THE 60 SECOND INTERVIEW: HOLLIE VEST
By Chris Rose
The Times-Picayune – September 25, 2008
Hollie Vest resides in that curious pocket of the entertainment industry known as celebrity impersonator. The gig has treated her well; she's been at it for more than two decades and it gave her enough of a cushion to move to New Orleans several years ago and pursue her dream as a bed and breakfast proprietor.
Vest travels the world as an impersonator, but she gets a rare opportunity to perform in her adopted hometown this weekend in "Thrillusions, " an entertainment extravaganza playing at Harrah's Casino through Sunday night.
Headlined by magician James Brandon, "Thrillusions" is, according to Vest, "a magical rock concert masquerade." In the show, Vest performs as Tina Turner, one of a host of celebrities she impersonates for a living. (The show is tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Theater at Harrah's. Tickets are $25 and $35. Call 504.533.6600.)
We talked this week in between rehearsals for the show
Why Tina Turner?
She's timeless, absolutely timeless, with her music and her style.
Does it help if you look like her?
It helps that I can recreate the look of her and the sound of her -- because we sing live in the show.
How long does the transformation take for you to become Tina Turner?
About two hours.
Wow! That's quite a commitment.
Yeah, but the end result is very believable and I do the tribute with authenticity and respect, so it's worth the time.
What's the biggest challenge of being Tina?
Her energy, her voice, her entire message. I've been doing her for 23 years and it's still a challenge. She just keeps on going so I have to keep on going.
I'm not even going to ask about the hair or the voice; both very impressive indeed. Let's cut to the chase: You got legs?
Oh yeah, I've got legs! That's why I got the job!
Spending so much of your life impersonating other people, do you ever feel like you're having an identity crisis?
No, never. I put her on, I take her off. Two different personalities. However, when we sing, we do have a lot of resemblance.
You're doing Tina for 'Thrillusions, ' but you do some other celebrities also, don't you?
I do, but I would like them to remain nameless.
Why the mystery?
Because right now I want all my energy put on Tina and this show. My other characters are not rock 'n' roll. "Thrillusions" is totally rock' n' roll. In the show, we have Rod Stewart, Prince and Tina, and I just want to focus on her. We can talk about the others some other time.
OK, that's fair. But do you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself: Who am I?
Only if I'm traveling out of town to a job and I wake up in a hotel and think: Where am I and who am I supposed to be today? Those hotel rooms all begin to look alike after a while and sometimes I have to wake up and open my suitcase to figure out which job and which character I am.
You sound like you live on the cusp of a ceaseless existential crisis.
Well, if I knew what that meant, I might be able to agree with you.
Have you ever met Tina?
I have not. But one time, we were both working at the same resort in South Africa. And there were pictures of her splattered everywhere and pictures of me -- as her -- splattered everywhere, so it was a bit confusing for the people in the resort. She was rehearsing for a new tour in one building and I was performing in a show in another building, but we had different looks. She had short hair then, like she does now, but back then I was doing her "Private Dancer" look. Anyway, I was in the audience for one of her dress rehearsals one night and the guys in her band were going: "That's Hollie! That's the girl who does you!" So she saw me and blew me a kiss and before she started her song, she said: "If you're going to do this, do it from the heart."
There are a lot of Tina Turner impersonators out there in the world, aren't there?
Yes, I think there's a farm somewhere in some obsolete state where they grow them at an extremely rapid rate. It's just amazing how many performers love to do that character. But I'm still here and still staying in the race!
Assuming that you're the best one of them all, what's your secret?
Experience and dedication. And I constantly try to keep the bar of excellence at the same height. I give it everything I've got every night.
And you've got legs.
And I've got legs!
ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK ARTICLE
By Staff Writer
Who else except HOLLIE VEST could produce a show in New Orleans that would bring the fun, excitement and magic back into a city that suffered such devastation only two long years ago? Putting her property and her life back together after her own personal losses in New Orleans, this part-time Las Vegas resident presents a Mardi Gras flavor of ghoulish clown magicians, PHILIPPART and ANJA, who energetically pantomime through classic stage tricks between impersonator sets.
THRILLUSIONS® is a difficult show to describe. Joining HOLLIE VEST as Tina Turner is Prince tribute artist, VINCE GIBBS. The THRILLUSIONS® dancers, ten young women, dance and complete the show’s setting.
How the ghoul clowns and celebrity impersonators ended up on the same stage? Well . . . Long ago, Hollie saw the magicians perform and loved their death-defying illusions. She knew . . . someday . . . she would create a show around them with her own experiences in a different art of illusion; the celebrity impersonator.
Harrah’s agreed to showroom the show . . . but as one critic said: “Truth is, THRILLUSIONS® is completely Thrillillogicical.” But so were the floods that swelled the city of New Orleans . . . a disaster that created heroes, villains and victims. Producer, HOLLIE VEST, presents a message to the city. Pay attention.
THRILLUSIONS PRODUCES AMAZEMENT ALL AROUND
Review By MusicAndBand.com - November 10, 2007
Aside from the nucleus of the magic in Thrillusions lies a collection of top-notch music and dance performances. To provide the act some variety, Thrillusions includes performances by several noted celebrity singer impersonators. Hollie Vest entrances the crowd with her spot on Tina Turner performance. She really gets into working the crowd. In fact, on each of the two performances I saw Hollie pull up a collection of willing (or semi-willing) male volunteers on stage with her as her backup dancers for “Proud Mary”. Who said Ike would ever get the last laugh?
THRILLUSIONS A GOOD BET AT HARRAH’S
by Doug MacCash
Times Picayune Review - September 14, 2007
I don't accept invitations from celebrity impersonators to roll my pants up to my knees and act as an impromptu backup dancer in front of hundreds of strangers. That's my policy. So when Tina Turner impersonator (and show producer), Hollie Vest, extended her hand my way during the premiere of Harrah's new Thrillusions show Thursday night, I declined politely, saying, with truthfulness, that I'm too nervous.
Thank God for personal policies
Eight other male audience members accepted the siren's call. Watching them shake their booties at Tina's behest, to the beat of Proud Mary was akin, I suspect, to watching the Romans toss captives to the lions. Oh, the humanity.
The only victim who seemed completely comfortable in the role of backup dancer, was octogenarian Mardi Gras magnate Blaine Kern, who boogied with abandon stage center. I hope I have his joie de vivre when I'm his age. Heck, I wish I had his joie de vivre now.
THE BIG THRILL
By Henry Alpert
Greater New Orleans Living - October 2007
The subtitle to THRILLUSIONS® is “Rockin’ the World of Magic,” and rock ‘n’ roll numbers typically alternate with the illusions during the program to create a balance of the show’s two primary elements. Philippart and Anja, however, often integrate the rock aspect of the show into their act, such as when they conjure all the show’s many dancers out of a single box one after the other or when they make Tina Turner appear.
Indeed, the Tina Turner impersonator is clearly a third star of the show. She performs all her hits, from “Proud Mary” to the Private Dancer era, and enjoys coaxing male audience members onto the stage. A David Bowie impersonator also makes frequent appearances in the ‘80s Let’s Dance incarnation. (Philippart and Anja channel enough Ziggy Stardust for everyone involved.)
Vest is proud to point out that both Turner and Bowie sing all their own songs (no lip-synching). “We like to call them re-creations, not look-alikes or even impersonators. They’re recreating the illusions that you’re watching stars perform,” she explains.
TINA Live @ Thrillusions!!!
CitySearch.com Review - 10/02/2008
It was great to see a Las Vegas quality performance right here in New Orleans! The magic was amazing, and I actually felt like I was watching Tina Turner up close and personal. I have seen Tina live many, many times, and I actually felt like I was watching and listening to her from only a few feet away. But I never got to HUG TINA after a concert like I did after seeing Thrillusions!!! Bravo!!! The dancers were energetic and gorgeous, and the Prince and Rod Stewart acts were a great compliment to Tina's unforgettable performance!!! The magic tricks were truly magical. How do you get people out of such a little box??? I will definitely see it again!!!
Thrillusions are in town
CitySearch.com Review - 10/01/2008
I've heard a lot about this show from my friends and I finally got to see it. I was so excited about the it, but my boyfriend didn't feel like going out that night; after the show he thanked me for taking him there. He thought it was REAL Tina Turner:))) We still discuss some of the magic tricks: How did he do it? Where did that come from? We had such a great time. I felt like I was in Vegas. Highly recommended!!! Go see Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, and Prince. WOW!!!
Thrillusions, bringing a Vegas show to New Orleans
CitySearch.com Review - 09/29/2008
I went to Thrillusions on Saturday 9/27/08 and was astounded by the spectacular performance of Hollie Vest as Tina Turner. I also found "Prince" funny and well rehearsed. I look forward to their upcoming dates so I can see them again....
Magic and Mayhem in the Big Easy
By Gina Yenser
Callback News – November 2007
“When Hollie comes out I’m awestruck. How this woman becomes Tina Turner is amazing. Not only does she look like Tina, she has her mannerisms, her fabulous thighs, and her vocal range. Hollie says people always told her that she reminded them of Tina. This was back when she was with a band doing all her own originals. One New Year’s Eve she decided to just go with it, and surprised the audience and even the guys in her own band.”
“Ambivalent at first, she says the best piece of advice for pursuing her career as a Tina impersonator came from Frank Gorhsin (Yes, I do mean the Riddler from Batman.) He saw her perform one night and told her “Many people have a singing ability, but what you have is a gift.” He encouraged her in their short meeting to really find her Tina character by studying her, and getting to know her. Those words have led to a career spanning years and the globe.”
"She Looked Like Tina Turner. She Strutted Like Tina Turner.
She Sang Like Tina Turner."
2006 North Shore YMCA Fund Raiser Media Articles Over Tina Turner Impersonator - Hollie Vest!
Some Fooled By Tina Turner Look-alike at Y Benefit
By Susan Flynn , Staff writer
Salem News - Published: November 21, 2006
She looked like Tina Turner. She strutted like Tina Turner. She sang like Tina Turner.
But yesterday YMCA officials were contacting people who bid hundreds of dollars to dance with the leggy legend at a benefit Saturday night to reveal that the woman with the raspy voice and wild hair who made a surprise appearance was not the real deal.
Close to 600 people turned out for the $125-a-ticket fundraiser at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort in Danvers for the YMCA of the North Shore, and many left under the impression that the touted mystery "special guest" was, in fact, Tina Turner.
At no point in the night did the organizers announce to the crowd otherwise.
"I've had nothing but positive feedback, and we're thrilled with how it went," Meany said. "If in any way we misled people, I apologize."
All night long, guests at the YMCA benefit were buzzing about the "special guest" who was expected to show up around 8:15 p.m. One Y staffer said giddily that "he" was already upstairs at the Ferncroft. A hotel employee said he was told to expect this special guest to arrive with bodyguards.
A little before 8:30 p.m., event co-chairman Jon Gray announced that they wanted to "crank it up a notch on the North Shore" and introduced "a new friend" of the YMCA.
Then the Tina Turner look-alike, wearing black leather and spiked heels, entered through a side door. The crowd, not sure she was the real thing, was quiet at first, but eventually many rose to their feet. Cell phone cameras came out. Screams did, too. People stood up and danced and clamored to shake hands.
Partygoer Tyler DeScenza of DeScenza Diamonds got the chance to dance, thanks to a bid someone else made, and was convinced the Tina Turner on the dance floor was the real thing. Yesterday, he said he was surprised, but not bothered, to learn it was not.
"I had fun, what the heck," he said. "I would have liked to think it was her, but everyone was doing it for a good cause."
Like most people, Jack Good, a member of the Y board, said he didn't know it wasn't Tina Turner until yesterday when someone at work broke the news. He laughed about it. He thinks people came to the event to give, and he doesn't think the fact that the singer was an impersonator would affect how much they spent.
"I'll tell you," he said, "I told a couple of people we saw (over the weekend) that I saw Tina Turner."
YMCA board member Bill Wasserman said he thinks the event organizers pulled off a "great coup" and a "wonderful hoax."
"What kind of jackass would think Tina Turner is coming to a YMCA function?" asked the Ipswich resident. "I think it's great if we were hoodwinked. It was a joke. How could you not be tickled by that?"
What's Tina Got To Do With It?
Impersonator Fooled, Wowed Fans in Danvers
By Raja Mishra, Globe Staff | November 22, 2006
They didn't say it was Tina Turner. But they didn't say it wasn't.
The theme of the night was "Casino Royale," same as the new James Bond movie. "Turner" sang the theme song to an earlier 007 film, "Golden Eye," and thus the impersonator, said YMCA officials.
Attendees at a YMCA fund-raiser at a Danvers hotel Saturday were dumbfounded when the "special guest" pranced on stage, dressed in slinky black and heels. What was the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll doing here? At a benefit for the Y? In Danvers?!
Within minutes, cameras began flashing, and old men danced like young boys as the singer belted out "Proud Mary." Many attendees bragged all weekend that they had partied with the international superstar.
Until word got out that Tina was actually Hollie. As in Hollie Vest , a legend, though only in celebrity impersonation circles, for her Las Vegas-based Tina Turner act.
"It looked just like her, but I've never seen Tina Turner in person� said Tyler DeScenza, a guest at the fund-raiser who said he was thoroughly fooled, "I'd say 95 percent of the people there thought it was her. Everyone was saying, 'I can't believe she's here!' "
"She had the deep voice like Tina Turner, and looked and dressed like her," said Paul Gorman , chief development officer for the YMCA North Shore. "I thought that, you know, there are a lot of influential people on the North Shore who have contacts. So, you never know."
Bill Wasserman, a YMCA board member , said, "I'm 79 years old, and I didn't know if it was Tina Turner or not. But it sure seemed like it."
"Everyone had a good time," said DeScenza. "And Tina Turner wasn't the point. It was a fund-raiser."
At first, Tom Anderson of Rockport, a Turner fan who has seen her in concert, was a believer.
"It was a great event. Tina was the icing on the cake," said Anderson. " And if it wasn't her, hey, we had a great time anyway."
� Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
Tina Turner Impersonator: 'Better Be Good' to Y
By Susan Flynn , Staff writer
Salem News - Published: November 22, 2006
Organizers of the YMCA benefit held at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort in Danvers had hired Vest to entertain the 600 guests, seeking to add some flavor to the annual event. At first, some in the room were skeptical that she was authentic, but as the "special guest" sang and danced, more people became convinced they were witnessing the legend up close and personal.
"I'm complimented that I did my job well," she said. "I thought they pulled off a fabulous event."
August 2005, Karia's Celebration Party.
She was absolutely spectacular, and truly made the party a much bigger success than I could have imagined. She was extremely personable, and put on a really memorable performance for the entire crowd of 65 people, but especially for my Mother-in-law. Her spirits were raised so high, we just now finished with the clean-up, the last guest left around 10:00, and we just got Mom to bed. It�s about 4 hours past her usual bedtime, but her adrenaline was flowing strong!
Thanks again for making the arrangements on such short notice, and providing outstanding talent!
I�d be happy to be a reference for Hollie anytime!
Ron Bruder, and my entire family.
NACE Black & White Ball
2004 National PETCO Convention Rocks 2
August 8, 10, 11, 2004
National Coldwell Bankers Team Awards
March 30, 2004
Julia Jump, March 26, 2004
2004 National T-Mobile Customer Service Awards, January 22, 2004
Super Dome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Entergy Company Picnic (12,000 attendees), November 2, 2002
You are fabulous! Thank you for bringing your "Tina" act to our National Apartment Association Opening Party last week in Las Vegas. You are not only a dead ringer for Tina and Incredibly talented, but you are also a joy to be around. I appreciate your willingness to extend your performance that night.
There were over 1800 people at Club Utopia that night and compliments about you were flowing more freely than beer. Everyone loved you and most thought you were the real Tina.
The party was an incredible success and please know how appreciative I am to you for the sensational performance. It was a showstopper.
Robert Johnston Chairman - National Apartment Association
Hollie Vest's dynamic performance at the Woodward Dream Cruise, Revvin' with Ford, was a huge success. Last year's event attracted over a half million people. You could always tell where Hollie was performing - the crows were stupendous.
Hollie's transformation from Tina Turner to Peggy Lee was unbelievable. One of the hotel staff members waited outside of her room to verify it was really Hollie and not someone else.
This year, Revvin' with Ford is anticipation 1.5 million people. Ford Motor Company is looking forward to Hollie returning for another convincing, captivating performance.
Diane Martin - Ford Motor Company
May 7, 2001
Please accept this Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of the Tuskegee
Airmen and myself for being a part of and participating in the Historic
Uniting of the Tuskegee Airmen and the 15th Air Force Heavy Bomber Crews
during Veterans Homecoming 2001.
I can't thank you enough for the Love and Appreciation you have shown the
Tuskegee Airmen in honoring them and making them welcome to Branson in such an extraordinary way.
You are the true "Tina Turner" and every one is still talking about you and
hoping you can come back again next year.
Look forward to seeing you again.
Trish Thompson - Event Coordinator for the "Tuskegee Airmen"
TINA x TWO "Beyond Belief"
There have been two Tina Turners at Sun City, South Africa this week ... the one that looks and sounds like the real one, and the really real one.
As the really real one rehearsed for the launch of her world tour in Johannesburg next month, the look alike -- real name , Hollie Vest -- was busy with her own show, Beyond Belief, which opened at the Sun City Theater on Thursday.
Hollie is one of the 30-strong cast of a spectacular that features illusion, magic, dance, comedy -- and impersonation, ... Hollie is said to resemble the superstar so closely that managers at the resort were thrown into confusion when they first spotted her. Until they discovered the truth, they assumed that the genuine Tina Turner had arrived a day before she was expected."
Adrian Montenth - The Star
Johannesburg, South Africa
First Tina Turner arrived in this country for a series of concerts and Jo-burg theater-goers were in the strange position of being able to see the Private Dancer in the Flesh or Hollie Vest impersonating her with great aplomb at Sun City.
Janine Walker - The Star
Johannesburg, South Africa
"Rollin' on the River...Faux Tina finds her calling on Prytania"
Hollie vest, famed Tina Turner impersonator and entertainer, relocated from Las Vegas to New Orleans recently to add B&B operator and historic mansion preservationist to her fascinating resume. Life has gone swimmingly ever since.
One of my favorite topics of discussion is the Muse at work in New Orleans, that intangible and indefinable allure this city holds for entertainers, and creative people generally.
I love the stories of New England bankers who chuck it all to come here and open an art gallery (Jonathan Ferrara), or former sitcom stars who ditch Beverly Hills to open curio shops in the French Quarter (Harry Anderson), or rock stars who come to soak in the hot, mystical vibe and create new sounds and stories ( a list to long to mention).
Add presently to this roster the name of Hollie Vest, who offers a most engaging spin to this formula. Vest is a Tina Turner impersonator from Las Vegas, who has moved to New Orleans to open a Garden District bed and breakfast.
Now, before we begin this curious story, keep in mind two things. First: Vest is no ordinary impersonator, some kind of celebrity-wannabe chasing some kind of bizarre and utterly unrealistic dream. The fact is, for the past 17 years, she has collected a steady and handsome paycheck playing Tina Turner on cruise ships, in casinos and and at conventions around the world.
Good work if you can get it. (And, to answer the obvious question that springs to mind here: Yes, she's got legs.)
Second: As you might expect from someone who wears a costume every day, whose life is filled with Vegas spotlights and pop star illusion, the Magnolia Mansion features a series of bedrooms adorned with such lavish Victorian decor and fantasy as to border on the outrageous. That's the long description. The short one is this: It's really cool.
The Times Picayune -Chris Rose 2002
New Orleans, Louisiana
Vegas Beat- Reel Awards
While the Oscar Dress Rehearsals were going on late week in Los Angeles, around at the corner at the Henry Ford Theatre more than 100 celebrity impersonators gathered for the Reel Awards.
It is an elaborate stage and awards show that benefits children's charities.
Most of the best acts were by performers originating in Las Vegas, including Hollie Vest (Tina Turner), Michael Colby (Ricky Martin), and Brendan Paul (Elvis).
Las Vegas Sun "Vegas Beat"
Timothy McDarrah 2003
Las Vegas, Nevada
'TINA TURNER', others wow them at HOLLYWOOD
Tina turner Superstar had the four men in the palm of her hand on stage Tuesday night at Hollywood Casino & Hotel Celebrity Lounge. Turner Played by Hollie Vest, was one of four performers starting a new rendition of 'SuperStars Live'. It has been a hot hit with sellout performances, said Hollywood General Manager Gary Gregg, who was watching the show.
Margaret Martin - Shreveport Times 2002
"You have heard about small town rumors. On Saturday evening I received a "hot scoop" from my good friend, Pat Ferguson.
We joined about 100 other locals who decided that it was a nice evening from a stroll around Beggs Point. We paused to the music provided for a lavish (by Essex standards) party being held at the Cabins by the Lake. And we were not disappointed when a long white limo pulled up and out bounced Tina Turner! She entertained those assembled (invited or not invited) for over a half hour from the end of McKenna's dock. It was quite an evening, by Essex standards! She was cheered on her way back to the limo, shared a warm handshake with Margaret Klink, and received a large bouquet of black-eyed Susans from Laura Sells Doyle before driving off into the night. And to think that there are those who say we live in the fly-infested back woods."
(At press time, it was learned that it was a Tina Turner impersonator, and a darned good one.)
Dianne Lansing , Valley News
Essex, New York
"Top singers are in town this weekend and you'll never get a better choice than this. Hollie Vest will be at the top Hop in Fountain Valley on Saturday night with her 'Tribute to Tina Turner' Show. Normally, we're not real fond of impersonator shows, but Vest is worth seeing."
Barry Koltnow, Register
Orange County, California
"An impressive convincing Tina Turner takes to the stage, all legs and troll-spiked hair, belting out 'What's Love Got to Do With It' with that nasally attitude of a voice."
Pasadena Weekly, California
"Hollie Vest, as Tina Turner, returns. And if you think angela Basset is explosive as Tina in the movie 'What's Love Got To Do With it', wait 'til you see this gal!"
Pasadena Weekly, California
The Real Thing
"Things get pretty hairy on stage for Tina Turner impersonator Hollie Vest ... As Tina Turner. Hollie Vest approximates the moves and speaking voice of the real thing with aplomb.
The Edmonton Journal, Canada
"If you like the wonderful & exciting Tina Turner you'll love the HOLLIE VEST takeoff on this famous entertainer. Hollie has performed at Caesars Tahoe and the Playboy Club in Los Angeles. This special Tina Tribute performance is ... "Highly recommended."
TV Facts, California