Jane Farquharson was asking me about the acrobat who did the Christmas show with me at the Hurlingham Club in 2012.
'Munchie's never recovered from his dance with you, by the way,' she said. 'But the hyper-muscled chap who didn't shave his chest - well done him - and could balance on his forefingers? Who might he be? Sue Thompson thinks he might be right for Henley. You're also being put up for Henley.' But more for the cabaret tent indoors with fairy lights than outdoors framed by the flotilla on a plinth. 'The chap from the Hurlingham with you would be more for the outdoorsy display, wouldn't he? If he was insistent on colour and shine he could put glitter spray paint on or something?'
Ah, Dougy Edwards, she meant. And he would be right for outdoors and for the display. But as for the glitter spray aspect...
...I don't think so.
Doug has been away from the variety circuit for a while. So on Jane's behalf I facebooked him to ask where he'd gone.
'I've been in Guernsey retraining,' he explained.
'But you were doing bloody well. And Guernsey's a bit of an obscure choice, isn't it?'
'Not when you were born there. I came back to get a bit of a new perspective; a stable view of things. I've been retraining as a PT. I've found I genuinely love training people. And as for the performing side of things: unlike in England itself you can be a big fish in a small pond here. I needed to regroup. To be a solo performer you have to plug yourself and your image, the whole time. The narcissism was getting to me. Sports performance, which I've been doing a lot around exhibitions, is a bit less about the 'look at me'.'
'My background was in pure sports. Top level football, athletics. And alongside that I've always been into classical sculpture, Rodin being a hero. I'm fascinated by the human form and the response it can evoke. And I can get masochistic about training to achieve the look I want.'
He does, I've seen him warm up. it was like a tank doing St Vitus's Dance.
See for yourself here...
'I was self-taught before I got into circus space, going off on natural ability. Ragged look. Feet not finished. But I had the right mix of contacts. Pixie [his partner in a doubles act] was a lucky person to meet. Top girl, and I respect her as a performer and a marketer. I'm going back to the mainland with a different attitude. I knew there was more to the industry. I've got sponsorship through performing for the fitness exhibitions. There's a difference between that and the glitz and glamour of the variety circuit. I'm in the middle of those two things, I'd say. It would be cool to combine both those worlds. I'm going to talk to one of the Forbidden Nights boys, for example. I don't want to be put in the Magic Mike category, but am all for jumping into that show and seeing where it goes.'
And when he does get back, what happens?
'Coming back from Guernsey I'll need to choose a gym to work at; personal training is now a solid profession for me. And I'll be focussed on my own bodyweight training. Though some of the boys who do hand balancing will just look at my work and say they're already incorporating the bodyweight training aspect, the difference is mine is that it's going to me more powerful - like you've just thrown me on the rugby field, or the track. I'm going to kick off at it! And there's an element of sculpture I'll be working at bringing to my stage routine - the emotive element.'
How will you do that?
'Well, by getting my kit off.'
'I'll have a office man answering the phone in a single handstand comic routine as my go-to cabaret act. Then for more wow factor, there'll be a war-god element.'
'For this act I'll be doing rotating hand-balance. HIgh up, away, really sculpted. An audience is more into the visuals than the aesthetic in a big arena. You can hear the conversations in cabaret. The bigger act will be distanced and more about the beast look. USP being the more hugeness. Sincere. No way I'm going to cheat being an ex-dancer or gymnast, trying to kid on I'm all about the beautiful line. What I like most about something is the rawness, the realness. When you fall in love, you don't think do I really like this person, you just know it. I want to create that reality in an act.'
I ran past him that Jane thought he might want some...er...shiny, colourful enhancement?
'No, bab. You'll never get me covered in glitter-spray!'
Link to Doug's Personal Training page