Westgate Las Vegas Celebrates 50th Anniversary In Style


Iconic hotel casino is Sin City’s first mega-resort…

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Many historians consider Mirage to be the first super-sized hotel concept in Las Vegas. The truth is that the resort now known as Westgate Las Vegas began the era more than 20 years earlier. Opened in the summer of 1969 as International Hotel, this massive structure became the largest hospitality destination in the world.

Full of superlatives and packed with luxurious amenities, the International was created with a goal of supplying top-quality accommodations and stellar entertainment with the best staff ever assembled.  A dream project of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the 30-story structure was fast-tracked from ground-breaking to grand opening in under 17 months, an amazing feat even by today’s standards.61642082_2344871152275416_260241152320471040_n

Many of today’s visitors still refer to Westgate as “the former Las Vegas Hilton“, the name it carried from ’71 through 2012. During that time it would become associated with Elvis Presley’s landmark residency and later, Star Trek: The Experience. It was also home to dozens of legendary performers like Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Suzanne Somers, Charo, Wayne Newton, The Commodores, Sheena Easton and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express.

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Five years ago the property was acquired by Westgate Resorts and CEO David Siegel pumped millions of dollars into a massive restoration project, keeping the entire resort operating as renovations took place. The new owner refused to allow his staff to lose their jobs during the transition, protecting thousands of workers from financial hardship.

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Siegel’s dedication and longtime love for the property was in full display during an epic 50th anniversary celebration on August 3rd. Invited guests strolled down an ornate corridor festooned with images of historic moments, pausing for photographs on the carpet before a pre-party cocktail reception.

Glass cases of memorabilia lined the perimeter of the room, recognizing noteworthy events and moments of the last five decades. Mr. Siegel joined Mayor Carolyn Goodman and President/GM Cami Christensen onstage to toast the legacy of the hotel. They also recognized the thousands of people who have contributed to its ongoing success.

Dignitaries from the worlds of entertainment and media then joined high-rollers and honored staff for a spectacular meal in the main dining hall. Guests enjoyed an appetizer of lobster tail and prawns, a main course of beef wellington and champagne as performers like Frankie Scinta and Zowie Bowie provided music and laughter.

Christensen then honored longtime employees including theater usher Angel Lopez Rosas. Mr. Rosas has been part of the service team since the hotel opened, working an estimated 12,000 shows. The party then moved to famed International Theater for a stunning performance by Elvis tribute artist Ted Torres Martin and “Sweet Inspirations”, which included a performer who had shared the very same stage with Presley during his sold-out residency.

Looking forward, Westgate continues to… (Click HERE to continue reading)

Photos: Sam Novak, Westgate Las Vegas

 

 

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Jeff Civillico – Physical Comedy At Its Best


Crowd-pleasing entertainer juggles his way into your hearts…

What do you get when you combine the rubber-faced madness of early Jim Carrey with the heart-stopping physical comedy of Buster Keaton and Jerry Lewis? Whatever your mind can conjure, it’s unlikely to resemble the reality of handsome headliner Jeff Civillico.

Vegas fans have been lining up for a decade to enjoy Jeff Civillico: Comedy In Action. He’s been on marquees from V Theater to the former Imperial Palace (now The Linq) to the Flamingo. What started out as a guest segment in variety and magic shows has evolved into a full-fledged production befitting the multi-talented star.

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In recent years, Jeff’s taken his all-ages show to audiences around the country. His contagious energy and outrageous antics elevate a wide variety of corporate functions and fundraising events, too. Still he manages to return each week to Las Vegas for filled-to-capacity performances at Paris Hotel Casino.

So, what exactly does Jeff Civillico do? Alas, the answer’s not so simple. You may as well try explaining Cirque du Soleil to a friend. But the simplest way to describe Comedy In Action is “It’s an interactive juggling improvisational prop-comedy marshmallow battle.” And Jeff’s co-stars are a plunger, Granny Smith apples, a straitjacket…and you.

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Tireless in his delivery and wildly spontaneous, Jeff fires off jokes so quickly that you’ll barely be able to catch your breath. He even makes wisecracks while balancing a massive construction ladder on his chin. Nobody is safe from Jeff’s humor, either. Children are props in an electrifying plate-spinning sequence and two unassuming dads become accomplices in the most unhinged unicycle ascent you’ll ever see.

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Photos: Sam Novak

 

 

 

 

 

SERVED – Green Valley’s Culinary Delight


Chef Matthew Myer brings eclectic flair to the neighborhood….

In recent years, the popularity of chef-driven restaurants has exploded. Once centered on the Strip, kitchen wizards have found success in Downtown and surrounding areas. One might observe that the further they get from the tourist district, the more daring and creative they become.

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Such is the case with Chef Matthew Meyer. This dynamic young graduate of Pasadena’s Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute is the creator/owner of SERVED, a relatively new restaurant in the McDonald’s Highland area of Henderson. Located at 1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, this intimate brunch/dinner establishment is a local gem that’s worth seeking out.

Despite his young age, Chef Meyer has been shaking up the Vegas dining scene for over a decade. You might remember his two iterations of Matteo’s Gourmet Cafe and the popular Just Rollin’. As his exposure in magazines and websites has grown (along with the accolades), so has Chef Meyer’s offerings to the valley. Matteo’s Gourmet Food Services, a high-end catering operation, provides exceptional cuisine for special occasions.

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All of this experience and experimentation has culminated in SERVED, Meyer’s latest dine-in endeavor. A sleek yet simple restaurant, SERVED provides Meyer the opportunity to share his latest creations in a personal atmosphere with the highest regard for quality ingredients and skillful preparation.

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Chef Meyer describes his approach to the menu as “Cultural favorites, redefined…where guests will have a chance to savor the flavors of the world in a single dish.” Eric C. Gladstone, the marketing powerhouse behind the annual Vegas Unstripped and other highly-regarded food festivals, had this to say about Chef Matt and SERVED:

Chef Matt takes a global approach to his creations, fearlessly crossing culinary boundaries to combine flavors from throughout the Eastern and Western worlds, as well as myriad techniques. But you don’t have to pull apart all the effort in order to enjoy them–the food truly speaks for itself. This is the most exciting breakfast, lunch and dinner food happening in Henderson right now.

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With an introduction like that, it would be tough not to have high expectations. But at a recent presentation of his latest dishes, both experts and laypersons like myself were equally impressed by what we sampled.

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First up were a few tapas: Asparagus 5 Ways – pureed, grilled, fried, fermented and raw asparagus served alongside a poached egg and hollandaise ($10).

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Scallop Benny presents seared scallops, celery root puree, roasted celery root, poached egg and hollandaise, celery/apple salad topped with celery lace tuile ($12).

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Fans of deconstructed dishes should get a kick out of Raviolo ($12), a plate of egg yolk, herbed ricotta, herb-laminated fresh pasta, Guiness braised short rib, broccolini and pan sauce.

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My personal favorite from the tapas selections was Octopus Benny ($11) served with sesame heirloom tomatoes, white corn puree and uni caviar hollandaise.

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Appetizer Beef Tataki ($11) is thinly-sliced and lightly seared mushroom marinated beef with fermented mushroom aioli, parmesan shavings and fried capers.

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A few more tapas were distinctly Asian, beginning with Pinchi Kimchi Foie Gras ($12), a seared piece of foie gras atop a rice pancake, served with kimchi, pickled radish, Korean pear salad, crispy fried rice noodle, sesame oil and a soy galbi glaze.

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Thai Suckling Pig ($12) is an unforgettable crispy pork belly in sweet soy sauce sprinkled with fried garlic and served with broccolini and a poached egg.

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The one dish that everybody buzzed about was Beef Stroganoff ($22) from “Classics Redone”. It’s Guiness braised short ribs atop house made pappardelle and fermented mushrooms. Familiar yet unique, it’s one selection sure to satisfy.

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Despite the small size of SERVED’s dining room, the list of stunning dishes is hefty, thanks in no small part to sharing a kitchen with Chef Meyer’s catering service. The daily Brunch Menu lists elaborate benedicts and egg dishes, hash, pancakes, French toast, tacos, sandwiches and a wide variety of gourmet burgers.

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Their evening Dinner Menu, Wednesday through Sunday from 3pm to 9pm, ups the ante with an inclusion of salads, “Reverse Brunch” and “Chef Special” entrees. Daily Specials weekdays from 9am to 2pm offer significant savings and even 2-for-1 sandwiches on Tuesday.

As a relatively new local, I’ve enjoyed discovering a wide variety of eclectic and unique dining offerings, some that tourists may sadly never see. But thanks to food enthusiasts like Eric C. Gladstone, Esther’s KitchenEDO Gastro Tapas and Wine and the upcoming Graffiti Bao restaurant are getting the exposure and popularity they deserve. Add SERVED to that list, and visit Chef Matt and his team right away.

SERVED is located at 1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson/Green Valley. Open Monday and Tuesday 9 – 3, Wednesday to Sunday 9 – 9. Call 702-263-0136

Photos: Sam Novak, SERVED via Facebook

5 Reasons to Party with ‘Tenors of Rock’


The all-hits classic rock show at Planet Hollywood brings down the house…

From lounge lizards of the Golden Era to the headliners of today, music has always been at the heart of Sin City entertainment. And nowhere does that heart beat stronger than with the dynamic stylings of Tenors of Rock.

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An international confection of rip-roaring vocals, boundless energy and a live onstage band, Tenors of Rock has evolved from a group of X-Factor hopefuls into a world-renowned brand with two touring groups and their own chart-topping hits. Now in their third year of Las Vegas success, the boys recently landed a new home at Planet Hollywood’s Sin City Theater.

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Whether you’ve seen their previous residency at Harrah’s or are discovering them for the very first time, here are some great reasons to spend the evening with Tenors of Rock.

Classic Rock Anthems – the popularity of classic rock is at an all-time high. Tenors of Rock brings you American favorites like “Sweet Child of Mine”,” Shook Me All Night Long”, “Desperado”, “More Than A Feeling” and British hits including “Pinball Wizard”, “Satisfaction” and “Back in Black”, all delivered in their signature style.

Intimate Venue –  Rock shows often get caught up in bombast and pyrotechnics, rarely offering the subtleties of lush harmony and complex vocals. Sin City Theater provides a rare personal experience with a band that has played to upwards of 100,000 at a time. Percussionist Nannette Fortier and guitarist Chris Cicchino also benefit from the smaller space, allowing the musicians to absolutely shine.

Dynamic Personalities – Vegas audiences immediately fell in love with members Dai Richards and Jonathan Williams (Wales), Daniel Shumann (Melbourne), Tommy Sherlock (Liverpool) and kilt-clad extrovert Jimmy Denning (Scotland). Onstage chemistry makes every performance an electrifying concert experience. Newest members Andrew Freeman (Raiding the Rock Vault) and BAZ alumnus Paul Johnson (Las Vegas) are injecting a healthy dose of American DNA into the mix.

Amazing Talent – The level of experience behind Tenors is world class. Williams excelled as Les Miserables lead “Jean Valjean” in London’s West End. Shumann has a background in TV, opera, cabaret and musicals. Richards is a founding member who…

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Photos: Tenors of Rock

5 Reasons To Revisit ‘ABSINTHE’


Daring burlesque variety show continues to amaze in 9th year…

Sin City entertainment was noticeably rocked when Spiegelworld‘s ABSINTHE arrived on the Strip. Opening on April Fool’s Day 2011, the naughty show at Caesars Palace was an immediate hit that continues to sell out nightly. With fourteen performances per week, that’s a lot of shock value to spread around.

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If you haven’t seen ABSINTHE yet, it belongs at the top of your must-do list. And if it’s been awhile since you’ve visited host The Gazillionaire and potty-mouthed assistant Wanda Widdles, here are five reasons to return.

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Improved Seating Options – the classic old-world charm of ABSINTHE’s Spiegeltent is accentuated by oddball decorations and makeshift furnishings. While they’re charmingly authentic, the rustic wooden chairs of its original decor sometimes made for cramped seating. Now you can choose from a selection of Premium View Tables, VIP Cushioned Seats, Dinner Packages and even a new Green Fairy Bottle Service.                                                                                                                                             12439358_1028690277196134_5189735788685160169_n

Celebrity Spotting – Take in a performance of ABSINTHE and chances are good that you’ll be sitting near someone famous. Celine Dion, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Adam Lambert and Queen, David Guetta, Imagine Dragon’s Dan Reynolds, Reba McEntire, Steve Aoki, Coolio, Joey Lawrence, Ice-T, Bobby Flay, James Franco, Steven Tyler, Olivia Newton-John and more have taken a seat on The Gazillionaire’s throne.                                                                                                                                             21314639_1483496035048887_2082414211414431212_n

Garden Parties – ABSINTHE resides within a beer garden that offers games, picnic tables, and of course….lots of alcohol. Ticketed guests are encouraged to hang out before and after each performance, but on occasion the venue is opened to all adults for free-of-charge special events. Food trucks, drinks specials and DJ’s create a street-party vibe that carries on well into the next morning.                                              

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The Electric Oak – In celebration of the show’s eight anniversary, a spectacular Electric Oak was “planted” in Absinthe’s courtyard. A towering 35 feet of art with over 120,000 LED “leaves”, the Electric Oak is a swirl of color, light and beauty that will transport you into a euphoric                                                                            

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New Acts Galore – click HERE to continue reading….

Photos courtesy of Spiegelworld

‘Cherry Boom Boom’ Makes Triumphant Vegas Return


Bawdy skin-fest opens at HOOTERS August 15th…..

Thanks to my partner-in-crime at VegasFool.com, I just learned that the uproarious burlesque musical ‘Cherry Boom Boom’ is coming back to Vegas. Its original run at TROPICANA in 2016 was prematurely clipped at the cowboy boots after only a few short weeks. But that was due to plenty of behind-the-scenes drama at the long-troubled Tropicana Showroom and not the fault of the show itself. 

While it’s likely that the smaller showroom and stage at Hooters Hotel Casino will require an overhaul of the production, there’s no question in my mind that the heart of ‘Cherry Boom Boom’ will still beat hard, strong and bright red, So in anticipation of its second helping of sweetness, here’s my review as published during the initial Tropicana run. Get tickets for the Hooters relaunch by visiting Vegas Fool through this LINK. Prices start at only $37 plus taxes/fees. 

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WTF did I just see? I can’t really say for sure, but it was enjoyable to the max. Yes, a T & A girl-power topless revue getting a positive review from a male member of the LGBTQ community. Is that an impressive endorsement? I would have to say “yes.” And you’ll be saying “Oh, yes” if you make it to Tropicana to check out Cherry Boom Boom.

I’m going to be absolutely direct here – Cherry Boom Boom is effing crazy. It makes no real sense, despite offering some semblance of a love-story plot. Does it take place in a brothel? A Coyote Ugly-style roadhouse? Perhaps a surreal make-believe world where men barely exist and gorgeous women dance and get intimate together in various types of fetish gear and hard-rocking costumes? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you…not that it matters.

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The goal of a burlesque show, either traditional or in one of its many recent re-imaginings (like Absinthe), is to stimulate and entertain. The cast of Cherry Boom Boom does so in spades. It’s worth mentioning that the number of performers is surprisingly large for a production of this nature. But since Cherry has avoided the burlesque moniker in favor of “Rock ‘n Roll A Go-Go”, it’s clear that they’re intent on re-writing the rules for Vegas topless revues.

Tropicana‘s main showroom has a wide, deep stage, which CBB (let’s stick to that abbreviation for awhile) utilizes to the max. The lone two-level set is massive, adorned with chains, large video screens, parallel bars…and a stripper pole road sign. Production numbers fill every corner, zipping around to dizzying effect. It’s the antithesis of Jubilee‘s slow-strolling showgirls of Vegas past.

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High above the stage and to the left is a boudoir decorated in vivid pinks. An aerial acrobatic ring descends from the ceiling on occasion, and various props are wheeled out to accommodate specialty acts. They include a mechanical bull and a human-sized bird cage.

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Hosted by the androgynous “P*ssy Control” (perhaps named after the song by Prince, whose catalog gets a visit in the soundtrack), the central romance is basically a flimsy coat-hanger on which to hang libido-stimulating production numbers. It’s played out in a world of rock music, bullwhips, lingerie and cowboy boots.

A pair of small-town innocents (Rock of Ages, cough-cough) take jobs at “Cherry Boom Boom”, the brothel/nightclub/whatever of the title. Their first meeting and subsequent romance are mostly mimed wordlessly while naughty action swirls around them. Naturally, they’re drawn into this fantasy lifestyle and decide to explore their own desires. Eventually, they get back together and things wrap up in a finale reminiscent of Grease.

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If it wasn’t for the charm of the two principals and their amusing explorations of lust, the plotline could easily be eliminated, and CBB would still be a solid, satisfying production. The performers are some of the most physically attractive women on the Strip. There’s also a hard-bodied juggling aerial cowboy tossed in for girls (and gays).

Costuming is top-notch, the choreography is consistently impressive, and some sequences are downright breathtaking….especially one using wheeled mirror panels and another involving cafe chairs.

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Then there’s the soundtrack. Much like Rock of AgesCBB is a jukebox of hits, but this one crosses genres and spans decades of heart-pounding favorites. I had a hard time staying still in my seat. The songbook includes favorites from artists like AC/DC, Joan Jett, Led Zeppelin, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Presley, Foo Fighters, Melissa Etheridge and Heart. Almost all are the original recordings, mixed and arranged for maximum impact. I noticed only one cover version (“Darling Nikki” by the omnisexual Prince).

Tropicana has had a rough go of it for the last few years, at least with their entertainment offerings. When the rare hit comes along, fate intervenes and things still go awry. Here’s hoping that Cherry Boom Boom is the one that breaks the Tropicana Showroom curse. It truly is a blast…and one that deserves to last.

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‘Cherry Boom Boom’ is scheduled to perform 11pm Thursday through Saturday at Hooters Hotel Casino starting August 15th. Tickets start at $37 plus taxes/fees and can be ordered here

Photos: Sam Novak, Diane L., Cherry Boom Boom

UV Beach Club – A Pool Party with a Purpose


Unique weekly event offers a safe haven for all…

Have you ever seen the ads for Planet Fitness gyms? They boast a “Judgement-Free Zone” to entice members who don’t normally feel confident inside health clubs. Too bad they contradict that very philosophy with a “Lunk Alarm” that shames those getting too intense with their workouts. 

The creators of UV Beach Club promise no such mixed messages. Everyone is welcome to their veritable safe haven under the sun…one that promises frivolity and entertainment, food and drink in a welcoming atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance. Located at the NoMad Pool inside Park MGM Hotel, UV Beach Club is part of JEMAA, winner of Las Vegas Weekly‘s “Best New Pool Party 2019”.

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From the UVBC website:

We are proud to make UVBC a party environment that welcomes people of ALL identities. Our party is a safe space where you can come and let your true colors shine! Come enjoy our specialty cocktails, hand crafted food, music from top DJ’s, and the hottest staff and entertainers providing you with world class service. UVBC – Beyond the rainbow!

Co-creator Garrett Pattiani stresses that UV Beach Club isn’t a copycat of gay-themed pool parties you may have attended in the past. He and partners Andrew Lignelli and Russ White (of QLife Media) have dreamed up a concept that’s as timely as it is unique.

This isn’t a gay pool party. It’s meant to be expansive. LGBTQ+, allies, people of color, feminists, etc. Every week we will partner with nightlife & day-life staff, local show casts, birthdays, and influencers.

The premiere on July 26th will celebrate birthdays of two popular gentlemen – aerialist Brandon Pereyda and photographer Frankie Tabares Sanchez of Piranha Nightclub.

UV Beach Club is held every Friday from 11am to 7pm. Admission is $10 which includes a voucher for one cocktail up to $20 in value. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, visit the UVBC website by clicking HERE

Photos: UV Beach Club