Denis Carré’s similarity to the Gangnam Style singer has become a career, says Deirdre Reynolds
GANGNAM Style is back. It’s a year since Cork-based fashion and beauty consultant, Denis Carré, convinced the Cannes Film Festival he was the song’s performer, PSY.
A new photo book details how Carré’s life has been transformed since he was mistaken for the South Korean pop star.
“It was really an accident,” says Denis (35), who’s originally from France.
“Back in 2012, I was at a Lady Gaga concert in Dublin when someone asked me for my photo.
“A few weeks later, I went into a pub in the city, and there was this big rush of people towards me.
“Soon, I couldn’t walk down the street without people asking me if ‘Gangnam Style’ was my song.”
Denis had lived in Ireland for 12 years, mainly in Little Island near Cork before he became famous as PSY’s impersonator.
Denis is so good that with PSY’s wacky suits and trademark sunglasses, even the most PSY-chotic fan may have to do a double take when leafing through The Life of PSY, by Dublin photographer, Maciej Pestka (€18).
But doppelganger Denis insists he was the last to notice the resemblance: “When I saw the video for the first time, I thought, ‘Well, OK, he’s Korean’, and that’s about it.
“What really struck me is the fact that both of us dress the same way.
“It was my family and friends who said: ‘Listen, you could make money out of this’, so I took my father’s advice and sent my CV to an artistic management company,” he says.
“I had my first booking in London, in December 2012, but I still didn’t think it would become a career, or change my life at all.”
More than a year on, looking like PSY has taken Denis all over the globe, brushing shoulders with the truly rich and famous.
At the height of Gangnam mania, he even graced the pages of GQ magazine.
“I’ve been hanging around with people like Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrien Brody and Naomie Harris,” says Denis. “And I’ve been invited to visit the Prince of Monaco.
“I’ve travelled all over Europe, and as far as Israel, the Ivory Coast and French [West] Indies.
“But the craziest thing that’s happened to me so far is finding myself on the yacht of a very powerful prince of the United Arab Emirates, for ten minutes.
“Basically, I’m hired to impersonate the character at nightclubs or private events,” he says, “to do the dance and have my picture taken with the guests.”
“There are times that I could make more in one night than I would make in a month in my regular job.”
One celebrity Denis hasn’t yet met is the man he’s making a living off.
“I was invited to meet the real PSY on Britain’s Got Talent,” he says. “Unfortunately, I had another event to attend.
“There’s only been one incident, at the Cannes Film Festival, where I was photographed smoking a cigarette, and although I think he smokes, for obvious reasons he didn’t want to associate any bad images with his character. That’s the only [negative] feedback comment he made.”
“It’s really funny, the way people never ask me who I am, they just assume that I am him,” says Denis, who’s due to attend the launch of the book at The Library Project, in Temple Bar, on February 27.
“So long as people don’t ask me, there’s no reason why I should say: ‘Hey, I’m not who you think I am.’ But I don’t want to impersonate him to the point of identity theft, either.
“Whenever I’m signing autographs, I usually sign something that looks like ‘PSY’, but that’s a little different.”
In fact, having enjoyed the life of PSY, now Denis is hoping to be able to sign something else altogether.
He’s just released his debut single, ‘Kiss Me Hard’, under the stage name Jay One, an anglicisation of his Korean name, Jaewan.
“There are two sides to looking like PSY,” says Denis. “On the one hand, it has really opened the door to becoming an artist by myself. As the same time, people still see me as the person who looks like PSY.
“Impersonating PSY is not something I can do forever,” he says.
“So it’s very important for me to think about the next step.
“Everything exploded so quickly for me, I know it can fall apart just as quickly. At the moment, I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.
“Although I have to admit I’m getting pretty sick of Gangnam Style.”
At the minute, he’s travelling and living throughout Europe, as his career keeps going.
But Denis says he’s hoping to return to Cork in the near future, where he still has two successful beauty salons.
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