Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

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Wild, wacky and sexy ‘Absinthe’ celebrates third anniversary, 1,500-plus shows


Penny Pibbets, Frankie Moreno and Melody Sweets at “Absinthe.”

‘Absinthe’ Celebrates 1,000 Shows

Launch slideshow »

The Gazillionaire & Penny Pibbets

The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets from Launch slideshow »

It’s a remarkable achievement because just days before it was due to open on the Strip, “Absinthe’s” producers and cast had to scramble for a new location when their opening at the stalled Fontainebleau casino resort went bust.

Now tonight almost miraculously, the wacky and provocative show that successfully marries offensive language and filthy jokes with off-kilter circus acts and one of the sexiest singer stripteases of all time celebrates its third anniversary. That means more than 1,500 shows of an eccentric, erotic production that almost scampered back to New York before it even opened.

What a loss that would have been if the Gazillionaire and his tortured assistant Penny Pibbets had never been allowed to ride rough shed over our ribald and edgy entertainment scene.

Fortunately, Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner gave permission for the band of misfits to set up a portable tent that at first concerned Fire Department officials. The Gazillionaire was given 90 days before inspectors wanted it taken down. It was enough time to prove that the oddball show could become one of the Strip’s hottest attractions — and the rest is history.

Mr. Megabucks shelled out a sizeable sum from his Gazillionaire bank account, and a permanent tent structure meeting fire code was flown from Germany. Now it and they are here to stay for what looks like a very long run of insanity.

Most audiences rave about the crazy chair ceiling climb of a drunken acrobat that opens the show or the alcohol-infused balancing act by several rugged, bare-chested Soviet-era spies. I love Melody Sweets as the green vixen who descends from the rooftop singing sultry songs as she strips down to nearly nothing except a corset and fishnets.

How can you not love the confused Ukrainian refugee couple who do their awkward and regularly embarrassing intertwined dance of decadence? Penny’s filthy puppet-sock routine is more than XXX-rated — not one word can be written here, it’s that obscene!

Reigning over it all is the sleazy snake-oil salesman known as the Gazillionaire with his bad teeth, bad suit, bad pointy glittery shoes — but he’s brilliant and hysterically funny with off-color arrows fired at anybody and everybody in the audience. Nobody — and no subject — is taboo whatever your race or politics.

At first glance, one might be tempted to ask why didn’t it close within hours of opening. At second look, you say it’s the only show to see before you die. At third glimpse, one says, “I’m coming back to see it every time I hit Las Vegas.” It’s hypnotic, it’s a drug, it’s wicked, it’s everything wrong — it’s everything bad you know Las Vegas has hiding in its underbelly.

Yet, it’s become a hit with more than 1,500 shows. I even had the gall to ask the Gazillionaire to write a guest column for me last July. As you can see, nothing Penny, Melody or he wrote made much sense, but it sure explains their demented take on life.

The show has become a magnet for celebrities — Olivia Newton-John and the cast of “Vanderpump Rules” were the latest to visit separately within the last two weeks. Neil Patrick Harris even went up on the wobbly-wire tightrope to be carried across the audience. The list of celebrity attendees is long.

Showbiz tradition will be maintained tonight with a celebration cake ceremony onstage after the finale. The cast will have its own private dinner party for which I’m invited and am assured will be respectable. I’ll believe it if I escape unscathed!

Congratulations — and here’s to many, many more months of merry madness!

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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