Monday, May 14, 2012


By Mingmei Yip

China’s three thousand years of history has produced numerous femme fatales. These beautiful, talented and scheming females are referred to as SKELETON WOMEN because they could, with a mere blink of their mascara-ed eyes, turn men into skeletons.

In the course of history, skeleton women could be society ladies, courtesans, concubines, movie stars, spies, even empresses. They could steal hearts, husbands, state secrets, and, sometimes, the dragon throne itself.

What made these women so powerful and successful in a patriarchal society? It was beauty, talent, a scheming mind -- and total ruthlessness.

The most notorious skeleton woman in all of Chinese history was Empress Wu, who was the first woman in China to officially assume the emperor’s title of Huangdi. At thirteen, Wu was selected to be a concubine and entered the imperial palace. The then empress wanted to find a concubine – the emperor had as many as three thousand – who could seduce her husband to distract him from Consort Xiao, the Empress’ bitterest rival. For Wu this was the perfect opportunity to scheme her way to the throne. She bewitched the emperor with her beauty, intelligence, knowledge of politics, and of course, art of the bed chamber.

As she rose to power, not only did Wu murder both the empress and Consort Xiao, it was rumored that she even killed her own daughter as part of a successful scheme to frame the empress so as to turn the emperor against her. She exiled one of her own sons and even killed another one.

Even the most cunning man can become a fool for a beautiful woman. Friends’ warnings fall on death ears. Men blind themselves to the schemes behind the pretty face and the poisons in the beloved heart.

When clothes come off, thinking stops.

That’s why the thousand year old meiren ji, beauty strategy, or honey trap, though simple in principle, is timeless in effectiveness in destroying powerful men and toppling governments.♥

Mingmei Yip’s fourth novel SKELETON WOMEN (Kensington Books, June 2012) is the story of a singer/spy, a magician, and a gossip columnist, all scheming to survive the gang wars in the 30’s lawless Shanghai. RT book reviews describes SKELETON WOMEN as “A large, luscious box of chocolates…go on, you know you want to.” And Publisher’s Weekly, “Entertaining… diversion is (a strength of this book). Visit Mingmei at

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