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Iconic Porn Star Marilyn Chambers is Dead, Las Vegas Memories Live On

Porn star/actress Marilyn Chambers is dead at 56. She was found April 12 in her Southern California home by her 17-year-old daughter, McKenna Marie Taylor.  Chambers is also survived by her brother, Bill Briggs, and her sister, Jann Smith.   marilynchambers1

But, sadly, news of her death barely made a blip on the Las Vegas virtually anything goes  entertainment news radar. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access waited and waited for something to appear, then decided an article was in order on the verge of her birthday.  After all, she is credited for bringing pornographic films into the mainstream and, in so doing, substantially added to Las Vegas’ colorful and alluring mystique. 

Born Marilyn Ann Briggs on April 22, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island, Chambers was an attractive, effervescent young woman who had begun her career as a mainstream model and actress, finding fame as the smiling blonde cuddling a laughing, nappy-clad baby on Ivory Snow ads, a popular brand of detergent. When she then appeared in an adult film featuring hard-core inter-racial sex, Procter & Gamble, whose products were claimed to be “100% pure,” quickly pulled the boxes from the shelves. 

Though the manufacturer quickly replaced her,  it was later discovered that she also had a small role in the 1970 Barbara Streisand film “The Owl and the Pussycat.” 

Chambers traded her wholesome image as an all-American pin-up girl for notoriety as a porn star, credited with bringing hard-core adult films into the mainstream consciousness when she starred in the explicit very low-budget 1972 movie “Behind the Green Door.” 

Chambers was the first crossover adult movie star. 

Chambers, also known as Marilyn Ann Taylor, and then-husband/manager Chuck Traynor were fairly high-profile Las Vegas residents during the 1980s, when they co-owned a local gun and survival store, The Survival Store, backing operating partner Bob Irwin in the gun store and shooting range at Interstate 15 and Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas. 

It was Chambers that popularized the “machine gun and bikini” image used to promote the store – a similar ploy used even today by gun stores around the country – for several years before she separated from Traynor, who was controversial for his earlier marriage to porn star Linda Lovelace (Linda Susan Boreman) and her allegations of abuse. 

Chambers and fellow actresses Linda Lovelace and Georgina Spelvin skyrocketed to fame and stardom at this time when both American social mores and the quality of hard-core sex films were changing. 

For the first time, films like “Behind the Green Door” and “Deep Throat” (also released in 1972 and starring Lovelace) had decent acting and legitimate, albeit fairly thin plots. As the audiences for them grew to include couples, they also began to take on higher production values and to be seen in places other than sleazy theaters. 

She followed the “Green Door” film with other hard-core films “Resurrection of Eve,” in 1973 and “Inside Marilyn Chambers” in 1975. Then she announced in 1976 that she was giving up adult films to pursue other interests. She starred in the 1977 horror movie “Rabid” and to put together a song-and-dance show that played Las Vegas and elsewhere.  After this, the rest of her career she spent shuffling between sex and horror flicks. 

In October 1974, Chambers performed in the dinner-theater comedy “Mind With the Dirty Man” at Las Vegas’ Union Plaza (in reference to the Union Pacific railroad station that originally stood at the site now known as the Plaza Hotel and Casino).  It was at this period she was attempting to spin her notoriety into non-porn endeavors, with plaza owners including the likes of prominent Las Vegas businessmen Sam Boyd, Howard Cannon and Jackie Gaughan.  She returned to the Plaza stage in early 1978 for “Last of the Red Hot Lovers.” 

But by 1979, Chambers was back acting in sex films and onstage for a short-lived engagement in the one-woman show “Sex Surrogate” at the Jolly Trolley casino in Las Vegas. The show drew the quick ire of Las Vegas officials because full nudity is banned in casinos with unrestricted gaming. 

In 1981, Chambers became a fulltime Clark County Nevada resident and known well-known enough that a routine summons for jury duty caused a courthouse stir and generated newspaper coverage. She was dismissed after explaining to the judge, “I’m an entertainer and I have to be in Cleveland Wednesday for an engagement.” 

Chambers, married and divorced three times, remained in Las Vegas through the 1980s after her separation from Traynor, who died in 2002. She also dated Bobby D’Apice, who later made headlines as the Crazy Horse Too shift manager in Las Vegas that was sentenced to prison for breaking the neck of a customer. 

In an online chat with AdultDVDtalk.com in 2000, Chambers attempted to explain what caused her to take such a radically different career path after “The Owl and the Pussycat” and her modeling work. 

“Back then in my naive brain I was thinking that something like ‘Behind the Green Door’ had never been done before and the way our sexual revolution was traveling I really thought it was going to be a stepping stone which would further my acting career,” she said. 

She learned afterward, she said, that wasn’t the case. “There will always be a stigma on people who do adult films,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that that’s the way society has made it.” 

She returned to adult films in 1980 in “Insatiable” and through the rest of her career went back and forth between explicit movies and R-rated ones. Hirsch noted that one of the most striking things about Chambers’ career was its longevity in a business where stars quickly fade. She still has a photo gallery on the Web site Adult Video News and the Internet Movie Database credits her as recently completing a film called, “Porndogs: The Adventures of Sadie” with Ron Jeremy. 

Although Chambers was quick to point out in 2000 that she had done more R-rated films that X-rated ones, she made no apologies for the latter:  “I have to say that the adult films have been a total pleasure,” she said. “They were like getting paid to live out my greatest fantasies. The rest of the stuff … sometimes got to be a real grind.” 

Marilyn Chambers was ranked by Playboy magazine as one of the top 100 sex stars of the 20th century and was named among the top 10 adult film stars of all time. 

Her Southern California death currently remains under investigation.

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Holly Madison Strikes Again

Holly Madison, the former Playboy playmate, commenting on what she missed most about living with Hugh Hefner, her ex-boyfriend, at last weekend’s 83rd birthday bash for Hef in Las Vegas at the Palms Casino & Hotel:hughhefnerholly 

“The mansion has a fantastic zoo with birds and monkeys – I used to work in the zoo a lot and was really close to the zoo staff.  I fancied myself as an amateur zoologist.”

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Changing of the Guard for Las Vegas Burlesque Shows

In Las Vegas the only real certainty is uncertainty itself.  Entertainment acts change, shows come and go.  And G-string revues are as much a part of the Las Vegas entertainment fabric as gambling itself.  Some say they harken way back to the days of the Dunes Hotel & Casino where it was fashionable to head out and watch the glamorous shows.  Fast forward to today, even the hugely popular sex goddess and entrepreneur Tera Patrick is contemplating a switch from a steady diet of porn to burlesque in Las Vegas. 

Following the footsteps of “Lido” that closed in 1991 after 32 years, this Saturday, March 28 after 49 years the iconic “Folies Bergere” burlesque revue at the Tropicana in Las Vegas will sadly go dark forever after performing 29,000 shows- along with the feathered showgirls the the style, spirit, and very essence of classic Las Vegas entertainment.  

But, even if you’re not one of the lucky 100 people that got a ticket for the final Folies show or one of the 750 invited guests and alumni, there’s still hope.

You can still watch  sexy cabaret revues like “Fantasy,” “Crazy Girls,” “X Burlesque,’ or the full-blown old-Vegas style revue “Jubilee!,” that’s been going since 1981.   Then there is  the female attraction of  “Men of X at Hooters.”  

But if you are game for a brand new Las Vegas burlesque treat you might want to catch the first previews of “Peepshow” that start on March 30 and run through April 17 at Planet Hollywood.  Billed as a “modern contemporary burlesque” the sexy show features Scary Spice Girl Mel B. (Melanie Brown) and “Dancing With the Stars” champion Kelly Monaco, who also played on “General Hospital” and posed for Playboy- watching them perform alone is worth the price of admission – and a cast of 29 principals, tightly choreographed dancers, and a band of all female musicians.  peepshow

Neither Mel B nor Monaco will be topless, but several of the dancers will be for the cabaret show.  Mel B plays Peep Diva, the mistress of the ceremonies, and Monaco is Bo Peep, who falls asleep in a short movie that starts the show. 

Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell says, “It really isn’t a musical because there isn’t really a written book and scenes that string the show together in that sense.  It’s a story told through song and dance.  It’s really modern day burlesque.  We’ve taken song and dance and the arte of striptease to tell a story.” 

BASE is producing the Las Vegas show.  Architect David Rockwell (“Phantom, the Las Vegas Spectacular”) designed the lavish set.  And Greg Barnes, who won a Tony Award for “The Drowsy Chaperone,” is creating the costumes. 

The music includes Michael Bubble’s “Feeling Good,” Connie Francis’ “Teddy,” Madonna’s “Hung Up,” and original tunes by Andrew Lippa. 

“We took the bones of what I created in New York and tailored it for the Las Vegas market,” says Mitchell. “We couldn’t do this show in New York City.  This is a Las Vegas show, for sexy adult men and women who want to go out together and have an amazing time.  We’re not trying to pound anything over anyone’s head.”  

Mitchell says he doesn’t want to reveal too much else about the show.  

“I don’t want to be coy, but isn’t that the fun of striptease- what you don’t see as opposed to what you see?” says Mitchell.  “It’s one of the things I think is desperately missing here in Las Vegas and something I’m a huge fan of- the right time to take it off.  It’s about how you take it off.”

Tickets range from $65 to $100 and previews for the tale with a tease start on Monday, March 30 through April 17 at the showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas (702-785-5000).

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Criss Angel Receives Good News: Awarded “Magician of the Decade”

crissangelFor a change, good news showers down on Las Vegas illusionist Criss Angel.  The International Magicians Society has awarded the 41-year-old Angel, whose real name is Christopher Sarantakos, its first-ever Merlin Award for “Magician of the Decade” last Saturday in honor of his magical accomplishments. Angel previously received the organization’s “Magician of the Year” honor in 2001, 204, 2005, 2007 and 2008. 

The famed illusionist appeared humble when accepting the award, telling those attending, “I never set out to win awards, just to push my own envelope and try to create something that’s never been done.”

Criss Angel’s “Believe” illusion show opened at the Luxor in Las Vegas early in January to mixed reviews and almost immediately went dark for a Cirque du Soleil “magical” revamping before reopening later in the month.

To add to Angel’s mishaps, in late February, Angel broke up with his girlfriend, Holly Madison, who previously had been dating Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner until last October.

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Brande Roderick Next ‘Celebrity Apprentice’?

branderoderickDonald Trump through contract provisions isn’t letting the Playboy model, film star, and entrepreneur tell for certain if she’ll be one of the two finalists left standing in “The Celebrity Apprentice” when The Donald makes a decision in the live May TV finale.    

Although Brande Roderick, tonight’s celebrity “host’ at Tao nightclub inside the Venetian in Las Vegas, says she has no idea if she’ll be selected, she added that Trump “never yelled at me.”  Could this be her subtle prediction?

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Criss Angel’s Girlfriend Holly Madison ‘Disappears’

Criss Angel, 41, magician extraordinaire performing at the Luxor in Las Vegas, and his girlfirend Holly Madison, 29, are no longer a couple.    Word is that they broke up when Madison moved back into her parent’s home.   According to Angel’s publicist, Steve Flynn: “They remain very close friends and wish each otherhollymadison the very best.”

Madison is best known for her work on the reality TV show “The Girls Next Door.” She had been dating Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner until last October.

“All she’s doing is following Criss Angel around to all of his magic shows, with no legitimate job to speak of,” a source told USmagazine.com. “She’s still heartbroken and regretful about how things went down with Hef.  Then she ran into the arms of Criss Angel, but then it’s like, ‘This is not everything I thought it would be.'”

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