Josie Ho Strips Naked

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It’s not literal, but deeply metaphorical.

 

The truth is that everything that can be possibly said to introduce this interview will obviously be overshadowed by its content. In these lines, Josie Ho opened to us a genuine and authentic space to her world, her love for music, cinema, her hat collection, her closest affections, and her most distant dreams.

 

Ho is undoubtedly one of the most influential and referential female figures in all of East Asian cinema, with a career that began in 1994, and since then, has included dozens and dozens of roles on television and in cinema, which finally -and perhaps unsurprisingly it- led to a film production role with his company 852 Films.

 

A creative power that discovers opportunities in each obstacle, a woman eager for more and more projects, more and more learning. A free soul who steps stronger with each step.

ROCK STAR, ACTOR, PRODUCER, AND PROVOCATEUR ¿HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST?

 

Hahaha… I’m a very curious person, I love to understand what the substance is behind something. When I fall in love with an idea, I’ll try my best to explore it.  Guess I am an “Explorer type of artist”. My goal is to perform in films or music. I become very passionate about the projects I’m involved in but I’m also a free spirit that doesn’t like to limit the boundaries of what is possible. 

 

HOW 852 FILM WAS BORN? I MEAN, BEING SO SUCCESSFUL, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND TO CREATE IT? BECAUSE SURELY THERE WAS NO LACK OF JOB OFFERS

 

Thank you for the compliment.

 

There was a lack of creativity and vision in roles during that period of time for both myself and my husband, a lot of the roles being offered particularly in Western films were Gangsters or Prostitutes and we wanted to change that. We opened 852 Films Ltd in order to find more breakthrough talent and create more opportunities and show that things can be done differently with fantastic results.   

 

852 Films was born in 2007 when our debut, Dream Home came out and we worked with an incredible team including, especially the crew and we’ve gone from strength to strength.

 

ARE THERE ANY OF THE 852 MOVIES THAT YOU CAN CONSIDER YOUR FAVORITE TILL NOW? AND IF SO, WHY?

 

Oh!  That’s a hard decision, I have loved everything we’ve made. ‘Dream Home’ and  Full Strike were two of our favorite films. I love these two particular films because they both gave me a chance to send a point or message to audiences.  Dream Home was about how crazy property prices can drive people to act beyond humanity.  The Film Full Strike was an idea that came from myself, Conroy, and director Derek Kwok Tsi Kin.  It’s a film about how people working together can overcome bullies.  

 

Conroy and I also had the opportunity to learn a lot about the postproduction process on that too… In the documentary film, Finding Bliss Fire and Ice, it was not only Conroy and I that had come up with the idea, we had the honor to work with Clown coach n Top performer Jim Chim to help us elaborate our idea. Our friend Kim Chan directed this film and it was so much fun to work with local musicians whom we all know in town.  We were trying to experience the simplest pleasure in order to bring us happiness.  Our whole team felt so proud and we’re in the process of discussing distribution for it at the moment. 

 

WHAT KIND OF STORIES DO YOU LIKE TO TELL THROUGH MOVIES?

 

Despite it being a mission to tell, the kind of stories I like to tell come from the devastation of humanity. Immoral scenarios or maybe it’s based on my naive nature.  I’m really shocked and surprised at lots of situations of how humanity can grow and how rotten and decaying some professional systems are…  It was mostly bad things that happened which were always surprising.  I’ve happened to experience seriously shitty humans, and as a result, I thought it was my mission to tell more people about it – and I hope to God that nobody has to go through a bad experience.

 

ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY FILM PROJECT RIGHT NOW YOU WANT TO SHARE WITH US?

 

At the moment 852 Films is waiting for our postproduction on a film we started in 2020 to be completed.  Hopefully, we can manage to put on some shows your way. We are also starting some comedy, I’m really excited for them. Some of them aren’t my own stories but they are so good that I felt I had to participate and help get them financed.

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT MUSIC. YOU ALSO VOCALLY LEAD THE BAND ‘JOSIE AND THE UNI BOYS’. WHAT LED YOU TO SING? HOW AND WHEN WAS THE ‘SINGING JOSIE’ BORN?

 

I was born to be a performer.  Sometimes, my grandparents would ask me to sing or repeat a TV commercial jingo for them, they’d set me up on the large coffee table and I could sing all the TV commercials songs as well as act it out for them. I received lots of love from them and my parents. I kept this hobby then, at 11 years old, the world’s first type of Karaoke machine was created.  I was so excited because we finally had one at home. I stole that thing into my room… It was a double cassette machine with a speaker, microphone, volume, echo, and key shifter.  Then, the record stores sold Music Minus One for different artists with lyrics.  I spent all my pocket money buying cassettes from different record companies and tried singing them.  To me, it was one step closer to music because I felt a kind of power behind the mic.

 

I was fortunate to meet lots of real singers in town through my parents and sisters, sometimes they would even comment on my singing. I felt closer to chasing my dream then, am I very up in the clouds?  

 

In high school, I participated in the talent show, Lip Sync contest.  I’d love the feeling of expressing my passionate feelings on stage.  I performed a whole Madonna number and convinced all my classmates who had blonde hair to join the ensemble to do the song, Vogue.  By 14, through my sister’s job and my dad’s introduction, I had a chance to get up in a stadium with 10,000+ people to sing and dance to Madonna’s song again, “La Isla Bonita”, which I loved performing.

 

My parents had a lot of beautiful friends who were in the creative business. I was graced by a famous producer Michael Lai who created a music backing in my key.  I’ve had the best advice from really successful singers, Divas.  I believe in manifestation, I was always singing in my room instead of doing homework, haha…

 

When I was 15, my idol was Danny Chan, an excellent singer-songwriter who introduced me to his manager.  They meant to sign me up with a Japanese company, I would’ve got a few years of formal training instead of school.  How fun!!!  In the end, it was stopped by my sister and my parents, as they wanted me to finish school. 

 

After high school graduated, I got a record deal back, thanks to my eldest sister Pansy – who did a lot to convince my parents to allow me to enter the industry but it was tough and there was pressure to pursue a more traditional profession.  

 

I then met a friend who was doing a gig in Atlantic City, he saw the challenges I was facing breaking into the industry and gave me a huge amount of support and opportunities to jam, and – he introduced me to Rock n’ Roll.  Along with my husband who is a metalhead, they’ve successfully converted me into a Rock band.

 

THE PANDEMIC WAS A PAUSE FOR ALL HUMANITY. BUT NOW THAT EVERYTHING IS GRADUALLY RETURNING TO NORMAL, HAS ‘JOSIE AND THE UNI BOYS’ BEEN REACTIVATED? HAVE YOU RELEASED NEW MUSIC? WE WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PLANS

 

Josie and The Uni Boys were on hold for the pandemic, but creations were still going.  We are about to release a new thing. Don Cruz, my guitarist, and my producer Davy are still writing music. We’ve got one song done so far, and it’s different from what Uni Boys usually plays.  As a vocalist for Uni Boys, I find this new song very challenging and fun to do.  Somehow, my band and producers had put in years of challenges for me to step up my singing skills.  I’ve got a new song written by Don Cruz and lyrics written by a Genesis friend and singer, songwriter, producer, and actress Mavis Fan to help me finish my lyrics for me again.  I hope to make lyrics in English soon as well. 

 

ACTING OR SINGING?

 

By now, you must know my passion, it’s definitely singing. I get to express myself  and be a free spirit on stage.  I love performance as a whole, my whole life I’ve only ever been focused on performing. I enjoy it and appreciate being able to work with people, it’s amazing how talented people do their thing.  I see acting as an ensemble all the time, it’s also team spirit.  I’m always into team spirit.

 

WHAT TOOLS OF THE ACTRESS SERVE THE SINGER AND VICE VERSA?

 

I feel no difference when I’m performing whether in singing, acting, or stage play.  The only thing is that playing a role has certain kinds of rules and needs lots of logic that need to be presented.  Whereas with singing on stage, I can create my own character for each song, or as a whole road of characters throughout different themes.  One thing I’ve come to understand is that body language works for all performances whether that is singing or acting or photo shoots.   Finding a voice works both ways.  An attitude transcends acting or singing, it’s the key I’ve learned.

 

FASHION SEEMS LIKE ANOTHER BIG INTEREST FOR YOU. HOW DO YOU CONSUME FASHION? HOW DO YOU ADAPT IT TO YOUR LIFE?

 

Fashion is like my bread and butter. I’m not the best collector but I’ve tried my best to not throw away my old clothes from the 90s.  I consume pieces that are timeless, and easy for daily wear, like a one-piece or a dress.  I tend to buy mono colours now so I only take three minutes to get ready to go out.  I believe I collect leather jackets a lot too as well as oversized blazers, hats, and costume jewelry mainly from certain museums, sometimes shops, and scarfs.  Before when I was slimmer, I never bought expensive clothes and it was easy to try different cuttings but now I go to brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, LV, and Celine to buy from their trunk shows.

 

Haute Couture, It’s bad but I can’t help it!!!  Those pieces are so special and usually, there is only one in the world. There is also a great shop near me called DMop, with quirky avant-garde pieces. 

 

When the weather is nice, I’ll also dress nicer, I play with headpieces, beautiful colours, fabrics, and shapes. There was an MV of my song which Vernie Yeung directed in the corridor of my home, he took a whole rag of clothing and spread it on the floor, he want me to sit on them and become my backdrop, I love playing with Vernie because he’s got a good eye with fashion including his sister Adrin as well as my colleague.  We will always do photo shoots, experimentally.   I work with designers like Johanna Ho, YK, and mainly the Saint Martin Graduates.  

 

Fashion is not just a collection, we use them for daily life, and we experiment with different matching. There is a stylist I’ve also worked with called Titi, and he gave me a different knowledge of different silhouettes I look great in.  That’s why I see fun in my work and it’s my pleasure to have some of the greatest pieces in my mind in my house.  Although there is no space to walk in my house anymore! ????

 

YOU LOVE HATS AND WE KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT OF THEM. HOW MANY? CAN YOU REMEMBER WHAT WAS THE FIRST YOU BOUGHT?

 

Hahaha… actually I started buying Cowboy hats.  I was in Bricklane one time when I saw a super confident lady working at a vintage shop, she was dressed in casual wear, Napoleon’s era hat, and a military jacket, she had pride and honour at work.  She was so funny too!  She opened up my mind!  I’ve never forgotten her; she has that kind of chillness and doesn’t care for a two-shits attitude!  I want to have that freedom to change my looks and walk down the street like that.  You know I’ve had many hats, my partner in crime is Doris from a high-end Haute Couture shop in LA on La Brea. She collects lots of wonders in her shop. I once bought 40 hats from her.  In Japan, I buy lots from “The Mad Hatter”. I love shopping at vintage stores, Screaming Mimi.  Most hats I’ve collected were the 1930s or 1920s female cocktail hats or really wild ones too.  I bought a hairpiece like a headband from Bless many years ago, it comes with black, red blonde, or blonde hair. It was so useful since we have IG and other social media platforms now.  I’ve decided to keep whatever haircut I want and to wear hats and wigs most of the time. I guess I have over 100 hats.

 

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A PROPHET IN YOUR LAND?

 

Ummmm… I’m no prophet in my land, I am a sponge.  I love to observe and share ideas and thoughts through my work.

 

DOING SO MANY THINGS AND WITH SUCH SUCCESS, HAVE YOU HAD TO DEAL WITH YOUR OWN EGO?

 

I’m lucky to have some success.  I come from a very conservative background, I live in Hong Kong, and the culture here probably thinks I’m a lunatic sometimes. I don’t allow myself to be stuck in tough situations, art makes me breathe calmly.

 

WHAT KEEPS YOU GROUNDED?

 

Hubby Conroy, my little family of puppies, the sofa and magazines, books, TV, Films, and my belongings keep me grounded.  I love my home.

 

HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HONG KONG, WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF THAT COUNTRY IN SOCIAL TERMS?

 

I love Hong Kong!  It’s a convenient city with a very safe climate  ❤️❤️❤️

 

WHAT GOAL DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN THE MEDIUM – LONG TERM?

 

I want to maintain my singing skills and performing skills but I’m still chasing my dreams and wish to work till old.

 

PING PONG QUESTIONS

ONE COLOR: Let me have two pls! Black and Red

ONE PERSON: Conroy 

ONE MANTRA OF LIFE: Be louder when I express myself

ONE DREAM: To become an official best performer in the world

ONE REGRET: Easily persuaded

ONE FEAR: Assholes

ONE PLACE: TV room

ONE SUPERPOWER YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE: Have the power to help myself and everyone without wasting a dime.

Story by Mariana González Photos by KBB Photography

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