Girls’ night out evenings continue to be popular


The short-term forecast calls for it raining men. But if you fear these girls’ nights are getting out of hand, Holly Madison will be back in the burlesque business soon.

A single, showcase performance of Jeff Timmons’ “Men of the Strip” on Saturday at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay is followed by Monday’s debut of “Men the Experience,” a new resident show at the Riviera.

Madison, who bowed out of “Peepshow” in October 2012 to have her daughter, gets back into the entertainment scene April 17 as the face of 1923 Bourbon &Burlesque at Mandalay Bay. She calls it “a boutique nightclub” where she will oversee the weekend burlesque acts, and occasionally perform as well.

“Peepshow” found an audience once it became a backdrop for Madison’s E! cable’s “Holly’s World” in 2010. Timmons hopes E! will do similar miracles even sooner in the process for the male revue he was inspired to create by guest-hosting Chippendales in 2012.

Timmons, who also continues to sing with 98 Degrees, says E! will air “a 90-minute movie, as opposed to a traditional pilot,” on May 26.

Saturday’s showcase for casino buyers and club owners will be part of the story arc about trying to find a Las Vegas home for the show that toured last year. Timmons says he is still negotiating for the venue, so the story doesn’t yet have an ending.

With three other male revues on the Strip, Timmons’ strategy is to pre-sell his show with E! viewers. “We want them to know the guys before they go see the show,” he says. “The TV show allows us to peer into their private lives and see what these guys are like behind the scenes.”

Timmons says another distinction is that his cast sings. “We wanted this to be a souped-up boy band,” he says. “Sometimes I think when a celebrity puts their name on (a project), people focus on the celebrity,” he says. “What I think about these guys is after they’re seen on TV, they’re all gonna be celebrities.”

The creators of “Men the Experience” don’t have Timmons’ ability to promote his show with Howard Stern or Bethenny Frankel, but they do have a venue and a head start. Monday brings the first show from Red Mercury Entertainment, a production company that will run most of the Riviera’s shows as an outside contractor.

The male revue is overseen by A.J. Trunk, whose 14 years as a performer and choreographer date back to, oddly enough, “Men, the Show” at the Riviera in 2003. More recently, he has helmed “Men of Sapphire” for the topless club owned by the father of Red Mercury partner Darin Feinstein.

The Crazy Girls Theatre is getting some lighting and technical upgrades. “The multimedia we use is way more advanced I would say than the other shows,” Trunk says. “Some of the stuff we have is really dazzling.”

What “Men” lacks in brand recognition compared with Chippendales and “Thunder from Down Under,” it hopes to make up for in “more interaction with the guys,” Trunk says of the quintet, in which he is one of the performers.

“When (patrons) feel like you’re unobtainable — when you’re just onstage and they really don’t get to talk to you or see you close-up — there’s something lacking,” he says.

And the women pulled to the stage for audience participation “don’t just sit there,” he promises. “They actually get incorporated into a routine in such a way they really become part of the routine. They have a part, they have a role. It really makes the fantasy complete.”

Guys who like to pursue the more traditionally Vegas pastimes of smoking cigars, drinking and ogling women will have to wait until April 17 for Madison’s burlesque venture.

1923 Bourbon &Burlesque will occupy the same space in Mandalay Bay’s peripheral retail area as Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, a likeminded burlesque-themed nightspot that was open from 2004 to 2009.

The venture is “definitely designed as more of a nightlife experience,” Madison says. “It’s not a typical show where you buy a ticket and sit down for 90 minutes.”

Madison says she fell in love with burlesque while still living in Los Angeles during her years at the Playboy mansion, watching revivalists such as Dita Von Teese and Catherine D’Lish. The new venture is “definitely more old-school burlesque than ‘Peepshow,’” but at the same time, “I’m hesitant to use the label and say this is real, authentic burlesque. … Some people get so hung up on that,” she adds.

“Sometimes when you get too hung up on what burlesque really is, and if you’re really being true to what people did back then, that’s great, but (authenticity) can hinder creativity sometimes.” …

There’s no arguing the authenticity of Marty Allen. The comedian turned 92 on Sunday, and celebrates it in part by performing at the Plaza today through Saturday. He fills in for Plaza headliner Louie Anderson with spouse Karon Kate Blackwell. …

The Tropicana has announced the cast of its “Mamma Mia!” residency that begins May 8. In keeping with the usual policy for the Broadway blockbuster, there are no billed stars — Abba is the star! — so the cast is made up of working pros famous in their own families. But at least one of them has a local connection: Jordan Bondurant as Sky.

Bondurant was active in UNLV theater, including productions of “Urinetown” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

He is part of a cast that includes Christine Sherrill as lead character Donna and Kimbre Lancaster as daughter Sophie.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.