I know all too well the Asian pining for whiteness. I as a Vietnamese American girl was raised as a model minority to become the next President George W. Bush. Seven out of eight of my married aunts are married to (mostly) nice white men.
Inevitably, the Caveat’s short-lived “I Love White Men” one-woman show by New Yorker Chinese-Singaporean Sim Yan Ying — “YY” for short — excavated some of my white guilt. Not that YY and I came from parallel backgrounds, but her history schooling on the prevalence of colonization in Singapore today does hit hard.
YY spills her addiction to white men and her sex life with them. She recounts a childhood era, ages 8 to 14, where she has unsupervised internet chat with a grown-ass male pen pal from Sweden who shows her sex videos to educate her (she has the transcripts in her hands and has a white man in the room read with her).
But, oh, that’s not getting into the Sex With White Men Bingo.
For example, pull “Trump Supporter” and she’ll tell about that cringy time she dated one and had — “great” — sex with him. YY is earnest throughout. She digs into what could explain her white addiction. Maybe it was that weird chat guy that groomed her to pursue white men. But it could have a lot to do with Singapore worshipping the effects of British colonization, which she tactfully explains, first by telling a sweep-clean version then by uncovering the backhanded elements of British domination. It could have a lot to do with her parents asking when she’ll get a white boyfriend.
There are plenty of laughs and the more serious deconstructive moments also stick as much, and YY retains an openness for self-growth. She herself created this show to deconstruct whiteness but hasn’t quite found easy answers.
Any person of color, Asian women in particular, would need to hear this candid cringy work by YY although it has ended its run. She has a bit a precarious situation with her student Visa possibly expiring this summer and recent employment that extends her stay in the USA, however, certain bureaucratic elements might block out her artistic pursuits in NYC. For now, she’s sticking around and her show sure stuck in my head.