Hit New York City production "Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man" comes to Paris Las Vegas with stars Kendra Wilkinson ("Kendra on Top," "The Girls Next Door") and Jai Rodriguez ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," ABC's "Malibu Country," Broadway's "Rent"). Written by Matt Murphy and based on the novel of the same name by Dan Anderson and Maggie Berman, the show has been acclaimed as "hysterically titillating" by TheaterMania and hailed by Broadway World as "a night of laughter that makes you feel good in all the wrong places."
"I saw the show in New York City and was excited to be asked to join the production and debut it in Vegas," said Wilkinson, whose starring role will be prominently featured in the forthcoming season of "Kendra on Top." "People spend so much time covering up or hiding their sexuality. My character progresses from being a shy, passive professor to a sexually empowered woman ready to seize the world and the men in it."
In the sex-affirmative, coming-of-age show, Wilkinson stars as Robyn, the bookish and demure host of a university authors forum. Featured author Dan Anderson, played by Rodriguez, brings Robyn out of her professorial shell by encouraging her and audience members to embrace their naughtiest instincts with the help of Stefan, her hunky stage assistant. Casting for the role of Stefan will be announced at a later date.
"This is 'Queer Eye for the Straight Woman'," said Rodriguez, whose work on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" garnered an Emmy. "I'm excited to work with Kendra and bring this refreshingly modern show to the Las Vegas Strip."
We were so excited when we found out Jai was coming to town again, we caught up with Jai for an interview before the show even started rehearsal.
QLife: Welcome to Las Vegas! Are you excited about your residency here?
Jai: I’m excited, but I’m walking into a big question mark because I've only lived here for a month during Queer Eye. It was at the height of the show.We had already done a crazy amount of episodes in New York. We lived at Caesars Palace during filming one season. It will be a different experience than living in Los Angeles. I got to meet Jennifer Lopez. She was dating Ben Affleck, and he was playing on Celebrity Poker Showdown. I was sitting in the friends and family section, and Jennifer slid in next to me and was like, “Oh my god I love your show!” That was, gosh, eleven years ago. I can't believe it's been that long.
QLife: This time you’re going to be across the street from Caesars Palace at Paris. Tell us about your new show.
Jai: “Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man” is the longest-running off-Broadway comedy. It's a scripted play that has a lot of really fun interactive audience moments. I saw it about five or six weeks ago in New York. I read the script, but I had never seen the play. Summertime is a notoriously slow time for television, so I thought I would try to do a theater piece in New York or do a film. When this project came along it felt like the best summer fit. I just did Buyer & Celler this fall, which is a great one-person play. Gary Marshall cast me in that right before he passed away. That gave me a good feel for an off-broadway house and to carry a show that way.
QLife: Why is a gay man giving sex tips to a straight woman? What is the plot of this show?
Jai: I can't tell you the number of comments I’ve gotten from people who read the title and saw the sizzle reel and we're like, “Oh that's so cool you and Kendra are giving sex tips!” I thought they were joking. It’s about an author who writes a book with his female best friend and it's titled “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man.” That is a real true thing. That really happened. Where the fictitious part of the play comes in is when the author Matt Murphy was going to do a talk-back with the audience and the moderator had not read the book, nor was she comfortable with the contents of the book. In that moment, Dan Anderson, the character I play, is an over-the-top showman and he's met with sort of a prude, but he has to do this job and sell the book. This is her time moderating and she always wanted to be a moderator at these events so she needs to make sure that this session with the author goes extremely well—however uncomfortable she might be with the content.
There is a third character, the Scientist, that my character suckers in at the University to run the lights and sound because my talk back, unlike any other authors they have ever had, has lighting and special effects and sound and all this crazy audience interaction they’ve never had before. The Scientist is played by a hunky guy, the “Thunder from Down Under” looking fellow. Maybe not THAT good looking, but at least someone who would garner a lady's attention.
What I didn't expect was that—it takes a lot to make me blush—but there’s such good writing and you’re using very explicit language. I’m not shocked, but when you use colorful language to describe explicit acts, I am like blushing! What’s so great about the show is that it’s really for everybody. When I saw it in New York, there were straight couples, gays, bachelorette parties. Kendra and I are so innately difference than the New York cast, and we get to make these roles our own.
QLife: When and where are you performing?
Jai: We’re going to be at Paris in the Anthony Cools Theater. Our only dark night is Wednesday.
QLife; Where will you be living while you are here?
Jai: I think they are just putting me in corporate housing. Nothing fancy. I’m sure they’ll put Kendra up in some fancy digs, so I’ll go hang out at her place. I’ll be living here full time because we only have one night off. I’m sure Kendra and I will be doing things together until her family gets here. They’ll be coming when the kids are done with school.
QLife: Have you done a long engagement like this before where you’ve had such a long residency away from home?
Jai: I've lived out of town before, but only about two months. Nothing longer than that. This will be the longest I've committed to being out of town. Los Angeles isn’t that far to drive back and forth, but it is certainly a commitment to be away. I have aquariums; do I need a house sitter? What’s the protocol for this?
QLife: Just drive back on Wednesdays to feed the fish!
Jai: Can you imagine [laughs].
QLife: Will you become a part of the local community while you’re here?
Jai: I don't know the local lifestyle, so I’m opening myself up to the experience of exploring the nightlife scene—the straight nightlife—which I've never done before. I avoid the straight nightclubs like the plague. Why? Because women get treated better than men. That’s not going to be the best for me. So I’m curious to see Vegas through Kendra’s eyes, and I’m looking forward to showing here some of gay Las Vegas, the pool parties, Piranha, or whatever is happening in the city right now. I’ve also been long time friends with Edie from Zumanity, so I’m looking forward to her showing me around, too.
The 75-minute production combines comedy, charisma, and a lot of sass to create a memorable evening perfect for everyone from couples looking to spice up their routines to groups interested in a girls' - or guys' - night out. Performing eight shows a week in an intimate theater just off the casino floor, audience members can expect a highly interactive show that draws upon their own participation to demonstrate many of the most outrageous and hilarious techniques.
"Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man" will perform nightly (dark Wednesdays) at 7 p.m. with additional 11 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are now on sale and start at $39 (plus taxes and fees). A VIP ticket upgrade will be available and includes a meet-and-greet and souvenir photo with the stars. For more information, visit https://www.caesars.com/paris-las-vegas/shows/sex-tips or follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @SexTipsVegas