Cirque de Soleil is so 1990s. And burlesque? Well, what bar doesn’t have its own weekly gyrating pasties series? Now, it all seems to be about a resurgence of Vaudeville (remember The Aristocrats?) a show-and-tell style variety evening of lewd humor, freakish talents and a sarcastic sensibility that could charm any jaded New Yorker.
The Spiegeltent, a mobile-home-like performance tent with ornate touches such as stained glass and cushy wooden booths, has taken up summer residence for its second year at the South Street Seaport. Also along for the second year is headliner circus crew Absinthe. In true vaudeville style, the group aims to give the audience a little bit of everything — a striptease, a trapeze, cheap thrills and lots more. On a small circular stage the host/faux monetary backer known as The Gazillionaire holds court and introduces the array of talent that comprises this two-act event. He teases nearby audience members, no topic out of bounds.
This highly entertaining show is blissfully void of some “higher meaning” or political message (hey, even theater critics can use a non-intellectual evening every once in awhile). Some acts lean toward the hammy side, but it’s excusable, as this aids in bringing out the lovably scrappy nature of a vaudeville show — an aspect that at times also disappears behind the Wow factors of some tricks, especially those involving roller skates. If you’re seeking an extra-large thrill, sit right up front. Just “watch your fucking heads,” as The Gazillionaire tactfully points out.