OAKLAND, Calif. — Where else can you see Asian American men both objectified and celebrated for their commitment to community? At Hyphen Magazine’s Mr. Hyphen contest, of course.
Aristotle Garcia of the Filipino American Arts Exposition was crowned the new Mr. Hyphen on October 4 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, which was sweltering and packed with screaming women and men of all ages.
The third annual contest, presented by the Bay Area-based Asian American politics and culture quarterly, strives to honor Asian American men for their community work while redefining the image of masculinity in the community.
The others vying for the title and a $1000 cash prize for their non-profit organization were Scott Chan of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Mike Liu of the California Dragon Boat Association, Spring Bud and Maurice Seaty of U.C. Berkeley’s Southeast Asian Student Coalition, Eric Tam of the Asian American Donor Program and Rockson Yan of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.
The six contestants competed in three rounds of talent, question and answer and fashion.
In the talent portion, Yan got the audience’s hands swaying in the air with a smooth rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Seaty coined the phrase “crotch-terrorism” in a thought-provoking and funny spoken-word piece.
But it was Tam who brought the house down with a rousing medley of iconic hip-hop dance moves.
During the question and answer portion, contestants were asked to name their least favorite Asian stereotype. Responses ran the gamut from being seen as apolitical, weak and quiet to pressure on Asian men to be breadwinners.
In the final round, contestants strutted in clothes by Asian American fashion labels Verum, Umami and Lucio Montana. The popular sleepwear portion sent the temperature of the hall skyrocketing: Seaty rubbed water over his bare chest, Tam ripped off his shirt with a single stroke and Garcia re-enacted the famous dance scene from Risky Business in his underwear.
Writer/performer Samantha Chanse hosted, and the judges were Miss Asian America 2008 Louisa Liu; Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action; and Mr. Hyphen 2006, Robin Sukhadia.