high-ranking party officials. Every single review of our next show, Butterflies Are Free, was a pan. It was savage. After the reviews came out, we couldn’t give tickets away.

Hairshirt: That’s so demoralizing.
B.G.: It was. And so we left. We came to America, the home of the greatest community theaters in the world, to tell our tale. We took to the streets and used our acting talent to vividly portray the torture we’d undergone at home.

Hairshirt: That must have been very fulfilling.
B.G.: Well, actually, I wanted to do South Pacific, but the Divine Falun felt that the torture scenes would be more effective. I’m still trying to convince him to put a few subplots in, maybe a chorus of adorable orphans to do a few songs in between the fake beatings.

Hairshirt: Have you encountered problems with the authorities in the U.S.?
B.G.: Your government has been very welcoming. The biggest problem we’ve had here has been with Equity. They claim our non-union crew is a violation of New York City law. Back home, they would be part of the secret police.

Hairshirt: Are you having success with your recruitment?
B.G.: Oh, yes. New York has been the perfect place for us. There are so many out-of-work actors here who jump at the chance to put a Falun Gong simulated torture on their resume.

Hairshirt: What are your plans for the future?
B.G.: Well, we plan to expand our operation to Los Angeles, where we could potentially break into indie film. Can you see it? Falun Gong II: The Reckoning.

Hairshirt: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

B.G.: You’re welcome. May the Divine Falun and the also Divine Larry Shue shine on you.

Just thought I'd add another example of China bullying against Falun Gong. This time, it has stopped website access to an Australian university because it has a meditation group with Falun Gong reference.

Link here:,5744,16570814%255E12332,00.html

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