Saturday, June 19, 2004 | 12:57 p.m.
Awarding-winning Elvis tribute artist Trent Carlini doesn't do a bad impression of a good father.
A single parent since 1998, the regular Las Vegas Hilton headliner is spending this Father's Day in Italy with his three daughters, Thalia, 11, Isabella, 9, and Sophia, 7.
The Las Vegas Sun caught up with Carlini by telephone in Florida, where he had just spent a week with his father, Lorenzo, and was preparing to depart for Europe with his children to visit the country where his parents were born.
Carlini, who has been at the Hilton for 18 months, discussed his daughters and his life as a single parent.
Las Vegas Sun: How did your custody arrangement come about?
Trent Carlini: My ex-wife, Claudia, and I have joint custody. What we try to do is to create an environment for the children so they don't feel the weight of the separation. She only lives a mile away. We're always constantly helping each other. Even though the children sleep in two different houses, they have adapted very well.
The most important thing is that once you have a child, now you are committed for life. I think it really gives you a will, a reason, to live.
Sun: Do you have a good relationship with your former wife?
TC: Yes. Claudia does a fantastic job, an incredible job with them. They are very well educated, and well mannered. They show at a very young age a lot of responsibility.
Sun: What happened to the relationship?
TC: I did a lot of traveling and my ex-wife didn't agree with that. We had very strong opinions, so we chose to live the way we are. It's less stressful for everybody for us to be in this situation.
Sun: How long were you together?
TC: I was happily married for eight years. I wouldn't change that for anything in the world. But sometimes life puts you in places where you are supposed to be, and unfortunately family situations suffer from that.
Sun: Tell us about your daughters. Are they interested in becoming performers?
TC: Thalia, the oldest, has an incredible voice. Thalia is a caring person. She says she wants to be a pediatrician. But whatever she ends up being, I'm assuming she will be in an industry that helps people.
Isabella, the middle child, is prone to acting -- I constantly see her reciting in front of a mirror. But she may be an artist, she paints lot.
The youngest, Sophia, is the comedian of the group. She will be some sort of a rocket scientist. She was reading by age 4. Mathematically, she's amazing.
Sun: You seem to be a pretty good parent.
TC: I don't think I'm a great father. I always try to be better. You can never stop striving to be better.
Sun: You have a very busy schedule with your career. How do you manage?
TC: Somewhere, somehow you find the endurance to deal with everything, especially with the kids. It's harder to take care of things, but fortunately the satisfaction I feel with my children has given me the strength to keep on going.
Sun: Is it difficult, juggling a career and parenthood?
TC: Yes, but they are pretty good, pretty amazing kids. Some of the biggest lessons in life, I've learned from them.
Sun: How does the day begin in the Carlini household?
TC: I wake up early and have breakfast ready for them when they get up. There's a schedule on their door with check marks, and they have to go through all of them -- wash your face, clean your room, come downstairs, have a little bit of breakfast.
They have to be out the door by a certain time. If someone's late, we take away maybe their favorite video for a day. If they're on time, we give them some reward.
Sun: You work at night. Who takes care of them?
TC: When I go to work I have someone to watch them for a few hours, until I get back home.
Sun: Do they ever attend your performances?
TC: The girls, a lot of times, come to the show. They know all my songs by heart.
Sun: You are a handsome guy, surrounded by beautiful women. There must be a lot of temptations. How do you handle dating and being a single parent?
TC: It's kind of funny. My daughters get together and try to find a new mommy, someone for me to marry. When I have a new date, if they don't approve she's out the door -- they control that aspect of it.
I have seen at least 10 girls that I would have loved to have explored a relationship with, to be with. But my daughters noticed something that wouldn't work that I couldn't see -- this one is too childish; this one too frivolous; this one is not going to take care of you or help you, she's just going to take care of herself.
Sun: Are you seeing anyone at the moment?
TC: Right now I'm dating one person. I've been in a monogamous relationship for six months.
Sun: Your daughters must approve.
TC: So far, so good.