A Hong Kong tycoon who offered a $65 million "marriage bounty" to any man who can win the heart of his lesbian daughter has been inundated with applications from around the globe, a report said Friday.
Cecil Chao told the South China Morning Post newspaper that around 100 would-be suitors of his 33-year-old daughter, Gigi, had poured into his office since he went public with his offer on Wednesday.
"People send me letters, emails and faxes. I haven't had time to read them yet. I'll have to discuss it with Gigi," he was quoted as saying. "There are some who said they don't want the money, only the chance to know my daughter."
One of the applicants, a Frenchman, wrote: "I'm really serious and (despite the fact) I am a man I think I can make this woman happy. I'm as soft as a woman."
Another appeared to offer a menage a trois: "I will win his daughter's heart and marry her, and my Maid Marian, a gorgeous Brazilian model, will help accomplish that with me."Heaps of proposals
Since Chao, known in the tabloid media for his prolific womanising, dangled a $65 million reward for any man able to lead his daughter Gigi down the aisle, she says she's been
bombarded by marriage proposals from strangers, date requests, and even an offer from a Hollywood film producer to buy her story.
Gigi Chao, the daughter of Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, poses at the conference room of her office in Hong Kong. Reuters/Bobby Yip
"War veterans from the US, someone from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, from Istanbul, South America, Portugal, really just from all over the world," said Chao, sifting through emails on a white Apple laptop in her father's high-rise office tower.
One suitor from the United States wrote: "I'm interested in your offer to wed your daughter, who also happens to be gay. I am a male person, who also happens to be gay."
Another put up his brother, a body double to George Clooney in the 2008 sports flick "Leatherheads" as a potential mate: "He could be the picture perfect date that your father craves."
"I've tried my best to respond to well-meaning ones ... but most of them I just try not to open," added the frizzy-haired Chao, who was wearing a silver ring after what she called a "church blessing" with her girlfriend in a Paris church.
Gigi said her billionaire father, who drives a Rolls Royce and flies a helicopter but had a poor early childhood in Shanghai, had been upset when his daughter's longtime lover revealed the couple had wed in Paris in April, leading to his impromptu HK$500 million "marriage bounty" offer to any man able to set her straight.
"I wasn't angry at all. I was really quite touched, very touched and very ... how should I say? moved, by Daddy's announcement," said the 33-year-old.
"I mean, it's really his way of saying 'baby girl, I love you. You deserve more,' basically," added Chau who works as an executive director in the family firm Cheuk Nang Holdings.
Her 76-year-old father, rarely seen without sunglasses and brand-name clothes, has never married but has boasted of bedding over 10,000 women including models and starlets.
Hong Kong, a freewheeling city that reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, retains a traditional Chinese social fabric but is considered relatively tolerant of alternative lifestyles compared with the rest of Asia. It decriminalized homosexuality in 1991.
It has gay social venues, film festivals and gay pride parades, making it a bastion of liberalism compared with China, where homosexuality was defined as a mental disorder until 2001.
"I'm not able to generalise about the experiences of all people in the gay community, but I think we in Hong Kong at the moment, are in the middle, we're not punishable by death for being gay, but it's not celebrated and obviously never encouraged," said Chao. "I think change is overdue."
Some hope the comedy value of the whole high-profile father daughter drama could help start a constructive dialogue about gay attitudes in the region.
"Starting a conversation with humor always makes people less aggressive," said James Gannaban, the organizer of an annual Mr Gay Hong Kong pageant, in a local gay bar. "If people are less militant about issues, then there is greater opportunity for conversation, if we start off with a smile."
(With inputs from Reuters)