China in drag: Michael Bristow discusses his new book on China’s — and one man’s — incredible transformation


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The former Asia Pacific editor at the BBC World Service discusses his new book, China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser.

Michael Bristow was stationed in Beijing as the Asia Pacific editor for the BBC World Service from 2005 to 2013. He has written a book called China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-Dresser, in which he recounts his time in China — his travels, his reporting, and his myriad experiences — through the prism of his relationship with his Chinese teacher.

The Teacher — who insisted on anonymity — is a Beijinger. He’s a thoughtful and educated man, and also a transvestite. Yet his transvestism is just one aspect of a many-faceted individual whose life has mirrored incredible changes in Chinese society since the Cultural Revolution. On this episode, we talk to Michael about his teacher, and what he learned about China — and about cross-dressing — while traveling through the country with this fascinating man.


Jeremy: The Mala Market, where you can get fresh Sichuanese ingredients shipped straight to your door (in the U.S.), and the accompanying blog called Mala Project — not to be confused with the New York City restaurant of the same name, which Jeremy has previously recommended. Also, the BBC’s new West African news service in Pidgin, a form of English common in West Africa, something completely original to the BBC.

Michael: The book A Whole Life, by Austrian author Robert Seethaler. It’s about an ordinary guy who lives in a valley in the Alps in Austria. Almost nothing noteworthy happens to this guy, but he’s lived a full and rich life nonetheless.

Kaiser: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones, affordable and excellent in-ear monitors that sound infinitely better than what you’re probably using now.