Reviewed by Vanessa Cate
Through May 28
When I was in Las Vegas several years ago, posters and advertisements for Absinthe greatly intrigued me. Being a fan of provocative performance — as well as the infamous beverage — I wanted to see it. However, in the whirlwind of Vegas (and everything that entails, which I won’t go into here) I was unable to.
Nearly six years after its Vegas debut, Absinthe comes to Los Angeles. You might want to take a Lyft to avoid downtown traffic and parking rates, as well as to be able to enjoy some liquor in an environment that’s one part speakeasy, one part circus. (Sadly, no actual absinthe is available for consumption.)
The show itself is hosted by The Gazillionaire, a smarmy pansexual emcee, and his horny, fae-like assistant, Daisy Dibbles. Together, they provide incredibly offensive banter, lewd stories, and politically incorrect jokes. If you are easily offended, you might not enjoy their unapologetic delivery (or at the very least, don’t sit in the first few rows, lest you be called out in one of their gags).
What follows is the magic of excellent cirque in what feels like an intimate cabaret. Beautiful performers seem to defy the laws of physics in truly impressive scenarios. Lady Bubblelicious is an absolute dream as she performs aerial hoop-style dance above the crowd. The Moscow City Rollers make roller skating sexy again. Los Dos Tacos perform Olympian feats on makeshift bars. And I think I might have gotten pregnant just by watching the magnificent Max Matterhorn use his strength to balance on poles — sometimes just with one hand.
Given its namesake, the show did not fulfill my expectations of fantasy and aesthetics. I hoped for something more akin to the opening of Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge. The Green Fairy is present in the show, but gives straightforward vocal renditions of pop songs instead of serving as a guide to another world. What is delivered is a blunter, more mainstream package, but charming nonetheless.
Despite my own associations with absinthe and its mystique, the show is a fantastic, jaw-dropping and sexy evening. If you enjoy Cirque du Soleil but wish it weren’t so family- friendly, this show is for you. Likewise, if you’re a fan of burlesque or cabaret style performance but enjoy high production values. you will have a great time here.
As with many burlesque or Vegas acts, these performers do not provide their real names. It should also be said that some nudity occurs (though significantly less than you might expect if you’re coming in hoping for standard burlesque).
Absinthe seems to be perfect for Las Vegas both aesthetically and practically (you can stumble down the strip rather than driving home), but will enjoy only a limited run here in L.A. For what it’s worth, I’m glad I finally saw it.
Spiegelworld Tent at L.A. LIVE’s Event Deck, 1005 Chick Hearn Ct., L.A. Tues.-Wed. 7:30 p.m; Thurs.-Sat. 7:30p.m. & 9:30p.m; Sun. 5:30p.m. & 7:30p.m. AbsintheLA.com; Running time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Note: This event is 18+