Model Chrissie Chau has quickly become the most controversial celebrity in town after releasing a book of sexy photos and a giant pillow emblazoned with a life-size image of her scantily clad self. She talks to June Ng about career planning, sexiness and bad press.

I’m from Chiu Chow. I moved to Hong Kong when I was 10 to live with my parents and three brothers, who immigrated earlier.

In China I did really well in school. But when I got here things were more difficult because I had never learned English before in my life.

I first realized I was pretty when I was in secondary school. Random guys on the street would try to flirt with me and my classmates began giving me compliments.

In Form 4, I became a part-time model. When I graduated from Form 5, I started working in a boutique full-time, but I realized pretty quickly that there were no prospects there. No matter how well you do there, you will never be able to escape from that tiny store.

I suck at selling other people’s products. Yes, what I’m doing now in a way is selling myself to promote other products. But I’m interested in this, and I’ll spend the time and energy to do it right.

About four years ago, I went full-time. Encouraged by my modeling agency, I started taking part in competitions. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about presenting yourself in front of a big crowd.

I never intended to get this “bikini girl” image. When I went full time, I tried out a few styles, but this is the one people liked. Naturally, people wanted me for that again and again. That’s fine. It’s not like just anyone can be me.

I love myself and my body. If I dislike my body, how am I going to convince other people to like it?

Magazine writers may not like me, but it’s important to remember they don’t represent the whole of Hong Kong.

I’m not very bright. So I still don’t really have a long-term goal in my life. The only thing I can do is strive to improve myself everyday. I do see show business as a life-long career, and I’m determined to succeed in it.

I can’t really change the way people see me. You can only do that very gradually. Once you’re the sexy doll, people will only think of your sex appeal and won’t be interested in the other million things you do.

I’ve been attacked by many people in show business too, not just the media. In this industry, we’re routinely forced to do or say something we might not want to do.

I feel grateful for all the criticism. Without it, I wouldn’t be in the newspapers everyday.

The special “Chrissie Chau pillow” is super huggable and very comfortable and my company is receiving orders for it nonstop.

I never said I liked to be in men’s sexual fantasies, I just said I can’t control what they think. People can like me in whatever ways they want to. Even the most innocent girl in the most proper outfit can become their sex object.

Hong Kong as a city can be open and welcoming. But the individual people in Hong Kong like to say one thing and do another. I believe many people don’t mind what I do, but when they realize people around them are more conservative, they change their opinions to fit in.

I’d never do nudity. There are some sexy stars I look up to, and they don’t have to take all of their clothes off. Angelina Jolie is a good example.

Everyone thinks of me as a sex icon. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the less clothes I wear the sexier I become, or vice versa.

People keep reminding me that there is a price to pay for being successful. It’s inevitable that I’ll lose some of my freedom. But I have to accept that and stay happy.

There was a time when I was shaken and scared by the people around me, and everything they were saying. But then I thought, if this is something I really want, why don’t I just do it instead of regretting it later?

Do whatever you want when you’re still young. You have to stay true to yourself and your faith.

Chrisse Chau is playing a DJ set at Richbaby on Friday March 18.