Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 | 2 a.m.
If your first time acting in a play live on stage resulted in that play getting an extension from a three-month run to an eight-month run, you’d be pretty hyped up about it. And so is Kendra Wilkinson. The former Playboy model and star of popular reality series “The Girls Next Door” and the current “Kendra on Top” co-stars with Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) in “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man” at Paris Las Vegas, a wild and funny production that made its Vegas debut in May.
“It’s the first big change in my career and I’m loving every minute of it,” says Wilkinson. “This is my first rodeo, my first time on stage performing in front of a live audience, and there couldn’t be a better situation than kicking it off in Las Vegas. It’s an amazing feeling.”
I spoke with Wilkinson about her new passion for acting, the future of the show, her family’s reaction and more as she gears up to keep “Sex Tips” in peak form through Jan. 2.
Is it possible that the show could be extended again deeper into the new year? That would definitely have to be talked about. I have two kids and a husband and a life out in LA, and mama can only be gone for so long! But the first three months of the show just wasn’t enough. It feels like we just started making a big splash and I don’t think anyone was ready for it to end. And now there are some changes coming to the show and we really want to see the evolution and make those changes happen and really get the feel of what it means to do this play in Las Vegas.
Is it tough to spend this much time in Vegas away from your family? It takes two extremely hardworking parents to really communicate in order to do something like this, even though the 45-minute flight makes it easier. We’re a team. But Vegas is my kids’ second home. They come out on their breaks and they’re very excited for me and this big change in my life. They’re rooting me on like everyone else.
When did you reach the point where you felt truly comfortable on stage? I think I got that first show under my belt and the rest was gravy. We rehearsed for so many hours and that opening night was the one I needed. Now it’s fun and I’m not nervous. My goal for the first show was to be perfect, to not mess up one line, and I did it. Now I’m actually becoming my character. I’m okay with making mistakes and the Vegas audience is actually liking it when that happens.
It took a while for the audience to understand that this was a play and not some sort of Kendra show. Everybody says this format doesn’t work here. It’s a play but it moves. There are only three characters, it’s got a great little storyline, and it’s more of a conservative play than people think. There were people who thought it was a Q&A with Kendra, but that’s 100 percent wrong. I play a character named Robyn who’s very shy and doesn’t quite know what she’s gotten herself into, but she opens up at the end.
Is this role opening new doors for you in the acting world? I am ready to take on the acting world. I didn’t know if I could do it or not, because I’ve only done little things in TV or movies playing myself. I am so happy playing someone else. I’ve spent 13 years playing Kendra on TV and I’m just having the best time doing this, and being challenged is the fun of it.
You just finished another season of “Kendra on Top.” Are you going to take a break from reality TV at some point? It’s so interesting how much I’ve learned these last few months on stage. I’m starting to realize your inner-most feelings and emotions, all your pain and all the things you think are the funniest, everything you’ve ever experienced goes into your work as an actor. So I’m having fun opening myself up and discovering new ways to play the character, and learning that the answers are inside of me. At the end of the day, it’s an escape. But I can’t put [reality TV] on hold because that’s my life. My show is not scripted, and it’s following my journey now into this acting world. My TV shows have followed me all around the country for years, having babies and getting married and they’re a part of me, they’re my home movies. They’re just attached to me. It’s like writing a memoir but on a TV platform.
“Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man” performs Thursday-Tuesday at 7 p.m. (with additional 11 p.m. shows on Saturdays) in the Anthony Cools Showroom at Paris Las Vegas. Find more information at caesars.com.