david bowie

Co-Star Of David Bowie’s 1983 Song ‘China Girl’ Recalls Her Time With The Late Star: ‘He Was Beautiful’

Amid the voluminous tributes and reminiscences regarding recently departed rock icon David Bowie, few are more candid and touching than the fond words shared by Geeling Ching. Ms. Ching was Bowie’s co-star and on-screen love interest in the rocker’s 1983 video for the hit song “China Girl.” Speaking with the Associated Press shortly after David Bowie’s passing, she shared nothing but adoration and appreciation for her time with the rock star.

“There was something quite other-worldly about him,” Ching said in comments re-published by Yahoo! News. “He was beautiful. Just beautiful.”

Geeling Ching was a 23-year-old waitress in Sydney, Australia, when she was cast as the lead in the “China Girl” video, and she said that the experience of getting to know Bowie professionally and, ultimately, on a personal level changed her life for the better. As noted by Yahoo! News, a brief romance blossomed between the two as Bowie invited Geeling on tour with him after the video shoot.

“It was completely surreal,” Geeling said of her memories of Bowie. “It’s had the biggest influence on my life that I could have ever imagined.”

david bowie
Musician David Bowie and Iman attend the DKMS’ 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for DKMS)

Ching returned to Sydney after her intimate relationship with David Bowie ended, but she retained an enduring affection and fondness for the artist. She last saw Bowie in 2004 when he played in New Zealand and she indicated he was delighted to re-connect.

Although “China Girl” was a popular and award-winning video during the early years of MTV, the musical vignette has something of a mixed legacy these days. Intended as something of a satirical depiction of some of the most predominant stereotypes of Asians, some critiques suggest that David Bowie went too far in that particular endeavor.

Citing the Routledge publication David Bowie: Critical Perspectives, pop culture website Refinery 29 notes some of the “inevitably problematic” aspects of the video and its message.

“Though Bowie may mean to parody what people say about ‘China girls’, the video seems, by so clearly endearing the stereotypes, to be in danger of supporting them by not critiquing them enough, or by making the critique too subtle… By shifting the song’s intention from personal romance to something like politics or ideological critique, Bowie opened the text to multiple interpretations, but also [destabilized] meaning in the song, creating possibilities that he was perhaps not able fully to anticipate or control.”

david bowie 1973
David Bowie, May 1973. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It’s worth noting that “China Girl” was originally written and recorded by Iggy Pop in 1977. According to Pop Dose, the track originally appeared on the Iggy Pop album The Idiot and was later given an overhaul by Iggy’s friend and collaborator, David Bowie. AXS noted that Pop’s lyrics of “China Girl” were not originally about a love affair with an Asian woman but about Iggy’s addiction to heroin, also known as “China white.”

Irrespective of the various and sundry interpretations of the lyrics and video for “China Girl,” the woman most commonly associated with the tune recalls her adventures with David Bowie as the fulfillment of a teenage dream. She said that she learned of Bowie’s passing while watching a tennis match in Auckland, explaining that she was inundated with calls on her cell phone asking if the news was true.

As previously reported by Inquisitr, David Bowie died on January 10 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie’s funeral will take place in New York City and he will be laid to rest near his home. Tribute shows honoring the life and work of David Bowie are expected on both sides of the Atlantic, including an event at Carnegie Hall that is tentatively slated for March 31, 2016.

[Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images]

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