Penny PibbetsShe plunged her face into the other woman’s cleavage then pulled back to allow the younger woman slip her breast free, and pirouette once for everyone to see its perfection pierced by a stainless steel bar through her nipple. The other woman licked her finger and gave the nipple a rub before they entwined tongues briefly as the crowd roared encouragement. So ended the audience participation portion of Absinthe, a circus cabaret that thrilled Las Vegas audiences over four years and is touring Australia in the famous Speigeltent.

Our host, The Gazillionaire, prefaced the show with this warning:

If you are offended by words like fuck and shit, you’re probably at the wrong fucking show.

The show invokes the surreal world of an Absinthe drinker, a spirit purported to be dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen. Circus performers are interspersed with cabaret numbers sung by the beautiful Green Fairy, and the crude vaudeville humor of The Gazillionaire and his sidekick Penny. They lampooned the audience mercilessly with risque innuendo; if you want a politically correct experience you should wait for Cirque de Soleil.

The circus performers included acrobats, gymnasts and high wire walkers whose athletic prowess matched their physical presence. Bodies so ripped I saw previously unknown muscles straining as they executed feats of strength and agility. Burlesque artists played with fire, raising the tent’s temperature but leaving the crowd wanting more in the best Gypsy Rose Lee tradition. A rollicking pastiche of early 20th Century performing arts.

Some people called Absinthe homophobic and racist but this is hyperbolic rubbish, its crude humor mocks racism and gay eroticism is present in a few of the acts. There is something for everyone but I recommend you leave the kids at home.