On my last long adventure in Seattle I had seen a neon sign advertising “Can Can” when I was on my way to check out the Pike Place Market. I had eaten upstairs from it at the Pike Place Bar & Grill (excellent crème brulee!) and my curiosity was piqued. I almost bought tickets to a zombie-themed Halloween burlesque show but at the last minute I was able to crash the final dress rehearsal for Reefer Madness at Seattle Musical Theatre and then I flew back to real life on the prairie. But I knew that the next time I had an extended stay in Seattle, I wanted to check out that downstairs den of naughty delights.
On this last trip I was able to get tickets to Flamingo, a neon-splashed extravaganza of high energy dancing, burlesque, and creative costuming. Based on the description I found on the ticket website I was expecting more of a cabaret-type experience, but as a burlesque show it was visually stimulating and very entertaining. There were 5 dancers, 3 female and 2 male, who danced in a combination of solos and duos as well as group numbers. The space is fairly small: a slightly raised catwalk with partial walls that run the length of the room (maybe 20 feet or so) with a break in the middle to allow access to both sides of the room and gives the performers access to the audience and an additional entrance exit. One end of the catwalk has a curtained entrance that is used by both the dancers and the wait staff, and the other opens onto a small stage set with some blank white set blocks that transform from number to number thanks to some ceiling projectors.
One of the male dancers, Johnny, also acted as an emcee and kept the crowd engaged. He called out birthdays and date night couples and other special visitors; about third of the room was filled up with about 30 people who all work for some sort of cruise line and were there on a work retreat (which frankly, I can respect any workplace that would do team-building at a topless show). Johnny was butch and dreamy, well put together in a Tom of Finland sort of way, though his spaghetti-western moustache was a little bit off-putting. He ended the show in a pink sequin thing with fringe, and I’m not ashamed to say that I would have eaten rainbow sherbet off that ass. Damn.
The acts were mostly light and summery – a large group number opened the show with all five dancers shaking and shimmying to a calypso-style number and this energy kept up through most of the show. The other male dancer, a slender but muscled black man, shifted easily between butch smugness and a sassy swish, a delightfully gendered performer who looked equally at home in a comedy number involving a bathtub prop and a very large rubber ducky strapped to his crotch, a hip-hop duo with one of the female dancers in a sleek suit, and in a neon G-string with a feathered headdress. There were several numbers that were somewhat less frenetic, but I found them to be the most captivating. One of the female dancers – a tall raven-haired woman with a retro Bettie Page look – came out in a rhinestone thong and pasties with white ostrich feather fans to a bright, soft techno-influenced number with pulsing strobe lights as she worked her way down the catwalk. When she reached the stage, the strobes quit and the stage was bathed in celestial images with two twirling white umbrellas with LED lights illuminating them. It was really beautiful, and in a way it reminded me a little of the video for Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” (though with a more uptempo feel).
Another gorgeous number was the song “Boris” by Lo-Fang. It featured Johnny and a petite blond in a very sensual dance with a great deal of intensity – almost violence at points. It perfectly encapsulated the passion and expectation that can come with a new sexual encounter when the two of you have a deep desire for one another. It’s not about longevity, it’s not about building anything; it’s only about the heat and passion of the moment. The song itself has a creepy vibe which seems to reflect the darkness that can be found in the singles’ scene where finding companionship is increasingly distant and depersonalized (right-swiping is not equivalent to wooing a potential mate) and filled with potential dangers, especially for beautiful, petite blondes. It was a little scary, a lot sexy, and was easily my favorite number in the show.
Another dancer with curly red-brown hair did a funny genderfuck comedy number with Johnny in a ridiculously ruffled flamenco dress. She was wearing a tailored white suit with no shirt, a big bulge in the pants, and a moustache drawn on her upper lip. Johnny’s character pursued “him” relentlessly, always rejected, until he eventually removed the suit in pieces revealing pasties and, beneath the rip-away pants, a nude panty with a large banana affixed to the front; Johnny ended the number on his knees embracing the female dancer with the banana poised suggestively close to his mouth. I love a good genderfuck number, and I thought that the two brought a great balance of slapstick comedy and smooth sensuality.
The food at the Can Can Kitchen was also excellent; I’m not a huge seafood fan, but since I was right next door to the fish market I opted for a hand-crafted macaroni and cheese with dungeness crab, and I was not disappointed. It was perfectly balanced and the crab gave it a salty richness that made my taste buds tingle – almost as much as Johnny’s juicy booty made my nether-regions tingle! There was a large menu of specialty drinks as well, but sadly I decided not to partake as I had an early morning at the office the next day. But the next time I’m in town on a weekend, I’m definitely going to check out the current show and make sure that I throw at least one fruity “Kink Flamingo” down my throat!
Flamingo at the Can Can was exactly what I was looking for: a sweet pink confection filled with campy costumes, talented dancers, and just enough skin to make it scintillating, a visual celebration of erotic summer heat. The dancers are more than just pretty faces and toned bodies: they are all amazing dancers with tight choreography and theatrical performances. If you’re from Seattle or traveling through and you’re looking for some “cheeky” entertainment, I highly recommend that you give the Can Can Kitchen a try. As summer passes into fall, “Flamingo” will be gone with it but they do a wide range of shows throughout the year and any of them are bound to be equally as delicious – just maybe not as pink.
Tags: Boris, burlesque, Can Can Kitchen, Can Can Seattle, Champagne Dreams Productions, crab macaroni and cheese, dancer, dancing, drag art, drag king, drag performance, drag queen, drag show, drag troupe, Flamingo, Flamingo at Can Can, Gravity, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Johnny, Legs Benedict, Lo Fang, macaroni and cheese, Miss Jaye, Neon Keon, Sara Bareilles, topless, World of Champagne, Your Boyfriend is Out of town