Experimenting the extinct sounds.Blind Musician Dou Wun

Rotten Big Ass

Contemporary stage technology revealing the extinct song-art of brothels
Experimenting the extinct sounds.Blind Musician Dou Wun
Rotten Big Ass

Contemporary stage technology revealing the extinct song-art of brothels


The shock-and-awe, created by the most advanced stage space, sound effects integrated with the almost forgotten Banyan tempo system, can only be felt by the audience on the spot.

The Banyan tempo once enjoyed wide popularity in the brothels of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Blind songsters like Dou Wun were called to perform in brothels to entertain the prostitutes and their guests. Among them, the most popular and unique music genre is Banyan, because it is performed only in brothels, nowhere else. After 1935, when Hong Kong issued a ban on prostitution, traditional public brothels disappeared, and Banyan became extinct.

Rotten Big Ass, also known as Quarrels between Two Loukais, is one of the recordings made by Professor Bell Yung for Dou Wun’s live performance in 1975. Loukai is a term which refers to the relationship between prostitutes and their clients. The song-story, sung in a first-person narrative, is about an elderly client nicknamed Rotten Big Ass who came to look for his prostitute Sui Choi, at a time when his wealthy days were behind him and he felt neglected.

The performance features the interaction of the original recording of Dou Wun’s song-art with a new version re-interpreted by Hong Kong contemporary composer Nerve (Steve Hui), a unique chance to relive the solemn and playful work of Dou Wun.

Creative Team

Artistic Advisor Bell Yung

Director & Designer Mathias Woo

Music Steve Hui

Illustration Lai Tat Tat Wing

Video Dan Fong

Performer David Yeung



Free seating

Full-time students

  • Running time approximately 70 minutes with no intermission
  • No latecomers will be admitted, until a suitable break in the performance.
  • Zuni Icosahedron reserves the right to add, withdraw or substitute artists and/ or vary advertised programmes and seating arrangements.




Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre


Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

About Dou Wun

Dou Wun (1910-1979) is considered the last master of Deishui Naamyam (southern tone) in Hong Kong. In the 1950s, he performed naamyam, sometimes an impromptu with references to current affairs, at Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). In 1972, Dou’s programme was put to a halt alongside the decline of other traditional cultural programmes at RTHK. The audience took delight in his artistry, appreciating the way he played the paiban with his left hand and guzheng with his right, whilst singing simultaneously.

In 1974, the Goethe-Institut invited Dou to perform Sorrow Of The Traveller, Mourning for My Lady, etc. In 1975, Bell Yung, Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh, recorded 16 numbers of Dou’s naamyam singing at a teahouse. Dou also performed at the Hong Kong City Hall and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since Dou died in 1979, deishui naamyam has become a legend.


The style of narrative song called Banyan was performed exclusively in the brothels of Hong Kong a century ago, where blind singers were hired to entertain the prostitutes and their “johns” with risqué stories. Using slangy, racy, and sometimes lewd expressions, many of which were unacceptable in mainstream society, these songs disappeared after Hong Kong banned brothels in 1935. In his youth the blind singer Dou Wun (1910-1979) made a good living by singing in brothels, as well as in opium dens and teahouses. Professor Bell Yung met Dou and recorded 40+ hours of his singing in 1975, including two Banyan songs, one of which is presented here. You can enjoy both the original historical recording and a version as interpreted by Zuni Icosahedron.     


The Lovers’ Squabble, also called Rotten Big Ass after the name of the protagonist, is his first person telling of himself as down on his luck after spending all his fortune on a prostitute. He seeks out this former lover to borrow some money but ends up being beaten up by her thuggish new lover. Along the way he encounters various characters including Big Uncle Cook, a boat woman, a courtesan singer on the Pearl River, and Auntie Fat Mama, as well as his former lover and the thug. Dou shows off his many vocal colors, regional accents, and varied vocabulary, as well as Banyan’s lively melody and the bowed string instrument with which he accompanies himself, while portraying characters and a tragic-comic slice of life from a world that has long since disappeared.  

Rotten Big Ass

Hong Kong’s Cultural Treasure: 3, “Rare Recordings of Melodies from a Bygone Age:

The Cantonese Narrative Styles of Banyan, Longzhou, and Yue’ou”

Song: The Lovers’ Squabble

Singer: Dou Wun

Creative Team

Artistic Advisor, Photographer (Dou Wun photos) and “Rotten Big Ass”English Surtitle:Bell Yung

Director,  Artistic & Design Director: Mathias Woo

Comic strip creation, Puppet Design & Making: Lai Tat Tat Wing

Live-performance & creation: Steve Hui

Performer: David Yeung

Production Team

Production Managers: Carmen Cheng, Chow Chun-yin

Technical Advisor, Lighting Designer: Mak Kwok-fai

Sound Designer: Can.Ha

Sound System Engineers: d&b audiotechnik – Alex Poon, Allen Tin

Video: Dan Fong

Bamboo Structure and Fa Paai Production: Wing Kei Flower Store


Stage Manager: Satina Shum

Deputy Stage Manager: Zeta Chan

Assistant Stage Manager: Chan On-ki

Video Operator: Johnny Sze

Lighting Assistants: Zoe Cheung, Fong Ka-yin

Set Assistant: Venus Lee

Rehearsal Master: Charmaine Cheng

Stage Crews: Kenneth Chan, Chim Man-lung, Tse Man Kuen 

Stage Intern: Tracy Chan, Caitlin Reynolds

Graphic Design: Racheal Chak

Graphic Design Assistant: Coco Cheung

Promotional Video: Chan Chin-ho

English Surtitle (Bell Yung’s interview): Mona Chu

Translation (Promotion): Mona Chu, Moyung Yuk-lin

International Exchange Director, Producer: Wong Yuewai

Company Manager (Administration and Finance): Jacky Chan

Company Manager (Programme): Doris Kan

Assistant Artistic Director: Cedric Chan

Senior Programme Manager: Bowie Chow

Public Relations and Publicity: Luka Wong

Programme Manager: Ho Yin-hei

Assistant Programme Manager: Ricky Cheng

Creative Assistant (Video and Multimedia): Wing Chan

Programme and Art Administration Trainees: Megan Hung, Stephy Yeung

Academic Partners


Technical Partners

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