Start here: Claire Sinclair is a tasty, made-for-Vegas combo—a dish of rich cheesecake served with a slice of apple-pie exuberance.
Warm and winning, she exclaims, “Hi everybody!” onstage and might be more sincerely thrilled to see you than any headliner in town. In a “sin” city that welcomes the world, she could be our official greeter: sex on a stick, but with a Jiminy Cricket streak.
Holly Madison, Brunette Edition.
That Playboy’s 2011 Playmate of the Year, top-billing the Stratosphere’s new Pin Up, parallels playmate-peep Madison in the latter’s onetime Peepshow role—delish eye-candy rather than balls-out performer—should surprise no one. Yet Sinclair pulls it off with more panache, though her fleeting pop-ups in Pin Up can prove frustrating. You want more of her than you get.
Positioned between intimate erotic revues and overblown Peepshow, 75-minute Pin Up (which exposes not a nipple) is a tangy retro pastry. Emphasizing Sinclair’s Bettie Page-y appeal, bangs and all—she calls Page “flirty without being dirty”—it celebrates the fresh-scrubbed sexiness of ’40s/’50s calendar gals.
Diffused smoke effects create a sleek nightclub vibe in the classily appointed Stratosphere Theater, and the set is nicely unfussy—back-screen and decorative railing, with stage-side videos flashing month-by-month illustrations of Sinclair. More emcee/marquee billing than star, Sinclair doesn’t make her entrance until the fourth number (you start wondering whether she got stuck in traffic), emerging from behind her own gyrating image on a large stage monitor to “In the Mood.” One provocative package in a curve-clinging lavender gown that must’ve been painted on, she brightly kibitzes with the crowd (even impersonating an elderly Hugh Hefner), then appears sporadically. One piece of stagecraft has her portraying a sexy witch mixing a brew. More amusingly, in a tricked-out segment, she turns up in a bed, clad in a nightie and fending off a mischievous little pillow that keeps attempting to snuggle up against her.
Mostly, it’s Sinclair’s castmates who gin up Pin Up. Credit a handful of limber dancers highlighted by token beefcake Ryan Kelsey—a marvel of athleticism and enthusiasm—plus singer Autumn Belanger and a blast of a six-piece band fronted by local stalwart David Perrico.
Kick-ass production numbers include a twirl-a-whirl, swing-era dance to “Sing, Sing, Sing”; a boisterous “Calendar Girl”; an infectious “Tango” (turning the stage into a steamy Little Havana); and a fun, baseball-themed competition between (sexily uniformed) hoofer Sarah Short and drummer Brian Czach, trading off frenzied riffs between her tap-tastic dancing and his lightning drumsticks.
Honey-voiced Belanger fills the in-betweens, bouncing from contemporary power tune (Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” accompanied by obligatory pole dancer) to upbeat standard (“You Gotta Have Heart” while strolling through the audience) to torch-song lament (Madonna’s “Sooner or Later” from Dick Tracy). Pin Up gets the retro spirit right, bolstered (whenever she’s on) by Sinclair who, while she won’t set the stage aflame with her talents, is a sexy spritz of retro charm. Sure, she’s as hot as that big yellow ball about to cook this city into a neon pot roast.
Fittingly, she might also be the sunniest chick on the Las Vegas Strip.
How long will it take Pin Up to go topless? Tell us your best guesstimate in the comments.