LAS VEGAS _ Holly Madison is the star of “Peepshow,” the long-running burlesque show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Madison plays Bo Peep, an impossibly gorgeous and financially successful buxom blonde who, like all impossibly gorgeous and financially successful buxom blondes, just can’t seem to find a man. In the opening, a video montage, Peep is greeted at home by her faithful dog, who is clearly her longtime companion in her quest to find a man who’ll overlook her obvious flaws, such as her goddess face and large breasts, and accept her for who she really is — a businesswoman with the body of a Playboy Playmate who lives in a fancy apartment in the city.
On Sunday night, I journeyed with Peep into the storybook dreamland that is “Peepshow.” I went with my fiancée, Jen. “It has dancing and singing and it’s amazing,” Jen said, trying to convince me. “There are also a lot of breasts.” Jen clearly understands the concept of compromise. Our marriage will be fine.
We purchased our tickets a few hours before the show. This was probably the most painful part of the experience. It took a half-hour on the phone, but we finally convinced an employee at Ticketmaster to take our money in return for ridiculously-expensive tickets that include a series of charges and fees whose sole purpose, near as I can tell, is to aggravate the customer into such a frenzy that he snaps and stick-punches the first Ticketmaster employee he ever meets.
Have you ever met a Ticketmaster employee? You probably have, but they refused to admit it. They probably told you they ran a Ponzi scheme on the elderly, or something similarly face-saving. There ought to be a conversational Megan’s Law for Ticketmaster employees. If you work for Ticketmaster, you have to disclose it within the first 30 seconds of any conversation so that we all have a chance to shove you around a bit before you run out of the room.
We sat in row Z, the last row in the bottom section of the theater, seats against the wall. You could see the breasts, but barely. It would not have been so bad had the casting director not made the poorly-thought-out decision to only cast women with anatomically-believable breasts. Unfortunately for the men in the audience – and there were many of us because NASCAR was in Las Vegas that weekend – the breasts were not ginormous.
For the first time in my life I needed those little theater binoculars that people with monocles who say “Oh, dear” a lot have. When I squinted hard, I could sort of see some breasts. It was not unlike watching the scrambled cable channels when I was a teenager, except when I was a teenager I never paid $84 so I could kind of see a boob from 200 feet away.
In the story, Peep falls asleep reading what I assumed was a fairytale book, and the story is her subconscious self as she interacts with highly-sexualized characters from the book. At one point she is seduced by lesbian spiders. The sexual energy was palpable. I vowed, then and there, while white-knuckling the arms of my seat, that I would never kill another spider ever again, and would only scoop them onto a newspaper and spirit them to safety outside, because what if one of them is actually a hot, seductive lesbian spider?
In the middle of the show, the Peep Diva (whose role as MC is to keep the show from accidentally veering into coherency) sends her divas into the audience to find a man for Peep. One of them – his name was Timber at our show – is a plant, and at first a believable one.
Peep tries to seduce Timber by dumping a bucket of neon pink paint on him. (It’s when he does not stomp offstage screaming at her that you know he is a plant.) Timber disappears for a few scenes and later reemerges from a random bathtub, soaking wet and, according to the gay guys in the audience who yelled repeatedly throughout the show, incredibly sexy. Timber performs a series of impressive gymnastics on a rope suspended above the bathtub. It is then that Peep and Timber finally consummate their love with a dramatic pose. All Peep needed this whole time, it turns out, was a dripping wet man with Russian circus skills and West Hollywood good looks.
The show culminates with a grand song and dance number in which Holly Madison, who has never shown her breasts before in public, except in the world’s most popular men’s magazine, overcomes her natural shyness and bares her breasts to all.
It was quite a finale, an opportunity to see something I have seen many, many times before, only from much farther away.
My fiancée loved it.