Kelly Clinton, Clint Holmes united by more than ‘I do’s’

Kelly Clinton and Clint Holmes have been married since Nov. 11, 2007. At home, Mr. and Mrs. are like any other couple … except sometimes they aren’t.

Clinton and Holmes each have been professional entertainers since their 20s — she the singer/comedian/impressionist, he the singer/songwriter. Clinton has lived in Las Vegas for 38 years; Holmes for 15 years.

The couple talked about their lives together over a late breakfast at Balboa Pizza Co., one of their favorite local eateries near their home in Green Valley.

In the beginning, they say, opposites did not attract; similarities did. Both are performers who feel their calling is a passion. Both fundamentally agree about what is important in life, and both are each other’s biggest fans.

On another level, both agree not to have morning conversation until each has had coffee. Neither “wastes time” taking naps, but both say they “spend a lot of time” looking for things they can’t find. “Now all the cords are in one drawer,” Clinton tells Holmes. Both have worked on theater pieces based on their life stories. Holmes is writing his story in book form as well. Together they love going to movies at Regal Green Valley Ranch. “Field of Dreams” is one of their favorite films.

Similarities aside, two separate people are in this marriage. He wears contacts; she uses readers. Clinton is the more excitable of the two with Holmes the calming influence. “Kelly has the better instincts with people,” Holmes says. “That’s why I like her to go with me to important meetings.

Clinton and Holmes are tied to the Las Vegas Valley because they have family here. Clinton’s mother, aunt and uncle, brother and sister-in-law, and niece and nephew live here. Holmes’ daughter and two sons and their families, which so far include five (soon to be six) Holmes grandchildren, live in the valley. Holmes has featured his granddaughter Asia in several holiday shows.

“Family keeps us grounded,” Holmes says. “Performing when it is going well can be a tremendous high. If you don’t have a life outside of being onstage, you might keep searching for that high elsewhere and get in real trouble. Both of us love being busy, but at this point in our careers we also enjoy the downtime and the opportunity to be with family or just to relax at home.”

Clinton says Holmes is “entertainment director of the remote,” reading about programs to watch on TV and programming the VCR. Their viewing area is a big red couch in the living room.

Although the couple eat out frequently, when they are home, Holmes is the cook and Clinton “the hunter-gatherer” and cleanup crew. They have of late been experimenting with a gluten-free diet. Clinton says they have been about 50 percent successful at that.

Yes, the couple watch what they eat. They call popcorn “an addiction,” but also snack on almonds and grapes (with Clinton in the background quietly adding the word, “chips”).

Exercise is important, with Clinton regularly walking on a home treadmill or joining friend and fellow entertainer Elisa Fiorillo for Zumba classes at Las Vegas Athletic Club.

Holmes is a tennis player who has found a willing opponent in friend Bob Randolph. “Bob is the better doubles player,” Holmes says, “but we trade wins back and forth in singles.” Holmes adds proudly that he and a pro partner once won a pro/am tennis tournament in Monaco defeating Prince Albert and his partner. “Very exciting,” he says. Holmes says tennis takes his mind completely off anything else except the game.

Eating right and working out may be keys to audience members never guessing Clinton’s or Holmes’ chronological ages. Clinton admits to having had “a tiny bit of Botox,” but otherwise, neither has had plastic surgery. Neither smokes now, although Holmes formerly smoked cigars. He quit about the time he moved to Las Vegas.

Holmes does not wear makeup onstage; Clinton does, although she says she is challenged when it comes to applying false eyelashes, so they generally are not part of her look. When she has time, Clinton likes a spray tan to “blend” the signature freckles she inherited from the Irish side of her Irish-Italian family. Clinton is famous for her long reddish-colored hair that she flings with abandon. She acknowledges she hasn’t seen her real hair color for a while, but guesses it would be auburn with a touch of gray.

In addition to both entertainers having regular jobs in Las Vegas (she at the Bootlegger Bistro; he at The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz) and being hired for a variety of other concert dates, Clinton and Holmes separately or together entertain or host 10 to 15 fundraising benefits each year. Most of the benefits have been in Las Vegas; some in New York.

Holmes once hosted an Emmy-winning TV show in New York and has friends there. In recent years, he has appeared regularly in New York nightclubs and concert halls to positive reviews. Clinton also has appeared in New York and been well received. Would the couple ever consider moving east?

“We are living a sort of bicoastal life,” Holmes says, “and we have no plans to move. We have a condo in New Jersey, and in May we hope to spend a couple of weeks there. Work is involved, but we want to take some time just to explore the area.”

As for appearances outside of Las Vegas, Holmes says he doesn’t mind travel “because it usually means we are going to do something exciting.” Travel also often means “work with benefits” in terms of minivacations. On a recent cruise, for example, one night Holmes was the headliner for two shows, and five other days and nights, the couple were passengers and could relax and enjoy the cruise, although Holmes says he spent a good part of those five days memorizing lyrics for upcoming shows.

Life may be going well for the entertainment couple, but life as an entertainer always has an edge, professionally and personally. Ten years ago, Holmes was diagnosed with colon cancer following a colonoscopy. He was lucky; he made a speedy recovery and required no follow-up chemotherapy. He has pretty much put the episode behind him, but will still tell anyone who asks not to delay regular checkups, including a colonoscopy.

At age 23, Clinton discovered she had rheumatoid arthritis. She hadn’t talked about RA during her career, believing that the public (and hiring executives) didn’t need to know. She learned to live with her diagnosis and for the most part, looked the picture of health. Last year, a couple of medical situations and work on her theater piece compelled her to start talking.

For her “New Year’s Eve at Noon” concert at the Suncoast, Clinton made a video as Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor character talking comically and seriously about arthritis and help available through the Arthritis Foundation.

“I’ve had some times when I didn’t feel as good as I wanted,” Clinton says, “but when I’m hosting events, like I do at the Bootlegger, I tell myself I’m in charge of everyone’s fun in the room, and the adrenaline kicks in.”

“Hearing an audience laugh is Kelly’s medicine,” Holmes adds.

If Clinton can find the comedy in a medical issue, does that translate to comedy in life as well? Holmes says yes. “She’s the funniest person I know.” Clinton adds that Holmes has a great sense of humor as well.

And Holmes, does he sing around the house? “Absolutely,” Clinton says, “but usually in connection with a project he’s working on.”

Holmes and Clinton say they are always sounding boards for the other. Both are also willing audience members for the other … night after night. Clinton interjects quickly, “It’s in the vows, baby, it’s in the vows.”

The Clinton-Holmes home does not include rooms full of photos with other celebrities. One room has just a few black-and-while art photos of iconic entertainers they both have admired. However, the home does have a piano and a set of drums. He plays the piano when writing music; she plays the drums for fun. A closet contains Clinton’s many character wigs; three racks of clothing in the garage hold the costumes she uses or “might” use some day. Clinton’s alter ego costumes go from Elvis to Lady Gaga.

Creativity for both Clinton and Holmes involves key partners, in particular their musical directors, Jeff Neiman for Holmes and Michael Clark for Clinton.

“Jeff’s creative energy helps me do the kind of work that I’ve been able to do recently,” Holmes says.

“When I’m onstage and Michael Clark is with me,” Clinton says, “I feel safe and free. It’s as if he breathes with me.”

Preparing for a stage appearance means, for Clinton, night-before laying out of clothing and costumes needed for the show, exercise the day of the show, small meals, vocalizing and preparing notes to hide on the piano.

For Holmes, before a show he eats very little, vocalizes, stretches, prepares notes and has what he calls a “Disneyland hour” before his performance. He doesn’t want to talk about anything serious right before a show, and if he has a TV in a dressing room, he’ll watch sports. Neither singer has been plagued with “Vegas throat,” but both say prevention means drinking lots of water.

Friend and director Larry Moss has advised both entertainers to always go to a showroom early and stand onstage with arms stretched wide to just “feel” the room. “Often, when we go onstage, the lights are so bright we can’t see beyond the first few rows,” Holmes says, “and if we haven’t been on that stage before, we don’t have an idea of the size of the room and where our total audience will be.”

Although Clinton and Holmes are veteran performers, they go to local vocal coaches for what they call “tuneups” in terms of how their voices are used. Local coaches Kimberly Kanitz and Greg Enriquez have helped both entertainers.

Those fans who hear Clinton and Holmes express their “I love you’s” onstage will find no different sentiment offstage. “If my job or health issues get in the way of what we’re planning,” Clinton says, “Clint, the optimist, will tell me that everything will be all right, ‘because you have me.’ It’s corny, but true. I do have this wonderful partner now.”

Holmes adds that in his private life, he is “one happy man.”

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