Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010 | 6:54 p.m.
Ask Angel Porrino if she's familiar with the story of Wally Pipp, and she answers, "Who is Wally Pipp?"
Understandable. Pipp's an aged, and infamous, piece of baseball lore.
Pipp was the starting first baseman for the New York Yankees from 1915-1925. He was a good player — he had to be to play first base for the Yankees for a decade. But Pipp will always be remembered as one of the more luckless figures in the history of American sports, if not the history of American celebrity culture.
On June 2, 1925, Pipp was scratched from the Yankee lineup in favor of a bright prospect named Lou Gehrig. The reported reasons vary as to why Yankee manager Miller Huggins benched Pipp that day. The commonly accepted version is that Pipp, who was hit in the head by a pitch the previous day, complained of a headache during batting practice, and Huggins gave him the day off. Another account is that the team was mired in a hitting slump at the time, so Huggins benched a few starters to shake up the Yankee bats.
Whichever, Gehrig went 3-for-5, and the Yanks beat the Washington Senators, 8-5. Gehrig went on to play 2,130 consecutive games, a Major League record that stood for generations until it was broken by Cal Ripken.
This all seems to have exactly nothing to do with a topless show on the Las Vegas Strip, but we exhume this legendary tale to ask: Is Angel Porrino the Lou Gehrig to Holly Madison's Wally Pipp? Porrino is stepping in for Madison as Bo Peep in "Peepshow" from Sept. 13-19, when Madison takes vacation from the Planet Hollywood adult-production show.
"To be honest, I'm not sure how this started," Porrino said during a recent phone interview. When told of how Gehrig turned Pipp's Yankee career into a New York dead end, she said, "I would never let that happen."
It seems quite a leap to Strip headliner status for Porrino, known mostly as Madison's close friend, confidant, red-carpet companion and personal assistant. Whether intended or not, Porrino provides a great comedic presence on the reality show "Holly's World." She hardly seems a candidate to drive a full-scale stage production — though whatever the result of this entertainment experiment it will make some fascinating reality TV.
But Porrino, a Las Vegas native, is in fact a trained dancer. She studied at the dance studio Preston's Class Act Dance and Gymnastics and, later, Dance Fx of Las Vegas, both long-established modern-dance studios. The only break Porrino took from the art form was when she stopped during her freshman year at Mountain View Christian School to take up cheerleading and to play softball (no, not first base, but outfield and shortstop), but she does have experience in formal dancing.
So it wasn't such a stretch when Porrino blurted, "I should be your understudy!" when Madison mentioned her upcoming hiatus from the show.
We'll see where this leads. It would be unlike BASE Entertainment, "Peepshow's" production company, to blithely throw an unproven talent into a starring role in one of its shows without a shred of a plan. It could be that Porrino would work as Madison's permanent "swing," giving the seemingly indefatigable Mad Maddy some regular nights off.
What is certain is Porrino easily can fill the baby-blue, Victoria Secret-inspired Bo Peep costume. In a subplot carried out on "Holly's World," Porrino's chest has been surgically enhanced from what she says was a "negative-A" to a size D.
"My nerves will come," she says, "when I have to take off my top."
And the audience will be caught looking. Same as Pipp.
Chic to chic
The September issue of our company's sister publication "Vegas" magazine (with Brooklyn Decker gracing the cover) is the glossy mag's fall-fashion installment. Included in its pages is the feature "Chic Beat," which has nothing to do with Nile Rogers. Instead, it is a polling of a few chic Las Vegas types tell us what "chic" means to them, exactly.
• "When people are well-dressed and don't follow trends, they are relaxed and confident and exude that energy — that's chic." — Doriana Sanchez, choreographer for Cher.
• "Chic is the ability to blend a John Varvatos-tailored jacket with a vintage watch and day-old classic jeans." — Phil Shalala, VP of marketing, Hard Rock Hotel.
• "Chic is beyond brand or price and beyond color or fabric — chic is a way of being; it is how one holds oneself." — Joseph C. Federici, VP of merchandising , MGM Resorts International.
Just a thought, one inspired by this issue of Vegas: A great professional wrestling handle would be The Iron Chic.
For those wondering, yes, that was Wayne Newton at the Palms on Monday night, shooting a music video with Rascal Flatts. Also, word spilling out of The Lounge was that Kenny Loggins will attend the next Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns performance and might — maybe, just might — join the band for a number or three. For sure, Freddie Ravel of Carlos Santana's band will sit in on keyboards.
Play the notes
A few other quick notes from the past few days:
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman consented to an interview with BBC's HARDtalk, and it was a bumpy ride with host Stephen Sackur, who pointedly questioned the mayor about Las Vegas' "sustainability" and fairly scoffed at the mayor's explanation of plans to pipe ground water into Southern Nevada from rural areas in the region. ... Speaking of uniquely entertaining performances, "Weird Al" Yankovic drew about 1,100 to Henderson Pavilion on Friday night, a good crowd that still seemed relatively meager in the 5,500-seat venue. Why not a permanent Vegas production show for Weird Al? Oh. That's why. ... A scene to note, among many, at the AFAN Black & White Party, was Liberace's longtime gown designer Anna Nateece posing for photos with a replica gown toted to the event by Liberace Museum officials. An inescapable fact about the Liberace Museum and Liberace Foundation: They are struggling and need support, pronto. There's no point in sugarcoating it. The recession has done a number on the famous Las Vegas attraction on East Tropicana and Spencer, and it could well go out of business if its financial health doesn't improve soon. ... One of those slipping into the colorful gown was Nevada Ballet Theatre PR rep Jenn Kratochwill, which gives us the opening to report that the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre has announced its fall schedule of classes. The schedule kicks off Monday; offered are a wide selection of classes for students ages 18 months through adult. Go to the NBT website or call 243-2326 for information.
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.