Before being know as rapper Ice-T’s wife and star of the reality TV show “Ice Loves Coco,” Coco Austin was a dancer. That’s one side of her Vegas audiences get to see when she steps on stage as the new star of “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. Of course, her other assets are also on display in the adult topless revue.
“It’s an exhilarating feeling to be practically naked, but you know I was just hoping that people would like my body. I’ve been working out really hard lately,” said Austin, a former Playboy model.
Austin plays the lead role of “Bo Peep,” a modern woman who has yet to find her own confidence and sexuality. The role was formerly held by Holly Madison. Austin is scheduled to perform in the show through spring 2013.
The character starts out shy and learns to be confident and feel sexy through the various characters she meets. All of the characters represent nursery rhymes told with a naughty twist. By the end of “Peepshow,” “Bo Peep” is a vivacious vixen — much like Austin’s personality in real life, but that doesn’t mean she’s on stage just being herself.
“When people come see me, I really want it to be Coco Bo Peep, that’s what I call myself, ” said Austin. “I didn’t want it to be, ‘Oh Coco’s playing herself.’ I’m actually playing a character, a shy, unconfident character, and I wanted people to see my acting skills.”
Austin started dancing jazz, tap and ballet when she was 6. When she was 10 her family moved from California to Albuquerque, N. M. where she was involved with productions at the Albuquerque Little Theatre.
When she was 24, Austin parlayed her performance skills into modeling and began specializing in swimsuit, lingerie and body modeling. She has modeled for calendars, catalogs and videos. In 2001, Austin worked for Playboy at various events and parties held at the Playboy Mansion. That same year she married Ice-T. In 2008, Austin was featured in the March issue of “Playboy” magazine. Aside from her work as a model, Austin has appeared in various movies and television shows.
Through her work as a model and performer, Austin has become an inspiration for many women on how to be fit and sexy, making her a perfect fit for her role as “Bo Peep.” Along with her real life persona, Austin’s curvy figure in contrast to the typical dancer’s tall and slim physique, makes her character very relatable for guests at “Peepshow.”
“For audience members, girls live through me. They’re like, ‘You know I could be Coco one day,’ so they try to picture themselves on stage because they have womanly figures. They try to think, ‘Coco’s just like us,’ which I am,” said Austin.
Whether you want to be like her or see her sultry moves live, Austin’s performances in Vegas are something you’ll want to take more than just a peep at. VEGAS.com had a chance to talk to Austin about her new role and what it’s like to be part of a Vegas show. Here’s what she had to say:
Q. How has your experience in “Peepshow” been so far?
A. “It was really exciting because I always wanted to use my dance skills again. I’ve always been a dancer in my younger career, and they (the show’s choreographers) just said, ‘hey you know what, we’ll make it a part of the show.’”
Did they change the show at all to better fit with your background as a dancer?
“They did. They added a new routine called burlesque. The story is the same, but we changed it up a little bit. People that have seen it a long time ago have to see it again because they’ll see it’s definitely like night and day.”
Did you have to do anything different to prepare yourself for performing in front of a live audience versus what you do on television?
“No, not really. I just try to be myself, but when people come see me I really want it to be Coco Bo Peep, that’s what I call myself. I didn’t want to be Coco. I didn’t want it to be, ‘Oh Coco’s playing herself.’ I’m actually playing a character, a shy, unconfident character, and I wanted people to see my acting skills. Of course, at the end I get confident, and I become myself. But in the very beginning, I’m very shy.”
Was there anything that you really wanted to bring to your role as Bo Peep to make it your own?
“I had seen the show a couple years ago, and I saw what that was all about. I really wanted to be the best little Bo Peep there was, and I didn’t know how I was going to do it… You kind of channel the character when you’re in costume and you’re in make-up and hair. Once you’re on stage, you channel it, and I was just trying to be the best little Bo Peep I could possibly be and hopefully people would like it. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. There was no prepping in the acting. I just knew I had to become a shy girl.”
Was that hard to do?
“It wasn’t hard to do. That was the last thing we were even working on. We were mostly working on the dance and the choreography, and the last day I just kind of channeled Bo Peep.”
Did you ever envision that you would be headlining in a Vegas show?
“I never even thought about it. First of all, I don’t have the body. I’m short, and I’m kind of stocky. So I would think, that will never happen. I always discussed it in dance class when I was 9 years old. You know dancers, when you’re that age, you’re always trying to get to Vegas, that’s the level you want to get to, but even though I talked about it I never thought I was really going to be there someday.”
What is it like being on stage with the other professional dancers in the show?
“Well when I first got there I was seeing these beautiful tall, slender bodies that were athletic build. Even though I’m athletic build, I’m a softer athletic build. I’m kind of more thicker, and I felt like oh no I’m going to have to stand right next to these girls? But, they made me feel so comfortable and confident, I couldn’t care less. People have to accept my body for who I am.”
That seems like a perfect fit for this show because that’s part of what your character represents on stage.
“For audience members, girls live through me. They’re like, ‘You know I could be Coco one day,’ so they try to picture themselves on stage because they have womanly figures. They try to think, ‘Coco’s just like us,’ which I am.”
Was there any apprehension for you about being topless in a live show and having to dance around?
“No. It’s an exhilarating feeling to be practically naked, but you know I was just hoping that people would like my body. I’ve been working out really hard lately… It’s a good scenario that everyone’s there to see you, and they’re rooting for you. So I wasn’t worried too much. It does help that I have a little experience in the Playboy world.”
Which do you enjoy doing more? Being on television or performing live?
“Well they’re completely different. Being on stage there’s nothing like it. It’s definitely my favorite. Performing and getting the reaction and the energy from the audience, there’s nothing like it. Shooting a show there’s just cameras. You don’t have that audience. You’re just being yourself on camera, it’s not like you’re acting. There’s really no challenge in that. There’s more challenge in “Peepshow.”