Holly Madison walked into her post-show party Sunday night, an event marking her final performance in “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood, and caught up with one of the invited guests hanging out behind the celebratory cake.
“Thanks for coming!” she called to this particularly burly gentleman, recognizable to anyone with an even passing interest in the game of baseball.
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” answered Roger Clemens, who also was in town to play golf on Monday (fulfilling a charity obligation) at Spanish Trail Country Club.
To use a baseball metaphor, Madison had pitched a complete game in her 3 1/2-year run as the character of Bo Peep in the Strip adult revue. Even before she announced her pregnancy in late August, Madison had reached her pitch count in the Planet Hollywood showcase. She had targeted Dec. 30 as her closing performance, but that date was moved up to Oct. 21 as BASE Entertainment swiftly sought and found a new performer: Coco Austin, the ultra-curvaceous co-star of the reality TV show “Ice Loves Coco” and wife of rap star and actor Ice-T.
In an interview at that party, Madison was fast and free with her thoughts about the direction she wants to take her life and career, and also about the path on which “Peepshow” is embarking as she leaves the cast. She said that her boyfriend, Electric Daisy Carnival founder and Insomniac Productions CEO Pasquale Rotella, and she plan to marry and that her plans to perform again in Las Vegas would have to fit into a schedule where she is “a wife and a mom.” Madison and Rotella are expecting a girl and are fielding countless ideas for names.
But the couple are not engaged and have not set a date nor made plans for their marriage (other than laughing off a suggestion to conduct the ceremony at a drive-through chapel in Vegas). As Madison says, “Things are too hectic right now.”
During the interview, Madison said she would not have cast a new Bo Peep “in my mold,” referring to Coco’s connection to a reality TV show (Madison had been on “The Girls Next Door” before joining “Peepshow” and was the star of “Holly’s World” during her run as Bo Peep). She specified that she wants to be in a “legitimate musical” in Las Vegas once her family life settles and that Rotella and she plan to live at least part time in Vegas, alternating between here and Los Angeles.
More from the session:
Johnny Kats: Did your run in the show end the way you wanted it to?
Holly Madison: I think it’s definitely the right time. I decided by June that I didn’t want to come back next year.
J.K.: That was no matter what, right? Everything else aside, including your pregnancy?
H.M.: Yeah. I knew I wanted to have a family, and the pregnancy came along later. I just decided I didn’t want to come back for 2013. I love the show, but I just feel like it’s not a challenge for me anymore. I got to the point where eventually they let me take on a second role (in which she sings during the teddy bear scene) and was doing as much as I possibly could have done in the show. I just wasn’t challenged anymore and wanted to do something new.
J.K.: When you moved here, obviously you were presented as the woman who would be Miss Las Vegas, our city’s model.
H.M.: I made that up (laughs).
J.K.: Yeah, and you made it happen.
H.M.: It’s been a lot of fun!
J.K.: But as of tonight, you’re not a Strip headliner anymore. You’re not in a show anymore. You’re going to be toggling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, it sounds like. This Miss Las Vegas identity, the role of the city’s spokeswoman, is going to have to be different or shelved, isn’t it?
H.M.: A little bit. But I’d like to come back and perform on the Strip, not anything as long-term as "Peepshow" because obviously I want to be a mom, and I need that time to be a wife and a mom. But I definitely want to come back, just in a different kind of show, something that’s more of a challenge.
I definitely want it to be something that no one would expect me to do. I want it to be something that if I said, "This is what I want to do," people would roll their eyes and say, "You want to do what?"
H.M.: Noooo! No! (laughs) Something a little more challenging than magic (laughs).
J.K. It’s sort of hard to imagine. I hadn’t thought of how you would respond to that until it came out of my mouth.
H.M.: Oh my God, no (laughs).
J.K.: You could saw yourself in half.
H.M. Yeah, right?
J.K.: But you will be doing something different than "Peepshow" is the point, right?
H.M. Yeah, it’ll be something different. You know, "Peepshow," in retrospect that seems like a good fit for me, but in the beginning, I’m sure you remember, nobody was sure if the show was going to last. Everybody was like, "What are you doing? You can’t sing, and you can’t dance. What are you doing in this show?" People in L.A., the producers I was doing the show ("Holly’s World") for were saying, "Absolutely not. We don’t want to film in Vegas. We don’t want to do this. Why don’t you move to Chicago? Why don’t you move to Miami? Why don’t you go back to work for Playboy?" It’s like, no one liked the idea.
I mean, now it looks like it makes sense, in hindsight. But in the beginning, everybody was saying, "No, uh-uh.”
J.K.: This came up in your "E! True Hollywood Story," what the expectations were for you in "Peepshow." This is not a flippant production at all. This is a show that has a lot of resources behind it, a lot of pressure on everybody onstage and in the crew, and they were bringing in somebody who didn’t have any experience performing in front of a live audience.
J.K.: You had to have felt pressure and a lot of responsibility that this would work out.
H.M.: You know, um … I didn’t because I’m delusional (laughs). Once I decide I want to do something, I just work really hard and I do it, and I just know it’s going to work. I think really positively. So, I didn’t really feel that way, but I had to work really hard to convince some people, especially the TV show, when I was developing a spin-off (of "The Girls Next Door”), nobody wanted to film me being a showgirl, and that’s all I wanted to do.
J.K.: Are we going to be seeing you on TV again, in a regular series?
H.M.: I don’t have anything coming up right now. I would like to do something else, but I want to do something different, and I definitely don’t want to take just any old reality offer that comes along. I only want it if it’s a good fit.
J.K. And your ideas for what you would do onstage, that vision, will it be in a musical and production form?
H.M.: Yeah, I would like to come back in a legitimate musical. I love performing in Las Vegas. It’s still going to be my home. (Pasquale) and I are buying a new house here, and we’re really excited about that.
J.K.: Does Pasquale like it here?
H.M.: He loves it. He loves L.A. because he was born and raised there, but he loves it here, too. … L.A. and Vegas are so apples and oranges. We talk about it all the time, the things we love about each city, but he loves it here. You get the best of both worlds, but you notice some of the disadvantages, too. In L.A., I don’t really want to go out because traffic sucks so bad. I’m sorry, I’m not going to spend five hours a day in my car (laughs), so you have to choose where you live very carefully.
J.K.: What do you think about the future of "Peepshow"? Have you met Coco yet?
H.M.: I know Coco from way back. I met her years and years ago. She’s really nice. I don’t know what they plan on doing with the show after I leave. Of course I want it to do well because I care about the people in it.
J.K.: Did the producers consult you about who would replace you?
H.M.: Absolutely nooooot (laughs). I mean, if they would have consulted me, I don’t know what I would have said. I don’t know what their vision for "Peepshow" is. I don’t know how long they want to keep it running. I don’t know if they said, back in 2009, "This is a five-year show." I don’t know what they’re thinking, if they just think, "OK, we’re going to go every three-month (contract) to three-month to three-month" and see how it works.
But you know me, I like to think long-term, so if I were suggesting casting, I wouldn’t have picked someone who was in my mold at all because that locks you into a stereotype for the role, and then only blonde girls who have been in Playboy who have a reality show are going to be the only people who want to do that role.
J.K. The reality show was something that made Coco really appealing, being able to reach that audience.
H.M.: Well, I think they’re looking at how "Holly’s World" helped "Peepshow" a lot, and who else has a reality show? It’s a good business decision.
J.K.: Looking back, it was obvious you weren’t the same type of celebrity or performer that Mel B or Kelly Monaco were when the show opened.
H.M. When the show first opened and Mel B and Kelly were in it, it wasn’t doing so well, but the thing I will say is they are both legitimate performers and very talented. It wasn’t their fault. If you look at the original "Peepshow" marketing, it wasn’t very appealing. It was very dark.
J.K.: A lot of people didn’t know exactly what the show was about at first.
H.M. I love the marketing, the way they do it now. It’s fun. It looks like something girls and guys would want to see. It looks approachable. At first, it was dark and shadowy and looked kind of forbidding. But Mel and Kelly were legitimate performers, so for me, coming into that, I felt like I was taking a step up.
I feel like if you look for different types of performers, and different types of celebrities, you’re going to increase the quality of who you are going to get down the road. And if you stick to one mold and stick to reality girls, that’s all you’re going to get in the future.
J.K.: What do you think of Angel Porrino coming into the show in the interim to play Bo Peep?
H.M.: Actually, Angel being my understudy was my idea, back in the day, and I’m grateful to the producers and to everybody who decided to do that because I thought it would be something that I thought would be fun for her. She was my friend, and ... I thought it would be fun to incorporate her and "Peepshow" into "Holly’s World."
It was a relevant decision at the time, but I don’t think it’s such a relevant decision now. I know they didn’t have very long to make the decision, so …
J.K.: I ask because, as you say, you were instrumental in putting Angel onstage in the first place. She’s in "Absinthe" now, and she’s coming back to "Peepshow," and you did help make that possible.
H.M.: I think she sees it other ways, but (laughs). I will leave it at that. … They already have the marketing for her. They don’t have to spend money on rehearsals and new photo shoots and new marquees. So it makes sense for them financially.
J.K.: What was Pasquale’s reaction when he first saw you in the show?
H.M.: He has never seen it.
J.K.: He has never seen you in the show?
H.M.: He has never seen me in the show. He doesn’t like the idea of me in a topless show, and once I got to the point where I was pregnant and I wasn’t going topless anymore, he said, ‘Maybe I should come and see it.’ I said I didn’t want him to. I wasn’t singing anymore, I’m not doing the things I’m proud of because, over the years, I was able to more and more, and the creative team was always really great about putting me in another dance number, or letting me sing in the show.
I was really lucky to have those opportunities, so these last three weeks when I haven’t been able to show my belly and doing those things in the show, I was like, "No, don’t come see it. You should have seen it earlier." I think (Pasquale) is better off not seeing it (laughs).