Bold & Beautiful: Eros Des Flammes
Performance & Theatre
Fire, dance and eroticism—what could be more authentically human? Each connects us to our shared experience in their own way, and when combined, they elicit profound emotion. One Salt Lake performer who experiments with all three motifs is Eros Des Flammes, a fire dancer, aerial artist and erotic performer. Taking the name of the Greek god of sexual love and passion, his powerful displays explore both the limitations and freedoms of life.
Flammes grew up on a reservation in Montana, and having been raised in the Mormon church, he felt, “very repressed generally.” Those feelings of oppression didn’t stop him from taking an interest in Greek mythology and musical theater, where he found a sense of belonging and wonder. “I wanted to combine my love of performance with my fascination with Greek mythology,” Flammes recalls. “So I took Eros and made him my incarnation.” To fully realize himself as a performer, Flammes took dance classes at age 21 and immediately fell in love. During that time, he watched his first aerial performance, and within a few weeks he found a home in the circus community. “It’s such a close-knit group, and they’ve allowed me to find my passion,” says Flammes. Of course, the passion that Flammes refers to is dangerous, beautiful and primal—fire.
“I wanted to combine my love of performance with my fascination with Greek mythology.”
For Flammes, working with fire allows him to connect with something deeply ingrained in the human experience. He says, “People have been dancing around fires for thousands and thousands of years, and my art is a celebration of that.” Flammes also finds beauty inthe inherent duality of fire, which is capable of both destruction and creation. “You have to respect the limitations of what you can do with fire,” he says. Watching a performance from Flammes, you wouldn’t think he’s limited to much. The artist is skilled with all sorts of blazing flow props, including batons, clubs, staff, poi and even fire eating.
To make his performances even more provocative, Flammes combines fire with erotic dance. “It’s very freeing to be able to express a part of myself that society says we shouldn’t be showing publicly,” he explains. “But it’s all a part of the human experience that we share, so I use erotic dance to connect with the audience and show them that everyday life can be erotic too.” Embracing vulnerability and finding strength within is what makes Flammes’ performances so shockingly authentic, but Flammes also wants viewers to shed themselves of their own insecurities. “I want to take people on a journey that allows them to get carried away in their emotions and not be ashamed of them,” he says. Letting one’s mask slip away is unavoidable when watching Flammes sensually glide across the stage, rhythmically dancing to tribal drums or modern tunes like “I Want to Be Like You” from the Jungle Book.
“But it’s all a part of the human experience that we share, so I use erotic dance to connect with the audience and show them that everyday life can be erotic too.”
Having been performing on Utah’s stages for years, Flammes has become both a celebrated artist and teacher. In 2021, Flammes collaborated with his husband, Trent, and Madazon Can- Can to produce the circus burlesque troupe Circus Steria. “We created Circus Steria with the intent to make the performer culture we wanted to see and to provide more opportunities to queer artists,” Flammes says. As an organization, Circus Steria provides a clear chain of command between rotating cast members and venues, while ensuring each performer feels respected and valued. The group has already produced a number of successful shows, like “SOUL-stice,” “Darkside of the Moon Ball” and the “Grief Circus.”
Eros Des Flammes doesn’t just play with fire, he dances with it, embracing each threatening ember and beautiful spark just as humans have done for thousands of years. See him perform June 3 at Dubai Ultralounge Bar, June 16 at Metro Music Hall and June 18 at The Brickyard Bar. Follow Flammes on Instagram @eros.des.flammes and Circus Steria @circussteria.