Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Brilliant Chang - The Curtis Warren of His Day

It is interesting to research the story of Billy "Brilliant" Chang and read the tabloid newspapers of the day.  To be blunt, the Race Relations Board would have a field day if todays papers went full tilt about foreigners, particularly Chinamen and West Indians.  It is these races that started the dreadful downfall and moral destruction of young white women, who had allowed themselves to be drawn in by the offer of illicit drugs such as cocaine & opium.  This also led them wide open to sexual seduction and degradation at the hands of Chinamen, couplings that normal, decent white women would never contemplate.  Yeah right!

    Now you have an idea of just how they were portayed in the press.  One important point that the moralising and racist newspapers never grasped was that the majority of the women sucked into this world of vice and drugs, were society women and actresses and others in the entertainment world.  They would have more money than any women slaving her guts out in a factory or shop.  Money was not a problem.

   The first high flying victim of the "Yellow Peril" was actress Billie Carleton, a popular stage star who had appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1918, at the victory celebration ball.  She turned heads with a revealing dress.  She was found dead from a drug overdose, and the cause was cocaine.  She was addicted to it.  Chang moved into Limehouse, the area of the East End that had a small Chinese community.  He started supplying cocaine and opium.  He then moved into a restaurant in Gerrard Street in Soho, close to the West End theatres where many of his customers worked and visited.  But persistent raids from Police forced him to move back to Limehouse.  Then another high profile actress died, Freda Kempson.  Again, from a cocaine overdose.  Chang claimed in court that he knew nothing about any cocaine. 

    Another drug addicted actress tipped off Police who raided his flat, and where stunned to find two white women in his bed!  A search found an amount of cocaine that warranted his arrest and charge.  He was convicted and sent to prison for more than a year, and upon his release, was deported.  One estimate was that Chang made around one million pounds from his drug activities, which in this day and age, would put him in the criminal super-league.  What happened to him is a bit of a mystery.