Here at the edge of the world, the women are bathed in a blue light that makes their body-glitter sparkle with each undulation of their silky flesh. The babes look fly, and outnumber the guys about two to one. Often they're left dancing with one another, stroking each other's hips with slow, trance-like motions that key you in to the fact that there's plenty of X making the rounds. Some of the fellas chill on the sidelines, hypnotized.
Suddenly, the lights go up, and a manic cry of machine-gun-like punk rock rips through the place. Four Devo-esque automatons in baggy whites ascend to the stage, orange rifles in hand. They pull some military-inspired steps as the crowd moves in. Then they strip down to their skivvies, revealing outlines of hardened nipples, shaved snatch and at least one cock. Checkered scarves fly from their wrists, twirling in a dizzying motion. They bang against each other, fall down, and start dry-humping onstage. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Psycho Dance Sho!
Equal parts Lucille Ball, Wendy O. Williams, and Bob Fosse, Psycho Dance Sho is an L.A.-based psychosexual dance troupe hell-bent on marrying Krafft-Ebing to Pina Bausch, burlesque to slam dancing, and P.J. Harvey to Chris Isherwood. With each show performed by eight to 10 members drawn from a pool of 30 or more, Psycho Dance Sho has played Vegas, San Francisco, and Vancouver. But they're usually in L.A. performing an endless variety of outré dance skits for the young and jaded.
Tonight's gig at The Space is characteristically chaotic and quick with Psycho Dance Sho going through more than half a dozen skits in under 20 minutes. There's a solo go-go dance by a hot-pink-clad, lollipop-sucking Japanese kewpie-doll cutie, a raunchy version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" with a grease-plastered gamine popping half-naked from a garbage bag, a wigged-out red-haired drag queen singing karaoke with a dildo for a mike, and a number done to the tune of "Hot for Teacher," with three Catholic-schoolgirl hotties ripping the clothes from their cross-dressing teacher and ending it all with a wet T-shirt contest that has the crowd ready to storm the stage for a bisexual gangbang.
Fortunately for the safety of Psycho Dance Sho, this over-the-top Van Halen-inspired bit is the last for the evening.
Dancers/choreographers Ryan Heffington and Bubba Carr are the ringleaders of Psycho Dance Sho. (Carr, 36, is currently on tour with Cher.) Heffington, 26, agreed to be interviewed at Hollywood's Bourgeois Pig coffeehouse the week after the performance. He brought along Zephe Zoe, 25, the lusty, blonde bombshell of the group whose Wonder Woman skit was cut that night due to time considerations. (However, Zoe did entertain adoring fans with an impromptu duet with Heffington in an alley behind the club after the show.)
"To me, Psycho Dance Sho is the whole concept of beauty brought to a heightened frenzy," explained Zoe. "Showing the ugliness in that beauty. It's mocking a lot of society's sexual views. That's what drew me to it."
A head-turner with brown eyes and fair skin, Zoe transforms herself onstage into a man-eating sex goddess most men would kill to fuck. In a Psycho Dance Sho performance last year at Las Vegas' Luxor Hotel, Zoe dressed in a gold-tasseled two-piece and gave an intense performance as an aggressive, cigarette-gobbling showgirl. Flicking butts at audience-members and looking as if she'd just escaped from a mental institution, she embodied Psycho Dance Sho's unification of the supersexual and the insane. Wading into the crowd, she taunted them, daring them to touch her. None did.
"One example of what we do is 'Glamours of Rocky Road,'" said Heffington, a dark-haired man in mirrored sunglasses and a blue tank top. "These three glammed-up women in fur coats come out, jonesing for coke. They ask the audience members, 'Do you have a little bump I can do?' Next thing you know, one girl's in the back doing her rail, and then they're all down, sniffing whatever they can off the floor! A cocaine queen comes out with this big tray of coke. Two of the girls douse themselves in it. The third one starts grabbing handfuls and throwing it into her face. All of sudden, she's overdosing."
Blood pours from the girl's nose. She collapses. Without missing a beat, the other two coke fiends make sure she's dead and lick up what remains of the binge from the floor. The girls are sexy and repulsive at the same time.
"For the most part, Psycho Dance Sho is a labor of love," said Heffington, who teaches dance at L.A.'s Edge Performing Arts Center. "A lot of dancers won't go near it because it's too weird or risqué. We have this counterculture, underground vibe, and they can't relate to that because they're in the mainstream. Fortunately, we have a lot of young performers who are really energized and really thrilled when we ask them to do it."
"The visuals make some people uncomfortable," said Zoe. "But there's nothing negative about the show itself. It just depends upon how comfortable you are with your own sexuality."
Heffington said one of their dreams is to tour with a major band. Until then, Psycho Dance Sho rules the L.A. night, shocking the otherwise unshockable kids of clubland with tormented, comedic mise-en-scènes.
"Hopefully it makes people think," said Heffington. "There's a message, if they're open to it."
For more information about Psycho Dance Sho, call (213) 917-3335.
Stephen Lemons is a full-time writer and sex fiend who contributes frequently to New Times L.A., the Los Angeles Times, Art Connoisseur, and SOMA Magazine.