“Last time I work full-time at NTU as nude model. The money very good, about $30 per hour, and I just need to sit there for 4 hours every day and let the students draw me.”
Not the most conventional of jobs, but Tay Foo Wei (better known as Kurt Tay) was never a person who was afraid showing off some skin. Unfortunately, that golden goose didn’t lay eggs for long.
“One time when they drawing me, I mari kita and become very hard, then after a while got liquid come out. After that the professor ban me from working there.”
Not the answer I was expecting either when I asked if he had any regrets in life. But it sure as hell set the tone for the rest of what I shall term loosely as our ‘encounter’.
Kurt requested that we meet at the McDonald’s at Northpoint City at 10:44 AM. Fun fact—his favourite number is 4, as he was born on 4th June. All the same, there was no preparing myself for what was to come.
As he approached the table I was seated at, I found myself curling into the seat, retreating like a turtle into its shell.
His ensemble of a checkered blue shirt and jeans was completed by a wrestling championship belt wrapped around his waist. His face was so noticeably caked cheek to cheek with compact powder that he wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a Victorian period flick.
I wasn’t sure if I was meeting with Tay Foo Wei, the man, or Superstar Celebrity Kurt Tay, the caricature.
“So, Kurt, how has life been since you removed your breast implants?”
“Okay ah. Now I just work and try to save money.”
“Oh, now my wife pregnant already, going to have a baby!”
His face is visibly ecstatic as he shares this news. However, his expression fades as he reveals that he’s been encountering money problems.
“Every month must go check-up, that one not cheap. Then when the baby born already must buy a lot of things, must pay for school, headache ah,” he laments.
These are mundane problems that most conventional young couples face, and seeing that he portrays himself as a man-child on camera, it surprises me that this is something that Kurt, because of all his eccentricities, is going through as well.
Eventually, he gives me a breakdown of his finances.
Kurt’s main source of income comes from working 6 nights a week as a supervisor at a security firm. His parents, who are in their early sixties, chip in with their hawker salaries.
From his $3,000 salary, $300 goes to storage space rental, which he uses to store all the wrestling memorabilia he has accumulated over the years. The spaces add up to around 100 sqft, about half a room in a typical HDB flat.
He spends a further $300 each month on 4D and Toto. The rest of it goes to expenses and some pocket money for his parents. He only started saving when he found out his wife was pregnant.
He lives in a 3-room flat in Yishun with his wife and parents. His wife, Kim Ngan, is a mail-to-order bride from Vietnam. In 2013, Kurt spent $10,000 on a wedding package deal, which was still incumbent on her father’s acceptance of the guy’s proposal and dowry.
Unsurprisingly, Kurt went through a total of 10 girls whose fathers refused to marry them off to him because of his C-cup breasts. Kim Ngan was lucky number eleven. She works 6 days a week, although the bulk of her salary is sent back home to her family.
Kurt wasn’t always working the night shift as a security guard, though. In 2010, he embraced his entrepreneurial side and founded “4Evr Escort Massage Agency”, which raked in $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
That too, did not last long, as competitors started to undercut him. This, alongside the loss of all his savings from gambling in Marina Bay Sands, led to a bizarre change of behaviour that he previously attributed to stress.
Now, he sings a different tune.
“After I lost all my savings, I got possessed by a shemale spirit,” he tells me with a straight face.
Initially, I thought he was pulling my leg. But I realised that he was either a very good actor, or he was being dead serious.
In fact, he attributes this spirit as the reason why he started behaving effeminately. He blames this unearthly banshee for influencing his decision to get the breast implants.
When I call him out for saying in a previous interview that he wanted breasts because whenever he saw women on the train, he would “feel very miserable that I didn’t have breasts like them,” he quickly tells me that it wasn’t him speaking, but the shemale spirit.
“Last time I also never want breast, but suddenly after I tio possessed, bo tai bo ji suddenly want breast and keep wearing low-cut tank tops,” he tells me.
This was not a popular decision with his family.
Initially, he borrowed $5,000 from his parents, saying that the money was for him to further his singing career abroad. After coming back from Thailand where he had the surgery, his mother was devastated, and his wife would feel embarrassed and enraged whenever people stared at them. Eventually, he removed the implants, citing his mother’s tears as a wake-up call.
Coincidentally, one of the silicone implants had also ruptured, potentially posing a health risk.
Despite all his struggles and responsibilities, Kurt continues to post content to Youtube on a daily basis. His unadulterated videos have become equally notorious as, you guessed it, Steven Lim.
Much like our beloved Superstar Kor Kor, Kurt’s first taste of fame can also be traced back to Singapore Idol. Back then, a fresh-faced 24-year-old Kurt looked Jacintha Abisheganaden square in the face and delivered his unique take on the Thomas Haynes Bayly classic, ‘Long Long Ago’. One can only assume he was trying to emulate our dear Kor Kor.
A quick search on Kurt’s YouTube page reveals just the kind of ‘content’ that he curates. From rambling incoherently for 20 minutes about the inevitability of him winning Toto to his unique interpretation of Mukbang videos where he features close-up shots of his food 1 minute at a time, he is hardly in the same category as your Jianhaos or Dee Koshes.
In fact, the videos are often of such lacklustre quality you wonder if any post-production work goes into them.
“I don’t edit the videos because I don’t know how to. I just press pause when I want to stop, then I upload the whole thing,” he confirms.
In 2012, Kurt employed a studio to help with the production of his music video of a song that was composed by his colleague at KBox. The production costs, combined with full-page ads in TNP and U-Weekly, as well as the printing of 5,000 CDs, amounted to $20,000. He even paid $2000 to Steven Lim for an endorsement on his social media platforms.
In case you were curious, the album did sell—just one copy to one individual. Somewhere in a nondescript storage facility remain 4,999 reminders of his failed singing career.
Kurt’s dream is to achieve the fame that he wants by becoming an actor. Over the years, he has joined several acting competitions, but his consistent failure has led him to realise that the acting industry places a huge emphasis on looks.
He describes an experience in a talent show: “That time I fucking du lan cause Christopher Lee let one guy who cannot act at all one but quite handsome so he can go next round.”
He doesn’t understand why he isn’t successful and claims that audiences have a double standard when it comes to actors, evident in the reception he gets when he cross-dresses in his videos.
“People go YouTube see me they say this guy siao one, but Mark Lee and Luo Zhixiang wear funny thing is okay.”
Sometimes, the outpouring of hate he receives on his Facebook and YouTube posts gets so intense that they drag his wife and family into it. This is where he draws the line.
“I know I got a lot of haters, but my wife never do anything also these also make so much noise want to troll her, I don’t know why they so bo liao one.”
He recounts his worst experience with a hater to me.
“Got one time one of the hater pretended to be JAV producer and asked me to send him nude photos because can make a lot of money here in Singapore.”
Despite his generally cheerful demeanour, I can see the rage seething within him as he tells me this story. He continues.
“After they take the photo, they go and print and paste everywhere under my block and everywhere else.”
He eventually filed a police report but isn’t sure if any action has been taken against the offender.
The haters might come and go, but there is a steely determination in Kurt’s eyes as he shares, “I do all of this because it is my hobby. Now I don’t need a lot of people to watch. Most important thing now is my family and the baby.”
In response, I ask if he thinks that his future child would be embarrassed about the online reputation that he has built for himself after all these years.
“Why? All of this is just acting mah, I got nothing to be ashamed about.”
Later, Kurt tells me he has a brilliant plan to get the money he desperately needs for the impending birth of his child.
“I need a lot of money, so the best and easiest way to get a lot of money is to win the Subaru Car Challenge.”
I stare blankly, waiting for him to break into a grin and reveal that this is nothing but an intricate, artfully crafted joke.
It does not come.
“All I need to do is stand there only; it’s not like 4D or Toto, have to depend on luck. This one is all about me.”
After my brain absorbs the absurdity of his thinking, I ask if he plans to train for the competition, which is well known to last over 70 hours, with contestants fainting from heat stroke.
“No ah. I only need to stand there what,” goes his logic.
“When I win, I will use the money to let my parents retire, pay for medical bills, buy a BTO and more wrestling championship belts.”
While Kurt might have grand visions of winning what is essentially a fool’s errand in the Subaru Car Challenge, it is hard to escape the feeling that he is also doing this because of the media attention he would receive.
There is a sense that everything boils down to his personal interests. While it’s admirable that he is taking the responsibilities coming his way head-on, I feel that the lowest common denominator in everything he does is still him and him alone.
True enough, a few days after our meeting, he sends me a message on Facebook, telling me that some haters had challenged him to a fight after he voiced his displeasure at rumours being spread about him within the cosplay community, of which Kurt is sometimes a part of.
To my dismay, Kurt accepts, which fortifies my feeling that he hasn’t really changed to become the selfless family man that he says he now is.
By this point, I feel like I am emotionally invested in Kurt. I try to persuade him not to go to the fight.
In no way am I condoning the actions of these haters, who usually hide behind fake accounts created with the sole purpose of making his life a living hell. However, I can see why Kurt is always picked on by them. He takes the bait and engages so easily.
Furthermore, it is often Kurt himself who provides the ammunition. Recently, he posted a picture of himself in his costume at a cosplay event with a very visible wet patch on his crotch. If this isn’t an open invitation for haters to pounce, I’m not sure what is.
Clearly, he lacks the emotional capacity to deal with haters even though he affirmed he bears indifference rather than hatred towards them.
In the midst of all this, he gives me his address and tells me to come down to cover the fight. Somewhere within the simplicity of his worldview, he understands that there is no such thing as bad press.
It almost pains me to say this, but I hope Kurt doesn’t have the constitution to outlast all the other competitors in the Subaru Car Challenge. Winning the competition will almost certainly create a monster.
Kurt already swells with pride when someone requests to take a selfie with him. Just imagine how high the pedestal he imagines himself to be standing on will be if he wins the challenge and gets the media coverage that goes with it. It’s the last thing he needs as he prepares to become a parent.
I am almost certain he would squander a large sum of that money on useless things, like even more wrestling championship belts or expensive MMA classes.
Fatherhood should be a privilege, not a right. Much like how a house is not a home, not every father can be a parent. Fathering a child is merely the biological act of assisting in the conception of a child.
Parenting, however, is a noble undertaking that demands responsibility and selflessness.
For starters, saving the $300 he spends monthly on storage space for his wrestling memorabilia can go a long way in paying for his child’s needs.
Maybe all of this will change the moment he holds his own flesh and blood aloft with both arms. It is said that these are the moments that a boy truly grows up to be a man, and learns the true meaning of selflessness.
I just pray he doesn’t use his kid as a prop in his videos.