NORM Q&A: Burlesque star Claire Sinclair exuberant on Las Vegas life

Stratosphere headliner Claire Sinclair is featured in an upcoming episode of “Naked City,” the SyFy Channel’s docu-series about five Las Vegas body paint artists.

“It was the most tedious experience ever,” said Sinclair, who parlayed her 2011 Playboy Playmate of the Year into the burlesque-themed “Pin Up.” “You stand there for 11 hours and take minimal breaks. It’s so detailed, it’s insane. If you saw me walking, you would think it was latex or leather.”

Sinclair, 22, is the subject of this week’s Q-and-A interview.

She reveals some of the weirdest questions she gets, her “grandma-ish” approach to dating, where she’s going on vacation (it involves a famous red light district) and her favorite memories of Holly Madison’s wedding.

How has your life changed since you became Playmate of the Year?

“My life didn’t change dramatically when I became Playmate of the Year. It changed radically when I became a headliner here in Vegas because it came with a dramatic lifestyle change.

“I had been associated with Playboy from 18 to 21 and that was my life. It was pretty much regimented — we did the same things over and over again (and) did the same jobs.

“Headlining a show and being the ambassador for a show in Vegas is a whole different ballgame, completely different worlds. I’ve had a very surreal time here. I’ve never partied so much in my life! But it’s been so much fun. I can’t imagine this being called a job; it’s just been a lot of fun.”

How did you meet O.J. Simpson?

I met him at a convention. It was a horror convention of all things. He was signing his football memorabilia. (Her father, Tom Riccio, was the collectibles dealer who arranged the meeting in Las Vegas in 2007 that ultimately led to Simpson’s arrest, conviction and incarceration.) I was 11 years old at the time and he was just a football player dude. I didn’t know about his other stuff at the time. I didn’t know who he was exactly. He was really nice to me and my sister. I have no opinion whatsoever of him.”

What is your favorite thing to do outside of your show?

There is so much that I like to do here. I love all of the vintage shops in downtown Las Vegas. I purchased a huge, massive family portrait of Elvis and Priscilla and Lisa Marie for my dressing room. I got it from a warehouse. I also have a large black panther from the Sahara. I love vintage throwback Vegas, what it was, the whole 1960s vibe.”

Favorite Las Vegas restaurants?

She mentioned the Top of the World (at the Stratosphere), “because of the view”; The Golden Steer, a 1950s-style steakhouse on Sahara; and M & M Soul Food on West Charleston. “The Golden Steer hasn’t changed at all,” she said, adding you can visualize the Rat Pack walking through the door. “And they make a really good Cherries Jubilee.” She allows herself a once-a-month treat by going to M & M Soul Food.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best piece of advice I’ve been given, for what’s relevant in my life right now, came from Holly (Madison). She said it doesn’t matter if you screw up a line, if you miss a dance move, if something’s fallen off. You just sell it and you smile and you continue on like it was a part of the show and nobody knows otherwise.

“And it’s true. There was a time when my shoe came off in one of my props and … I’m literally shoeless on one side and nobody’s eyes went to my feet because I pretended I had a heel on. I walked (with) my imaginary heel and I just thought, ‘Holly was right, nobody even noticed.’ I was freaking out inside of my prop that everyone knows I was missing a shoe. I really believe that maybe one person in the audience even noticed it.

“It’s the way you mask things, and I think it is important to keep that in mind with everything I do. I am a very nervous person when it comes time to doing anything. I have to tell myself that a thousand times before I go and do something that it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t need to be perfect.”

What are the weirdest questions you get asked?

I always get asked, because of my history with Playboy, weird fetishy questions from guys. You can just tell they’re just dying to hear the answer, and I don’t give them the satisfaction. That happens sometimes after a show at my meet-and-greet.

“Some people come up (to me) with one of my Playboys, and they just asked me the most awkward, off-the-wall, random (and) weird questions. I don’t respond. I just look at them like they’re crazy and like I don’t know. The look in some of these guys eyes is so disturbing.

“If it were a girl asking me, I probably would tell her (but) it’s almost like the guys have like this murder stare when they ask these questions. It’s rare enough that it is not an everyday occurrence where I freak out about it. But it does happen especially at these things called Glamourcons where all the Playboy models go to find their issues.

“Anywhere where there’s a signing is usually where you get the oddballs that ask you the weirdest things … and ask you to do the weirdest things. There is this one guy named Dave and everybody knows him as ‘Pettin’ Dave’ because when he comes to take a picture with you, he will just stroke your neck and your back. It is very uncomfortable and he’s the creepiest dude. Every girl has had that experience with him. It’s ridiculous.”

What is your fondest memory from your reign as Playmate of the Year?

Going to Australia was definitely my fondest moment. It was the only other country I’ve been to where I can see myself living because it was just the most chill. Everyone was so laid back. It was clean and awesome.

“It was the only place that really felt like it could be home. I miss that. I had a great time there. I was promoting Playboy condoms when I was there, too, and that was a little awkward. We actually had some really bad publicity when I was there that threw me off-guard.

“The creator of the condoms launched it on 11-11-11 and that is their version of Memorial Day in Australia. It was seen as the most disrespectful thing, that we were doing this big condom launch on their Memorial Day. It was all over the news and people were hating. We came back with this rebuttal … why was it OK for a phone (and other products) to launch on that day but not the condoms? It was just a lot of chaotic craziness. It’s a blur now but it was very intense. It was a fun trip, though regardless of the drama.”

The majority of people who attend “Pin Up,” she said, are Australians. “They love vintage and Bettie Page stuff. I just shot for Maxim Australia a week ago at Wynn.”

How do you stay in shape?

I don’t really even dance in the show too much. I host it and I do a couple of little dances. I drink this thing called a green smoothie every morning that Holly Madison actually turned me on to. It has every vegetable and fruit imaginable in it and it really cleans you out, even if you eat crappy during the day. If you drink that in the beginning, it keeps everything nice and clear. I’ve lost about five pounds since I’ve started that smoothie. I feel like it gives me all of the vitamins and nutrients I need, and it keeps everything going smoothly.

Where are you going on vacation?

Amsterdam. I’ve heard it’s just so awesome and free. I haven’t been out of the country for a year now. I wanted to go somewhere without a language barrier. I’m just so curious. I want to see the red light district. On my itinerary I have 200 things I want to do. I’m going with some friends from back home.”

What is the first quality you look for in a potential boyfriend? Are you single?

I’m really bad at these types of questions. For being a sex icon, I am the most grandma-ish (person). I don’t date. I hang out with my friends; it’s not a priority right now. I want to work and I just want to chill. And when I’m in a relationship, it consumes so much of your time, I can’t even think about that right now. Like it’s really far off in a distant land. But if I were to find someone, the No. 1 thing I look for is a friend. Like they have to be chill, they have to be someone that I can get along with and gets along with the rest of my friends. That’s usually how my relationships start — I am just friends with someone and then it just blossoms.”

What was your most nervous night in “Pin Up”?

I probably felt the most nervous performing on our Media Night (in March). Because all of the eyes were on us, we knew that there were going to be reports the next day. We wanted everything to be perfect and I definitely needed a couple of shots – Ciroc Peach — before that performance. I’m not gonna lie (about that), because everything we had worked for, for the couple of months leading up to that, was that moment. I just wanted everything to go as smoothly as possible and not let my nerves show.”

Then there was media night in August when you unveiled the pasties.

“Everything went smoothly until the finale. I got up to do my bows and off came my pasties.”

You were in Holly Madison’s wedding in September. What are your favorite memories?

“It was such a trip. It was the most extravagant wedding I’ve ever been in and most extravagant I ever expect to see. They closed down Disneyland for it. Holly got carried away in a pumpkin carriage. In order to exit the ceremony, you had to leave on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.”

What would qualify as your hidden talent?

I can play the intro to ‘Piano Man’ on my harmonica, bad ass. Makes it look like I’m a harmonica genius but that’s all I know! I can (also) do a really good impersonation of Jesse Pinkman from ‘Breaking Bad.’ I sound exactly like him and I can look like him … yes, I’m pretty talented at being talentless.”

What’s the status of the contract at the Stratosphere?

“I’m assuming we’re going longer. As of right now, I don’t know. I think we should be there for the next year.”

NOTE: Part of this interview was conducted by Haley Caldwell.

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more at www.normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.