Tame by their famously raunchy standards, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus’s latest variety show barely contains enough sleaze and winking innuendo to fulfill their mission of bringing the “lewd and lascivious” to big-top antics. Their naughtiest acts this time around include s/m balloon folding, a hula-hoop dancer who likes to be spanked, and a trio of butt-sniffing clowns—relatively innocent fare considering that this is the troupe that once enacted the auto-fellatio subtext in sword swallowing. Vanilla as it is, the show still rewards the viewer’s dirtiest projections: A simple juggling act turns into a virtual three-way that, with the gradual addition of hands, climaxes as a dizzying clusterfuck.
Festooned with an ominous red curtain, and hosted by Stephanie Monseu’s leering MC, High Heels exudes a distinctly Lynchian disquietude (think Lost Highway‘s Patricia Arquette presiding over Mulholland Drive‘s Club Silencio). Mood is everything in the circus, and even on the Palace of Variety’s cramped stage, the Bindlestiffs successfully conjure a combination of mischievous fun and slutty preening. The former comes courtesy of the riotous Slapinski Brothers (Adam Kuchler and Matthew Morgan). Their gross-out Kissing Booth invites audience participation, as does their pre-show bag inspection, albeit forcibly. If you’re lucky, they may even frisk you.