The truth about Vietnamese performers overseas

By Thien Huong, Thanh Nien News

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Popular Vietnamese model Ngoc Trinh performs without a catwalk in the US. Supplied photo
For many Vietnamese stars, “overseas tours” are not as glamorous as they sound.
Many fans would associate the phrase with large shows and big musical festivals, like when Michael Learns to Rock or Ronan Keating came to Vietnam, or recent performances here by K-Pop idols.
But it’s the other way around for Vietnamese performers who visit the US, where they actually only play small shows at tawdry casinos, tiny restaurants, or sometimes just set up a meagre booth to sell their CDs to the Vietnamese community.
Some photos revealed on the Internet recently showed popular model Ngoc Trinh performing at a small venue in the US, without even a catwalk track, which betrayed the boastful words she and her manager had uttered to the local media earlier about the big shows they would put on there.
A Vietnamese comedian who asked to remain unnamed said there are three kinds of overseas performances for Vietnamese: the best kind is at musical festivals with well-built stages, the second is at casinos and the third is at restaurants -- or wedding and birthday parties -- which is like performing at low-rent venues in Vietnam.
He said most Vietnamese singers and comedians perform at casinos in the US, which also guarantee the most stable income as payment from the other two venues depends on unpredictable ticket sales.
“The audience, of course, is mostly Vietnamese people.”
Insiders said Vietnamese stars try to perform at several casinos or restaurants each tour so they can make at least a little profit over the investment in the trip. 
Minh Beo, a popular comedian here, said there is no shame in performing at casinos or restaurants, as long as it’s legal and there are audiences. 
“The important thing is that you don't exaggerate to cheat the audiences at home.”
He said a small venue has the benefit of bringing the performers closer to the audience.
Pop singer Phuong Thanh said casinos overseas are safe because they are well-guarded and many foreign stars also perform there.
Thanh also said that whether the venue is big or small does not matter as much as the love from the audience and the artists ability to have the “dignity” to be honest about their work.
Many media reports also given a lot of space to actress Ly Nha Ky, Vietnam's former tourism ambassador, to boast proudly of her appearance in the 2010 Hollywood thriller Shanghai, though her total screen-time turned out to be only a few seconds.

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