If you see one show inside a giant tent this year, make it ‘Absinthe’
Wed, Apr 6, 2011 (4 p.m.)
Was I hallucinating or was Absinthe really that good? I saw the show sober, so it must be the latter.
What’s Absinthe? It’s an adult circus inside a heritage wooden tent, inside a beer garden, next to Caesars Palace. Just walk out the hotel lobby and look for the porch lights, the beanbag toss and the burger truck. It’s next to all that.
I enter the main tent five minutes late and catch the second half of a badass chair-balancing routine. Unlike similar local acts, these chairs don’t lock together—or if they do, the locking mechanism is subtler. I find a seat, and the sultry Green Fairy singer emerges with dark green feathers matching dark green pasties. She doesn’t have the vocal power of Caesars counterpart Celine Dion (who does?), but she's carefree cockiness in spades. And she looks like Mila Kunis. From my seat, at least.
Next up: a four-man balancing team in Under Armor. I mention the logo gear because it humanizes the act. Cirque acrobats, by comparison, wear one-of-a-kind costumes and perform to otherworldly new age music. You forget Cirque performers are human—they make it look so effortless. But because the Absinthe men wear Under Armor, like me, I’m forced to contemplate how hard it would be for me to do what they do. Very.
Enter the first emcee: The Gazillionaire. He takes the stage in whirlwind of karate kicks and insult comedy. He’s a likable, svelte, extra-dynamic Tony Clifton. After working up the crowd, he turns the show over to a mixed aerialist team.
Unlike Cirque pose-driven choreography—get in a difficult one and hold it for applause—the Absinthe pair is about speed and movement. It’s fast. It’s sexy. It’s proceeded by Gazillionaire’s awesome one-liner: “The most gorgeous brother & sister act in the world!”
Then a striptease inside a balloon, then a bondage-inspired en pointe aerialist and then a Cirque parody starring the Gazillionaire (in a Borat-approved neon green bathing suit) and a girl named Penny. Let’s talk about Penny: I don’t know who she is or where she comes from, and I’ve only seen her do one three-minute sock puppet monologue, but I think she could be the funniest woman in Vegas. Sorry, Rita.
Penny introduces a roller skating duo. And while I won’t try to describe their act, I’ll say that they’re going to fall and die any day now, and you need to see their act before this happens. Standing O, middle of the show.
The evening ends with a two-man balancing act, and a masterful high wire trio.
Assuming you’re okay with the occasional cunnilingus joke, go see Absinthe before Gazillionaire packs up the tent and moves to the next city. I hope that won’t happen soon, but, hey, that’s how circus tents work.