“I’m 80. But I stillhave dreams andI always want to do something. It feels like something is callingme and I look at it, I want to be there.”
Wang’s pantomime drew the attentionof a cultural official from Germany when he performed at TheCentral Academy of Drama in Beijing. He was invited to perform inGermany, and with the help of his wife choreographed a repertoireof 10 plays for his first overseas show.
So as a 49-year-old, the dedicatedWang studied pantomime, quit his job at home and moved to Beijing.With his wife and two kids in tow, he became one of the “Beijingdrifters” (a term used for those who are from outside Beijing yetchoose to work and live in the city without the hukou, or householdregistration).
Wang Deshun was born in a ruralcommunity in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, northeast China. Afterdropping out of school aged 14, he went to work at a munitionsfactory to support his family.
Wang, always evolving creatively,came up with an original performance art form – “living sculpture”- at the age of 60. Sculpture doesn’t breathe, Wang said, so whenplaying the living sculpture he tried to breathe with just thestrength from his back.
A grey-haired old man with ashirtless torso stole the show at China Fashion Week in Beijing onMarch 25, 2015.
Born in 1936, this 80-year-oldgrandpa’s spirit is as strong as ever. “I still have dreams andpursuits. I can do now what I could not do in the past, and that iswhat rebirth should be about.”
He is Wang Deshun. Akidult.
Tall and toned, the man strutteddown the catwalk like a warrior king with chest pushed outwards,steady decisive strides, and an intense gaze – a domineeringdemeanor rarely seen in people of his age.
At 65, he learned to ride a horse.In his 70s, he became an actor, and at 78, he learned to ride amotorcycle. At 79, he walked down the catwalk for the first time,and the rest is history.
China’s’most handsome’ grandpa
Wang’s talent and hard work shonethrough. The performance was a success. He was invited to attendthe 12th International Drama Festival held in Koln, Germany. And anart festival in France soon followed. The family then went on tourtogether.
Because of the physical requirementsof pantomime, Wang Deshun, at 50 years old, decided to hit the gym,and cut down on watching television and playing cards. Training fortwo hours was followed by two hours of swimming every single dayfor 30 years, helped him shape a healthy and strongly-builtbody.
When Wang’s family first arrived inBeijing, they had nowhere to live. The night before they were dueto leave for Germany, they had no money to book a hotel. Wang andhis wife wandered along the city’s cold Changan Street. They walkeduntil they could walk no further, eventually nestling togetherinside an incomplete underground station.
“I’m a silly guy. Silly people areinsistent and stubborn. I just feel art is something that I willpursue through my life. No matter how tough it is, how poor I am.It is something that I will never give up and abandon. When we werein Beijing, we had no money to eat, we lived on 10 yuan. But evenat that time, we still played the show with our go-all-out efforts.It’s like something that I’m obliged to do. I was obsessed withart, crazy, I must do it even if I’m damn poor.” Wang recalled,proud and firm.
Wang’s hard work began to pay off.He became the star of a theatrical troupe in Changchun, JilinProvince. But he gradually found that northeast Chinese are morefond of errenzhuan (a form of art that features two characterssinging and dancing) than drama. And he had little room to releasehis full talent and ambitions.
“Thirty years ago, I used to trainmodels how to walk with the help of my wife. One day (in 2015), oneof our students asked about my body’s condition and I said it’sfine. So I was invited to make an appearance in the show,” Wangrecalled about the events that led him to be famous overnight. “Mystudent asked me to do so, how could I reject?” hequipped.
Wang had no family history of art orperforming. Yet at 24, he fell in love with drama. Taking the stageseemed a long way off, but Wang was dogged in pursuit of hisdreams. After receiving limited education as a youngster, he signedup for night classes. And in 1960, he finally became a theateractor in his hometown. Aged 30, he started learningsplits.
He wowed the audience and he becamean Internet sensation overnight. Chinese netizens dubbed him“China’s most handsome grandpa” and “old fresh meat” (mandarin: LaoXianrou).
Wang had unknowingly spent 60 yearspreparing for that day.
这位出生于1936年的沈阳大爷，王德顺又参加了法国的艺术节。此后， 第二天王德顺的演出非常成功。他被正式邀请参加在德国科隆举行的第十二届国际哑剧节。随后， At the age of 81, Wang stillmaintains a routine of exercising, skiing, swimming, acting andeven keeping up with social media trends, much like a teenager. Tohim, the peak of his life has just begun.