Shame is a hot movie. The hottest scene in this hot movie is a ménage à trois with uber hot star Michael Fassbender and our dear friend Calamit Y. Chang and DeeDee Luxe. Calamit Y. is hosting and starring in Burlesque shows all over town, including this Wednesday at Duane Park and every Friday at Hotel Chantelle. This Wednesday’s show has DeeDee aboard, as well as the wonderful Shien Lee. It’s all timed in honor of Chinese New Year and is destined to be fabulous. Calamit Y. and I talked about the scene in Shame and she seemed surprised that it was such a big deal. Known as the "Asian Sexsation," she is constantly surrounded by incredibly sexual beings who spend a great deal of their time and energy thinking of new routines to turn us on. If you haven’t caught this act, get out there and do it now before the fame from the movie exposes her talent to the masses and she’s whisked off to Vegas or playing big theatres. The atmosphere at Duane Park is intimate, old-school burlesque elegant. It’s a great date destination. I asked Calamit Y. Chang a few questions, half expecting to be shooing away autograph seekers.
So I’m watching the hottest sex scene ever in the movie Shame with Amanda, when we both exclaim aloud CALAMIT Y. !!!!!. Your famous feather tattoo confirmed it was you and DeeDee Luxe. I understand sex; it didnt actually occur, but everyone was hot. Tell us about the scene, the conversations leading up to it, and conversations after.
When I went to the audition, I knew the film was by Steve McQueen
. His first film, Hunger
, also starring Michael Fassbender, was a huge hit with film fans, so I guess you can say I already trusted him and his vision for my role as “Late Night Lover #1." When we met, he showed me the script and explained what the film was about. I had a lot of questions about Brandon’s (Fassbender) character development because I was curious about how Steve was going to handle the subject of sex addiction. On the day of the shoot, DeeDee and I wanted to know if our characters were prostitutes. Steve didn’t give a direct answer but he did say something to the effect that we were just normal people living in NYC, and like many people, we sometimes accept money for certain things. This reminded me of some people in fashion who work for free in exchange for expensive clothes and shoes. I know countless stylists who dress like a million bucks but can’t pay their rent and are consistently borrowing money from people left and right. Steve further explained that our characters were already familiar with Brandon and we were expecting him. When he first arrived and I opened the door for him, Steve wanted me to look a certain way when I saw Brandon. He wanted me to have a look as if saying, “Oh yeah, you again. Of course.” I even had Steve be me so I could see what he wanted my face to look like. He was very fun, patient, and gave clear direction. The actual filming of the infamous scene was a closed set. It was just five of us, including Steve and the cameraman. During the shoot, Steve pretty much let us three do our thing and every now and then he would ask one of us to switch sides for a better angle of our faces. As for conversations after this scene, well, we joked and laughed about whatever. We had some food. We talked about other films we liked, wanted to see, and I do remember asking Steve and Michael if they liked Lars Von Trier
(cause I don’t). They didn’t. Michael did some impersonations of De Niro and I think Marlo Brando. It was pretty laid-back and comfortable, like friends hanging out.
I was told it was a retake, that the original scene was replaced with yours.
That was what our casting agent told us. They had already wrapped shooting months ago, but I guess some of the scenes (including ours) didn’t work out, so Steve came back to NYC with the cast and crew and re-shot them. Nicole Beharie
was on set with us that day too, but I don’t know what scene she was working on. I also don’t know who were in the first threesome scene. They didn’t really talk about it and we didn’t really care cause we were there to kill it!
Tell me about Wednesday’s Duane Park show.
This is my newest show and I am excited beyond words! It is a dinner and a show at Duane Park, a beautiful restaurant serving delicious food and famous for their burlesque shows. The intimate and elegant dining room sets the perfect mood for a show like "Les Fleurs de Shanghai" with live music with Shien Lee as our featured singer. She will be singing several Chinese songs from the golden jazz age in Shanghai – music that will enchant you and take you back to a different time. DeeDee and myself will perform burlesque, It takes place on the last Wednesdays of every month at 8:30 PM.
How did a nice chinese girl like you become this fabulous burlesque queen, performer, and organizer?
Well, I’ve always been Chinese but I haven’t always been nice. Joking! My parents have always said I have a rebellious streak ever since I was little. I suppose they are right, they’ve been right about lots of things much to my chagrin! My new show “Les Fleurs de Shanghai” at Duane Park is a burlesque show paying homage to the great jazz era of Shanghai during the ’20s-’40s. I’ve become obsessed with that tumultuous era in Shanghai’s history with the music, the fashion, and the glamour of that time, but I haven’t always been interested in my cultural heritage and background. When I was a teenager growing up in Texas, the last thing I wanted to do was listen to Chinese music. I wanted New Kids on the Block. I wanted Bon Jovi. I wanted Garth Brooks! Well, maybe not the latter, but you get my drift. Immigrant mentality is to assimilate and to grown up in a non-culturally diverse place like Texas. I tried my damn hardest to fit in. Unfortunately, that meant rejecting a lot of things that makes me unique. My parents always said that one day I will want to know more about being Chinese and “return to my roots,” so to speak. So they were right yet again! Although, I don’t think burlesque was what they had in mind. Burlesque, in its contemporary reincarnation at least, is very feminist. It is subversive, transgressive, and rebellious. And all those things draw me in uncontrollably.
Tell me how you develop your new acts.
It’s a lot like writing, which I’m sure you can relate to on some level. You stare at a piece of blank paper and suddenly the task of having to fill it with words that make sense and construct an experience narratively becomes very daunting. Likewise, I pick a song that I want to work with. I put it on repeat in my living room studio and I stare in the mirror. There is always that sense of fear that I think all creative people face. The act of creation. Of forming something out of nothing. Whether it’s writing, painting, choreographing an act, designing a costume. I embrace it and stew in it. Sure enough, after a couple of hours, a dance routine comes out of it and I know what the character feels like and should wear. For me, many of my acts are never completely “done." There is always something to upgrade, whether it’s the costume or the choreography. For example, my red “Dusk ’til Dawn” act has evolved so much since I originally made it two years ago. Now, I’ve added new pieces to the costume, added another song to it, and incorporated red fans in the routine. This act has gotten me accepted in the Dallas Burlesque Festival
(Feb 2-5, 2012) and the London Burlesque World Games
(May 7-13, 2012).
I saw you develop an audience at Hotel Chantelle. At first, it was slow-going, but now your Friday night galas are packed. How does the newfound fame from Shame translate to a fanbase. How does it affect friends? Do you have major new burlesque credibility?
Yes, it was hard in the beginning, especially since I am the first person to bring burlesque to Hotel Chantelle; the road had to be paved! Thankfully, Tim Spuches (who found and hired me) didn’t doubt me and now it’s really great. I have met several male audience members at Chantelle who tell me they saw me in Shame and came to see me perform; it makes me very happy that people are going to see real films with quality editing and storytelling. And it makes me even happier that in all the press and interviews the film has gotten, Steve and Michael have been describing us as burlesque performers. I think this is so great because this gives burlesque and us burlesque performers credibility in the film world. I am always so happy to hear about other performers who get cast for a TV show or film, because the more crossover we have, the more people will come to our shows!