L’effleur des Sens: The Losanjealous Review

l’effleur des SensSometime, and I can’t exactly pinpoint when, but it was almost immediately after it made its “comeback”… burlesque dancing jumped the shark. I can’t remember if the Velvet Hammer or the Pussycat Dolls came first, but soon afterwards, you couldn’t throw a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon without hitting a “burlesque troupe” featuring some bartender from Echo Park and her friends from Hot Topic or some Suicide Girl wannabes gyrating around in Betty Boop underwear to Queens of the Stone Age. Not since the era of rampant “self-styled satanism” had a genre been so little understood and recklessly practiced.

I was fearing more of this nonsense when Ryan sent me on assignment to cover “L’effleur des Sens”, theThursday night French-style cabaret performance at the King King Hollywood . I didn’t expect much. I quickly looked at the website, saw some scantily-clad girls dancing and thought “Oh God… here we go again.” I arrived at the King King, got out my snark pen and prepared to get catty.

I ended up having to eat my snark pen…and my hat… and some crow. First of all, this isn’t burlesque. It’s a show styled after French variety cabaret and the people in the show are actually professional dancers….with impressive resumes. After the first number, which featured the entire cast dancing to the theme from the Broadway show, “Cabaret,” it just kept getting better and better and better. I smirked as two of the girls came out to dance with futon mattresses, but once it started, had to admit that it was mesmerizing and really, really sexy. Another number featured five of the female dancers dressed in the most adorable Cat in the Hat -styled costumes dancing to “These Boots Were Made for Walking.” The producers of HBO’s “Rome” should hire whoever made these costumes. I’m sure the budget was limited but these costumes certainly don’t look like the leftovers from a high school play… HBO…

l’effleur des SensThe show only nosedived into Cheeseville twice. Once when the male dancer slunk around the room, speaking French to the audience in a phone sex voice and doing a strip tease that was pure Chippendales. I have no idea what the hell he was saying. Another low point was a profane simulated orgasm tap number. A solo. What the hell do I know, though, because the entire audience was cheering her on. “You’re at the gate girl!” One female audience member yelled right before it ended.

My favorite performance was an Apache: according to the program, a style of decadent dance that was popular amongst the lower-classed society in 1940’s France. I heard some mumbling on the way out: “Blah blah blah…domestic violence…blah blah blah… violence against women…blah blah blah,” but to me this simulated beating reminded me of every cheesy Telenovela I’ve seen where the woman on the show will scream “Ai!” and slap the man. Then the man will grab her by the wrists and try and slap her. She’ll end up screaming “Ai!” again while slapping him hard, ’til he overpowers her then they’ll collapse on the floor in a passionate heap of face sucking. Thoroughly low class. I guess that’s why I loved it.

l’effleur des SensI can’t believe I’m recommending this show. I don’t particularly like dance performances or cabaret or scantily-clad chicks, and I don’t speak French. You won’t need to, either, to really enjoy it. These people can dance! The choreography is amazing and the costumes are adorable. Even the Chippendales guy (a former male model for the likes of Jean Paul Gautier and Vivienne Westwood) performed with three other dancers what has to be one of the sexiest and most creative things ever done on $39 office chairs. I didn’t even have time to get bored or yawn once. This show is perfect at about an hour long. Highly recommended, I’ll have to say… through a mouth full of crow.

L’effleur des Sens
Thursdays through July at King King
Tickets and info