Bring Your Summer Sexiness to THE PLAYGROUND


New adults-only day club advances the Westgate evolution and invites you to be a kid again…

Earlier this year I introduced you to Eddie Perales, the famed master mixologist who bubbles with as much excitement as his creations. Known to the world as a Guinness record-holder and creator of outlandish displays of liquid madness, Perales promised me that he would have more in store for the summer season at Westgate. After my most recent visit, I can say that he was true to his word…and then some.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

While other Vegas resort pools are just getting started, Westgate has been in the game since March. The sleek, sunny deck was opened two months ago with a heated pool, bright luxurious loungers, dazzling cabanas, attractive model-servers and a fresh, inviting color scheme.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Over on the south end of the sprawling deck, The Playground day club has been launched. This area’s designed for revelers twenty-one and over. Says Eddie “Our pool deck is a hidden gem. Families can share in the fun and excitement every day, but for the grown-ups, it’s The Playground“.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

The Playground invites partiers to toss their inhibitions out the window and act like a kid again. The 21-and-over space has daily DJ’s starting at 1pm. There are games like cornhole, chess and jenga and plenty of space to stretch out in VIP Cabanas. Drink specials, discounts for WOW Reward Card members and themed days should have fun-lovers coming back all summer.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

“Our ultimate goal here was to create something for everybody. The pool was like a blank canvas to me. It’s an great space and part of an iconic resort. I mean…just look at that view! We’re doing things in a different way here at Westgate” he added “and how we’re doing it is the key”.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Eddie’s unique background in the world of beverage service gives him a distinctive edge that few in the city can boast about. “I’ve worked on the supplier side as well as being a mixologist, so I understand all aspects of this business. I’ve been able to identify liquor partners that other resorts blindly miss. We highlight them to make unique drinks that you won’t be able to find elsewhere”.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

For instance, Eddie is big on Santoyo Grand Leyenda Organic Tequila. The premium tequila is derived from agave grown on Mexican lands that must be virgin for at least four years. Tequila Tuesdays feature the product and WOW Reward Card members get happy hour prices all day. “You may remember that I was once a Tequila Ambassador. I know my tequilas, and this one is terrific”.

Another hot-ticket new partnership is with the legendary Dole Whip. That frozen pineapple soft-serve from Oahu’s Dole Plantation was once an exclusive to guests of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Now, along with The Golden Tiki and Cowabunga Bay Water Park, Westgate is one of the few places in the continental U.S. to offer the refreshing treat.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

As you’ve probably guessed, Perales created a special cocktail using Dole Whip and Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum. Topped with a slice of fresh pineapple and an orchid, the Dole Whip Cocktail ($13) comes with both a spoon and a sipping straw.

The Playground‘s Signature Cocktail Menu has thirteen varieties, each running thirteen dollars. Eddie points out that any of them can be ordered as a pitcher for $27, which equals four servings for roughly the price of two. “Our prices are way cheaper than what you’ll find on the Strip”.

Perales has a signature style of combining fresh fruits, bright colors and unusual combinations for the brightest, funnest cocktails imaginable. One look above will show you what I mean…a bright array of tempting and luscious indulgences that will have you feeling happier with each sun-drenched sip.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Perales and I met early one morning at The Playground before the crowd started kicking up. After sampling all thirteen concoctions with names like Strawberry Blonde (Ketel One, lemonade, Mike’s Hard Strawberry Lemonade), Bigger in Texas (Tito’s Handmade Vodka, lime, Baritt’s Ginger Beer), Passion Fruit Smash and Bananarama, I had to choose one to relax and chat over.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

               Eddie whipped me up a special size of Fireball Mojito…in a bucket!

Eddie watched closely as I stood up…and reached for the Fireball Mojito (Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, lime, mint and club soda). “Really?” he exclaimed. “It’s my favorite, too. People said that you can’t do something like that. So of course I had to try it”. And yes, it was a fabulous contrast of flavors that had me back for an industrial-sized serving the next day.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Along with The Playground‘s new specialties, there are also familiar frozen drinks, beer, wine, and what Eddie calls “The least expensive bottle service in Las Vegas. It starts off at $65 for Hug L’originale Sparkling Wine (a European import that’s being called the hottest brand for summer 2018). Nobody else offers bottle service at that kind of price”.

Next to The Playground, Cabana Pool Bar and Grill offers a wide variety of snacks and meals. Choose from pizzas, beef and turkey burgers, sandwiches, wraps and healthier fare like California Rolls and Chef Bruno Morabito‘s famous Mojito Fruit Bowl from Sid’s Cafe. Of course, all of these items and more can be brought directly to your chair or cabana by the poolside servers. Check out the online menu here.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Also ready for roll-out are cabana-side cocktail carts. “I was inspired by the table-side guacamole carts at Mexican restaurants. Why not do that for cocktails? We can fill them with colorful fresh fruits and make drinks right at your own space”.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

Sounds like a great idea to me…why bother to leave your lounger when you can be pampered like a celebrity? And the sight will surely attract new friends to your space. Eddie’s presentation certainly was a hit with these Vegas newbies who came over to hang out with me.

And speaking of pampering, adjacent Serenity Spa has joined The Playground to formulate a collection of Summer Spa Cocktail Body Treatments. Based on your favorite Playground Signature Cocktail, these pedicures and body scrubs include a serving of the actual cocktail, too.

Fox-5 KVVU-TV recently ran this segment on the Playground/Serenity Spa mash-up:

http://www.fox5vegas.com/clip/14352395/kicking-it-poolside-at-westgate-spa-pool

And here’s a terrific video of Eddie and the team in full “party mode” –

With the summer pool season just gearing up, now’s the perfect time to discover The Playground. You can party like a rock star without breaking the bank. And you might make a few sexy new friends before pool season is over. I know I will…wink wink.

Playground Westgate Pool Eddie Perales

The Playground launches daily at 1 pm during the summer season at Westgate Las Vegas Casino Resort, 3000 Paradise Road.

Photos: Sammasseur

 

 

 

 

 

Spa Days Are For Guys, Too


Yours truly indulges in a manly head-to-toe experience at Westgate’s Serenity Spa…

There’s an outmoded perception that spa treatments are something that only women are likely to enjoy. But those in the know realize that occasionally pampering our overworked bodies allows them to recuperate, regenerate and regroup for what lies ahead.

Men are most likely to use the fitness center and steam room/massage at a resort’s spa…but why stop there? Your skin, hands and feet take as much abuse as your muscles. They’ll also benefit from a bit of professional attention. And who knows…perhaps you’ll get other kinds of welcome attention in return.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

As a guest of Westgate Resort, I was invited for a courtesy MVP for the Day package at Serenity Spa. The three-hour session included an aromatherapy elixir massage, Versailles rejuvenating facial and a spa pedicure. The retail cost for this package varies by weekday/weekend rates, but if you’re a regular visitor to my official Facebook Page you’ve seen the Groupon specials I post there (why not head over and click “Like”?).

If you’re new to the atmosphere and procedures of a spa, then read on. Being a former licensed massage therapist myself (hence the pen name “Sammasseur”), I know my way around these places and can help you to feel comfortable and prepared.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

You’ll want to make your appointment(s) in advance, much like visiting a medical office. The staff at any legitimate spa is a collection of highly-trained and licensed professionals. They need to keep to their schedules just like your doctor does. You can always call to check availability during moments of spontaneity, but it’s best to plan ahead. If you happen to arrive late, it’s standard procedure for your service to finish at the originally-scheduled time.

To acquaint yourself with a spa’s services, check their online menu to see what’s available. Then decide what fits your needs and budget. Services can be chosen a la carte or in a variety of specially-priced packages. It’s worth noting that most spas in Vegas have adjoining fitness centers, pools and steam room/sauna/hot tub areas. Your fees normally entitle you to use of these amenities, allowing you to make a full day of it if you so desire.

As spas exist to promote relaxation and balance, it’s best to ease into your visit. Ideally, you’ll want to arrive a half hour or more before your first scheduled service. Once you’ve checked in, an attendant will take you to your gender-appropriate area for a tour. They’ll provide you with a locker, sandals, robe and some bottled water.

Cell phones are strictly prohibited, so you’ll want to shut off your ringtone and store the phone with your other valuables and clothing. On your initial visit you’ll be asked to fill out an intake form with questions about health and special needs. You can look over a description of proper spa etiquette by visiting here.

Serenity Spa Westgate

Before your appointment you may wish to shower, steam or slide into the hot tub to set that “Ahhhhhh” mindset into motion. Many spas are clothing-optional, but it’s best to bring a swim suit. You’ll want to make a trip to the restroom, too. Once prepared, head for the “relaxation room” until your attendant summons you for your services.

Relaxation rooms are generally equipped with plush chaise lounges, fruit-infused water, light snacks and fresh fruits. There may be magazines, a fireplace, candles and a TV with captions (no sound). Conversation should be quiet and kept to a minimum to foster the atmosphere of peacefulness.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

My three-part package began with the massage. Eric, my usual therapist, is the talented young man whom I mentioned in a past article. Whereas previous sessions had been performed with Himalayan salt stones and deep-tissue therapy, today’s was structured around aromatherapy.

I was presented with a choice of fragrances based on natural elements like fire and water. Each selection is designed to promote a certain type of therapy or wellness. I went for “metal” which offers detoxifying benefits….perfect for recovering from Vegas indulgences.

A first massage can be a little disconcerting for the uninitiated. You can ease that concern by watching internet videos of how pro massages are performed. Let the therapist know of any sore, sensitive or ticklish areas….or just places that you don’t like being touched (bottoms of feet are a common one).

You’ll be placed under a blanket on a warm table with only the treated areas being exposed as necessary. There’s no need to worry about modesty, but once again keep in mind that you’re in the company of a state-licensed professional. Trust the skills of your therapist and allow your body to relax freely. Take deep, regular breaths and provide feedback if something doesn’t feel comfortable (pressure, speed of massage strokes, etc.).

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At the midway point you’ll be asked to turn over. Some clients like to take a sip of water during this pause, which is another good time to confirm that all is going well. After you change from a prone position to supine (on your back), a soft cloth may be draped over your eyes to keep out the light. BTW, it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to fall asleep if you achieve a point of deep relaxation.

After the massage you’ll be escorted back to your respective spa area. You might wish to use the bathroom once again, and be sure to have more water….an essential ingredient in all bodywork applications. Then it’s back to the relaxation room to await your next service.

Serenity Spa Westgate

Step two for me was a facial. Once again, there are a variety to choose from based on your needs and skin type. There’s even a Gentleman’s Facial geared towards shave-weary faces. My slightly-aging (ahem) skin was eager to receive a rejuvenating treatment branded as Queen of Versailles. The line of products used for it are inspired by Jackie Siegel, wife of Westgate Resorts owner David Siegel.

Aside from short demonstrations at department-store counters and fitness expos, this writer had never received a full-service facial. They’re performed in a room that combines the tranquility of a massage studio with the clinical precision of a dentist’s office. My licensed esthetician, Kellee, invited me to get comfortable on a multi-position table before discussing my current skin concerns.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

After covering my eyes to block out light, she closely examined my pores and skin texture under intense light and a magnifier. Then she discussed options for blemishes and trouble spots that might require special attention. Next was a multi-step process that included steam, applications of various creams/cleaners, massage…and some high-tech equipment.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

Most of the facial was a relaxing and pleasant experience….some not. You see, trained estheticians perform “extractions” of blocked pores. This process can be little on the painful side…but so are most trips to the dentist. Fortunately it was followed with soothing gels and more massage to reduce redness and impart a healthy-looking glow. Improving your looks isn’t always wine and roses…but the end result was fantastic.

Speaking of wine, MVP Spa Package includes a glass of your choice. It was offered during my final hour, this time in the spa’s nail salon. Tori Lyn invited me to settle into a comfortable recliner with controllable heat and massage. Placing my feet in a glass bowl of swirling, heated water (and enhanced with LED lighting effects), I stretched out and allowed Tori Lyn to work her magic.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

Getting a professional pedicure was another first for this guy. As you might imagine, the procedure involved trimming and shaping of the nails, neatening of cuticles and more massage.

Serenity Spa Guy's Day

The part I most benefited from was buffing and removal of calluses and dead skin from the toes and heels. That might sound uncomfortable, but soaking in moving jets of water beforehand made the experience quite pleasant. Moisturizers and soothing oils were applied to my feet and nails as a final touch.

After three hours of continuous pampering, I rose from my recliner feeling like a new man. As stated previously, you’re free to stick around and enjoy other areas of the spa. You might even want to get a contemporary new cut and style from the hair salon (Westgate’s iBlowDry Salon is open daily from 9am to 8pm). For myself, this was the perfect time to head back to the suite for a nap.

If you’re next stop after the spa is something more formal, be assured that full showering and grooming facilities are at your disposal. They usually include razors, styling products, antiperspirants and dental hygiene accessories. Ask your attendant for anything that might be lacking. They’re sure to have it…even a plastic bag your your damp swimsuit.

It’s standard procedure in American spas for the proper gratuity to be added to your charges (20% is the current norm). This will be disbursed in appropriate amounts to those who provided your services. I tend to give a little extra cash to the locker attendants, but the choice to leave additional for anyone is yours.

After a “guy’s day” at the spa, you’ll be prepared for whatever the setting sun has in store. With a full package of treatments to make you look and feel your best, there’s no limit to what you’ll be able to achieve in Sin City.

Westgate Serenity Spa’s business hours are from 6am to 8pm daily. Special discounted package rates are available. For more information or to book a service, call 702.732.5648. Groupon is currently offering limited-time deals for up to 50% off. 

Photos: Sammasseur, Westgate Las Vegas, TripAdvisor, Yelp!, Quora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAW Escape Experience Takes to the Strip via FLO Advertising’s Mobile Digital Billboard Trucks


World-famous Egan Productions teams up with the latest high-tech advertising firm to deliver the deep cuts of Lionsgate’s slasher movie series…

Mobile advertising is a rich part of American culture. From Depression-era sandwich boards to Goodyear Blimps hovering over stadiums, advertising has always been most effective when it’s on the move.

Las Vegas has its own popular collection of mobile billboards and taxi toppers. They keep visitors up to date on the hottest shows, best restaurants and newest headliners on the Strip.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

New Vegas-based FLO Advertising is the latest such venture. FLO Advertising features high-tech digital mobile billboards mounted to a fleet of sleek black trucks. Gliding up and down the Strip with the brightest eye-catching electronic signs, FLO Advertising estimates that they reach up to four million potential customers each month.

FLO’s mobile digital billboards are 23% larger than the conventional mobile digital billboards you’ve been seeing on the Strip. Their electronic signage is staggering 10,000 NITS brightness which is 25% brighter than the competition. Their state of the art technology is instantly update-able and flexible, allowing for unlimited creativity and immediate response to marketing demands.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

It’s no surprise, then, that innovative Egan Productions , a full-service production company also based in Vegas, has partnered with FLO Advertising to promote their new Official SAW Escape Experience. Inspired by the long-running series of Lionsgate hit films, SAW Escape Experience brings your biggest horror-film fears to life.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

Now open at 2121 Industrial Road, just behind the Stratosphere and a bone’s throw from the world famous Golden Steer Steakhouse, SAW Escape delivers a full-building multi-room experience that is entirely immersive and absolutely terrifying.

As the unwitting player in Jigsaw’s twisted games, you’ll need to rely on wits and reflexes to survive a harrowing tour of Egan & Co. Meat Packing Plant. That’s where things will undoubtedly take a sinister turn for you and your friends.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

Since their inception, escape rooms have quickly overtaken murder-mystery dinner theater as the hottest interactive thrill. Egan Productions ramps up the octane by building theirs around a familiar and frightening villain.

“Jigsaw”, the vengeful mastermind behind SAW’s traps and pratfalls, has sliced and diced his way through eight successful films. The latest was released just last Halloween to over 100 million dollars at the box office.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

             Jason Egan (far right) is embraced by the world of horror films…

SAW Escape benefits by having the best creators at the helm. Egan Productions is the firm behind Fright Dome, the infamous Halloween attraction held each year at Circus Circus. Company creator Jason Egan knows his way around the world of horror. He’s served as Executive Producer on cult horror films like Bloodsucking Bastards and The Neighbor (with Vegas favorite Bill Engvall). He even partnered with legendary director George Romero for a Night of the Living Dead-themed house.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

                                      Egan on the set of The Neighbor

Jason’s Fright Dome attractions featuring the SAW franchise have been standouts in recent years. So when he decided to launch a permanent escape experience in Las Vegas, it seemed natural to integrate the twisted puzzles and traps of Jigsaw’s sinister universe. And Egan’s successful past collaborations with Lionsgate Studio enabled them to entrust their signature character to his team.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

               Jason Egan and actor Tobin Bell, the iconic “Jigsaw” himself…

With the Official SAW Escape Experience now welcoming victims visitors, the creative team has entrusted their mobile marketing plans to FLO Advertising. Research shows that 73% of Vegas visitors have seen mobile billboards. Of them, 53% say they remember specific ads that they’ve noticed.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

If something like a traditional billboard can garner that much attention, imagine the number of impressions that an enormous mobile LED-style ad can achieve with 17,000 tourists walking the Strip every hour.

A large number of visitors wait until they get to Vegas to arrange their entertainment and dining plans. Strip-level mobile advertising is a great way to make arriving tourists aware of what’s new and exciting in Sin City.

FLO Advertising SAW Escape Experience

With the partnership of FLO Advertising and The Official SAW Escape Experience taking to the streets, you can believe that horror fans will be lining up to take their crack at the challenges of Jigsaw. “Do You Want To Play A Game?”

SAW ESCAPE EXPERIENCE operates Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 11pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm until midnight. Click here to purchase tickets. Information about FLO Advertising Mobile Digital Billboards is available on their website. Click here to learn more or request a quote. 

Photos: FLO Advertising, SAW Escape Experience, Jason Egan via Facebook

 

Strip In The Dark Tonight For Earth Hour


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

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

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

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

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

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

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

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

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

According to the World Wildlife Fund‘s official site:

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

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

Earth Hour Vegas 2018

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

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

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

                      Human Nature back in the Imperial Palace days….

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

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

 

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

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

Earth Hour Las Vegas 2018

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

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

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

Earth Hour 3

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

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

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

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

Moving To Vegas: Expectation vs. Reality


A guest author shares his year of living in Sin City…the great and not-so-great…

Tommy Gun came to the United States to perform in the Aussie Heat male revue. Having lived the Sin City life before returning to his native Australia, he now reflects on his experiences and if they met his preconceived notions of Las Vegas.

Moving to Vegas Reality vs. Expectations

                       Tommy (far left) with the cast of Aussie Heat…

We all have expectations. Let’s be honest. We all carry preconceived ideas about new experiences and sometimes they turn out fantastic. Sometimes it just really sucks. G’day everyone, my name is Tommy. I’m from sunny Australia and I lived and worked in Las Vegas for one year. I did as much as I could and experienced everything with an open mind.

“A little bit of everything” I said to myself, because after all it is Vegas, and you have to go ALL IN. When my working VISA was finalized for the USA, I couldn’t have been more excited. My initial thoughts of Las Vegas were fast food everywhere, casinos, flashing lights, millionaires on every corner, HOT weather and nothing to do but drink and gamble.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! Luckily for me, I worked as a dancer for the Aussie Heat show (then known as Aussie Hunks) inside Planet Hollywood Casino. I was blessed with the opportunity to meet many incredible people and experience the ‘real’ Las Vegas.

bachelorete3

       The luxury apartment complex I shared with other members of the cast…

The Food – 

Expectations:

My first thought was I would find it hard to eat healthy. I was concerned there would be junk food everywhere I looked, and eating out would mainly consist of burgers, chips, burritos and everything that is delicious yet naughty. I didn’t think I would find much cultural variety of food to be honest.

Reality:

Wow! What can I say? I’ve never been so wrong. Vegas had a little bit of something for everybody. If you dig deep enough and talk to the right people, you can find food gems!
I was able to eat healthy and also indulge in the naughty foods too.

I’m a “cheap and cheerful” kind of guy. I like good deals, delicious food and generous servings. Nothing too fancy, just a ‘good feed’ is what I love. So for me it was the 24/7 diners that really take the cake. I’m going to mention two of my personal favorites.

Ellis Island – Village Pub Casino Cafe
Just a five-minute walk off the strip, you will find a small casino that frequents the locals. It’s charming yet excessively noisy. The cafe has some of the best food deals you can get. I ordered the ‘NY steak and eggs’ special at least 4 times a week. It only cost $5.99 at the time (11 pm-11 am) and is an ‘off the menu’ deal that only locals know about. Thank me later!

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                          Ellis Island NY Steak and Eggs special is only $5.99

Silver Sevens Casino – Sterling Spoon Cafe
It’s not the most popular casino, but the cafe sure gives you a great deal on the prime rib. Service was okay. Atmosphere? Not that amazing. Do I care? Absolutely not! Like I said, guys, I just enjoy good, satisfying grub, and you can’t go past Silver Sevens with a happy appetite. Try the prime rib meal for only $9.99. It’s great value with good portions. Not the best rib you will ever eat, nor will it be the worst. It’s just a great bargain.

I’ll quickly mention a few other absolute winners you can find:

Holstein’s Shakes and Buns – for the best thick shake in Vegas (and I’ve tried many). Creamy, cold and smooth silky texture just melts in your mouth.

Samba Latte – If you’re a coffee lover like myself and enjoy a good latte, then there is no competition to this world famous cafe located just outside the Monte Carlo Casino. Expensive but worth it. (Editor’s note – Samba Latte is currently closed due to ongoing renovations at Monte Carlo/Park MGM)

Moving to Vegas Reality vs. Expectations

The stylish interior of ‘Samba Latte’ adds to the hipster vibe of this successful cafe.

Quality of Life

Expectations:

The Millionaires’ Playground is what Vegas is portrayed to be in films. Flashing lights, glamorous girls, limousines, pool parties and lavish lifestyles. I expected to see a well-structured city with a stable economy and plenty of employment for everyone. Since it’s the world’s playground with millions of dollars flowing in and out every year, I thought the everyday locals would have a relatively comfortable income.

Reality:

I was shocked to see how the majority of Las Vegas people were living. Let me share with you a few stories of my experiences. Before our show moved to Planet Hollywood, we were based in the D Hotel Casino on Downtown’s Fremont St. On this particular day, we all had a few hours of free time before the show started so we decided to go work out at the gym.

Upon arrival we discovered the gym was closed for some unknown reason. A bunch of Aussie blokes being our optimistic selves, made the decision to venture by foot into North Las Vegas suburbs to find a playground in which we could do pull ups, calisthenics, etc.

Moving to Vegas Reality vs. Expectations

Walking through the suburbia streets, I have never felt so unsafe. We must have stuck out like sore thumbs because we got stares everywhere we went. The neighborhood looked like a scene from Boyz n the Hood. Broken windows boarded up, cracked roofs, rubbish in the front yard, old beaten-down cars, neglected lawns and doors barely hanging on by the hinges.

We found a park and exercised for about 30 minutes before a bunch of ‘gang-banging’-looking kids appeared from the shadows near the basketball court. It looked as though we might have intruded on their ‘turf’. It was at that point we all decided it was a good time to leave, and I’m glad we did because it certainly wasn’t a place we felt welcome.

The day we went for a photo shoot at a studio located near the Stratosphere Casino, I was stupid enough not to pack lunch with me. So during our lunch break I was forced to walk to the casino for a meal. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The houses around and just off the famous Las Vegas Strip were absolute dumps!

Not only was suburbia a shocking sight for us to see, but the poverty extends right next to the tourist hub. Every now and then I would walk past a house that was literally falling apart, yet the car in the driveway would be a brand new Ford F-350 (or something similar) with shiny new rims and tinted windows. If that isn’t a clear signal that a drug dealer lives there, then I don’t know what is.

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This apartment complex located right behind the LINQ Casino was on my walk to work every day. We all called it the “Kitchen Tiles Complex” because of the terrible exterior design.

Things To Do – 

Expectations:

To be honest, I didn’t think there would be much to do In Las Vegas besides drink, gamble and watch the odd Cirque show. My expectations didn’t really extend past there. I set the bar low, and I was genuinely worried I would be bored quickly because I’m not a drinker nor a gambler.

Reality:

I can happily say that I was never once bored during my whole year working in Las Vegas. That’s not an exaggeration…I literally always had things to do. Maybe It was in part due to me being in a show and surrounded by people in the entertainment
industry.

I personally think Vegas has a plethora of activities and entertaining things to do regardless. In my one year as a resident, Vegas surprised and invigorated me enough that I still miss the city to this day. We all know casinos have all kinds of entertainment, ranging from theater shows and shopping to themed bars. But there is a lot to be said about other parts of Vegas besides the obvious.

Brooklyn Bowl –

As a group of dancers, one of our favorite pastimes would be seeing live music at the Brooklyn Bowl. This modern venue which hosts live music, bowling, beer and food is the ultimate night out for those who want a little bit of everything. What I enjoyed most about this venue is the variety of music they had. On a Wednesday you might
see a soul band, Thursday a punk rock band, then on Friday a hip-hop artist. I found myself checking their website every week to see who was playing.

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Lake Mead –

Sometime it’s nice to get out of the city for a little bit, and with the beautiful crystal clear Lake Mead only a thirty-minute drive from Las Vegas you can’t go wrong. Wake-boarding was my activity of choice, and when the average summer temperature can reach
104 F, there nothing better than the feeling of fresh cool water on your skin.

Sometimes the pool parties just won’t cut it, especially when you’re not in the mood to deal with drunk obnoxious people and overpriced drinks. There are also a host of other water activities to choose from and the scenic backdrop of the desert mountains just tops off the real American-style landscape you expect to see as a foreigner.

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A picture I took at Drai’s Beach Club, and a still from a video of my fiancé wake boarding at Lake Mead. Which do you prefer? Personally, I will take Lake Mead any day

ATV Tours –

As you can see, I’m a lover of extreme activities and outdoors adventures. So it’s no surprise I’m also advocating these super-fun ATV tours in the Las Vegas desert. Seriously, what better way to see the incredible Nevada landscape AND experience an adrenaline-rushing activity?

The more I Googled “things to do in Vegas” the more I found! I couldn’t have been happier with the variety of entertainment options for all kinds of people. So much for “only drinking and gambling”. It turns out Las Vegas has so much more to offer. If all you do is sit at slot machines when you’re in town, then you’re doing it wrong! You need to start living life!

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                    My fiancé and I on an ATV tour in the Vegas Desert.

The Grand Canyon –

I feel compelled to finish off my outdoor activity rant by advocating the incredible and vast Grand Canyon in Arizona. Yes, it’s nowhere near Las Vegas, and it’s not even in Nevada, but it’s something you HAVE to see! Words can’t describe how amazing this mile-deep geological wonder is.

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If you decide to go, see it either when the sun rises or the sun sets. It’s simply a magical experience when the light captures all the crevasses and ridges of the canyon as the sun moves across the horizon.

The drive to the Skywalk is only roughly two hours. The entrance to the National Park where you can test yourself with a day trek is only a four-hour drive. If you don’t like to drive, there are many helicopter companies that offer tours over the Canyon at affordable prices.

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                      Taking in the beauty of Grand Canyon national park.

The People

Expectations:

Having not known much about Las Vegas, I expected to see mostly white people…overweight and very loud. Why? Because in my experiences with Americans in Australia, that’s usually what I saw. It was more of a subconscious expectation and not something that I premeditated.

Reality:

Much can be said about people anywhere in the world. There is good and bad everywhere you look. I would like to talk about one aspect of the Las Vegas people that genuinely surprised me. The variety was astonishing.

There were people from all walks of life. I discovered that Las Vegas not only had white people, but also a huge Latino population, African Americans, Asians, Europeans and even Islanders. I may seem naive to you, but I did not expect this magnitude of cultural variety. Las Vegas seems to to bring people from all over the world, and I think if you live here long enough you are blessed to see, meet and talk to many people with all different views on life.

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Being part of the Aussie Heat show’s cast, I had to opportunity to mingle with the audience after the show and get photos etc. The thing I enjoyed most about this was meeting the people from all over America. I was learning about people from North Carolina to Oregon. From all different backgrounds, religions and cultures, I learned that America is such a diverse place.

I believe many people in Australia fall into the trap of generalizing the people in California as ‘all of America’ because that’s usually all we see from Hollywood films. The truth is, the people from Texas to New York couldn’t be any more different!

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Expectations:

Having seen films such as The Hangover, Ocean’s Eleven and What Happens in Vegas, once again I had the Hollywood perspective of casinos. I expected lavish lights, cocktail waitresses, fancy interiors and the lure of the ‘High Roller’ lifestyle.

Reality:

I have mixed emotions here. There are some things I love, and some things I hate about the main attraction to Las Vegas tourists. Yes, the films were pretty, accurate in my opinion. The casinos really are an adult’s playground with a little bit of something for everyone, but there are definite drawbacks.

I simply couldn’t get enough of the Cirque du Soleil shows. Simply amazing…jaw dropping. I clapped until my hands hurt. If I had enough expendable income I would have seen every Cirque show, but alas I could only see two – Zumanity and . Tickets are expensive, but when you witness the amazing performances and life-threatening stunts, you understand why.

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              Backstage with the cast of KÂ. I’m at the back, trust me!

Most casinos boast successful shows, millions in revenue from gambling and shopping, amazing decor and nightclubs packed to the brim. You would think these places make a killing, and they do! However with all the millions of dollars in revenue, there are certain casinos that charge for parking! Say what?

At this point do you really need to suck every single cent out of your loyal (sometimes gambling-addicted) customers? I think it’s sad. And I would think if parking was free (like it is in most places), your customers would appreciate it and return more often (resulting in better profit over the long term).

With that aside, I LOVE the attention to detail in the aesthetics of both the interior and exterior of the buildings, with special mention to Venetian, Caesars Palace, Bellagio and New York NY. They represent the intended themes perfectly. Having personally traveled to Venice, Rome, Lake Bellagio in Italy and New York City, I can safely say that the decor did each location justice. I didn’t feel as though they were a cheap rip-off, but more of a homage to the intended locations.

 

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                             The fabulous New York NY casino exterior… 

However, once inside, my spirit became a little dampened by the people occupying it. I feel as though Las Vegas, while fun for adults, should not be a place to bring your children on holiday if you are gambling. Let’s be honest here, most parents coming here are spending lots of time on the casino floor.

Imagine taking your beloved dog to the beach, but instead of letting him swim and run around playfully in the waves, you keep him on a leash and sit on the walkway chair texting on your phone. Bringing your kids to Vegas is just as bad.

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     The ‘Pitbull’ concert I attended at Planet Hollywood – he did an amazing job!

I’m glad I chose to work for one year in Las Vegas, It’s been one of the best choices I have ever made. All in all, Vegas really surprised me and taught me lessons I would never have learned otherwise.

If you haven’t been to Las Vegas yet, you simply must go at least once. It’s a city full of surprises.

Tommy Gun has returned to his native Australia and now operates his own entertainment company – Gold Coast Male Strippers. You can visit his website for more information, pictures and videos. 

Photos: Tommy Gun

 

 

Cosmopolitan Gets High on “OPIUM”


Absinthe-style production brings Spiegelworld madness back to Rose.Rabbit.Lie…

“Slip through the crack in the space/time continuum for a close encounter with a spaceship of fools”.

The politics of show business are not unlike those of the world’s governments. Coalitions are forged, battle lines get drawn and sometimes old enemies become allies. That’s what happened when the 2014 spectacular Vegas Nocturne abruptly closed at the Cosmopolitan‘s Rose.Rabbit.Lie Social Club a mere seven months into its run.

It’s a genuine shame if you missed out on Vegas Nocturne. That genre-spanning production delivered an entire evening of thrills and laughter, spread out over three full-length interconnected shows.

Some of Nocturne‘s best acts, like David O’Mer‘s bathtub seduction and Sean and John‘s tap-dancing routine were integrated into Absinthe. Other breakout performers like Piff the Magic Dragon and beatbox singer Butterscotch moved onto their own fame as well.

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       Vegas Nocturne’s “Bathtub Boy” now shares his excitement at Caesars…

Vegas Nocturne‘s sudden closure led to legal battles that continued for years. Things got more complicated when it was announced that Caesars‘ hit show Absinthe would be moving into the performance space once occupied by Nocturne. Again, the big guns came out…and after a few volleys and threats, Absinthe stayed put (leaving the Rose.Rabbit.Lie theater empty for yet another year).

This month, all those differences have been put aside. A brand new variety show is about to launch in that sadly-neglected space. It’s called OPIUM…and it promises to be as crazy and off-the-wall as those other two naughty spawn of their Spiegelworld parents.

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Last week, Spiegelworld held a cast reveal and teaser performance under the Cosmo’s Chandelier Bar. Emceed by “Harry M. Howie”,  the supposed creator of OPIUM (and a fictitious character a la Absinthe’s “The Gazillionaire”), the official Arrival Ceremony was comically timed to overshadow the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Howie, looking nervous and disheveled in a tacky suit, spoke from a cheap portable PA system in front of a folding table adorned with lunchbox packs of Jell-o and a gallon jar of Costco Cheez Balls. He was eager to unveil the final artwork for his long-dreamed-of Sin City project.

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“You make a poster and everything else pretty much falls into place” Harry stated with the arrogance of a seasoned Vegas producer. One might say that his confidence fluctuated as wildly as the authenticity of his Australian accent. With one quick tug, the veil was lifted on the official poster…and the drums started to play.

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As various characters entered the Cosmo casino from all directions, the crowd began to thicken. A sax player belted out notes on the descending escalator. Towering interstellar God (and costume designer) Machine Dazzle made a grand entrance by way of the Chandelier Bar‘s glass elevator. They all came together to give the curious spectators a peek at OPIUM, which opens next month.

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What happened next was hard to explain. The cast performed a rhythmic number backed by bongos and carrying pyramid-shaped props from which they extracted a change of costumes. Utilizing folding lawn chairs, suitcases, confetti and LOTS of aluminum foil, the OPIUM performers shared their home galaxy’s avant garde brand of music and dance:

It’s clear from the video clip above that OPIUM will be anything but ordinary. One can only hope that the new show will bring the same level of enchantment that Vegas Nocturne did when it first graced the Rose.Rabbit.Lie stage.

Although shrouded in mystery, OPIUM is already more forthcoming than Nocturne ever was. That ill-fated production asked members of the media not to reveal very much in hopes that guests would discover it on their own. Even my VegasChatter review, which spared held back most of the details, was heavily edited to blot out additional specifics. That over-reliance on secrecy, IMO, is what led to consumer confusion…and ultimately the untimely closure.

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In addition to the teaser performance last week, the folks at Spiegelworld have offered this formal synopisis of OPIUM:

Journey on a trip to a new dimension of entertainment with OPIUM, the new show at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas from the creators of ABSINTHE. What is OPIUM? It’s fast, funny and funky. Completely off the planet. Remember the good old days when you sauntered into a Las Vegas showroom, martini in hand, while a pack of comedians and crooners bantered in front of the house band? Even if you do, one thing’s for certain: it didn’t look like this. Slip through the crack in the space/time continuum for a close encounter with a spaceship of fools.

They’ve also uploaded this peculiar featurette onto YouTube. I recommend jumping to the actual promo video which begins at the 2:18 mark:

So if your senses…and your curiosity…are prepared to be heightened, take a hit of OPIUM. I’ll be checking it out myself soon and will report back with a detailed review.

Preview performances for Spiegelworld’s OPIUM begin March 13, 2018 at Cosmopolitan’s Rose.Rabbit.Lie. Tickets are on sale now at Spiegelworld.com or by calling 1-866-973-9611. Use code VEGAS at checkout to receive the amazing price of $30 (plus taxes/fees) while offer lasts.

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Photos: Kirvin Doak, Erik Kabik, Spiegelworld

It’s Time To Get Some “Wild Entertainment” In Vegas (NSFW)


Steve Kim’s adult talent agency fulfills those broken Vegas promises…

It only takes one glance at current headlines to know that our culture is in the midst of a major upheaval, especially when it comes to sexual conduct and relations. Last week’s accusations against Vegas mogul Steve Wynn are a reminder that even Las Vegas hasn’t escaped the #MeToo movement.

Combine those controversies with the fact that corporate-run Las Vegas has gotten uptight and way too conservative (remember my issues with the Palms in December?)…and you have the potential for a very unsatisfied market. People will continue to come here expecting a “What Happens In Vegas” experience and are frequently left disappointed. Sadly, that over-worn slogan boldly offers it all…and too often fails to deliver.

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        Steve Kim (second from left) and some of the Wild Entertainment team…

Despite this, we remain sexually-driven beings. It is through physical attraction that humans meet, socialize, mate and procreate. And let’s face it…titillation, even in its most innocent forms, is quite fun. So while society is in the midst of a crusade to redefine what’s right and proper, we continue to seek outlets for our impulses. And sometimes we need to get a little WILD.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Fortunately, an entrepreneur named Steve Kim recognizes this under-served market. That’s why he created and operates WILD ENTERTAINMENT, a multi-faceted adult entertainment company that delivers the sexy thrills that people expect when they head for Sin City.

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You might remember Steve from my recent column that featured him as one of the “Hottest Guys of Vegas”. If you don’t know him, you should. This handsome Portland Oregon native has been seen in fourteen different productions and male revues. From Chippendales to Men of X to the VH1-inspired American Storm, Steve’s seen just about everything there is to see from all aspects of provocative entertainment.

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    Steve and manager Mike Flores display some of the costumes at their studio…

Taking his performing background onto a new path, Kim decided to recruit and train great-looking men and women for a wide variety of entertainment gigs. And let’s be clear, here…this is a “talent agency”, not an “escort service”. That’s not a judgement against services of a sexual nature. If you want “Girls Direct To Your Room” there are businesses to provide them. But that isn’t what Wild Entertainment is about.

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What Wild Entertainment can do is bring sexy live talent to your venue, party, corporate gig or professional function. And they provide atmosphere models, sexy waitresses, sushi models, bartenders and card dealers for conventions and events. You might even recognize some of his team, many of whom perform in high-profile shows and on television.

Perhaps you desire a great-looking companion for a fun night out at a club…or a really hot “fantasy date” for a wedding or reunion. Maybe some go-go dancers for a bus or pool party or a “striptainer” for a birthday surprise? Yep, Wild Entertainment has them all…in both genders.

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With such a broad spectrum of services under one umbrella, you can imagine the difficulties to operate within the confines of the law…then providing a safe environment for both the talent and the clients, and going the extra mile to make sure that every gig is satisfying for all involved.

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          Steve Kim discusses the complexity of attraction with Steve Harvey…

“It isn’t easy” Steve told me during a recent interview. “This is a big-liability business. As you can imagine, Sin City is full of rules. But I’m a beginning-to-end guy.  We’re licensed and insured in Clark County and we are fully compliant with the rules governing adult entertainment”.

“My involvement includes everything from collecting electronic waivers to doing background checks and filtering out illegal requests. I don’t want to give away too many of our trade secrets, but sometimes I don’t have time to sleep” he joked.

“But I love what we do. We’re the only agency like this in the country. We’re accredited and rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and carry a 5-star rating on Yelp!. This is going to be a big business…and I’m planning to take it nationwide”.

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To that end, Kim and his manager Mike Flores have been recruiting talent from a number of cities around the country. They’ve been spreading the business into Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Denver, Phoenix and Houston. Just last weekend Steve was networking with clients in Los Cabos, Mexico. “I want my sales to flow” he says.

To get things flowing, Wild Entertainment offers total package planning. They’ve forged relationships with the best-known venues, hot spots and productions in town. Wild will arrange everything from a party bus to sexy hosts/hostesses and admission to your destination…so you can focus on having a great time. Wouldn’t it be fun to arrive at a nightclub or adult club with your crew, escorted in by the hottest guys or gals in the city?

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With such a complex yet delicate industry to be a pioneer in, it helps that Steve has a strong background in information technology. “I’m a high-tech nerd”, he laughed. Formerly a software designer for Microsoft, he also studied marketing at Santa Clara University. He used that knowledge to create “Wild University”, an online training course that prepares applicants for the adventures ahead.

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Steve calls his talent agency “experiential”, a cutting-edge form of marketing that invites consumers to participate in a brand evolution. While that concept might go over your head (it did for me when he tried to explain it), it’s clear that he was paying attention in marketing class.

Being a tech guy, Kim understand the importance of social media in promoting his business. He launched several websites that cover the gamut of his operations: WildEntertainment.AgencyWildBoyzEntertainment, WildGirlzEntertainment along with a Youtube Channel and Instagram/Facebook pages.

Office manager Mike Flores told me that the company is making it easier for the LGBTQ community to choose services by grouping them under the name CURV. “Why CURV?” he asked. “Because it isn’t straight!” All kidding aside, he emphasized that WILD ENTERTAINMENT recognizes, respects and provides services for all members of society.

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         Manager Mike Flores happily works within the LGBTQ community…

“I’ve worked at gay nightclubs like Piranha, Share and Krave Massive. I’ve also been a go-go dancer and worked as a bartender at Charlie’s. Steve says I’m the gayest straight guy he knows” Mike jokingly added. “That’s why I enjoy working with WILD ENTERTAINMENT. Everyone is an equal. We provide services for women, men and mixed crowds. So whether you’re gay, straight or gay-friendly, check us out for yourselves”.

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WILD also guarantees that clients are treated with discretion and privacy. Some of their clients are A-list actors and media celebrities…but you’d never know it.  Steve’s goal is to allow people to let loose and fulfill their fantasies while still being treated with professionalism, confidentiality and the highest respect.

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That same regard is given to the guys and ladies that Kim hires for his agency. Once they’ve passed the application and training process, Wild‘s team members can choose the gigs that are right for them. They’re provided with free photo-shoots and plenty of perks. In return, they’re required to be prompt, courteous, dependable, of legal age and with a clean background.

They also must have reliable transportation and a Sheriff’s Card (a Vegas police-supplied work card required for industries that need a high degree of supervision). For safety’s sake, women are always booked in pairs or more. Best of all, Wild offers the best pay in the industry (starting at $50/hour up to $300/hour depending on the job).

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While all this fun and daring frivolity is designed to satisfy his customers and make lots of money for Steve and his team, there’s a very personal reason why he wants it to succeed.

“I was bullied as a young kid for being Asian. And once for being “husky”. It taught me never to judge people by their appearance or race. I’ve been burned in my professional career, too. I use all that as fuel to fire our business”.

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“It’s not going to be easy to compete with me. I want to make it so that the people in my company get the same opportunities that I had. Putting them on top is my way of paying it forward”.

“The best revenge is success”.

If you’d like to apply to Wild Entertainment, you can access their online application form here.

Photos: Steve Kim via Wild Entertainment, Sammasseur