Boogie Nights would be a fantastic flashback to the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s with only its soundtrack and disco ball, but the various impersonators who look and act just like celebrities from those eras are what really takes the club back in time.
There are five different look-a-likes who regularly party along with patrons and put on shows at the nightlife venue in Tropicana Casino and Resort, all locals who have either been doing this for years or were simply recruited for their striking resemblance to a star.
Club operator Dave Pena says each of the five actors and dancers have different stories for how they got the gig.
Peter Carter, of Toms River, has been impersonating Michael Jackson for years and he connected with the club through Craigslist. A friend of a friend recommended Kate Cronin, of Ocean City, because she just happened to look like Madonna.
“I mean spot-on,” Pena says. “She was the perfect match.”
Helen Rodio, of Hammonton, was first a dancer at the club, but Pena said her looks, energy and spirit made her a natural choice to become Cyndi Lauper. Arlin Padilla, of Ventnor, has long been Prince at the club, and Pena recruited his friend, Markie Fera of Ventnor, to play Boy George.
“He would always just be hanging around the club, and one day I was like, ‘Hey, you could be Boy George,’” Pena says.
There is typically one or two of the impersonators at the club at any given time, often selected on nights when its fits a themed promotion. For the club’s celebration of its one-year anniversary at Tropicana, set in May, Pena says to expect all five and maybe more.
“We’re working on bringing Billy Idol into the mix,” Pena says.
The cast: Peter Carter as Michael Jackson; Arlin Padilla as Prince; Markie Fera as Boy George; Kate Cronin as Madonna; Helen Rodio as Cyndi Lauper.
Learn more: BoogieNightsAC.com
See them perform: Boogie Nights is currently open 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. or later Fridays and Saturdays, and should reopen on Thursday nights as well during the summer.