Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach spends family time in La Jolla, Calif., after returning to the United States from his annual Italian travels, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their words of wisdom.
We continue today with star chef Barry S. Dakake from the celebrity-packed N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms and Alexa Hukari, one half of the high-flying acrobatic team with husband Ming Fang, who found love on the hire-wire and are now in the outrageous show “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace. Here’s Alexa with their unlikely love story:
My husband Ming Fang and I met in Barcelona. We were working on the same show. He was an acrobat with the Chinese troupe; I was a physical therapist on my first touring job. We were an unlikely couple; he didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Chinese. We came from different worlds.
Ming moved away from his home to work and train with one of the most prestigious circus troupes in China, Flag Circus of China, when he was just 9 years old. He trained hard … I mean really hard. Eight or nine hours per day, every day except Sunday, when he got the afternoon off. He spent most of his life in shows and training halls or traveling with the troupe.
Me, on the other hand, I grew up in a small town in California. I was a gymnast who thought I was training hard. I dreamed of performing but set that aside for school. After eight years of college, I got my first dream job as a physical therapist for the circus. It was my first time living out of a suitcase, and I was ready for adventure.
Ming and I had our first dates with a friend who would translate for us! We could barely say “how are you?” when we started hanging out. We had a lot to see as we toured Europe, learned to speak each other’s languages and fell in love.
Ming would tell me stories about growing up in the troupe, working in crazy conditions and being away from his family. I would tell him stories about growing up with my family, training but never working as an acrobat and how American college is not like in the movies.
About a year after we met, Ming decided to leave the troupe. We spent nine months apart with phone calls and five-day visits in distant places. Then the stars aligned, and we were able to work together on another touring show.
We have tried hard to find work together ever since. We’ve spent time with just one of us working. We have survived time apart in addition to injuries and the ups and downs of working in entertainment.
In 2009, I got my second dream job when we performed together for the first time. The partner Ming had been working with was injured during dress rehearsal of a new show in San Francisco. We were lucky that the director was open to working on an act that Ming and I could perform together.
It was an intense time! We developed and performed a new act that was a projection of our love story. We worked together to create the strength, trust and emotion that the act needed.
In the act, there are times when he lifts me, holding me on his feet or with his neck; the next moment, I will be supporting him. There are moments when we are flying together holding each other at the same time. It’s a give-and-take that we brought from our relationship and hope to share with audiences.
When we got the call to audition for “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, we were beyond excited. It is a dream for any performer to be in a show that is so strong and amazing!
“Absinthe,” not for the faint of heart, is a whirlwind of amazing artists, one beautiful singer and two hilariously raunchy hosts. The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard and so much that my cheeks were sore.
We really are living the dream! Performing together, we get to bring a moment of beauty to the show. I hope that when the audience sees our act, they get lost in our love story if just for a moment.
Be sure to check out our other guest column today from celebrity chef Barry S. Dakake, who is king of the kitchen at the star-studded N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms. On Thursday, our guest columnists are handsome hunk James Davis of Chippendales at the Rio and “Bar Rescue” mixologist and reality-TV star Mia Mastroianni.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.