‘Unicus Manufactus’ – Muscle Up to the City’s Healthiest Food Truck


…or “What happens when two Las Vegas heroes launch a business during a pandemic”…

Once again, the challenges of 2020 have resulted in new, innovative and positive changes for our community. From daring music performances to the resurrection of old-school supper clubs and modern upgrades to the hospitality industry, Las Vegas has hit the “reset” button and is experiencing a fast-paced rebirth.

While some changes happened overnight, a pair of hometown heroes has been carefully curating a new approach to food trucks, those roadside food emporiums that soared in popularity during the “NO INDOOR DINING ALLOWED” madness of last year. But instead of the usual taco platters and BBQ’d ribs, this mobile kitchen promises an American-fusion menu with healthy flair.

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UNICUS MANUFACTUS aka U.M Trailer Bistro, is a curious name for an enterprise by first responders Daniel Sauls and Gunnar Walcavich. These two heroic friends protect the city’s citizens when the sun goes down and the bad guys come out. In the light of day, they’re whipping up creative new dishes to tickle the taste buds and build healthier bodies. That’s when they’re not hitting the gym to keep their own physiques in superhero condition.

The boys came up with the UNICUS MANUFACTUS moniker to acknowledge their mission statement, one that promises healthy, delicious dishes at the lowest possible price…all while never compromising quality. The Latin word Unicus means sole/unique/uncommon:

We didn’t pick the name “Unicus” because it sounded good. We picked it because Unicus is what we are. Our trailer looks different. Our food tastes different. Even our prices are different. We can guarantee there is nobody like us in the industry, that’s simply because we try harder. 

 You can tell that our nature is humanitarian, from the attention we give each customer to the prices across our menu. We ran through finance scenarios over and over to find the lowest numbers we could use on our menu BEFORE the pandemic. We want it to be apparent that we care.

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We are constantly thinking of ways, current and future, that we might be able to better Vegas with our existence. Our entire menu consists of items at $5 or less. We are (to my knowledge) the first mobile food business that provides not only caloric dietary information but MACROS as well!

We want to make ourselves available to those that need us most, as our mission is first and foremost to serve. We will diligently search for areas that service medical workers, first responders, and essential personnel during these trying times, in hopes to bring the most delicious food with a price that makes the most sense.

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The truth of that was most apparent recently when kitchen wizard Daniel had to undergo emergency surgery to save his life. Mere days later, he and Gunnar were back at that same hospital with UM Trailer Bistro to thank the hospital workers with their creations. They comped meals for anyone who wore scrubs:

We held a surprise service for the hospital that saved my life a little over a week ago. We always have so many hurdles to jump to try and accomplish things because of how new and small we are. We are a couple of persistent guys though, and yesterday was proof NOTHING CAN STOP US.

Persistence is a quality that Gunnar Walcavich exemplifies in spades. Vegas Unfiltered Blog readers first met this towering Russian boxer in my piece on ‘Quarantine Fitness‘, where I described his achievements and skills at getting people motivated.

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The formerly-overweight (and always-mugging) Gunnar recently earned a certification in Food Handling/Safety to accompany his personal training and nutritionist certifications. And his jacked physique makes the perfect canvas for Unicus Fitness Apparel that’s now available in the “Merch Market” section of their website.

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The menu at UM Trailer Bistro is a taste-tempting collection of recipes that Daniel has gathered from family members in Hawaii, along with others that he’s perfected through multiple trials. Pan-Asian influences are reflected in dishes like Agedashi Tofu, Ramen, Udon and Chashu bowl, and a Hawaiian Toast Breakfast plate.

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Daniel is especially proud of his freshly-made Shrimp and Grits and Fresh Pour-over Hot Chicory, a nutty, cajun-influenced alternative to traditional coffee beverages. And every item is served with style and a smile, accompanied by fun music from their vintage-style Victrola sound system.

We care about your enjoyment down to each bite and sip, and you can taste it every time. When you pay, you want to know that you got real ingredients, made WHEN you asked not before, and made with the care that we all desire our own food and drink to be handled with; and that’s our guarantee.

We promise that EVERY time you come by you will receive our best attempt at perfect service. Your food hits your hand hot, and your drink is either perfectly cold or has steam coming from it. You see us make each part of your drink, and even shake/stir it to make sure even your first sip is perfectly mixed and chilled. We actually care, and we care THAT much; and if you don’t believe us, come call our delicious bluff. 

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Along with the regular (and growing) menu, there is always a featured daily special to tempt you away from established favorites. And Unicus Manufactus has launched a 3-level loyalty program that can reward you with discounts and giveaways, one free item per month, up to a free item with every visit (purchase required).

The boys just announced a partnership with Tempo Ultra Lounge at 1000 East Sahara Avenue, where they’ll be every Friday and Saturday night beginning April 2nd. To learn where else to visit the UM Bistro Trailer, follow them on Facebook, check out the YouTube Channel, or subscribe at the official website.

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“Unique Handmade Culinary Creations & Libations for just $5. Need I say more???” – Unicus Manufactus

Photos: Sam Novak, Daniel Sauls, Gunnar Walcavich

John Lohmann: Dream Master of ‘The 35 Cinema’

Film enthusiast achieves lifelong desire to launch a Revival Movie House…


“To sleep, perchance to dream… for in this sleep what dreams may come…”  – William Shakespeare

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Rallying cries to never give up on your dreams – they’re the essence of nearly every high school graduation speech ever made. Yet when we venture forth into the real world, how many of us forget those goals that shaped our youth? Las Vegas resident John Lohmann never set his dream aside. Now, after the better part of four decades, it’s finally become a reality with The 35 Cinema.

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Mr. Lohmann and I are kindred spirits of a sort. We both have a passion for fantasy, horror and sci-fi films of the 70’s and 80’s. Our career paths somewhat intersected, as we were both movie theater managers who worked on marketing projects for major Hollywood releases. My tenure in the film exhibition industry was short, though, and John continues to pursue his passion.

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This week, John took a break from the challenges of running his retro-cool revival movie house to discuss his background with me. The conversation ended when he had to thread up a 35mm print of the 1979 classic ALIEN for a 6 pm showing. In that brief time, John shared some incredible memories, a stunning celebrity encounter, and an unusually difficult path to opening the doors of The 35 Cinema.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

John’s career in movie theater operations began at the age of sixteen. His first recollection of threading a movie onto the massive projection system (an art unto itself) was for the 1987 hit A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. It’s unlikely that the teenager envisioned one day working side by side in his own theater with actress Lisa Wilcox. Ms. Wilcox is The 35 Cinema‘s manager and the “final girl” from both Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master and Part 5: The Dream Child.

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As a youngster, Lohmann was entranced by the mechanics of movie projection. He had his own projector and used to charge his friend five cents to watch copies of Ken Films, short Super-8 editions sold for home use through the pre-VCR era of the 70’s. The reels were widely available at K-Mart (this writer had his own collection, a rear-projection viewer and an editing station).

In the 90’s, the movie enthusiast covered a lot of ground. He worked in various capacities for AMC Theaters, Regal, Globe, and the Century brand, which operates Cinemark theaters in the Las Vegas valley. He also branched out into attractions at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disney parks. 

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It’s was John’s passion for the movie-going experience that served him well in marketing. He received the highest levels of recognition and won prestigious accolades (including the Sid Grauman Award), for his promotions of such varied titles as The Peacemaker (with Nicole Kidman and George Clooney), Deep Impact, family films The Rugrats Movie, its sequel Rugrats In Paris, Barnie’s Big Adventure, Disney hits Mulan and Hercules…and a low-profile sleeper called TITANIC

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Perhaps John’s most incredible experience was when he attended a pre-release screening of the 1998 fantasy What Dreams May Come. A difficult-to-watch, emotional exploration of death and the afterlife, the film presented a considerable challenge to its marketing team. Lohmann was invited to attend an advance screening in order to serve as a consultant and advisor for marketing.

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The humbled guest entered the theater along with the movie’s creative team. He noticed that each seat came supplied with a box of tissues. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand why. 

When the lights came up, John was dabbing his eyes with tissues when he felt a pair of hands grip his shoulders from behind. Then an unmistakable voice asked “What did you think?”. Spinning around, the sobbing cinephile found himself face to face with the film’s star, Robin Williams.

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Robin Williams and costar Annabella Sciorra…

The two gentlemen spent the better part of the next three hours discussing the emotionally-complex feature. As John recounted, Williams was absolutely thrilled by the project. “I love comedy, but acting is what I really want to do” the legendary entertainer proclaimed.

Lohmann came up with a few ideas to promote the drama, which garnered over $75 million at the box office. As for Williams’ dramatic career, it continued to expand with wildly diverse roles in Bicentennial Man, Patch Adams, the frightening One Hour Photo and Christopher Nolan‘s Insomnia

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While immersed in the worlds of film marketing, theme park entertainment, and becoming involved in animation art collecting, the Anaheim native was always looking for the perfect place to open his own revival movie theater. The search stretched through roughly four decades. At one point, Lohmann thought he’d finally found the perfect spot, a four-plex that had been abandoned for a decade. It was in poor shape, smelled badly, and had become a refuge for the homeless.

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Abandoned cineplexes await rebirth in a post-pandemic world…

Nevertheless, the cavernous grand lobby of the movie house was too gorgeous to ignore. Lohmann was all set to commit when a second-run (discount) chain swooped in to snatch it. Sadly, their endeavor lasted only a few months, but by that time, John had moved on.  Yet he never stopped looking for the perfect venue.

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Ira Heiden (left) in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark…

In the years since that first showing of Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, the horror franchise has become a permanent part of Lohmann’s life. He personally befriended most of the movie’s cast, and even became best buddies with actor Ira Heiden, who played Will Stanton aka “Wizard Master”. 

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Elm Street 3 cast recreates iconic “Dream Warriors” photo in 2017

Fast forward to the current decade. As of 2017, virtually every theater has switched to digital equipment. Traditional projection systems were being discarded and replaced around the world. John happened upon a working set-up at Long Beach State University that was in jeopardy. After a little back-and-forth with those in charge, he was given a matter of hours to remove it from the campus.

For the next few years, this marvelous monster resided in a breezeway of its new owner’s California home, covered by a tarp and patiently waiting for an eventual return to usefulness. It joined John’s other treasure, a rare stereo 16mm system that came from a defunct Jerry Lewis Cinemas location in Georgia. 

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Eventually, John packed up his dreams and possessions (and of course, those two beloved projectors) and relocated to Las Vegas. They can now be found at The 35 Cinema inside The Nerd, a heavily-themed downtown fun spot for adults. You can read all about The 35 Cinema right here in this Vegas Unfiltered Blog companion piece. 

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It would be a disservice to the efforts of John and his team to close this piece with “they all lived happily ever after”.  Getting that first movie onto the screen was anything but easy. The venue should have opened nearly a year ago, but a series of obstacles kept falling into its path. And that’s not even factoring in the pandemic. 

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The 35 Cinema debuted in February 2021, and even now, difficulties arise. A highly-anticipated booking of 1977’s original STAR WARS promised to put hundreds of fans into the plush new seats, but a delivery problem forced the owner to remove it from the schedule. Lohmann is working to find a more reliable source for quality vintage titles on 35mm film, and each week provides new opportunities to challenge the boyishly handsome businessman.

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Fortunately, our city is overflowing with enthusiastic moviegoers. Thousands have flocked in the past year to West Wind drive-in for classic hits (albeit in digital form) and William Powell‘s The Sci-Fi Center in historic Commercial Plaza enjoys huge turnouts for drive-in style “Carpool Cinema” screenings of older titles.

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Now that Elm Street actress Lisa Wilcox is managing The 35 Cinema, its owner’s immersion into the dream world of Freddy Krueger is complete. And with our supportive community to rally around the newest Las Vegas cinema experience, it’s only a matter of time before ambitious John Lohmann, an honorary member of the Elm Street gang, ascends from “Dream Warrior” to the “Dream Master” of his own realm.

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The 35 Cinema is located at 450 Fremont Street, Suite 250, on the second floor of NEONOPOLIS. It is open Wednesday through Sunday. Click here for showtimes and to order tickets. 

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Photos: Sam Novak, John Lohmann, The 35 Cinema, The Sci-Fi Center (William Powell). Elm Street 3 cast reunion photo by Rodney Eastman

‘APÉRO’ is a Sexy New Way to Get Your Vegas On

European-influenced acrobatic production packs a lot of flirtation into a gorgeously lush showroom…


“Love comes from the most unexpected places.” – Barbra Streisand

It was inevitable. With Cirque du Soleil on an ongoing hiatus and both ZUMANITY and Le Reve – The Dream shuttering forever, it was only a matter of time before some of their top-level talent came together to create something new. And as I’ve said many times before, COVID-19 has had an ancillary effect of spurring creativity. Combine those two elements, drop them into a stunning cabaret and you have APÉRO, a delightful new show at Baobab Stage in Town Square.

APÉRO‘s premise is built around aperatif, the oh-so-French tradition of early-evening libations and nibbles (something you’re invited to partake of at Baobab Cafe adjacent to the showroom). An ultra-hot cast of three men and three women meet, greet, flirt, switch around…and try to impress each other with feats of grace and strength. A threadbare concept to be sure, but who cares when the antics are this sexy?

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APÉRO is geared towards adults, but there’s no nudity (the guys do get shirtless, thank goodness) or anything overtly sexual. Just a bunch of charming young people strutting their impressive bodies skills and having a great time.

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The sensual atmosphere and strikingly-appointed Baobab Stage create a total escape from reality. You’ll believe that you’re in a vintage European cabaret. I was hard-pressed to look away from the stunning wall coverings, overstuffed love seats, ornate light fixtures and artwork. A 20-minute intermission allows you to drink in the settings and indulge in another aperatif or share a bottle of wine with your companion.  But….back to the show.

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The cast of APÉRO is a veritable who’s who of the athletic arts. Towering Damir Mouzdybaev is 6 feet, 3 inches of chiseled muscle who opens the production. Lithe, God-like, and sensual, he guides the cast through their various interactions…and has his own adventures along the way. Damir was most recently in Le Reve – The Dream, and has performed in Ringling Brothers and “Marvel Universe Live”

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Damir Mouzdybaev (with Angelique Janowski), photography by @benjaminhphoto

Aerial hoop artist/dancer/choreographer Angelique Janowski spent several years at ZUMANITY until the pandemic clipped the show’s wings. Undeterred, she and a few colleagues formed Visionary Pack Collective, which produces APÉRO. A graduate of two art schools in France,. Ms. Janowski performed hundred of hours for audiences in Paris before coming to Las Vegas. 

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Angelique Janowski

Dazzling Natsumi Miyazaki performed in Le Reve alongside Damir Mouzdybaev, where the two of them soared through the air and danced on water. APÉRO finds the award-winning synchronized swimmer airborne once more, this time via an amusing pole sequence. Her charming character is a little sassy, a little sweet, and a whole lotta “wow”.

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Natsumi Miyazaki, photo by Charles Lohman

Beefy, brooding Roman Tomanov is the “bad boy” of the cast. Decked out in a leather jacket and ribbed tank shirt, he performs gymnastic feats, then takes flight for the aerial straps. Roman has been in the casts of ABSINTHE and   (by Cirque du Soleil), along with Cirque’s KURIOS and LE NOIR in Tokyo.

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Roman Tomanov strikes a pose in APÉRO

Mongolian contortionist Tsatsral Erdenebileg will have you gasping with her stunning flexibility. That’s certainly what occurred when the audience I was a part of saw her abilities. You’ll be awed, amazed, and perhaps even cringing when you witness what this Guinness World recordholder can achieve. Tsatsral also comes to APÉRO by way of ZUMANITY.

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Tsatsral Erdenebileg is APÉRO’s stunning contortionist…

Is it possible for juggling to be sexy? If the performer is Vladislav Miagkostoupov, then the answer is a resounding “Yes”! Part clown, part underdog, and the “nice boy” of the troupe, Vladislav combines dancing and juggling into a hysterical mixture which defines his signature style. The European acrobat entertained Vegas audiences in ZOMBIE BURLESQUE and V: The Ultimate Variety Show before landing on his feet at Baobab Stage.

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Vladik Miagkostoupov will juggle his way to your funnybone…

There is plenty of DNA from ZUMANITY behind the scenes of APÉRO, too. Niccole Dunn, co-founder of Visionary Pack Collective, spent seventeen years at Cirque‘s first adults-only show. Skilled at backstage duties and wardrobe design, Niccole created the costumes for APÉRO and is entrenched in making the public aware of their new production.

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Pavel Gurov…

Pavel Gurov serves as Artistic Director/Acrobatic Advisor, and Jorge Salomone (Niccole Dunn’s husband) is Technical Director. Salmone was involved in the video elements of ZUMANITY, and Gurov is a performing artist himself.

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The Baobab Cafe, Boutique and Showroom are all operated by Wassa Coulibaly, who spent several years as a dancer at New York NY‘s resident Cirque show. In some ways, she seems to have become the de facto “mom” of this ambitious endeavor, and shares the Collective’s enthusiasm.

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Wassa Coulibaly

The fact that APÉRO was born from the shockwaves of an international pandemic isn’t forgotten by the cast and creative team. All performers wear masks during the show, the audience is capped out within legal limits, and there’s even a COVID-19 protocols/procedures page on the show’s official website.

Final bows after a recent performance…

With live entertainment just now ramping up after almost a year of darkened stages, the producers knew they had to work long-term sustainability into their model:

Visionary Pack Collective was born of a small group of artists and industry professionals eager to create something sustainable and beautiful in this unprecedented time. The Baobab Stage is a cool small theatre and we wanted to make a show that would feel huge in this space, and give the audience the feeling of seeing something truly extraordinary in a way they could not have in the past. The show combines extraordinary talent and all the trappings of a
production usually seen on grand stages and in arenas playing to thousands.

So when you’re ready to rediscover the magic of sensual circus artistry, head to Town Square on South Las Vegas Boulevard and immerse yourself in an evening with APÉRO.

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APÉRO performs Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 7pm. The show runs approximately 90 minutes with intermission. Tickets are $50.00 (plus tax/fees) and can be ordered here

Photos: Sam Novak, APÉRO, cast members via Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nevada Room

‘The Vegas Room’ Supper Club inspires an ambitious spinoff… (excerpt from CHIC Compass magazine)


Last year, a small but dedicated group of entrepreneurs and artists came together to create The Vegas Room Supper Club. Their goal was to give back to the city they love. As fate would have it, launching their retro-cool “listening room” happened to coincide with a worldwide pandemic, yet they pressed on. It’s fair to say that business endeavors don’t get more daring than that.

“Don’t you mean ‘crazy’?” laughs Thomas Michel, the establishment’s de facto spokesman. Whether you credit madness or inspiration, the timing was right for a much-needed retreat from COVID-19 isolation. Bolstered by its intimate setting and extensive protective measures, The Vegas Room was an instant success. It also became a beacon for entertainers eager to step back into the spotlight.

Inspired by the supper club’s loyal following, General Manager Sean Stephenson and the rest of The Vegas Room team are preparing to deliver two dazzling spin-offs under one roof.

Click HERE to continue reading via CHIC Compass magazine.

Small Spaces, Towering Talent

Intimate Venues are the Hottest Ticket to Sin City’s Rebirth…


The times, they are a changing’. Gone for now are the concert tours, superstar residencies and spectacular mega-productions. As Sin City eases into a new comfort zone, the smart money is on smaller spaces, where performers and audiences can connect on an intimate level. In other words, a pure entertainment experience.

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Lounge acts and supper clubs harken a return to the days that put Las Vegas on the map…a time when true talent was the star. Their resurgence is evidence that tourists and locals alike are yearning for live music, despite concerns of gathering in public spaces. Perhaps that’s why The Vegas Room, less than a year old, is already prepping a more elaborate sister club just down the block. Look for The Nevada Room to debut in April.

NOTORIETY Live on Fremont Street is another small performance space experiencing a wave of popularity. Located in a former movie theater at Fremont Street’s NEONOPOLIS complex, NOTORIETY has attracted a number of notable names from a wide variety of Strip productions.

“Tenors of Rock” performed a special July 4th show at NOTORIETY

Spearheaded by Ken Henderson of Best Agency, the colorful NOTORIETY nightspot has been safely hosting magic shows, burlesque revues from Lucie May, rock concerts and comedy acts for months while others have remained shuttered. With its full bar service and available dining options, the 21-and-over clientele have been returning week after week for top-notch excitement (there’s a big-name residency slated to begin there soon, but I’m sworn to secrecy for now).

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While contracted productions are on hiatus, individual performers have been able to create scaled-down solo shows. Bucky Heard of The Righteous Brothers (see my Las Vegas Magazine article here) is launching “The Heart of Rock & Roll”, a concert series. Bucky tells me that it’s an intimate duo presentation with accomplished guitarist John Wedemeyer, who’s worked with legendary acts such as Donny and Marie, Bonnie Raitt, Wayne Newton and Clint Holmes.

Bucky and John’s “The Heart of Rock and Roll” premieres February 17th at Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. An amazing dinner is included, which starts at 6:30pm. Showtime is 8pm sharp. Tickets are available by clicking here

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If you’ve never visited Italian American Club, you owe it to yourself to discover it. Thanks to a dear friend, I’ve experienced the joys of this old-school gem and their rotating roster of talent, both established and rising. Stunning hunks like Jonathan Karrant and Chadwick Johnson performed incredible pre-Christmas shows, and they’ll be back on the IAC stage very soon.  Other favorites include Craig Canter, Chase Brown, and Frankie Scinta

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Travis Cloer, best known for his l0ng-running role in the Jersey Boys musical, has been super-busy during the pandemic. He’s had gigs at The Vegas Room and Italian American Club, among others. This weekend he’s at Chianti Restaurant with Christopher Lash for a special Valentine-themed performance. Showtime is 6 pm on February 13th, and tickets can be purchased here

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Crooners, Inc. at THE MINT Lounge…

Also this weekend is the debut of Crooners, Inc. at The Mint Lounge on East Sahara Avenue. Described as “an hour and a half of pure, classic Vegas entertainment on Valentine’s Day with music, mayhem and memories”, the production features a full band and a cast that includes Miss Mala, Tony Felicetta, Jonny Bird, JC Lopez and Dean Perry. Showtimes are 7pm and 9pm, with tickets available here

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Tuscany Resort on East Flamingo Avenue has been another go-to for superb lounge acts. Kenny Davidsen’s Bowtie Cabaret is a weekly Friday event with rotating hosts and guests. Stars like Ruby Lewis, Ian Ward, Anne Martinez, Kelly Vohnn, and Cassie Stone have recently joined Davidsen on stage. Performers Rita Lim, Ashley Fuller and Michael Grimm all have ongoing residencies there as well. 

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Harrah’s outdoor lounge Carnival Court has been playing host to a number of familiar faces, albeit under aliases. The father/son duo of Vinny Adinolfi and son Vin A. (The Bronx Wanderers) hit the C.C. stage on the weekends, operating as…well, it seems to depend on the week. Let’s stick with “VINdemic” for now. The guys also hit Italian American Club with the full band in January, and will be back there on February 18th.

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Another effect of the pandemic has been the formation of “super groups”. What you get is a superlative combination of artists from various other productions working together under a new moniker. ORIGINAL CHAOS boasts TENORS OF ROCK members Dai Richards, Chris Cicchino and Tim Sorbs (The Black Donnellys), along with vocalist Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show). Together they’ve been doing gigs at Carnival Court, along with the two Vin’s

NOTORIETY Live hit the ground running in November with Vin and Jimmy’s DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY. An irreverent collection of music, comedy, and hysterical video segments, the show featured Jimmy Denning of TENORS OF ROCK, Vin A. (him again), Tim Sorbs on drums, and guest stars Bucky Heard and Colin Cahill (do you see a trend here?). Expect another edition of DOWNTOWN HOOTENANY in the coming months.

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Broadway stage and screen star Ruby Lewis, a recurring guest at The Vegas Room, will have her own showcase at NOTORIETY on February 25th. The one-night performance will celebrate both her birthday and the release of her first original song “Shock Value“. Tickets are $40 and can be reserved here

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Speaking of The Vegas Room, the classy supper club has a great line-up of acts in the coming weeks. Entertainment director Jassen Allen has booked The Doo-Wop Kings, Christopher Lash, Savannah Smith, Elisa Fiorillo (with Barry Manilow’s musical director Joey Melotti), Skye Dee Miles and many more. Click here for performance schedules and to make reservations. 

 

HOT GUYS OF VEGAS – Danny Wilkinson Grows in ‘The Garden’


From Hard-bodied Scholar To beefcake Bartender, a Las Vegas Resident Learns To Roll With The Punches…

Even if you’ve never seen the 1983 film FLASHDANCE, you certainly know the premise: “Welder by day, exotic dancer by night”. It seems as though there are plenty of scenarios like that in Las Vegas. This year, COVID-19’s destructive path has shifted career goals, altered destinies, and destroyed lifelong dreams. But it has also allowed resourceful people to excel at things they’d never considered before.

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One such survivor is Las Vegas resident Danny Wilkinson. This resilient 31-year-old learned the hard way that personal growth is no longer an option but a necessity. That’s how the Mesa, AZ native found himself as a staffer at The Garden, Las Vegas Art District‘s newest sensation.

It’s unlikely that Danny ever expected that his career path would lead him behind the bar of an LGBTQ hotspot. With an MBA from Western Governors University and a BS in kinesiology, he had worked his way through the ranks of Amazon.com‘s local distribution center to become a mid-level manager.

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Alas, cost-cutting at the wildly-successful online retailer led to some pre-COVID layoffs (ironic now in hindsight). Sadly, Wilkinson was part of a group that got their pink slips. So what’s a straight, educated hunk to do for employment during a pandemic? Well, you take the advice of friends who suggest marketing your impressive physique to the local gay bars.

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When nightlife wizard Eduardo Cordova announced a casting call for “model servers” and “model bartenders”, Danny showed up to The Garden with a winning smile and gym credentials in hand (or under his shirt, in this case). Asked why he wanted to work at The Garden, Wilkinson candidly answered “My gay friends think I’m cute!”.

If you remember my article on “Men of the Garden“, you’ll notice that Danny wasn’t included. He’s not quite as “showy” as some of the other boys. He’s more likely to kindle a slow burn…one that gets hotter upon return visits. Clever, observant, and genuine, he leaves a lasting impression with casual conversation and a laser-sharp gaze. Mandatory facial coverings can’t conceal that radiant smile, either.

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It took a long time for this article to come to fruition. Several months into the idea, Danny and I finally sat down for drinks and to talk about it. What I learned was that to survive in “new Las Vegas”, Danny rolled with the punches, was receptive to daring ideas, and still manages to have fun in a demanding new position.


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Your social media pictures depict a guy with a wacky sense of humor, yet you come across as really conservative when at work. Who’s the real Danny Wilkinson? Hhhmmm…. I’m definitely a fun loving guy that always wants to make people laugh and ensure that they’re having a good time, as well as have a good time myself. 

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What came first…the big muscles or Amazon.com? Hahaha! The muscles did! As the second youngest of seven kids, I was always trying to compete with my siblings. Naturally I wanted to be better at something than they were, which proved to be extremely difficult because they’re all very talented.

When did you start cross-fit training, and how does it fit into your daily routine?  Man… I started doing cross-fit seven years ago, if I remember correctly. Exercise/working out has done a lot for me mentally, as well as physically, so I try to make sure I get in the gym or work out at least once a day. Or at least do something active every day of the week! 

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Where did you go, pre-pandemic, for fun in Las Vegas?  I really enjoy drinking coffee and trying new breweries in town. So definitely going to coffee shops and checking out new ones in town and all the local breweries. Oh, and definitely checking out new restaurants…I’m a self proclaimed foodie that loves sweets.

Favorite restaurant in Las VegasThis is tough. I love food…. bbbbuuuutttt I’m going to have to go with Tacos & Beer or Bajamar Seafood & Tacos just by the Arts District! 

Are you more of a night owl or a day-dreamer? I’m honestly like a reversible shirt… definitely adaptable to every situation. But I’d say that I do enjoy the day and being in the sun. I’m a child of the sun!

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This is my boy Gabe. He is a lethal white Australian Shepard. He is 4.5 and I got him from A Home 4 Spot, a rescue here in Vegas. Gabe is literally my best bud!

You just lost a bet and you have to do something embarrassing in front of a crowd. Will you do a sexy dance or sing a romantic song? Oh wow… well I’m absolutely terrible at both, but I’m going to say that my voice is way worse than my dance moves. So a sexy dance it is!

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You just won a vacation and your choice is Alaska, Hawaii, or Miami? Which one…and what would be the first thing you do when you got there? Oh man! I’m going to Hawaii! First thing I’m doing is looking at booking a sky diving jump and a swim with the whale sharks! That’s on my bucket list to do both of those in the same day!! 

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Do you have a favorite charity or social cause? I’d say anything that can benefit kids and can offer them more resources, or ability to participate in sports. 

People would be surprised to know that you __ are a huge nerd. I really enjoy reading, subject matter is usually self-development, and I geek out on computer stuff. I don’t play many, or any video games, but building computers and seeing how people push the performance limits of them is pretty cool! 

You’re going to be locked in a room for three days and can only eat one type of food. What are you taking in with you? Oh this is too easy! I’m bringing all the fixings for a peanut butter and jelly hahaha! Yes, I do eat them quite regularly! 

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Hollywood is about to make a movie on your life. You get to choose the actor playing Danny Wilkinson. The actor is definitely going to be whoever the sexiest leading male actor is at the time! Hahaha, I’m kidding… or am I?! The real actor would be… seriously though, I think Jensen Ackles (SUPERNATURAL) would be a good fit! 

Favorite big-screen movieOoohhhh, that’s a tough one, too!!! I really enjoy going to the movies! It’s a bit nostalgic for me as I frequently went to the movies with my father growing up… but I’d say… THE CONJURING 2.

Is this the first time you’ve worked at a gay bar? How do you deal with flirting? The Garden is the first time I’ve worked at a gay bar. And usually I’ll laugh it off awkwardly, strictly because I’m a bit awkward. But most recently, I just flirt right back, haha.

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The Garden launches a sexy new themed night and bartenders are required to work shirtless. Your response is A) Do I really have to? B) Hell, yeah, I can finally show what I’m made of, or C) Whatever…I’m easygoing – I would say that I’m a mix of B and C. You know, we gotta be comfortable showing the guests what they want to see! 

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The Garden Las Vegas is located at 1017 S. 1st St Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89101. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 6pm to 1am. Call 702-202-0900 or visit their website to make reservati0ns. 

‘Miracle On Spring Mountain’ Serves the Spirit of the Season…Over Ice


Immersive Cocktail experience brings the North Pole to Sin City’s Coolest Lounge…

“If the holidays are already feeling less like The Most Wonderful Time of the Year and more like open season on Big Capital, here’s a way to reclaim some Christmas cheer: drinking it.”

Update December 22, 2020Due to overwhelming response, The Sand Dollar Lounge owners Anthony Jamison, Benito Martinez, and Nathan Grates have announced the extension of Miracle on Spring Mountain into 2021. Las Vegas’ most popular holiday pop-up bar will now continue in festive mode through January 10, 2021. Since Nov. 23, the live music, craft cocktail and pizza bar has been transformed into the exclusive Las Vegas location of the renowned Miracle Bar Popup, a unique Winter Wonderland pop-up bar for the holiday season, while following and exceeding all safety protocols mandated by the state of Nevada. 

As part of the extension, the following additional chef Pizza Pop-up nights have been added and all proceeds will continue to benefit the Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Sun. Dec. 27th – Mike Vakneen & Ben Jenkins (Pop Up Pizza/Oscar’s Steakhouse) 

Sun. Jan. 3rd – Nick Dugan (Michael Mina) 

Sun. Jan. 10th – Adam Sobel (MINA Group)


With all that’s happened in the past eleven months, 2020 will undoubtedly go down as the worst year of our lives. Even the upcoming holiday season has been affected by renewed restrictions, canceled events and scuttled holiday shows. One bright spot has been A VEGAS ROOM CHRISTMAS, which plans to continue under stricter government guidelines. But what we REALLY need is a miracle. Fortunately, a special event has returned to bring peace, joy, and festive holiday cocktails to our struggling city – MIRACLE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN.

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Last year I was unable to attend MIRACLE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN due to an impending loss in my household. Those bad memories might be a little less painful now had I ventured out to Sand Dollar Lounge and its magnificent holiday festivities.

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If you’re familiar with Sand Dollar Lounge, you know that it’s a truly awesome hangout. It boasts a great staff, awesome cocktails, amazing pizzas and cool live music (when permitted by you-know-what). Nestled to the west side of an inconspicuous plaza on Spring Mountain Road (and not far from the world-famous Golden Tiki Lounge), Sand Dollar has been a legendary favorite since 1976.

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Owners Anthony Jamison, Benito Martinez, and Nathan Grates successfully restored the closed-down establishment in 2009. Not content to rest on their laurels, they’ve taken on the massive task of transforming the historic fun spot into seasonal pop-up experiences. Right after this year’s spooky NIGHTMARE ON SPRING MOUNTAIN, the team flipped the switch to create a spectacular Christmas wonderland.

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This year marks the second time that Sand Dollar Lounge has been part of the Miracle Cocktail Pop-up Bar network. The concept began six years ago in NYC’s East Side and has swept through the United States, Canada and countries like Panama, England and Switzerland. Sand Dollar proudly hosts the only “Miracle” pop-up in Nevada. 

I’m told that “Miracle 2020” is bigger, bolder, more colorful and lots more elaborate than last year’s inaugural effort. I was on hand a few days prior to the the ribbon-cutting in order to sample the season’s specialty cocktails. Witnessing the transformation in such a short time was nothing less than staggering. 

Beginning Friday 11/27, “Miracle” will open from 2 pm to 4 am.  Decor was designed and installed by Bright Light Holiday Co., a local service owned by my buddy Garrett Pattiani. He and partners Kerry and Daniel Dennis primarily do outdoor decorating projects, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to put their unique stamp on this project. Says Garrett:

“Owner Anthony Jamison and I grew up in Tonopah, Nevada. When he heard that we did holiday decor, he asked us to collaborate with him. Kerry spends months planning the interior, searching for unique items and decorations to fit the “Miracle” brand. “

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There are tens of thousands of lights, along with dozens of trees, elves, candy canes, stockings, snowmen and Saint Nicks. Highlights include a “Santa’s Twerk Shop” donation booth (proceeds benefiting the Las Vegas Rescue Mission), a North Pole stage backdrop, and a Hanukkah corner. 

The year-round drink list will be temporarily switched over to an extensive holiday-themed Miracle Bar menu. Everything from the Snowball Old Fashioned to Jingle Balls Nog are served in special mugs and glassware that are available to buy for gifts or your own party ware. To add to the fun, there will be special themed nights and pizza events. Patrons are encouraged to dress in the spirit of the theme nights, with special attractions planned.

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Ambient musical performances by solo and small combo artists will be offered on Friday and Saturday nights. During food events, prominent local chefs will create unique pizzas, with net proceeds going to Las Vegas Rescue Mission. The event schedule is as follows:

Sun Nov. 29th Justin Kingsley Hall Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 1 Ugly Sweater Party feat.  Paradise City Creamery Pop-Up

Wed Dec. 2nd Johnny Church Pizza Pop-Up

Sun Dec. 6th Josh Smith Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 7th The Grinch Day 

Wed Dec. 9th James Trees Pizza Pop-Up

Thurs Dec. 10 First Night of Hanukkah Vodka-Latke Party (free latkes while they last)

Sun Dec. 13th -Brian Howard Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 14th Candy Cane Day

Wed Dec. 16th Petrina Peart Pizza Pop-Up

Sun Dec.20th Chris Decker Pizza Pop-Up

Mon Dec. 21st Naughty or Nice night feat. Paradise City Creamery pop-up

Wed Dec. 23rd Justin Ford Pizza Pop-Up

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During Miracle on Spring Mountain, Sand Dollar Lounge management will follow all existing and newly mandated Covid-safe protocols, including 25% capacity, required reservations via their website (limited to parties of 4 seated together), sanitizing between all guest visits, masks required at all times (unless physically eating) and more. Sand Dollar Lounge is non-smoking.

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Sand Dollar Lounge is open daily from 2pm to 4am. It’s located at 3355 Spring Mountain Rd Ste. 30, Las Vegas, NV 89102. Call (702) 485-5401 or visit their website for reservations or more information. 

Photos: Sam Novak, Jose Salinas & Eric C. Gladstone/Feast of Friends

 

MOSAIC THEATER – Everything Old Is New Again


A Historic Little Venue Shows the big boys how to safely Bring Live Entertainment Back to the Strip…

Don’t throw the past away
You might need it some rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again

It’s been eight long and painful months since the famed Las Vegas Strip went dark. Frightening images of lonely sidewalks and boarded-up casinos will forever haunt our memories. Now we’re crawling out of the darkness…a little uncertain and stumbling a bit along the way….and live shows are opening once again.

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Huge digital billboards at major casinos like ARIA and MGM Grand proclaim “LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IS BACK”, as if they’re the ones leading the charge. In actuality, it’s the relatively-unknown MOSAIC THEATER that’s making the most strides. The fully renovated venue, most recently known as TOMMY WIND THEATER, has become a shining beacon for performers, fun-starved visitors, and Las Vegas residents .

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Mosaic Theater follows the same, effective programming formula that made Planet Hollywood‘s V Theater such a success. Individual shows are scheduled with short turn-around times in between. Cleanup crews follow exiting patrons to sanitize and prepare the space for the next round. Behind the gorgeous red curtain, sets and cast move into position. And…..it’s showtime!

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MOSAIC THEATER currently offers three separate titles: QUEENS OF ROCK starring Elyzabeth Diaga, Kyle Martin‘s PIANO MAN (see review here) and long-running AUSSIE HEAT male revue. There’s more on the horizon, including MJ: The Evolution (a Michael Jackson tribute) and a return of the controversial A MOB STORY with Michael Franzese

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I predicted early on that V Theaters and affiliated Saxe Theater would be some of the first to reopen (see article here). Alas, all four auditoriums remain dark with no word on when they’ll be back. This gives Mosaic (and Downtown’s NOTORIETY) a distinct advantage in the current climate.

New ‘AUSSIE HEAT’ Show Debuts at MOSAIC ON THE STRIP

It’s worth noting that AUSSIE HEAT moved to MOSAIC in February after several years with David Saxe. The change was motivated in large part by a desire to have more control over their show. It’s well known in the industry that Saxe calls all of the shots in his domain. MOSAIC is clearly more of a collaborative effort.

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Some people consider MOSAIC‘s location to be a disadvantage. The structure is a bit back from Las Vegas Boulevard and not easily visible to passers-by. But once you know where it is, the positives become clear. A dedicated parking lot means that MOSAIC‘s entrance is mere steps from your car or the Strip. What other showroom in Las Vegas can boast that? (Take your time….I’ll wait).

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The theater’s dazzling, retro-cool lobby leads to a comfortable lounge with bar service. You can order up your favorite cocktail while waiting for curtain time.  The main auditorium is a throwback to NYC’s Studio 54, offering a wide proscenium stage and a main floor that can be used for show seating, dining or dancing (post-COVID, of course). Two balcony levels and an upper lounge are ideal for physical distancing and reduced-capacity requirements that are currently in effect.

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MOSAIC‘s rich history is reflected in its ability to host a wide variety of functions. The former Empire Ballroom, which also operated as Utopia, Metz, and KRAVE in the past, can handle award shows, fundraisers, lectures, weddings, podcast tapings, and corporate events.

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The venue is owned and operated by Dean Coleman of SPR & Promotions, a company with two decades of experience in promotion and production. Managing Partner Sophia Song is MOSAIC‘s Marketing Director. Together, they deliver fun, excitement, and a myriad of entertainment options designed to take on whatever 2021 throws their way.

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MOSAIC THEATRE is located at 3765 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Suite G., next to Red Palms and directly across from Park MGM Casino Resort. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets to shows. 

 

Actor/Musician Ian Ward is Ready to Rock ‘The Vegas Room’


Youthful heartthrob from “Rock of Ages” and “BAZ” possesses the soul of a legend…

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There are many who consider Palazzo‘s BAZ to be one of the greatest productions that Las Vegas has ever seen. A gentre-defying blend of modern music and the works of literary greats as seen through the eyes of film director Baz Luhrmann, BAZ provided a forum for some of the best entertainers in the business.

When Ian Ward stepped into the role of “Romeo”, the youthful performer had big shoes to fill. James Byous, LJ Benet and Myles Nuzzi had all been stunning as the ill-fated lover, yet Ian (full name Ian Ward Brininstool) managed to make his own indelible impression. His powerful, heartfelt performance of Elton John’s “Your Song” elicited cheers from the audience…and the tragic “Love Is Blindness” (below) could cause you to erupt into sobs.

Ian made his stage debut at the age of nine, landing the lead in a large scale production of Oliver. Since then he’s taken on television with a role in Veronica Mars and the New York stage in musicals like Gettin’ The Band Back Together, Leaving Eden and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

The native of La Jolla has performed on cruise ships around the world and lived in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Miami, and of course, the Big Apple. Currently completing his studies at Berklee College of Music with an album on the way, he’s released a collection of self-penned singles that reflect a variety of cultural experiences.

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Ian was performing in the hit Los Angeles production of Rock Of Ages (with fellow BAZ alumnus Sean Lessard) when the pandemic forced it to close. Since then he’s been focused on his studies and writing new music. Like BAZ, Ian refuses to be categorized, yet influences from The Beatles, Elton John and classic rock anthems come through.

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Like most entertainers, the sandy-haired Californian has been yearning for a return to live performance. He’ll be center-stage this Friday and Saturday with an intimate showcase at The Vegas Room. I caught up with Ian over the weekend, and this is what he had to say:

When did you first visit Las Vegas, and when was the first time you performed here?

Growing up in San Diego, Las Vegas has always been a vacation destination for me and my family. I clearly remember spending my 13th birthday here and doing the indoor skydiving experience with my best friend. I think somewhere deep in my subconscious, I always knew that I would be spending more time in this special city. My dream came true when I was cast as Romeo in BAZ back in 2017. This was my first time experiencing performing here and getting to know the entertainment community in Las Vegas.

Roles in BAZ, Footloose, and Rock of Ages have allowed you to stretch your acting, dancing and singing muscles all at the same time. Do you approach a song “differently” when you’re performing in-character versus as yourself? Which do you prefer?

When I am performing a song in a musical, I bring the past experiences and memories of that character into the words that he is speaking and singing. As an actor through song, you must be able to convey to the audience where this character is in their particular journey within the overall story of the play.  

When I perform an original song or a cover song in a cabaret setting, sometimes I am more focused on feeling the energy and vibe of the material and connecting with the audience. I want to communicate directly and bring them along on the ride. It’s much more collaborative with the people there enjoying the music.

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Photos: Ryan Salinas for The Vegas Room

You tend to gravitate towards explosive productions, yet your solo work is of a more romantic nature. What kind of music do you listen to for your own enjoyment?

I love doing large scale productions because of the quality of lights, sound, special effects and the entire creative team that comes together to create something spectacular. However, in my solo work, I tend to gravitate towards love stories or stripped down acoustic sounds. I think this comes from my father’s influence in classic rock and my love for classic songwriters such as Neil Young, James Taylor, Sting, and The Beatles. I would love to blend high quality production with my own songs eventually.

Your cover of “Across The Universe” with Ruby Lewis is gorgeous and pure in its simplicity. How did that collaboration come about, and do you see the two of you working together again?

Ruby and I love to collaborate on songs that we share a passion for. One afternoon at my parents house, we were listening to some oldies and “Across the Universe” started playing. Ruby’s voice is so pure and strong that when we blend harmonies, it always sounds special and unique.  

We decided that it would be a nice take on a classic to do our own rendition, and I think the setting of my deck made the ambience all that more magical. She and I will definitely be doing more writing and recording together in the future. She is featured as the background singer on my song “Tru Luv” and sometimes I help arrange or cowrite on her songs. We hope to be onstage together soon!

Your IMDB and social media bios don’t list your birth year. Is there a reason behind that?

Haha! No reason for that actually. Maybe it’s just an industry thing…I think my agents might have taken it down online. I was born on Valentines Day, 1996.

You’ve shone onstage, on the screen and in the recording studio. What’s next to conquer?

I want to continue to grow my catalog in the recording industry and make songs that will make a difference to society and uplift people. A large goal of mine is to get significant progress made with my entertainment company ‘Outward Original’. This company was formed to establish artistic media that can create understanding and harmony. And, I want to collaborate with other artists to make art across all mediums. 

Many artists have reported a surge of creativity during the pandemic. Has this happened to you as well? What did COVID-19 deliver to your legacy?

This year has been very tough on everyone. Covid-19 was responsible for the closing of one of my favorite productions I have been a part of…’Rock of Ages Hollywood’…just after we had opened. It also took the life of my great friend, Nick Cordero, whom I shared the stage with in ‘Rock of Ages’.  

I went though a couple months of reflection and a form of depression where it didn’t feel authentic to be creating or trying to push my voice out into the world. However, now I am feeling invigorated and have been blessed with an influx of new opportunities, so I’m ready to get back out there and create!

Your website is “Ian Ward Out Ward Dot Com”. What is the message or meaning of that?

Ward is actually my middle name. My last name is Brininstool, of German descent. ‘Outward Original’ is the name of my entertainment company. And, being a spiritual person, I believe in the process of taking inspiration and then letting that flow freely outward into the world. So this play on words seemed both fitting and appropriate for my company and my beliefs.

Is there one well-known role that you’d love to take on? Who’s your dream onstage partner?

A dream role of mine would be to play Roger in RENT! Or be a part of a brand new, revolutionary musical where I get to build a role from the ground up. I had an experience like this when I was the first “Ren” in ‘Footloose’ for Norwegian Cruise Lines, because I got to make a lot of creative and artistic choices that became a part of the track for other actors to come! I am excited to see which great performers I get to share the stage with in the future!

The Vegas Room has quickly become the go-to venue/hangout for BAZ alumni (Randal Keith, Lisa Marie Smith, Anne Martinez, Eric Jordan Young) as well as other highly seasoned performers. Your inclusion in their entertainment line-up is testimony to your talent. What can guests expect from your showcase?

I feel so honored to have been asked to perform at The Vegas Room! My peers that worked on BAZ with me are so talented and are such gems in this city. I look forward to joining them in the roster at this great venue! The audience can expect a night of an eclectic smattering of classic songs, some originals I have been writing recently, and stories from my career that I hope will excite and interest people. I can’t wait to connect and entertain to bring some light to their night!


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Ian Ward takes to the stage of The Vegas Room on August 7th and 8th at 8pm. Options include a 6:30pm dinner/show or 7:30pm light bites/show. Click here or call  (725) 206-7059 for more information and reservations. The Vegas Room is located at 953 E Sahara Avenue Suite E18 (Bright RED Doors), Las Vegas, NV 89104 

 

Hot Guys of Vegas: Men of ‘The Garden’


Superlative new nightspot/restaurant has a painfully attractive cast of hunks….and one particularly hot lady…

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It’s tough enough to launch a new business under any circumstances. But what about during the tail end of a quarantine? As Vegas entrepreneur Eduardo Cordova recently learned, if you do so with careful planning and COVID-19 safety protocols, you’ll be off to a great start. The Garden Las Vegas did exactly that, providing the perfect tonic to a fun-starved community while offering a luscious assortment of mouth-watering eye candy.

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The Garden LV has only been open for two months but is already recognized as a runaway success. Located in the heart of downtown’s Arts District, the restaurant/bar has quickly become Sin City’s hip hotspot. The indoor-outdoor venue is located next to ARTIFICE BAR in the trendy Art Square, also home to monthly First Friday festivals.

Cordova had this to say about his latest venture: “The Garden is a fresh, new concept. It is an intimate and chic LGBTQ lounge bar (that) dives into an untapped market in the Las Vegas community, championing craft cocktails, light bites, and an indulgent ambiance.

While others have written about The Garden‘s lush decor, delicious food, stunning cocktails, and superlative entertainment, this column is called “Hot Guys of Vegas” for a reason. So let’s get straight to the beef and take a close inspection of a few of the hunks that make The Garden Las Vegas such a sumptuous experience.

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Shyllon Melatti I first introduced you to Shyllon Melatti when the model and budding actor had taken over the role of “Stefan” in SEX TIPS at Paris Hotel. Since then, the handsome Vegas native was offered a hosting gig at Chippendales…just as the pandemic shutdown went into effect.

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Undeterred, Melatti joined the cast by way of Chippendales@Home, a virtual service in which the legendary entertainers present you and your friends with a private party. Shyllon’s been bumping and grinding along just nicely ever since. He also hosted a series of live fitness sessions and was featured in a guest spot for Las Vegas Magazine:

When The Garden had their initial casting call, Shyllon naturally stood out. Now he’s a favorite of guests both new and returning, skilled at presenting signature cocktails with a wholesome smile that his face mask does little to hide. Ask him nicely, and the charming cat-dad might flash his abs for you.

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            Shyllon Mellati serves up smiles for celebrity medium Thomas John (right)…

Alejandro Chirino – Every cast has that one member who’s mysterious and shares very little about themself. Alejando Chirino is apparently that kind of guy. Strong and silent, the native of Matanzas, Cuba is able to say a lot by speaking next to nothing. The muscular hunk moves quietly through the lounge area of The Garden, instantly commanding attention by not trying to.

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Clearly an enthusiast of fitness, the model-server has been devoted lately to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for justice in a time when our culture is in chaos. Alejadro’s also a supporter of LGBTQ causes, dedicating his birthday towards the plight of gay and transgender people, especially in the Las Vegas community.

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Ger Haro –  The fabulous Ger Haro is another returning favorite to the “Hot Guys of Vegas” column. The model and master mixologist is famed throughout the city for his rocking body, stunning tattoos, ever-dazzling hairstyles, outgoing persona and a shockingly-deep voice.

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Known as “Gerry” to his friends, Mr. Haro is a favorite subject of photographer Noel Dahl. The two collaborated on a 2020 fundraising calendar to benefit Amor Peludo, a Spanish-language non-profit that assists pet care and housing in the Las Vegas Latino community.

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This month, Gerry stepped out from behind the bar to try his hand at hosting The Garden‘s Thursday Bingo Night. But don’t be concerned…you’ll still be able to indulge in the handsome stud’s hand-crafted cocktails every Thursday through Sunday. And wait until you see what he can do with a cucumber.

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Brandon Grimm – There’s a silent one in every group, and there’s also the guy or gal who sparkles. And “Sparkles” just happens to be the nickname of Brandon Grimm. If you’ve ever hung out in West Hollywood, you might have encountered the bedazzled boy at world-famous The Abbey Food & Bar, where Brandon was once a dancer and manager. He’s also performed alongside Willie Gomez as a backup dancer for Britney Spears.

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Back in Las Vegas, the fair-skinned musclehunk has become airborn in Atomic Saloon Show, alternating center stage with fellow performer Davide Zongoli (another “Hot Guys of Vegas” alumnus). A skilled aerialist and pole artist, Brandon entertains audiences with his light-hearted wit and physical prowess. Both of those qualities come in handy when taking care of the loyal patrons that now return to The Garden every weekend.

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Eduardo Cordova and Chandler Kramer Barbra Steisand once sang a cynical ode to nightlife romance:

Love comes from the most unexpected places
In bars that thrive on loneliness
Where people sell their sorrow for your time

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Fortunately for the adorable duo of Chandler Kramer and Eduardo Cordova, the opposite became true. Working side by side in a new business could easily fray nerves, yet this couple’s relationship has grown stronger. The two took their next step this past Independence Day weekend when Mr. Cordova proposed to Mr Kramer (an ICU Nurse at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center) inside The Garden, to the delight of their patrons…and friends throughout the city.

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Lilian Aguilar – When I first decided to do this article, I approached bartender Lilian Aguilar while she was on duty. My apologetic words were something along the lines of “I’m about to do a feature on The Garden‘s staff. Unfortunately, I can’t include you, as it’s going to be all about the boys”. Miss Aguilar was quite understanding and thanked me anyway.

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Since then, I’ve observed this young lady in action and have realized that Lilian truly deserves her own special mention. After more than three years of Vegas Unfiltered and literally dozens of related articles, Lilian Aguilar is now the First Lady of “Hot Guys of Vegas“. She’s dynamic, glamorous, and a truly integral part of the team.

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Lilian may be “one of the boys”, but she’s all woman…and an ambitious one at that. A longtime vegan, she’s a certified fitness trainer, certified plant-based nutritionist, a title-holder for Mrs. USA Globe, and of course, a model. She, along with The Garden‘s equally dynamic operating partner Edith Castillo (below) bring a powerful female presence to Sin City’s latest success.

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The Garden is located at 1017 S. 1st St – Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702-202-0900)

Hours are Thursday & Sunday 6pm-1am, Friday & Saturday 6pm-2am. Reservations are recommended for dining. Click here for menus, reservations and additional information.

Photos: Higor Almeida Photography, The Garden LV, Brandon Grimm, Lilian Aguilar, Ger Haro, Alejandro Chirino, Eduardo Cordova, Chandler Kramer, Sam Novak