There is no better Valentine’s Day gift for a man than a ticket to La Femme, the hot Parisian topless show at the MGM Grand Hotel in Vegas.  Editor's note: The show is now billed as Crazy Horse Las Vegas.

The show opens on the petite stage in the 300-seat theater with the 13 girls from the original Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris doing a stomping dance routine, dressed as English Beefeaters. Topless of course. The girls did a unique slant on the British stiff upper lip with a white gloved salute with the choreography somewhat similar to the Radio City Rockette Tin Man number of years back at the Flamingo Hilton.

Did anyone notice the significance of the numerals 69 on the theater curtains?

After the audience caterwauling simmered down a little I was bewitched by the fact that each dancer had a similar physique — the same body proportions, the same blond hair style, and the same breast measurements. Well, I am not sure about the latter, but I would gladly take the tape to the stage to find out.

In French the phrase l’Art Du Nu — the art of the nude — is synonymous with the world famous Crazy Horse Saloon, which has been unsurpassed since 1951 as a radical innovator that exalts "woman as art and art as woman". This is not just another strip tease act, although there were a couple of skits that were of that genre — nor is it Can Can or Burlesque. This is serious and sensual sultry undressed seduction.

A moue for you!

I loved the skit lip synced in French where the dancer writhed on a couch shaped like ruby red lips; touching herself delicately, she brings goosebumps to the skin, mine not her’s; she perched on the back of the couch, legs in the air, lips pursed in a jaunty moue, like a cat looking for a place to cuddle.

La Femme (pronounced La Fahm) has been playing at the MGM in its own Parisian replicated showroom since 2001, just off the casino floor.  More than 5 million people have seen the original show at the Crazy Horse in the well appointed theatre on the rue George V in Paris, and I am certain that number will be exceeded in Vegas.

As I sank deeper into my velvet covered chair a free champagne flute showed up from an Eritrean waitress that was as sultry as anything on the stage. The entire plush lounge could be a wealthy person’s ultimate home theater center with a live act.

The original dancers from Paris
are now at the MGM Grand.

The original Crazy Horse show was conceived in 1951 by Alain Bernardin, an amateur artist and a full time antique dealer, who was fascinated with the female form and the use of modern technology and light and sound to transform the stage into a mystical and cosmic entertainment device.  The original show broke free from fashion stricture of the post war Left Bank and The St. Germain des Pres.  Bernardin was probably influenced by the “Taboo” nude shows staged by Boris Van. Bernardin was the first to use light and color with no choreography focused on a single girl so that the alabaster body was personified as it popped out of the darkened stage like a Renaissance painting.  Earlier in the day I had visited the Rubens exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum at the Venetian, and I made a mental note of how our perception of beauty has changed through the ages.  During Rubens' day voluptuous women were the norm for beauty, bordering on fat, but today, the girls of La Femme represent a low body fat metering. These gals are in shape!

Contemporary dance designs.

The show was one of the first to use strobe lighting back in the 1950s and the strobes are still used to new heights by the lighting director at La Femme in Vegas.  Shafts of light are shot through mesh nets, thin gauze screens, lattice work, and beaded curtains, scintillating upon La Femme forms kind of like an Andy Warhol painting.

With the arrival of the swinging and loose mores of the 1960s the Crazy Horse increased its fame and artistic reputation.  This was the time of New Wave Cinema and Neo-Realism in European art, Pop Art, and Nouveau Roman and Avant Garde fashion.  The Crazy Horse dancers were referred to as “living  pictures”, with Bernardin using unusual lighting techniques to highlight the body perfect and mesmerizing the audience with contemporary music.

Just like then, today, each dance number is an individualized show with its own style.  On most occasions sex is subliminal in all our daily lives, and even though this is a dance about sex, it is still subtle, discrete, moving, and visibly climactic. Each skit unfolds a different fantasy and closes down with a slam, bam, thank you madam, and a new number is presented. I am certain that with the modern choreography of the Vegas show, La Femme has become even more evocative than its Parisian namesake.

Hoops of light.

Each dance is dreamlike, subconscious, lucid, and bubbly, without much singing because this is, after all, moveable type on a canvas of skin.

Within several of the dance numbers the girls glided silently from stage right to stage left or vice versa, with their legs not moving, as if on a conveyor belt countersunk into the stage. The mood of each actresses/dancer is deceiving and simplistic because they often marched or danced in sequence making it difficult to pick your favorite dancer out from the troupe of mannequins — is it Lizzy, Lola, or Lulu — or some other Lolita? — a different girl came out solo between skit scenery changes. The announcer described each girl’s  horoscope sex signs with each dancer identified wtih her name on the back of her black jersey.

One of my favorite numbers was when all the girls performed in “Beauty Boudoir”.   Trained in ballet, the dancers perfectly integrate into the sensuous, provocative choreography of their performance as their bodies were bathed in richly colored and textured lighting designs — a patchwork of lighting while they lip synced comic book sounds, teasing us behind saloon doors from an Old West watering hole.  Set up one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer, barkeep!

In 2004 many other new and provocative numbers were added to the Vegas show by French producer Laurent Gueneau, backed with unique haute couture fashions from Gaspard Yurievich, contemporizing the female anatomy.

Another fan favorite was the “Fly” where the dancers created an illusion of floating in a sea of soft colors with zizags projected patterns reflecting off their bodies.

The Teaser.

Probably none of the dancers could hold a tune and it was apparent they were all lip syncing their numbers in the group cabaret scores, but the kaleidoscope of colors and textured designs kept the mind off that fact.

Through the ages women have always known that their bodies are a powerful tool that can drive men wild for no apparent reason — according to the men — and no number was sexier, steamier, or raised more audience whistles that when the solo artisté came out with the lighting focused only from the waist down with the rest of the stage blackened out, with her derrierre to the audience. The heat from this “Strip Tease” number was barely — no pun intended — held back by a black bikini thong and lace net stockings, and black stilettos. So much can be done with simple innuendo.

This is Vegas, so of course there was a dancer crawling up and down a stripper pole, but not like you would see at that other Crazy Horse nightclub on  Industrial Road and Sahara Avenue. La Femme is art!

It was time for another hot teaser that was very graphic, with the non blond writhing like a contortionist in explosive sensuality that left no conundrums about why sex is the universal enthraller.

Don’t even ask me what the Quiddlers were, but the act certainly got lots of laughs from the audience; but I think the audience could have done without the cheesy magic card act.  I quess the dancers were backstage wiping off the sweat — but they moved so slowly and exotically and effortlessly that there seemed to be no exertion to their feats of fantasy.

The last number of the night saw the girls pushing an aluminum pole horizontally across the stage lip syncing to “You Turn Me On”, a song composed purposely for the show. The curtain closed, then reopened for a reprise, then slammed shut and the 75 minute lust lounge closed.

Vegas Neon BlogBernardin’s children recently sold La Femme to Belgian investors who promise to make the show even more spectacular — and to expand the performance internationally; a new La Femme launched in 2005 in Singapore. I don’t know how the strait laced Asian islanders will take to a nouveau nude show, but hey, this is the country that believes in caning transgressors, so maybe that will be worked into the act. A La Femme road show is also planned, and if they need a gaffer, I will supply my cell phone number and open up my calendar for availability. Jim Durante said it best, “Everybody wants to get into the act.” After La Femme I had to trot across the street to Hooters Hotel for a Hooterburger! But first I must buy a full-length La Femme DVD from their store at the theater entrance.

By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.

MgM Grand Mirage FeaturesLa Femme plays Wednesday through Monday with show times at 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Dark every Tuesday. Doors open 45 minutes in advance of show time.

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