Las Vegas Sun

July 24, 2014

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VENTRILOQUISM:

20 years later, Madame puppet hasn’t lost her outrageous edge

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If You Go

  • Who: Madame with special guest Rick Skye; vocalist Hilary Boyd opens the show
  • When: 8 tonight
  • Where: The Stage Door Theatre, Town Square
  • Tickets: $20; 914-9145, afanlv.org

Beyond the Sun

Sex-crazed puppet Madame returns to Las Vegas for a one-night stand.

Terry Fator’s cast of family-friendly dolls may want to cover their ears when the audacious, if aging, hussy steps into the spotlight at the Stage Door Theatre for tonight’s performance.

The outrageous puppet created by Wayland Flowers was a major Vegas attraction in the mid-’70s, about the time Fator got his first dummy when he was a kid in Dallas.

“I played Vegas with Wayland for over 20 years all together,” Madame says during a telephone interview. (She’s not sure where she is, she says, because her box doesn’t have windows.)

Madame, who entertained with double entendres, got her first big national break on “The Andy Williams Show.” Under Flowers’ guiding hand she became one of the most visible characters on television and in nightclubs during the ’70s and ’80s. She made guest appearances on such shows as “Laugh-In” and “Hollywood Squares.”

“I took Paul Lynde’s place in the center square after he died” in 1982, Madame says. “He was a sassy old dame too, I’ll tell you. They didn’t even realize it was me for two years after he passed on.”

“Squares” led to a syndicated sitcom “Madame’s Place,” which lasted a year.

Madame retired to her box for almost 20 years after Flowers died of complications from AIDS in 1988. (Part of the proceeds from tonight’s show will benefit Aid for AIDS of Nevada.)

“I retired when Wayland passed away,” she says. “That was a tough one.”

Rick Skye brought her out of her box last year.

“He wrote me a new show; it’s very clever,” she says. “He was so funny I asked if he would join me on the road. We make a good team. He’s been on Broadway and television and in movies and things like that. He has the same sense of humor I do.”

Their act debuted in November in Atlantic City, where they performed for eight weeks before going on tour.

“Everyone welcomed me back with broken arms,” says Madame, who is the same old degenerate, chasing younger men. “I haven’t changed.”

But her audiences have.

“Anyone who knows my original act knows that I was pretty bawdy,” she says. “Now all the kids are bawdy, too. Things have completely changed, and my show has changed to keep up with the times. I’m keeping one step ahead of the kiddies.

“The show is kind of an autobiography, a musical, like a mini-Broadway show. I’m singing and wear different costumes and there are videos and things like that to tell my life story.”

She’s bringing along her friend Crazy Mary — “if I can get her out of Bellevue in time to make the plane,” Madame says.

She says the extensive traveling tires her out.

“I’ve been touring a lot, cheering up America — one man at a time. I’m exhausted.”

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