We hardly noticed—it was a small, but insidious change. Something had invaded downtown Los Angeles. Like a deadly mushroom cap that sprouted after a rainstorm, a large striped tent went up in an abandoned field at the edge of town. Later, after the irreversible damage had been done, the townsfolk would remark that it seemed to happen overnight. Strange people, workers maybe, were seen coming and going across the grounds. Some carrying what looked like equipment, some carrying what looked like…dead bodies.
Late one night, a posse of Los Angeles’ hardest citizens got together in The Loft at the Santa Fe to discuss a plan of action. A few short hours later, after intense debate (and drinks at Pete’s) the crew set out to investigate…
And I was with them.
As we pulled into the parking lot a great flame rose in the sky, illuminating the apex of the big top against the dark clouds. Something wicked this way comes, I cried! My crew, men and women (and hairdressers) around me, trembled with fear. We crept toward the opening of the tent and slid inside, as a man’s voice cut through the darkness. Terrified, I tried to run for the exit, but I tripped and fell right into a chair.
It was Cirque Berzerk! And we were just in time for the show!
The opening act began and the stage filled with masked men in black business suits, with briefcases for tombstones. The deal was about to go down, and a lady in red was being courted by the Devil himself. Lured to her death, she was ushered through a ghastly suspenseful initiation and bore witness to the many spectacles that followed.
A cabaret show in Hell with the alabaster skinned Dames Deceased dancing to the sound of a live band from above, while two ballet and jazz hotties in festive bustles, colored stockings and harlequin collars, egged the crowds on. Contortionists, one-ankle hanging aerialists, fabric dancers, trapeze, gyrating burlesque, fiery twirlers, and a departed family of trampoliners called Four off the Floor that brought the house to their feet.
I’d like to think that somewhere in the world, Tim Burton had a lovely nightmare, and it looked just like this.
My favorites were a hip-hop number with Harajuku inspired costumes, and an erotic dance set betwixt a drowned sailor and an incredibly flexible mermaid named Sarah that brought back fond memories of Bangkok.
But ultimately the best part about the Cirque Berzerk show is that it’s intimate; you can see the tendons stretch and shake in the dancer’s legs as they contort their bodies, every taut muscle, the sweat underneath the makeup, the grit. The talent. It’s edgier than Cirque du Soleil and charmingly raw, without losing an ounce of professional integrity. Not to mention there is a kick ass before-and-after party in “The Berzerk Lounge,” adjacent to the big top, complete with live music by Vaud & The Villains, Hornitos cosmopolitans, cast and crew appearances, costume shopping, and plenty of other novelties and distractions.
I’d like to tell you, dear concerned citizens of Los Angeles, just what happened next in this evil place. After all it is my duty to report. Unfortunately I don’t remember. And what I do recall…I’d like to blame on the tequila. I’d also like to take a hot shower, call my attorney, and go to confession. Now that’s a night of sin that puts Vegas to shame.
So, what are you waiting for? Run away with the circus! (Or at least pretend to) Cirque Berzerk will be in LA for the next three weeks, June 18 – July 5 at the Los Angeles State Historic Park in downtown. Get your tickets at http://www.cirqueberzerk.com or at the door.
The June-July schedule is as follows:
Thursdays – 8:30pm
Fridays – 8:30pm
Saturdays – 7:00pm/10:00pm
Sunday – 8:00pm
See you there.