El Gaucho's Pampas Room feels like a dirty secret, a sexy subterranean lounge discreetly out of view. It's a covert sanctuary for Dark Side of the Moon, a sumptuous, four-course dinner with unusual trimmings. While guests sample amuse-bouches, a few gentlemen wearing derby hats hobnob at the bar and an accordion perches suggestively onstage. Then host Armitage Shanks bellows in a voice like honey-coated gravel, "This will be the weirdest thing you've done all week," just before fierce electro-clash beats introduce this week's guest star, Phoenix's Pyra Sutra. Sutra hijacks the stage in military-dominatrix chic: Off comes the uniform, revealing a corset of buckles and leather topped by flaming, star-shaped pasties. It's an alarming jolt from Bibb lettuce into cabaret-land.
The three-act set runs the gamut from the odd (Waxie Moon's slithering drag-burlesque, Armitage crooning in a bloody butcher's apron) to the politically suggestive (a minuscule American flag covering Sydni Deveraux's goodies as she lasciviously licks a photo of Obama). Dark Side delivers what Teatro ZinZanni only implies—while palatable enough for the after-work set, it pushes a darker agenda. In a hideout so intimate you can see a fire-eater's mustache char and hear the slap of a beaded dress hitting the floor, Dark Side pushes buttons as well as loosens them.
Dark Side of the Moon, El Gaucho, $100–$225, through June 25.