Show & Tell: Meet Shakeera Onstead


Q: You're not a Las Vegas native?

A: No, I was born in Malta. It's an island in the Mediterranean.

Q: How long have you been dancing?

A: I started competition when I was 12, when I came here (to Las Vegas). ... My mom wanted us to socialize. She wanted us (sister Meeka, who also dances in "X Burlesque") to lose our accents. She was scared we were going to get teased, so she signed us up for every possible activity.

Q: But you didn't aspire to a performing career?

A: No, I was more into school and music. Then, I quit dance in my senior year in high school. I just wanted to prepare myself for college. So, I got accepted into UNLV, which was the only school I applied to, because I wasn't ready to leave home. I went to school and got degrees in biology and chemistry in four years.

Q: What did you want to be?

A: A doctor. But I got burned out after four years. ... Then my sister got hired in the "X" show three months after it opened. One girl was in Europe and another girl broke her leg, so (the producer) was, like, "We need someone tomorrow." (Meeka) goes, "Well, I have a sister, and she dances and she looks just like me" -- because we do look alike -- "and she's a quick learner. I'll just teach her some numbers." She taught me the show in our living room in, no joke, three days, and I went in and filled in for a week.

Q: How did opening night go?

A: My first show, I totally froze (laughs). I was actually quite conservative and shy, believe it or not, and when I had to take off my jacket, I popped it open and just stood there. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for it, but I didn't. (Meeka) kicked me, and I was, like, "Oh, OK" and did the show.

Q: And never left.

A: The producer was, "You know, we really like you in the show. You kind of look like your sister and you can play the whole twins thing. Would you like a permanent job?" And nine years later I'm still in the show.

Q: It was your first show ever and you were only 21. Was it difficult learning the ropes?

A: At the very beginning they broke me in big-time, because I didn't know what sexy was. It's a very sexy, intimate show, and I didn't know any of that. The only thing I remembered from dance school was all smiles and ponytails. So it was absolutely different.

Q: Now, you're dance captain, too. You've become one of the old-timers.

A: And I thoroughly enjoy it. I'm right in the middle now. We have older girls and younger girls who come in, and I kind of like to show them the ropes and teach them what was taught to me. (Laughs) Whether they listen, I don't know.

Q: Do you haze rookies? Send them out to find a left-handed corset or something?

A: No, no hazing (laughs). But the fun things we do when girls get ready to retire or leave the show. We pull pranks on them the whole show.

Q: What kind of pranks?

A: We have this bathtub number -- it's two girls making out in a bathtub -- and we made this G-string that looks like pubic hair. You have to be really still, because it's supposed to look like a photographer is taking pictures. Of course, she looks down and sees this makeshift G-string we made, and she could not hide her face. It was horrible.

 

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