Ian Sinclair Interviews Bevan Chuang
Ian Sinclair Interviews Bevan Chuang
IAN SINCLAIR: Well, Bevan Chuang, you're a hard woman to track down.
BEVAN CHUANG: (CHUCKLES) I have been in hiding for little while, but, um, yes.
IAN: What's life been like for you over the last couple of weeks?
unreal, actually, if— if there's any better word to say.
Um, I was not expecting
the media interest. Um, the people are hounding me down.
IAN: So why then did you decide to speak now to us?
I think everyone have said their side of the story,
and those who've, you know—
who will not speak will be hiding and— or fled, and I think it is about time for me to say my story. Also, of course, to apologise for the chaos that's— that's been caused over the last week or two.
IAN: Let's start with the image that's been created.
IAN: This is it, in a way, isn't it? Um, here's your public image — Bevan Chuang, mayor's mistress, burlesque dancer, political opportunist. Who's the real Bevan Chuang?
BEVAN: I'm passionate about
the community, and this is also the reason why I stood for
the local election this year. As for my burlesque dancing,
it's obviously a thing that I do as a—
as a pastime, that I do for myself. I don't do them. I've never done a public show. It is just a way to express my femininity. And I think women, um— My belief with— is that women should be allowed to do what they wanted to do.
IAN: So, but everything we hear from the Chinese community is you're a smart woman. You're fluent in three languages.
BEVAN: Yes, I am.
IAN: So how does a smart woman get into this mess?
BEVAN: Smart woman is a
hopeless romantic who, um, just meet the wrong people
at the wrong time, who's been taken advantage of when you needed help at, you know— at— at points. And— And, um... And there are times in life where people can see that you need some help, and they can take advantage of it.
IAN (VOICEOVER): In 2011, Bevan would meet Auckland's mayor, Len Brown, after he had appointed her to the city's cultural committee.
You know, we hear the stories, we hear the
stereotype — the powerful politician and
the beautiful young woman. Was that—? Is—? Was it as simple as that for you?
BEVAN: I like the beautiful woman bit. (LAUGHS) Um, no, I-I-I think, um, it was just that we— obviously our personality clicked and, um— and that's how it happened. I, um... He is obviously a very powerful man, um, and probably, you know, if not the most, but definitely one of the most powerful men in NZ.
IAN: Was that intoxicating to you?
BEVAN: No, no. I mean, um,... I have met a lot of powerful men, and I came from... a background — my family back in Hong Kong is very powerful. And, to be honest, I don't need that to get to where I want. So him being powerful, it's one thing, but it's not the reason that I find intoxicated.
IAN: How does a 58-year-old man get a 31-year-old woman?
BEVAN: (CHUCKLES) Little— Little tips for other men out there. He is— He's great attention to detail, and he— he remembers everything in the thing that you love, you like to do. Um, it's a lot of, um, attention, a very good lover. He remembers everything. He remembers what you like, what your family likes, what you've just talked about last week. Um, you know, um, what you— what perfume you wear, what, you know— and— and little details like that. And sometimes we even have colour coordination, you know, when we go out in the public —not planned, but that just happened, and he would joke about it.
IAN: At the time when you were sitting there in those meetings with him, how did you manage to conceal it? Was it difficult?
BEVAN: I think it went— I-I— obviously for the last two years, it was, you know, pretty, pretty... nicely concealed, you know, sort of hidden. No one... knew about it.
IAN: Did the fact of his being married, how did that affect your view of getting involved with him?
BEVAN: Many, many times have I ask him to just stop the relationship. And, um— And there are... numerous times of— of, um, wanting to— to just, um, back off, because this is wrong.
IAN: Did you reject him?
BEVAN: I have. Many times.
IAN: What did he do?
BEVAN: There was still the non-stop, um, there was still a lot of text messages, phone calls saying that he wants to talk to me and, uh, you know— and, uh, how upset he is.
IAN: Because you've been portrayed...
IAN: ...as the woman who took advantage of him, in a sense, his position. But I guess people want to know what was your motive.
BEVAN: I don't think I have a motive. I... I don't know. Yeah, I-I don't... I don't have a motive.
IAN: The one that seems to come up has been, that has been of concern, has been the one of whether or not the mayor used his position...
IAN: ...to gain advantage with you or— or whether you gained advantage with him. Have you—? Have you exploited that situation?
BEVAN: I don't personally gain any, um... I have not and still don't gain any, uh, personal gain from having that relationship with him.
IAN: And what about your application for the job, um, at the art gallery? Were you in a sexual relationship with him when you applied for that job and he wrote the reference?
BEVAN: He's one of five referees that I have put on to the list.
IAN: At the time, though, Bevan, at the time when he wrote the reference, was he in a relationship with you? A romantic one, I mean?
IAN: He was? Yeah, and at the time when it went forward to the shortlist, was he still there?
IAN: But you did use your relationship with him — and it was a romantic relationship — to help gain, get backing for a job, did you not?
BEVAN: Um, he was
a referee for the art gallery job, and probably you can say
that. I mean, I have got— I've got the job, and, of
course, the referees are important. Um, and, yeah,
could be the advantage, but I obviously have lost more now than I gained.
IAN (VOICEOVER): After the break — enter the other secret lover.
BEVAN: Well, look, I was in love
or was in relationship with two men that both start with the
word L and both share the same birthday, and they both know
exactly what to
do with me.
IAN: Well, you look at Len Brown, and you don't think— The word Lothario doesn't spring to mind.
IAN: Or leading man.
BEVAN: (CHUCKLES) Well, look, I... was in love or was in relationship with two men that both start with the word L and both share the same birthday, and they both know exactly what to do with me. And that's it.
IAN (VOICEOVER): The other lover in the picture? Smooth-talking 28-year-old Luigi Wewege.
BEVAN: I, you know— That they
knew exactly what would make it tick, that they go.
It's not— I can't really explain what the attraction was, but I think for a lot of people, being in love, you know, you just fall in love.
IAN: Luigi Wewege?
IAN: An unusual name?
BEVAN: I-I actually have no idea how to pronounce his last name, to be honest. (CHUCKLES)
IAN (VOICEOVER): South African Luigi Wewege was an ambitious Young National Party supporter.
IAN: What was the attraction?
BEVAN: It's— He's charming, and, um, he knows what to say to you. You know, he even... gone out of his way to learn a little bit of Chinese just to— to talk to me and just to, you know— It's just a really charming thing that he does. And he is, you know, quite— He is intelligent, I have to say, and, um, you know, he always appear very confident.
IAN: Was he a ladies' man?
IAN: And was Len in the relationship with you at the time when you were involved with Luigi?
BEVAN: Correct, yes.
IAN: Right, and did Len know about Luigi?
BEVAN: He knows Luigi, but I'm not sure if he— I don't know if he know about the relationship.
IAN: Do you think he would've minded?
BEVAN: Probably did. I don't know.
IAN (VOICEOVER): Her romance
with Luigi faded, but then she met him again last July. By
then, Luigi was right-hand man to mayoral candidate John
Palino, Len Brown's main rival in
the upcoming elections.
IAN: And by this time, you were a candidate for council?
BEVAN: Yes, correct.
IAN: What did Luigi offer to do for you?
BEVAN: Well, throughout the campaign, he has offered a lot of sweet talk, promises that obviously, you know, not gonna follow through. Um, he has offered, you know— he has offered marriage proposals. We even talked about where we gonna live, we even talked about where we gonna go on holiday for, what we're gonna do. Um, even job promises.
IAN: Were you in love with him?
IAN: You would have married him?
IAN: A lot of promises. Were you ever that serious with Len? Did it ever get to that kind of conversation with Len?
BEVAN: Um, our— our relationship was... Uh, it was quite clear that I will move on to a permanent, long-term, stable relationship.
IAN: With somebody else?
IAN: You had no thought— No— He made no promises of leaving his wife?
IAN (VOICEOVER): Last July, Luigi found out about Bevan's affair with Len.
BEVAN: And he said to me, 'Well you should have kept all the text messages.' And I say, 'Why?' 'So you can do something with it.' And I said, 'No, I would never do that.'
IAN (VOICEOVER): Bevan Chuang says the plan was to use information about the affair to force Len Brown to step down. She says the pressure from Luigi was intense.
BEVAN: It's hard for him to find a job. He's been trying for— so hard. He's just gonna be here as this poor, lonely migrant with nothing, and this is just a little thing that I could do for him and that would make a whole lot of difference. And in saying, 'You have not tried hard enough. You could do this. You haven't tried hard enough.' And— And I remember, um, writing back to him and saying, 'Stop telling me that I'm useless,' and that I can't do anything for you.
IAN: But you could always have said no. Why did you say yes?
BEVAN: It was a lot of pressure, and... and even till the day that I spoke, he, you know— there was still that, 'Could you not talk earlier? We could just get this done.' You know? And— And, you know, 'It'll be... Um, once you did it, it will be... we'll get what we want.'
Later, Luigi would deny Bevan's story and he'd back
John Palino's claims that he also had no involvement in a plot to unseat Len Brown.
PALINO: The relationship between Len and Bevan, I
was unaware of it until
after the story broke.
IAN (VOICEOVER): But Bevan Chuang tells a different story about what John Palino told her on election night.
IAN: To get this
absolutely clear, did John Palino make it clear to you that
he wanted you to
disclose the affair and the details of it?
BEVAN: Yes, he has made it quite clear that he wants me to speak about it so there's enough time for them to approach the office.
To tell the mayor what?
BEVAN: To tell the mayor that... To tell the mayor that they're aware that he's having an affair.
IAN: To what end? What did he tell you what he wanted to have happen with that information?
BEVAN: So they could go and
talk to the mayor and say they're aware that
he's having an affair, there's evidence that he is having an affair, that if he does not want to—does not want this information out, he should step down and maybe perhaps say that he's got a health problem and he cannot do this job any more. Which means that he can still be the hero, because he has won the election, but yet it doesn't make him look bad that he needs to stand down.
IAN: OK. It's a messy business, isn't it?
BEVAN: It is.
IAN: Because you've got John Palino,
who stands accused of, um, using underhand methods
to try and undermine the rightful winner of this, of the elections. You've got Luigi, who seems to have taken off and left you in the lurch.
IAN: And there's— Then there's you. You say you only did it for love, effectively?
IAN: You betrayed a lover for love?
BEVAN: Yes, correct.
IAN: Do you think people will believe you?
BEVAN: Probably not. I-I think that some people will think, you know, she knows what she's doing and that she's just making that up. It's... It is— It is extremely messy business.
IAN: It's been said that people will do anything for love, but going as far as revealing all the details of your affair with Len Brown, wasn't that a bit too far? It is, and... and I did not expect, um, the kind of level of details that are out there.
IAN (VOICEOVER): Intimate details of Len Brown's sexual performance, illicit liaisons in the council offices as revealed by Bevan Chuang on blogger Cameron Slater's website — embarrassing not just to the mayor but the mistress.
IAN: What were you thinking?
BEVAN: The details, as I said, um, was— was never meant to be published, as I was assured. And, um,... it's always been that they want the details so that they could see what they could use against the mayor.
IAN (VOICEOVER): 'They' being the journalists who would eventually publish the lurid expose on the internet.
BEVAN: The plan for the affidavit is to cover them so that if they do not get into legal issues. If they were ever questioned about the, um— the authenticity of the story, that that would be used to say, 'No it's not. They did not lie,' that someone actually had provided information.
IAN: So you did it initially for Luigi's love?
IAN: And you didn't know Luigi wanted not your love but your affidavit.
IAN (VOICEOVER): But in Bevan's eyes, Luigi Wewege's betrayal didn't end there. In the headlines came reports of erotic photos she snapped of herself for Luigi sent by Luigi to internet journalist Stephen Cook.
IAN: They were naked pictures.
IAN: What did you think of him then?
BEVAN: I am disappointed,
really disappointed that, um, we were in an intimate
relationship, irrespective of how seriously— seriously he
think we were, we were in an intimate relationship. And I'm
really disappointed that he would think that it's OK to
them. I think the act is illegal, anyway.
IAN: What do you say to people who say, 'Why did you send him nude photos?'
BEVAN: We were in a
relationship, as I said, irrespective of how serious he
think we were,
we were in an intimate relationship. And that, um,... you know— it— it— it's just things that perhaps couples do as a bit of a little sort of play thing.
IAN (VOICEOVER): The scandal made Len Brown's inauguration probably the most sensational in mayoral history.
LEN BROWN: To Shan and to my daughters, who are here, I want to acknowledge your love and support for me on this occasion and over the last three years.
IAN: Did you receive an invitation to the inauguration?
Yes, I have, and I remember putting it on Facebook,
saying that I hope that I can go
to this as a local board member.
IAN: But you didn't?
BEVAN: But I didn't show up.
IAN: Why not?
BEVAN: I don't think it's fair to cause that media frenzy, um, and it is his moment for him to be on stage and be the mayor and deliver that. I don't think it's fair. But also, of course, um, you know, I just don't really want to create the chaos, and it might— it will be a lot— it will be very difficult if I run into his family.
IAN: Have you apologised to them?
I have apologised to Len and his family, and, uh,
it— I know it's extremely difficult for the— for the
daughters. Um, I mean, again, I come in a family where my
is a womaniser. And I understand how difficult it is for the children to get through it, and it's even harder when it's such a public affair. This is not naivety. This is foolishness. This is just stupid for me to-to-to actually said what I said and have caused a lot of harm for the family.
IAN: Would you have done it knowing how it would turn out? Would you have had a relationship with the mayor if you'd know what the consequences would have been?
think... I need... My-My problem is still not saying no. I'm
not good at saying no,
and it— and— and my 'no' sometimes becomes 'maybe', and that's what I need to be really
affirmed and was that a 'no' is a 'no'. And, you know, not 'Maybe, perhaps, oh well, you know, maybe he understand,' you know? And, you know, the— the learning from this really is be really firm and say no. If it's 'no', then 'no' and just walk away.
IAN: Bevan, what has this affair with Len Brown cost you?
BEVAN: It's... It's quite... quite damaging, of course, with what people— of the image that people have about me. Um, but, as a friend of mine said at the very beginning, um, when you... in— when you are being portrayed as the other woman, it's always harder to come back.
IAN: This has been terribly public too, hasn't it?
BEVAN: And it has been terribly public.
IAN: Did you ever expect anything like this?
BEVAN: No, I did not.
IAN (VOICEOVER): All Bevan Chuang wants now is to have a chance at a normal life.
BEVAN: I've been here for 17 years, and this is my home.
IAN (VOICEOVER): One thing she says she won't be doing is running away from her problems.
BEVAN: This is a story of at least five men and a woman. And... And none of them have came to my rescue when I needed them and, um...
IAN: And all of them wanted something?
BEVAN: And all of them wanted something.