July 15, 2016
Ivan Kane is Atlantic City's nightlife artist.
Though Kane's string of largely burlesque-oriented nightclubs began way back in 2002 in Los Angeles (and later Las Vegas), his more adventurous work has found a home in Atlantic City — first with Royal Jelly Burlesque inside Revel, and most recently with the June opening of the sexy, psychedelic-themed Kiss Kiss a Go-Go at the Tropicana. There, guests walk through a neon-lit tunnel and into a club space dominated by a video installation that projects lips upon lips upon lips. And then, of course, they drink.
Here, Kane talks high-concept nightlife, naming his clubs and whether a Philly nightclub might be in the cards.
Opening a new show in Atlantic City is pretty brave, considering all the turnover happening there right now. What is it that you like about AC?
Actually, there is no show at Kiss Kiss like there was at Royal Jelly. It is more of a traditional nightclub with DJs and dancing; although, of course, it has the Ivan Kane touch and an edgy, sexy vibe with dancers and an incredible trip down the rabbit hole through the most-talked-about entrance to a nightclub in the history of nightclubs. As far as Atlantic City is concerned, it was a no-brainer. I fell in love with this community and the people in it while I was at Revel.
The presentation of your shows always comes off as tasteful and, yes, artsy. Do you wish more people would take that kind of approach to nightlife? You know, rather than just a sweaty dancer gyrating their groin in your face for cash.
I enjoy a very unique niche in the nightlife community that sits comfortably outside the box, and I appreciate your assessment of my venues as tasteful and especially artful. I like to think that’s what separates me from the pack. I have sought to create an art installation at Kiss Kiss, including the dancers who are a living art component. The tunnel entrance, video wall and virtual cages all create an unparalleled sensory experience. I have made a career of never going over the illusory line of tasteful into crass. It doesn’t serve my core demographic who have learned to expect more of the Ivan Kane brand.
Are there any male dancers in Kiss Kiss a Go-Go? If not, how come?
Not at this time, but I have always embraced the concept of male dancers in all of my venues in Hollywood, Las Vegas and AC. Down the road, I would love to create a nightclub that's more LGBT-centric, which the ladies will love as well, so I don’t rule it out.
How do you come up with the names for your shows/clubs? They’re always pretty out-there.
'Royal Jelly' was certainly pretty memorable. Again, I try to create names that reflect the concept, because all of my clubs are concept-driven. Royal Jelly just seemed sticky and sweet — a fun way to riff on the burlesque concept. Ivan Kane’s Kiss Kiss a Go-Go obviously is emblematic of the sensory experience from the video wall of lips that constantly evolves in a generative matrix, but it also evoked the Bangkok bars that started me on my journey to creating this club.
Any chance we’ll ever get something similar in Philly?
I’m ready, baby!