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He talked a lot about George Stroumboulopoulos, who’d been given his own talk show—a fact that obviously irked Jian, even though he considered George a friend. But worse than that, he had a strange neediness—a sweaty, almost aggressive desperation to be liked—that came across on camera and made even those of us who already liked him squirm in our seats.
TV wasn’t working out for Jian, but there was another way up the greasy pole.
At the time I met them, in a café on the Danforth, they were selling out mid-size venues filled with NDP supporters in itchy Ecuadorian sweaters. Jian, the band’s drummer and singer, was a weedy-looking guy, about a decade my senior, with a penchant for winking after his jokes.
I spent an amiable hour with the band, listening to enthusiastic and semi-delusional talk of their enormous Grateful Dead–style following and imminent U. He went out of his way to weave an odd mix of earnest liberal values and sexual innuendo into the conversation, referring to the band’s “pinko politics” and then telling me the story of his new favourite “superfan”—an exotic dancer named Moxy who stripped to their song “Michigan Militia” in a combat outfit.
He almost always remembered my birthday in the days before Facebook reminders, though sometimes his greetings were of the canned digital calendar variety (“Happy birthday beautiful—thinking of you today! For someone who’d experienced success so young, he seemed strangely insecure.
I remember being slightly baffled by this—by his 30s, even before breaking into broadcasting, Jian had a solid career as a music manager.
” I don’t recall actually saying no, only both of us bursting into laughter as though the whole suggestion had been a big joke. Long before he was a household name in Canada, he was a master of calculating what other people wanted and presenting them with it—so long as it didn’t conflict with his own ever-pressing desires. Although I can’t recall the specifics now, I remember that the emails went on and on and were full of unfulfilled longing, which would prove to be a perpetual theme for Jian.
After that first meeting I didn’t see Jian for several months, but we kept in touch. He always seemed in desperate need of something just out reach—engaged in a never-ending quest to find the balm for his restless soul.
We stopped at his car, a tiny vintage pastel-green sports coupe.
And then, as if it were the most normal thing in the world, he said, “I’m going to this orgy tonight, do you want to come? I’d learn later that even Jian’s apparent lack of a filter was carefully calibrated for maximum effect. tour and Jian would write me long, tortured emails from the road, asking for career and dating advice.
He was self-involved in a way that would have been insufferable—one of those people who drone on at the party about their own tedious existential struggles—if he hadn’t also been so culturally literate and charismatic.
Also, he spent quite a bit of time buttering me up.
My editor sent me to interview the band Moxy Früvous, who had been gigging around Toronto since I was in high school.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating