Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 12:49 p.m.
As those who have been tracking social media have learned over the past several days, Angel Porrino’s run in “Absinthe” has closed out. Her last show as the balloon-bouncing specialty act in the tented show outside Caesars Palace was last Wednesday. Porrino was under contract through October, and this move was a producers’ decision.
Porrino, who grew up in Las Vegas, joined the show a month into its first six-month run at Roman Plaza in April 2011. In the production, she spent between three and four minutes performing a striptease and dancing inside a big balloon. It was a pretty funny, sexy and expensive showpiece. The balloons are $20 apiece, but the crowd always got a kick out of the act.
In a text over the weekend asking the question, “What is next for you, Angel?” Porrino said:
“I could not possibly be more happy about this change! I have been trapped inside a bubble (literally) doing a time step for three minutes twice a night for three years, and I’m obviously excited to create something new! I am happy and proud that I helped get that production off the ground and bring it the popularity it has received with my loyal fans, but I’m realIy excited to move on.”
Porrino also said she was not planning to renew her contract in October anyway because she needed to get out of that balloon and expand her artistic horizons. And in a contention that raised a few eyebrows (and hackles) in the Las Vegas entertainment community, she took a swipe at the production that did provide her with one of the cushiest performance roles on the Strip.
“A lot of changes have been made, people that I respected and enjoyed working with are no longer with the company, such as Scott Zeiger, and when people start leaving, you have to ask yourself why,” she said. “A downhill spiral usually follows, and downward isn’t a direction I go! I wish them all the best, and I am extremely thankful for some of the very special relationships I have taken away from the experience!”
Zeiger (who I am sure is thrilled to be mentioned in this context) is the former co-CEO of Base Entertainment, which produces “Absinthe” in a partnership with Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison. In January, Zeiger announced plans to leave Base for a role with Cirque du Soleil to head up that company’s new theatrical division. Base produces several shows on the Strip (“Jersey Boys,” “Rock of Ages,” “Million Dollar Quartet”), and it is unlikely to the extreme that his decision to join Cirque had anything to do with “Absinthe.”
When Porrino joined the then-new show at Caesars, she had gained a measure of national fame on the E! reality TV series “Holly’s World,” which focused on Holly Madison and her friends and colleagues during Madison’s run in “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood.
The friendship between Madison and Porrino famously fractured long ago, with Madison saying to me in an interview in the fall of 2012, “‘Did this person change because a little bit of fame went to their head? Or was this person just always fake to me the whole time and just wanted to use me for opportunities?” It was a jarring statement given the close relationship the two once shared (Porrino even lived in Madison’s home for a time soon after the birth of her son, Roman) and the boost Madison had given Porrino’s career. Porrino also subbed for Madison in “Peepshow” and took the Bo Peep role in the show after Madison left in October 2012 and before Coco Austin arrived last spring.
As to the “why” of the decision to move Porrino off-stage, in a statement Mollison said only: “We wish her the best of luck in future endeavors. We constantly review creative choices and look forward to ‘Absinthe’s’ continued growth and popularity with the wonderful audiences of Las Vegas.”
During her run in the show, Porrino had taken up with another former member of the cast, high-wire artist Tony “Tightropes” Hernandez of the now-defunct Esteemed Gentlemen of the High Wire act (since renamed The Frat Pack). An original cast member, the artistically terrific Hernandez was shown the door soon after he was arrested on domestic violence charges involving an incident with his wife, Lijana Wallenda (a member of the legendary Flying Wallendas family of circus artists) back in August. Hernandez has thrown darts at the new Frat Pack act and the production on social media ever since he left and is working in New York.
A few days before Porrino was lopped from the cast, Hernandez posted an Instagram photo where a magazine cover of the “Absinthe” cast had been altered. The images of Michal “Misha 10-Pack” Furmanczyk, Melody Sweets, The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets had been blurred with the messages, “How bummed is it that Melody has to stand next to @AngelPorrino …” (How the world sees the pic #truth),” and “Feel bad for anyone that has to stand next to @AngelPorrino ... cuz this is how it looks.” Porrino thought it a good idea to retweet that latter sentiment. I asked Mollison what he thought of the social media exchange, and he said that he hadn’t seen the posts but that it was “good to hear we are getting lots of promotion.” Soon after, Porrino’s tweet of the image was taken down.
There has been no definitive word on how or if the balloon act will return to “Absinthe,” which last month celebrated its 1,500th show and this month marks its third anniversary as one of the Strip’s top draws. Meantime, Porrino says she has “several irons in the fire” and hinted at moving out of Las Vegas, her hometown.
“I’m really excited to announce what’s next very soon!” she wrote and for that news said to catch her website at MissAngelPorrino.com. Or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, a process that is sometimes as entertaining as the balloon act itself.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.