Esther Wong was born in Shanghai, and emigrated to the United States to escape the Communist takeover of China, where she eventually opened Madame Wong’s (黃家園), a Los Angeles Chinatown restaurant with a floorshow—originally at 949 Sun Mun Way, located in the original 1938 Rice Bowl restaurant. In 1978, under promoter Paul Greenstein (hired when Polynesian dance acts weren’t cutting it), Madame Wong's became a showcase for unsigned, unbookable punk-bands. With the exit of Greenstein, Esther focused on booking larger acts; notable bands that she showcased included Black Flag, The Ramones, No Mercy, Beowülf, Excel, Fear, Bad Actor, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Knack, The Police, The Motels, The Plugz, Fishbone, The Go-Go's, X, The Alley Cats, The Bangs, Oingo Boingo, Naughty Sweeties, Los Illegals, and Guns N' Roses. Eventually this led to her nickname, the “Godmother of Punk.” She closed the original Madame Wong’s after a fire in 1985. She opened another venture, “Madame Wong’s West” at 2900 Wilshire in Santa Monica, California in 1978 and it had a successful run before it closed in 1991.