Last weekend I watched the rather bizarre documentary Cat Dancers on 4OD which was originally shown as part of the True Stories series on Channel 4. Directed by Harris Fishman, it tells the story of ballet dancers turned animal trainers Joy and Ron Holiday, who became the world’s first exotic cat entertainers in the 1960s. Experiencing huge success, they decided to expand their act in the 80s and took on handome young circus worker Chuck Lizza. Chuck ended up living with Ron and Jo in a menage à trois on their ranch in Florida. Of course the story ends in tragedy, wild cats being what they are, but it’s a fascinating tale along the way.
The documentary is very much narrated from Ron’s perspective. Now in his seventies, his interview makes up much of the story along with home videos shot on Super 8 and old photographs. Ron is an eccentric man and the story of his career, his two great loves, and his animals is made all the more compelling by his loony take on the world. Particularly intriguing is his description of the place in which he dreams of living; a monastery in the jungles of Vietnam where tigers and monks cohabit peacefully. After tragically losing everything he loved in the space of a few months, I really hope his dream becomes a reality.