The World’s Lankiest Superman


“Fresh off the boat” is how I would have described myself during the summer of 2010. I had only been living in China for several weeks and Chengdu’s wild nightlife scene was unlike anything I had experienced before. Studying Chinese language at the University of Finance and Economics was what I did all day. Hanging out at any one of Chengdu’s many happening nightclubs was what I did all night.

My third week is when I met Elise and Duo Duo; two conspicuous friends who played essential roles in the greatest Chengdu story of all time. Elise had also been studying Chinese at SWUFE and had supported her lifestyle working as an actor on the side. Passing flyers, reading a book in a hotel lobby, and lip-syncing to a backtrack on stage at a business event, were all examples of “work” that she was regularly getting. Duo Duo was a short, stocky Chinese girl with a flat haircut and coke-bottle glasses. Her English was not so great but I managed to understand her the first time she asked me if I wanted to work as an actor too. I happily accepted without knowing what I was getting myself into.

The next day I had an appointment to meet with a potential client. There I sat at one side of a long table facing Duo Duo and the potential client. Duo Duo and the client chatted and then argued for a while in Chinese. They paused. Duo Duo turned and asked if I would be okay with the payment for an “acting” role. I still didn’t quite understand but I accepted anyway. The client had accepted!

I was told to report to an apartment the following Tuesday and was given the address and phone number of the client Mr. Zhang. In the taxi on the way to the apartment I had some reservations but I was able to handle them and was soon knocking on the door of the apartment. Guess who answers? Marilyn Monroe! The door fully opens and I soon realize that this is a business office FULL of Hollywood actors all bustling every which way getting ready and I was hired to play……..of all people...…. SUPERMAN!

My first "acting" gig and I was contracted to play the star role at the largest club in Chengdu’s third year anniversary party. Let me just say that it could not have been anymore ridiculous. I am 6’5” and at the time was weighing only around 78KG. I was hardly the proportion that should have been playing the part. Not only this but the costume was made for your average person in China. They even had to cut the legs off the leotard. Between the short sleeves, bare feet, cut-off shorts, and extreme wedgie I can promise you I was the most hysterical Superman that ever walked the earth.  Despite all of this I knew it was the PERFECT recipe for a legendary story.

Despite my appearance the show went on. I arrived at the nightclub in an exotic sports car and was greeted by hundreds of waiting fans, signed autographs, and posed for the local CCTV. I was even interviewed on television! Needless to say the night involved frequent introductions with theme music, dancing on tables, and absolute shenanigans.  There are many memories of my favorite city Chengdu that I am sure over time will fade. Sharing this experience with friends is something that will forever remain as vibrant as the day it happened, and I will CERTAINLY........never grow tired of telling the story of the world’s lankiest superman.

Written by Matt


Matt founded Backpack In China in 2010 to help travelers make the best of their trips to China. Since that time he has been living and working in Florida, USA. Each summer he for vacations in China for several weeks.

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