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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I married a haole boy

By Tanya Bricking Leach
Advertiser Staff Writer

You're an Asian woman married to a haole guy? Join the club. Seriously. You could already be a member.

The photos section at haolehubbyclub.com celebrates couples, from top: Marc and Brandy, Lynn and Todd, Brad and Kim, and Jeff and Felicia with their son, Ellis. It's one of many links at the gently funny site.

Haole Hubby Club's Brandy Yamamoto has gotten her haole hubby, Marc Arcidiacono, to wear the group's signature shirt.

The Haole Hubby Club started as a joke between three Hawai'i cousins.

It has no dues, formal chapters or meetings. But the network growing on www.haolehubbyclub.com has taken on a life of its own. T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers and even thong underwear with the club's logo are available.

You can browse the club's links, such as "Culture Clash" (mostly funny anecdotes) or "Teach Hubby" (how to do things like cook rice or remain calm no matter what comes out of your mother's mouth).

A disclaimer the founders give about all of it: No offense intended. The Haole Hubby Club is just for laughs. The cousins were looking for a way to connect with others who found humor in their mixed marriages.

"We had a photo of all of the girls in the family we had labeled 'The Joy Luck Club,'" said Mercedes Fagundes, 33, of Kailua — formerly Mercedes Kam from a Chinese family. She and her cousins in the photo identified with the Americanized daughters of Chinese women described in Amy Tan's novel about the differences in generation and culture.

Hawai'i may be used to mixed marriages (this is the most ethnically and racially mixed state, and the capital of intermarriage), but mixed marriages haven't blurred distinct differences for such families as the Kams, who noticed culture clashes when the cousins married Caucasian men.

Mercedes Kam married Michael Fagundes, a Caucasian man of Portuguese heritage ("He's Portuguese but not local," she said. "He's tall and very white.") Tall as in 6-feet-7. She's short, as in barely 5 feet. Witness the wedding pictures. Short Asian bridesmaids, tall haole groomsmen — not unlike some of the stark differences in wedding portraits of her Joy Luck Club cousins.

Brandy Yamamoto, the Chinese/Japanese cousin originally from 'Aiea, was an architect in San Francisco moving into an apartment building on the same day as Marc Arcidiacono, an English/Sicilian who worked as a financial adviser. They ended up marrying in 1999.

Fagundes' third cousin, Diana Yee, married a haole guy, too. That marriage didn't last, but the name they chose for themselves stuck: The Haole Hubby Club.

"It's not a formalized organization — yet," Fagundes said with a laugh. "But we're trying to get there. We want it to be a socializing network to share cultural differences, like to never criticize your mother-in-law's cooking."


The Web site accepts humorous anecdotes and photos from couples consisting of Asian women and Caucasian men at info@haolehubbyclub.com.


Comments left at www.haolehubbyclub.com:

"We had a party at our house and you know how in Hawai'i, you put all the food on a table and it's buffet style and then you go sit wherever — in front of the TV or in the living room at the low card table and talk story. His family managed to squeeze 10 people around the table and have a formal meal. My family sat in the living room on the floor."

"My husband always makes a reference to the Joy Luck Club where the white guy insults the mom by pouring shoyu on the fish at dinner."

"We'd dated for five years and been married for two years before my parents finally started referring to my husband by his name rather than completely ignoring he existed."

The Haole Hubby Club is a gently funny organization. It serves as a means to point out some obvious differences between Asian and Caucasian habits and stereotypes, with merchandise illustrated with a cartoon version of a smiling Asian woman and haole man. They even have a line of clothing for "Hapa Babies."

"We were just walking around and we noticed all of the Asian women with their haole hubbies," Yamamoto said. Every time they saw a mixed couple, the cousins would point them out and say, "They're in the club."

Pretty soon, Yamamoto launched the site that she calls "a tribute to all the lucky haole men out there that married into the myth that Asian women are submissive and subservient. Ha!" She was giving T-shirts to brides-to-be and had business cards printed. Her husband is relaxed enough to wear a T-shirt himself. The site and the shirts have fans nationwide.

"It spread by word of mouth," Yamamoto said. "I'd like it to be a place where people can share their stories."

People do share their stories on the site, and those stories and comments can reveal tensions that arise between cultural practices and backgrounds for some of the couples involved. In fact, one section of the site is called Culture Clash.

The Photos section, however, celebrates the rewards of these unions — including many adorable babies.

Tanya Bricking Leach writes about relationships. Reach her at tleach@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8026.