Macau debut for famous French erotic cabaret show Crazy Horse, four years after wowing Hong Kong
Paris adult cabaret act has been going strong since the 1950s, but dancer Daizy Blu – who has been with the troupe for the last 10 years – says it still has the power to ‘surprise the audience’
She says she wasn’t really sure what to expect. This was more than a decade ago, before the dancer had signed on for the show and while Blu was still studying ballet in the south of France, on a routine that split her day pretty much in half between schoolwork and practice.
Life then, she admits, was a bit of a grind, and so she started auditioning and looking for her big break. That led her to Paris and to an opportunity that would soon take Blu and her talent around the world.
But first Blu had to find out what this Crazy Horse caper was all about.
“I knew the name but I didn’t really know about the show,” says Blu. “I came to the audition not really knowing what to expect from the show. Auditioning for me was fine, but then they asked me to come along and see a show, and after that I was a little bit scared because by day I am a shy woman.
“So I got the contract and I rehearsed without really knowing how I would feel when I got on stage myself. But I found I enjoyed it – and here I am 10 years later, still dancing and still travelling.”
Billed as “the world’s most famous erotic adult cabaret show”, the Crazy Horse Paris travelling troupe is making its first visit to Macau this week, fittingly finding a home in The Parisian Macao and featuring a “best of” Forever Crazy show from November 1 to 12.
So far, on this world tour, the 10 dancers have been in Australia for the first time, and Singapore, where we find Blu – the stage name given to the dancer and artistic supervisor by the organisation to create a sense of mystery as much as privacy, no doubt – along with tour director Frank Paquet as they take a break before rehearsals.
The dancers were a hit in Hong Kong back in 2013 – and, no, they have no connection to the long-running Crazy Paris show that has been in residence at the various incarnations of the Lisboa in Macau for almost 30 years. This, we are assured, is the real deal, and audiences (an estimated 15 million globally since it began) will find it “hard to determine where skin ends and the reflections begin”.
“What I love is surprising the audience,” says Blu. “You can feel that instant reaction. The challenge is the attention to detail. How a solo dancer moves her arm, for example. How you move, even slightly. You might not notice the difference when you are in the audience, but the smallest of movement can change the whole dance. It’s all about looking for perfection.”
Blu says she has long since shed her initial shyness, but there was trepidation when she appeared for the first time, having learned of the show’s rich history.
“I just enjoy being on stage,” she says. “I remember the first time, more than 10 years ago, and the first time the curtain opened. I could feel that the audience was impressed. I was thinking, ‘Am I woman enough to stay at the Crazy Horse?’”
The show’s remarkable success over the years is an example of how pure luck can make or break those in the entertainment world.
Frenchman Alain Bernardin opened the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris in 1951. The bar helped him to explore an apparent obsession with America’s Wild West, complete with square dancing and waiters dressed as cowboys. It worked, but only briefly, and by 1953 Bernardin knew he had to find another form of entertainment to lure punters through the front doors. He happened at the time to catch a film that featured American burlesque dancers – and the penny dropped, as it has continued to do ever since.
The Crazy Horse Paris press office touts the likes of Elvis Presley, US president John F. Kennedy, Pink and Beyoncé as fans, while the show has over the decades hooked up with fashion icons including Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Louboutin for its costumes. More than 800 dancers have performed with the show since it opened and it receives about 500 applications each year.
The Luxembourg-born Paquet has a history with Macau – he helped stage the Taboo show at the City of Dreams – as well as with other global tours including the Queen tribute We Will Rock You. But he reveals he has long been intrigued by what the Crazy Horse Paris show offered.
“I had worked for different shows before, but of course I always knew about the Crazy Horse. It’s an institution,” says Paquet. “It is niche, it’s special and it has a special history. Even when I was travelling with other shows and we would come to Paris, we would ask where the artists wanted to visit and they would always say they wanted to go to the Crazy Horse. Not to the Moulin Rouge, but the Crazy Horse. So there has always been an excitement about it.”
Part of the attraction for Paquet across his now five years with the show has been playing with people’s perceptions. It’s pretty much a nude show, yes, but maybe not as they know it.
“People who see us for the first time are always surprised,” he says. “Some people come with an idea of what it is – as a nude show, or whatever. But people are always surprised. They see things that they have never seen before in terms of the artistic approach to the show.
“Of course the dancers are the focus of the show but it is how we present them, with the lights, projections and the props. We want to surprise people with the technology and the presentation of the female body.”
Another part of the thrill, both for performers and the manager, is taking the show to new audiences, as they recently did Down Under.
There had been a degree of trepidation about how people would react in the different major cities they were to visit, given how tastes differ across the length and breadth of Australia. It turns out that any concerns were unfounded – they played to packed houses and much acclaim.
“It was the first time in Australia, so it was all unknown, but the response was overwhelming,” says Paquet. “We didn’t really know how the audience would react but it was incredible. The artists loved it and the audiences really seemed to enjoy the nuances of the choreography. It was just a wonderful surprise for all of us.
“The challenge for us is promoting the show and taking it to a new audience. It’s not a strip show. It’s far more sophisticated. So we have to communicate that and we work hard with people in fashion, in the arts, to let people know what we are all about.”
Paquet says he is now keen to see how Macau has developed over the past five years, as the city’s leaders continue their much publicised push for more entertainment options in the gambling hub. At the very least, he knows they will obviously feel at home at The Parisian.
“Macau is an Asian audience and we know they will act accordingly,” says Paquet. “We don’t expect the reaction we had from the audience in Australia and that’s because of the nature of the people. But Macau has come a long way as an international destination and we try to adapt the show to suit.
“We ask for the audience’s attention – and we keep that attention for the duration of the show, no matter where we go.
“A lot comes down to the preparation and there are many challenges. But after the premiere we all become friends again. After all the stress and everything, what might have happened before is forgotten – and we just have a whole lot of fun.”
Crazy Horse Paris, Forever Crazy, November 1-12, Parisian Theatre, Parisian Macao, Cotai Strip, Macau, HK$180 to HK$680, HK Ticketing