Nichola Halsey/Cashman Photography
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 | 3:55 p.m.
For nine years, “Zumanity” has been a cutting-edge, provocative and adult-themed cabaret production unlike any other Cirque du Soleil show that’s come before or after. It’s still going strong with its 46 artists who proudly romp in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and ethnicities.
Tonight under the watchful eye of the Mistress of Sensuality played by drag diva Christopher Kenney, the daringly erotic exposition celebrates its 9th anniversary at its home in New York-New York. Congratulations to all: Happy Anniversary!
The seductive and stimulating spectacular plays to all sexual senses and emotional freedoms. “Zumanity,” of course, has the Cirque traditions of acrobatics, aerial stunts and contortionists, but bathed in extraordinary lighting and the edgy and naughty costumes of French designer Thierry Mugler.
Twice nightly for five days a week, the 1,261-seat theater has been filled with the curious and confirmed, and celebrities have been big supporters. From opening night back in September 2003, the show has been seen by Darryl Hannah, Paris and Nicky Hilton, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Hugh Hefner, Jamie Foxx, Barbara Walters, Michael Douglas, David Copperfield, Sting and Trudie Styler, Pink and Carey Hart, Lacey Schwimmer, Tristan MacManus, Tia Carerre, Carson Kressley, George Lucas, Janet Jackson, Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and John Taylor and more.
I took Joan Collins there, and she slipped on some of the drag queen fur wraps. It truly has been a magnet for a galaxy of stars. Throw any inhibitions to the wind that roars through the theater. It’s not a theatrical evening for the faint of heart, but if you don’t think it’s hot enough in Las Vegas, this is the show to send temperatures rising.
“Zumanity” has everything: a duo taking a bath in milk (my friend Vanessa Convery is still the smooth-as-silk-skinned bathing beauty); a gyrating schoolgirl fantasy; intoxicating primal energy of decadent dancing; a two-man tumultuous tango that has shocked and startled time and again with a rough, passionate closing kiss; and the self-inflicted pleasure and pain with a gorgeous girl in leathers to tease, titillate and torture herself.
Designer Stephane Roy demolished the original New York-New York theater -- even the roof was removed -- to create an intimate space for the audience to circle the show. “There’s a convention in cabaret that the performers know that the audience is there. When you do cabaret, you want interaction between the audience and the characters onstage, and the audience relating to each other. You want to surround the artists as much as possible,” she said.
Stephane added curved love couches for front-row seating so couples could get extra comfortable at the feminine-outlined stage shape. Yes, some have been cautioned not to let their makeout exuberance go too far! There’s no shortage of male or female volunteers to take part in the orgy number and its smorgasbord of sexual positions.
Thierry commented about his daring and innovative costumes that include laced-up corsets, bondage and fetishwear: “Nightclubbing is a fantasy. There you learn the language of the body and the art of seduction. You witness the most energetic audacity, how to be desirable, self-confident or provocative. In clubs, you learn how to accentuate your clothes -- how to be a fashion hero or glamour goddess,” he says.
Hundreds of projected photographic images are integrated into the set design, all the work of writer-photographer Natacha Merritt, a former gymnast. Each image was layered with two or three others to create movie files projected onto two large multifaceted “wave” elements that are in constant motion at the back of the stage providing an ever-changing kaleidoscope of body parts woven into a hypnotic collage that keeps time with the music and matching rhythms with the actions and contortions of the performers.
Expect wilder writhing and more intriguing innuendo and contemporary candor tonight as “Zumanity” moves forward in its 10th year exploring and reveling in the mosaic of love that comes in all forms and from all perspectives.
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.
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