Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Live and taped, ‘X’ sizzles in new home

Duct tape is Bubba's universal remedy for almost any problem.

Loose muffler? Tape it to the frame with some gray tape.

Missing car window? Clear plastic and duct tape.

Slice your finger off with a buzz saw? Duct tape.

"X: An Erotic Adventure" producers Bobby Boling and Angela Sampras are by no means Bubbas (or Bubbettes), but they have taken a page from the Bubba Book of Cure-Alls to solve a sticky problem.

When they were told their new venue was not zoned for topless, they covered the nipples of their dancers with black tape crisscrossed to make an "X."

Simple, but brilliant.

And effective.

While Boling and Sampras continue to try and get the zoning they need to remove the tape (very carefully, of course), the Bubba cure is proving to have an erotic nature of its own.

Sometimes when things are left to the imagination, they are more powerful than the real thing. I don't feel the production has given up an inch of eroticism by using tape.

When "X" premiered at Aladdin's 400-seat CenterStage Showroom two years ago, the venue was in a different part of the property. It was near the casino, an area where topless shows were permitted.

True to its name, the show was an erotic adventure that raised the bar on eroticism on the Strip.

But after more than a year the Aladdin took back the showroom and remodeled it for magician Steve Wyrick.

The show suddenly found itself both topless and homeless.

Boling and Sampras then opened "X" at Harvey's Lake Tahoe (where it continues to play), but kepttheir eyes open for opportunities to return to Vegas.

That came when entertainment impresario David Saxe took over a theater in Desert Passage.

The fact that the theater, V, was not zoned for topless became a challenge, rather than an obstacle, for co-producers Boling and Sampras, who have managed to retain much of the sexual atmosphere created by their original production.

"X" premiered at its new Vegas site in November.

The eight cast members are dancers first -- several are classically trained in ballet -- and showgirls second. That does not make them any less sexy -- merely more polished in their performances.

The dancers include Roberta Lorincz, Yelena Lagereva, Michelle Thibodeaux, Shakira Onstead, Christy King, Melania De Los Santos, Catherine Treu and Alex Foss.

Unlike performers in some other shows, the "X" women don't pretend to sing as they dance. Their focus is on what they do best.

They are are not cut from the same mold. There is an air of individuality, both physically and artistically, as they perform sensual routines while backed by such contemporary hits as "Yeah!" (Usher), "Cowboy" (Kid Rock) and "Criminal" (Fiona Apple).

There are several new routines, but others have been carried over -- including a vertical bed number featuring Lorincz and Lagereva cavorting on a mattress that is almost standing on end.

New to the production is Amy Miller, Playboy's lingerie model of the year for 2002. The buxom blonde is the permanent guest star.

She performs a couple of routines ("Playmate Photo Shoot"; "Mile High Club"), but she needs do nothing more than inhale and exhale to excite the crowd.

But even Miller's curves can't save one scene that has been retained by the production that could have been abandoned, as far as I'm concerned -- a comedy bit in which three dancers wearing schoolgirl uniforms try to make jokes about the sexuality of past presidents.

Miller portrays a teacher. The piece falls flat, which is ironic in light of Miller's greatest assets.

Also a distraction to the overall quality of the show is resident comedian James Bean.

Bean lacks the timing and comedic punch of John Padon, who was the featured comic relief when "X" premiered two years ago. His monologue about masturbating only made me want to put duct tape over his mouth.

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