Showgirl's life Podcast

Athena Patacsil—a former principal dancer in Donn Arden’s Jubilee!—aka Gazella, takes you behind the scenes of vintage Showgirl shows. A Showgirl’s Life celebrates the history of the Showgirl with exclusive interviews of former cast members and crew from some of the most iconic Showgirl spectaculars that hit the stages in Las Vegas and Paris.

EPISODES​

Show notes pages listed below, with the most recent episodes on top. Enjoy!!

ep 42 Being treated like celebrities as Vegas entertainers of the 70s and 80s featuring Joe Macchieverna

Joe Macchieverna started off opening Hello Hollywood Hello as a singer and then continued on to be part of the opening cast of Jubilee! As a chorus singer and eventually worked his way to Principal in Jubilee and then the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana.

ep 41 Female leaders in Showbiz who worked in a time of cultural and societal oppression featuring Su Kim Chung

Su Kim Chung, head of the Special Collections at the UNLV library joins us again to chat about the matriarchs in the Showgirl’s life, Madame Bluebell and Fluff LeCoque. We discuss generational differences for women in society regarding money, property and work. 

ep 40 The gratitude and grace of a third generation Las Vegas performer as she continues her legacy despite restrictions featuring Skyla Johnson

Skyla Johnson, currently performing in Las Vegas at the Luxor in Fantasy, shares how her showbiz lineage has shaped her as a performer and woman. We discuss her audition for the show, the differences between classic Las Vegas Showgirls and the current performers on “The Strip” as well as lessons she has learned from her family about Show business. 

ep 39 How wanting more than “a little job” propelled her into her fabulous life in show business featuring Janet Kravenko

Janet Kravenko was hired by Madame Bluebell at the age of 17 to join her touring company in 1957. She was traveling around Europe with seven other girls performing in the prestigious troupe while absorbing the experience of a lifetime as a professional dancer.

ep 37 & 38 How being a “Donn Arden girl” has shaped life as a teacher, choreographer and woman featuring Alison Kravenko part 1 and part 2

Alison Kravenko was destined to be a Showgirl. It is part of her family legacy. Her mother was one of the original Bluebells to come across the pond to perform in the Lido de Paris at the Stardust hotel back in 1958.

ep 36 How being a Showgirl strengthens work ethic, confidence and being a woman comfortable in her own body featuring Amelia Bruff

Today’s episode features Amelia Bruff, former Bluebell dancer, magic assistant, line captain and swing from Donn Arden’s Jubilee. Amelia, or Millie as she was known to cast and crew, spent a total of 14 years on the Jubilee stage. 

BONUS episode February Guests

This bonus episode features stories from guests in February. Guests featured are Gayve Littles, Victor Littles and Andrew Branche. Available only on Patreon.

ep 35 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 7

This is the final episode of a seven part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. To culminate this series, I bring together the most impactful stories, previously unpublished, from the guests in this series and a few more from other guest’s conversations. 

ep 34 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 6, featuring Andrew Branche

This is part six of a seven part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. Andrew Branche, former principal dancer in Jubilee, began his career as a dancer in his late teens. Inspired by a touring cast of Cats, specifically, Mr. Mistoffelees, Andrew was smitten and began his journey to Showboy in Jubilee.

ep 33 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 4, featuring Victor Littles

Listen to the next episode now! Victor Littles was a dancer in the line formerly known as the “Ebony Guys” in Jubilee. He started his dance training late, but was able to work as a professional dancer with the help of mentors like Winston Hemsley and Tricia Lee, guiding him along the way.

ep 32 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 4, featuring Gayve Littles

Listen to next week’s episode now! This is part four of a seven part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. Gayve Littles shares her story about 12 years in the show as a Woman of Color and how it impacted her life.

BONUS episode January Guests

This bonus episode features stories from guests in January. Guests featured are Karan Feder, Jakki Ford and Anthony Brown. Available only on Patreon.

ep 31 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 3, featuring Anthony Brown

Listen to next week’s episode now! This is part three of a seven part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. Anthony Brown started his Las Vegas entertainer journey in Reno performing in Hello, Hollywood, Hello. After one short contract, he joined the Ebony Guys and Gals line in Jubilee. 

ep 30 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 2, featuring Jakki Ford

This is part two of a seven part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. Jakki Ford picks up from last week and shares her thoughts on joy and diversity. 

ep 29 Diversifying the Narrative: stories from dancers of the line formerly known as the Ebony line and beyond part 1, featuring Jakki Ford

Today’s episode kicks off a 7 part series in which I feature guests that are all People of Color that performed in Hallelujah Hollywood, Jubilee, and/or Hello, Hollywood, Hello between 1973-2016. I begin this journey talking about my own experience with diversity growing up, then bring in Jakki Ford to share her thoughts on diversity and the future of this country. 

ep 28 The importance of preserving the Showgirl through costume preservation and its individual history featuring Karan Feder

From dressing Mitzi Gaynor on tour straight out of fashion design school to designing for film and fashion, Karan Feder’s path led her to her position curating the costume and textiles collection at the Nevada State Museum Las Vegas where she helps preserve this unique time in Las Vegas history for generations to come.

ep 27 Auditions: Does it ever get any easier? Featuring Athena Patacsil

Today’s episode is all about AUDITIONS! Listen in to hear about my experiences with auditions from my very first ballet audition when I was 12 years old until my final audition as Principal in Jubilee! eighteen years later.

BONUS episode December Guests

This bonus episode features three showboys from various shows across the globe spanning four decades of performing: Sal Angelica, Alan Clancy and Scott Barnard. Available only on Patreon.

ep 26 Occupational hazards of dancing in a topless show featuring Scott Barnard

Scott Barnard went from taking classes in a small village in New York to a full scholarship to train with Gus Giordano in Chicago. After a year of training, he went to Las Vegas, where the tall dancers went, to audition for Jubilee.

ep 25 Las Vegas really was the Wild Wild West featuring Alan Clancy

Alan Clancy came to Las Vegas in his early twenties after traveling the world as an acrobat from the age of 17, and then performing in Fredrick Apcar’s Casino de Paris production in Sydney, Australia. 

ep 24 The joy of being asked by producers to work for them without an audition featuring Sal Angelica

Today’s very special guest, Sal Angelica, shares about his journey from Brooklyn to the stages of Las Vegas and beyond over his 35+ year career as a dancer and adagio partner.

ep 23 What happens when weight notices don't bother you featuring Janet Sawczuk-Chapman

This episode features former Las Vegas Showgirl turned Pilates instructor, Janet Sawczuk-Chapman. From her first professional dancing job in Japan to jobs on the Las Vegas strip, she shares about the decade she spent on the Jubilee Theatre stage.

BONUS November Guests

This is the fourth episode in a series of bonuses that I am offering exclusively to my patrons, on Patreon.

This bonus is a little bit hodge podge because of the two special episodes that aired this month, the topless episode and the MGM Fire anniversary episode. But there are still some great stories shared by all the guests that didn’t make the public cut!

ep 22 We started breaking that color barrier featuring Jakki Ford

This episode features the multi-talented star, Jakki Ford sharing her story about how she got started in the performing arts and how she has worked as a model, dancer and actress. We discuss how she sang and danced in all three of Donn Arden’s MGM productions and continues to sing and record albums to this day.

BONUS episode: The show will go on!

The fire on November 21, 1980, destroyed millions of dollars worth of costumes and sets and claimed the life of one of the crew members. This episode is about the rebuild and the tremendous effort that it took to go from destruction to opening night.

ep 21 MGM Grand fire and the impact on the opening of Jubilee! Featuring Pete Menefee, Diana Eden and Jakki Ford

The fire on November 21, 1980, destroyed millions of dollars worth of costumes and sets and claimed the life of one of the crew members. This episode is about the rebuild and the tremendous effort that it took to go from destruction to opening night.

ep 20 The hidden stories of shame about being a topless dancer

This episode features excerpts from previous guests discussing the subject of being a topless dancer and the shame (or not) surrounding it. Each guest has unique perspectives and experiences about their time being a Showgirl or topless dancer and how it has shaped their life since.

ep 19 Now stick that giant headpiece on and go featuring Sheri Lewis

This episode features excerpts from previous guests discussing the subject of being a topless dancer and the shame (or not) surrounding it. Each guest has unique perspectives and experiences about their time being a Showgirl or topless dancer and how it has shaped their life since.

ep 18 I really felt right at home featuring Donna London

Donna London, former head of wardrobe of Jubilee shares her story of unexpectedly joining the circus and then moving to Las Vegas and joining the wardrobe crew of Jubilee in the winter of 1981. She shares about her time as a wardrobe technician and then moving up to management during her 33 1/2 years with the show.

ep 17 We all played dress up featuring Diana Eden

This episode features broadway dancer turned costume designer, Diana Eden. We discuss her brief, but important role in the creation of Jubilee as the assistant to Bob Mackie and Pete Menefee. She was the creator and keeper of the famed “Costume Bibles” that were used to help rebuild the costumes after the tragic MGM fire in 1980.

ep 16 Feathery Revelry featuring Lindita Torres-Winters & Martie McNabb

What happens when you put Showgirl hats and jewelry on a chef and an entrepreneur? Surprising results! These two women, bravely attended a Feathery Revelry and got to experience the magic of the Art of the Showgirl.

ep 15 We were there at the opening featuring Anne Marie O'Connor

This episode features a woman that became a Bluebell in the opening cast of Jubilee and then went on to create her own showgirl troupes all over the world in the 1980s. Anne Marie O’Connor shares her Showgirl story And how that time shaped her life today.

ep 14 The showgirl gave me confidence featuring Su Kim Chung

This episode features the more scholarly side of the history of the Showgirl. My guest, Su Kim Chung, Head of Public Services, talks about her role in the preservation of the Showgirl legacy for the UNLV library Special Collections and Archives in Las Vegas. 

BONUS September guests

Here’s the September bonus episode! Featuring Sheri Lewis, Elana McKinley-Braianis, Anna Cooke, and Christopher Childers. These were fun little excerpts that I saved just for you!!

ep 13 Hanging out in the Showgirls dressing room with Christopher Childers

This episode of Showgirl’s Life features former Principal dancer of the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, Christopher Childers. Christopher’s career took him from Dancing in production shows on the Las Vegas Strip, to touring the world as a dancer with such celebrities as Paula Abdul, Madonna, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson to name a few.

ep 12 Command the stage with a walk featuring Anna Cooke

In this episode, featuring my good friend from Jubilee!, Anna Cooke, we go through her career from theme parks to cruise ships to Vegas performer over the course of 27 years. 

ep 11 Sparkle Darlings featuring Elana Mckinley-Braianis

Today’s episode features Elana McKinley-Braianis, from Australia. She is a former Bluebell turned principal dancer that performed in La Scala Barcelona and later moved to Las Vegas to perform in Merci Beaucoup, Bare Touch of Vegas and Casino de Paris.

ep 10 You have to be this tall to ride this ride featuring Sheri Lewis

This very special episode features Bluebells Forever podcast host and former Showgirl, Sheri Lewis. Together, we share the hot seat as we interview each other and discuss why we started our podcasts, the fabulous experience of being Bluebells and Showgirls, the global Bluebell reunion 2019 in Paris and being women in this world.

BONUS August guests

This is the second bonus episode available from my podcast. A few juicy bits that didn’t make the public cut. Featuring Pete Menefee, Nikki Adamo, Randall Patterson, Rosemary “Rosebud” Tall DeHart and Frieda Bronfin.

ep 9 Better than corporations and Cirque featuring Frieda Bronfin

This episode features a former wardrobe technician in Jubilee for 20 years. Frieda Bronfin was part of the crew that helped us in and out of our costumes and kept them looking dazzling and in good condition, night after night. 

ep 8 Chassé, Push and Smile featuring Rosemary Tall DeHart

This episode features Rosemary “Rosebud” Tall DeHart, former Bluebell dancer turned dealer in the Las Vegas casinos.

ep 7 You can never go back featuring Randall Patterson

Today’s episode features Randall Patterson, former principal singer in Jubilee! He has the distinction of having had the longest stint between Jubilee contracts—of 18 years. 

ep 6 Mobsters and lobsters featuring Nikki Adamo

This episode features former Principal dancer, Nikki Adamo Schwebel where we dive into how different show life was before corporations took over, when the mob ran the shows. As well as the magic of being a performer in a production show in Vegas.

ep 5 Like being shot out of a cannon featuring Pete Menefee

This week’s episode features the legendary costume designer, Pete Menefee, where he shares his about how he transitioned to costume design from dance and how designing for cabaret is like learning a new language. A bit longer than previous episodes, but you’re in for a treat!

BONUS July guests

This is the second bonus episode available from my podcast. A few juicy bits that didn’t make the public cut. Featuring Athena Patacsil, Eileen Ryans-Scott, Rachel Zinn and Lindsey Raven.

ep 4 Thrown into the deep end featuring Lindsey Raven

This episode features Lindsey Raven, former Bluebell dancer, as she tells of her path from England and her very first dance audition for Madam Bluebell to moving across the pond to Las Vegas at the age of 19 to perform in Donn Arden’s Jubilee as one of the opening cast members.

ep 3 Under the microscope featuring Rachel Zinn

Rachel Zinn, former Las Vegas Showgirl tells about her journey from The Royal Ballet School in London to the Jubilee Theatre at Bally’s Las Vegas. 

ep 2 Running off to join the circus featuring Eileen Ryans-Scott

From circus Showgirl to classic Las Vegas Showgirl, Eileen Ryans Scott tells the real truth about what it was like to be an African-American dancer in Las Vegas. She explains how “advance” audition notices alerted her to attend an audition and how she eventually landed her dream job as a Showgirl in Donn Arden’s Jubilee!

ep 1 Launching from the Hotseat featuring Athena Patacsil

This episode is the introduction to the host of Showgirl’s Life podcast, Athena Patacsil, aka Gazella. Learn about her path to becoming a Las Vegas Showgirl, why she began this podcast, and sneak peeks to future episodes.

Want more showgirl stories?

Every episode will feature a guest that has worked in Showgirl productions in Las Vegas and all over the world.
Bonus photos and videos are being created weekly for members. Your support will help pay for the costs of running this website, and to pay for all the services required to create and run a podcast. If you want to support these efforts, become a member today!