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September 21, 2017

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Holly Madison on Hef years, plans for her new Las Vegas show, advice for Britney Spears fans


Steve Marcus

Holly Madison poses after a guest performance in “The Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. Madison performed “The Lady Loves Me” with Elvis (Justin Shandor).

Holly Madison and Rainbow at Animal Foundation Picnic

Holly Madison and daughter Rainbow Aurora Rotella attend the Animal Foundation’s Forever Home Family Picnic on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, at Sunset Park in Las Vegas.

Launch slideshow »

Holly Madison in ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

Holly Madison poses after a guest performance in Launch slideshow »

Five years ago, we would not have referred to Holly Madison as a show producer, a songstress, a wife or a mother. But in the days since she co-starred in the Playboy Mansion-centered “The Girls Next Door,” Madison has become all of that.

2013 has been life changing for Madison, who will celebrate her 34th birthday with a party Saturday night at Moon nightclub at the Palms. She and Pasquale Rotella married in September. Their daughter, Rainbow Aurora, was born March 5. The family is still moving into the ritzy Scotch '80s neighborhood in Las Vegas (a move delayed for renovations to the home Madison and Rotella bought in late 2012).

Madison has announced plans to co-produce a stage show — the details of which are still a tightly guarded secret, but expect that she will be deeply involved in the production on- and offstage. She has recorded a pilot for a new reality show, the graduated version of “Holly’s World,” which was filmed during her days in “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. The new show is to focus on Madison’s life and family (Rotella and Rainbow are to be featured) as she opens a new chapter in Las Vegas.

On Dec. 4, just before she took the stage for her guest appearance in “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s, in which she sang “The Lady Loves Me” with the cast at show’s end, Madison talked about the year past and how she sees 2014 shaping up. Here are excerpts from our conversation over salads at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse:

What’s been the biggest challenge in being a parent?

It sounds cliché, but just trying to balance everything. I mean, I think being a parent comes kind of naturally, and of course, I read up on everything I could about being pregnant and having a baby. It’s just hard to balance everything, hard to find time for everything I need to do. Before I had a baby, I said, “OK, I’m only going to be able to do about a third of what I want to get done during the day because I’ll be so preoccupied.” But, no. If you’re able to get one errand done during the day, you’re doing a good job.

What have you had to sacrifice?

Oh, man. Obviously I haven’t been working regularly. Little things here and there. But I’d planned to take a year off with the baby. Other than that, I feel that my life has changed so much it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. Everything kind of gets squeezed down by a small percentage. I’m not going out and partying as much as I used to (laughs). I’m hosting a party at the Palms for my birthday, and this is rare. I can’t remember the last time I was in a nightclub.

I feel like, talking to you now, it seems like forever ago that you arrived here, before you were signed to be in “Peepshow” and were looking for a niche. Do you feel you’ve grown up here in Las Vegas?

I think so. Definitely, being a wife and mom has made me feel that, and slowing down and enjoying what’s in front of me and not being so frantic all the time.

You just seemed so much younger, almost like a kid, back then.

When I first came to Vegas, I was 29, but in a way, mentally, I was 21. I had spent so many years at the (Playboy) Mansion, with this 9 o’clock curfew and doing old-people things all the time. Hef always had this image of being a party guy, but it was kind of like living in an old-folks home (laughs). I felt like at 29 I was coming out and just starting my 20s, like I was just coming out of college.

I think at the time you said it was sort of like graduating from a private school.

Yeah, totally.

When was the last time you talked to Hef?

I don’t talk to him because I feel like he’s not a real person. He’s like a robot. Everybody asks me, do I talk to him? Even (2011 Playmate of the Year) Claire (Sinclair) asks me. No, I don’t. I don’t know what would I even talk to him about.

There’s a segment in “Pin Up” where Claire does a quick impression of Hef. It’s pretty funny.

She does a really good impression, but I’m not sure anybody gets it. Maybe they do, from “Girls Next Door,” if they’ve seen the show.

What about plans for the show you want to produce in Vegas? What’s new there?

It’s still up in the air. I’m still talking to people. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. Hopefully early next year we’ll be ready.

Is this something you’re going to want to be in, onstage, performing?

Oh yeah, but whatever I get involved in next, I don’t just want to be onstage. I want to be involved from the beginning, behind the scenes, as well. There will be time when I want to have another baby, but if I am invested in another show, I want it to feel like I can stay invested in the show, even if it’s behind the scenes.

Your vision is an original musical?

That’s not necessarily what it’s going to be. There are a couple things on the table right now.

Is it story-based?

Maybe (laughs). Honestly, I don’t know which concept I’m going with yet. There are a couple ideas.

Is Pasquale going to be a co-producer?

You know, he wanted to originally. But in the talks I’ve been having with people, it’s evolved to where that isn’t necessary. I think, whatever path I choose to go down, he’s not going to be involved. He’s been busy with his own thing, he’s not really on top of it. He’s just excited that I’d be working and happy.

What about having Claire in your new show, if she were available?

It’s a hypothetical, but her contract in “Pin Up” is up for renegotiation in January. I would love to work with her, but what I would have to offer as far as other roles while I would be in the show would probably not be as lucrative for her as “Pin Up” because she is the lead and has billboards plastered all over town. I don’t know if it’s something she wants to do, but I love Claire. She has a certain look and style that, in the burlesque world, you can develop skits around.

You really know the entertainment industry in Las Vegas. This is something I’ve learned over the years. You really study the market.

Oh, yeah. I have to see everything. ... I have repeated the good and repeated the bad.

To see how your show would fit compared to what we’re already seeing?


What kind of vibe are you looking for?

It’ll be a burlesque-ish vibe. Burlesque-an (laughs).

Britney Spears is coming to town, and there’s a lot of hype around her show at Planet Hollywood. Any advice for anyone coming into the city on how to deal with being onstage in Las Vegas?

The Britney vibe is going to be pretty interesting, especially the theater setup, that they’re offering bottle service. Vegas audiences are different from anywhere else. They don’t have the theater etiquette that you have in New York or some places in L.A. People come in, they’re drunk, they’ve been walking around in the heat all day. Sometimes they fall asleep and it’s no reflection of what’s going on onstage. I’ve seen that happen, not just in my own show, but when I go to a Cirque show or anywhere else.

Those audiences are going to be different, even for Vegas audiences.

The Vegas audiences are just very different, and Britney’s audiences, because of the bottle service, are going to be that times 12. I just say, when anybody comes here to a show, to enjoy it and enjoy the city. Don’t let it get out of control. Pace yourself. It’s a great experience.

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