Never has the power of the internet been better demonstrated: Cheng Guorong has gone from tramp to megastar in six months. Kipp explores the extraordinary story of ‘Brother Sharp.’
July 19, 2010 2:50 by kippreport
In the internet age, you have to get used to bizarre stories. Not just because the web makes it far easier to share and spread a good tale (and it really does – an audience of tens of millions at the touch of a few buttons) but also because, occasionally, it is a device capable of creating stories.
Just ask Cheng Guorong. Just a few months ago, Cheng spent his days scouring the streets of Ningbo in east China for food, plastic bottles and cigarette butts. Now he is an internet sensation, and a film of his life story is in the works. How could he possibly achieve such a feat?
Well, it’s simple, actually. Someone put a picture of Cheng on the internet. And that’s it. No kidding. That’s it.
As Cheng walked along one day, an amateur photographer caught sight of him. As the Daily Telegraph reports, “With a scraggly beard and long tousled hair, he used bright scraps of fabric as a belt and wore a grubby sheepskin-lined overcoat over a faux leather jacket.” The photographer took a picture, and posted it on the internet. Out of nowhere Cheng began to attract fans. Lots of fans. They began to dub him “China’s Sexiest Tramp,” or more often “Brother Sharp.”
“Damn, that is one handsome guy. Look at how he wrinkles his brow. Nothing needs to be said. Very sexy,” wrote one of the tens of thousands of his fans on Tianya, a Chinese internet forum. And they’re not just spectators to Cheng’s life; between them, they have donated over 100,000 yuan ($15,000) to help him get back on his feet.
According to the Telegraph, offers have now poured in for Cheng to star in adverts, and he has even done a stint as a catwalk model in the Chinese city of Foshan. And the latest twist is that a Chinese filmmaker plans to begin a film of Cheng’s life story in September, possibly starring Chinese heart throb Carl Ng.
Cheng arrived in Ningbo in the mid-90s, where he found work and sent money home to his family. But after being robbed and losing a succession of jobs, he found himself on the streets. Out of shame, he failed to call home for years. After trying, and failing, to find him, his family believed him dead, until his pictured appeared on the Internet. Cheng has now returned to his village where he is adjusting to his life as a celebrity, says the paper.
One picture. One website. Tens of thousands of fans. And one incredible life story. The next time you doubt the power of the internet, think of Cheng.