Benedict Cumberbatch has become something of an unexpected sex symbol since appearing on the BBC’s Sherlock and in Star Trek Into Darkness.
But in China, the British actor has become the star of a whole genre of slash fiction—fan-generated erotic literature that places him in sexual entanglements with Dr. Watson and Moriarty.
In one story published on MTSlash.com, a Chinese Internet forum, “sexual desire coursed through Sherlock’s chest as his heart beat wildly.” In another, Dr. John Watson is a part-time porn star; in the first chapter, Sherlock Holmes deduces that his sidekick-to-be became an adult film actor to pay off his student loans from medical school. “You’ve only known me for five minutes,” the indignant Watson protests. “That’s long enough for me to come to a conclusion,” Sherlock responds.
The show has certainly thrown a bone (no pun intended) to those who want the sleuths to TK, and Moriarty himself, Andrew Scott, just came out as gay. But this prose goes beyond Sherlock creator Steven Moffat’s imagining: “Sherlock’s tongue was like an all-powerful key,” wrote one author of a story told from Watson’s POV, “Unlocking all the doors of my heart.”
The whole country is mad for him: Beijing’s Jinghua Times declared Chinese moviegoers couldn’t buy Cumberbatch as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness because they’d “never seen a bad guy so handsome before.”
In China the actor is affectionatelyknown as Curly Fu, according to the Chinese news site Caijing. (“Curly” for his hair and “fu” is a shortened Chinese transliteration of “Holmes.”)
The enthusiasm is most avid on the Internet, where Cumberbatch is an erotic god. In the Baidu Curly Fu Bar, an Internet forum devoted to the star, fans said they loved his hair, voice, height, eyes, physique, poise, nose, the speed at which he talks, and a certain ineffable charisma. (One viewer compared him favorably to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whom he plays in the recent film Fifth Estate, writing that Cumberbatch was “much more handsome.”)
Some fans cataloguing his good traits also listed his “cute wife” Watson, whom they call ‘Peanut,’ because the Chinese phoneticization of Watson, huasheng, is a homonym for the legume.
Amateur cartoon adaptations of Sherlock and Watson holding hands and photo-shopped images of Cumberbatch and Freeman kissing are available on Chinese websites. On Youku, China’s YouTube, a music video that set clips of Cumberbatch’s Holmes and Freeman’s Watson sharing knowing looks to a Chinese love song has received over 70,000 views.
There’s a whole corner of the Chinese Internet devoted to slash fiction, or danmei, featuring the two English gents. Some tales are sweet and romantic—others more down and dirty, like “He is My Bitch,” which details Watson and Sherlock’s BDSM relationship.
Sure, you can find slash fiction all over the world, but this shit is illegal in China:
In early 2011, authorities in China’s inland Henan province arrested Wang Chaoju, the webmaster of the slash fiction website Danmei Novels Online, and charged him with “disseminating obscene content” after finding about 1,200 sexually explicit danmei stories among the tens of thousands on the site.
Slash fans often exchange damei stories via email, rather than risk exposure on forums or blogs. Apparently other favorites include the movie versions of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.
Maybe that explains this poster.