For months now, colorful ads for the show Absinthe have been popping up all over my computer. And they definitely got my attention. I could not figure out what it could possibly be. The promos made it look fun and crazy, but I never had time to investigate. (Plus, I never fall prey to internet advertisements.)

The patio outside the tent. Photo by Karen Salkin.

The patio outside the tent. Photo by Karen Salkin.

So I was uber-excited when I got invited to the recent opening night at LA Live, the happening area across from Staples Center. And the email instructions for that premiere were even more entertaining than the ads! They were sort-of mysterious, too. I really didn’t have many clues of what was in store for us.

So, not knowing much at all about the show, Mr. X and I headed over to the opening night of Absinthe LA last week. (The “LA” is because it’s been running in Vegas for several years now, but with a different cast.)

Absinthe's signature cocktail. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Absinthe’s signature cocktail. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Opening night began with a bang. As we entered the roof patio, we were offered their signature cocktail of vodka, champagne, and club soda. (Hey—I just thought of this—why did they not serve actual absinthe? They could have watered it down, if necessary, but that drink would have made the most sense.) I think that many of you know by now that I don’t imbibe, (and I recently realized that I wish that no one did—nothing good has ever come of it, for anyone,) but the show encourages people to drink, so that was a cheerful way to start it off.

They also had a food truck up there, which provided hot dogs and wonderful little crispy fries. And they did something smart—each paper dish contained, along with the fries, only half a dog, in case all you wanted was a taste. You could go back for more, as many times as you liked, but this way, there was much less waste. (In case you’re wondering, I’m not naming the truck because the dogs had weird bacon and even weirder mayonnaise on top of them, so not my faves. But I so appreciated the treat!)

A group of revelers preparing to have their photo taken. Photo by Karen Salkin.

A group of revelers preparing to have their photo taken. Photo by Karen Salkin.

And they had a fun photo booth, which is there all the time, not just for the opening. It’s actually not a booth, per se, but rather a major scenic set-up, the look of which goes along with the theme of the show.

Speaking of the theme of the show, it turns-out that Absinthe is billed as “an adult-themed cocktail of circus, comedy, burlesque, and vaudeville for a 21st century audience.” I absolutely loved, loved, loved the circus acts, but the other aspects, not so much. (Actually, not at all, but I’ll get to all of that in a minute.)

The Silicone Valley Girls.  Photo courtesy of Absinthe LA.

The Silicone Valley Girls. Photo courtesy of Absinthe LA.

For me, the presentation is a bit of a weird melange.  It’s like two completely different shows in one!  On the good side, there are the classy, beautiful, talented acrobats.  On the other, it’s a classless, crude, vulgar, totally unfunny comedy show…for juveniles. (And possibly perverts.)

So, let me get to the many positives first, which are the reasons I’m recommending the show to everyone who will not be offended by the other parts. The circus acts are soooo worth seeing! For once, I can truly use the word “amazing” to describe something!

The acrobatic performances are phenomenal! This is a group of supreme athletes.  And they all look great, too.  They’re an attractive group, especially their incredible bodies.  And trust me, you’ll know that in about a second–they’re all practically naked, especially the girls.

As one half-naked totally-in-shape chick after another took the stage, I was regretting a bit that I forced Mr. X into going with me. The only one who didn’t look good, actually, was the lone stripper. Go figure.

Look at those abs on Max Matterhorn! (Or whatever his real name is.) Photo by Karen Salkin.

Look at those abs on Max Matterhorn! (Or whatever his real name is.) Photo by Karen Salkin.

But the bodies on the guys were equally as gorgeous as those of the women. Sadly for me, though, none of them were as naked as the ladies. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

The acts are all uber-creative; nothing is what we would expect.  For instance, the contortionist performs in a suspended bubble, (hence her moniker of Lady Bubblelicious,) rather than on a usual raised platform. And there’s a trio of females, The Silicone Valley Girls, who do hand-and-head-balancing, which I’ve previously seen only men do.

Speaking of how they perform, I have to laud the intimate space.  I haven’t seen circus acts this up-close and personal since, well, since I was in the circus!!!  (But, trust me, none of the acts in my circus were anything like these.  Mine were all traditional ones, like trapeze and tightrope and clowns. It was all very old school, which is actually how all circuses were back in the day. And none of us had abs that looked anywhere close to what these people were rocking. OMG!)

The Moscow City Rollers.

The Moscow City Rollers.

The round stage is about the size of a dining room table. A small six-person table!  I’m still in awe that the skating duo, Moscow City Rollers, is able to accomplish all their spectacular tricks on something so minuscule! That size and shape of the venue are part of the fun.

Absinthe is in a special tent that was erected at the top of LA Live specifically for this show. It’s a very lively and buzzing atmosphere in there. It feels like what I imagine an event in the ’60s did: very dark and foggy, with lots of colorful artwork on the walls. It had a “Joe sent me” vibe to it. I wish I had taken the time to look around at it all, so I suggest that you do just that when you attend the show.  (And take pix, too, which they give you permission to do, even during the show. As long as you don’t use a flash. Duh.) The only thing missing to complete the ’60s feel, I’d assume, was the smell of weed.

The interior of the tent. Photo by Karen Salkin.

The interior of the tent. Photo by Karen Salkin.

Actually, the reason the show is titled Absinthe is because it was inspired by the absinthe-drenched cabarets of late 19th century Europe, so I guess that’s what the tent successfully mimics. So, just when I was thinking that this is not your grandparents’ entertainment, it turns-out it truly is not; it’s that of your great-great-grandparents! [Note: Absinthe is a spirit that was temporarily banned in the US and Europe in the early 20th century because it was considered to be a dangerously addictive hallucinogen.]

Before I move on to other facets of the show, I have to laud those acrobatic performers a bit more. I can’t even single-out any of the acts because they are all so magnificent. Not a weak one in the bunch. So, here are the stage names of the rest of the cast whom I haven’t mentioned yet, because each and every one of them deserves his, her, or their due: Edmund, Lost Boys, (whose photo is at the top of the page,) The Flying Farquhars, Scissors in the Sky, Madame Lash, Max Matterhorn, and Los Dos Tacos.

And there’s an excellent female singer, who’s billed as The Green Fairy. I’m assuming that’s because of either the green color of the absinthe beverage, or because that’s what people were said to see when they drank it back in the day. [Note: Sadly, there are no programs for the show, so I don’t have anyone’s real names to give them their proper lauding. You know that I would have been more than happy to do that, if it were possible.]

Okay, here goes with, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.” I hate to write anything negative about a show that employs so many talented artists, but it would not be fair to you, my readers, if I did not explain Absinthe in its entirety. I’m always honest with you, and this time is no different.

Here's a caricature of The Gazillionaire, inside the tent.  Photo by Karen Salkin.

Here’s a caricature of The Gazillionaire, at the bar inside the tent. Photo by Karen Salkin.

So, here’s the deal on the supposed comedy portions of the show: what makes Absinthe different from classy shows that also feature amazing acrobatic acts, such as Cirque du Soleil and  Cirque Berzerk, is that it’s helmed on-stage by a very crude, vulgar, bawdy emcee. He’s called The Gazillionaire, and that appears to be the hook of the show. He comes on in-between the acts, and his schtick is to be so disgusting and offensive, and to embarrass as many of the guests as he can, that he’s basically hard to listen to.

I’m far from a prude, and I often talk like a truck driver myself, (and I was also guilty of an occasional double entendre on my former television show, but they were benign compared to this guy’s words,) but this foul-mouthed-for-no-reason act just wasn’t funny to me.  It’s like a high school—no, middle school—guy who has to talk like that because he has nothing to recommend him, and he’s desperate for attention.  But because, as my e-zine title states, it’s not about me, I looked around the audience for the reactions of others to share with you, and it was mixed.  Some people appeared to be really enjoying the blue humor, but an almost equal number of guests looked miserable during those parts of the show. (Especially some of those he picked-on. One man seemed ready to deck the dude!)

Believe me, no one laughs harder than I do at sex jokes when they’re appropriate, (and funny!,) like in Chris Rock’s brilliant act, and even Joe Pesci’s tad bizarre album of adult-oriented songs, (such as Take Your Love and Shove It Up Your Big Fat Ass,) which even made my little mother laugh!  But The Gazillionaire’s brand of humor just didn’t cut it for me.

On Facebook recently, very famous and well-respected comedienne Elayne Boosler wrote something interesting. It was directed at other stand-up comedians, and had nothing to do with Absinthe, but I thought of her quote as I was watching the show. She said, “But, can we please be done with ‘pussy’ now? Please? Is there anything left to say about pussy? Can we please, please move on to subjects of interest in the world of grown-ups who enjoy hundreds of subjects of interest, the whole world, and all that is in it?” And when I read that, I said to myself, “Amen! You go, girl!” Too bad the people who wrote Absinthe didn’t get that memo. (But it’s soooo much worse than that one word; the guy attacks gays, black guys, white guys, and even old women’s private parts. To their faces! Not funny.)

Equally as bad as The Gazillionaire is his female sidekick. That woman is perhaps the most annoying person I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear.  Her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, and she’s not the least bit amusing.  Those two made me understand why they encourage the audience to drink before and during the show; only drunk people (or pirates) will think that pair is funny.

To sum up, the experience on the whole is fun, and very different. The circus aspects are wonderful and jaw-dropping. But the attempted humor didn’t cut it for me.

So, if you can compartmentalize and block-out the creepiness, (or are a bit sleazy yourself and enjoy that kind of thing, in which case, you’ll love it all!,) I highly recommend seeing Absinthe LA for the amazing acrobatic acts, especially so close-up.  (Every seat in the six-hundred-seat tent is a good one!) You have to heed my advice, though: 1) do not sit in the front row, for several reasons, 2) sit one little level up for the best view, and 3) definitely eat (perhaps at one of LA Live’s many restaurants) before you go–after the show, you’ll either be too nauseous for food, after that assault on your ears, (and possibly psyche,) or too embarrassed to dine, after seeing all those magnificent bodies!!!

Absinthe LA is in a limited run, but with no end date yet
Spiegelworld Tent at L.A. LIVE’s Event Deck   1005 Chick Hearn Court


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