Holly Madison

Holly Madison is the first to agree, "It’s totally crazy the way fame works these days."

Only now is the reality-TV star, who never suffered from underexposure, doing something you can buy a ticket for.

Unless you count the time she played Frenchie in "Grease" in high school. "They gave that to me because I could do her voice," she says.

Now, Madison is the great blond hope for Planet Hollywood’s "Peepshow," thanks to the fame she built in five seasons of romping around the Playboy Mansion on E!’s "The Girls Next Door."

The producers are counting on Hef’s former favorite to be just the ticket for the $12 million burlesque revue, which debuted in April with underwhelming turnout for its first two stars, Kelly Monaco and the Spice Girls’ Mel B.

"When I saw the show, I was just amazed at how perfect the part was for me," Madison says of the lonely career woman who falls into a kinky nursery-rhyme dreamland. "It was like it was written for me."

It’s hard to argue a better fit for the 29-year-old model who is famous for being famous, but has the whole world at her feet after moving out of the mansion last year.

"When you’re in that world, you’re surrounded by all these people who try and push you a certain way and make you feel like you aren’t going to have any other options," she says. "I stepped out, and that wasn’t the case at all. I have had a lot more options now that I’m out."

Madison is house-hunting in Las Vegas and says she plans to live here regardless of whether or not this gig goes for more than her contracted three months.

"The people are warmer. There’s a lot of pompousness in L.A.," she says in a backstage "green room," sitting on the floor and leaning against a chair to eat her lunch.

"I feel like when I’m here, I’m a little kid again and I’m just running around causing mischief. And yet doing something constructive at the same time."

Madison wanted to do something in the Dita Von Teese mode of modern burlesque, and last year she saw all the Vegas shows — one time, four in one day — when she and magician Criss Angel were a couple.

But talks of a guest stint in another Las Vegas revue never came together, and Madison says she’s glad she waited. For one thing, there was the serendipitous timing of "Dancing with the Stars."

Training six hours per day, after stepping in for the injured singer Jewel last spring, ramped her up to the challenge of working for Broadway director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell.

"From what I understand, this was the craziest season," she says of her three weeks of competition. "That’s why everybody got injured. … Everybody was just pushing, pushing, pushing."

Far from being intimidated by "Peepshow," Madison says she’d be happy if they gave her more to do. Backstage cameras would sweeten the deal, and there’s talk of a "Holly on her own" type of reality-TV spinoff.

You might think Madison would be weary of living her life on camera. The former Holly Cullen was fresh from being a Hooter’s server and Loyola Marymount University student when she was swept into the alternate reality of being one of Hugh Hefner’s three live-in girlfriends.

"I feel like once I made the choice to step into that world, I (was) locked in," she says. "I look back on it and I see it as totally weird. I feel like I lived in a bubble and my mind-set was completely different."

But it doesn’t take long to get used to the cameras, she says. "Being on a reality show is the easiest job in the world. You just have to turn yourself into a character and go."

A character? That person we saw on TV wasn’t the real her?

"Not 100 percent," she says. "Nobody is on reality TV. … It’s fun, it’s easy, it’s an excuse to do fun crazy things I wouldn’t ordinarily do."

But if they filmed the real her?

"I’d be sitting in a corner reading all day. Nobody wants to watch that."

Perhaps because of her fishbowl life, Madison says it’s no inconvenience to live at the Planet Hollywood Resort while she house hunts.

"People always want pictures and stuff, but I’d rather be surrounded by people than alone, I think. I don’t want a house until I have like five other people living with me," she says with a laugh.

"Barbie’s Dream House."

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

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