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John Stagliano’s Crazy Idea for a Crazy Time

posted on The Movable Buffet:

Las Vegas- Penn Jillette attended “The Fashionistas” last night. The talking half of Penn & Teller normally would have been working at the Rio (Penn & Teller take fewer vacations than most any other headliners in Vegas). But from what I hear Penn & Teller had this period off because Penn’s wife was due.

So with this rare free moment, the father of two decided to take in an S&M-tinged dance show based on an epic erotic movie. Actually, “Fashionistas” isn’t even topless and, as I have written until my fingers hurt, it is among the entertainment highlights on the Strip right now. In fact, the show’s creator, John Stagliano (a wealthy pornographer), has shown such a totally original creative aesthetic that his show is unlike anything Las Vegas has ever seen before or is likely to ever see again.

The hideous location, the expense of marketing in Las Vegas and Stagliano’s own decision to put a huge cast in a small room all suggest that this is a project done more out of love than business savvy. Stagliano has received awards galore, superlative reviews and great buzz. None of which matters as Vegas is a brutal market for outsiders; usually they lose all their money and go home. When that day comes Stagliano will be fine – he still makes plenty at his day job running an adult film empire.

But Stagliano, unlike many outsiders who come here to lose money, has brought more than cash with him; “Fashionistas” excited critics and audiences because of all the fresh ideas that he managed to put on the stage. Though he has incorporated aerialists, Stagliano has created the only dance show in town that can rival Cirque without being influenced by the Canadian company. In fact, in their one head-to-head competition, it is clear that as an erotic show, “Fashionistas” works better than “Zumanity.”

Whatever happens with “Fashionistas,” Stagliano has demonstrated to the entire town that his imagination and creativity do translate onto the Las Vegas stage. It is the sort of buzz that brings a guy like Penn in the door on a rare night off. In my fantasy life, the one way Steve Wynn can salvage “Le Reve” is to have Stagliano to revamp that show. Of course, Wynn originated the Las Vegas as a family destination philosophy and it is hard to imagine him working with a smut king. Many things though happen in Las Vegas that would seem impossible from the start. Wynn has a serious problem: he has a beautiful theater and a talented cast stuck to a show that is Cirque-lite. So, when it comes to new ideas for a theater production show, Stagliano is about the only person in town right now with a vision that feels original and doesn’t look spun off of Cirque.

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