“After training as an acrobat and magician in his native China, long Tack Sam journeyed to the United States and became one of vaudeville's brightest stars. Although he was based in New York from about 1900 and performed primarily in the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act denied him the possibility of U.S. citizenship and kept him on the move. He performed in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. As a Chinese man competing against a slew of fake-Asian magicians in ‘yellow-face,’ long Tack Sam was in a paradoxical position.
This poster illustrates his conscious use of luxurious embroidered costumes and elaborate scenery to enhance his mystique and capitalize on Western notions of ‘the mysterious Orient.’ Yet he also wrote newspaper articles correcting Western misconceptions of his homeland, and he refused invitations to appear in early Hollywood films featuring negatively stereotyped Chinese opium addicts and laundry workers.” – National Portrait Gallery