Friday, April 11, 2014

Vegas' Zombie Burlesque Holds Its Own and Some Other's Too



Fez-Hatted Host Sings at Zombie Burlesque Las Vegas March 2014

By the time I was contacted by a representative of the new "Zombie Burlesque" show in Las Vegas to do a review, I was already curious. Having tracked its opening inside the conglomerate of theaters at Planet Hollywood owned by David Saxe Productions, the V Theater. I had read in the Las Vegas Sun that the show name was conceived via an impromptu napkin poll by Saxe on an airplane flight. David Saxe has a history in Las Vegas as the son of a traditional Las Vegas Showgirl. His mother wore the 30 pound head dresses and performed in revues.

Advance to now March, 2014. I confirm my tickets and arrive inside the lot at Planet Hollywood during a Thursday March 2014 engagement. Huge posters of Britney Spears are there in the parking garage to greet me. She just started a two year engagement of her lip sync show. Hi Brit Brit. I made my way to the Mile Long Mall which used to be the property of Elvis' place of marriage, the Aladdin. A winding experience I got to the David Saxe Box office with my trusty reservation code. My seats were given away, and then a representative appeared and gave them back. I didn't want to see another show. I wanted to see Zombie Burlesque. This while we had a pre-show cocktail and a balladeer with a tip jar crooned us. "Kind of homey for Vegas" I thought. The boxy theater we entered had one exit at the rear (which is also the entrance) and an emergency exit for the 250 or so seater was situated stage left. It was a long and boxy room like an old vaudeville stage might have been, or a place you'd see a punk rock show, a black box.

The show is proud of its opening number which uses every inch of the box shaped stage. The double-decker stacked stage holds the stupendous band up top, behind a sheer screen which plays the film-style credits to the show we're about to see. Zombies danced with projected dead people or killed people dead in an action video game look, all during the intro. Swing and big-band music set the tone for the variety show with topless pastied dancers, couched loosely in a "nightclub for zombies" setting. You see, the zombies and mayor of stage city have struck a deal... zombies will be given those criminals who are being put to death, and the normals will be left alone. The show ends with a zombie food shortage and the audience is their next morsel being eyed. Spoiler alert: we all escaped in time.

There are many rewarding moments that bring authenticity into this production. One came when during an audience participation moment where a man was tied to a pleasure / torture rack, and dancers gave him every view possible, while being scantily clad. All types were in the audience, and the show is gay-friendly, very gay friendly. Our host had a New York Queen style accent and did a live rendition of "Spell On You" that took the cake. It did happen to accompany the act that I had heard was being plagiarized from Julie Atlas Muz.

You see, Julie Atlas Muz (New York, Beauty & the Beast), was in a little film called "Tournee" which won awards in Cannes at the Festival in France circa 2010. It didn't really hit the states, but the video trailer for it holds the exact act I saw in the brand new Vegas show Zombie Burlesque. No hint or masking. That was really my only disappointment in reviewing Zombie Burlesque. When I contacted Muz via her New York pal, Dirty Martini she stated to me "Thank you for your interest. Yes. Wow, I have written David Saxe three or four times and am seeking legal council as we speak". In a later correspondence she sent a copy of the letter she wrote to David Saxe within the last four months or so after the show's late 2013 open.
Hello Mr Saxe-
I hope this email finds you well and preparing for a wonderful new year! My name is Julie Atlas Muz and I am an internationally renowned burlesque performer since 1997. It has been brought to my attention that your new show Zombie Burlesque includes an act, or a derivative of an act that I have performed all over the world and have copyrighted. I am speaking of a striptease with "The Living Arm" essentially a disembodied hand. I have performed this act for years in Absinthe before it was in Vegas and the act is in the feature length films Tournee and Exposed, both with international critical acclaim among other publications. The Hand, my act, is one of my signatures which I love very much, perform frequently and have copyrighted.
I am a supporter of artwork, burlesque and new shows and applaud that you are bringing striptease back to the strip and want all the best for your show and success, however not at the expense of my hard work and innovation. I know how difficult it can be creating and administering new shows, particularly in Las Vegas. I would ask you to please respond to this email and to remove the strip tease element of "The Living Arm" act and any derivative element to my copyrighted act "The Hand". Below is a link to the Trailer of Tournee the french film (awarded Best Director Cannes 2010) where my act The Hand makes a brief appearance at 38 seconds.
Thank you very much for your attention and I look forward to hearing from you soon. With respect,
Julie Atlas Muz
So is the pending conversation and perhaps lawsuit. Stay tuned for more information on that. The show had another fun moment when the infamous "Tiny Bubbles" did magic by sketching a man from the audience, and then having his face play hop skip jump with itself on a white board. It was fun and unexpected. There is pastie-level nudity, great music and talent and a fast-paced show that leaves you in an upbeat mood and want to paint the town. The front area seats are worth it to see the fun and precise dancing you will encounter in this production. A special note should be made about the headlining contortion act called "Turf". I loved his use of hard rap to do his ghoulish act to. It was unbelievable stuff, way beyond double-jointed and a treat to throw in the show.

"Turf" the contortionist had everyone gasping.

May the legal issue of this show be resolved, because it's super fun and we can all get along. There is also a Zombie Burlesque show established in Chicago which is of note (running at least since 2012). Zombie Burlesque is now showing at the V Theater and is by David Saxe Productions, inside the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood. This show starts out with a song about 'it's okay to eat dick', which kind of sets the tone. Hey - zombies get hungry. It's adult, it's funny, it's great for anyone who likes off-color humor, and it's worth the price of admission, easily.

Zombie Burlesque 8:30pm except Sundays now showing in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood's V Theater inside Miracle Mile. $59.99, V.I.P. $79.99.

Julie Atlas Muz