Emile Bocian (first from the right), May 5, 1980.
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Emile Bocian Collection.

The largest photograph collection at MOCA, which contains over 50,000 prints and negatives dating from between 1976 through 1985, belong to Emile Bocian. The collection was most likely donated to MOCA by former flower drum song ensemble dancer Mabel Wing (real name Mae Wong). Bocian was a comedy writer turned Public Relations Specialist that eventually became a photojournalist for the now defunct “China Post.” He first came to Chinatown in the 1970s while acting as public relations agent for the musical act “Stephen Cheng and the Dragon Seeds” (who will be featured in MOCA’s upcoming exhibition “The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory, and Belonging,” which opens on May 2nd, 2019). It was during this time that he met the owner of the Pagoda Theater and “China Post,” Lucas Liang. Liang asked him to run a publicity campaign for the premier of Bruce Lee’s film “Fist of Fury.” After what Bocian claims was a successful campaign Liang hired him to be a photojournalism for his newspaper even though he didn’t speak a word of Chinese.

Bocian went on to take pictures of events and slice of life images of the Chinese community for almost a decade. Some of these events included Muhhamed Ali’s visit to Chinatown, the Peter Yew Police Brutality protests, etc. Throughout the course of our 150 stories we will be posting more of Bocian’s images so please stay tuned.