David O'Mer has drunk a lot of bathwater in his time. Those who haven't seen his bath act with La Clique - the renowned burlesque-cabaret-circus collective - might know him from the posters for its show, La Soiree. O'Mer is the sleekly muscular, shirtless acrobat holding himself horizontal above a claw-foot tub and flicking a long arc of water into the air with his hair.
O'Mer estimates he has performed his act - which involves dipping into the tub, spinning and tumbling above it on straps, spurting water out of his mouth and an encounter with a rubber duck - more than 1000 times and he swallows water ''all the time''. Sometimes, he even chokes on it.
''Every now and again I make a little mistake and the water runs up my nose while I'm upside down and then I can't breathe,'' he says. ''I have to dive back down into the bath and choke a bit.
''Sometimes I come up out [of the tub] with a cool and relaxed look on my face and then I have to dive back in and choke so my eyes nearly pop out. It's good I have somewhere I can hide.''
Bathwater is not his drink of choice; the 30-year-old former gymnast prefers a good scotch whisky. One of his favourites is the Balvenie. ''It's a really nice, handcrafted single malt and it's not too smoky,'' he says. ''It also has a really nice-looking bottle. I am a bit of a man of aesthetics there.''
O'Mer is from Hanover, Germany, and lives in Berlin. He has visited Australia several times with La Clique and discovered his favourite wine - Amarone della Valpolicella, a mix of partially dried corvina, rondinella and molinara grapes - at an Italian restaurant in Kings Cross years ago.
He was a regular visitor, he says, in the company of ''an eccentric Swedish magician''. ''Each time, the magician would ask the waiter to recommend a wine, saying things like: 'I want one that tastes like a hole has opened up in the sky and a rope has fallen out and has carried me up into the sky.' He would describe it differently each night and make it into this whole theatrical performance. And with a Swedish accent, too, which is quite entertaining.
''It slightly confused the waiters but it worked because that's how we found the Amarone.''
O'Mer appears six days a week in the Sydney season of La Soiree. While he has known plenty of performers, particularly in Europe, who drink before a show, he's not one of them.
''With a physical act like that, I prefer to wait until after,'' he says. He has enjoyed a quiet drink with fellow cast members at the Opera Bar but any sort of celebratory imbibing is saved for Sunday nights, with Monday being La Clique's day off.
''It is not great fun to be on-stage with a hangover,'' O'Mer says. And certainly not when you have to hang upside down with water up your nose.
La Soiree with La Clique is on at the Sydney Opera House until March 11.