Hiding In Plain Sight: Gabe Ginsberg, The Invisible Man


Sin City’s own BMOC (Big Man of Cameras) is everywhere…but he doesn’t want you to see him…

Gabe Ginsberg

There are certain people that we tend to bump into a lot, no matter what we’re doing or where we are. Sometimes we don’t even know those folks, but after several run-ins, there comes a point of “Hey, how are ya?”. Then friendship quite often ensues.

Gabe Ginsberg is one of those guys. While covering events for VegasChatter (and that other site), I’d frequently see him on the media scaffolds, snapping red-carpet shots for Getty Images. Clad in black from head to toe and carrying large amounts of gear on his imposing frame, Gabe still managed to blend into the background. He is quiet, efficient, completely inconspicuous…and delightfully intriguing.

There seems to be a certain culture among show-business photographers. Simultaneously friends and competitors, these guys kid around, gossip about happenings in the city and sometimes talk shit about one another. But not Gabe Ginsberg…he loves everyone and they all love him.

Gabe Ginsberg

Hanging with The Man at the annual Mike Hammer Celeb Go-Kart fundraiser…              

After rubbing shoulders a time or two, Gabe and I started chatting online and in person. His self-deprecating humor was infectious. He’d also tease me for being a “celebrity” while calling himself a “poor working schmuck”. You see, I’ve been in the unique situation of standing next to him with my camera AND being a guest at events he was covering. Funny how my face never made it to People Magazine.

Gabe Ginsberg

Yes, Gabe Ginsberg’s photos make it to People. And Billboard, MSN, CBS All Access, Us Weekly, Forbes, USA Today, Men’s Health, Huffington Post and many other print and online outlets. His lenses have captured the likenesses of Miley Cyrus, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Drake, the Kardashian beasts (bills won’t pay themselves), Ben Affleck, John Cena, Ricky Martin, Floyd Mayweather and countless others.

Gabe Ginsberg

Gabe (left) in action at John Carpenter’s Halloween concert at Hard Rock Hotel…

Always respectful of celebrities and their space, Gabe is anything but an aggressive paparazzi type. This family man is an avid lover of nature, animals and glorious landscapes. His compassion for Las Vegas came through gorgeously in his coverage of the recent shooting tragedy. But let’s stick to things of beauty.

Gabe Ginsberg

Despite his worldwide coverage, Ginsberg is a favorite at local events and charity functions. He covers movie premieres, fundraisers, show openings, concerts and sporting events, too.

Gabe Ginsberg

Earlier this year, Gabe kept busy by shooting menu items for restaurants hopping aboard the UberEATS delivery service. And on the personal side, his skills guarantee you’ll get amazing portraits, family photos and Christmas Cards (now is the time to schedule your session, folks).

What I love most about Gabe, aside from his cuddly demeanor, is his twisted sense of humor. Scouring every corner of Las Vegas during a typical day, Ginsberg encounters a wide array of bizarre situations…and he writes about them regularly on his Facebook page.

His “Dumbass of the Day” series never fails to crack me up. It’s biting, hysterical and brutally honest – even when he points the finger towards himself:

Gabe Ginsberg

So wherever you may be in Las Vegas, keep on the lookout for the amazing Man In Black, Gabe Ginsberg. Despite his efforts to remain anonymous, he’ll be easy to spot. Just look for the crowd of celebrities clamoring to get their photos taken with HIM!

Gabe Ginsberg

Gabe Ginsberg is available for many types of freelance work. You can learn more or contact him by clicking here

Photos: Gabe Ginsberg via Facebook, Sammasseur

 

 

Advertisements

Alex O’Connor – Sin City Superman


Getting to know the hardest-working bartender in Las Vegas…

Much like the beacon atop the Luxor, the lights and excitement of Las Vegas are known to draw the ambitious and hopeful. There are limitless opportunities for a person with skill, drive, and personality to make a name for themselves. That’s what brought mixologist Alex O’Connor here four years ago. And this Sin City Superman has never slowed down.

AlexLV1

I first met Alex O’Connor three summers ago under the misters at O’Shea’s Casino outdoor bar. Despite the stifling heat, the handsome bodybuilder was all smiles and charisma, serving out cold beers with a healthy dose of anecdotes and advice for Vegas newbies. It was his multi-tasking abilities and respectful attitude toward the customers that made me sit up and take note…not that a six-foot-three behemoth is likely to go unnoticed.

22894634_10214610211514688_295399662_n

Jump ahead to last winter, and I spot Alex behind the bar at Share, a now-shuttered gay nightclub on Wynn Road. Clad only in boxer briefs and a smile (sigh….), he was once more gathering crowds while serving drinks in a fast-and-furious fashion. That’s exactly what makes Alex O’Connor the happiest – heightening the customer’s experience however possible.

Alex O'Connor

It turns out that Alex works in LOTS of places on and around the Strip. In addition to O’Shea’s, he’s been on the payroll for Drai’s Beachclub /Nightclub, the Center Bar at Hard Rock HotelJewel Nightclub at Aria Resort, the pool bar at Treasure Island and private functions on the side.

With a schedule like that, it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could get proper sleep, let alone keep up a physique like his.

“During the week I try for at least 3-4 hours.  On the weekends, I’m lucky to get an hour nap here or there between doubles.  I pretty much plan my days around my work schedules and going to the gym as well. I love to put my headphones on and hit the LVAC. My size is dictated by my work schedule. If I have leftover time, rarely, I leave it for errands”.

When I asked Alex how he got to be so disciplined, he told me it was self-taught. Family difficulties motivated him to move out on his own while he was a junior in high school. He worked full time and supported himself in his North Haven Connecticut hometown while still going to high school. But he’d already been working at a country club since the age of thirteen, a job he kept and expanded on for several years.

Alex O'Connor

Alex’s first experiences behind the bar were as a bar-back, helping keep things stocked and neat. Eventually, he became a full-fledged bartender and attributes his organizational skills as a secret to fast service. He likes to arrive far in advance of a shift, making sure everything is “just right” and where he wants it.

Alex says that some bars are much more stringent than others when it comes to monitoring the less-significant health code requirements, like the positioning of the ice scoop or keeping a bottle opener in the back pocket. While he recognized the importance of health department regulations, some are harder to adjust to…and it tends to be the minor ones that slow down his ability to keep the drinks flowing:

“We’re charging premium prices in the places I work. The customers deserve premium service to go along with it. It’s my job to give them what they want with a minimum of wait time…so they can get back to having fun”.

Nobody wants to give or receive slow service but think back to the number of times you’ve stood at the bar, seemingly ignored and passed over time and time again. Sure, it happens inadvertently, but Alex has some tips:

“Having your order and money ready will get the quickest service.  Especially in the high volume venues, this is imperative. I like to make what the customer will enjoy.  If they don’t know, I ask what spirit they enjoy and go from there. Generous tipping doesn’t hurt, either”.

Lightning-fast service is what got Alex hired for his first gig at Hard Rock Hotel’s infamous Rehab Pool Parties. He sent in an audition video of himself, rapidly slinging drinks during a peak period, to Rehab’s manager. One fortuitous plane flight later and O’Connor was trading a longtime gig in New Haven for the Las Vegas party scene. He enjoys working at all types of establishments, including LGBTQ clubs like Gotham Citi in New Haven and the former Krave of Vegas.

“I’ve worked in gay clubs for over ten years. I love the busy seasons, whether it be the holidays or convention time.  The busier the better”.

Alex O'Connor

With his name currently on at least three payrolls, Alex doesn’t get back home to Connecticut very often. But when he does, he picks up shifts at his old stomping grounds in New Haven. He literally works seven days a week, 365 days a year, making this young man the hardest-working bartender in Las Vegas. He clearly loves what he does and refuses to slow his pace.

When asked what form of Kryptonite can bring down this Sin City Superman, Alex quipped “Stealing my protein bars will ruin my day.”

15179136_943011122497696_5033393913488782880_n

This article previously appeared in a different form on another website.

Photos: Sammasseur, Alex O’Connor

Hidden Vegas: Aladdin’s Desert Passage Shops


Looking skyward for curiosities that make up “Hidden Vegas”…

Finding remnants from the bygone days of Vegas is always a treat. I’ve been scouring the mezzanines, peering under tarps and poking my camera through keyholes to find curiosities that sail under the radar for most people.

Last night while meeting friends for drinks and a show, I looked to the skies…from the inside of Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood. There I found remains of the formerly Arabian-themed Desert Passage Shops.

Desert Passage

I started coming to Las Vegas in 2005, and had only been through the Aladdin Resort once or twice. At that time, the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain was in deep trouble with closures taking place around the country.

Desert Passage

The announcement that Aladdin would be re-branded as Planet Hollywood Hotel Casino seemed very foolhardy. Sure, the movement to de-theme Strip resorts was in full swing and Middle-eastern-flavored places like Aladdin and Sahara had fallen out of fashion in a post-9/11 world. But Planet Hollywood??? That decision seemed as out-of-touch as renaming it after dying restaurant chains like Chi-Chi’s or Kenny Roger’s Roasters.

Shows how much I knew, as Planet Hollywood Hotel is now a hip, popular middle-tier destination, with stars like Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull frequently on the marquee. Of course their biggest draw is Britney Spears, so there’s still plenty of dried-up cheese on the Planet Hollywood menu.

Desert Passage

The existing hotel is the second Aladdin to be built on this part of the Strip. The original opened in 1966 and was imploded in 1998. A new Aladdin was rebuilt from the ground up and opened its doors in 2000. Seven years later it officially became Planet Hollywood Resort.

Desert Passage

The Arabian motif was gradually stripped from both the hotel and adjoining Desert Passage Shops, which received a new frontage and glossy modern exterior. Inside, the corridors got a top-to-bottom makeover. Most of the ceiling was painted into a matte-gray finish, discouraging shoppers from gazing upward at the former faux skies.

However, not everything was taken away. There are two distinct areas within the mall where the original decor survives. One surrounds the V Theater complex and fountain show.

Desert Passage

Desert Passage

Desert Passage

The other is nestled under the indoor rainstorm.

Desert Passage

Desert Passage

Desert Passage

Desert Passage

Perhaps it’s telling that the domes, citadels and faux village structures that comprise the Desert Passage remnants exist where other attractions demand your attention…and offer a convenient distraction. You’ll find be hard-pressed to find any mention of them on the glitzy, contemporary Miracle Mile website.

Desert Passage

The Arabian architecture of Desert Passage is clearly…and hilariously…out-of-sync with the rest of the Mile.

Desert Passage

Until very recently, the south-facing exterior of the mall along Harmon Avenue still carried the Aladdin facade. The removal of Krave nightclub and opening of Buffalo Wild Wings and another Nacho Daddy finally jump-started the finishing of that section.

Hidden Vegas

Desert Passage

It’s uncertain if the remaining Arabic interior will eventually get stripped out and de-themed. But for the time being, it’s another chapter in our book of Vegas curiosities.

This article previously appeared in a different form on another website.

Images: Sammasseur with additional stills from Miracle Mile Shops via Facebook, wishuwerehere.com and Greg C.

Sin City Skydiving – The Ultimate Vegas High


That time when I took a flying leap for my birthday celebration…

This article previously appeared on another website…

 

Most of us have experienced the thrill of viewing Las Vegas from the air. But how many of you have seen that memorable skyline from a free-fall at 12,000 feet? I did just that on my 54th birthday at Sin City Skydiving a few weeks ago, and it truly was the ultimate Vegas thrill.

Before you say “No way in Hell!” –believe me– that this writer was once of that attitude. Friends have teased my lack of risk-taking and for always playing it safe. But when 2017 rolled around, I decided to make this my “Year of Adventure.”

Step number one was to take my first trip to Mexico…and a solo one at that. It was quite a saga, filled with mishaps, excitement…and lots of scratches to the bucket list. So January was a terrific start.

February is my birthday month, and I always celebrate it with festivities in and around Las Vegas. This time, my New Year’s resolution required a little more oomph than the ordinary nightclub-and-hangover debauchery. Not long after returning from Cancun, the idea to sky-dive hit me while sleeping. So I woke up, ran to my computer and did some research on skydiving services around the Las Vegas valley…at 3:30 in the morning.

Sin City Skydiving

Narrowing it down to three finalists, I decided to go with Sin City Skydiving in Jean, Nevada. There were various reasons to select this company, including very positive reviews, a nicely-kept Facebook page, the convenient location of their office and the lowest overall price (the regular rate for a tandem jump is $249, but mine qualified for a seasonal special of $199).

The short drive (20 minutes) from Vegas to Jean is pleasant and scenic. Sin City Skydiving is very easy to find off of Interstate 15 at exit 12, near the grand old Gold Strike Casino.

Sin City Skydiving

As you might expect from such a risky undertaking, there are certain health requirements to meet…and LOTS of paperwork to fill out in advance. While it isn’t stated in the official literature, you should not be afraid of heights or prone to panic attacks, IMO.

Jumper Requirements:
All jumpers must be at least 18 years old with a photo ID, weigh 220 pounds or less and height/weight proportionate, be in good physical and mental health. You must be 100% Alcohol & Drug-Free — absolutely no alcohol or illegal drugs may be in your system when you arrive for your jump. Every jumper needs to bring a government-issued photo ID with them — NO EXCEPTIONS.

A free shuttle can be arranged to pick you up at your hotel if you wish. Jumpers must arrive at the office no less than 30 minutes prior to their jump time…this is to sign waivers, receive instruction and suit up. Jumpsuit and goggles are provided – it’s recommended that you dress for the temperature and are required to wear lace-up shoes (I wish I’d brought gloves, too). You’ll be put through a variety of physical maneuvers, shown an instructional video and given a one-on-one lecture on do’s/don’ts and an opportunity to ask questions.

Sin City Skydiving

From there, it’s just a short walk out to the runway and into the plane that will lift you high over the desert. The plane itself is very small, and you will be tethered to your instructor the whole way. He will be recording the entire experience via a high-def GoPro camera. You can purchase pictures and/or video to take home with you on a data DVD (I sprang for both for $99….after all, it IS a once-in-a-lifetime event…maybe).

Sin City Skydiving

My instructor Jake was very charismatic and made me feel at ease the entire time. A seasoned police officer, he now works full time at Sin City Skydiving, doing what he REALLY loves. His confidence and professionalism were quite reassuring…I never felt uncomfortable or in danger.

Sin City Skydiving

The ride to 12,000 feet was wonderfully scenic. As we climbed to the jump altitude, Jake pointed out the snow-capped peaks of Mt. Charleston, the shimmer of Lake Mead, an astonishing array of solar collectors…and of course, the beautiful Las Vegas skyline. Below us, I spotted the landing area we’d be heading for, along with Jean Airport itself, which now seemed so tiny.

Sin City Skydiving

Although the day was clear and sunny (February 23rd), it was surprisingly chilly…especially once the jump door was opened and I swung my legs outside. The cold air hit my face like a blast of ice (and stayed numb for several hours afterward).

Before I realized, we were already in free fall. It’s nearly impossible to explain the number of thoughts and emotions that crossed through my mind as we plunged towards the Earth. But one thing stood out: This was REALLY happening! From the whim of an idea to actuality in just a few short weeks, I was doing something I’d never have imagined trying before.

Sin City Skydiving

I’d kind of expected to have a shocking jolt to my body once the chute was pulled, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, I had to look up to confirm that we were now gliding. Jake gave me the straps to hold onto for awhile; then he steered us into spirals and swoops as we headed towards the landing spot.

The adrenaline rush was somewhat overwhelming….I may have shed an emotional tear or two, although the expression on my face looks more like terror in the photographs. It was actually a combination of the wind, cold and pressure…I was never once afraid.

Sin City Skydiving

As the ground drew closer, I spotted my friend, taking photos of us and the other tandem pair from our flight. Two crew members were near her, waiting to safely guide us into place and detach us from our chute when we arrived. The landing was amazingly smooth and peaceful…a sharp contrast to the jubilant pumping of my own heart.

Sin City Skydiving

The drive back to Sin City Skydiving was brief but exhilarating. My friend, who’d flown in from Pittsburgh to witness the jump and celebrate my birthday, was almost as giddy as me. Despite having little sleep in the hours leading up to that morning, I found myself unable to nap that afternoon or easily fall asleep in the evening. The imagery and adrenaline came back every time I closed my eyes…and I didn’t mind it one darn bit.

Sin City Skydiving

As a regular visitor, I’ve experienced many thrills, memorable moments and once-in-a-lifetime adventures during my stays. But nothing can surpass the thrill of leaping from a plane over the Mojave desert. Sin City Skydiving truly is the ultimate Las Vegas high.

Sin City Skydiving

Sin City Skydiving operates 365 days per year (weather permitting). Gratuities are accepted (this writer tipped 20%). Located at 23600 S. Las Vegas Blvd in Jean, Nevada. Call 702.300.8508 or toll-free 877.727.5867 for reservations or more information.

Photos: Sammasseur, Jake at Sin City Skydiving

Future Superstars: Singer Willie Gomez Emerges From Britney’s Shadow


Spear’s longtime dancer is a vocalist who’s about to explode…

People flocked to Britney Spear‘s residency ever since it opened at Planet Hollywood in 2013. The large-scale production turned out to be a huge hit with her fans across the world. Britney – Piece Of Me was all about the star’s impressive songbook, spectacle, costumes, and dancing.

22728790_1199614373473313_5354380140145435652_n.jpg

However, there was secretly a powerhouse singer on that stage along with the pop star. His name is Willie Gomez, and he’s working to make sure his voice is also heard around the world.

Gomez, who grew up in Miami, was inspired to take dance lessons after watching Britney Spears videos in his youth. That inner fire served him well, as he’s been featured in three of Britney’s music videos. A few months after appearing in Womanizer with her in 2008, he was cast as a principal in the pop singer’s Circus tour.

Willie Gomez

Willie remains a member of Britney’s dance crew and  was a part of the Piece of Me residency from the beginning. They embarked on a short-term set of dates across Israel and Asia last summer before returning to Planet Hollywood for a final round of performances that ended on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Even though this writer is not a Britney fan, friends frequently urged me to check out the show. So I did…by way of YouTube. What I discovered was riveting – a small army of very attractive dancers with precision choreography and stage presence. Despite all of them being world class performers, one in particular stood out. His physique, facial gestures and movements were just in another league.

Willie Gomez

Being an admirer of hard-working performers, I had to know more. It took a bit of research to identify Willie’s name. Fortunately, he has an established fan base who mentioned his name in the video comments. They raved about his dancing…and his singing?

Yes, Willie has his own Youtube Channel with a growing collection of music videos. This is his most recent:

You can also check out his cover songs via Soundcloud by clicking here.

As the fates would have it, Willie is friends with a Hollywood chiropractor that I used to work with a dozen years ago in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Steve Hoorn connected us and Willie agreed to meet for a conversation. A short while later, the two of us were having coffee before one of his performances at Britney: Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood.

Willie Gomez

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you encounter a person with that intangible “something.” There’s an energy they give off…an electric feeling you perceive almost subliminally. Willie has that aura. There’s a fire in his eyes and he crackles with energy, magnetism, and lots of warmth.

Willie Gomez

As much as Willie loves to dance, he feels he’s ready to share his passion for singing with the world. The videos that he’s released so far have been covers of songs by other artists. His expressive vocals give those familiar compositions a unique flavor. Now he’s preparing a collection of original recordings.

“I’m very involved in song-writing. I know what kind of songs I want to sing and there are some great writers working with me. They understand what I feel and how I want to bring those emotions across. Together we’ve collaborated on pieces that reflect who I am as an artist”.

Willie’s great looks have placed him on the cover of several magazines. Modeling and acting have brought him plenty of attention, but now he’d like to scale that back a little. When asked how important looks and sexuality are for a successful music career, he had this to say:

“I’ve done plenty of magazine shoots…and I’ve shown a lot of my body. It’s been fun, but they always want you to show more…and more. The past few years I’ve been getting away from that. I want my music to speak for itself, without relying on sex or gimmicks to sell it”.

While that philosophy is great for career longevity, there’s no question that Willie’s video performances have been drenched in fluid sexuality. Much of it undoubtedly came from his collaborations with Britney, which overflow with hot bodies of both genders.

After our conversation, Willie had me as his guest for Piece of Me. It was my first time seeing the show, but I learned during our conversation that I’d unknowingly seen him perform a few years back at the Caesars Palace Coliseum.

Willie was an aerialist in Australian pop star Kylie Minogue‘s incredible Aphrodite tour. That stunning, massive production was once rumored to be eyeing a Vegas residency. “I doubt you would have recognized me back then” he joked. “My head was shaved and I was mostly hanging upside down”.

Along with Minogue, Willie has shared the stage with the likes of Katy PerryChristina AguileraMary J. BligeKesha and many prominent Latino artists. But his loyalty to the pop princess is strong.

“The thing about Britney is that she allows us to be ourselves. Sure, we’re doing the choreo, but she encourages me and the others to make it our own. She’s very supportive, which is why I work with her. Not all artists are like that”.

Eventually, Britney posted a video message on her Instagram page, wishing Gomez luck on his singing career: “Willie is a dancer of mine, and not only is he a great dancer, but he is an amazing singer…and I had no clue. You’re amazing, good luck on your project, and I’m sending all my kisses to you”.

Willie Gomez

With a few years of preparation behind him, the Dominican Republic native made plans to release a four-song EP, tentatively entitled “My Life”. He began the process by enlisting his favorite writers, producers, and directors. Then came an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to help finance the project.

The hardest thing, though, was just gathering enough courage to take the first steps:

“From the time I was a little boy I had big dreams, with music running through my veins. But, I had fear in my heart.  I was afraid of rejection and sharing who I really was, and what I always wanted to be – a singer”.

Willie did his first concert appearance in LA not long after the original version of this article appeared on another site. He posted some highlights and was thrilled by the response:

It’s only matter of time before Willie Gomez goes from a backup dancer to a full-fledged marquee name. With so many successes already under his belt, I asked the dancer/singer/actor/model how he’d most like to be remembered years from now:

No matter what I do, I give it my all. Right now I’m focused on my passion for singing. But I don’t want to be categorized for just one thing. I’m a performer.

That’s who I am.

Britney Spears has reportedly signed for an upcoming series of shows at PARK MGM Theater beginning in 2019.

.Photos: Willie Gomez via Instagram/Facebook/Youtube, Sammasseur

Pride, Prejudice and a “Pitchfork”


Choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard redefines coming-out dramas with a genre-bending slasher film…

People who run on creative energy frequently have a passion project tucked away deep inside their mind. It lives there, growing and taking shape until it finally breaks free and becomes reality. For Emmy-nominated dance man Glenn Douglas Packard, that secret desire has been the creation of his own horror epic.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Glenn and I first connected in the cyber-world a few years back when a mutual friend posted a review of a movie thriller. As my longtime Florida buddy (who also happens to be named Glenn) and I were discussing the merits and shortcomings of the film, Packard chimed in…and I was like “Hey…aren’t you the guy from Men of the Strip?”.

Being a fan of MOTS frontman Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees), I’d had the good fortune to pen numerous Vegas Chatter articles about the show. Packard and crew had just wrapped up their splashy showcase at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues and it seemed surreal that we were now debating slasher films from far-flung corners of the country.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard, Timmons and Foland at Men of the Strip rehearsal…             

Fast forward to summer 2017, and once again I’m in Las Vegas, shadowing Timmons, show financier “Money” Mike Foland and Packard for a relaunch of Men of the Strip. One evening after rehearsals, Glenn and I (along with his associate and right-hand man David Mayorga) headed over to LGBTQ locals’ gem The Garage for cocktails…and to discuss how they turned Packard’s imagination into a silver-screen reality.

Pitchfork was created in the spirit of 70’s and 80’s franchises that, like their titular villains, refuse to stay dead. But the film’s tagline “Every Generation Has Its Monster” cuts a bit deeper. In our era of political turmoil, where LGBTQ citizens view the White House with concern and suspicion, one might ask who the true monster is.

Pitchfork17

At the home of main character “Hunter”, that answer is even more complex. Returning to his family’s sprawling rural dairy farm and estate, Hunter is about to face a stern father who recently learned of his son’s homosexuality. Hunter’s not coming back alone though, as his art-school classmates have packed into a van for the weekend to throw him a coming-out party of sorts.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Sexual dynamics are front and center in most slasher films. Those barn-loft trysts and back-seat hookups inevitably lead to a bloody demise. In Pitchfork, sex and sexual subtext permeate nearly every sequence, especially as the story reaches its outrageous climax.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

It’s no accident that Pitchfork‘s maniac is a muscular, shirtless man…abs and pecs on display as he slices his way through the cast of characters. Under other circumstances he might be considered hot…in a kinky kind of way. But there’s the issue of a farm tool in place of his left hand. That’s one detail you’d probably leave out of your Grindr profile.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Both Hunter and “Pitch” have daddy issues and highly involved mothers. Each views himself as an outsider, desiring acceptance from his respective family. How they deal with being different, the way they were raised…and how they turn out as adults…offer a strong metaphor for “growing up gay” in today’s volatile and ever-changing society.

Pitchfork3

When dreaming up the concept for Pitchfork, it’s unlikely that Packard envisioned he’d one day be acting as its producer, director, casting supervisor and choreographer, too. Yes…choreographer. Would you seriously expect a bunch of vacationing art students to NOT have a barn dance on their gay buddy’s farm?

Pitchfork8

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Did someone say “Barn Dance”?                         

Despite this being his directorial debut, Packard fills Pitchfork with plenty of style and memorable imagery. The camera swoops in and around each scene, accentuated with glorious aerial shots and starkly-lit night sequences by cinematographer/editor Rey Gutierrez. It boggles the mind that the film was recorded with a single camera in 21 days on the director’s own family farm.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pitchfork6

                  Men of the Strip’s Keith Webb gets a sticky facial…                                              

Like most passion projects, family and friends offered their time and energy to make Pitchfork a reality. Dancer Keith Webb, who also worked with Packard on Men of the Strip, amps up the cast’s hunk quotient as an ill-fated jock.

Plenty of Sin City DNA infuses the heart and soul of Pitchfork. Vegas resident Mayorga from Zombie Burlesque and Men of the Strip served as Assistant Director. Darryl F. Gariglio of Grand Adventures Tours Las Vegas was its Executive Producer/writer. Chris Arrendondo, who creates the eerie creatures and characters for Circus Circus Fright Dome, did the stunning make-up work.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard and David Mayorga (back row) clown around with the cast….                         

During filming, Packard revealed a rather moving detail in the film’s making-of documentary: the lair where “Pitch” brings his victims is the actual shack that the director retreated to when he was bullied as a child.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Growing up as a gay person, especially in a rural community, can leave scars that never disappear. In Packard’s case, he used his own safe haven as a symbol for the damage that society can inflict on a developing psyche. His courage to face those memories and channel them into something positive is echoed in a soul-baring “It Gets Better” video from 2010.

Packard told me in our conversations that the effort that went into filming Pitchfork was crazy and intense, yet everyone seemed to have a great time. One would assume that the cast of eager young actors found it cool to be in a horror movie.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Since its release, Pitchfork has won accolades and awards throughout the horror-film universe. Now that Halloween season has arrived it’s finding a new legion of fans, especially within the LGBTQ community.

Glenn continues to promote the film via conventions and screenings. And there’s even a new comic-book novelization by actor/artist Andrew Dawe-collins (“Pa Hollister” in the film) that you can check out here.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Any worthwhile slasher entry teases a sequel, even when the killer seems to be dead and dismembered. In Pitchfork, the unpredictable left-field denouement will leave you gasping…and clamoring for more. Luckily, Glenn told me that ideas for Pitchfork 2 and 3 are already swirling in his semi-twisted mind.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

That’s great news for chiller-thriller fans, because every generation needs its monster-movie king. Like John Carpenter and Wes Craven before him, Glenn Douglas Packard is on his way to becoming the next Master of Horror.

Pitchfork is available on a Special Edition Blu Ray/DVD and streaming services like REVRY, YouTube Movies and Amazon Prime.

Photos: Pitchfork, David Mayorga

“Greece” Is The Word


“Vegas Unfiltered” is about to go on a very short hiatus…

Hi, all! I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has joined me here at Vegas Unfiltered. I’m having a great time sharing my experiences and thoughts with you and hope you’re enjoying yourself as well.

I’ll be taking a short break to head off to Europe on my first cruise…ever. Italy, Greece, Albania and Croatia are on the itinerary. Hubby and some friends will be with me for the biggest adventure yet…outside of Vegas, of course.

When V/U returns in two weeks, you may see a new look to the site. I’m working with a fantastic media person, a local Vegas mover-and-shaker, who is planning on integrating my page into his platform. This will yield a superior user-friendly design and a very attractive site. The date isn’t specific right now, but very close.

Until then, enjoy the articles already here and have a great couple of weeks.

Sammasseur

#VegasStrong