Sugar, Spice and…Nice?

Peepshow’s Aubrey O’Day is the author her own fairy tale

Once Upon A Time…
…a young blue-eyed blonde with a sweet voice and sparking personality was discovered by a tall, dark and handsome stranger. She was well-loved and found great happiness doing what she loved to do.

But that’s just where Aubrey O’Day’s story begins.

The newest performer to take on the role of Peep Diva in Jerry Mitchell’s burlesque-meets-Broadway sensation Peepshow, now playing at Planet Hollywood, O’Day is a force of nature.

Those not familiar with the curvy blonde’s history probably aren’t reading celebrity gossip sites or watching much reality televison. Emerging five years ago to become one of the five members of pop girl group Danity Kane, O’Day has since posed for numerous magazines (including Playboy), dabbled in solo recording and starred in the Broadway musical Hairspray as the spoiled debutante, Amber VonTussle.

While her new Peepshow role seemingly cements her bad-girl rep, O’Day reminded What’s On that things aren’t always what they seem. “I always say I’m one of the most misunderstood celebs out there, regardless of whether people see me as a celebrity or not. I’ve acquired enough attention in my career to be known, and most of the focus is on this person (the media) created,” she said. “What’s really interesting is when you actually get to know me, it’s such a different world.”

The Princess and the P (Diddy)
In 2004, the 19-year-old Aubrey was already a seasoned performer with an armload of accolades. Beginning her career at a time most kids are learning to tie their shoes, O’Day was prepared to write a new chapter in her life by studying International Law at Columbia Law School.

Instead of becoming a lawyer, O’Day became a sensation… in more ways than one. After becoming a breakout star on MTV’s reality hit Making The Band 3, produced by Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, the tide began to turn. Whereas Combs once claimed that she “displayed the hunger and perseverance that it takes to be a superstar,” allegations were made that the singer’s image was becoming ‘oversexed’ and that she was using her position in Danity Kane to further her own agenda.

“There was this concept thrown out there by Diddy on Making The Band that I had changed, and I would always sit back and think about that,” O’Day mused. “Did I really change? Have I changed as a person? And the answer is, well, yeah. I hope so. It’s been five years!”

The biggest changes appeared to be to her public persona. “It’s very hard when you know you’re in question—your character, your morals, your actions,” she said. “It’s hard to be put on the chopping block for everything that you do and have everyone interpret it in their own eyes. It forces you to be really comfortable with who you are as a person.”

Beauty and the Beast
The media storm truly came to a head when nearly-nude photos of O’Day, taken via cell phone at her first public performance, leaked onto the Internet then found their way onto snarky celebrity blogger Perez Hilton’s website—along with his unflattering commentary. The new Diva promptly called out from the next night’s performance and posted a video to her blog in protest.

“(People have asked me) about the pictures that had been released and what was my big issue and was I throwing tantrums,” she explained. “It was never the photos, it’s what was said and the story that was represented by that one inaccurate photo, (which) was not a good depiction of what you would experience at the show. It took this great moment I had onstage and turned into smut.”

But this pop princess isn’t waiting around for Prince Charming to slay her dragons…or fight off evil queens. She is ready and willing to fight her own fights.

“I hope (the media) starts focusing on positive journalism instead of constantly needing to tear everyone apart and be negative,” she said. “There’s a way to have an opinion without having to be over the top offensive, or to the point where you’re not really affecting change, you know?

…Happily Ever After?
Affecting change is definitely high on O’Day’s priority list. “I’m really looking to be involved in some philanthropic work in Vegas, maybe get involved with children (by) being a mentor or speaking with them,” she said. “I think that’s one thing I’m missing in Vegas. I’m not around enough kids, and I try to be in my life because I’m just so in love with their innocence and I think that’s a great thing to be around when you’re in an industry that works at night and is heavy on the heart at times.”

As for her own biological clock, O’Day has found the perfect solution. “I’ve got two dogs now, and I’m kind of becoming their mom. You know, I make their dinner and take care of their needs. I think I’m becoming a little more maternal and kind of growing up as a person.”

As for dating in Sin City? “Can you imagine the guys that hit on me?” she laughs. “Guys or girls, anyone coming around me is thinking they’re going to get crazy, bad girl O’Day and I’m like completely contrary to that. It doesn’t make my love life any easier!”

But the very struggle to merge her sweet inside with her spicy exterior is what makes O’Day such an irresistible confection. In her own words, “I think people who haven’t gone through struggle in life aren’t very interesting people. I always kind of gravitate more towards people who have experienced a lot of life because it’s a beautiful thing.” In which case, Aubrey O’Day is the fairest of them all…

Published October 19, 2009
What's On, The Las Vegas Guide Magazine

Tee Off With Timberlake

Former boy-band star turns tournament host for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

Just a few years ago, it was easy to categorize Justin Timberlake as a musician. Then he began to diversify, adding actor, producer, label-owner and clothing designer to his resumé. And now the Grammy- and Emmy-award winning artist has added yet another feather to a very crowded cap—charity golf tournament host.

The Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open will be played October 13-19 at the TPC Summerlin, and includes a star-studded concert at the Planet Hollywood Theater For the Performing Arts October 17. Justin will be the Tournament’s 14th host, following in the footsteps of such celebrities as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

The 27-year-old has some infamous shoes to fill, but one past host in particular has inspired him. “I'm hoping I'll compare in the future more to Bing Crosby, since he was probably the best celebrity golfer to host one, as far as handicaps go,” he mused. “Obviously I'm a huge fan of the Rat Pack. I just have to find three or four other guys who can really get out there and play and who love it, who can play the part and dress the part.”

Hosting a tournament is a big accomplishment, and one Justin has aspired to for many years. “It's kind of been a small dream of mine to host an event. The first time I ever played a ProAm in golf was at the Bob Hope in the desert. I had a great time, and I thought to myself it would be amazing if one day I could host an event and raise some money for charity.”

Along with Justin’s involvement, the addition of host hotel Red Rock Casino and the Planet Hollywood concert venue have added a decidedly youthful twist to the event. “We're excited about the opportunity that Vegas has to offer. I'm actually really excited about being at the (host hotel) Red Rock Hotel (and Spa). It's a really cool, fun, kind of young vibe. And being involved with Planet Hollywood venue, it's a very classy venue. I think we're going to be able to do a very special evening.”

More than just a name on the marquee, Justin has a legitimate love of the game. “My dad tried to get me into (golf) when I was younger, but I was pretty a die‑hard basketball player,” he recalled. “I didn't really fall in love with the game until I was about 21 or 22, on tour. My crew and stage manager took me out for a round of golf, and I remembered everything my dad had taught me. I immediately fell in love with the game.”

The tournament will feature over 72 holes of golf, with a celebrity ProAm on Wednesday, October 15, in which amateur golfers are paired with a celebrity and a golf professional. “I want to make Wednesday an entertaining day for the fans,” Justin emphasized, but “we’ve got some cool things planned the rest of the week with the players, their families and all the celebrities that attend (as well).”

As for his dream celebrity foursome? “Well, I do enjoy playing with Sam Jackson, we always have a good time. I also enjoy playing with Andy Garcia. And then maybe somebody like Will Smith. I think we'd all have fun together.”

Other friends of Justin’s will be helping with the Wednesday night concert, including 50 Cent, Rhianna, The Jonas Brothers, Boyz II Men, Leona Lewis, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and one of Justin’s artists, Esmée Denters, with other artists possibly added up to the show date.

Justin himself will play only a small part in the actual concert. “I'm going to host the show, possibly get in the mix. Obviously I have a big week hosting the tournament and the things that that entails,” he said, “(but) It's going to be a great concert.”

With this his first year as host in a multi-year commitment, does Justin have any big plans for future tourneys?

“I don't want to overshoot our hopes, but obviously if I come into this, I aim high. I would be lying if I didn't say we'd love to make it part of the points race,” he laughed. Apart from his commitment to the Shriners, “I'm committed to the tournament. We want to make it a marquee stop on the tour, a fun occasion for the players and the families and the celebrities who all attend.”

At the end of the day, though, Justin ultimately wants to hit the links. “You know, I get lost in the beauty of the courses I play, I get lost in the game,” he enthused. “That's when it really hits you that it really is the greatest game ever played.”

Published October 2008
What's On, The Las Vegas Guide Magazine

It’s A Little Bit Vegas…

Sibling superstars bring four decades of variety to the Flamingo

Tired of all the T & A the typical Las Vegas show seems to offer? Then get ready for some D & M… Donny and Marie, that is!

The original Disney darlings (the family was discovered by no less than Walt Disney himself), the two siblings have together had a nearly 45 year career in show business, spanning their teen-idol days in the 70s to recent projects on Broadway and in Hollywood. Undisputedly talented in a variety of ways, some might still think Las Vegas is an odd choice for the duo.

“I don’t think it’s out of character at all,” Donny told What’s On. “We’ve played almost every hotel there during our career, even some that aren’t there anymore. In a way it’s like coming home.”

The city has certainly changed in the 29 years since Donny and Marie had an extended residency engagement here, but Danny Gans, part of the team that brought the duo to town, has pointed out that “what Las Vegas has been missing is a true variety show that conveys the real essence of America and the country’s love of homegrown talent. We felt Donny and Marie provided…something no one else was making available.”

With their careers straddling the line between nostalgia and present-day relevance, what can audiences expect from the show? “Marie and I both sat down almost a year ago and said, ‘well, what kind of show do we want to put on?’ Then we got (director and choreographer) Barry Lather involved. You've got to do the old hits, so there's the hits medley, but these huge dance production numbers are all new,” Donny explained. “It's more singing, dancing and music than anything else.”

Marie’s recent stint on the popular Dancing With The Stars (in which she placed third) prompted a bit of sibling rivalry, and a “dance-off” was also added to the show. “We rib each other back and forth, because I'm a better dancer than she is,” Donny said. “We definitely bring that competition into the show.”

When asked if skits or comedy would make an appearance, a la 1976’s Donny and Marie Show, Donny laughed, “No, that's not what would work onstage, this is a Vegas show! It's an exciting show, Marie and I have put forth so much work into this thing. We've spent the money on this show because we wanted traditional Vegas.”

Nothing says “traditional Vegas” more than the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. “We love the room at the Flamingo because it really reminds us of the old Vegas, with the booths and tables rather than concert seating,” Donny said. “We’re excited for everyone to come out and see us.”

Published September 2008
What's On, The Las Vegas Guide Magazine

Raging Pitbull

Bobby Slayton delivers un-neutered comedy

Some people like their comedy like they like their chicken wings… meaty, saucy and with a wicked bite. The perfect venue for both wings and wisecracks is Hooters Casino Hotel, where “The Pitbull of Comedy” Bobby Slayton rules the roost.

An American Comedy Award winner for Stand-up Comic of the Year and one of Comedy Central’s Top 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time, Slayton may be the most lauded comic you’ve never heard of.

“A lot of people don’t really know who I am, because I don’t have any tigers or magic or a puppet,” he mused. “If I had a tiger and a puppet, I’d be the biggest thing to hit this town, but I have neither, so…”

What he does have is a biting sense of humor that skewers current events and audience members with equal ferocity. His raw language and straight-for-the-jugular style are definitely not for the faint of heart.

“In most comedy clubs, I’ll have 4 or 5 walk-outs a week, whether it’s people who are upset at my language the place is too loud, or they’re tired, whatever,” he said. “(At Hooters) I’ve done a couple hundred shows and I’ve only had about 5 to 10 drunks to deal with, and 3 or 4 people who got upset.”

Don’t let his Rat Pack looks or gravelly voice fool you into thinking Slayton’s comedy is limited to an older demographic.

“For the most part, 80 percent of what I do anyone can identify with,” he said. “(My daughter’s) friends really like my act and I don’t think I talk about stuff that’s over their heads. It’s basically about marriange, about sex, about bad weather, about the airport, about traffic. I don’t think any of it is specific to any gender or specific to any age group.”

Slayton is also known in the business as a real comedian’s comedian, a fact proven by the wealth of famous faces providing scathing commentary on an introductory video.

“I’ve gotten Robin Williams, Jay Leno, Penn & Teller and The Smothers Brothers recently. Seinfeld is a little too busy with his bee movie to talk right now, but I’m trying to get Dana Carvey in July and George Carlin in August,” he said.

He also spends time nuturing new talent, featuring two different up-and-coming talents each week. Occasionally, however, he’ll bring in a bigger name looking for a little Vegas time.

“I have this one guy in July, Kenny Rogerson, who’s a major headliner in comedy out of Boston. He doesn’t usually (work) for this kind of money, but he just wants to play golf, get away from his wife and be in Vegas. He almost paid me to take the gig!”

Although Slayton has been doing stand-up for more than 20 years, eagle-eyed viewers may have also caught him in one of his many television appearances or in movies such as Get Shorty, Ed Wood, Bandits and most recently Dreamgirls. His distinctive voice has also been featured in animated shows such as “Dr. Katz” and “Family Guy.”

Still not convinced? Slayton breaks it down: “(At Hooters) there’s no jugglers, no kids, no gladiators, no kids, no tigers, no kids, no magic, no water slides and no kids,” Slayton emphasized. “It’s me and Hooters, some chicken wings and gambling. That’s all you really need.”

Published July 17, 2007
What's On Magazine