Behind the curtain with SUAVÉ’s Hugh and Bunny

It takes a whole lot of work behind the scenes to make things look glamorous and effortless, and the Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub in Broadbeach is the perfect example of that.

Front of house, everything shines, from the illuminated water features to the glittering costumes. The mirrors gleam, the staff all have a twinkle in their eyes, and the lighting dazzles as it reflects off the pink champagne bubbling into your sparkling glass.

Once the show SUAVÉ begins, it’s all synchronised moves, practiced one-liners and the confidence that comes with knowing you’re in the sure hands of world class performers who have their craft down to the finest, most precise art. But what would it be like if you could see how much work actually goes on behind the curtain? That’s what we decided to do, by spending a little time with SUAVÉ’s resident hosts.

On the show, male host Hugh G. Leftnut delivers a parody of young Hugh Hefner, welcoming the guests with a velvet smoking jacket, a well-oiled moustache and an even oilier persona, smarmily singling out the ladies for his squeamish ‘charms’. His ditzy yet loveable sidekick Funny Bunny, (complete with ears and tail) comes with a series of endearing squeaks and 1950 pinup whoopsie faces that make you want to kiss her and shake her simultaneously, while also laughing helplessly along.

The duo are tasked with keeping the energy levels high throughout the evening and the spaces between the acts moving along nicely, but it’s their own acrobatic feats which actually prove to be some of the evening’s highlights, so I was very keen to chat to them and see what they were all about.

Once the costumes were put away and the panstick chiselled off for the night, it was a great opportunity to catch up with the real people behind the characters – Zion and Poppy, an acrobatic duo and real life couple, who were (of course) nothing at all like their SUAVÉ characters. Instead what I found was a delightfully warm, fairly introverted and wonderfully geeky young couple who like nothing more than to disappear into their computer games in their very little down time, and who take their work very seriously.

There are two things about Poppy and Zion I find particularly interesting. The first is that they are currently the only people in the southern hemisphere, who perform a skill called Adagio en Pointe.

“Ballet on shoulders, is the best way to describe it,” says Zion. Poppy jumps in.

“It’s quite popular in China,” she explains. “We’d seen some videos before we met each other. I’d done ballet my whole life before I went into circus and Zion was naturally very good at balancing, so we decided it would be a good skill for us to learn, because we had a strong background in the skills that would be necessary for that discipline.”

Based on the difficulty of the skill, I am curious as to whether or not there were times when they thought they would never actually be able to conquer it. Poppy laughs immediately.

“Sooo many times, oh my gosh! But never enough to actually stop… Zion’s shoulders did bleed for months and months which had to happen to toughen the skin up.”

Zion interrupts.

“It’s the same thing Poppy’s toes had to go through with ballet.”

It’s dynamic that occurs throughout our entire conversation, when one partner is trying to say how great the other one is, the other partner immediately jumps in with a counter story about something the other one has achieved, and it’s perfectly adorable.

Risley is the second big feature skill of the pair, which is basically Zion “juggling” Poppy with his feet. When you see it performed, it’s incredibly impressive, yes, but the mother in me worries about broken ribs, dislocated hips and knees and all sorts of things. The last thing I expected to hear about was a broken thumb, and yet that was the major injury they’ve experienced together, they tell me.

“We were doing the Risley and my thumb got stuck Poppy’s belt loop and it snapped back,” says Zion.

Cringe.

The second thing I find so fascinating about Zion and Poppy is that they were both planning a solo career but they met at circus school, fell instantly in love, and boom, that was it! Duo it was.

“It was love at first sight, by the end of orientation week we were a couple, it all happened very quickly” recalls Poppy. “We went in with different plans, Zion was going to be a contortionist and I was training in hula hoops so we were kind of going to specialise in those areas but when we met each other we just had this natural dynamic with each other and we started training in acrobatics.”

Zion concurs. “A few months along we were pretty set on being a duo professionally.  We set ourselves up for a long time, it can be harder to find work as a duo so you have to do it properly.”

And it’s not just their professional duo they’re doing properly, with the entertaining couple set to get married at the Pink Flamingo in July, in what is set to be one of the most festive wedding celebrations around. It’s always such a pleasure when you fall in love with performers on stage and then they turn out to be ten times more delightful once you get that peek behind the curtain.

You can fall in love with the fun and fabulous SUAVÉ cast yourself at the Pink Flamingo Spiegelclub, Broadbeach from Wednesday to Saturday, every week.  Bookings at pinkflamingogoldcoast.com.

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