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Midnight show to unmask sex
Updated: 2004-12-06 08:53

Producers of "The Mask" are hoping Chinese audiences are ready for some straight talk on a subject that's usually greeted with bashful blushes.

Set to debut on January 1, the half-hour TV talk show will explore sexual issues that arise in the daily lives of the Chinese people, with a group of experts sitting in to offer advice.

The difference between this show and others is that "it will go directly to the point instead of beating around the bush," said the Beijing Shixi Media Company, "The Mask"s producer.

"Any question can be raised and explored in depth on the show so that concrete sexual problems can be resolved in a realistic way," said Li Xichen, president of Shixi Media.

"Our ultimate goal is to teach adults the right methods for handling their problems," he said.

A six-hour online survey by the China Youth Daily and sohu.com found that 93 percent of the respondents said they would watch the program.

More than 88 percent said the program is appearing "at the right time," when Chinese society has advanced to a relatively mature stage. And 56 percent said their main purpose for watching the show would be to find answers to their own problems.

"I would like to be a guest on the show," said Xiao Liang, a student at Beijing Normal University. "If normal channels for sexual knowledge are blocked, pornographic Websites will just take their place."

The show is called "The Mask" because guests will wear masks that cover most of their faces and hide their identities. The masks will be color-coded to signify the particular problem the guest is facing, producers said, without elaborating.

"Since there is no law that prohibits people from chatting about sexual issues on a TV show, we want to be the first one to do it," said Liu. "The rising incidence of AIDS and venereal diseases has forced the re-emergence of sexual health and ethics topics into the public view."

In his view, the central government's approval of condom ads can be taken as a sign that the national policy on sex-related issues is becoming more liberal.

"We have to make it clear that the show is designed as a sex education program for adults - not porn," said Liu.

Ms Hao, who works in a primary school in Beijing and was a respondent to the survey, said the program must be careful to avoid obscenity.

"It's really a great thing to promote such a program in China," said Li Yinhe, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "We hope it will spread not just correct sex knowledge, but also correct sex concepts."

Commented Mr Guo, a military officer in his 50s:

"I'm not sure I will watch it, but I wouldn't stop my college-age daughter from watching it."

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