Mark Arm teams up with Teatro ZinZanni for a performance full of FEAR

Teatro ZinZanni celebrated Halloween weekend with style Saturday during the one-off Mezzo Lunaticoperformance of FEAR. It was a jubilant, and at times erotic, circus of a show that featured a flamboyant 43-year-old man in a blue bunny costume, the Mexican Elvis known as El Vez, a sexy burlesque show, a yodeling dominatrix, some amazing acrobats and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm.

What’s that you say? One of those things is not like the other? Yes, I agree the acrobatics definitely don’t seem like they would fit in at a circus.

The show was the first in a series of monthly after-hours cabaret events held at the famed dinner theater. Hosted and curated by El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, each month Mezzo Lunatico tackles a new theme for a unique one-night-only performance and last month’s theme happened to be fear. There were about 10 vignettes throughout the show, each taking on a different fear ranging from the serious (racism, physicality) to the silly (bunnies, black holes), making for a fun mix of entertaining humor and engaging food for thought.

All of the action happened in the round underneath ZinZanni’s tented big top and although the show wasn’t a full-service dinner event a menu of light appetizers ranging from mac n cheese to sliders was made available. The appetizers were a nice touch and  a good way to soak up the alcohol from the stiff drinks served up by the wait staff.

Since it was Halloween weekend the crowd let off an especially feisty vibe and lots of people showed up in costume so there were plenty of characters in  the crowd. This provided plenty of people for El Vez and the go-go dancers that popped up during the slightly spontaneous dance party to single out whenever they wanted to mingle with the audience. It also made for some great people watching, especially when the DJ Chrispo started dropping choice cuts by De la Soul, Urge Overkill and others. Imagine a scene where in one corner Poison Ivy danced with a cowboy while in the other a sexy girl scout was getting freaky with a Disco Stu wannabe. It was a sight fit for Halloween.

As far as the performance was concerned, other than a few hiccups and bothced lines, it was a captivating 90-minutes of adult-oriented cabaret. Almost every performer took the stage twice with the cocktail swigging Scotty the Blue Bunny, who was dressed in a bright blue, skin-tight spandex bunny costume that didn’t leave much to the imagination, getting the biggest laughs. Catherine D’Lish’s classic sexy martini glass burlesque near the end of the show was also a stand-out moment as were both appearances by the duo of the Wildcard Acrobats. The pair performed jaw-dropping feats of physicality that would make any Cirque do Soliel performer jealous.

Of course the biggest draw for many was Mark Arm, who performed two original songs he wrote specifically for FEAR. While he was a bit out of his element since he wasn’t on a stage flanked by Steve Turner and Guy Maddison, the voice was unmistakably that of the grunge icon. For the first song Arm came out with a lounge singer’s croon singing on top of a saxophone sound fit for smooth jazz. It featured the lyrics “Primitive. That’s how I live. Primitive. I take what you give, because I love and I live primitive.”

The second song was a bit more Mudhoney and menacing and it featured a brooding bassline but Arm kept his lounge singer vocals. Arm circled the crowd before landing in the middle of tent all the while singing about the superficiality of suburban life. Near the end of the song a blowup doll was lowered from the ceiling that Arm danced with and serenaded ending the song with the line “I blew up your body, but you blew up my mind.” It was s humorous song with a funny punchline, but that wasn’t Arm’s most bizarre moment.

That moment came during the finale when Scotty the Blue Bunny, El Vez and Arm ended the show with a song. Unfortunately I don’t remember many details of the song because I couldn’t get past the hilarious imagery of Mark Arm singing the song dressed in white bunny costume. That moment made sure it wasn’t just Mark Arm’s blowup doll blowing minds.

The next Mezzo Lunatico show, titled THANKFUL, takes on the theme of giving thanks and will happen Nov. 20. Tickets cost $20. For additional information call (206) 802-0015.

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