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September 2, 2014

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Photos: Fearing the worst but rewarded with the best at ‘Zombie Burlesque’

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David Saxe Productions

“Zombie Burlesque” at V Theater in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

‘Zombie Burlesque’

“Zombie Burlesque” at V Theater in Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Launch slideshow »

Turf the American Dreamer

I am not into “Walking Dead,” “Twilight” or “Resident Evil’s” “Extinction” or “Apocalypse.” You could perhaps twist my arm under much protest with the Robert Englund, Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson film “Zombie Strippers.”

So when the constant invitations to check out “Zombie Burlesque” at V Theater in Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops kept coming, I decided to see it — I feared the worst.

Instead, I was delightfully surprised with one of the most fun, hilarious nights of insanity on the Strip. Taking nothing away from “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace or sister show “Vegas Nocturne” at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in the Cosmopolitan, “Zombie Burlesque” might just be the best-kept, raucous, rambunctious and rowdy sexy secret in Las Vegas.

The seven-piece band led by RogX (Roger Xavier) with material by veteran Las Vegas musician Pat Caddick belts out big, bold brass music. Headliner singer Sophia Monica, a onetime Pussycat Doll, sizzles, melting the mic and the musician as she slithers along the upper deck of the stage.

Then there’s the tall temptress Lora Kelsey, a one-time “Jubilee!” and “Bite” topless dancer. She’s more than 6 feet tall and can walk in stilts, although in her 6-inch zombie-stomp stilettos, she could tower over all without them. I’m speechless after watching her dance so seductively.

I just want to run away with her to a deserted Caribbean island and watch her shake to see coconuts fall from the trees. What Lora does with a chopped-off monster’s hand defies description, except to say it’s much more sensuous than raiding the fridge for fruit in “9 1/2 Weeks.”

The MC, Enoch Augustus Scott (who also works in “Pawn Shop Live!” moving from the Golden Nugget to the Riviera on April 21, which should cut his commute) is brilliantly bizarre with manic humor, dangerous dancing, out-of-control suggestive singing and endless nightmarish wardrobe changes.

Add in dancers Amber Snow and Kristin Lindstrom with the cutting-edge choreography of Tiger Martina, and the entire provocative production pushes the envelope when it comes to striptease on the Strip. There’s nothing dead about this troupe. They’re so full of life, they’ll wake the dead — the pharmaceutical developers of Viagra and Cialis had better pack up their pills.

No wonder in the short two months since producer David Saxe opened the show, he’s expanded it to two performances nightly, and now he’s adding a third on weekend nights. The fans and the fascinated are lined up as if it’s free cupcakes and ice cream from Sprinkles. David tells me he also is going to remake the theater he carved out of Charo’s former Club Seville balcony he walled off.

But wait! I haven’t mentioned Alonzo Jones yet. His stage name is Turf the American Dreamer. He is a hip-hop contortionist and dancer born and raised in San Francisco who took to street performing as a homeless teenager to make money to survive. His unique body bends took him to Season 7 of “America's Got Talent,” and the freak-mangled maneuvers had the celebrity judges awestruck and crowds on their feet.

Las Vegas talent manager Mike Young brought Turf here and in short order became juggler Jeff Civillico’s opening act at the Quad and then to David Saxe for two routines, one amazing, fresh and original at V and then what can only be described as disturbing at “Zombie Burlesque.” You might recognize him from the Dr Pepper commercial with Macklemore.

“I really don’t have a name for what I do,” he said. “I first discovered that I could do it when I was 16 or 17. I call them flexible moves. I had seen this movie, ‘You Got Served,’ a type of dance movie, and they were doing a couple of similar flexible moves with their arms and legs. I did them in dance competitions, and it helped me out because other people couldn’t do it. It set me apart from other dancers.”

“Zombie Burlesque” producer David, who also created the show, told me: “I started watching ‘Walking Dead,’ I always thought zombie shows and all that were stupid, but I got addicted to it, and now I love zombies. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I love the zombie stuff.

“I was on an Allegiant plane to San Jose and I gave a notepad to the attendant and asked if she would pass down show-title ideas to all the passengers onboard to vote what’s best. Eighty people voted, and most of them voted for ‘Zombie Burlesque’ over the next nearest, ‘Cabaret Burlesque.’ I thought it would be funny to have a sexy zombie show.

“We began a couple of months ago. I didn’t tell anybody; I just opened it, and, from word of mouth, we’ve been pretty much sold out every show. We’re doing two shows on some nights here and there. We’re doing about 10 shows a week right now. We’re talking about going two shows a night all week long and maybe a third on some because we’re slammed. It’s a total hit.”

David explained that when he’s cast his other shows, he’s always faced the challenge of picking a tall lead or a short lead. With “Zombie,” he could cast both.

“We had an open audition. What’s really cool is that we always have a super tall girl or a super short girl or somebody who we love, but then they don’t really fit the line,” he told me. “This time we just said screw it, these are zombies. They can be different sizes. We don’t have to worry about the typical stuff we have to worry about. We just took our favorite characters.

“Our MC has done a lot of little things around town, but he’s never been

mainstream. When we set up for his audition, I thought this is the role of his life. He’s a Las Vegas resident and been around for a long time, but this is his moment, and he shines in it. We are deep in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, for sure.

“Some of our music and lyrics are original. The story is set in 1958 when victims of the nuclear blast turn into zombies and take over the world, including their own nightspot, Club Z. It’s become so hot so quickly without any real advertising or press coverage, I hope to produce one in New York, then San Francisco and Chicago.”

Until then, “Zombie Burlesque” can only be seen on the Strip in all of its glorious ghoulishness, wonderful wickedness and stunning sexiness. I still can’t believe the dead can have so much fabulous fun. You won’t, either.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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