The Most Fabulous French show Crazy Horse is Coming to Australia!

If you’re slightly perplexed by the term ‘naked couture’, you’ve never seen a Crazy Horse show. The dazzling Parisian performance, now in it’s 66th year, artfully creates couture-worthy designs on the incredibly talented ‘Crazy Girl’s’ bodies, all while they dazzle and entice with their unique craft of classically trained dance met with the art of seduction. Crazy Horse, Paris’ most illustrious and hypnotic stage, has long since drawn global attention thanks to its passionate, daring and entirely mesmerising performances. Enhanced by the world famous cast, known as “the most beautiful girls in the world”, the royalty of dancers light up the stage with their charisma, elite capabilities, sparkling personalities, and of course, their captivating beauty.

Now offering Australia the chance to ‘Get Crazy’, Forever Crazy, their touring performance, touches down in Melbourne this August. A tribute to the founder of the original Crazy Horse, Alain Bernardin, Forever Crazy consists of a “Best Of” selection of acts from the legendary repertoire of the cabaret. Managing Director of the Crazy Group for over ten years, the lovely and equally talented (thanks to her esteemed literary and artistic background, her dual Franco-American nationality and her skill in speaking five languages fluently!) Andrée Deissenberg shares a few exciting things about what’s to come on the Australian tour.

On how Forever Crazy is making it to Australia:

The deciding factor to come to Australia, and everywhere, is the partner we work with. Mark Brady reached out to us — he did our show in London, Spiegeltent, fell in love with it, and although it took him some time, he reached out to us and proposed we come to Australia, and the rest is history, basically! It’s always a partnership in a foreign country. We’ve been eying Australia for a long, long time, but we don’t know anything about the country’s traditions, culture, or its habits. So it’s always the question of who your local partner is, and viola! It’s taken a long time, but we’re coming!

 On consistency during a world tour: 
The show must be the same in every country; our acts and shows are quite universal. They’re very aesthetic, they can be funny or touching, romantic or insightful. But the aesthetic factor is extremely important from keeping it away from anything vulgar or shocking. They’re not provocative to point where you can’t watch them in a certain country. We don’t adapt — if we go to countries like Singapore and Macau, and we’re asked to have the dancers cover their nipples with pasties, then we do, because it doesn’t substantially alter what we present. But if someone were to ask us if we could do the same thing clothed, we’d say no, because that’s beside the point of the performance.

What we do is we use the women’s bodies as canvases, as tools to express certain moods and stories. We use them as a projection surface, so if we were told to get dressed, it wouldn’t be Crazy Horse anymore — but that hasn’t happened! It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s funky, it’s different, it’s unique. I was thinking about it the other night: what first struck me the most was that it’s so different. It’s very hard to describe, because it’s a very precious and very different way of showing women! The Crazy Horse was founded after an idea of the American burlesque movement of the 30’s and 40’s in the US, but it’s evolved into its very own artistic form, and its own universe with its own codes and do’s and don’ts. It’s from the same mother as burlesque, but it’s a very different child.

People have tried to copy us before, but it’s obvious. We have 66 years of experience with using lights on women’s bodies; how to make her dance without ever revealing anything. It’s very inspiring for female audiences and women in general, and also for designers and artists. There’s this unique know-how we’ve inherited — I wasn’t around 66 years ago — but I have the privilege today to manage the heritage and to keep it alive, and even have it evolve to a certain extent, because we’re no longer in the 50’s, 70’s or 80’s, we’re in the 21st century. It’s a balance of keeping the heritage and respecting it and making changes, making it evolve, being modern while staying in a certain recognizable frame. The core of my job is how to keep the tradition intact while having it evolve.  It’s almost like a fashion designer’s job is to keep the traditional elements of the house while designing in modern day wears. That having been said, Lagerfeld did some of the dresses for the show in the 70’s or 80’s!

On the dancers who will be performing in Australia: 

We have a top-notch cast coming to Australia. We have about 40 girls who are all trained in Paris and perform on the stage there, it’s where they learn the tricks of the Crazy trade. Then they get to choose whether they want to be primarily based on the Parisian stage or primarily be based on tour. Some girls are primarily based in Paris, but said they really wanted to go on the Australian tour, so there are two or three of those girls coming, too. The rest are a touring cast which have been on the Parisian stage many, many times as well, so it’s very fluid.

For me, what was important was to have a cast that is diverse, fun, easy and adaptable because they’re travelling for three months around the world at a time. They must have sparking personalities, be generous, beautiful, talented and multi-disciplined. I also wanted a cast that wasn’t all blonde haired and blue eyed — we have an American, an Italian, a girl from Spanish descent, a few French girls… but it’s also important they’re not all French, because the Crazy Girl is not about being a French girl, it’s about a woman from anywhere in the world that’s “crazified” and Parisian-ifyed.

The girls can be from any cultural background, but they must have to have that je ne sais quoi, and fit our physical format — which contrary to burlesque might seem very passé — but since our show is based on aesthetics, we like to play with the uniformity of the bodies. It also creates a sense of teasing, because when we have line ups with all the girls dressed in the same costume and the same headpieces, it’s like, 12 of the same girl! But then they come out and do solo performances with their natural hair and you see their personality coming through, and you go, “Ooh! This one is really inspiring! Let me try and find her again the in the line-up.” And you won’t, because of that uniformity.

We recruit girls that are between 1.68m and 1.72m, have sporty bodies and proportions of 2/3 legs and 1/3 torso. We don’t go out and measure them, we have a visual eye and can see right away if a girl will fit. Then we have our little ways of keeping them at the exact same eye level and making sure it’s a uniform cast, so when the show opens, people think they’re all clones. But as the show goes on you discover different personalities, different talents and everyone has their favourite. Although a lot of times, it’s the show itself that’s the favourite, not one particular girl.

On the Crazy Girl’s Saucy and Cheeky and Stage Names:

The girl that trains and forms them and myself present the new girls with their stage names before their first performance. We do a little committee, it’s like a family reunion! There’s a birth, there’s a new child, what should we name them? We’ll think, “What are her character traits? What are her physical traits? Her passions? Her ambitions? Is she slow, is she fast, is she funny is she sparkling?”. We’ll go through all of that, and we’ll come up with a name! Then we propose the name to her, and if she doesn’t like it, she gets another one, and if she doesn’t like that one, tough luck —  that’s what she’s getting! She has one choice. We’re kind of strict, or we could go on for ages. Most of them don’t want to change it though, I think it’s only happened once or twice, and once was for religious reasons we didn’t know about, so of course that was no problem.

The girls coming to Australia are: Bamby Splish Splash, Daizy Blu, Diva Novita, Candy Saint Louis, Gloria Di Parma, Lolita Kiss-Curl, Lila Magnetic, Loulou De Paris, Margaux La Chapelle, Mina Velours, Starlette O’ara, Suzy Festival, Taïna De Bermudes, and Zitta Zurbaghan. 

On hair and makeup: 

Because we rely so heavily on aesthetics and beauty, and especially sharp lines and graphics, we teach the girls specifically how to do their makeup. They do it themselves every night before the show, but we also talk to them about their haircut. If they want to change it, they have to ask us, because it’s such an integral part of the show. The colouring has to be uniform so that it’s impactful on stage. There are no highlights. You’re either all blonde, all red, all brunette, all black. Just pure, bold colour. The cuts are very graphic. If the hair allows it, we have bangs because again, it’s very graphic on stage, and when the girl moves and dances, it keeps her hair out of her face so you can continue to enjoy her eyes, her mouth, her nose.

It’s the total opposite of go-go dancers in nightclubs — it keeps the face available and visible. The length can vary. We have a girl with really short hair and it’s really modern and sexy and I love it, but they can have any length as long as the colour is bold and the cuts are straight — no layers! If the girl has curly hair, she doesn’t always have to have bangs. For makeup, we have a ‘Crazy Red’ lipstick they have to work with, and we have a specific foundation from Dior they use; we have certain brands we work with more than others. We provide some parts of the makeup kit, but others are specific guidelines.

How a Sioux Chief inspired the name ‘Crazy Horse’:

When Crazy Horse opened in 1951, saloons were really fashionable, especially in the US, and the owner wanted to do the first American saloon in Paris. The guys at the door were actually cowboys in the 50’s, and there was square dancing, a singer, and there was only one single dancer! They’d serve hot dogs and beer, and it was like a real saloon. It was only in the early 60’s it became the signature we work with today. We’ve come a long way since then, and have been inspired to put in more burlesque dancers as time went on. In 1954, there were four girls, and they all had different acts, and there was still singers and square dancing and all that.

In the early 60s he started to become inspired by the Rockettes and the whole idea of multiplying the female form on stage, creating optical illusions with all these bodies and really transforming it into a cohesive show rather, than a presentation of burlesque dancers. It was then he started experimenting with projections and lights; he was always a refined gentleman who was in the know in fashion, so he started working with designers like Balenciaga, who made dresses for the show, and he started changing the whole aesthetic. He made the girls dancers and less burlesque-y, actually combined the two talents, and it was then Crazy Horse evolved from its beginnings as a saloon.

 On the future of Crazy Horse: 

We’re always looking for a new permanent location (the permanent Las Vegas Crazy Horse show closed in 2012), but we don’t have a specific plan or venue location. We’re happy with our current shows, we’re happy with our tour, so it’s a question about opportunity. It will happen again though, that’s for sure. I’d prefer New York or Miami outside of Vegas — New York especially, but we’re not actively pursuing right now.

Forever Crazy touches down in Melbourne August 8, with shows in Perth, Sydney and Canberra to follow. To book tickets, click here.