L'Olivier Cabaret opens with feathers and flash

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[image-1]gay, straight, young, not-so-young, dressed-up (some in full period costume a la Gay Paree in the '20s) and dressed-down (Ybor club casual). GaYbor eminences Mark Bias and Carrie West, attired in their signature celebratory/sparkly regalia, looked on approvingly, and how could they not? This flashback to another entertainment era feels unexpectedly new: distinctive enough to draw curiosity-seeking crowds during Super Bowl weekend, but with enough flair to continue beyond.

Olivier's already found success with his L'Olivier Bistro creperie, a nostalgic niche of Francophilia in downtown St. Petersburg. He'll be serving crepes at the cabaret, too, plus other traditional French dishes at moderate prices, with dinner theater packages available and shows Thursday through Sunday. And speaking of retro, he's bringing in the ever-lovely RuPaul at the end of February. Like Olivier's revival of the Parisian dance-hall, maybe her time has come again, too.

L'Olivier Restaurant & Cabaret opened in Ybor last night with a (literally) fiery bash. Cancan girls; a Marilyn Monroe-esque chanteuse; the hostess with the mostest (you name it, she's got more of it) Stephanie Shippaé; a mega-sound system; and yes, a man dancing with fire — this was a show, ladies and gentlemen.

When I'd heard about Olivier Cuevas' concept for this new Ybor club — Moulin Rouge, crushed velvet, champagne bar — it sounded a little too retro and refined for Ybor, or even for GaYbor. But somehow Olivier has made it work.

Maybe it's the sheer scale of the place, which is in Centro Ybor below the new Teatro on Seventh. There are not just one, but two giant Eiffel Tower replicas; a central stage/dance floor spacious enough for full-on production numbers; a pressed-tin ceiling high enough that the fire-dancer's flames didn't quite reach it (though they were getting uncomfortably close); two (or was it three?) bars; seating areas furnished with witty arrangements of mirrors and chaise longues; and flat-screen TVs playing, of course, Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. (Those same TVs will be given over to the Super Bowl next weekend.)

The crowd was big, too, and wildly diverse (the free sparkling vodka and red wine was no doubt a draw):

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