Strutting her stuff

Confident Easton flying solo at LV Hilton
Vamping her way through such naughty singles as "Sugar Walls" and "U Got the Look," in the '80s Sheena Easton had the pop singer-as-vixen act down even as Madonna was beginning hers.

It was such an effective image, in fact, that Easton performed a bit of self-mockery with the hit "Strut": "Strut, pout, put it out, that's what you want from women ... Watch me baby while I walk out the door."

That was nearly 20 years ago, however, and a lot has changed for Easton since mainly her days as a sexpot.

During a recent performance of her new self-titled show, which runs through Sept. 2 at the Las Vegas Hilton, Easton joked onstage about her former status as a sex symbol.

Wearing a form-fitting sequined gown, a more motherly Easton kidded that her behind from the '80s has left her and is now firmly seated on Britney Spears.

Later in an interview the Scotland-born and raised Easton said she's heard for a while questions and comments about her not looking as she did when she was 25. Her answer is simple and to the point.

"Duh! I'm not 25," she said, sounding more American than Scottish. "I'm 42 now, for God's sake."

But dont let her age and sense of irony fool you. Easton still slinks across the stage with the best of 'em, adding sizzle to her role as chanteuse as she romps through a play list that, while full of requisite hits, also features the necessary torch-songs to provide spark to the performance.

The show has proven successful enough that the hotel recently announced plans to move Easton on July 3 into the larger Las Vegas Hilton Theater, which will offer 420 more seats than the NightClub's 330.

Despite the show's popularity, though, Easton acknowledges that, for some, her new onstage demeanor may not replace the memories they have of the singer-actress from "back in the day."

"People have these favorite times in their lives and they associate you with that," she said. "That's a minority. The normal, sane person who has grown (up) understands that you're going to be a grown-up, too."

For Easton "growing up" began more than a decade ago, when she realized she wanted children but had been avoiding the subject "like the elephant in the room."

So, from ages 30 to 35 she went through therapy and "self-examined."

"All that typical California (junk)," Easton said.

The end result: she adopted a boy, Jake, now 6, in 1994; and the following year a daughter, Skylar, now 5.

Easton quickly settled into the role of motherhood and gave up the hectic pace of her career, with its constant tours and appearances, to focus on raising her children.

Married three times before, Easton is now engaged to a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, although, she said she's "gun-shy" about setting a wedding date.

"He wanted to do the romantic thing and get married on Valentine's Day," she said. "I said, 'On Valentine's, let's sit down and talk about when we might get married.'

"He's very much a part of me and the kids' lives. The kids wanted us to get married yesterday -- they just love him so much. They're young enough to where he's practically raised them."

It's obvious just how important Easton's family is to her as she sprinkled in references to trips to the mall to buy children's clothes and family outings to Chuck E Cheese's throughout the interview. Not a Kathie Lee Gifford-like story about children that beats you senseless with cuteness, but simple truisms that a mother learns as she and her children grow up.

"I spent pretty much 30 years of my life before my kids came along with every opportunity to be as selfish as I wanted to be as far as getting up and doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it," she said. "Because I adopted my kids, I made a conscious choice of being a mother. I made a vow to myself that I was only going to do what was right for the family as well. This takes a lot of family discussions and big, long-term decisions."

At the moment one of those decisions includes where to live.

With her fiance's practice in Beverly Hills as well another in New York City, there are plenty of options. For now Easton divides her time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, she wants to "settle her roots" and Las Vegas is a leading candidate.

"What I like about (Las Vegas) is it's creating itself around communities and families," she said. "It's one of the few places in the United States that has taken root and created this identity and is developing it."

But even as Easton attempts to settle down and create a new life for herself -- in Las Vegas or elsewhere -- there are a few ghosts that haunt her. Mainly rumors regarding backstage squabbles with David Cassidy when the two co-starred in the now-defunct musical "At the Copa," which ran for one year at the Rio beginning Jan. 18, 2000.

Stories of alleged screaming matches between the two, of egos run amok and catty remarks made by Cassidy regarding Easton's weight gain dogged the production almost entirely through its run.

None of it, Easton insists, is true.

"There were definitely moments of tension, when David would come to me and say, 'We're changing such-and-such a thing.' And I'd go, 'Aw, no, I like that. Why do we have to lose that? Why do we have to make that different?' " she said. "We definitely had artistic differences, but never, ever fights.

"I'm not stupid. It's David's show. He wrote it, he produced it, he starred in it. If there was something that I didn't agree with on an artistic basis, just like anyone else, it's (the producer's) call. I have to go along with it."

"At the Copa" was scheduled to run for two years, but Easton agreed only to one. Shortly after she confirmed her intention of not returning to the show, the production was canceled.

During a press conference to announce the show's closing Cassidy failed to thank his co-star or even mention her name, which many took as a deliberate slight against Easton, adding veracity to the rumors.

"Yeah, it was a little weird," conceded Easton, who wasn't present at the conference but was later told what happened. "I know at the time of the closing there was some problems there -- David went through some emotional problems. I don't know if he felt I should have stayed on for a second year. I don't know, we never discussed it."

Nor have they talked since. Still, Easton fully expects to see her former co-star soon.

"David and (his wife) Sue are in Ireland at the moment," she said. "And when they come back they are going to see (my) show."