Believe it or not, Hong Kong celebrity-host Spencer Leong claims he sees dead people. The veteran 47-year-old emcee has been putting his so-called psychic abilities to use by hosting the long- running paranormal TV series Unbelievable over the past decade.
Sounding chirpy over the telephone from Hong Kong last week, he tells Life! he was initially terrified of the idea of helming a supernatural- themed show.
"I started out as an actor but someone from the senior management in the TV station recommended me for this hosting stint. I protested in fear, saying I was afraid of ghosts," recalls the bachelor.
"They promised me it was just a three-month stint but ratings were so good that they asked me to carry on hosting."
He proudly adds that he has hosted more than 500 episodes of the Hong Kong cable TV show, which has seen him visiting supposedly haunted locations in Hong Kong with spiritual experts. He has also travelled to Malaysia to seek out the spirit of a murder victim.
"I used to be scared of the unfamiliar but now, I think they are harmless. If spirits appear before you, they usually want to seek your help," says Leong, who is also a radio DJ and owns a four-outlet dessert chain in Hong Kong.
No subject seems too taboo for him to tackle in a bid to boost ratings. He has gone through the rites of lying in a coffin in his own fake funeral for a special on the afterlife.
The show attracted flak when "wedding plans" were announced between him and the late Hong Kong actress Barbara Yung Mei Ling, who committed suicide in 1985. The media and public blasted it for being disrespectful to the dead and the "celebrity wedding" was indefinitely postponed.
Leong was in town to promote his programme Unbelievable: HK Mysteries. It is a 10-episode reality show under the Unbelievable series now airing on cable TV SingTel mioTV's channel cHK here.
Unbelievable: HK Mysteries banks on a gimmicky formula straight out of a B-grade horror movie where pretty women are sent to purportedly haunted sites including a cemetery and an abandoned police station to carry out tasks.
In one episode, the participants, who include models and customer service officers, are tasked to clean a tombstone at night.