The Chinese male opera singer, Shi Pei Pu, who convinced an accountant from the French Embassy that he was really a she, thus inspiring the Tony-award-winning musical M. Butterfly, died last week in Paris.
In 1964 Shi was working as a soprano for the Beijing Opera and taught Chinese to diplomats’ families when he met 20-year old French embassy clerk Bernard Boursicot.
When they began their affair Shi concealed his gender, telling Boursicot that he was an actress being forced by Beijing Opera officials to play the role of a man. Boursciot was not a very worldly man and his sexual experience was minimal. The sexual encounters they shared were “furtive, and always in the dark,” and Boursicot would later claim that he first discovered Shi’s actual gender was when it was revealed in their courtroom appearances in the 1980s.
Boursicot, who is 64 and is recovering from a stroke, showed no sadness when he learned of Shi’s death. He said: “He did so many things against me that he had no pity for, I think it is stupid to play another game now and say I am sad. The plate is clean now. I am free.” He said they last spoke a few months ago and Shi told him he still loved him. (via towleroad)