Edison Chen Reduced to Shoe Stall After Sex Scandal

Onetime Chinese Canadian star Edison Chen was seen peddling shoes at a Shanghai street stall with his girlfriend last Wednesday, according to respected Taiwanese newspaper China Times.

Chen’s plunge from being one of the brighest stars in the Hong Kong film and music scene to being forced to earn a living as a street peddler is a fallout of a sex scandal that erupted in January of 2008. Chen, then 27, had made the mistake of taking in his laptop for repairs without removing the files of upwards of 1,000 photos he had taken of himself in sexual poses with various female celebrities, including Gillian Chung, Bobo Chan, Maggie Q. Mandy Chen, Candice Chan, Rachel Ng and Cecilia Cheung.

The repairman copied the files for himself and later gave them to one of his friends to post online. The resulting scandal was the biggest media event of the year throughout the Chinese diaspora. In the US juicy sex scandals have revived flagging media careers and even ignited new ones, but in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China the scandal extinguished Chen’s career. In February 2008 he apologized to the public and took an indefinite hiatus from the entertainment industry.

Since then he has landed only a few small acting roles on TV and in films, and has had to produce his own album, with little success. He has also been threatened with lawsuits by companies whose products he had endorsed, and is said to have been threatened with having one of his hands cut off by a gang boss with a financial investment in the careers of several of the actresses in Chen’s sex photos. Chen is said to be deeply in debt, owing nearly $2 million to a production company.

Wednesday’s sighting of Chen in Shanghai was the first in months. He was seen selling shoes with his girlfriend at a street stall. He then played some street basketball, hugged his girlfriend and took public transportation.

Edison Chen was born in Vancouver. In 1999 he was clubbing with friends in Hong Kong when he was approached by a talent scout who wanted him to appear in a TV commercial. He quickly made his name as an actor, a singer and even a fashion entrepreneur before the scandal erupted in early 2008.