updated 16 May 2012, 02:46
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Wed, Sep 21, 2011
The New Paper
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Fiona Xie is still a crowd puller
by Joanne Soh

Fiona Xie may have been avoiding the limelight for the past two years, but she can still draw a crowd in Singapore.

On Saturday evening, the former MediaCorp actress made her first public appearance here since quitting the local showbiz scene and moving to Hong Kong and New York in 2009.

Some 100 people of various ages - and various types - gathered to gawk.

Including unsavoury ones, like one man who got a bit too close for comfort and touched her arm. Another, armed with a foldable stool, shamelessly pushed his way through Xie's inner circle and aimed his camera squarely at her chest.

The curvaceous 29-year-old was at Nex shopping centre as part of local magazine 8 Days' Ultimate Shirtless Guy competition.

The informal weekend hunt was the first of several searches leading up to the finals on Nov 26 where Xie will serve as the chief judge.

The original plan was for her to prowl the mall for hunks willing to strip and show off their six-packs.

Though she quickly found several muscular men who could fit the bill, Xie was forced to abort the mission after just 10 minutes when she was surrounded by a few over-eager male fans.

She then retreated to the registration booth for the rest of the 40-minute event.

"Her manager was concerned about her security, so we decided to cut short the walkabout," explained Mr Terence Ang, head of marketing communications for watch retailer City Chain, a presenter of the competition.

Mr Ang, who is a friend of Xie's, added that the situation "got a bit too chaotic" though they did expect such a turnout.


Tio Tze Qin and Nigel Lee, both 17-year-old students, went to the mall specially to catch a glimpse of Xie.

The classmates had read about Xie's scheduled mall appearance in The New Paper's report on the former TV star on Friday.

Another fan, Mr Michael Tan, wasted no time in asking for her autograph.

The 30-year-old petrol station assistant was clearly ecstatic when his bubbly idol obliged.

As for the contestants, their eyes were mostly on what they could win - $3,000 in cash as well as vouchers and products worth more than $7,000, including an Ellesse watch and a Blackberry.

The hot bods who turned up had no qualms getting topless - one even did one-arm push-ups to impress the panel.

Said one of the contestants, gym owner and part-time model Jason Chee, 24: "I knew Fiona would be here, but I've seen her at other events before. I'm not a fan.

"I'm here to take part in the competition as the prizes are good!"

Fewer than 10 hunks were eventually selected to move on to the next round.

Xie, who was also surprised by a floral bouquet from a male fan, admitted she was taken back by the reception.

She told The New Paper: "To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about agreeing to this gig. I even had the jitters. But it's been fun. Everyone is so excited."

So did she miss being swarmed by a crowd?

"I can't really say I miss that as it's not something you can get used to. I do walk among crowds in New York or Hong Kong, but no one pays any attention to me! It's nice to be back."

The actress, who made headlines when she ran down Orchard Road wearing only a bikini for a TV drama back in 2004, is far from comfortable when ogled by men in public.

"It's a bit strange indeed. Despite my outgoing nature, I am actually quite shy, so I did feel myself blushing," she said with a laugh.

"Today is the first day of the search, so I guess I'll get used to it after a while!"

The Ultimate Shirtless Guy contest might place emphasis on a man's physique, but Xie claims she isn't one to be turned on by beefcake.

"People do appreciate aesthetics. These guys spent so much time at the gym, but that's not necessary for me.

"Nothing beats chemistry, however cheesy that sounds," she said.

"It's your personality that will shine through at the end of the day. If you're just an empty shell, you'll have my attention for all of two seconds.

"God gave you what you have and if you can enhance it a little, that's all good, but we have other strengths."

She added with another laugh: "I don't think women are that shallow to just be going for six-packs!" She had met Hollywood actor and former teen idol Leonardo DiCaprio in New York City and was bowled over by his sex appeal.

"Leo is definitely not fit," she said with a huge laugh, "but he sure is sexy!"


When asked if she thinks her Australian-American boyfriend is a hunk, Xie giggled, hemmed and hawed before changing the subject, joking about how she's always on a "man hunt" and that this competition may turn her attention to "local guys".

During the search, Miss Elicia Loh, a 23-year-old student, pushed her event executive boyfriend Mr Lai Yongsheng, 25, through the crowd and successfully nominated him.

The two were shopping when they chanced upon the competition. The gesture warmed Xie's heart.

She said: "It was such a sweet and courageous thing for her to do. They are obviously a fun and spontaneous couple.

"Her willingness to show him off spells how proud she is of her boyfriend. It's a testament of their love for each other. I totally respect them."

But Xie herself won't follow in Miss Loh's footsteps. "I'm really shy, and I won't even take part in such a contest let alone push (my boyfriend) into anything remotely like this," she said with a loud giggle.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
She is pulling the crowd as a person, actress or .... ?
I thot it was her boobs that were pulling in the crowd !
Posted by chendolbeach on Wed, 21 Sep 2011 at 20:53 PM
Um, nice dress ...
Posted by mystrawberry on Wed, 21 Sep 2011 at 13:04 PM

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