If you like TV programs about Ebola, chimeras, comets, tsunamis and wild animals that bite, you might consider giving Cat Dancers (HBO) a gander. If you watch Meerkat Manor, Air Jaws, old Judy Garland movies and Oprah only when conjoined twins are making an appearance, then Jane's special algorithm for determining what you might like to watch based on your past viewing choices says, "run don't walk" to Cat Dancers on HBO. If you have ever once searched the web for information on "Plushies" (people who dress up like stuffed animals) trust me, this one's for you. It's very special.
Cat Dancers tells the story of Ron and Joy Holiday, and their lover Chuck Lizza. Their menage- a-trois would be weird enough, but the happy threesome went on to form one of the world's first exotic tiger entertainment acts. That's right, before Sigfried and Roy, there were the Cat Dancers. And without being too much of a spoiler, let's just say both acts experienced similar tragic grand finales.
Most of the film is narrated by Ron Holiday, an enthusiastic but oddly emotionless fellow given to wearing wigs, eyeliner and ballet tights. He was married for over 40 years to Joy and they had a very successful adagio dance team that performed at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Joy Holiday is a cheerful busty blond who once wanted to be a nun. Chuck, their paramour, was a young man who once worked for the circus. Together they formed the "Cat Dancers" and they performed for 14 years with leopards, panthers and a white tiger hybrid named Jupiter.
Don't read the whole story on the HBO site unless you want to know how this odd documentary ends. I'm not going to reveal it here, because I've been haunted by it for days. It's disturbing on so many levels. As an animal rights activist, I can't endorse the idea of big cats being used as circus performers. If my own little cats Bob and CNN can't stand to be cooped up in a house all day, I can't imagine how bored and unhappy big cats must feel being in a cage.
Nevertheless, if your tastes in TV gravitate to the extremely unusual, then I can't recommend Cat Dancers enough.
Cat Dancers debuted on Dec 15th, 2008 at 8pm on HBO. Check your guide for repeat air dates, or see HBO on Demand.