For a few moments the food remained uneaten and wine glasses were held in limbo. All we could do was sit and stare as Christian the strongman pulled himself upright from the splits using just his thigh muscles.
And I know every woman in the place was thinking: “I bet he’s brilliant in bed.” It wasn’t just me, honestly. Women at the table behind were hollering and hooting as Christian flexed his muscles through an acrobatic routine of mind-boggling manoeuvres.
This is the world of “Vaudeville”, a burlesque show of sexy dancing girls, high-wire acts, ribald songs, kinky costumes and a fire-eating hula-hoop gyrator.
Yep, it’s a reincarnation of the astonishingly successful “Madame Zingara’s”, run by a different team, but with similar acts and the same over-the-top decadence and in-your-face innuendo.
“Vaudeville” has taken over a renovated factory just off Bree Street in Cape Town. Waitresses dressed in buoyant red skirts and bodices lead you to your table, where you sip a dubious welcome cocktail and drink in the atmosphere. It’s cabaret-dark and you wonder how they’re going to present much of a show on the tiny stage. But these entertainers don’t need much room, because it’s all about getting up close and personal.
A band begins as you tuck into a generous starter of breads and dips. The musicians look suitably burlesque with frilly flouncy outfits and heavy make-up, but they’re too loud, too shrill and the saucy words are muffled.
Hmm, you think, not as good as Zingara’s. But wait, that’s just the warm up band, and maybe their sole purpose is to make the rest of the show look fabulous. Soon there’s a showman welcoming us to his world, and after that it’s non-stop entertainment.
Singer Irit Noble takes over and introduces her all-girl group the To Do Sisters, given the name because every man wants to do them. All the humour is aimed strictly below the waistline, but in this exotic atmosphere it works wonderfully.
The songs are salacious, the costumes leave little to the imagination, eye candy is busting out all over, and for once women in the audience have as much to ogle at as the men. Among the acts are the sexy strongman couple Daniel and Lisa, with big burly Daniel spinning willowy Lisa around as if she weighs nothing. A highlight is their Roxanne tango from “Moulin Rouge”, a beautifully executed routine of pent-up passion.
The breakdancing boys are brilliant too. Although Vaudeville harks back to an era when dancing was something you did on your feet rather than on your bum and your head, breakdancing has the essential elements of oddity, fascination and now outright sexiness that fit in perfectly.
By now I’ve devoured an excellent main course of butterfish and wishing I’d left more room for the chocolate dessert. More wine, waitress, we’re having huge fun.
Christian the Rumanian comes out to perform another session, and even the men watch mesmerised at the remarkably beautiful way a well-toned body can move.
Vaudeville is fun and frivolous, and although it’s R350 a ticket, you get well fed and delighted by musicians, acrobats, dazzling costumes and raunchy humour for your edification and titillation.
By Lesley Stones
Vaudeville is at 11 Mechau Street, Cape Town, Vaudeville.co.za or 086-1 78-7737.