Los Angeles Cabaret Review: ABSINTHE (Spiegelworld Tent at L.A. Live)

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by Jason Rohrer on March 26, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


My only problem with 20 year old acrobats and showgirls is that they’re not going to date me while I’m in Las Vegas to catch a show. The casinos that hire them aren’t stupid; sexual frustration is the foundation of the gambling followed by cocaine followed by hookers tourism industry. I personally just do not understand sex as entertainment unless I’m having it. I can get a satisfying release in a theater, from Chekhov or Caryl Churchill, because it’s okay to laugh and cry in public. But in my experience of strip clubs and Vegas revues, overt masturbation is almost certain to provoke censure. You have to go to the worst neighborhoods in order to be able to have sex with anybody while they’re still onstage.

I used to take similar issue with burlesques, like Cirque du Soleil or Alexander Skarsgård or Olympic gymnastics, in which sex is the primary sell even when nobody gets naked. I didn’t realize the point of Theater as Aphrodisiac until my thirties, when a date suggested we meet at a gash trap. Now I like to take my girlfriend to beach volleyball games and modern dance recitals, for a few minutes at a time before we go back home. My benders have become less expensive, and we’re really meeting each other as a couple.

We don’t even go to Vegas anymore, since L.A. Live is now hosting Absinthe, a tent show of beautiful bodies in the PG-rated early Cirque tradition, only with an X for dirty talk, plus six bars, several cocktail waitresses and a little crowd work by a zany master of ceremonies. Absinthe was humbly born under the Brooklyn Bridge in 2006, but any cheek-wagger who keeps her pasties on has a chance at respectability in a Christian nation. This little lounge-act-that-could has lived at Caesar’s Palace since 2011. Right now it’s probing my downtown area.

The conceit of this show is that its skinful acts – ABS are IN THE name – are the phantasms of an absinthe dream. I would like to have known that during the show, but I didn’t read the press release until afterward. All I knew was that the cabaret we watched with a couple hundred other half-lit couples was produced by our host and MC, the Gazillionaire, a greasy gold-toothed sleaze in a terrible tuxedo with the foulest mouth on Chick Hearn Court. Maybe I would have heard more of the set-up if I’d paid attention, but Jesus, that’s a lot of girls in underwear.

Claiming to be the wealthiest man in Vegas, The Gazillionaire has brought a leggy nymphomaniacal assistant, Daisy, to help him introduce his collection of exotic acts, including a bad-ass singer with green fairy wings; a flexible girl in a thong and a spinning bubble; ripped couples on roller skates, gym rat couples on trapeze, chiseled couples on silks; hunky shirtless gymnasts and cheerleaders in boy-shorts and a guy who climbs chairs for a living. Absinthe‘s bite is all bark, and it helps if the audience comes to howl along with the thumping synth and bass. I recommend arriving drunk and high, in a taxi or a rented car you’re going to abandon.

The Gazillionaire and Daisy bear a striking resemblance to a married couple I’ve seen perform Shakespeare and kids’ clown shows and musicals, three categories I can easily resist unless there’s a big stick or a big carrot. This couple is both. Absinthe uses about a tenth of their talents, though they have their own hilarious dance number and tell dozens of dirty jokes and cajole a few unlucky patrons into the act, using insults and kisses and shame and gutter talk to earn the queasy laughs of an audience terrified it’s going to be next. They are the kind of professionals to whom you hand a show that, if it goes wrong, will easily maim or kill very attractive talent by hurling it onto the customers.

I’m a gentle person, and the Gazillionaire uses portmanteau words that shock my ears. But if you’re not easily offended, and you’d like to show your partner some perfect bodies as incentive to go down on you during the drive home, this is one of the surest things in Southern California. Be aware that the drinks and the parking will likely add up to more than the tickets, which aren’t your ten-dollar L.A. theater seats; but then, this isn’t a 99-seat show in a converted furniture emporium. And it ain’t Chekhov.

photos courtesy Absinthe L.A.

L.A. Live, 1005 Chick Hearn Court
ends on April 23, 2017 EXTENDED to May 28, 2017
for tickets, visit Absinthe

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