Benito di Fonzo
Metro, Sydney Morning Herald. June 30, 2006
Sultry cabaret artist Meow Meow was in London on Monday, New York Tuesday, Los Angeles Wednesday and, on a wet Friday afternoon, she's lying atop a bar in Darlinghurst's Victoria Room sipping Chandon. No wonder she called last week's show in Germany Sequins & Spectacular Jetlag.
When it opens at the Opera House it will be retitled Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour.
"That's a reference to my mental state, clearly, but it conjures up a fabulous image of Toulouse-Lautrec and early French cabaret," purrs Meow in an accent you can't pin down. "My first language was obviously unintelligible, [but] it made sense to me, then off we went into French and German, then English and a little Mandarin."
For her Sydney debut, Meow will team up with pianist Iain Grandage, who she met in Shanghai while working with controversial Chinese transsexual Jin Xing.
"[Xing's] a really interesting woman. She was the best male dancer in China, a kind of superstar, and she was a colonel in the army, as well.
Then she had a sex change."
Meow's show received rave reviews in Melbourne, where The Age's Helen Razer described her as "Diamanda Galas drowned in cherry liqueur".
"This show takes a lot of songs that I absolutely adore," she says. "Really beautiful cabaret songs from the French and German cabaret tradition mixed in with show tunes, horribly deconstructed, I'm afraid, and I mix it with some John Cage and contemporary opera.
"I love that you can use noise and you can reference 15 songs in one song just by passing through the notes, and people have this primeval memory of 1925, 1865 or a primal scream from the slime that means something."
Meow is also working on performance art fellowships in Berlin and New York.
"I'm seen as sequins in the performance art world and [as] razor blades in the cabaret world," she says.
"There's this saying that what turns me on is erotic and what turns you on is pornographic, so for some people the show will be deeply erotic, and for others it will be deeply grotesque, and that's what I like to play with. It's a lot about how [the audience] wants to perceive you; as a superstar or a washed-up diva, a goddess or a has-been."
Meow, also a lawyer, says she may be "wilfully blind" when it comes to any rules the Opera House imposes on her: "I popped my bosom in a glass of red wine [at one show] because there's so many rules about nudity, alcohol and cigarettes and I just think it's so ridiculous. I think it's important to rock people and also to soothe them. You don't want too much of either, otherwise you've got bland, anaesthetised non-thinking. Shatter and soothe, I think, is a good thing."
Punters be warned: there'll be audience participation.
"I think fear is good in the theatre; it's good when you think anything could happen - we're not in a cinema, after all. So it is unpredictable: I could walk offstage, I could fall in love with you, you could fall in love with me. How are you feeling, by the way? In love, clearly."
Her biography says she has no fixed address. Does that mean she'll need somewhere to crash after the show?
"Yes, is that OK? I'm very cuddly.
I leave a trail of sequins and eyelashes, but nothing scary."
Meow Meow: Beyond Glamour
June 30, July 1, 7 & 8, Opera House Studio