Shi Pei Pu, the male opera singer who fooled an accountant at the French Embassy in Beijing into believing he was a she during a lengthy affair that inspired the Tony-winning play M. Butterfly, died at age 70 (link may be NSFW) on June 30 in Paris.
Pu convinced Bernard Boursicot he was a woman forced to play male roles, keeping both his lover and their carefully orchestrated sexual activities in the dark. Boursicot, whose previous erotic experiences had been with men, was hoping to become straight by sleeping with Pu. Where was Ex-Gay Watch when you needed them?
Years after Boursicot left China, Pu purchased a child and claimed he was their son, which Boursicot believed. Their affair was rekindled when Boursicot was stationed in Mongolia, but the Chinese pressured him to become a spy once they learned of the arrangement.
In the '80s, the former lovers were both convicted of espionage in France, allegedly the first time Boursicot realized his lover was a man. Making an already interesting story much more so, Boursicot had since become openly gay, and yet slashed his own throat upon hearing of Pu's deception.
The lovers were sentenced to six years. Both were pardoned after a year.
Told Pu had died, Boursicot said:
"He did so many things against me that he had no pity for, I think it is stupid to play another game now and say I am sad. The plate is clean now. I am free."