Stand-up veteran Judy Tenuta returns to Las Vegas tonight, bringing her frank, candid sass to Palace Station’s Louie Anderson Theater for a five-night run. Expect the self-described “Love Goddess” and “Aphrodite of the Accordion” to have her signature instrument on hand, as well as choice insights and advice from her new book, “Full Frontal Tenudity.”
Tenuta spoke with me about compiling the book, her Vegas adventures and what worshipers of “Judyism” can expect from the shows:
Andrea Domanick: What are some of your memories of when you first performed in Vegas?
Judy Tenuta: I opened for George Carlin and Blood Sweat and Tears at Bally’s. We had such a blast! I only did about 20 minutes, but it was so much fun. That was back in 1989. Then I did the Sahara, the Sands, oh, and the Dunes! Oh my god, I will never forget that because I started working there the day they convicted O.J. (Simpson), back in ’95.
But get this, I’m trying to do my show, and one day my brother calls me and says, "Oh by the way, I decided to get married. In Vegas. We’re gonna come and see you, so could you make sure that there’s a wedding chapel?" I said, could I make sure? There’s about 500 drive-thrus! So they got married, we had a lovely reception at the Dunes. They honeymooned, they did Vegas, and about a month later he tells his new bride she should go off and join the Navy. That’s my brother, Bosco, he’s a little loopy.
A.D.: Expecting any more marriages this time around?
J.T.: Well, you know, I perform marriages in my act, because I have my own religion, Judyism. And I believe in marriage equality — anyone, as long as they don’t harm anyone, should have the right to be married. You know, if they want to be miserable, let them do it.
So I will be performing marriages, I do one in each show. I give them a Certificate of Judyism that’s signed and everything.
A.D.: Tell me about your new book — I understand it’s a sort of life-advice-cum-cookbook?
J.T.: Yeah, it’s like three different little books in one. There’s snack recipes, and love and sex advice with, you know, my own sassy take. But the first segment is the “Hollywood to English Dictionary.” Because as you know, nobody says what they really mean, nobody in Hollywood says what they really mean. For example if they were to say to you, "Oh, I love your work!" what they really mean is "I just saw your sex tape!" Or if they say "Oh, we have to have lunch," that’s code for ‘Oh, hello, you’re fired!”
A.D.: At this point you must be pretty familiar with Vegas — what are your plans for when you’re not onstage?
J.T.: OK, don’t get mad at me, but you know, I have to go shopping. I hear there’s just so many places now, there’s the Fashion Show, and Crystals ... and then I like to wander around the Wynn.
A.D.: So you don’t have a gambler streak in you?
J.T.: You know, I really do. I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna have to have someone to slap my hand to get away from the slot machines. I become a one-armed bandit, I have to stop myself! Before you know it I’m smoking, drinking, everything! And I don’t even smoke and drink. And you know what always happens? I’ll play like $50 and get nothing, then the next guy to come up after me puts in another dollar and wins on my machine. There should be a policy about that, right? The next guy to win should give you 10 percent because you’ve warmed up the machine for them.