Erotic but toned down 'Fashionistas' opens at Krave
When: 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Dark Sundays.
Where: Krave at the Aladdin.
Tickets: $49.95, $59.95 (must be 18 years of age or older).
John Stagliano has come a long way since he was a member of the first cast of dancers to perform for Chippendales, the famous male-stripper nightclub that opened in Los Angeles in 1979.
The 52-year-old former dancer became wealthy producing and distributing adult videos. His Los Angeles-based company, Evil Angels, sells about 80,000 DVDs per month.
One of his most popular videos has been "Fashionistas," a 2002 production that won 12 Adult Video News awards.
Stagliano is using the success of his business, and that of the video, to fulfill a long-held dream -- to create a musical that includes lots of singing and dancing, with very little dialogue.
His stage version of the adult film, "Fashionistas," premiered this week at Krave, a new nightclub on the Strip that caters to customers of any sexual preference.
The live production is greatly toned down from the one on tape. There is no nudity, eschewing the more overtly sexual theme for eroticism.
According to Stagliano, "Fashionistas" is a story about an ambitious young woman in the fashion industry who becomes infatuated with a male designer and attempts to seduce him.
There is a love triangle between her, her female boss and the male designer.
"It's erotic and sensual but not topless," Stagliano said. "On the advice of my lawyer I had some county officials come in to watch the show. They said it was OK.
"There is kind of like simulated sex with clothes on, and some kissing, but that's it."
Stagliano says there is heavy use of video as background for exposition of the story, which basically is told through song and dance.
"The story has appealed to a sophisticated audience," he said. "At least my movie has."
Stagliano describes the production as a romantic love story that has elements of "fetish S&M ideas."
The stage production is complicated, requiring timely coordination between the action onstage and that on the video screens. Stagliano says there have been a number of delays in debuting the production because of the complexity of the technical elements.
Putting the show together has not been easy.
"It's like starting a new business with 30 new employees," Stagliano said. "I've never been so exhausted."
But it has been a labor of love.
"When I did my first adult video feature in 1983, which I produced with my own money that I had saved up being a male stripper, I did so with the idea of making enough money to do other creative things," Stagliano said.
Since 1993 he has been subsidizing a dance studio in Los Angeles.
"I did that to keep myself connected to the dance community," Stagliano said.
And now he has "Fashionistas."
He decided to turn the video into a stage production last year after visiting Las Vegas.
"I saw a plethora of erotic-type shows," Stagliano said. "There was 'Showgirls,' 'Midnight Fantasy,' 'X' and others.
"It hit me a week later that this would be the perfect opportunity to do the dance show that I had always wanted to do."
He immediately began working on the production, pulling some of the most artistic elements out of "Fashionistas" the movie for the musical.
And he had to find a venue.
"I gave my proposal to entertainment directors at several of the hotels, and even to Sapphire (the topless club on Industrial Road)," Stagliano said.
But an agent put him in touch with Sia Amiri, who had moved to Vegas in January 2003 to open Prana, a straight nightclub at the Aladdin. Amiri is noted for having started some of the most popular gay nightspots in Los Angeles, including RAGE in 1983.
While working on Prana, Amiri was inspired to create Krave, which hs descirbes as "omni-sexual." The club is adjacent to the Aladdin, at Harmon Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South.
Stagliano said when he met with Amiri he realized he had probably known him in Los Angeles in the early '80s.
"I was working as a dancer in one of his clubs," Stagliano said. "I probably met him a couple of times, but that was 25 years ago. I didn't actually remember meeting him."
Stagliano said his most recent meeting with Amiri came when the nightclub entrepreneur was putting together a deal to build Krave.
"I became a major investor," he said. "Amiri knows how to open good clubs and restaurants."
The condition for the investment, however, was that Stagliano be allowed to bring "Fashionistas" to Krave.
"I remodeled the stage at my own expense," he said. "It's like a four-wall arrangement. I have two deals going here -- one, investing in the club, and the other, putting the show in the club."
If the avant-garde production is successful Stagliano foresees franchising it.
"Its exotic appeal would work in other places, like London," he said.
Even if the production works, and he fulfills another dream to open a bigger show at another venue on the Strip, he says he will continue to produce adult movies.
"I really love making movies," Stagliano said. "I will make a lot more -- but dancing is still a big passion in my life."