Pardon our curiosity.
Over there, that large prop in the corner with the slit in the middle framed by fur, is that …
“A giant vagina,” says frenetic prop comedian Joe Trammel backstage at Bugsy’s Cabaret in the Flamingo. “I used that as a giant shark that swallowed me in my act, but now it will be a big vagina.”
Whether it’s about Great Whites or some twisted psychosexual fears, you know there’s a “jaws” joke there.
“I was real excited to hear that we would be doing an adult-type show, so I’ve definitely tailored my act,” says Trammel of the new X Comedy, the latest entry in the X show brand. Banking on “X” as an enduring cultural signifier—no legit flick has actually carried an “X” rating in 25 years, and porn is, well, porn—creators Angela and Matt Stabile have carved a nice little niche out of naughty little shows.
Call them—if you’ll excuse a scintilla of hyperbole—Vegas’ emperors of erotica.
“X now means edgy, pushing the envelope,” says ex-Crazy Girls star and producer Angela Stabile, whose show stable with her husband includes: the Flamingo’s 13-year-old topless flagship, X Burlesque (which evolved from X and then X Girls at the former Aladdin Hotel); its companion burlesque “class,” X Burlesque University or XBU, which was added in 2008; X Rocks, the original’s topless twin that debuted at the Rio in 2013 to a hard-rock soundtrack; and even onetime Hooters Hotel-based Men of X, which now tours and will be performed next in August at the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, California.
(Raack N Roll, a Stabile production beyond the brand, closed at The D last year.)
Table cards at Bugsy’s bill the current local quartet of X shows as “The Best 4-Play in Vegas.” (Ooooh.)
“We’re going to be opening X Country in the next couple of months at Harrah’s, so we’re adding to the X brand as much as we can,” Angela Stabile says, even though it would wreck a pithy marketing slogan. “Why not be an empire?”
This time out, X marks the gags, not the jugs.
“We were asked by Caesars [Entertainment Corp.] to do this,” says Matt Stabile about X Comedy, which has assembled a solid lineup. Spousal comics John Bizarre and Nancy Ryan play host to Trammel, comedian Dennis Blair and comic-magician Piff the Magic Dragon (John Van der Put, who quickly gained popularity during his Las Vegas debut at the Cosmopolitan’s now-closed Vegas Nocturne). Other performers are expected to rotate through the lineup.
“They wanted an edgy comedy show, and they knew we had done this before with Funny Business [at Planet Hollywood],” Matt Stabile says, citing April’s abrupt eviction from Bugsy’s of raunchy insult comic Vinnie Favorito as the impetus. “We had the talent, so we did a showcase, and they loved it.”
In fact, the corporate kingpins’ reaction wasn’t anticipated. “All the comics were holding back a little because of the corporate umbrella, but [Caesars] told us it should be edgier, dirtier,” Angela Stabile says. “We were a little surprised, because there’s always the Caesars Code of Commitment—and I’m gonna shut my mouth now.”
So we’ll explain: The Caesars Code of Commitment is a corporate mantra in which the company “pledges to its employees, guests and the communities it operates in that it will honor the trust placed in them, and conduct operations responsibly.” (For the full monty—excuse the expression, Caesars—go to CaesarsCorporate.com/about-caesars/code-of-commitment/.)
“People know with the X brand we push the limit a little,” Matt Stabile says. “All the talents do that.”
(Take heed: While reading examples of what he means, think of this magazine as X Seven—and as one of those “this content might not be suitable for all audiences”-type disclaimers.)
Consider the gag Bizarre tells about the husband who wants to have sex, but the missus declines, citing a morning gynecologist appointment. “OK,” the husband says. “But you don’t have a dental appointment, do ya?”
Doubling his X quotient, Bizarre also works X Rocks as the mid-show comic relief while the hot young lasses cool down. At X Comedy, he likes to use the refrain, “Do you want to hear a dirty joke?” before launching into one.
“I like to hammer the idea of it being a more risqué show,” Bizarre says. “There’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. We’re only going to go forward.”
Say, to the one about the man who robs a bank, only to discover it’s a sperm bank, so he orders the tellers to consume the samples. “Then he rips off his mask,” Bizarre says, “and yells, ‘See honey, it’s not that hard.’”
Rather vivid imagery, there. Not that his missus is a slouch, either. After a bit about the Pillsbury Doughboy enjoying an orgasm (and leaving a note the following morning apologizing for giving her a yeast infection), Ryan recounts to the audience how she once worked at a sex club, cracking wise as patrons fornicated.
“A guy in the back yelled, ‘You suck!’” she tells them. “Then I realized he wasn’t talking to me.”
As the in-house X Burlesque comic, Ryan’s logged seven-plus years with the Stabiles—“they’re my family, they took me in,” she says—but adds that this new gig affords her more flexibility.
“In the Burlesque show I can’t let anybody breathe because I’m probably the last thing they’re expecting, so I just punch my way through,” Ryan says. “Now I can take my time with the jokes, even though I’m very fast. I can work the crowd. I can turn up the volume on X Comedy.”
So does veteran comic Blair—best known as the late George Carlin’s handpicked opening act—as when he tells a joke about a mother driving with her son when a jumbo dildo flies off the garbage truck in front of them, heading toward their windshield and forcing Mom into some quick thinking. Blair’s kicker:
“‘Wow, that was a big insect!’ his mom says. And the son says, ‘Yeah, and who knew it could fly with such a big dick.’”
That’s when Blair’s not warbling parody songs, accompanying himself on the guitar while he spoofs singers including Kurt Cobain, Adele and Avril Lavigne. (Sample lyric for the latter: Who knew putting on a condom would be so complicated/I should have stayed home and masturbated.)
Yet the humor isn’t entirely sexual. Bizarre, Ryan and Blair tone some jokes down to R and even PG-13. Ex-Londoner Piff the Magic Dragon (Van der Put)—gussied up in his dragon costume, toting his sidekick Chihuahua Mr. Piffles and deploying a sardonic and laconic delivery—relies less on overtly carnal comedy. Wacky bits including offbeat card tricks and lighting a straw on fire and roasting a marshmallow on it—plus audience participation laced with his quirky quippery—dominate his shtick.
Even so, the X vibe emerges, as when Piff asks a volunteer to hold down a sex doll he compares to his ex-wife. “Keep her legs closed,” he says. “That’ll be a first.”
Piff’s take on the X advantage? “I’m not worried about making kids cry here, which I’ve done on many occasions.”
Climaxing the X antics is Mr. Giant Vagina himself, Trammel (actually billed as “The TV Guy”). Manic and goofily rubber-faced, Trammel silently races through props and costumes at light speed to a blasting soundtrack, lampooning pop culture totems. Much of it is clean. Some isn’t—such as entering as a wigged-up, saw-toting Caitlyn Jenner, miming a crude self-penectomy; and purring the Meow Mix jingle into the sex doll’s crotch.
“I was in V – The Ultimate Variety Show for 10 years, and that was all-ages and I even got a little racy for that show—but with this show it’s letting a lion out of a cage,” Trammel says. “But I started out doing adult humor. When I came to Vegas I did [the adult-oriented] Splash. So now I’m doing some material from years ago, and some of the newer pop culture stuff like Jenner.”
Giant genitals and Jenner genitals? “It’s called X,” he says, “so I wanted to justify it right off the bat.” Consider it justified.
By the way, Angela and Matt, just to be a nitpicking nuisance: In your pre-show video promotion, the word “sidesplittiing” shouldn’t have a pair of “ii”s near the end, only one.
Excessive letters are frowned upon, unless you plan to create a new brand titled XXX. … In which case, tell Trammel he’ll need bigger, weirder—and in a few states, possibly illegal—props.
8 p.m. Thu-Sun, Bugsy’s Cabaret Showroom at Flamingo Las Vegas, $50 and up, 702-733-3333, FlamingoLasVegas.com.