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Tue, Oct 11, 2011
The New Paper
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Hungry for hits
by Maureen Koh

"To heck with the critics, this is my blog, my personal space, so I post what I want," declares celebrity blogger and model Peggy Heng.

"Life's a choice; leave it simple or spice it up. I prefer the latter and so I live each day like there is no tomorrow."

She adds: "We're attention whores. We admit."

Last month, she hit the headlines after netizens criticised a four-minute video uploaded to YouTube. It featured a scene where the blogger enters a room and kneels in front of a man. He unbuckles his belt and starts to undo his jeans.

But she then turns around abruptly and addresses the camera, saying: "But that is not the way to solve your relationship problems."

Tasteless? Tacky? Sensational?

Other netizens have accused her of resorting to such tactics to drive traffic to her blog. But Ms Heng, 22, is unfazed. She admits: "Obviously when I did the video, I knew my blog would increase in hits."

Indeed, hits have doubled from the daily average of 5,000 she used to garner. And at one point right after The New Paper broke the story, her blog Thy Dowager chalked up nearly 45,000 hits.

Two days after the TNP report, she tweeted: "Guess who's on Yahoo Top Trend? Not you, not your mama. Yours truly made history."

Ms Heng says: "It takes a challenge to overturn the entire situation. I put my reputation at stake and seriously, I don't have to justify my action to naysayers. They don't bother me."

Still, she defends the rationale behind the video: "People love to think that we (the bloggers) are bimbos, that we don't know what is happening in society.

"Readers have approached me about (dealing with) relationship issues, so I felt there was a need to target (and highlight) the issue of partners cheating on each other."

Ms Heng says she can deal with the backlash since it's a "practical trade-off".

"You can diss (me) all you want, but seriously, can you earn money from saying 'This Peggy is so dumb, she's so blah'?

"For me, if I want to say something about someone, there must be some benefits in it for me. If I don't earn anything, I won't do it."

Ms Heng claims that she can easily pocket $3,000 to $4,000 a month from her blog. But she adds that that is "still nothing compared to what some other top bloggers can earn".

High-profile bloggers like Wendy Cheng (also known as Xiaxue) can pull in an average of $1,500 to $2,000 a week through ads, based on the number of readers attracted to their blogs.

Ms Heng adds in a more serious tone: "Whether it's a good or bad comment someone has made about me, it doesn't matter.

"You see, when you (the critics) talk about me, people will wonder who this Peggy is and they will be curious; they'd want to find out more about me."

When this happens, she concludes proudly: "That's when all my money comes in. So actually, I have to thank all my critics."

Despite the bravado, there are certain rules that she lives by: "I may be young and I believe in freedom of speech, but I'm also not stupid enough to venture out of the safe zone and write about stuff that I've no control over.

"I'd have done my homework or research before I blog about an issue, such that before I even post it, I'd have an idea what the critics will say."

That was the case with the video. Says Ms Heng: "Everyone says it's so bad, that I'm wrong. But as long as I believe in my own agenda, I don't care."

She's also smart enough to prep her loved ones, especially her parents, before she makes any potentially controversial posts.

"So for the video, I told my parents that people like our relatives may call you. Here's why I'm doing it blah blah blah."

Ms Heng's mum does not object to her daughter blogging openly - even on taboo topics.

Madam Jesline Ong, 46, a housewife, says in Mandarin: "Peggy has always been very independent and streetsmart. She's never given us any reason to worry about her. That's why we're always supportive of her - so long as she's sure of what she's doing."

And yes, Madam Ong has seen the video clip. Her take: "The look on the man's face is quite priceless. We just kept laughing over it."

Ms Heng says: "My loved ones, including my close friends, are those who matter. And they are the people who know me like I really am.

"I don't care about the others."

This article was first published in The New Paper.


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