For the grand finale, George,
Mandarin and Chopin walk the tightrope, gracefully hurling their little
bodies through a flaming hoop and landing, perfectly balanced, on the
other end of the rope. The cats perform flawlessly guided by only a
gesture or shriek from Dominique and coaxed along with generous bribes
of chicken gizzards.
And all the while Dominique is there to carry the show with flailing
arms and a ridiculous script, including a barrage of absurd phrases such
as "Stay where you ARRRRE!" and "Hurry up, take your time." His seeming
lunacy is a result of "too many sunsets," he says. There are other
Dominique sayings, too, surprisingly poetic: "I am perfectly in harmony
with myself," he says while petting Cosette after a job well done.
In 1984, Dominique-actor, mime, entertainer and occasional
philosopher-came to Mallory Square with cat, Marlene, in tow. What
started as a one-man, one-cat clown show gradually turned into a seven
-cat act featuring hoops of fire, nonsensical phrases and affectionate
nudges. Today, Dominique describes his cat show as a miniplay,
containing all the key elements of a drama: "It touches everything. It's
absurd, of course, but not that absurd. There are plenty of meanings.
It's got romanticism, satire, absurdity, craziness, love. All this stuff
in a comedy act with the cats."
"I wanted to be an actor because I didn't want
to live only one life. . . But the paradox is, I end up playing myself.
Ah, the cats. There is Oscar-part jungle cat-who has a mellow attitude
and unusually long legs. Cosette, a tailless Manx cat, is the most
affectionate. Sara, the eldest, is apparently a "Bitah" -she's the "most
jealous kitty," Dominique says. Moon, the youngest, is a perfectionist.
Chopin, George and Mandarin all come from the same litter, which
Dominique rescued in 1998 during Hurricane Georges. Chopin is the
smartest and Mandarin the shyest. George is a bit feisty like her
namesake, writer and feminist George Sand. "I have no favorites because
they1l get jealous," Dominique says very
"She'll drool on you," Dominique says of his most affectionate cat,
Cosette, during a tender moment in the show. "Cats need to feel like
they're in love, otherwise they won't do anything, "Dominique later
Dominique and Chopin, his smartest cat, rest up before the show.
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After a long nap with the cats and before heading out to the
show, Dominique shaves at his kitchen sink, with no mirror. "I'm
very fast and very good." he says.