Fashion photographer, occasional actor, and “Instagram sensation” Tan Chuan Do is releasing his first book soon. How much more huge can he become?
We admit that while we were writing this, we were listening to The Smiths’ Some Girls are Bigger than Others. We do not use big in a small way, or how Morrissey employed it. Tan Chuan Do (陈传多), also known by his initials CD, may not have been massive (although he was known) as a model back in the day, but he is, as The Straits Time’s Sumiko Tan wrote in a lightweight 2022 profile of the fellow in her benign column ‘Lunch with Sumiko’, “the man whose youthful good looks and washboard abs have made him an Internet sensation.” It has been about his stature—physical, social, and professional. And now it looks like Mr Tan, 56, is going to get even bigger: He shall be releasing an autobiography this day, next week. The renowned photographer and just-one-movie-under-his-belt actor shared on Instagram two hours ago that the book, in (traditional) Chinese, 人生，不需要每一次都贏 (In life, one does not need to win every time), will “convey [his] philosophy of life and the secrets of fitness and taking care of oneself”. In addition, he wrote that he “hopes everyone is able to absorb [his idea of] the meaning of life.” Serious stuff.
It looks like the book will first only be available in Taiwan. It is published by the Taiwanese imprint of the Japanese manga publisher Kadokawa (台湾角川, taiwan jiaochuan), known in the capital for their inaugural magazine Taipei Walker. Apart from periodicals, Kadokawa puts out mainly graphic novels, photo books (some are categorised “情欲”, [qingyu] or lust) and “轻小说” or light novels, including BL (boy love) comics. Where Mr Tan’s autobiographical debut fits in, it isn’t clear, yet. Kadokawa describes Mr Tan as a “冻龄男神 (male god frozen in age)”. His book, comprising 20 chapters with instructional titles, “analyses in detail his unknown inner world, philosophy of life, and his ways of keeping ageing at bay”, according to the publisher. The pages include photographs shot in Bali and the Maldives, presumably with beach scenes in which to better display his Herculean build. It seems that Mr Tan’s first printed work of non-fiction could be a photobook, not unlike those of Japanese aidoru (idols) or something akin to the numerous photobooks of Godfrey Gao (高以翔), published before his death in 2019.
On the admittedly striking black-and-white cover of 人生，不需要每一次都贏, Mr Tan is shot, eyes not meeting the viewer, emerging purposefully from the sea, with neoprene suit stripped to mere centimetres south of his bellybutton to deliberately reveal his hard, compact waist that spreads upwards to join what might be described as heaving chest. This could be the male version of Halle Berry in a similar appearance in the 2002 James Bond flick Die Another Day. In her ST interview, Sumiko Tan made sure to note her subject’s enviable specs: 1.85m in height and 78kg in weight (at the time of the story). In the books’s cover shot, Tan Chuan Do, who, in the introduction, describes himself as “害臊 (haisao)” or shy, looks self-assured, more than comfortable with his body, and possibly bigger. This could be more than what the cover blurb calls “养生之道” or the way of maintaining good health. Interestingly, chapter 16 of the book is titled, “由于我曾当过多年的专业模特儿，在镜头前展现身体并不会让我感到不自在”. As I had been a professional model for many years, I am not uncomfortable revealing my body in front of a camera. Show and tell: to his fans or the 1.2 million followers on Instagram he has garnered, this might be a book to buy and to cherish. But if it’s just the pictures they desire, would they pay when they could view to their heart’s content for free on social media?
We hope to get a copy of the book. If we do, a review won’t be far off. Photo: Kadokawa Taiwan