Roots: The Fake Prince VS The Real One

In 2013, a man made a splash on the Houston society circuit billing himself as a Vietnamese Prince.

Nguyen and Tami Ernst at opening night for the Houston Grand Opera. Toan Nguyen , Tami Ernst Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com
Nguyen and Tami Ernst at opening night for the Houston Grand Opera. Toan Nguyen , Tami Ernst Photo by © Michelle Watson/CultureMapSNAP.com

He went by the name of ‘Prince Toan Nyugen’, though in actuality when he was arrested for bilking investors out of their money, his real name was Polish (Joseph Toan Casimir). He was adopted by a Polish man hence the name. The ‘Houston notables’ he hob-nobbed with ‘In 2008 …gave him $250,000.”

How did he get so ‘big’? “Nguyen (Casimir) is often found in society write-ups” and from 2001 to 2004 “he edited society mag Les Avenue”, which is a ‘real’ job.

What did this Polish kid say about himself that had Houston’s notables and local ‘hot spots’ a flutter regarding his Royal’ Vietnamese heritage? Things are easier in hindsight, which may not be as helpful as one wants.

“Several women have reported that “FAKE Prince” Toan Nguyen (real name “Joseph Casimir”) has borrowed several thousands dollars from them and also lied to them about being a Prince so he can have sex with them.”

“tell stories of his upbringing in France, where the royal family has lived in exile since 1954.”

“I was born and raised in France so I pretty much grew up in the wine country …I came here in 1996 to work for NASA as a flight controller, but I have my residence in France so I go back and forth.”

Despite a lawsuit discrediting him as a Vietnamese royal (“Nguyen’s peerage has been questioned, a lawsuit against him is ongoing”) he regularly “hobnobs with bold-faced types and is honored at parties thrown by his rich influential friends”. He ought to be nicknamed “The Non-Process“.

Houston is not a provincial enclave starved for Vietnamese-Americans. In fact, it has one of the biggest Vietnamese-American communities in the USA; “Vietnamese-Americans are mainly concentrated in metropolitan areas in the West, including Orange County, California, San Jose, California, and Houston, Texas.” But for the ‘pool of fishes’ Prince Toan Nguyen hob-nobbed with.

At the end of the day, it is really about one’s ‘pool of fish’ isn’t it — the same kind we hope to find love and marriage.

Lets get to my scenario. AnhTu Phuc Hoang has used a couple of Anglicized names, including ‘Derrick’ and ‘Anthony’ at the office since I started working. But the tax man knows me as AnhTu. Does that make sense? The tax man knows Prince Toan as Joseph Casimir. If you know any Vietnamese, its a common habit to use Anglicized names — it depends on your ‘pool of fish’.

How else might you know? You can try to seduce me. You can try to give me ‘free’ money. You can try to pry into my life. It depends on your ‘pool of fish’.

And say that I am authentic, am I that different from the average ‘joe’? Aren’t you able to do everything I’m up? It is not like I’m in the NBA, and it is not like any of the Vietnamese royals are on TV or in your favorite tabloid. Wouldn’t you rather know someone ‘famous’.

The idea with ‘ROOTS’ is this one — despite racism beyond the group, within the group we all have to maintain roots. A black man can be a ‘nigger’ but a ‘nigger’ is not a black man. Same within the Vietnamese race. That’s ‘the process‘.