Lace Your Shoes for the 28th Las Vegas AIDS Walk

 


Thousands expected to gather for fun, fundraising and public awareness…

It’s rare that I post actual press releases to this blog, but this one is perfectly written and give all the details you could hope for. So here it is, intact:

“Walk to the beat” at Aid for AIDS of Nevada‘s (AFAN) 28th annual AIDS Walk Las Vegas on Sunday, April 15 at Town Square. As AFAN‘s largest fundraiser, last year’s walk saw more than 5,500 walkers and raised $300,000 to support critically needed HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

As Nevada’s largest and oldest HIV/AIDS service organization, AFAN provides supportive services to more than 1,200 clients including free HIV testing, prevention education, client transportation to healthcare providers, rent and utility assistance, nutritional counseling, food vouchers, mental health therapy and kids’ programs.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

                                    Grand Marshalls “Penn and Teller” 

Penn & Teller will once again serve as grand marshals for the 17th consecutive year and are encouraging walkers to take the Penn & Teller Challenge, matching every challenger’s $250+ donation dollar for dollar. The top challenger will be awarded AFAN swag and other prizes, including tickets to various Las Vegas shows.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

                                                “Miss Behave and Tiffany”

The walk will be hosted by presenting radio sponsors iHeart Radio‘s Marco and Joanna from the Sunny 106.5 Morning Radio Show, as well as “Sex Tips for a Straight Woman from a Gay Man” stars Scheana Shay from “Vanderpump Rules” and Chester Lockhart from MTV.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

             Cast members from Aussie Heat will be at the QLife booth…

Aids Walk Las Vegas

                                      Ruby Lewis of BAZ: A Musical Mash-up

The hosts will introduce awe-inspiring performances from Melody Sweets, cast members from WOW World of WonderNorma LlyamanRuby Lewis, and the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts Broadway Collective.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

               Chippendales with last year’s guest host Tyson Beckford

In addition to the performers, Tony Dovolani and cast members from ChippendalesJennifer Romas from Sexxy the Show, (Westgate), Miss Behave Game Show (Bally’s), and several of Nevada’s public officials will make special appearances to support AFAN for its unyielding commitment to making Nevada AIDS-free.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

                                               Jennifer Romas of “SEXXY”

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In between being captivated by Vegas talent, walkers can visit more than 30 different vendor booths, ranging from local and national brand representatives or head to the carnival game area with little walkers.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

                                                          Antioco Carrillo

Said AFAN‘s Executive Director Antioco Carrillo:

This years’ AIDS Walk Las Vegas is more important than ever. With the dissolving of the HIV/AIDS presidential advisory council, funding for HIV/AIDS research and prevention has plummeted. AIDS Walk Las Vegas is a chance for community members to come together and raise their voices to support public health, social justice, and help make Nevada AIDS-free.

Aids Walk Las Vegas

Aids Walk Las Vegas

People of all ages are encouraged to participate in the 28th annual AIDS Walk Las Vegas. Registration is free and attendees are encouraged to form a team and fund-raise to receive incentives. For additional information and to register, visit afanlv.org.
Aids Walk Las Vegas

Presenting sponsors of AIDS Walk include Penn & Teller, iHeart Media, Event Consultants, The Walking Company, Greenspun Media Group, and PDQ Printing.

 

Photos: Te Ann Lakeotes, Madison Freedle, Gary Kabik, one7 Communications, Aussie Heat, Jennifer Romas, Miss Behave, Antioco Carrillo

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The Many Sides of Savannah Cross


Palazzo’s infectious dancer brings razzle-dazzle to BAZ: A Musical Mash-up

Ever since its humble beginnings inside a small Los Angeles nightspot, BAZ: A Musical Mash-up has boasted a fluid cast. Performers and celebrity guests regularly step into and out of six iconic and several supporting roles. They often swap characters and lines…sometimes within the same performance, making each night a unique experience.

The genre-bending BAZ musical, a creation by LA-based For The Record, recently celebrated its 500th performance inside a custom-designed venue at Palazzo Resort. Although its tradition of rotating casts continues, one performer has been there through four different dance partners. Her name is Savannah Cross…and she’s someone you’ll want to experience on your next trip to the Strip.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Savannah grew up in Sandy, Utah, just south of Great Salt Lake. She spent her earliest years learning to dance at several studios around her home state.

I started dancing at the age of 6.  Watching my older cousin compete is really what drew me into dance.  I remember thinking to myself, this is it, this is what I want to do.  From the time I started training at 6, I just never stopped and got even more immersed into dance.

During my first couple years of dancing, I saw the movie Center Stage and fell in love.  I loved the idea that dance was something I could make a career out of and watching this movie made it all even more real.  I also loved the work, energy and sacrifice that the dancers in the movie put into this crazy art form.

During high school, the ambitious teen traveled around the country with Hollywood Connection, a company dedicated to preparing dancers for their commercial careers. Despite her young age, Savannah performed in a variety of productions that displayed skills in hip-hop, contemporary and ballroom styles.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

After graduating from high school, the dynamic young lady enrolled at the University of Utah‘s College of Fine Arts. While there, Savannah was member of their Performing Dance Company, which gave her the opportunity to work with several famed choreographers. As a result of her hard work and the enormous potential she displayed, Savannah received the prestigious Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship for her 2014-2015 year.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

While less ambitious college students were spending their summers sipping margaritas on Mexican beaches, Ms. Cross was in Leeds, England, receiving intensive training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. And somewhere in those college years she managed to become a finalist on Paula Abdul‘s Live To Dance and appeared in a music video for singer Shaun Barrowes.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Modern Dance, Savannah became an instructor at Utah’s Elite Academy, a unique dance studio that teaches children as young as preschool age.  There she inspired other up-and-coming dancers and shared the knowledge she’d gained from an already extensive background.

Aside from dancing, I have really found a passion in teaching.  I started teaching dance when I was 18 and instantly fell in love. I was so lucky to have such incredible and diverse teachers growing up and because of this I felt very informed when I first started teaching.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

It was obvious that the girl from a small town in Utah was destined to accomplish great things. With the unending support of her loving mom…and her father as a faithful companion/escort to countless auditions, Savannah’s determination would soon pay off.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

I have the most amazing support system and especially wouldn’t be where I am today without my mom and dad. They sacrificed so much to let me follow my dreams.  Every vacation we ever took as a family was always for dance.  A large part of me sticking with this art that can be so hard and grueling is because of those two.  They never gave up on me and every second of everyday, they believed in me.

I have one sibling, a 12 year old sister named Dylann.  She is now starting to dance and train heavily and it makes my heart so happy.  Watching her flourish makes me want to be the absolute best version of myself each day.

As with so many other promising artists, Savannah Cross decided to try her luck in New York City. Although she had success there, a turn of luck would lead her to the bright lights and neon of the Las Vegas Strip.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

The innovative Los Angeles-based cabaret troupe For The Record Live was catching on like wildfire. Their musical interpretations of the film works from directors  Quentin Tarantino and John Hughes were drawing raves…and crowds. Their biggest hit so far was For the Record: BAZ, built around the scenes and music of avante-garde Aussie filmmaker Baz Luhrmann.

The production, interweaving love stories from Luhrmann’s contemporary re-imaginings of The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet was given a short stint at Mandalay Bay’s LIGHT Nightclub. Plagued by problems with the venue and its relationship with Cirque du Soleil, BAZ closed prematurely…but refused to die.

In 2016, Palazzo Resort announced a relaunch of the newly-named BAZ: Star Crossed Love. Cirque was now out of the picture and Venetian/Palazzo pledged full support of the acclaimed musical. This latest version of the long-evolving production would open with a mostly-new cast, a reworking of songs and scenes and a custom theater designed to showcase its cabaret-style roots.

What would eventually become my 2017 Best Production Show in Las Vegas was about to gain a brand-new ballroom star. This time, Savannah would be required to sing, act and play characters in addition to swirling around the stage. Here’s how she became a part of BAZ…in her own words:

I really never imagined I would be a part of a show like BAZ. Before I joined the cast, I was dancing for two contemporary companies in New York and I really thought that was my path. When I initially joined the show, I was somewhat hesitant having to sing and act, but now have come to realize that I have such a passion for the two. I do strongly believe that my background in dance and immense training that I did all over the world and in different styles, informed and directed me as a strong actor.  

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

My initial start into the show was such a whirlwind! I received a phone call from a fellow dancer/friend who I hadn’t heard from in years. She started the conversation totally casual, and a few minutes into the conversation asked me if I would be interested in BAZ. I fell in love with the structure of the show and the incredible talent she described to me. Within days, I got a phone call that I was chosen for the role of Fran! I felt so incredibility lucky to be cast in the show without For the Record and the management team ever seeing me in person.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Everything happened so quickly, with only 3 days to learn the entire show, I became the first new cast member to come into BAZ. I instantly knew that I was meant to be here doing this amazing show. As of now, Scorsese: American Crime Requiem (based on the mafia films of Martin Scorcese) is the only other For the Record show I have seen, but it absolutely blew me away!!! I saw the show in Los Angeles with some others members of BAZ and I sat there thinking to myself, how lucky am I to be part of such an insanely talented family.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

I have now had four different partners in the show and I will say that I have really been lucky with each boy. Two of the four partners are also from Utah and we actually grew up dancing together, which made the transition pretty simple. But I will say that there is an emotional toll when a partner leaves.

You end up building such a connection and relationship with each other in which you fully trust each other. I do think that it often feels like a “break up” to some extent and can take a minute to rebuild an entirely new connection with someone else.

Being able to build a connection between herself and others is definitely one of Savannah’s gifts. Whether it’s with her fellow performers, the people in the audience or her own students, Miss Cross is magnetic, energetic and completely mesmerizing.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

This writer was fortunate enough to have once been Savannah’s student…for a day. As a member of the media, I was invited to participate in BAZ Boot Camp last summer, an event that allowed members of the press to live a day as a performer at the Palazzo Theater.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

  Savannah (center, rear) keeps a watchful eye on yours truly during rehearsal…

Despite my having two left feet and a pair of wobbly legs, Savannah and her dance partner Marcquet Hill rallied and turned us into dancers in a few short hours. Savannah’s positive reinforcement and patience were especially memorable.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

Fortunately, the next round of students Savannah and cast mate Patrick Ortiz shared the BAZ experience with were fledgling local youth performers. During the past two years, the show’s team has partnered with Positively Arts Foundation to provide mentorship, collaboration and inspiration for students intent on pursuing a career in performance.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

The cast of BAZ also put on the Positively Arts Holiday Spectacular at the Palazzo Theater last December. Featuring more than sixty Positively Arts students, the show brought performances of seasonal songs like “Silent Night,” “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” “This Christmas,” “Carol of the Bells” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth” to the stage with all proceeds benefiting the Foundation. For Savannah, teaching and performing on the same stage is something she will no doubt always relish:

I think its beyond amazing that I get to share something I love so dearly with others and help them find their own passion within the art.  Watching my students grow is the most inspiring and informative lesson for myself.

Now that BAZ: A Musical Mash-up has surpasseded the 500th-performance mark and is about to celebrate its two-year anniversary on the Strip, it’s clear that something special is going on inside the Palazzo Theater. With people like Savannah Cross to teach, inspire and entertain, here’s hoping that she and the cast of BAZ reach for the stars with five hundred more…and beyond.

Savannah Cross BAZ Dancer Palazzo

BAZ: A Musical Mash-up performs Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 pm. Tickets start at $64 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here. VegasFool is currently offering discounted seats starting at $39(plus taxes/fees). Access that offer by clicking here.

Photos: Whitney Lauren Photography, Richard Brusky, Post Productions Photography, Marc Reynolds, Abe Larmas Photography, Erik Kabik, KTNV Morning Blend, Sands Corp.

Strip In The Dark Tonight For Earth Hour


Earth Hour Las Vegas is here again so get out your cameras….and a flashlight….

Things are about to go dark on the Strip. But don’t worry, the power “outage” isn’t a mishap…it’s part of a planet-wide awareness movement. Known as Earth Hour, the annual event will be making its ninth Vegas appearance…er, disappearance this Saturday, March 24th from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. And it’s really a sight not to see.

Here’s a clip from KTNV’s coverage two years ago:

Earth Hour is more than just a publicity stunt or meaningless tradition. It’s part of a global initiative to bring awareness to the threats of climate change and related environmental concerns. More than 160 nations participate in Earth Hour, which was started by the World Wildlife Fund back in 2007.

To be a part of Earth Hour, individuals, organizations, landmarks and businesses are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lighting for 60 minutes. During that time and (and throughout the evening), events are held to support and publicize global green initiatives.

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

Here’s what the Venetian/Palazzo has in store for tonight:

The Venetian®, The Palazzo®, and Sands® Expo will be celebrating Earth Hour 2018 by turning off non-essential lights at 8:30 p.m. In addition, guests of the resort will also be invited to turn off non-essential lighting in their guest suites and share in the Earth Hour experience.
This effort is a part of the worldwide annual environmental campaign that asks organizations and individuals to turn off lights for one hour. To bring further awareness to this initiative, the resorts will turn exterior marquee signs green outside of Earth Hour.
The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Sands Expo are fully engaged in the Sands ECO360° Global Sustainability strategy designed to help minimize the environmental impact of the company. Las Vegas Sands’ vision is to lead the way in sustainable building development and resort operations; striving to leave a responsible, cleaner, and safer world for future generations.

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

According to the World Wildlife Fund‘s official site:

“WWF’s Earth Hour shows us how each of us can be heroes for our planet, our home. Our actions today can change our tomorrow – together, let’s #ChangeClimateChange”.

Since its Las Vegas beginnings, I’ve heard many cynics saying that an hour’s worth of electricity is just a drop in the ocean, so to speak. But that’s not really the point of Earth Hour. Awareness is everything, and even a city of excess can take big steps to reduce their impact on the environment throughout the year.

Earth Hour Vegas 2018

      World Wildlife Fund’s “Pandy” visits the famous Welcome To Vegas sign…

For instance, Caesars Corporation cites environmental stewardship as one of the four pillars of their Code of Commitment. CET initiated “Code Green” in 2008 with a promise to preserve the planet for current and future generations. You can read about their effort by visiting here.

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

                      Human Nature back in the Imperial Palace days….

MGM Resorts has their own environmental sustainability program. Its highest-profile effort so far has been the construction of the world’s largest rooftop solar array atop the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Venetian/Palazzo boasts several awards for their Sands ECO360 Global Sustainability Program, which minimizes global impact in their building and operations programs. Parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp. is rated highest in the world for hospitality companies by Newsweek’s 2016 Green Ranking.

 

It’s really an understatement to say that building a city in the middle of the desert was impractical and excessive. But of course, Vegas has always boasted about its over-the-top qualities. However, as cultural shifts (and a rapidly-dwindling Lake Mead) remind us, the viability of life in Vegas valley would reach a tipping point without methods to address what we consume there.

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

      Thunder From Down Under strips off their Earth Hour shirts to celebrate…

To that end, we’ve seen big changes in the way that mega-resorts…and even the smaller hotels…are handling the mass consumption of resources. It’s now somewhat common for resorts to offer dining or other incentives when opting out of daily housekeeping. Water-saving shower heads, high-efficiency toilets, and energy-efficient bulbs have been installed throughout the city.

In many hotels, “smart” thermostats and motion sensors curtail unnecessary lighting and cooling. The majority of guest and convention trash is sorted and recycled in massive efforts that guests will never see. Reclaimed and green-wise building materials are now the norm. Even a large portion of the ill-fated Harmon Hotel‘s materials were collected for re-purposing.

Earth Hour 3

     And let’s not forget about those massive, enormous solar arrays outside of the city…

So when the lights go dark on the Strip tonight, enjoy the coolness factor and take lots of memorable photos. But please remember the message that Earth Hour brings…and how we can all make a difference.

You can learn more by visiting EarthHour.org via this link.

Photos: Sammasseur, Venetian, EarthHour.org, Earth Hour Las Vegas

Westgate’s Culinary Superstars: Chef Masato Shiga


International man of mystery lets his Asian cuisine do the talking…

Last summer I introduced readers to Bar Sake, the newly-launched Japanese Robata-style grill restaurant that I referred to “Westgate’s Hidden Gem”.

Unique in location, offerings and atmosphere, Westgate’s Bar Sake & Robata Grill is the perfect little venue to gather at with friends, a loved one…or to discover all by yourself.

Bar Sake‘s menu is as much about the great food as the unique beverage offerings. And while I had the privilege to discuss cocktail creation with Chief Mixologist Eddie Perales during that initial visit, Chef Masato Shiga stood off to the side and was noticeably quiet. I was to learn later that this is the norm for Chef Shiga. He’d much rather communicate via his food than chat with you about it.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Naturally, I wanted to discover what inspired and influenced the man behind these sumptuous dishes. And of course, to sample (quite) a bit more of his delicious creations…so we sat down to talk on a return visit before I enjoyed another great meal courtesy of Chef Shiga. Despite sampling plate after plate, it was me who did most of the talking.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

I was surprised to learn that as Executive Chef, Shiga oversees not one but four distinctive restaurants within Westgate‘s “The Village”. Taking up a substantial portion of the resort’s restaurant row, the two-story Village complex is home to world-renowned Benihana, Silk Road Asian Bistro, Rikki Tiki Sushi…and of course, Bar Sake.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

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Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

       Rikki Tiki Sushi overlooks the flowing water and gardens in The Village

Presenting such a vast array of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese specialties would be a daunting task for any cuisinier, but Chef Masa (the name he most frequently goes by) is no ordinary culinary expert. He brings a lifetime of authenticity and experience to the kitchen…and your table. He began cooking in Japan and has continued to expand his collection of recipes through an illustrious career at top Vegas restaurants.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

                                               Chigasaki, Kanagawa

Chef Shiga was born in Chigasaki, a resort community on the Sagami Sea in the Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan. This largely tourist-based city is home to about 240,000 permanent residents. Considered to be a sister-city to Honolulu, Chigasaki is rich with Hawaiian and other Pan-Asian influences. It also lays claim to being the birthplace of Japanese surfing.

Growing up while surrounded by such a rich fusion of cultures undoubtedly presented many memorable dining experiences for the young Shiga. With Tokyo merely an hour’s trip away, it would have been easy for him to savor and learn how to prepare many regional delicacies and those from around his country and the world.

Masa10

At the age of nineteen, Shiga began his education in culinary school. Along with Far East cuisine, he learned the fine art of French cooking…quite an interesting combination! And much like his previously-profiled colleague Chef Bruno Morabito (of Westgate‘s Sid’s Cafe), Shiga developed an affection for whipping up all-American breakfast dishes. Perhaps that’s why he eventually migrated to the heartland of the United States.

Masa1

       Vintage postcard image of Mikado Japanese Cuisine, Mirage Resort…

When we arrived here, I looked around and was…WOW! So much to see….so big! I knew this was where I wanted to be. We stopped at The Mirage and I went straight into Mikado Japanese Restaurant to apply. I’ve been in Las Vegas ever since.

After Mikado, Chef Masa moved next door to become assistant chef at Caesars Palace‘s famed Hyakumi. That was the first of several positions within the resort. Then came Bacchanal Buffet, probably the most famous high-end buffet in the world. After its successful launch, he moved over to the highly-acclaimed Nobu Japanese Restaurant at Caesars‘ own Nobu Hotel.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

As has happened with so many other wonderful Vegas chefs, Shiga’s next step led him to Westgate Las Vegas. He oversees operations of all four of their Asian restaurants. On some evenings you may find him behind the robata grill that he personally selected for the opening of Bar Sake. It’s there that you’ll see him searing skewers stuffed with succulent meats, colorful vegetables and glorious seafood in an ancient and revered method.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Despite being an extremely reserved and private man, Chef Shiga loves the camaraderie of being on the Westgate team. He enjoys the mutual support of his colleagues and appreciates the ability to have creative control over the meals he creates for guests.

The Chef recounted an especially memorable time with his professional family at a company golf outing:

We were all dressed alike. Nobody had different kinds of shirts. Managers played side by side with staffers. Everyone was equal there. You could be talking to your boss, an executive, a server…it didn’t matter. I like that about working for Westgate.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

The culinary artist was quite reluctant to discuss his personal life, as he values his privacy. He did tell me that he’s married and returns to Japan on yearly excursions to visit friends and family. He also enjoys attending American football games. But what he really likes to do is head out to the greens for a round of golf…even when he travels abroad.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Luckily for Chef Shiga, Westgate’s neighbor to the east happens to be the gorgeous Las Vegas Country Club. The two destinations have a long-standing relationship that offers hotel guests the opportunity to visit the private club via Westgate Golf Packages. So when the golfing bug hits him at home, Chef Masa doesn’t have very far to go.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

With all of that responsibility and ambition, Chef Shiga somehow maintains a calming presence that suits the soothing atmosphere of the restaurants he operates. Those admirable talents and twenty-plus years in the business have made Westgate Las Vegas a go-to place for lovers of fine Far East cuisine.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

                Benihana fires up traditional Japanese steakhouse fare…

Chef Shiga is proud to offer unique items in an environment that exudes small-town charm. His dishes are pieces of art unto themselves, which is exactly how he likes it.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Now that there’s talk of an Oyster Bar possibly being added to the line-up at The Village, Chef Shiga may have trim back on his number of golf outings. But it’s unlikely that he’ll give up a place behind his treasured Robata grill. It’s the one sure thing tho make him smile.

Chef Masato Shiga Westgate

Silk Road Asian Bistro, Rikki Tiki Sushi and Benihana open daily at 5pm. Bar Sake & Robata Grill operates limited hours – call (702) 732-5755 for more information.

Photos: Sammasseur, Westgate Las Vegas/Chef Masato Shiga via Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

After The Fall – “Le Reve” Acrobat Ryan Lyons

Chronicling the pain, suffering and risks that Vegas acrobats endure to entertain you.


Last weekend, former Le Reve performer Yann Arnaud suffered a fatal fall while performing in Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA in Tampa. Fellow Le Reve acrobat Ryan Lyons suffered a shockingly similar accident during a live performance at Wynn Las Vegas several years ago.

Since this article was published on another site in August of 2015, Lyons has gotten married and relocated to Australia. He now works, among other things, as an aerial choreographer for singer Pink. What follows is a reprint of how the article originally appeared.

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Ryan Lyons is a “generalist” in Le Reve – The Dream.  Five nights a week he flips, flies, dances and dives for thousands of people. He has done so ever since the show opened more than ten years ago. While he considers his experience at Wynn Las Vegas to be a dream come true, for a short while it became something much darker.

Le Reve

One evening during the finale, Lyons suffered a traumatic injury that echoes the one that occurred at MGM Grand/Cirque du Soleil’s KA. Performer Sarah Guyard-Guillot, who also fell during the final sequence, died as a result of her injuries.  That production was shut down for nearly weeks as safety protocols were re-examined. It reopened with a greatly altered finale (which has since been restored).

Ryan Lyons was much luckier than Guyard-Guillot.  After a hospital stay and physical rehabilitation, he returned to Le Reve for another five years.  Complications, pain, and the occasional surgery became a way of life, and he still deals with the physical and psychological aftermath of that accident.

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Now in his eleventh year with Le Reve, Lyons has reached the “What next?” phase of his career.  It’s a question that all performers must face when their bodies are maxed out but the soul still yearns to perform. As he ponders his options, Lyons has begun sharing his journey in a personal blog, which he calls “The Anchors Project”.  In it, he hopes to motivate, inspire creativity and ultimately help others to find what their personal anchors are.

Here are a few excerpts from “The Anchors Project”:

“The finale act comes around, and I jump onto my porters to set up my second trick of (the) act.  As they are launching me into the air, my left foot slips and everything just crumbles from there.  In mid-air, I only hope to have enough rotation that I don’t land head first upside down.  I end up landing back on the dry stage, taking all the force to my face and chest…and slide unconscious into the water.   

I wake up on a spinal board with several athletic trainers and rescue personnel around me.  I learn that I have shattered my nose, fractured some ribs and have multiple contusions to my lungs.”

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You might think the life of a Vegas performer is all glitz and glam.  It’s not bad by any means. We get paid to do what we love, and it often doesn’t feel like a job.  What people don’t realize is how short-lived our career is (I certainly didn’t). They don’t see the ugly side of the job, fighting for contracts, pushing through each show with an ache here and an ache there.  

The “show must go on” mentality of the corporate setting, or the fear of losing your next contract.  We dance and flip around on stage, but we often struggle to “play the game” as we try to find a balance that will keep our passion alive. It is often truly the passion to perform that keeps us going.

Le Reve

Plagued by injuries, overuse of our bodies and sometimes not feeling valued for the risk we take with each performance, you are challenged to make decisions on what is important to you.

What is important to me now, as I reflect on this journey, is my health and well being. I often joke to my friends and say “I want to be able to walk when I’m 40!”. 

I’ve learned that even despite many setbacks, I was still able to live my dream.  That my strength and courage helped me move past my injuries and the obstacles that were placed in front of me.  That my tenacity to keep going, always gets me to where I want to go. I now find myself motivating others to share their passion and to reach beyond their wildest dreams.

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You can read more about Ryan Lyons by visiting his website The Anchors Project.

Photos: Ryan Lyons, Sammasseur

Hot Guys of Vegas: Dads and Sons


Get acquainted with the men who make their children, pets and parents proud…

With spring…and Father’s Day…just around the corner, it’s time to salute the young men of Vegas who inspire their families with talent, good deeds…and fantastic physiques and looks.

 

Alberto del Campo – athlete/performer/pole instructor

 

Hot Guys Vegas Dads Sons

                                                         Alberto del Campo

Where you’ve seen him – Le Reve, KA, Las Vegas Pole Expo, The Beatles LOVE

Alberto del Campo (banner photo above) is one of those guys who seems to be unaffected by gravity.  With athletic grace, he soars through the air and water, climbs tall objects with ease and is completely comfortable hanging upside down.

Hot Guys Vegas Dads Sons

This handsome Spiderman/Aquaman hybrid from Barcelona is a real-life superhero to sons Alex (10) and Zack (8). Together the play, train, and have lots of fun outdoors. But when the sun goes down, Alberto joins his boys onstage at Mirage for The Beatles LOVE.

Hot Guys Vegas Dads Sons

Father and sons, along with beautiful wife Genevieve Garneau, love being a seriously-fit circus family. Genevieve, a native of Quebec, is currently a performer in Le Reve and has previously been an artist for Cirque.

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Alex is skilled at joining dad on the pole and young Zack is currently mastering aerial work on the straps. Both boys will no doubt continue to follow in their parents’ footsteps and be stars in their own right.

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                                Alberto’s final evening with the cast of KA…

As for Alberto, his busy schedule is enhanced by a number of ancillary projects. Along with competing, he holds workshops in pole dancing and pole fitness. He’s also been known to choreograph amazing aerial sequences for Cirque du Soleil’s annual “One Night For One Drop” charity events. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ve caught one of his rare comedy performances in the naughty vaudeville act Golden Shower.

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Del Campo may be a dad, but he doesn’t have the standard “dad bod” by any stretch of the imagination. This handsome father lives, breathes, works and teaches fitness…and it shows.

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If you’d like to learn more about Alberto or attend one of his workshops, contact him through Aerial Athletica at (702) 848-7894.

Noteworthy traits – stunning flexibility, ability to look hot from all angles…

 

Chris Hodgson – dancer/singer/actor/model

 

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                                                         Chris Hodgson

Where you’ve seen him – Jubilee!, Sex Tips For Straight Women, ad campaigns

New daddy Chris Hodgson has been steaming up the stages of Las Vegas ever since he arrived from West Yorkshire. This slim, towering 30-year-old has a voice that can melt ice and cheekbones that could cut diamonds.

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Chris is currently starring as the object of everyone’s desire in Paris Casino‘s Sex Tips For Straight Women from a Gay Man. He plays Stefan, a technician who becomes the unwitting prop in a scheme to loosen one woman’s sexual inhibitions. With a body like that, do you really think he fails?

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Hodgson studied his craft at U.K.’s Performers College of Corringham, Essex. He cut teeth in show business aboard the Holland America cruise line before settling down in the States. Since then he’s been working steadily in Strip productions like Jubilee! and 50 Shades: The Musical Parody, along with special events and fundraisers.

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The performers in Vegas make up a tightly-knit community. They cherish Chris and his willingness to donate his free time for a worthy cause (he’s an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ). He’s frequently out and about with the city’s other artists, sharing jokes, outrageous behavior…and even the occasional spontaneous pole dance.

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Last spring, Hodgson and wife Leah Sykes (herself an artist in Cirque‘s Zumanity) became parents to son Parker. Proud Chris is excited to be a new dad and relishes the time he gets to spend with his quickly-growing boy.

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With such great genetics from both sides of the family, Parker will surely become a hearthrob in no time at all. Until then, big daddy Chris will be the one in charge of accelerating pulses around Sin City.

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Noteworthy traits – gleeming pecs, swoon-worthy British accent

 

Cameron “Boom” Brown – dancer/athlete/mentor

 

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                                                      Cameron Brown

Where you’ve seen him – Chippendales, charity events

Any fan of 80’s movies will remember Flashdance. That pop-culture phenomenon told the unlikely story of a Pittsburgh steel worker who moonlighted as a sexy dancer. With a little bit of tinkering (and a gender reversal). that blockbuster could easily double as a biography for Cameron Brown.

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Cam is a Sharon, Pennsylvania native who put his substantial muscles to work in blue-collar gigs for JMC Steel Group and Wheatland Tube (a steel manufacturer). As a student growing up in Steeler country, the rugged young man was a popular football player and even received an offer to join the Pittsburgh Pirates. In other words, a local hero.

However, Cameron felt that there was something else calling to him “out there”. He wanted to see more of the world and expand his horizons (having grown up in the same area, I can testify that the culture in that region can be more than a little confining). He readied himself by studying marketing at West Virginia’s Marshall University, where the slogan is “Be Proud. Be a son or daughter of Marshall”.

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                 Cameron hopes to continue making his father and mother proud…

After graduating, Cam decided he was ready to market himself. Perhaps he caught a late-night showing of Flashdance…and maybe that’s where he got the inspiration to follow Jennifer Beals’ path to becoming a dancer. Before you could say “What A Feeling“, this small-town boy with big dreams was soon strutting his stuff in the world-famous Chippendales male revue.

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After becoming a hit onstage at Rio Las Vegas, Brown joined Chippendales for their world tour. His list of destinations included Berlin, Zwolle (Netherlands), Bolzano (Italy) and Korea. Seeing the world and being so far away from home added to his appreciation of his beloved family. The 26-year-old has one sister and several half-brothers/sisters. He’s especially close to his mother Deborah.

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Not a day goes by where I don’t think of my Mom. I’m so very thankful to have my Mom in my life. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a huge mama’s boy and I have zero shame in that. She’s my world.

Currently on a break from touring, Cam is back on the Las Vegas stage, performing with his Chippendales brothers in their custom theater. In his free time he coaches children at i9 Sports, a Vegas youth organization. He believes that working with children affords him a peek at what the future has in store.

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                           Cameron and his one of his youth soccer teams…

Working hard to make his friends and family proud will continue to be Cam’s primary goal. One day he sees himself building a strong foundation for a family of his own:

I’m not worried about Jordans, cars, jewelry, none of that. I’m focused on starting a career and building a home…so my future family can lay their heads down without any worries.

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Noteworthy traits – massive shoulders, over-sized heart

 

Tyler Froehlich – dancer/model/physique competitor

 

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                                                     Tyler Froehlich

Where you’ve seen himMen of the Strip, Chippendales, magazine covers

If there was an award for “Happiest Hunk of Sin City”, it would automatically go to Tyler Froehlich. This Cincinnati Ohio native, one of three brothers, moved to Las Vegas last spring and immediately brightened the city with his infectious grin.

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Like Cameron Brown, Tyler Froehlich’s story is straight out of a movie. Having just returned from an Army stint in Iraq, the war vet was living in his parents’ basement and ready for a change…but never expected that his life would take a turn of this magnitude.

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                       Arriving in Las Vegas with MOTS owner Mike Foland…

Tyler was discovered via his Instagram account by Glenn Douglas Packard, the famed choreographer for last summer’s Men of the Strip. It must have been a bit of culture shock for the young man to go from small-town obscurity to a marquee on the famed Las Vegas Strip.

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                                         Photos from Tyler’s army days…

One thing that didn’t surprise Froehlich was the intense, dry climate of Las Vegas. During his four-year army stint, he spent 2011 in Iraq and 2103 in Afghanistan. His role there was as a Forward Observer, a military artillery spotter responsible for directing mortar fire on a target.

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Returning to the States, Froehlich maintained his heroic physique, hoping to develop a career in fitness modeling and physique competition. He competed in three shows and became nationally qualified for the NPC (you can see pics from his competition here). Then the call came to join Men of the Strip…and things haven’t slowed down since.

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Parents Carol and Randy have plenty to be proud of. They raised their son to have an infectious sense of adventure (and gave him a wild sense of humor), which might explain how he went from having no dance experience to sharing a stage with the likes of Jeff Timmons.

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I had the privilege of meeting Tyler’s mom and dad when they came out from Ohio to see his MOTS debut last July. They’re as warm and kind as Tyler, who has a special bond with brothers Bobby and Pete. The tattoo on his chest reads “Famiglia”, which of course means “family”.

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With MOTS on hiatus, the hard-bodied athlete began modeling for corporate events, providing entertainment at lavish parties and appearing in magazines. For the cover of QLife magazine‘s 2017 Halloween issue, Tyler’s sculpted physique provided a perfect canvas for artist Robin Slonina‘s exquisite body painting.

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As of this week, the former Army veteran can now be seen creating heat at Chippendales. The latest member of the world’s top male revue can’t be more excited to have a regular gig…and continues to relish the opportunities that Sin City has given him. He approaches each day with excitement, a wacky sense of humor and appreciation for his good fortune.

“Life isn’t about the destination…it’s about how you get there”. Tyler Froehlich

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Noteworthy traits – wild mane of hair, military-grade abs

 

Ron Remke – actor/singer/dancer

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                                                     Ron Remke

Where you’ve seen him BAZ – A Musical Mash-up, Jubilee!

Our final Hot Guy for this edition is Ron Remke. Ron’s dashing, suave, multi-talented and has a gorgeous soul. He’s also a stellar father in every sense of the word…the only difference is that his children have paws.

Remke was born in Reading, Pennsylvania (yep, another PA native) and studied musical theater at Penn State University (my alma mater). After graduating, he lent his vocal gifts to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and released a glorious collection called Broadway Classics in 2012 (available on iTunes by clicking here).

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As with so many bitten by the showbiz bug, Ron answered the call of Vegas and settled in with wife Alexandra (also a performer), whom he married the day after Christmas in 2014 (awww). The two purchased a house in Henderson the following September and have become the type of romantic couple that songs are written about.

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The handsome couple were fortunate enough to share the same stage together in Bally’s legendary production of Jubilee!. Alexandra was the epitome of a gorgeous showgirl…and Ron was the dapper song-and-dance man. Together they entertained thousands until the show took its final bows.

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When Palazzo announced the return of BAZ two years ago, Ron came aboard as a swing performer. That meant he had to know numerous roles inside and out, stepping into whatever was required. His stage presence and handsome looks make him the perfect Jay Gatsby…but he also gets to show his comedic flair during a vaudeville-style take on “Like A Virgin”.

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                                      All the ladies swoon over Ron…

Ron and Alexandra are active in animal rescue operations and have opened their home to many of the community’s needy pets. After adopting shelter animals Lilly, a 9-year-old poodle, and kitties Oscar and Olly, the Remkes now raise rescued kittens and act as foster parents for the adults.

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Ron tells me that at this point they’ve gotten 19 kittens off to a promising start, bringing them to a healthy weight of two and a half pounds. Then they’re able to be neutered before receiving permanent homes through NSPCA Saturday adoption events.

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It’s no simple feat to be both a heartthrob and a hero at the same time, but Ron Remke makes it look easy. He’s the ultimate ladies’ man, a total man’s man and a hero to the animals of the world. In other words, he’s the perfect guy.

Noteworthy traits – flawless teeth, slick dance moves, silky voice

Photos by Marco Mendez@lightandpole, Corey Fox Photography, QLife magazine, Sammasseur, Facebook

INFERNO’s Magician Goes Up In Flames


Visually-spectacular production is a victim of its own star performer…

A few years back, the handlers for Britney Spears were faced with an unusual dilemma…what to do when the star of your production is a washed-up tabloid punchline with an inexplicably-strong fan base. Their answer was simple yet effective: launch her residency with a circus of hoopla, stick her onstage with all the pyrotechnics and distractions that money could buy and hope for the best.

As fate would have it, Britney: Piece of Me was indeed an unqualified hit. The mentally-troubled pop tart flapped her arms and silently moved her lips while a small army of gorgeous dancers did the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively. They carried her around like a mannequin accompanied by prerecorded audio tracks and propped her up in whatever area of the stage that the choreography required. Think of it as “Weekend at Bernie’s: The Musical”.

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                         Joe Labero thanks Britney Spears for her #1 idea…

The minds behind INFERNO: The Fire Spectacular (now playing at Paris Hotel Casino) seem to have taken a similar route. Their featured performer is Joe Labero, an obscure illusionist (at least to American audiences) who’s apparently a big name in Europe. He’s also a former recipient of Illusionist of the Decade. Raise your hand if you’ve heard of him.

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Labero’s version of smoke-and-mirrors distractions comes courtesy of a London pyrotechnic troupe known as The Fuel Girls. You may know them from the UK tour of rock group Fall Out Boy….or maybe not. The resultant pairing is the most uncomfortable seen on a Vegas stage since Criss Angel crawled into bed with Cirque du Soleil nearly a decade ago.

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On their own, The Fuel Girls could easily warrant their own show. Stunts, flame throwers, explosions, choreography and visual effects are all top notch. Ramped up and fleshed out, INFERNO could be to fire what Le Reve and WOW – World of Wonder are to water.

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Alas, the show is hostage to Labero and his magic routines. The illusionist does everything he can to remain front and center, despite being the weak link. Like an annoying uncle who laughs at his own jokes then repeats the punchline a second time, Labero attempts to milk every last clap from the audience.

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Walking to the edge of the stage after each bit, Labero stretches out his arms in a “Ta Dah!” pose that he holds far too long…before dashing into the audience to repeat it in the aisles. There were frequent snickers from people seated all around me. Yes, it’s that embarrassing.

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Labero’s stage presence is hampered by a strong Swedish accent that makes it quite difficult to understand what he’s saying much of the time. Also distracting is that the 54-year-old host is frequently out of breath, heaving heavily and sweating…even in the quieter moments of the show.

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As for the illusions themselves, expect the requisite “person sliced into pieces”, sleight of hand, card tricks and people disappearing/reappearing. Two illusions that do have merit are one where Labero seems to walk right through a person stretched between two supports and another where he passes through a mirror.

Aside from that, there isn’t anything truly special about the magic acts in INFERNO: The Fire Spectacular. With the likes of David Copperfield, David Goldrake, Masters of Illusions, Criss Angel, Matt Franco and many more filling the Strip showrooms with this type of entertainment, was there really a need for another? Of course not, especially when one European import in particular is already doing it so much better (David Goldrake’s IMAGINARIUM was my choice for Best New Production of 2017).

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What makes the show worthy of your consideration are all the sequences without Labero. Pyrotechnics are always jaw-dropping in any medium, but feeling the heat, hearing the sizzle and being bombarded with loud blasts are a visceral experience. In this case, the flames are deftly used through aerial stunts, physically-demanding choreography and handling of fiery objects like batons, whips and an umbrella frame.

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Other saving graces are the elaborate production design and costumes. Stylist collaborators Georgia Richardson and Jeffrey DeBarathy (ALICE: A Steampunk Concert Fantasy) bring a distinctive “Mad Max” look to the performers that’s a perfect match for the Fuel Girls’ visuals. The character of “Animal” is clearly inspired by The Road Warrior.

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Unfortunately, Labero’s attempt to associate his magic acts with the far superior fire aspect are truly cringe-inducing. The two just do not overlap well. It’s clear that the magician has taken his existing acts and awkwardly grafted them onto this new production with wildly uneven results.

Joe frequently breaks from what he’s doing to grab a large vase on the side of the stage and dump its contents into a nearby barrel. “We need more gasoline. Lots and LOTS of GAS O LEEEEEEN!” he exclaims time after time before returning to the business at hand.

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Amidst more hushed chuckling from nearby patrons (several of whom had walked out at this point), my companion leaned in and said “Am I missing something here?”. No, my friend…it’s just the sound of another expensive Strip production going up in flames.

INFERNO: The Fire Spectacular performs Wednesday through Sunday inside the Paris Theater. Tickets start at $65.77 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here.

VegasFool.com is offering a $20 discount on INFERNO by following this link. Discounts on additional shows and hotels can be combined/increased by visiting here.

Photos: INFERNO: The Fire Spectacular, Joe Labero