Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010 | 10:26 a.m.
It’s been a great summer in Las Vegas for Cheaza Figueroa. The stunning brunette and single mother of a teenage girl continues her star turn as the Peep Diva in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, a role she assumed in March; she celebrated her birthday this month; she’s working on an album, with five songs under her belt and the first single selected; and she’s celebrating her new music and life with a party at Koi in Planet Hollywood tomorrow night after her show.
Cheaza sat down with me in Strip House after a performance last week, in which Holly’s World star Angel Porrino filled in for Holly Madison as Bo Peep for one week while Madison was on vacation, and talked about her blessed life.
Don Chareunsy: How long have you been the Peep Diva?
Cheaza: I was the understudy from the get go starting with Mel B and all the other Peep Divas. I was offered the role in March when we came back from our break. It’s been going strong with the cast since March.
DC: Was there anything that changed from being the understudy to the lead?
C: No, not really. It’s still doing the show six nights a week. And now seven shows a week. It’s now just stepping into that emcee role. And I’m not faking it! That’s really me -- what you see is what you get! I get to be more of myself, I think.
DC: It seems like you ad lib, too, based on the night and the crowd.
C: I like to make the audience feel a part of the journey instead of just watching the journey, so I enjoy actually having them engage with me. When they yell things out, sometimes I come back at them a little bit. Singing with Wayne Brady and doing a little improv with him has helped me to really have fun with that.
DC: Has he seen the show?
C: He has! That was actually one of the nights that I was nervous. I can’t really say other than the first night I started Peepshow back in April. That was the only other night that I was really nervous.
DC: Tell me about your new music project -- is it a single or an album?
C: What we’re doing now is working on an album. We’re as far as an EP right now. We’re up to about five songs. We’ve already picked a single out. It’s called “Live for Tonight.” It’s a fun song, one where you let your hair down. It says live for tonight, just like the title. Don’t worry about anything else -- stress, drama. Just go out and have a good time with your friends. Just live it up!
DC: So your celebration at Koi on Friday night, in which you debut your music and celebrate your belated birthday (Cheaza’s birthday is Sept. 13), will you sing live? Although you sing live every night!
C: Y’know, that’s a secret. You have to come to see. Maybe, maybe not!
DC: How about the other singles? Are they up-tempo?
C: It has a little rock, pop and R&B feel to it. They are up-tempos. My album is pretty much a journey, a journal of my life, a diary of my life. Getting to know me, getting to know what I’ve gone through, putting myself out there. I like my music to be like a diary that I can open and share with people.
DC: Who are some of the inspirations for your music, for your album, for your singles?
C: Oh, wow, I have a lot of old-school inspirations. I like Pat Benatar, AC/DC, Aerosmith. That’s a little bit of the rock side. I love Tina Turner. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Oh, my goodness, she’s like a Tina Turner. She’s like a Whitney.” I can’t go wrong with that! I love old school. I grew up with my mom singing old school.
DC: Who is working on the album with you?
C: The producers who are working on the album with me are called The Heavyweights. They’re out of North Hollywood, Calif. One of them is from the band All 4 One, a very good, dear friend of mine. Jay Arnold is another gentleman who is heavily involved. He’s by BFF for life.
DC: What do you hope to do in the future? What’s the next step after Peepshow?
C: With Peepshow, I’m here until I have to go! It would be really difficult for me to leave. I love my job, I love performing every night. Every night is a different night for me. I don’t really look at it like a job. This is like paid practice for me -- fun paid practice. I’m very blessed to work with such a great cast, a very talented and gifted cast. I’m here until I have to go!
DC: How long have you been in Las Vegas?
C: For about eight years, eight years in January.
DC: What do you like to do in Las Vegas?
C: Ooh, I have to say I’m pretty boring. I work at night. I have a little girl, so I love spending time with my daughter. I love being a mom. I love decorating my house. We love going to the movies. We love riding our bikes. We’re into sports and going out and having nice dinners.
DC: Are you dating?
C: I … (pauses) … am! I am dating, I am dating, I am dating. I was single for a while, and I do believe Prince Charming walked into my life. We have fun.
DC: He doesn’t keep you in a big pumpkin on your days off, does he?
C: No, he doesn’t! He’s actually a magician. He’s a magician here in Las Vegas.
DC: Does his name rhyme with Criss Angel?
C: I will not tell! Maybe that should be the running rumor in Las Vegas. I won’t tell!
DC: Anything else?
C: I love my life. I’m very thankful for everything.
The party at Koi celebrating all things Cheaza kicks off at 11 p.m. tomorrow with a red carpet at Planet Hollywood after Peepshow.
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