After the show, I asked Pain, Fire, and Shimmy how long Bite was scheduled to run, and received three simultaneous answers of "indefinitely," "two months," and "for a long time... I hope!"
Well Shimmy, I hoped as well. And this week I returned to the Stratosphere Las Vegas to see if our hoping paid off.
This is us after the show last Tuesday night. Regardless of what my unflinching postural consistency may lead you to believe, all was not the same in the forbidden world of topless vampires.
In other words, after a year of hoping together underneath that same big sky, I had returned to the Theater of Stars, but Shimmy had not. Not my Shimmy, anyway. When the video roll call heralded my favorite bloodsucker to the stage by name, I was greeted by a total stranger and her pierced nipples (Not pictured. Sorry, fetishists.).
RIP 2004 Shimmy
Wherever you are, first-run Shimmy, I'm keeping hope alive for you. I'm hoping that you've worked your way up the Vegas food chain and into a Cirque du Soliel, but there's that little part of me that worries that you're now lousy with smack and working the strip with Liz and Kelly.
But Shimmy wasn't the only cast member who had gone all Darrin Stephens on me. In fact, the Lord Vampire, the ostensible "star" of the show himself, had been replaced.
Frilly and Mysterious
Kick your Fucking Ass In
The lightfooted Michael Flatleyness of yesteryear has given way to a snarling hairball of Rob Zombiesque rage. Personally I thought the corny stage magic seemed more impressive coming from somebody who looked like they would beat your face in with a chain if you failed to be impressed.
But that is not to say that the new Lord Vampire is an uncontested improvement. Under his rule, the latest performance that I saw hit a snag at the "audience participation" segment of the show. One of the actual non-plant volunteers from the crowd was a girl with a knotted blond frizz of bad '80s perm the likes of which shouldn't have been let out of my high school yearbook. Whilst giving her his molestory once-over, the Lord Vampire actually got stuck in her hair.
And I'm not talking "hairbrush hit a knot" stuck, I'm talking "get out the scissors and peanut butter" stuck. I was sitting close enough to see the look of surprise on the girl's face as she mouthed "Oh my Gaaaaawd! He's stuck in my haayirr!" The Lord Vampire turned her away from the crowd and hid behind her as looks of concern flushed over the faces of his nearest topless minions. Seconds later they were working to undo the mess as well.
Now remember, Bite is a very tight, fast paced show. While the struggle against the coif carried on, all of the "choosing a bride" musical cues quickly came and went, leaving the sound guy no choice but to cut the soundtrack off completely. A snickering gap of complete silence filled the room as the dancers finally pulled their now emasculated ruler out of a bird's nest of Ogilvie and Aqua-Net.
Say what you will about him, but at least Mr. Fancy Pants kept the show moving last year.
Yet even with a new Shimmy and Lord Vampire, I think perhaps the most striking cast change was that of the Sports Dude turned Rock Star.
Rick Springfield wannabe
Deputy Dewey wannabe
As I mentioned last year, this "regular guy" from the audience gets swarmed by vampiresses and comes out from under the heap having changed costumes and personalities into a "vampire vocalist" who belts out a rousing and inexplicable rendition of "Come Sail Away."
The thing that makes the new guy somewhat unique is that he was, and correct me if this isn't the politically correct way to say it, physically deformed. As he was escorted to the stage, it became obvious to the audience that his left hand was bunched up unnaturally against his shoulder, fingers twisted into a claw at the knuckles.
Possessing the foreknowledge that he was a plant, I thought to myself, "Man, that's insensitive. It's one thing to make your shill act like a dumpy jock, but to make him act handicapped? That's crossing the line." I fully expected that once he was granted his vampire powers that he would hit that first "to caaaaaaaaaaary on" with a dramatic flourish of his now "healed" hand, soliciting awkward cheers from the crowd.
But it didn't play like that at all. The guy was actually, legitimately physically handicapped. And on an unrelated note, he was also a damn fine singer in the "powerfully throated Vegas show" style that I, admittedly, like a lot. These two facts got me thinking down an entirely different avenue of wrongness.
I'm not too naive to know that even with his strong voice, this guy probably had a hard time getting work in such a beauty-obsessed place as the Vegas strip. But a crippled hand sure does give him a believable edge as a fake audience member. Somewhere in the back of my head I pictured God sitting back and going "Okay, so I messed up your hand, but hey, I also made it so that the only place you can get work is with six hot topless girls. So, we cool, bro?"
All in all, the show seemed a little disappointing to me this time. I don't know if it was because of the cast changes, or because I had seen it before, or if it's just because none of those girls even made an effort to hang out with me in the past year. Mind you, I'm not saying that it's not still the best show evar, I'm just saying that, I don't know, I guess you just can't go back to the erotic vampire castle of rock. You know?
Smoking is for losers! All the cool kids gamble!
I'm thinking that next time I'm in Vegas, I'll have to check out eROCKtica at the Rio instead. It sounds like more or less the same show as Bite, but with Italian bombshells instead of vampires. I mean, I love vampires, but as Laser Concepts of Nevada reminds us, sometimes it's healthy to change up your vices.