Rick Lau will not be naked in his next stage performance. This is not a frivolous disclaimer. Lau’s first big break was as part of the ensemble of Naked Boys Singing, followed not long after by a role in Hair, a musical with a compulsory nude scene. Laughing down the phone, Lau says he has no regrets.
That’s a good stage in my life and in my career and I think it introduced me to a lot of people in the gay community, which is great. But I can sing with my clothes on now, he says.
Lau’s latest stage adventure is How Now, Rick Lau, a follow-up to two previous cabaret shows SunRice -“ A Cabaret and I Know Where I’m Going -¦ I Think. The show concerns the misadventures of a blogger (web diarist), who struggles with a dispassionate dole office and a disastrous attempt to enter the sex industry.
Lau moved here 12 years ago from Hong Kong and graduated from NIDA in 1999, but now finds it increasingly difficult to get work in an industry he says is dead globally. How Now, Rick Lau is the product of last year’s experience, an annus horribilis in which he lost a number of actor friends to the business world.
I really want to keep the creative momentum going and honing the craft, rather than waiting by the phone for the agent to call, he says.
I started getting a lot of pressure from friends and especially family to get a real job. And I started thinking about family expectation and society expectation and what we’re supposed to be and not, and how obsessed we are to create labels for ourselves, especially in the gay community.
Titles like SunRice and How Now, Rick Lau reveal a sense of humour about how he’s perceived as an Asian-Australian; however, they mask a passionate commitment to change. Lau is also one of the creative directors of Theatre 4A, an initiative of the Asian-Australian Artists Association aimed at producing inspiring Asian-Australian performance to enliven contemporary urban life.
He’s also keen to revolutionise Sydney’s gay community. Positive role models are scarce, Lau says, and motivate his performances as part of ACON’s Asian Project and at the Midnight Shift’s Gaysha nights.
A lot of us in the gay Asian world are still suffering from the -˜geisha complex’, which is when you see someone you like, the first thing that comes to your mind is not whether or not he is a nice person, but whether he is a rice queen, Lau says.
But if we’re more visible and more confident that will disappear, and hopefully one day, the rice paddy at the back of the Midnight Shift will take a redundancy package and disappear.
How Now, Rick Lau is showing for one night only, Thursday 23 September, at The Studio, Sydney Opera House, at 8:15pm. Phone 9250 7777 for bookings.