Vietnamese models use the Internet, nude photos to gain market share
Public sympathy for Vietnamese artists and models who have had nude
photos of themselves placed on the Internet may not always be justified. Many
now wonder if the "victims" have other motivations.
By William Sparrow
February 22, 2005
Vietnamese female artists are increasingly falling victim to the publication of
their nude photos on the Internet. The problem is further exacerbated by the
medium of the Internet itself that allows users to pass the knowledge of new
nude photos of the model to others quickly and anonymously.
However, Asian Sex Gazette has learned that many are beginning to question the
motivations of the artists and models involved. In a developing story that is
reminiscent of the "Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Sex Video" or the ongoing
drama of the United States' newest media sex vixen, Paris Hilton, whose
purportedly private sex videos have made her "Playboy's Sex Video Actress of
the Year" for 2004, the Vietnamese are growing ever more suspicious of their
young stars using sex in the media to capture fame.
Many victims have responded with indifference to the release of their nude
photos and some have made statements supporting nude photography as art. This
has raised suspicion and public debate that the "accidental" release of the
nude pictures may have been intentional and motivated by the models' desire to
In one case last year a steamy video emerged of the then-unknown model HP and
her now ex-boyfriend. The video went on to monumental status in Vietnamese
online media, capturing the title of "most terrific" event of the year by
HP was an unknown dancing girl in the bars of Ho Chi Minh City until the
Internet video clip propelled her into the limelight. The video clip features
the model performing a striptease for the camera followed by various sex acts
with her boyfriend.
Paul Nguyen, president of Vietnam's top modeling agency Elite Models Vietnam,
told Asian Sex Gazette that competition in the industry may be driving women's
actions. "There are hundreds of models fighting for a job and the chance to be
a top model," Nguyen said.
"A top model with our agency can earn about US$12,000 a year after
commissions," Nguyen stated. While that is not a lot of money by Western
standards, it is an exceptional living in a country where the average per
capita income is $483 a year, according to the US State Department.
Given the money at stake, then, some models will use just about any tactic to
try to set themselves apart from the crowd. In some cases the models themselves
have posted their own nude photos online to show off their bodies in hopes that
viewers will consider them more beautiful than their colleagues.
Bao Hoa, one of the latest "victims", said there was nothing wrong with
shooting nude photos as long as they were kept private. However, the photos,
which feature Hoa in various positions and stages of undress, were first passed
among members of the modeling and business community in Vietnam with no
objection by Hoa, who was fully aware of the situation. She only became
concerned and when the photos were published on the Internet, drawing
significant sympathetic media attention for the "victimized" Hoa.
Pop singer Nguyen Hong Nhung also objected to nude photos that were taken by
her ex-boyfriend and published on the Internet and said she would sue him, but
Nhung never pushed the issue, apparently afraid it would ruin her reputation.
Vietnamese modeling has not yet come into it own as an industry as it has in
regional neighbors such as Thailand. "The market is fragmented and small. Movie
exposure helps for models but the movie industry in Vietnam is small, the
models are underpaid for movie appearances and the work takes a lot longer,"
said Paul Nguyen, whose agency manages more than 20 exclusive contract models
and 50-60 other part-time and freelance models. His agency does not produce any
"Vietnamese models have not yet really broken out into the international
modeling scene," Nguyen said. "And foreign models often don't do well [or] are
not paid enough in Vietnam." This leaves Vietnam's models struggling to grab
what they can of the domestic modeling market.
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