He was “Forgettable” (My Night with Se7en)
Okay, so I’ll admit it. I prepared a month for this night, the night where I’d meet Se7en and other Korean American “celebrities”. Why? Well, if I have to tell the honest-to-Johnny Walker-truth, I didn’t want to be referred to as that fugly guy who egregiously stuck out like Kim Jong Il in a sea of more than 5-feet tall, good looking people. To be more frank, I wanted nothing more than to part the yellow sea with a flicker of my hands, controlling the night and the people effortlessly. Here’s my story of a night that was definitely “Unforgettable,” how Margaret Cho paid homage to the Dear Leader, and how being described as Kim Jong Il himself wasn’t so bad. I mean after all, he is like, the biggest celebrity in North Korea, right? He’s famous.
Seeing the Korean community was like a high school reunion―in a good way. It was nice to catch up with old faces and see what old friends were up to. For instance, Aaron Yoo, Justin Chon, and Leonardo Nam, all who I styled for a photo shoot over the summer, all looked really good and it was nice to see they were doing well in the acting world (congrats Justin for Twilight!) Yul Kwon, winner of Survivor, was still the good-natured, extremely gracious, intelligent man I had met two years ago, doing a lot with the Asian political community. Suchin Pak, who’s the new face of a Dove self-esteem campaign for girls was still looking gorgeous and was now working for the Green Network. James Sun, the runner-up on The Apprentice who I had spoken on the phone with over the summer, seemed as if he was in good spirits, his new website being launched soon. Margaret Cho, the emcee for the night, was the usual obnoxious, loveable, anti-hero she had always been, performing songs about North Korea, specifically Kim Jong Il.
After the award show, where three prominent Korean Americans were honored (one was John Cho of Harold and Kumar fame,) and a lot of not-even-vodka-could-make-it-better performances (namely the saxophonists) was finally Se7en‘s “big” performace. Sadly, I saw many people walking out, many to the bar. And for good reason. Not only was it difficult to discern what he was singing about, he was pitchy and many times sharp. Surprisingly, he was overly-confident, and with his smug smile and cocky gestures, I, like most people, were over him. Said one (former fan): “Who does he think he is? This performance just sucks, sorry.”
Unfortunately (but fortunately for me, as I get to write about it) his air of arrogance followed him to the after party. There he was, his entourage of managers, stylists, handlers around him, shielding him off from the very people he would need to support him in his U.S. debut―his fans. He was surprisingly better looking in person, his skin lucent and perfect, glowing amidst the red-faced Asian drunks in the dark room. His suit perfectly ironed compared to my dark complexion and unkempt attire.
His manager stood in front of three eager female fans and Se7en, who apparently was a diva the entire night. A backstage volunteer told me: “He was backstage and didn’t even go onstage even when we tried to push him. He was too busy looking at his face and playing with his hair in front of a mirror.”
I inquired several questions to his manager, who quickly became noticeably terse and agitated with me. When is Se7en debuting? “January, with Lil’ Kim.” Are you sure, that’s what you said in 2007, in March of 2008, then Oct of 2008. So really, January? He rolled his eyes and replied, “yeah, that’s what I said.” Oh, so why can’t these girls take a picture with him? “Wait your turn.”
Se7en then left across the room to greet some non-Asians, giving them high-fives, exchanging handshakes. A false sense of Americanism. The female fans then followed him over. “Se7en, picture, please!” He looked at them and proceeded to walk across the room. After finally pleading with him, he smugly nodded his head with a conceited half grin. What he did next was absolutely nauseating. Instead of simply smiling and putting an arm around a person’s shoulder like a normal person posing for the camera, he turned his back sideways, cocked his head up, and put two fingers on his lips in a shushing motion.
When it was finally my turn to take a picture he completely disregarded me, turned his back against me as if I was some random stranger who somehow creeped beside him. Whatevs.
The night finally ended with some more dances, a little bit of soju, and plenty of free gifts.
Outside, while I was waiting for my car from the valet, I noticed Se7en standing to my left. I smiled at him and waved. Hi Se7en, I called out in English, knowing that he wasn’t comfortable with the language. ‘Good job, your English is really good. Better than Rain’s.‘
Are you training here? “Yes.” Where do you live? He hesitated, as if I was going to stalk him. “Downtown.” Did you like working with Darkchild, my friend, who’s friends with him said he’s very serious in the studio. “No, he’s not,” he said rather succinctly. There was no dialogue, no back and forth conversation. It was me asking him questions he didn’t care answering at a venue he could care less for, in front of Asian Americans he would rather choose not to associate with. I stood there with nothing left to say.
It got awkward. I felt like an over-eager fan. I shuddered.
I was left unimpressed, more so, disappointed.
If he was “the one,” the lone Asian trying to make it mainstream in music, he was two steps way behind, three steps too eager, and a step urgently lagging in humility.
I walked away, kicking my shoes in the dust all the while smiling–Kim Jong Il style, of course–remembering that in North Korea the small tyrant was a perfect 10.
But a “perfect 10” Se7en was not. All he was, was just that, not even an 8ight.