A night backstage with the Green Fairy at ‘Absinthe’

Maxime Popazov warms up in a trailer before the start of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.
Photo: Leila Navidi

My pants are covered in green glitter and unicorn poop. The glitter is supposed to go in Melody “Green Fairy” Sweets’ elbow-length gloves, and the unicorn poop, well, that one’s harder to explain.

Penny Pibbets does this monologue in which she fantasizes about a unicorn with a penis for a horn. So, for her birthday, one of her castmates got her a wooden chair with plastic unicorns tied to it with pink pipe cleaners. The unicorns are surrounded by tri-color shimmering cotton balls—“unicorn poop balls.” The balls shed.

These are among the hazards of hanging out backstage at Absinthe. Specifically, I’m in the makeup room in the trailer parked behind Caesars Palace’s new Spiegeltent. I’m sitting on the ground and I’m bugging Melody, Penny, the Gazillionaire and Maxime the acrobat with questions.

The Details

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays; 8, 10 p.m.
Wednesdays, Sundays; 8 p.m.
Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace, 800-745-3000

“I was on Gossip Girl,” Melody tells me, and as she describes the episode in which she appeared—somebody was trying to buy a nightclub from someone—Maxime readjusts the makeup brushes in his Paris Las Vegas souvenir glasses. The glasses, both shaped like hot air balloons, sit below a rainbow flag, which contrasts nicely with the Fast Five Dwayne Johnson poster to its left. Also taped to the makeup room’s walls: a Tippy Elvis poster, a Ronnie Coleman poster, a signed Dixie Evans headshot, a photo of talent agent George Shapiro and a drawing of a unicorn with a penis horn.

I leave the room so Melody can apply her pasties. Ten minutes to showtime.

The trailer’s main room is occupied by a wardrobe rack; a stack of black hats; a rack of 8-inch sparkly heels; Tupperware containers of tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and blue tortilla chips; and a big blue wrestling mat. I take a seat next to the mat, and Daniel the stage manager walks in. He’s a skinny guy with huge biceps, and you can tell he’s the stage manager because he’s carrying a clipboard. I introduce myself as a reporter, and he says, “If you write about me, make sure I’m skinny and make sure I’ve got huge biceps.”

As Daniel heads toward the makeup room to give Penny and Melody some last-minute notes, Genevieve, another acrobat, plops down on the blue mat to stretch. She’s wearing a gray sweater, gray leg warmers and a blue sports bra. She’s on her back, doing the air splits. When I ask where the bathroom is, she points with her foot.

Soon, Genevieve is joined by Maxime the acrobat and Maxim the chair balancer. They’re speaking Russian, presumably discussing how annoying it is to have a journalist backstage.

Backstage at Absinthe

The trailer has two speakers that broadcast what’s going on inside the Spiegeltent, so the cast makes its cues. From the speakers, I hear music and applause. The show is starting. The Gazillionaire makes his opening comments, and, from the trailer, Penny and Melody are following along:

“… and if you’re offended by words like ‘f*ck’ or ‘sh*t,’ you’re probably at the wrong f*cking show. Now sit back, relax and enjoy Absinthe!”

The balance quartet takes the stage, and Maxim, now backstage, helps two stagehands return a prop wooden desk to its storage spot. Back here, everybody in Absinthe pulls double- or triple-duty.

In the trailer, Genevieve is powdering her legs with that stuff gymnasts put on their hands before they take the uneven bars. Melody, now wearing a leopard print unitard, is spraying something onto her feather boa.

In front of the trailer, the Gazillionaire stares into the sky like Gatsby. I plop down on the ground, so I can take notes, and he suggests I invent a strap that will allow me to type standing up. “Or you could have Carrot Top do it,” he suggests.

The Gazillionaire tells me there are lots of men sitting in the front row and that he’s got high hopes for the kissing scene. (There’s a point in Absinthe when the Gazillionaire brings two audience members to the stage and encourages them to kiss for a free shot of absinthe.)

A couple minutes later, Gaz’s high hopes materialize: Two dudes kiss (less reluctantly than I’d expected) and receive thunderous applause. As this happens, a crew guy leans over and says, “That’s the most fun part of our night.”

As the bit ends, Angel Porrino exits the Spiegeltent. I ask about her Halloween plans, and she says she’s hosting at Tryst and then taking her son trick-or-treating.

“I’m dressing him as a UPS guy,” Porrino tells me. “I want to get the embarrassing costumes out of the way before he’s too old to object.”

Angel, Maxim, Maxime and Genevieve prepare for curtain call as the Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire stave off death one more time. The cast is invited back to the stage, and take its final bows to the audience’s cheers.

I brush the glitter and the unicorn poop off my laptop case and head home. The Absinthe cast prepares for their next show. It starts in 30 minutes.


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