Joanne Peh is getting into some risky business — as a brothel boss. On screen, that is.
In the upcoming Toggle drama, ‘Last Madame’, Peh, 36, portrays a mama-san of a whorehouse in 1930s Singapore. Her story runs parallel with that of her great-granddaughter, played by Fiona Fussi, a banker in the present time, who stumbles upon her family’s harlot-handling legacy.
Given the sordid nature of the material, the show will be rated M18, a first for Toggle. The higher age classification means it gets to be bolder in its depiction of sex and violence. In other words, you’re going to see more — whatchamacallit — ‘grown-up’ stuff than on your regular free-to-air TV show.
So, just how M18 is Last Madame going to be?
The show isn’t going to be risqué for risqué’s sake, head writer and director Jean Yeo tells 8 DAYS. “This story is about female empowerment which is defined very differently in a different period,” says Yeo. “[Because] the background is a brothel, it needs to show the life in a brothel authentically, and more importantly, show how women lived and were treated in the 1930s. And here’s where we differ from Game of Thrones, which I feel had lots of gratuitous sex for its own sake.”
The 12-part, half-hour English-language serial, which is currently in production, also stars Lina Ng, Constance Lau, Brandon Wong, and Taiwanese model Jeff Chou. Here, Peh tells us via e-mail about the thrill of playing a madame and how it pushes her limits as an actress.