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Blender
Burner
May 2004

BURNER

Fruity! Elton John goes Vegas with the most insane (and sexy) stage ever, including inflatable bananas and nuts.

Elton John has launched a series of Las Vegas gigs with the greatest rock stage set ever devised. Designed by top photographer David LaChapelle, the set features a vast LED screen that shows films made especially for the show, including one of Pamela Anderson pole dancing. Suggestive props – including provocatively shaped fruit and fake breasts that shoot streamers across the audience – inflate suddenly at various points through- out the show. The set represents the underbelly of Las Vegas and touches on certain addictions and obsessions, LaChapelle explained. "I didn't want it clean", he said, speaking on the phone from the Jacuzzi in the backyard of his Los Angeles home. "People come to Vegas looking to fill a void – those obsessions and addictions are substitutes for love. People come to Vegas looking for that, to fill that space. It's not a judgment – we just wanted to celebrate what Vegas means".

John, 57, asked LaChapelle to design the set for the 4,100 – capacity Colosseum at Caesars Palace even though the photographer had no previous theatrical experience.

"He was like, ' I have been in the business 35 years – I wanted to be surprised,'" LaChapelle, 34, said. "And when he makes decisions, the money people have to follow. He's Elton John. If he's got your back, you have nothing to worry about. No one wants to fuck with him. He is the don of the gay mafia".

John will play roughly 75 greatest - hits shows, consisting of about 15 songs each, at the venue over the next three years. He will fill in on days Celine Dion is not scheduled to appear.

– Noel Boddie