Punch Drunk: Putting the FUN in "Funeral" 


I was just a small child, but I remember when my grandfather died, and I remember when my dad saw his dad lying in that open casket. I’d never seen him cry like that, and I haven’t seen him show that much emotion since. I’m sure it’s a tough thing to see the man who raised you lying before you, never to rise again. I don’t remember the funeral, but I’m told that it was a somber affair.

This isn’t always the case. I recently read about a funeral for a father in Taiwan — a 76-year-old politician named Tung Hsiang. He “enjoyed a buzz,” his son and funeral organizer said. Apparently, he also enjoyed half-naked women.

His funeral in the city of Chiayi on Jan. 4 featured 50 scantily clad women dancing on Jeeps, a drumming troupe, a marching band, performers dressed as deities and giant puppets.

“He told us he wanted this through a dream two days before the funeral,” his brother Tung Mao-hsiung told Taiwanese broadcaster CTS.

Although less common these days, it seems that highly entertaining burial spectacles — with half-naked dancing girls — aren’t unheard of in Taiwanese society. It’s even more prevalent in rural Chinese culture, although from my understanding it’s a tradition that most would like to see discarded.

The wild parade is meant to draw a huge crowd, which presumably gives more honor to the deceased. There’s even a documentary on the subject, “Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan,” which was released in 2011. It makes sense. The bigger the funeral, the more popular you assume the person was.

Having dancing women at a funeral seems to be the offshoot of an older Asian practice of hiring professional female mourners who are paid to cry at funerals, except, you know, these girls strip. I’d probably leave a provision in my will for both.

I find the practice to be awesome. Yes it’s slightly perverse, but it’s also strangely dignified. Who says that you have to have the same drab procession as everyone else? If you lived a fun life, your funeral should reflect that.

If I’m sitting there watching this funeral procession drive down the street, women gyrating, bass bumping, giant puppets in tow, I would have to imagine that the person in the casket was a great, great person — a person who was loved by all.

His obit might read that he was a great father who loved his wife, his children, his friends — but mainly he loved when naked women danced for him. He loved that more than anything. His time spent in gentlemen’s clubs and not with his family weren’t minutes wasted, no, they were minutes cherished. Coincidently, “Cherish” was one of his favorite dancers.

Rest in peace, Tung Hsiang. May the two-for-one lap dances in heaven be never-ending.

Now I don’t presume to know what my father would want at his funeral, but if he asked for a procession of exotic dancers, I would pay him tribute by hiring those exotic dancers. As his only child it would be my duty to hire those dancers and I would carry out this solemn task with as much dignity as I could muster.

No doubt, this would require multiple scouting trips to Pure Pleasure and Paper Moon. No one said honoring thy father would be an easy task.

When it comes to my funeral, I don’t want anything as extravagant as Mr. Hsiang’s wild procession. No, I’m a simple man. I want everyone to enjoy a drink or two and not be overly emotional. Tell a funny story about me and then move on with your lives. Most important, I want my pallbearers to be my friends and my children — on one side of the casket. On the other side I want the other significant people in my life: Candy, Charity, Diamond and Sasha.

Instead of some dingy hymn, I want Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” playing at full blast.

In lieu of mortician’s funereal makeup, my face should be covered in glitter.

My son, if I have one, no doubt will respect this wish. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.



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