"ANNABEL is dead."
With those words, Singapore's most famous porn star Annabel Chong shut down her website and retired from the porn industry in 2003.
And from the ashes of Annabel emerged Grace Quek, the given name of the woman behind the larger-than-life persona.
Long gone are the infamous escapades of AC, who had sex 251 times with 70 men within a 10-hour period in 1995. It was world record then.
These days, Ms Quek, now 36 and a web developer in Los Angeles, engages in marathons of an entirely different sort.
She runs them, all 42km-worth.
|From Grace to Annabel, and back again
Born Grace Quek, 22 May 1972.
Parents both retired teachers.
Grew up in Changi semi-detached house.
Educated at Raffles Girls' School and Hwa Chong Junior College.
Took three years off, including a year in US, before settling down in London to study law.
There, she was gang-raped by four men.
Dropped out of law school after she moved to the US in 1994.
Studied photography, art and feminist studies at the University of Southern California.
Porn star career as Annabel Chong began when she answered an advertisement in a Los Angeles magazine.
In Jan 1995, she had sex 251 times with 70 men within a 10-hour period, setting a world record.
The video, The World's Biggest Gangbang, became a best-selling porn movie.
She said later that she did it to make a statement against Singapore's strait-laced society.
In 1999, a documentary about her life, titled Sex: The Annabel Chong Story released. Made by her American ex-fiance, the film was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
In a 2000 interview, she said she ran her own film production company.
Also contributed articles on feminism to magazines. Worked for a non-profit organisation promoting health awareness to sex workers.
THE END OF PORN HERE
In May 2003, she shut down her adult website, declaring: 'Annabel is dead', and retired from porn.
Entry about Annabel Chong controversially included in The Singapore Encyclopaedia in 2005.
Toy Factory Theatre staged 251, a play about her life, in 2007.
Now, a web developer and consultant in LA.
She's also into golf, yoga, pilates, dancing, hiking, organic food, and is a self-professed "sports nut" and is a huge fan of several baseball and American football teams.
On her personal website, she posted two pictures of herself after a 2005 marathon.
The marathon's website recorded her official time as 4 hours 5 minutes and 21 seconds.
Just three months ago in May, a Grace Quek (age group 35 to 39) from Los Angeles took part in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in Wisconsin.
She finished in 4 hours 20 minutes and 15 seconds.
The woman in the pictures now - fresh-faced, clean of make-up and beaming with pride while holding up her runner's medal - is almost unrecognisable from the sticky, grainy images of old.
But it's fitting that even today, she relishes in pushing physical limits, albeit in a different way.
These details are a rare glimpse into her life post-AC.
Ms Quek has refused all interviews since "killing off" Annabel.
As she wrote then, she wanted to "begin her new life of peace and relative obscurity".
Trying to track her down was not easy.
So determined is she to keep her privacy that in the Los Angeles online Yellow Pages, she somehow managed to list her address and telephone number as that of the USC/Norris Cancer Hospital - a medical centre affiliated to her alma matar, the University of Southern California.
E-mails sent to various addresses either bounced back or had no reply.
The production team behind 251, the Toy Factory play about Annabel Chong's life which was staged at the Esplanade last year, is all too familiar with this.
They spent months doing the same thing, trying to locate Ms Quek to get her input on the play.
"It was quite a bit of a cat-and-mouse game," said director Loretta Chen, 32.
In the end, they managed to contact her through Mr Gerrie Lim, author of Invisible Trade: High-Class Sex For Sale In Singapore, and a personal friend of Ms Quek's.
But even then, to respect her privacy, they never spoke to her over the phone or in person - only via e-mail.
What Ms Quek told them, essentially, was: "Go ahead, no problem. Do whatever you want with Annabel Chong because this person doesn't exist anymore."
Said Ms Chen: "I definitely want to stress that she's a very generous, genuine person. She's very witty and funny, doesn't take her Annabel persona very seriously and is able to joke about it."
Ms Quek's one concern: Her family.
Said Ms Chen: "She took her mum out of town when the play was going on. She said her mum doesn't have to be part of this again."
When The New Paper broke Annabel's story in 1997, it was "a bit of a shocker" for her, said Ms Chen.
Then, she had asked that the media not approach her parents, or to name the schools she went to, so as not to shame them.
Ms Quek still returns to Singapore regularly to visit her mother. Her father has since died.
Said Ms Chen: "She's settled; a typical American girl now."
And she is happily in a new relationship.
During the play preparation, Mr Lim also showed Ms Chen some recent pictures of Ms Quek.
Said Ms Chen: "She looked fit and healthy. If you see her on the street, you won't recognise her.
"She's genuinely moved on. I think she really can't understand the fascination and sustained interest after all these years.
"To her, it's a chapter in her life that's so over."
The New Paper was the first in Singapore to break Annabel Chong's story on 27 Jan 1997.
The article, Annabel's chosen profession and her record-breaking sexual feat shocked and scandalised many.
But there were also those who couldn't help but marvel - morality aside - at the Singaporean who dared to do the unthinkable, the elitely-educated middle-class girl who, ironically, fulfilled the very Singaporean obsession about breaking world records and putting Singapore on the world map.
This article was first published in The New Paper on Aug 18, 2008.