‘Vegas Unfiltered Blog’ Is Making the Big Move to ‘VEGAS 411’

As we begin year #5, ‘Vegas Unfiltered’ joins a well-established network of News, Reviews, Best-of/Worst-of lists and much more…


It’s been quite awhile since I’ve devoted space on this blog to things about myself. From the beginning, it’s always been about you, the reader. I started Vegas Unfiltered Blog with the goal to offer advice, recommendations, warnings, and ways to make the most of your hard-earned dollars.

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But sometimes I’ve told you a little bit about my own personal matters, too. Like when I decided to move to Sin City from rural Oregon. And when I shared my personal loss of beloved pets. And the time I stayed up all night, traumatized by seeing the Las Vegas Strip being boarded up and chained on Pandemic Shutdown Night.

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Now I’m going to share another personal event, but this one will affect people in the entertainment industry, hospitality workers, and regular readers just as much as myself. In the weeks ahead, Vegas Unfiltered Blog will become part of a larger family: VEGAS 411. This multi-purpose website is a hub for Vegas-centric writers, commentators, and freelance workers such as myself. 

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VEGAS 411 also is also home to TicketKite, a ticket vendor where you can reserve seats to big productions like Mystere and Blue Man Group. It’s main focus, however, is ready-to-discover fare like Rock Candy, The Hilarious 7, Amazing Magic with Tommy Wind, and The BIG little Variety Show. It’s worth remembering that not every treasure performs inside an arena or a $60 million showroom.

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My responsibilities at VEGAS 411 will grow far beyond integrating and maintaining Vegas Unfiltered Blog. As their new Deputy Editor and part of the senior management team, I’ll be working with our writers to make a larger impact, expand our reach, and create sizzling new features. And I’ve already brought Clay Bushes, a like-minded no-nonsense colleague, on board to stir up some shit.

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I’ll also be VEGAS 411‘s “Man About Town”, so to speak. Throughout the year, I’ll attend events and openings, giving you up close and personal glimpses into everything VEGAS 411 covers. So get used to this smirky mug…it isn’t going away anytime soon.

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I don’t sugarcoat shit. I’m not Willy Wonka.

You can be assured that I’ll continue to give you the clearest and most helpful information available. When something is worth your time, you’ll know it, but I won’t spare any feelings when another asshole like Criss Angel or the next train wreck production like Magic Mike Live or R.U.N comes into town. As always, it’ll be with the intention of helping you make the most educated choices for your Vegas vacation.

“Probably Biased. Definitely Honest” – Sam Novak, Vegas Unfiltered/VEGAS411

The World’s Most Unique Movie Theater Reveals Expansion Plans in Las Vegas

….and you can make it possible through a perks-packed campaign…

If you only visit Las Vegas from time to time, you might be surprised to learn that Sin City has a lot in common with Hollywood. Not only have dozens of blockbuster movies and televisions shows been filmed here, but there is a vibrant community of filmmakers and actors. Production studios benefit from our gorgeous cinematic locations, wealth of acting talent and the tech industries that call our valley “home”.

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In addition, movie-going itself is a staple activity of our residents and visitors. Nearly every off-Strip hotel casino has a multiplex theater off the gambling floor. Our six-screen drive-in was one of only a few in the nation that were able to operate throughout last year’s closures. And during any normal year, Las Vegas attracts thousands of fans, celebrities and Hollywood heavy-hitters for conventions like Star Trek, Days of the Dead and CinemaCon (formerly known as ShoWest). 

The most recent only-in-Vegas experience came when The 35 Cinema opened this February in downtown Las Vegas. I told you all about the super-cool retro cinema here, and profiled its owner/creator John Lohmann in this piece. The response to his venture was so overwhelming that Mr. Lohmann decided to expand it into a three-screen multi-plex, keeping the concept intact while adding even more unique elements. 

The new location for The 35 Cinema wil be the sprawling, history-rich Commercial Center District World Village (or Commercial Center for short). It’s just a stone’s throw from Sahara Hotel and Westgate Las Vegas on East Sahara Avenue. Regular readers will recognize Commercial Center as the trendy location for businesses like a reborn Vickie’s Diner, ever-popular Lotus of Siam, The Vegas Room, The Nevada Room, Cineloggia Movie Artifact Museum, Hellbound Horror Collectibles and the wonderful Sci Fi Center of Las Vegas

981163_10153415767087452_6134307817601718767_oRelocating to Commercial Center is a no-brainer for The 35 Cinema. As a hotbed for fan-centric activities, this unique plaza will allow moviegoers to visit other movie-related businesses all in one visit. An expanded footprint for the Cinema makes it possible to run three movies at once (the former location was a single-screener) while providing hundreds of free parking spaces, on-property security, expanded hours, all-ages admission (not possible under their previous leasing agreement at Neonopolis), bar service, and lots more.

I so believe in and support this venture that I helped Lohmann to draft crowd-funding proposals to bring a bigger, better The 35 Cinema to Las Vegas. Here is the link to the IndieGogo campaign, which you can see in its entirety below:


The 35 Cinema: Where FILM comes BACK to the Cinema!

There’s never been a better time to rediscover movie-going. And Las Vegas has the ultimate way to experience the magic at The 35 Cinema….movies the way they were meant to be seen.

The 35 Cinema is the only multiplex theater of its kind in the world. What makes The 35 Cinema so special? It’s a retro movie house that presents timeless classics and cult favorites the way they were originally made and shown…with genuine 35 millimeter film and projectors.  

There are only a handful of theaters running 35mm film in the US.  But what make The 35 Cinema stand out above all the others is that it’s the only 100% revival theater in the world running exclusively on 100% film!  We will not be playing anything after the year 2000!

Today’s modern megaplexes utilize a totally digital format, essentially transforming their screens into over-sized televisions. Computers and electronic devices generate sound and imagery that are often called “hyper-realistic”. While the goal of this technology is a perfect presentation, what’s lacking is charm, warmth, and the intimacy of an old-time cinema.

The 35 Cinema restores the original format of movies, once thought to be lost forever. Let the sounds and flickering of 35mm projectors whisk you away on an unforgettable adventure. Classics like The Wizard of Oz, Singing In The Rain, Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Star Wars, Tron, A Nightmare On Elm Street…all of them were created using movie film, and nothing can replace the thrill of watching them that way.

The above video is not ours, but gives you an idea of the workings of a 35mm projector.

At The 35 Cinema, our meticulously-restored systems are a part of the show. Projectors are located within view of the auditorium, not hidden out of sight. Arrive early to watch our projectionist thread your movie through complex gears and pulleys, into a powerful lamp housing and onto massive take-up reels. Grab an ice-cold soft drink and a bag of the best popcorn in town, then settle in for vintage coming-attraction trailers before the landmark main feature.

Along with being the coolest retro theater in the world, The 35 Cinema is the ultimate gathering spot for cine-philes of all ages. We offer an ever-expanding schedule of fan events, celebrity appearances, themed festivals and all-day marathons. Rare props, movie memorabilia, and dozens of autographed photos take you back to when you first saw your favorites on the silver screen.

One of the many events we’ll be hosting will be our “Breakfast with the Toons” every Saturday and Sunday morning. You’ll be served a continental breakfast and get to watch two to three cartoon shorts before an animated feature! The fun part about it is it’ll be just like when you were a kid watching cartoons Saturday morning…you wont know what will be playing until it starts!

The 35 Cinema has so much to offer so…don’t miss this opportunity to be a part of the greatest cinematic experience of all time. The 35 CinemaMovies The Way They Were Meant To Be Seen.

Here is a rough draft of the floor plan for our new location in “The Commercial Center” of Las Vegas!

As you can see above, the floor plan for our new location includes a large concession stand, liquor bar and three cinemas. We also have areas of the theater that will be able to host VIP celebrity guests, original movie props and so much more.

Media on “The 35 Cinema”

Here are just a few of the news broadcasts “The 35 Cinema” was featured on at our first location!

What the money will be used for 

We already have some of the 35mm equipment in our possession, but we need more for additional auditoriums. We also require funding to secure our new Las Vegas location, construction, additional concession equipment and more.

As a contributor you can take advantage of our many Rewards:

Risks & Challenges

And what happens if The 35 Cinema doesn’t meet its goal? If we don’t succeed — It would be a sad day for 35mm, cinemas and Las Vegas as a whole. We’re relocating into a space 6 times the size of our first location and we’ll finally be family friendly (our first location was 21 and over due to the venue we were in.)

Our audience is growing and people are finding the magic of 35mm movies is still alive and we would love to keep it that way. You have to try our popcorn as well… It has been called “The Best Popcorn In Town!”

If we succeed with your help, we’ll immediately proceed with showing movies the way they were meant to be seen…on film and on a silver screen! We are The 35 Cinema…together!

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To be a backer of The 35 Cinema and reap rewards like the opportunity to meet movie stars, hold private screenings and much more, click here

‘CELESTIA’ Is Poised To Rise Again

Classic-style circus seeks new venue for its glorious tent extravaganza…


In the realms of media and show business, one of the most gratifying phrases you can use is “I told you so”. And this particular writer is looking forward to announcing in the near future that Intrigue Shows has found a new home for CELESTIA, the wonderfully-entertaining spectacle that launched at The STRAT during the summer of 2019.

When the pandemic swept through Sin City, its impact was devastating. Companies filed for bankruptcy, long-established productions announced permanent closure, and cast and crew from all facets of entertainment scattered like petals in the wind.

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At one point I was compelled to assemble a list of the shows I felt were most and least likely to return….along with a bunch that could topple to either side of the fence. I may have swung a bit broadly on some, but others were home runs. On my “Most Likely To Return” collection was the fledgling CELESTIA. Here’s what I said on April 13th of last year:


My insiders at CELESTIA assure me that the fledgling big-top production is on solid ground. STRAT Hotel Casino has a strong financial stake. which seems to be a common thread in the current make-or-break environment. Four-wallers (independent contractors) will suffer while casino-owned shows are likely to last. It all comes down to money.


EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ‘CELESTIA’ STAR VIP EXPERIENCE

While the reason for my faith in CELESTIA‘s return might not have been correct (The STRAT is now willing to part with the tent-based production), there’s no denying that a family-friendly circus with a desirable price point has built-in appeal for post-COVID Vegas. That’s why the show’s General Manager Kim Scott (formerly of Cirque du Soleil) has dedicated every available resource to making sure the CELESTIA tent reaches towards Vegas skies once more.

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Here’s the letter that Ms. Scott sent out to all 88 cast members, technicians, ushers, front-of-house and other crew just this afternoon. The email was motivated by an article from one of my colleagues, who yesterday announced the show’s permanent closure despite the lack of a formal statement:


Hello Everyone with Celestia,

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying the reopening of Las Vegas.

I want to give you an update on the status of Celestia and its future in Las Vegas. As you know, COVID hit many businesses hard and our company ownership has tasked me with finding new ownership for the tent and show.

I have been working nonstop to source a buyer for the tent and a company interested in running the show. I want you to know that finding a new home for Celestia has been my only priority during the shutdown.

We do have a few companies interested in the tent and a potential company interested in operating Celestia.  While I cannot guarantee that Celestia will return to the stage, I can ensure you that I am working to make that happen for all of you.  I can confirm that Celestia and the tent will not remain at The STRAT and will be relocated until a new owner can be identified. The move will happen within the next few weeks.  

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your patience as I work to navigate the next steps focus and your courage and commitment to Celestia during this past year.

Please don’t fall into the rumor mill of Las Vegas. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly.

Kim Scott

General Manager Intrigue Shows, Inc.


Regular readers will remember that I’ve published a number of articles about CELESTIA, from a stellar original review to an insider’s view via their STAR VIP EXPERIENCE (with onstage seating) and a profile of their latest electrifying cast addition, DUO TRANSCEND from America’s Got Talent.

As an avid supporter of every hard-working individual who dedicates their talents both behind the scenes and onstage, I’m excited for the possibilities awaiting those involved with CELESTIA.

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Support from large corporations and casinos may come and go with wildly unpredictable results. But Intrigue Shows, and Kim Scott in particular, have years of experience behind them. They know the do’s, the don’t’s, and B.S. that get tossed around by big-talkers. They’re independent thinkers with a passionate desire to put on an old-fashioned spectacle….just what we need in today’s turbulent environment.

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Photo by Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

Don’t count out CELESTIA just yet. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.

Photos: Sam Novak, Intrigue Shows, Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

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.

Rant: I Don’t Need Your Approval To Have An Opinion


There’s always a price to pay for being honest…

For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to write for a couple of different publications. One is an online ticketing site that publishes show articles and helpful visitor information (currently it’s in limbo). The other is a well-regarded print magazine found in the majority of Las Vegas hotel rooms, pre-COVID. It’s only available online for now.

When the pandemic upheaval is over and tourists return en masse (with luck), I hope to regain those freelance positions. They gave me the opportunity to learn, reach larger audiences, research unfamiliar artists and discover subjects that might otherwise have dodged my radar. They were also gainful employment, since this blog is a passion project, not a revenue generator.

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Please read all precautions before proceeding…

Before accepting those jobs, I made it clear that I would continue maintaining Vegas Unfiltered Blog, which doesn’t always present things through rose-colored glasses. It felt necessary to make one thing clear: as a hired writer, I’d be wearing a different hat for them, separate from my personal site. When I’m paid to write for you, I work for you.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, not so fast. The arrangement was working well for all involved (at least to my knowledge) until Cirque du Soleil decided to follow Criss Angel – Mindfreak Live with an even worse abomination called R.U.N. It premiered in Luxor‘s showroom in the fall of 2019 to horrendous reviews from critics and audiences alike.

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As the fates would have it, I  was assigned articles on R.U.N. for each of my paid gigs. Having seen this travesty, I decided to delay my own review until the others were submitted. The paid pieces didn’t require my opinion…just descriptions, what the production involved, types of acts, specifics on the plot, where it was located, etc.

The funny thing about this is the subsequent negative feedback I received. For instance, some dim bulb going by the name of @butterpunker tweeted “I’ll be honest. After reading the online reviews and then reading your review, I’m less inclined to trust anything you write about shows anymore.”

Guess what, genius…they weren’t reviews!

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Then I published an actual opinion piece, which you can see here. And yes, it was so scathing that I called R.U.N. “an epic disaster. An ugly, inconsistent, poorly-planned and sloppily-executed mess that lies there like a dead body in a ditch.”

So, my question to you is this…are people so stupid that they can’t tell the difference between a review and a so-called “puff piece”? A tourism magazine/website is there to present you with vacation options, then YOU decide what to spend your money on. A blog is a whole different ball of wax. But in this day of internet courage, emboldened armchair critics can hop onto Yelp and eviscerate a business from the safety of their laptop. Or call a critic out for doing the very thing he/she is meant to do.

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After that stupid scene went down, a marvelous and professional editor at one of the freelance outlets expressed concern. He/she asked a few sensible questions and we discussed shows/celebrities/subjects to avoid in order to prevent future backlash. Very considerate and supportive, they were. And it felt wonderful.

There have been many times when I’ve been confronted, either online or in person, after publishing an unflattering review. I’ve been accused of causing harm to livelihoods, putting people out of work, and threatening the security of entire productions. Somehow the blame for a bad show often gets put on little old me.

Show business is one of high risk. The chances of being a part of something successful are very slim. For every thirty or so television programs that debut each fall, only a handful get a second season. Movie studios can spend upwards of $300 million on a film that ends up playing to empty theater auditoriums. Nothing is a guaranteed hit. That’s just the way show business works.

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In Las Vegas, it’s not unusual for twenty or more shows to give their final bows in any given year (2020 was a bloodbath, but that was different). When a production shuts down, it’s not the fault of the actors, set designers, lighting technicians or costumers. But small-scale blogger Sam Novak often gets the blame.

Yesterday, a colleague in the entertainment industry attacked me for my opinions on the terrible Star Trek: Discovery television series. He accused me of causing harm to the industry, the actors, the directors and the entire CBS All-Access platform. Wow, who knew I was this powerful? Yeah, right…

His next words were what got to me the most: “You better hope that you don’t rely on Paramount, Warner Bros, or CBS for anything, because they won’t like what you wrote”. To which I responded “Don’t put out shit, and you won’t get shit from me. Especially on a fledgling, failing pay site that’s already in its death throes and about to be re-branded.”

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Apparently, I upset the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery…

I won’t compromise my integrity to please people in the entertainment industry. There are plenty of critics in Las Vegas who already do that. Most of them are high-profile names that attend nearly every function, often get onto the microphone themselves, and walk the line between journalist and celebrity. And they RARELY give an unflattering review.

I personally don’t care if people like my published critiques. They’re honest and brutal, whether favorable or not. I like what I like, hate things that suck to me, and I speak out to praise or warn. It’s my responsibility as an entertainment writer to share the emotions, reactions, and thought processes experienced from a meal/hotel stay/performer/activity.

In 2017, I was offered a position at an established tourism site. I accepted on the condition of full autonomy, so that I could be truthful about subjects that personally mattered and would hopefully have value to my readers. The webmaster agreed to that condition, yet of my first three articles, two were considered “too controversial” and she refused to publish them.

“We supposed to be encouraging people to come here and spend money” this Pollyana told me. My response was something along the lines of “You also have a responsibility to paint an authentic picture…and to honor your arrangement with your writers.” She scoffed, I walked, and within two hours, VegasUnfilteredBlog was born.

When I relocated from Oregon to Las Vegas, I promised to continue this column from the perspective of a visitor. Your discretionary income is too hard to come by, and you deserve to spend it wisely. I have no problem saying that The Vegas Room is an awesome supper club, The Garage is the best value for your cocktail budget, and Magic Mike Live is the worst pile of feces since….R.U.N. 

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“Hey, over here! We’re the worst show on the Strip” – MAGIC MIKE LIVE

The late media personality Robin Leach was guilty of publishing lots of flattery and fluff in his final years. Public relations firms knew to give Robin an “exclusive” when they needed a boost for their client. I’m not Robin, although I certainly appreciated his flair when it came to arm candy. The guy never went anywhere without a babe on each arm. A cool and iconic man, but not an objective critic. May he rest in peace.

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Robin referred to me as “The gay guy from Oregon”. Funny man…

No amount of money is going to make me switch to autopilot. If you want your reviews and opinions to be thoroughly researched, deeply detailed and backed up by facts, Vegas Unfiltered Blog is the place to be. Thanks for being a loyal reader. Best wishes in 2021.

Remembering Jason “Crazy Jay” Bird of ‘ROCKING COMEDY SHOW’


Vegas raises a Farewell Toast to Radio’s King of mayhem and music…

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2/2/21 – It’s with a heavy heart that I share the news that our friend Jay Bird passed away yesterday. While the cause of his death is unknown to me at this point, that’s not really important. What matters is that this city, the entertainment community, and many individuals lost a friend this week.

Jay was his own kind of man…funny, sarcastic, generous, and educated. He loved horror films, giving his time to charitable events, and presenting opportunities for performers both established and fledgling. I had the honor of cutting my teeth in radio broadcasting when Jay invited me to be his guest…and later to co-host Rocking Comedy Show a few times. 

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In an alternate reality, I’d be prepping right now to head over to the Radio Vegas Rocks studio, as I was slated to join Jay this evening for his latest broadcast. Sadly, that will never happen. Instead, I’ll be joining his colleagues and friends for a memorial in the days or weeks ahead. Here is an official statement from Radio Vegas Rocks social media:

With a heavy heart I reluctantly confirm that Jay has passed. There will be multiple events in his honor because there are multiple scenes and communities that he supported, plus the unfortunate restrictions on gathering and people quarantining. RVR will continue to be a thing, the team will update you here.

In the past year and a half, even during COVID-19, Jay was working hard to hold things together. Not just for himself and the station, but for performers who had new material to share or just wanting to provide listeners with a laugh. Entertainers as varied as burlesque performer Lucie May, actress Cheryl Prater, singers Brett Pruneau and Andrew Diessner, Bronx Wanderers front man Vin A., Sex Tips star Louis D’Aprile, Atomic Saloon Show‘s Colin Cahill, and many more joined Jay from his home broadcasting studio.

If you’d like to contribute to burial and final expenses, a GoFundMe account has been set up here

The following is an article that I published this past summer. I think Jay enjoyed reading it. I know that he’d appreciate the outpouring of love, loss, sadness and memories we’ll share over this unique man.


Video didn’t kill the radio stars, no matter what you’ve heard. They just evolved, changed the rules and came at you from a different direction. Unencumbered by those pesky FCC regulations, internet broadcasting has freed deejays and programmers to do things the way they’ve always wanted to. That’s why everyone loves RadioVegas.rocks and its featured program The Rocking Comedy Show.

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Taking over the world one laugh at at time, The Rocking Comedy Show is three hours of nonstop “cray cray”, if you can still use that expression without sounding lame. Just how nutty do things get? Imagine yours truly is co-hosting an episode where an indie musician (Scott Willians) and a healthcare worker are barfing up their contributions to the “Death Nuts Challenge” right outside the studio door.

It may sound like madness, but it’s just another day at the office for Jason Bird, aka “Crazy Jay”. The dedicated host and creator of The Rocking Comedy Show seemingly lives and breathes the party-hearty chatfest, which has deposited more than 1,100 episodes into the vault. That’s no small feat for a show that’s been running in one form or another since 2000…which is like a century in “radio years”.

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Jay began broadcasting RadioVegas.rocks from a brand-new custom-built Kicker Studio earlier this year. He shares the space with two pups, a big desert tortoise and an ancient cat named “Hank Williams”. His dad is usually on hand to great visitors and keep Jay on his toes.

Guests play trivia games and get to compete for cool gifts….or the opportunity to strip the top off their competitor (relax….it was comedian Myles Weber, a dude with abs and a toned man-rack worth flaunting). Manly-man sponsors like Spunk Lube, Nut Rub, Dr. Squatch and local food favs Pinches Tacos and Jessie Rae’s BBQ supply the prizes…and in-studio muchies (yes!).

Since arriving in Las Vegas twenty years ago, Jay has had plenty of up-and-coming talent behind the microphone, and an impressive list of household names, too. He’s worked with Tommy Chong, Bill Cosby, Sinbad, Lily Tomlin, Weird Al Yankovic, and Bill Engval, among others. And there was that time when iconic actor Wesley Eure kicked off an appearance at The Golden Tiki for a Land of the Lost reunion.

Vegas celebs like Mike Hammer, Murray SawChuck, Elvis impersonator Steve Connolly, George Wallace, Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show), Makenzie Fly and Louis D’Aprile (Sex TIps) have been know to drop by for their own brand of on-air mayhem.

Jay has demonstrated his love for the city with charitable events and epic halloween parties, where he gets to show off his passion for horror films. Then there was that time in 2014 when he broke a world record for the longest marathon broadcast (80 hours and one minute).

Lots of creative people have helped to evolve the show through the years. Some have gone on to create their own programs, and Jay’s invited newbies like myself to pop their broadcast cherries and share happenings, views…and maybe a sip of Tito’s.

Then of course there’s the music, like classic hits, underground finds and new songs….like the debut of Know Where (To Begin), the lastest from Bronx Wanderers bad boy Vin A:

This week I asked Jay to step onto the other side of the spotlight for a change…and answer a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What sets The Rocking Comedy Show apart from similar programs?

The content nowadays everyone has an online radio show or a podcast, but its the content that has to grab you and keep bringing you back. We are currently at 1,121 episodes and you don’t get there by doing the same stuff over and over. You have to be dedicated to do it, and that’s not just the show. It’s the prep, the social media, the website updates and more. If you don’t have the time to tell anyone about it or how to find it, why are you doing it?

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Is anything ever too outrageous?

Yes, we have hit that a few times. At first it may be funny, but you listen back, or listeners hit you up. I don’t regret any show I have done, and I don’t apologize for a bad one, I just move on and don’t discuss it.

Tell me about a guest stint that derailed, and one that you wished didn’t have to end.

Over 1k shows and I don’t think any of our stints have derailed. Most of the guests who come on are aware of the show and what it’s all about. We have done some killer interviews that maybe started slow, or off to a weird start, but then it took off. Sometimes it’s the guest, or their PR person telling us what we can’t ask them.

This happened with Vince Neil and also Lita Ford but then they brought up what we were told not to, and boom! magic. Also had comedian Sinbad on the show…he was scheduled for 30 we had him for over 2 hours and we never stopped laughing.

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Your favorite part of being a host?

Some would say the control. To me it’s the uncertainty of what can happen. If you’re on your toes and have a good ear, you can grab a sound effect or a song that goes with what your talking about, driving the train keeping it rolling, and keeping the timing of the show perfect. I don’t like to stay on one topic for too long. Get a big laugh, move on, don’t beat that joke to death, maybe revisit it later if you can.

What’s more fun…..discovering fresh talent or slamming tired celebs?

I love finding new talent and maybe pair them up with someone who does the show a lot and get them to do a song. Vegas has so much un-noticed local talent it’s amazing what I have found.

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Mariah, Britney and Criss Angel are sinking in quicksand and you only have one lifeline. What’s your move?

I am assuming if I see them sinking I have also put myself in jeopardy with this quicksand. So, I would use the lifeline on myself because I have more shows to do.

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RadioVegas.Rocks is the home station for The Rocking Comedy Show. It airs Monday Nights 6:00pm -9:00pm, Tuesdays 3:00pm -6:00pm. To learn more or contact the station for advertising rates or guest opportunities, see the information below and tell Jay that Sam from VegasUnfilteredBlog sent you.
http://www.radiovegas.rocks
http://www.rockingcomedyshow.com
Twitter @rockingcomedy
@radiovegasrocks
@crazyjay44
702-600-4204
702-793-4441

The Remarkable Life of Roman Mokrenko


Ukrainian aerialist’s gravity-defying career path will astound you…

Sometimes the pressure of our daily routine makes us say “I just want to run away and join the circus”. But have you ever known someone who actually has? Well, meet a man who ditched his white-collar career for a chance at Sin City’s newest big tent spectacular.

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Roman Mokrenko is a 29-year-old Ukrainian from the port city of Odessa. Known as the “Pearl of the Black Sea”, Odessa boasts amazing architecture and a renowned Opera and Ballet Theater. The natural beauty of the Ukraine is as much a part of Roman as his love for physical arts. A longtime athlete, he studied acrobatics before pursuing a career in law. While attending the National University Odessa Law Academy, he simultaneously became a Junior Lieutenant in Military School.  

Being both a lawyer and a military officer didn’t extinguish Roman’s desire to accomplish something artistic:

One moment I just realized that this office life is not for me. I cannot live without a “scene”. Thank God I have a background in acrobatics and artistic gymnastics…I almost never stop training. There is too much energy in my head and body that I have to “splash” somewhere.

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If you’re going to make a splash, what better pool than the Las Vegas entertainment scene? There are countless productions here that incorporate aerialists, gymnasts, acrobats, and contortionists. So when Roman discovered a casting call for the new circus-style show CELESTIA at The STRAT, he decided to take the plunge.

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I applied for the casting without much hope. Here you can see the best artists of the world. I thought it was impossible, but now I’m here! This is my favorite part of life in Las Vegas. I have seen almost every show.

Roman arrived in Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day 2018. You might say that this was the beginning of a love affair with Sin City’s desert. Although he misses life by the sea, the excitement of performing in Vegas has allowed Roman to reach new heights. He just had to learn how to deal with the scorching climate.

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Air conditioning saves us from extreme heat. But sometimes when I have practice in the afternoon it just helps to warm up and train without a shirt. On stage, the artist must look divine. Not for nothing that I train every day and stay on these diets. If you have something to show off, then why not?

He may joke about flaunting his chiseled abs, but Roman’s physique has landed him several modeling gigs…some of them a bit unusual.

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I was a sketch model several times in New York City when the show was being revised. People sit in circles, have drinks and make sketches while you’re almost naked. I’ve had several shoots with photographers…one was for a foot fetish site, haha!

That Ukrainian sense of humor came through in Roman’s character work for CELESTIA, but it’s his physical abilities that stand out. He hopes that audiences will be inspired by his feats and channel that into their own fitness journey.

We’re on our phones all the time, but we can do it with some “profit”. Keeping in shape is much easier than going in and out of form. For ordinary people (not performers), 30 minutes a day will be enough. Just walk on a treadmill and watch a movie or play a game.  

When not entertaining crowds, Roman still finds himself in the company of fellow artists. After a massage and hearty breakfast at Omelet House, he heads to a very unique school:

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I like Nevada Rhythmic Academy. It’s a place where I can train, invent new acts, meet artists from other shows and try something new together. There is a real aura of the gym in which I grew up.

Mokrenko is considering buying a home here in Las Vegas, but there are a few dreams overseas yet to realize:

One day I’d like to be live on a stage with Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Olafur Arnalds or Hans Zimmer. They are my favorites. And I want to perform with Nederlands Dans Theater. It will be an amazing mix between ballet and aerial performance…like dancing in the air!

As is quite often the case in the Vegas entertainment environment, Roman’s time at CELESTIA abruptly came to an end. Fortunately, his talents and great looks led him to other exploits, like joining the myriad of hot guys in Sahara‘s Blanc de Blanc and Atomic Saloon Show at Palazzo.

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Since the pandemic’s city-wide shutdown of live performances, he’s spent much of the spring and summer focusing on photography. Not one to shy away from showing off his hot body, the former soldier is often in front of the lens as well. And he’s wisely taken advantage of the quiet streets and sidewalks to obtain some incredible shots.

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Roman agrees that now is the best time to get in shape and document your results with a terrific collection of portraits and landscape shots. To see more of his gorgeous work, visit the official Instagram gallery. If you’d like to know more or to schedule a shoot, contact him directly through Facebook messenger via this link.

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Photos and video: Roman Mokrenko, Sam Novak

SUMMER SPOTLIGHT 2020 with Gayle Nicholson


So excited to have been today’s guest on SUMMER SPOTLIGHT 2020 with Gayle Nicholson, discussing the pandemic’s effects on Sin City…and the awesome way that Westgate Las Vegas welcomed everyone back.

 

Video link courtesy of Gayle Nicholson

Bring the Excitement of Vegas to Your Home with ‘Virtual Experiences’


‘Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition’ and ‘Chippendales’ are just two of many Sin City favorites to enjoy under your own roof…

So, you’ve binge-watched every Netflix series and reruns of “FRIENDS” are making you want to hit the “unfriend” button. What’s a quarantined Vegas junkie to do? Well, if you saw yesterday’s article on the Mondays Dark Live Stream Telethon, you know that Sin City is doing its best to make you happy…while keeping its own artistic muscles in shape for an eventual ramp-up.

As efforts to assist furloughed entertainers are underway, you’re undoubtedly going through your own form of Sin City withdrawal. Now you can gather your fellow Vegas fans (following social-distancing guidelines, of course) and organize a virtual party for honest-to-goodness Las Vegas experiences. They’re brought to you by the same people who make your in-person visits so memorable.

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME AT TITANIC: THE ARTIFACT EXHIBIT

Followers of my contributions to Las Vegas Magazine and BestOfVegas.com know that I’ve penned several articles on TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition. This self-guided attraction is the biggest collection of recovered articles in this world. Inside are splendid recreations of the decks, staterooms, cabins and more. Immersive special effects allow you to experience the freezing air, feel the throb of the massive engines, and listen to voices from the past.

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TITANIC: The Virtual Experience, is a newly-launched 3-dimensional tour of Luxor‘s 25,000 square foot attraction. It’s accessible on computers, tablets, and mobile devices. The virtual experience is available at two price levels – the Light Version for $5 and the Full Version for $15. Both price levels are accessible for one week and can be renewed at the point of purchase. Options include these benefits:

Light Version – $5

  • Virtual walkthrough of the 13 galleries inside the 25,000 square feet exhibition
  • Detailed information and photos of each artifact on display
  • View what life was like aboard the “Ship of Dreams” through full-scale room re-creations of the Grand Staircase, Promenade Deck, Veranda Café, and more
  • View the largest piece ever recovered, a 15-ton portion of the Ship’s hull
  • Learn about conservation and recovery efforts of the artifacts recovered from the ocean floor

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Full Version – $15

  • All offerings of the basic tour experience
  • Audio tour available in multiple languages
  • Exclusive video content
    • Dive Expedition 2010 – Video of artifacts as they are being recovered from the wreck site at the ocean floor
    • Dive Expedition 2010 – Video of curators on board the recovery ship discussing the artifacts immediately after they were pulled from the ocean floor
    • Dive Expedition 2010 – Video from Titanic’s wreck site, including underwater footage of the Ship’s bow, stern, vast debris field, and more
  • Animated timeline of Titanic from the point of striking the iceberg to the sinking
  • Additional facts and information about Titanic, the wreck site, artifacts, personal stories of her passengers and crew

For more information, visit Titanic.live.

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If you’re looking for something a little less “educational” and a lot more “titillating”, then perhaps you might want to investigate Chippendales@Home, a new interactive virtual experience. Chippendales@Home allows you and your squad to hang out and party with the world-famous hunks live in your own homes.

Chat, flirt, play games, get or give a virtual lap dance – you’ll get to know the Chippendales performers in your own intimate group setting as they host your party making sure your night is special and memorable. Each 30-minute party will feature at least two Chippendales cast members and utilizes the streaming platforms ZOOM, House Party, FaceTime, and Google Hangout.

In addition to Chippendales@Home, the brand has been cranking out online experiences as people are urged to stay inside. Recent digital offerings include at-home workouts with cast members, Instagram Live chats with alumnus of the brand, and light-hearted digital content such as one of its current cast members performing a lap dance for a 12-pack of toilet paper.

As a limited-time thank-you to those who are keeping us safe and healthy, Chippendales is offering Chippendales@Home free to health care workers and first responders. Ticket-holders whose shows were postponed also receive the experience free of charge. For more info or to arrange your own virtual party, visit this link or call 866-CHIPP999.

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If you’re a fan of the long-running SUPERNATURAL series on CW Network, you were probably excited for the annual convention at RIO Las Vegas in March. Sadly, the virus was just beginning to spread and some of you might have opted to avoid the crowds and wait for next year’s star-studded gala.

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Now in an innovative move, Creation Entertainment has scheduled a virtual SUPERNATURAL convention with the participation of three fan favorites. Beginning Saturday, April 18th and running through Saturday, April 25th, director Richard Speight, Jr. and stars Lisa Berry (Billie) and Ruth Connell (Rowena) will host a series of Q & A sessions, chats, tarot card readings, invocations and more.

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What makes this event unique is that a portion of proceeds will go to charities and non-profits like Meals On Wheels, St. Michaels Hospital (Toronto) and Random Acts. For some sessions, participants are asked to pay what they can. Auctions will be held to join in on events designed for a limited number of fans.

To register for the SUPERNATURAL Virtual-Con, click HERE. Participants should create user accounts on the platforms ZOOM and StageIt in advance. Creation Entertainment also brings the official Star Trek Convention to Rio Las Vegas each year.

Whitney Phoenix Strikes a Chord at Bellagio Las Vegas

In addition to these large-scale offerings, there is a wide variety of concerts, intimate performances and live chats being broadcast, as well as the at-home workouts and dance classes I told you about right here.

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Bellagio‘s beloved lounge pianist Whitney Phoenix and singer/actress/comedienne wife Marianne LeMoine Phoenix (50 Pounds From Stardom) shared this marvelous evening recently.

Whitney also took to the keyboard for a solo set while Marianne fielded requests from viewers:

The smooth and classy Craig Canter has been giving regular performances from his own virtual lounge that he calls  “The Piano Room”:

Westgate‘s favorite crooner Mark O’Toole brought us some big band highlights. He sent video clips and updates from the cruise ship he was “stranded” on for an extended time, hoping for a port to disembark at and return to the States. Combine that with canceled flights and missing luggage, and it’s safe to say that poor Mark endured the kind of adventure that movies are made about.

Despite weeks of madness and uncertainty, Mark took a break from relaxing to assist in beloved artist Neal Portnoy‘s efforts to raise funds for out-of-work performers. Portnoy created a collection of custom mugs, each featuring a local entertainer immortalized in the artist’s unique style. Get yours by clicking here, and check out this extremely funny video:

The marvelous David Goldrake, whose IMAGINARIUM magic production at Tropicana garnered my “Best New Show of 2018”, has been entertaining internet audiences with a series of tricks and lessons:

If you know of any other Vegas virtual experiences, online entertainment or events that you’d like to be added to this article, please leave a comment or email me: Sam@VegasUnfiltered.blog

‘Duo Transcend’ Poised to Electrify CELESTIA at The STRAT


TV talent show’s breakout stars add thrills and emotional heft to STRAT’s circus extravaganza…

transcend –

1: to be greater, better, or stronger than

2: to go beyond the limit of

3. to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of 

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The Las Vegas Strip is a beacon for fledgling performers hoping to succeed in the entertainment industry. One young couple known as Duo Transcend has longed for the applause of a captivated Vegas audience. Now that dream is about to come true under the Big Top of CELESTIA, Sin City’s newest, boldest and brightest circus-themed extravaganza.

‘Celestia’ Comes to Earth By Way of the Vegas Strip

When you perform for a nationwide television audience under the name “Duo Transcend”, you’ve already set the bar pretty high. Fortunately for viewers of America’s Got Talent, the husband and wife team of Mary Wolfe and Tyce Nielsen delivered sexy thrills and heart-stopping chills that brought down the house.

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Much like CELESTIA, The STRAT‘s award-winning production that they recently joined, the duo’s story is fraught with determination, wonder, and a passion to entertain. It’s also one of overcoming near-impossible odds in the face of a debilitating medical condition – one that threatened to permanently end their career.

The couple began their collaboration at a stunt show in Salt Lake City. Performing together for the first time, they fell in love and decided to create their own solo project. The result was a jaw-dropping trapeze and skating act that catapulted Duo Transcend to fame on America’s Got Talent…and most recently, its global face-off known as AGT: The Champions.

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Due to quarantine restrictions, I was unable to meet with Duo Transcend in person for this article. Through email, Mary had this to say about their origins:

We began our performance career as cliff divers in a stunt show. That’s where we met and decided to put a duo act together so that we could stay together and not have to take separate contracts.

In the first year, we lived on saved money so that we could focus on training. In 2013 we were hired for our first trapeze contract and since then, performing has been our only job. We slowly worked our way into companies and were able to support ourselves one hundred percent by performing.

Despite all of the planning that went into their career path, one variable was completely out of their hands. Tyce suffers from keratoconus, a progressive eye disease that affects the corneas. With their skills dependent upon precision and timing, Duo Transcend faced the very real possibility of having to withdraw from show business.

A medical procedure called cross-linking can often help victims of the disease, but for Tyce, that option appeared to be out of the question.

When I first met Tyce, the doctors in Utah said that his corneas were too thin to get cross-linking done. We were told the only option would be to get a cornea transplant, maybe in his 40’s or 50’s depending on how it progressed. Tyce’s older brother and younger sister also have keratoconus. We don’t know why. – Mary

The decision was made to continue performing, and eventually, the duo became three with the birth of son Jaxx. Being new parents was challenging enough, but a life on the road made it especially tough. So the couple aligned with the venerable Cirque du Soleil, who provided flexibility for them and their young progeny.

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It was hard to leave Jaxx home so much. Luckily we have a supportive family who we could leave Jaxx with. Sometimes we could take him with us, like when we would do gigs with Cirque (du Soleil). For a lot of gigs, it was just too expensive to fly him with us. We have performed with Cirque Du Soleil since 2017 in their special event traveling shows. They were very accommodating to have Jaxx with us. – Mary

Duo Transcend then decided to take their next big leap of faith by auditioning for America’s Got Talent. The star-making competition has been at the forefront of new Vegas acts for over a decade. Headliners like Terry Fator, Shin Lim, and Mat Franco all have AGT to thank for their successful residencies on the Strip. And while the series has launched numerous careers into the stratosphere, it’s also an intimidating option that opens you to criticism…and the potential for crushing disappointment.

The decision to try out for America’s Got Talent wasn’t an easy one:

Auditioning on TV is a huge gamble. Circus people like us have already been training and working professionally for years, then go on TV with little stage practice time and have a judge hate you. Art is subjective. Some people will like you, some won’t, and having that happen on TV can be devastating for an artist. – Mary

Those fears were never realized, though, as Duo Transcend‘s audition brought three of the AGT judges to their feet. Throughout the competition, they continued to up their game, captivating voters and the panel week after week. Despite numerous standing ovations, the couple didn’t win but was invited to return this year for AGT: The Champions. This time they placed second overall, then unveiled their plans to join CELESTIA in Las Vegas just a few weeks later.

  Don’t have weights? Use your partner! 😂 Hope you all are staying safe. – Duo Transcend

Once again, fate has intervened. After only a handful of performances, CELESTIA and all other productions in Las Vegas have been shut down amid COVID-19 coronavirus quarantine precautions. Mary tells me that they are using their free time to stay in shape and help others in doing the same.

Right now during the shutdown we have been focusing on creating at-home workouts for our social media followers.

Here Mary and Tyce get physical with “Contortion Sisters“, who are currently laid off from Cirque du Soleil. The Nielsens have been sharing their home with the acrobatic siblings during the pandemic. They’ve also been posting regular updates on their social media pages and YouTube, offering hope and positive thoughts for fans and other out-of-work performers.

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Since their national television exposure, something incredible has happened regarding Tyce’s eye condition. He credits AGT with getting him the help that he desperately needed:

When we first auditioned, it wasn’t of a question of “if” I would go blind…but “when”. Because of AGT, we had one of the most successful eye surgeons in the country reach out to us personally. And he was able to do a procedure where he stopped the progression of the disease. So, I will no longer go completely blind. Now there’s a future that looks completely different, and I would have never known if it wasn’t for AGT. – Tyce via AGT

It’s clear that when Las Vegas reopens for business, it will be a very different place. Expensive shows will undoubtedly need to scale back (some are likely to disappear altogether). Very serious financial troubles for Cirque du Soleil were hinting at possible closures for at least a few of their Vegas shows even before the virus outbreak.

Fortunately for fans of CELESTIA, the production presents a large-scale spectacle at an extremely friendly price (tickets start at only $29 plus taxes/fees). Plus it’s financially supported by host hotel The STRAT, which is rare in the current “four-wall” climate (see my article HERE to learn more on that subject). In the current economic crisis, that offers job security that bodes well for the cast and crew.

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This year we were super happy to get a job offer with CELESTIA. We had been wanting to settle down in one place. We love touring but now that Jaxx is getting older we want him to be able to go to preschool and make friends. We’re thankful for the journey that AGT has brought us and thankful for all of you.  – Mary Wolf

Photos: Duo Transcend, CELESTIA, Sam Novak, America’s Got Talent screencaps via YouTube