On Sunday afternoon, I encountered The Situation.
You might know of this person. The Situation is a star in the MTV reality-implied show "Jersey Shore." You might remember a time when MTV was a music-video cable outlet, broadcasting such audio and visual vignettes as Nena's "99 Luft Balloons" and the Bananarama cover of "Venus." But today it is home to a cluster of original series. "Teen Cribs" is one; "16 and Pregnant" is another. Based on office chatter and what unfolded at the Mira-Kilometer mall on Sunday, "Jersey Shore," has become quite the sensation. Consider: It was a day when Mel B, Holly Madison, Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett were summoned to the red carpet for the opening of the Sugar Factory confections store at Miracle on Ice at PH. But whose arrival caused the most pandemonium?
His real name is Mike Sorrentino, but he is commonly known as The Situation, or, if you will, "The Sitch," as all eight cast members on the show have adopted nicknames. The premise is that all of them live in the same dwelling in Seaside Heights, N.J., and as this crew goes about existing, partying, working at a nearby T-shirt store their more memorable moments are recorded for cable TV. The series has been chided for its trite portrayal of Italian-Americans, but after the Tony Manero character made it to the big screen in "Saturday Night Fever," it seems a little late to start going after the Guidos in entertainment media.
Mike/Situation is an assistant manager of a fitness center, so he's in good physical condition. He seems well-groomed. He's got a skip in his step. His Wiki description — and there seems no need to dig any deeper than that when researching The Sitch — describes him thusly: "A confident individual, he strikes up friendships, romances and performs well as an employee in the T-shirt shop. Although cocky on the outside, The Situation has a sensitive side and aspires to settle down in the future."
Yes, that is more sensible than aspiring to settle down in the past. But so inspiring is The Situation that I have taken to calling myself The Circumstance, in certain circles. One of these circles includes such nicknamed friends as Miracle, Shoester and The Accident.
What was most startling about experiencing The Situation in person was the response he prompted when being hustled to the red carpet. The screams! It was like a Menudo reunion was taking place. Several hundred fans were pushed away as The Sitch was escorted abruptly from just outside Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood across the Miraculous Mile walkway to the crush of crushed media types on the red carpet. Fans craned to catch a glimpse of The Sitch, and leaned over the makeshift barrier to have pictures taken with him. Not since Stretch Armstrong was a popular children's toy has a muscular figure been pulled in so many directions at once.
My man Ubiquitous Robin Leach did cull some quote matter from The Sitch, quoted on Vegas Deluxe as saying, "My life has become totally insane the past few weeks. I'd never been here in my life before. I'd like to come back when I can really get to see it and play it. (Referring to the fact he lost his luggage at McCarran International Airport) I'm here in Vegas with just what I'm standing in, and we're in the middle of 20 cities in 10 days, so somebody's going to have to go shopping to keep up with this. It's crazy, and I can't believe what's happening to me. It's a whirlwind.
"I know I'm in Vegas because I was here two weeks ago for a night at Jet, but the other cities are vanishing in a blur."
His Warhol-ian watch is reading at about minute No. 5 right now, but I do hope we do get to see more of The Situation in Las Vegas. I'm curious to see if he can forge a long-term career out of this wildly unexpected ascent to fame. As he'll learn, around here we call that a parlay.
More notes on the fly
• No one poses with a designer lollipop with more conviction than Holly Madison. She took to the red carpet Sunday and answered a couple of questions about "Peepshow," which is on hiatus until the first week of March. The production's cheerleading scene has been lopped, she says. There will be adjustments in lighting and sound but no change in the total number of cast members, though the live band, cut as Aubrey O'Day made her careening debut in the production, is not expected to return. One cast member who will be missed is Tara Palsha, whose featured spot was the wild dance across the hood of the red sports car. Palsha was a long-time member of "Fantasy" before moving on to "Peepshow" and is now looking for another show in Vegas after "Peep" ducked into hiatus. ... Also from the carpet, Mel B said she was planning on checking out the show in which she once starred when it returns. There was a time when Mel B's presence at "Peepshow" would have sparked rumors of her return to the show, but not today. Too expensive. Too bad, too. "I would have loved to work with her," Madison said. ... Baskett, fresh from the Super Bowl disappointment of muffing the onside kick that gave the New Orleans Saints new life to start the second half, told People's Mark Gray that Wilkinson makes him smile each morning (breaking news!), and he "grows every day" in the relationship. He's a big dude already; if he grows any further he'll be a defensive tackle. As it is, Baskett is still a member of the Colts after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles before the 2009 season. How'd that happen? The Eagles needed to make room on their roster for Michael Vick. ... Sugar Factory at Myriad Mile at Planet Hollywood is the second such outlet in Vegas. The first, at The Mirage, opened in September, and its flagship store at Paris Las Vegas opens in October.
• On Sunday night, HBO "Cathouse" star and adult-film icon Sunset Thomas hosted the Anti-Valentine's Day Party at Hard Rock Café on the Strip. The featured performance was by Vegas rockers Sin City Sinners, celebrating the release of their new album, "Exile on Fremont Street." So the show rocked, and not just because Thomas showed up in some sort of leather-and-studs superhero costume that reminded of Catwoman if Catwoman were starring in a John Stagliano film. Not much left to the imagination for this garment, but it was not illegal. The Sinners' first set was all covers, including a healthy dose of Bon Jovi and Billy Idol's "Dancing With Mice Elf." I mean, "Dancing With Myself." The second set was the new CD, entirely original material save for a cover of the Donnie Iris classic, "Ah! Leah." Such was the tomfoolery that me and Kent Wallace, Thomas' publicist, were actually summoned to the dance floor. All hell had broken loose! Thomas has plans to spend the summer at the Villa Vertigo in Grefath, a township in the far-western region of Germany. This is one of the world's foremost high-end brothels, boys, and Thomas is venturing there so she can connect with her European fan base. Thomas turns 38 on Friday, incidentally. Only five shopping days left.
• Performing tonight with Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns at Tropicana's Tiffany Theatre is Carlos Santana keyboardist Freddie Ravel. The dazzling Ravel performed a couple of numbers last week — a night that also featured the great Tom Scott, once of the L.A. Express and Blues Brothers Band on sax — and is set to play a few originals this evening. As always, the show starts at 10:30 and it's as free as a bird, music fans. No cover. And stay for the post-show hang at Celebration Lounge, too. You can sleep anytime.
• Quick thoughts on Jason Alexander's "Donny Clay Experience" at Planet Hollywood. As I've said to those who ask, and even those who don't, some of this show is brilliant. Some of it is surreal. Some of it wildly misses the mark (a good section to cut would be the lengthy video clip of Alexander clamping onto the testicular region of a WWE combatant to illustrate "commitment"). But when it works, the show really moves. "Discover the YOU in YOU!" implores Alexander, wearing a great-yet-awful toupee and head-mounted mic, only to be met by waves of laughter. Alexander has an amazing singing voice, too, honed over years on the Broadway stage. But it's a challenge for this type of one-man production to succeed even in robust economic times; it's a real task to fill that theater today. Alexander will survive, or not, based primarily on word-of-mouth accounts.
• Transmission from the Liberace Museum's Alumni Club: Darin Hollingsworth, the former president of the Museum, has found a home in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he is the senior director of development for the Arts Division at UC Santa Cruz (home of the fightin' Banana Slugs). He's the head of the team of fundraisers who are building relationships and gathering resources (which is what you and I would call "raising money") for the school's Arts Division, which encompasses all of the arts programs at the school. Hollingsworth left the Liberace Museum and Foundation just after marking its 30th anniversary in April.
• Quick Marie Osmond factoids: She usually gets four hours of sleep a night and, before each show, enjoys a vanilla ice-cream cone. For the cone, not for the ice cream. She needs the carbs to provide energy for the show.
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