And Yu has chosen to make
use of his unique physical appearance,
as part of a drive to land a recording
contract and become China's newest rock
But he recalls a time when he preferred
not to face the music. Born in Shenyang
in the frozen northeastern province of
Liaoning, Yu spent a tough childhood amid
"People laughed at
me and called me 'caveman.' I used to
throw stones back and fight them as a
kid, but now I've grown up and learned
how to endure it," he said as he
recuperated in a hospital ward from ear
He had the operation in
Shanghai recently to remove hair that
was impeding his hearing, doctors said.
"I hope to prove myself
and others wrong in singing some day.
Of course, in the beginning, people will
say, that's just "hairboy" singing.
"But I want to rely
on my skills to make it big," said
Yu, his head wrapped in bandages.
Yu made his entertainment
debut at the age of 6 in a movie called
"A Hairy Child's Adventure."
Life has been far from easy. Yu has had
five other operations to remove hair from
his nose and repair his gums, which were
engulfing his teeth. Yu, who uses the
name "woolboy" in English for
his e-mail, is covered with an average
of 256 hairs per square inch of his skin
-- a condition doctors call atavism.
"I've had a lot of
trouble having so much hair all over my
body since I was young, physically and
mentally. It's a price that I have to
pay," said Yu, whose eyelashes are
so long they hide his eyes.
"I used to take it
to heart, how people looked at me and
said things about me," said Yu, who
loves music and has stashed under his
hospital bed a huge collection that ranges
from Sting to Nat King Cole.
"I didn't want to go
outside, I didn't want others to see me,
to talk to me, but I realized I needed
to be more thick-skinned," he said,
adding that he hoped that others with
difficult physical conditions would be
inspired by his readiness to seek publicity.
Before the ear operation,
he had problems hearing anything under
40 decibels. Now he can hear over 20 decibels,
doctors said. A normal conversation is
conducted at around 30 decibels.
Yu's latest operation, which
took four hours, was the first such procedure
carried out in China.
Doctors said Yu had a close
"There was so much
discharge stuck in the inner part of his
ears that they were infected. The infection
could have spread to his brain if he hadn't
done something about it," said Chen
Jin'an, director of Shanghai's Ninth People's
Hospital's plastic surgery department.
"When people tease
or despise me, my best defense is to use
my own abilities to prove my worth in
society," Yu said.
He plays the guitar, is
learning the saxophone and says he must
move beyond singing cover versions to
writing his own songs.
He makes a living singing
in pubs and bars and at concerts, which
is how he met his girlfriend.
Yu, who draws inspiration
not only from Western artists but also
from Taiwan pop stars such as Harlem Yu,
has not yet cut an album, but hopes to
do so in the second half of this year.
"If I had a choice
now, I would want to keep all my hair,"
said Yu. "It's become my pride and
not a burden."
But he also says he wishes
he had been born a long time ago. "Because
in the olden days, having a lot of hair
was a show of masculinity."