The world was first introduced to the pint-size Angel Porrino when she auditioned for Playboy on the reality show The Girls Next Door. She wasn’t cast but quickly struck up a friendship with Hugh Hefner’s then-girlfriend, Holly Madison. When Madison moved to Las Vegas to pursue a role in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, she brought a new reality show and Porrino with her. While Holly’s World focused on Madison, its supporting cast of friends—including Porrino in the role of assistant/understudy/housemate—gained fame. The 21-year-old Las Vegas native (who’ll be 22 on May 6) is out to prove she’s ready to step out of Madison’s long shadow with her new role in Absinthe at Caesars Palace. The quirky Cirque du Soleil-meets-campy-comedy show has gained critical acclaim, and Porrino holds her own in a solo act that features tap shoes, a balloon and no shirt. The lifelong performer and dancer also relishes a more important role: being a mom to her son, Roman, who turns 2 this month. Together they live in Madison’s house.
Becoming a mom at just 19, what advice would you give to other young mothers?
I would just say that having a baby isn’t the end of the world. A lot of people think that it’s the worst thing that could happen to you and that your life is over but that’s not the case. Don’t give up, everything is still possible, but now you have a little blessing in your life. It’s not the end of the world, if anything it’s just going to make your life better and make you more complete.
What’s your favorite part about being a mom?
I guess the fact that he’s mine and he relies on me for everything. You always rely on your mom, and no matter how old you are you’re going to rely on your mom for something. I just think it’s a really cool feeling that someone relies on me for everything. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s a good thing. It’s hard to explain and to be honest it’s the best most unconditional love ever. People say you never know a mother’s love to her child until you’re there but it’s true, it’s an instant love. It’s awesome.
This is one of your first solo roles on the Strip. Why was Absinthe a good fit?
I think it was a good opportunity for me to branch out and do my own thing instead of being an understudy for Holly [Madison] all the time. I had heard nothing but great things about the show and what it was and what it’s all about. Even if the show wasn’t successful it was a good chance for me to get my own little push and get my career going.
What’s it like performing topless?
I go all the way topless in Peepshow, but in Absinthe I wear pasties, so it’s a little more comfortable than Peepshow. It really doesn’t bother me because the show itself is so beautiful and it’s done so classy. I don’t feel like I’m in a strip club or like I’m doing anything inappropriate. It’s for like three seconds, it’s like boom and then you get off the stage. It’s kind of like a sneak peek, so it’s fun.
You perform in a balloon. Was that your idea?
My idea was to tap dance, but they added the balloon so it was a little more exotic and not so typical. They hired the choreographer who is awesome. He came up with my routine, and my routine is adorable. Everyone cracks up when I get in the balloon and start dancing. It’s a fun number.
You grew up in Las Vegas. How does it feel to get recognition in your hometown?
It’s so awesome. This has been a dream of mine since I was like itty-bitty, and I feel like it’s finally coming true. It’s surreal, but I absolutely love it. I hope that my name just grows and it gets better and better.
What is your ultimate dream as a performer?
I would just like to be well known. I want to be famous for what I do not just because of being on Holly’s World; I want it to be because I’m genuinely talented and good at what I do. I’m just taking baby steps right now, and it’s just going to grow and keep getting better.