Meet ACrush: China’s First Non-Binary Boy Band

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A new Chinese ‘boy band’ called ACrush made worldwide headlines this week for their unique gender-bending concept. The progressive divas, who present as handsome dudes, are actually all young women. It’s still unclear if the group’s androgynous image is authentic or just a savvy publicity stunt. Like most Asian pop acts, ACrush was assembled and manufactured by a major entertainment agency. Their agent insists, however, that the members all sported unisex styles before being recruited.

ACrush’s origin story sounds eerily similar to Russia’s faux-lesbian pop duo t.A.T.u.. For those of you that don’t remember, the pair were put together in the early ’00s by a Svengali manager and then marketed to the world as lesbian lovers. (Spoiler alert: they’re straight). Despite the enormous media attention ACrush is receiving thanks to the current thirst for all things identity politics, they’re far from the first gender non-conforming pop act to come out of Asia.

In 2014, Japan launched the tomboy girl-group The Hoopers, an eight-member troupe of short-haired, tuxedo-wearing acrobatic songstresses. Korea did something similar a year earlier with Global Icon, but the concept didn’t fly in the cutesy K-Pop scene and the group quickly vanished from the spotlight. Last, but not least is Amber Liu of Korean girl group f(x), a self-professed “tomboy” who has been dressing like a skater since debuting in 2009. Check out music videos from all three below, and look out for ACrush’s debut single later this month.

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