Yesterday– with me– in a suite at the Hard Rock, Holly Madison was wearing sexy lingerie. She was curled up in bed with an electric guitar. Then one of her friends also gorgeous, and also dressed like a fantasy, brushed passed me and jumped into bed next to her. The guitar was beautiful, too.
I am not having a delusional fantasy! I am reporting a story for The Daily Beast on Holly Madison, and she was doing a cover shoot for a guitar magazine. Things are busy for Madison these days. There is Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, her reality show “Holly’s World,” and a book on Vegas she is finishing. For the remainder of 2010 she is getting a single one week vacation. And, Madison is using part of her free time to go to the Gulf to do charity work. She is making a series of public appearances to support the region as well to volunteer in clean up efforts. This trip is not being arranged by Harrah’s (who own casinos in the region as well as Planet Hollywood where Madison performs). This trip is Madison’s initiative. And, I note this is an example, once again, of Madison keeping alive the best traditions of Vegas entertainers past.
Madison has consistently been a bright spot during a difficult time for Vegas. She is new Vegas in her reality show derived celebrity, but she uses her star power in a way that makes her classic Vegas. She has become, through hard work and smart choices, a symbol for Vegas in 2010: the unlikely successor to Wayne Newton for a new century. Ms. Las Vegas. (This is another topic: but Madison’s appeal to women, a post-feminist appeal, makes her a perfect fit for the sort of women Vegas hopes to market to as customers.) Madison represents not just the fantasies of men, but in a variety of ways as important to Vegas she embodies the complex aspirations of many of today’s young women who are her fans.
Back to Madison and the traditions of Vegas. One endearing and enduring trait is that Vegas entertainers arguably have always had a commitment to charity equal to any community in the country. You can be cynical and talk about the public relations value of charity work, but in Vegas charity events and donations go far beyond what can be covered in the media. And, much goes on outside the media’s view. There are so many stories I know by chance that were never offered up in press releases. The generosity that comes from the stages of Vegas reaches across generations from the days of Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis to more recently the giving back of Cirque shows and Terry Fator. Wayne Newton, of course, has been heroic in his dedication to entertaining troops.
Anyway, Madison’s trip to the Gulf is happening without much press fanfare or her reality show cameras. This is her choice with what to do with her free time. Her fame gives her the opportunity to dedicate herself to others for part of her vacation and she is doing so. “I only had one week of vacation for the rest of the year. I wanted to look into some charity work. I wanted to see if I could help. I am donating money to a city down there. I checked with the local government and they set up activities for me to do. This is where they said donations are most needed.”
According to the itinerary I obtained, Madison will be in Orange Beach, Alabama making stops from early morning into the evening. An early stop includes “Holly assisting in attaching oliophilic film/sheeting to an absorbent boom. The boom is then put out in the water to absorb oil sheen and the attached sheeting catches the tar balls in the gulf. Holly will then assist in putting the boom into effect by taking a jet boat out and dropping the boom in the water.” Other stops are to encourage tourism to the Gulf.
And, like most Vegas celebrities, Madison shows good deeds are never at war with good times. She plans to head from volunteering her time in Alabama to Disney World in Florida before returning to the adult Disney-land of Sin City where Madison is truly a good-will ambassador who does us proud. (Photo: Lanie Crossman)