The discovery of a double-headed sex toy mistaken for a mystical rare fungus brought national notoriety to a Chinese village and TV program this week.
Villagers from Liucunbu, a rural community outside western Chinese city of Xi’an, encountered the sex toy while drilling a new well shaft. Hard-pressed to identify the flexible, fungi-like object, perplexed residents alerted the local news station, which immediately sent reporter Yunfeng Ye to the scene.
In her coverage of the finding, broadcast last Sunday on the station’s investigative journalism program Xi’an Up Close, Ye thoroughly probed different aspects of the discovery, interviewing locals and inserting her own research on the alleged mushroom. Despite Ye’s earnest reporting, her and the villagers’ obliviousness of the object’s real identity has now lent itself to national amusement.
The report opens with Ye proclaiming the discovery of the mysterious object, the likes of which “not even an 80-year-old local man has seen.” Villagers crouch around the object, floating innocently in a water-filled bucket. “It has an eye and a nose, but we don’t know what it is,” says a man who was among the drillers who discovered the sex toy.
Describing the object’s qualities in explicit detail, Ye and the villager determine that it is a type of lingzhi, a shelf fungus of the Ganoderma lucidum species, which according to legend has the ability to give immortality. Asserting that the mushroom is rarely seen because it grows underground, she says, “When the Emperor Qin Shi Huang [the First emperor of China] was on the hunt for the secret to longevity, it is said he discovered this lingzhi was the answer.”
After the program aired, many viewers immediately recognized the object as a sex toy modeled after female genitalia, and online video of the report gained millions of views overnight. While the video received many comments lauding the station’s and villagers’ “purity,” the day after the program aired the Xi’an news station posted an apology on Sina Weibo, a Chinese blogging website.
“Our program last night made everyone laugh,” the apology said, expressing regret for an “uncomfortable and misleading” report. “Our reporter is very young and sheltered.”