Fashionistas' anniversary a good sign
By MIKE WEATHERFORD
REVIEW-JOURNAL [Original Article]
Faithful readers of this column are probably familiar with my bewilderment -- in a good way -- over a show called "The Fashionistas."
I consider it sort of a scientific lab animal, a "what if" experiment to see if something original, fresh and independent can survive on a Strip where corporate consolidation is starting to change entertainment. Big companies such as Clear Channel are moving in to sell branded, pretested product such as Broadway's "The Phantom of the Opera," making you wonder how long the little guys will last.
Granted, it wouldn't kill the Strip to thin the herd of magicians and jiggle shows. But we could use more bold efforts like "The Fashionistas," which tells a story through dance and interactive video.
As an experiment, however, the show lacks what you'd call a control group. It doesn't play inside a casino, but rather the free-standing Krave nightclub, which also is struggling and plagued with access issues. It's adjacent to the Desert Passage mall at the Aladdin, but has no entry from the inside of the mall.
In the face of all this, it's rewarding to talk to "Fashionistas" producer John Stagliano about Tuesday's planned celebration of the show's first anniversary. "I'm not surprised the show has lasted a year. I'm surprised that I've hung in there after losing so much money," he says with a laugh.
One of the many quirks of this story is that Stagliano subsidizes the production through the money he has made as a porn producer. "The Fashionistas" is, in fact, a spinoff of a hard-core title that sold about 65,000 copies. (Another quirk: "The Fashionistas" is the most erotic show in Las Vegas, but has no actual nudity because a nightclub's licensing is more restrictive than a casino's.)
"I really didn't expect it to be so difficult," Stagliano says. "Marketing in this town is so expensive and so difficult. ... Breaking into the public consciousness is difficult if you're a new show. New ideas are hard to get people used to buying. But Cirque du Soleil was a new idea when it came in."
Stagliano has been so busy trying to sell the production in London, he hasn't knocked on a lot of casino doors. But he can't help envy another adult show, "Fantasy," sharing operating expenses with comedian Carrot Top at the Luxor. "That would be an ideal situation," he says.
Time and public reaction are at least on his side now. "You know, I wouldn't keep the show going if it wasn't for the fact that people who come see the show really like it," he says.
Far from being discouraged, Stagliano talks about another idea he has for a second Las Vegas show. "This has been great, this experience, doing a live dance show. And I want to do more of it."
Now if he could only find another Carrot Top.