Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

What's next for a Tampa man who's usually surrounded by showgirls?

South Tampa native Sam Port snagged one of six male singing roles in the Bally’s Las Vegas production of Jubilee!

Photo courtesy of Bryan Haraway

South Tampa native Sam Port snagged one of six male singing roles in the Bally’s Las Vegas production of Jubilee!

BEACH PARK — Sam Port took a gamble auditioning for Bally's Las Vegas' sexy showgirl revue Jubilee! and landed a role most men can only dream about.

After singing three songs and answering two questions affirmatively, the Tampa native became the youngest of six male singers in the longest running production show on the Strip.

"They asked me if I would be willing to move to Vegas,'' he said recently during an interview in Sin City. "And if I was comfortable wearing a G-string."

Twice a night, six nights a week, Port, in top hat and tails, steps in front of the curtain and exclaims:

Each time I look at this stage full of beauties, I say to myself, Why not add some more cuties? How about 10? 17? 24? Oh, what the heck, let's add even more!

Port slowly raises his arms and a series of elevators delivers almost 60 women strutting in rhinestones, feathers and very little else. Their huge pink and orange feathered headpieces weigh 15 pounds or more.

"I just take a step back and laugh," he says. "It's like, this has to be the best freakin' job in the world.''

Port, 24, had never been to Vegas when he moved onto a friend's couch the first few weeks. It took him longer to adjust to slot machines in grocery stores and gas stations than the show's nudity.

"In context, it's part of the story," he says. "Backstage, it's not even an issue. They'll be running around topless and we'll have conversations about what we had for dinner."

Port makes 10 costume changes, including into a leather thong in the Samson and Delilah scene. "And my dressing room is two floors below (the stage),'' he said, calculating he must run 1,500 stairs a night.

"It's surreal, I can't believe I'm doing this," Port said.

His resume is as brief as the spectacular costumes: a couple of high school plays at Berkeley Prep; hosting Rhino Rally rides at Busch Gardens; singing a capella at Cornell University.

Oh, and one summer playing a rock star in an Ohio theme park musical.

Working nights leaves plenty of time for acting classes and side jobs, like modeling and commercials.

"I still go to every audition I can,'' he said, naming Mamma Mia, Jersey Boys and Phantom of the Opera, among others.

Yet anyone who knows Port would have bet he'd be running an amusement park by now.

"Everyone's always associated me with roller coasters,'' Port says. "I've been a fanatic all my life."

Instead of recess, Port drew roller coasters — "ride-able art," he says, explaining the attraction is "not speed or danger, but engineering and design."

In sixth grade, his parents, Barbara and Marty Port of Beach Park, took him to see the Broadway hit, Miss Saigon. He was so taken with the mechanics of the show, he spent five years re-creating every set, "including the helicopter,'' he says.

When he heard the show was closing in January 2001, Port, by then an 11th-grader, sent pictures of his project to the producer, Cameron Mackintosh. He replied with an invitation to the 4,000th performance and final cast party in New York.

"I never doubted he would find his way to a creative field,'' said Kathi Grau, Port's drama teacher at Berkeley Prep, remembering when she cast him as Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele and author Leo Tolstoy.

"Something about Sammy on a stage. He was at home."

After graduation from Cornell in 2003, Port took his degree in hospitality management to Epcot as an attraction manager overseeing 200 people. After seven months on the "nonmagical side of operations," he left to pursue performing.

"There are many similarities,'' he notes, between musical productions and amusement parks. "Both are artificial realities."

Port hired an agent, signed up for acting lessons, booked a couple of commercials and waited tables at Carrabba's. On Craigslist, he learned Jubilee! was scouting talent in Orlando.

"I made sure each day I did one thing that would further my career," Port says.

Fittingly, he was at Busch Gardens, coasting on SheiKra, when the Jubilee! manager.

"It was 7/7/7,'' he said, "Lucky numbers in Las Vegas.''

His contract runs through April, then perhaps he'll entertain onboard a cruise ship. Being transient is part of the process, he says.

"Not knowing what's next is really exciting.''

Amy Scherzer can be reached at ascherzer@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3332.

What's next for a Tampa man who's usually surrounded by showgirls? 10/23/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. East Tampa store owner who survived one shooting is targeted again with fatal results

    Crime

    TAMPA — In the 2011 video, Mahamoud Ibrahim stands behind the counter of his tiny East Tampa convenience store, his back to the surveillance camera meant to discourage thieves.

    A memorial has sprouted in front of the 29th Street Store in East Tampa, where a robber fatally shot owner Mohamoud Ibrahim on July 16. Security experts say small mom-and-pop stores in high crime areas are easy targets for robberies and typically don't have the budgets for extra security measures. [TONY MARRERO/Times Staff]
  2. Pinellas superintendent, School Board pen letter to legislative delegation for help against 'unjust' funds for charter schools

    Blogs

    Because of a recent change in state law, the Pinellas County school district will have to shell out $25 million over five years  -- more funding per student than any other large district in the state -- for charter school construction and maintenance projects, and district officials …

    Pinellas County School Board Superintendent Michael Grego during a School Board meeting on August 25, 2015 at the School Administration Building, 301 Fourth Street SW in Largo.
  3. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos

    Blogs

    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  4. Photos: Kehlani packs fans into a sold-out Orpheum in Tampa

    Blogs

    R&B singer Kehlani had to postpone a spring show in Tampa due to illness, but it seemed she was no worse for the wear on Thursday, when her make-up show sold out the Orpheum well in advance. Ella Mai and Jahkoy opened the show. Aubrey Wipfli was there snapping photos; click the headline …

    Kehlani performed at the Orpheum in Tampa on July 20, 2017.
  5. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.