Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 | 11:05 a.m.
It is the first New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas for a 21-year-old Playboy Playmate of the Year.
In this schematic, punctuality is not the highest priority.
Makeup and hair care trumps the clock, even on New Year’s Eve in Vegas, for Claire Sinclair. She has an appointment to be on TV, live, on Fremont Street at 10:20 p.m. She has been to Fremont Street before, but never on New Year’s Eve. Tens of thousands of partygoers slurping assorted alcoholic beverages from various plastic containers while wearing glittering headgear await the Third Street Stage.
Awaiting Sinclair is the ill-fitting combo of KSNV Channel 3 weatherman Kevin Janison, who makes the New Year’s Eve party at Fremont Street Experience his annual, personal pilgrimage, and the thundering rock band Buckcherry.
This is an important night for Sinclair. The city’s NBC affiliate wants to talk to her about the new show in which she is to star, “Pin Up,” at the Stratosphere. This is the show moving in for “Bite,” which closed on Halloween. Just before midnight, she is to stride onstage with Frankie Moreno, who in partnership with hotel officials came up with the vintage midcentury theme of “Pin Up.” Several months ago, Sinclair caught Moreno’s show at the Stratosphere, just as the idea for a new show at the hotel was being ping-ponged around the property, and it was a lucky fit: The 2011 Playmate of the Year has stage experience as a guest star with “Crazy Horse Paris” at MGM Grand and also is national spokeswoman for Bettie Page stores.
The hotel signed Sinclair for a somewhat undefined role as star and emcee of the show, and she has moved into a suite at the property. So have her two cats, Nucky and Jesse, inspired by the characters of those names in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”
As an actual resident of the hotel and featured performer in its new show, Sinclair is the female face of the Stratosphere. New Year’s Eve is a significant moment — a turning point, in many ways — for the hotel and her. Problem is, Sinclair is running behind schedule to the point where she might not make the TV interview, and throw her schedule out of whack to the point that she won’t make her own announcement on the stage of the hotel showroom where her show is to debut in February.
A 9:20 p.m. departure time turns to 9:30. Then when she says she will be ready to roll in 10 minutes, as she finished having a makeup artist finish her work. At 9:40 p.m., she has had to rush to her car. At 9:50, it’s “I’m on my way down!” At 10 p.m., she walks through the casino toward the hotel’s front entrance, looking smashing while wearing a low-cut turquoise dress and looking every bit the star the hotel is banking on to sell “Pin Up.”
Sinclair is hustled into an awaiting limousine, and a cagey driver named Kenny delivers her to D Las Vegas. On the quick trip, Sinclair is asked about “Pin Up,” which she says is to incorporate several familiar pinup scenes come to life. Magic is to be incorporated into the production — Sinclair is learning some magic herself — and plenty of dancing. Lacey Schwimmer, famous for her work on “Dancing With the Stars” and the live production at Tropicana, has been choreographing Sinclair’s stage moves in rehearsals that run between one and two hours a day.
Sinclair is featured in eight acts in “Pin Up.” She's to be joined in the show by a female singer, a live band and backing dancers, all of which are to be announced this month. But at the moment, the duties of serving as the spokeswoman for the new show are primarily hers.
“This is just the right way to celebrate,” she says, having settled into the limo. “I’ll be on the stage at the hotel where I will be spending most of my time with the show. It’s perfect.”
But before then, Sinclair is led through the massive crowd at the Third Street Stage by a couple of lucky Metro Police officers who happened to be stationed at the Fremont Street entrance of the D. When they are asked if they can escort Sinclair to Channel 3’s van and scaffold set up across Fremont Street, they smile. One asks about Sinclair’s show and laughs. “Hey! Can I be in the show? I have charisma! I used to be in Thunder From Down Under -- the Mexican version!” Sinclair is delivered to Janison, who shouts questions she cannot hear over the roar of Buckcherry’s performance.
At one point, Janison appears to say to Sinclair that it is a tradition for him to get a kiss on the cheek to start each New Year. She doesn’t hear and fakes her answer as, “I don’t think I’ll be doing that this year!”
“A friend just texted me and said I just totally dissed him on TV,” she says as she is led away from the crowd. “I feel terrible!”
Sinclair does make it back to the Stratosphere in time for her planned appearance. Moreno is about 30 minutes into his performance by now, and the band is cranking. The usual set list has been tossed. The stage banter is even more freewheeling than usual. At 11:30 p.m., Moreno dials up a lengthy jam that reminds of his final sets at Rush Lounge at Golden Nugget, when the musicians played for maybe a half-dozen, half-asleep lounge dwellers. Schwimmer is introduced and grimaces while Moreno offers her his Canadian-distilled elixir of success, Crown Royal.
Finally, Sinclair is brought out. These three entertainers, so crucial to the success of the Stratosphere in 2013, give a toast.
Sinclair then talks to the audience and says “Pin Up” is going to be a great show that will remind fans of an era too long gone in Las Vegas, or anywhere else. She is confident and energetic and ends by saying, “Come see our show! It is going to be awesome!”
There, she hits her mark, perfectly. Claire Sinclair, the Strip’s newest star, is showing that she is worth the wait.