It’s mid-afternoon, and a group of T-shirt-clad crew members are doing various checks on the set of Peepshow, Planet Hollywood’s fairy tale-themed burlesque show. Tonight, the stage will host glittering backdrops, sultry dancers and some of the best live vocals in a Strip production. For now, however, it stands exposed, bright overhead lights revealing signature props and the show’s giant, light bulb-covered logo, now dark. It’s a reminder that behind every story lies another, and it’s those stories we’re seeking today.
Peepshow’s three leads are taking a break from a photo shoot for our conversation, their casual demeanor in contrast with their full stage makeup and glittery costumes. To the right, male lead Josh Strickland, fresh from a stint on Broadway as Tarzan; in front, the diva-licous Cheaza (Chay-za), daughter of an Ikette and a mighty voice in her own right. And to the left, marquee darling Holly Madison, blonde curls and sweet lace at odds with the former Playmate’s sexpot appeal.
As with all fairy tales, our interview begins with Once Upon A Time…
What’s On: Once Upon A Time, I wanted to be a writer. I imagine Josh and Cheaza always wanting to be performers, but I can’t imagine this is where you thought you’d end up, Holly…
Holly: I wanted to be a famous Playmate…
WO: And you did it!
Holly: Yes I did!
Josh: I got my first microphone at 5, Fisher Price. It was awesome! And I have a photo of me when I was young, looking like little baby Elton John with a piano, so I’ve always kinda had [performing] in my blood.
Cheaza: My mom was a huge influence for me. I kinda grew up on the side of the stage. I saw my mom sing with Chaka Khan, Rick James, Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band, so [performing] was pretty much around me all my life. But sports were always my thing. If I could sneak off and do it, I wanted to do that.
WO: You guys are asked questions in interviews all the time that you probably don’t want to answer. What is the one question you wish someone would ask?
Holly: I’d like to be asked about current projects more than my love life…
Josh: Everybody just outright asks me everything! I mean, I think I’d just like to be asked about my
family, my friends, maybe what things people may not know about me.
Cheaza: What more is there to you?
Josh: A lot. Get me in the bedroom…
Cheaza: Yeah, no limits is my little motto. Go have fun, try it all.
WO: What was your favorite fairy tale as a child?
Holly: Probably Cinderella. See, I’ve got my glass slippers…
WO: And your life would kind of echo that story.
Cheaza: I love Tinkerbell. She runs things, has an attitude and she’s really little.
Josh: Mine was Little Mermaid. And that has definitely echoed my life [laughs]. What you don’t know is I’ve really got fins!
WO: OK, everyone. Name one thing on your bucket list.
Josh: There’s a lot of places around the world that I haven’t seen. I’d love to just travel and not care about anything else.
Cheaza: I’d like to have a holiday off with my daughter. I have worked every holiday since I’ve been in Vegas! She’s very understanding about it, but I would just love to have a holiday off. That would be awesome.
Holly: Probably just travel more.
WO: Holly, your image is so cute and sweet as cotton candy, but I think many people would be very surprised to find out you’re also a very intelligent woman.
Josh: She is smart as hell!
WO: I sort of picture you becoming a professor of French history someday. What else do you think people may have underestimated about you?
Holly: I think people just assume that I don’t really work, that I just travel and for me everything is really fun and games. They don’t realize how much initiative it takes [to do what I do].
WO: As we all know, fairy tales usually end with “Happily Ever After.” What does that mean for you?
Josh: It means so many different things. I’m so happy right now with what I’m doing, and my friends, and it’s just one of the best times of my life.
Cheaza: “Happily Ever After” would probably be just looking in the mirror, saying I’ve done my best and I’m happy with that. It doesn’t matter what people say or do, it’s what matters to you. Family. Love.
Holly: Just having a family and me being able to balance [both]. But work paves the way.
And work they must. As the three leads head back to pose in front of the now blazing Peepshow logo on stage, smiles in place, it’s clear to see that their lives are indeed the stuff of fairy tales.
Peepshow | Sun.-Tue. & Thur.-Fri., 9:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10:30 p.m. (dark Wed.) | $65, $75, $100 &
$125 | Chi Showroom, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino | 800-745-3000
Published August 24, 2010 in What's On, The Las Vegas Magazine and on whats-on.com.