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September 20, 2014

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As ‘Peepshow’ ends Sunday, rumors run rampant that it’ll return — and Coco Austin says she’ll be back, too

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David Becker/WireImage

Nicole “Coco” Austin appears onstage after her official opening-night performance of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.

Coco Austin in Peepshow

Nicole Launch slideshow »

LDW2011: Ice-T and Coco Austin at Rehab

Ice-T and Coco Austin at Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel on Sept. 4, 2011. Launch slideshow »

LDW2011: Ice-T and Coco Austin at HRH

Ice-T and Coco Austin at Vanity and 35 Steaks + Martinis at the Hard Rock Hotel on Sept. 2, 2011. Launch slideshow »

“To me, it’s not goodbye — in my heart, it’s just a break. I hope it’s not the end.”

Curvy Coco Austin admitted that she had tears in her eyes when I spoke with her over the phone Wednesday about this Sunday night’s closing of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood.

After 4 1/2 years and 1,500 shows, “Peepshow” will shed its last bra, G-string and fishnet. “But I have hopes that it will return in a new home sometime,” she said. “If it does and the producers invite me to return, I promise to come back.

“I’ve only been in the show for 9 months, but it feels a very big part of my life. I have loved living and working in Las Vegas. The cast has become my family. They opened their arms to me. I’m surprised that we all became so close.

“I felt like their little sister as they watched out for me. I’ve seen the cast through dating dramas, marriage proposals, weddings and pregnancies. I am really going to miss them all so much.

“The last night is going to be so hard. We’ve already had tears streaming down our faces this week. When Cheaza sings to me onstage, we’re both totally losing it. I’m doing my best trying to keep everybody’s spirits high, but it’s tough knowing we’re all going our separate ways.”

During its run, “Peepshow” starred Kelly Monaco, Aubrey O’Day and Holly Madison (with “Absinthe’s” Angel Porrino as her understudy) as “Bo Peep.” Holly played “Bo Peep” longer than anyone, from July 2009 through last October.

Cheaza, who succeeded former Spice Girls singer Melanie Brown (her run ended in March 2010) and then Broadway star Shoshana Bean as “Peep Diva,” releases her debut record in September.

I’ve already reported that co-star Josh Strickland is in talks to join an existing show on the Strip after a vacation. Coco and Josh wrote guest columns while I was away this summer in Europe.

The burlesque production created by award-winning Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell premiered in April 2009 and is the longest-running show in the history of Planet Hollywood. It was shuttered for three months in January 2010 for a retooling and then reopened with Holly. Coco took over last December.

During our exclusive one-on-one interview, Coco told me that the most memorable moment of her run was during the first weeks when she actually knocked herself out. It’s a story never told until now.

“In the early part of the show, the lights go totally dark and we all run offstage,” she explained. “I still hadn’t gotten all my marks down, so when I bolted offstage, I ran full on into a big LED screen. It was like a car crash. I hit it from my forehead to my boobs to my feet and blacked out.

“I fell down. I knocked myself out briefly. They wanted to get a dancer to stand in for me. I wasn’t having that. I said I’d shake it off and continue. If I couldn’t get through the show, I could say at least I tried. But I made it.

“However, it was an entire seven days of full-body makeup to cover the bruises. It’s something I’ll never forget. What a debut!”

I told Coco that I’d heard Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors that there were hopes for “Peepshow” to return in a new, “more economically viable” format to a new Strip hotel showroom.

She confided: “I have hopes that something can work out. There are lots of rumors and a lot of things going on. There are a lot of logistics and politics to be resolved.

“ ‘Peepshow’ should be performed in a much more intimate theater rather than the concert hall we’re in. It’s perfect for Meat Loaf, who’s coming in with a full-on rock show, but we should be far cozier.

“What’s next is the main question. It’s the hardest thing to decide how to make the right move. I have lots of offers, but the first thing is I go back home to New York to take care of my man.

“Ice [actor-rapper husband Ice-T] loved me being in the show. He was a proud husband. He came out to Vegas a lot to be with me, far more than everybody knew.

“But he’s just this moment starting filming Season 15 of ‘Law and Order,’ so I want to go back to my wifely duties. He’s been missing me, and I always used to schedule his life, so he’s my top priority again Monday morning.

“I go back East after our Sunday red carpet and farewell party at Body English in the Hard Rock. The dogs and the family will be all together again.

“One of the great things about my run in ‘Peepshow’ is that it got me into the best shape of my life — in the gym by day and dancing every night onstage. I’m better now at 34 years of age than I was when I was entered in fitness contests when I was 18 years old. I call that the ‘Peepshow’ diet!

“I mustn’t lose that. If I slip back into soft and curvy, I hope I keep it defined. I’d want to be in great shape if I get called back for the new ‘Peepshow.’ ”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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