Competitive Felines and the Humans Who Love Them Pose For Noah Sheldon in Beijing
China’s most pampered cats await their moment of glory in front of the heavy red velvet curtain at the Jin Hui Hotel’s Grand Theatre in this series by photographer and NOWNESS contributor Noah Sheldon. Having traveled to North Beijing with their owners from the wide reaches of the country, these 144 participants were ranked by the world-class judges of the 15th annual China Cat Fanciers Association competition. Hundreds of small tents, adorned with frilly curtains or leopard print throws, filled the halls peppered with brushes, combs and long feathers, all to groom these top pets. Persians, Maine Coons, a hairless Sphynx, and an elfin Singapura were among the most striking breeds vying for the CFA’s coveted rosettes. As incomes continue to rise across China, the country's emerging leisure class is lavishing time and money on their furry companions with increasing enthusiasm, keeping the animals in custom shampoo and multi-vitamins. "We feed our show cats fresh red meat,” explains Wang Zi Jing, a breeder who raises American Shorthairs and Persians at a cattery in Northeast China’s Dalian. “My husband goes early to the slaughterhouse to get the freshest we can find." Her finest show cat, Zhu Zhu, or Pearl, has already visited 20 cities around China on the awards circuit. At the event, which took place in late October, Beijing breeder Shi Ming Ju proudly lifted the flap on her miniature tent to reveal a huge Maine Coon. “She’s going to be on a special set of postage stamps. She’s going to be famous.”
STATS FROM ON SET
Entry fee per cat
800 yuan ($130).
A top cat’s monthly costs
3000 yuan ($480) including shampoo, conditioner, brushes, de-greasing lotion, food.
Most valuable breeds
Persian, Maine Coon, Exotic (up to 50,000 yuan or $8000).
Most expensive stud fee
40,000 yuan ($6,400) for the services of a male Main Coon from Beijing.
Raw beef, cooked chicken, dry biscuits.
Average age of a show cat
From a few months to two years old.
Allan Raymond from Australia, a cat show judge for more than 30 years, can spot a winner at 10 paces.
Inside the Olympic Training Camp of China’s World Record-Breaking Gold Medalists
The intense preparations behind the success of China’s weightlifting Olympic medal winners Lu Xiaojun, Li Xueying and Wu Jingbiao are revealed in Shanghai-based artist and photographer Noah Sheldon’s portfolio. After obtaining access to the secretive National Sports Training Center in Beijing, Sheldon followed the Chinese Olympic weightlifting team’s daily routines in the run up to the London 2012 Games, from dusting their palms with magnesium carbonate chalk to endless repetitions of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk lifts at ever-heavier weights. “The athletes’ lives are so regulated, every minute is controlled, but they really seem to have nice relationships with their coaches and each other,” notes Sheldon. The Chinese team has been hugely successful this year, with four gold and two silver medals so far. While World Champion Wu Jingbiao failed his final lift in the 56kg division to come second, late call-up to the team Wang Mingjuan took the title in the women’s 48kg competition, and Lu Xiaojun from Hubei Province broke the world records for both the snatch lift and total weight on the way to his Olympic crown. “There’s a close-up of him, when he’s hanging off the bar sideways,” says Sheldon. “It’s incredible if you see pictures of him three years ago––he was a sprinter and now he’s the world’s best lifter in his category.” But the nation’s potential medal haul isn’t over yet, as World Champion and world record holder Zhou Lulu competes today in the women’s super heavyweight over 75kg category.
France’s Lounge Lothario Shares His Damascene Moment in a Guy Aroch Film
Libidinous French musician Sébastien Tellier unveils his new spiritual self in director and fashion photographer Guy Aroch’s short. The singer waxes lyrical on God, Santa Claus and the color blue, and is seduced by his interviewer—model turned celebrated weather girl Lorraine Denis—into a sensual dreamscape. Featuring the track “Pépito Bleu” from Tellier’s latest album My God is Blue, the video is a change of pace for Israeli-born director Aroch, who has shot the likes of Vanessa Paradis and Christy Turlington and produced editorials for The New York Times, British Vogue and Marie Claire. “Sébastien is a unique thinker with a strong sense of humor, so I wanted to give him a fun platform to tell his story,” explains Aroch, who shares the musician's 70s-inspired aesthetic and voluptuous vision of femininity. Shedding the steamy skin of his previous LP Sexuality, Tellier’s fourth record sees his reinvention as a musical messiah heralding the dawn of L’Alliance Bleue. “I’d love people to say, ‘Tellier is the Dalí of music,’” offers the former Eurovision participant. “Dalí did something surreal yet pertinent, that’s why I love his work, and I hope to do that musically.” Here the eccentric visionary gets philosophical.
What is the message of My God is Blue?
What I try to do is encourage people to put dreams and imagination back into the heart of society. I want people to believe in something that doesn’t exist. God? Why not? But the Loch Ness monster, unicorns and Santa Claus also work. We should accept forces that surpass us.
How do you avoid being repetitive?
I try to renew myself constantly. Between each album, I change personality, clothes, car and apartment. I try and like films I used to hate. Once I feel I’ve entered a new cycle, that I’m truly different, I know I’m ready to create a new album. Otherwise, what is the point?
What is the biggest change with this album?
For this album, I didn’t want to look at the past or look at my childhood memories. Instead, I imagined the future. I wanted to be a soothsayer, create the pop of the future. The best way to summarize the album is that it uses strength to talk about tenderness.
I wanted to convey the vision of a tiny little human standing next to an immense, bright blue tidal wave. I wanted to remind people of the minuscule-ness of human kind.
What are your predictions about the future?
I don’t imagine a very happy future for our planet. I feel we are reaching the end of a cycle, we are entering a new cycle, and this transition could be a very difficult moment to go through.
What is the L’Alliance Bleue?
It is a movement I am creating around this album. People will soon be able to register online and take personality tests to gauge their imagination potential. They will be able to give donations, and strips of land on which we—me and the faithful—will all live together. We will create a new, better world that people will enter to live truly free lives. Surgeons will become poets; their donations will be used towards their own new lives, like a gift to themselves. For example, the money could be used for fireworks in their honor after they read their first poem.
What would you do in L’Alliance Bleue?
My dream is to become a scientist. These are the most important people in the world. What you want from life is to feel good and to live forever, and only science can bring this to us. I think the world should be solely composed of scientists—who kill illnesses and make us eternal—and artists, to entertain them.
What does freedom mean to you?
Freedom is about needing nothing, about being a sophisticated savage. It’s about listening to your desires with refinement, and to live in wilderness, only with more thought.
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