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‘What’s the deal with Asians?': Red Symons bizarre interview

Former Hey Hey It's Saturday star and member of 70's band Skyhooks Red Symons is being criticized following an unusual interview on an ABC podcast, where he asked his interviewer “What’s the deal with Asians?” and appeared to defend the infamous blackface incident on a 2009 episode of 'Hey, Hey'.

Symons invited ABC journalist Beverley Wang onto his radio show in Melbourne to talk about her new podcast called, It’s Not A Race.

Her show aims to look at “race, racism, identity, culture and difference” in modern Australia.

The interview started strangely when Symons told Wang that he was upset because he’d wanted to launch a similar segment on his own show.

“Except my segment was called ‘What’s the deal with Asians?’” he told her.

“Well let’s tackle that. What is the deal with Asians, Red?” asked Wang.

“No, I ask the questions. What’s the deal with Asians? It’s just a useful, general question about the nature of our culture, and how one should interact with people who have a different cultural background.”

Symons then bizarrely asked his guest: “Are you yellow?”

He then asked if she was Chinese, so Wang explained that she was born in Canada with a Taiwanese background.

Symons then quizzed Wang on her ancestry, asking “what sort of boat” her ancestors had used to flee mainland China for Taiwan over 400 years ago.

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Then things got REALLY strange.

Symons: “Do they speak Mandarin or Cantonese?”

Wang: “Who’s ‘they’?”

Symons: “THE PEOPLE IN TAIWAN.”

Wang: “They speak Taiwanese and they speak Mandarin. And in Canada where I’m from, they speak English and French.”

Symons: “I knew that. You’re probably from the west coast of Canada.”

Wang: “Why do you think that, Red?”

Symons: “Because it’s closer to ASIA.”

Wang: “I’m just asking, don’t get defensive.”

Wang then asked Symons about the infamous segment on Red Faces when a group of contestants performed as the Jackson Five wearing blackface make-up.

Symons: “I remember thinking at the time that it had become uncomfortable because Harry Connick Jr felt most uncomfortable with someone wearing what is alleged to be blackface.”

Wang: “Why is it alleged to be blackface?”

Symons: “Well, because there was white face and there was brown face and there was black face. There was a variety of faces.”

Wang: “Sure, but it wasn’t ‘alleged’ blackface. The make-up is there. It’s definitely black make-up.”

Symons: “And there is apparently a blanket caveat against that?”

Symons then put his foot in it when he forgot his guest’s name after asking about her ‘birth name’.

Symons: “Given that you were born in Canada, you were probably named ‘Jenny’ when you were born.”

Wang: “JENNY?”

Symons: “Beverley. Considering you were born in Canada, you were probably named ‘Beverley’ when you were born.”

Wang: “That’s a fair assumption to make, Red, that I was given a name when I was born.”

Symons: “Was Beverley the name you were given?”

Wang: “My name IS Beverly, it has been Beverley since birth.”

Wrapping up the interview, Symons asked Wang if she’d like him to co-host her own podcast — or if they’d like to create a new one together titled ‘What’s the deal with Asians?’

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