Absinthe fuels raunchy show with burlesque and circus touches
by Susan Stapleton
Photo by Christopher DeVargas
Consider absinthe, the green fairy, the favorite spirit among the bohemian crowd. Until the 1990s, when the European Union changed its laws and la fée verte, as it was known to the artistic crowd, became legal to produce again, it was wrapped in mystery and often portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug.
Much the same can be said of Absinthe, the sinfully addictive show that’s become a permanent fixture under the Spiegeltent in front of Caesars Palace.
Its siren song draws you in to the chicanery within. The early 20th-century feel of the tent, with its ornate wooden paneling, stained glass windows and velvety feel, tips its hat to the burlesque, cabaret and circus attractions that perform nightly in Absinthe. The show sits in the round with a 6-foot diameter stage in the middle of the tent and a front row so breathtakingly close to the acts that you can smell the performers.
“If you don’t like the words f**k and s**t, you just might be at the wrong show,” says the Gazillionaire, the show’s emcee and resident troublemaker, dressed in a velvet jacket with his trademark gold shoes. He, along with his sidekick Penny Pibbets (who has a personality that shifts between naughtiness and the innocence of a little girl), guides the audience through the show, introducing each act, sometimes making it seem as if the next performance came up at the spur of the moment.
They’re not spur of the moment, but knowing that doesn’t ruin the illusion of the show. Take Duo Vector, who appears regularly throughout the show dressed in black suits and sunglasses, sporting crew cuts and earpieces. The Gazillionaire refers to them as security guards who have been practicing a routine they want to try. They shed their suits for white gymnasts’ attire and perform almost poetic feats of strength in slow motion, with one holding the other with one hand or on top of his head, gliding slowly from one pose to the next.
Then there’s the matter of the madcap Ivan and Ivana Chekov-Jones, a fun parody of Cirque acts that gets a bit raunchy.
Touches of burlesque paint the show. Melody Sweets, aka The Green Fairy, serenades with her burlesque version of “Voodoo You,” replete with a striptease down to pasties while Angel Porrino (pictured) plays The Weather Girl, doing a dance inside a gigantic bubblegum-pink balloon that ends in a giant pop.
Other portions of the show are just pure carnival, with trapeze acts putting on a sexy swing and Oxana Solamanchuk doing flexible aerials in faux high heels. And remember, this is all done with the audience in danger of becoming a part of the show.
Perhaps the most daring of the acts comes from the roller skating duo, who swirl and rotate in tiny circles on that 6-foot platform, leaving the front row wondering if they will lose a tooth as skates seem to come dangerously close.
No circus would be complete without a high-wire act, and the Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire, made up of Paul Lopez, Almas Meirmanov and Tony Hernandez, attempt breathless maneuvers high above the stage, with little room for error. A seemingly alcohol-fueled prance across the high-wire, complete with a keg stand, leaves the audience on pins and needles.
“Go see Absinthe and don’t be an a**hole,” says the Gazillionaire.