Vegas Goes Dark – The Beginning of the End…or a New Beginning?


The day we never could have imagined is upon us. Can ‘Sin City’ rise from the ashes and learn from its mistakes?

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This evening, Governor Steve Sisolak shut down the City of Las Vegas, along with the rest of the state, for a minimum of thirty days. In order to slow the rampant spread of COVID-19 aka “Corona Virus”, all non-essential businesses have been ordered to shutter. This includes bars, hotels, casinos, indoor-dining restaurants, gyms, spas, salons, movie theaters, shows, most stores, parks, recreational attractions and much more.

                                Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Bellagio….both empty…

Thousands upon thousands of people are currently out of work (myself included). Very few are receiving compensation from their employers during this dark period, leaving homes and families at risk for multiple hardships. Can a town that’s already endured major drops in tourism due to 9/11, 2008’s economic collapse and the 10/1/17 massacre rebound from yet another cataclysm?

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                  The party is over on Fremont Street…at least for the time being…

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             An insider source requesting anonymity sent these astonishing photos…

Will the stuffed suits in powerful boardrooms learn from their own mistakes…ones that were already dragging our tourist industry downward? What can be done to lure people back…and will we see a return to the perception of Las Vegas as a value destination? One can only hope.

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                  A darkened Wynn/Encore offers hope to the remaining few passers-by…

The days leading up to the Governor’s declaration were filled with unbearable tension. Grocery store shelves were plundered as major Strip productions shuttered one by one. Next came the closing of buffets and restaurants, then entire hotels and casinos.  Working parents suddenly had to figure out what to do with their children when all schools closed down this week.

                                 Town Square near McCarran Airport is a ghost town…

As in other cities around the world, mundane activities like getting a haircut or meeting friends for lunch are no longer part of our lives. Everything has changed in just a matter of days. Once it became clear that this was our new normal, a friend and I entered “survival mode”. I was just laid off from two regular writing gigs (supposedly temporarily, but who knows?) and he needed a place to live, so now I have someone to share expenses with…and lean on at the same time.

Having resided for 14 years in hurricane-prone South Florida, this writer was used to disaster preparation as a routine activity. Stock the pantry, refill prescriptions, get extra pet food and litter, withdraw cash from the ATM, gas up the vehicles and charge everything that uses a battery. Then comes more drastic steps like buying plywood to board up the windows, checking/replacing fire extinguishers and having weapons on hand in case violence ensues.

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All of this may sound drastic or even dramatic, but let’s face it…if people trample each other for a TV on Black Friday, what will they do when food and supplies run out? The answer isn’t an easy one and becomes especially scary if you consider the possibility that basic utilities could eventually get cut off. But if anarchy raises its ugly head, this former Boy Scout will be ready.

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Despite the seriousness of the situation, many have been working hard to maintain hope…and a sense of humor. Facebook has been a great outlet for people to offer assistance, share their talents and keep each others’ spirits high. Cirque du Soleil performer Alberto Del Campo (read about him HERE) is hosting free online pole fitness classes.

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           Sing along with Mak and the Cheese – You Can’t Spell ‘Virus’ Without ‘Us’

Talented spouses MaKenzie Fly (Sex Tips) and Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show) have created “Mak and The Cheese” a Facebook page featuring witty songs and skits inspired by the “virus hiatus.” And yours truly hosted a “Sexy Apocalypse Party” at Palms Place, where shirts were optional (this is Sin City, after all).

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As we locals ride out the long month ahead in our own unique ways, it’s clear that we’ll come out on the other side as very changed people. Thousands will undoubtedly remain unemployed. Homes will be lost and crime rates will rise. Many businesses will most certainly close for good.

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                    The Bronx Wanderers toast their final performance…for now…

Entertainment offerings may no longer be the flashy, expensive productions (like Cirque du Soleil’s R.U.N) that have recently racked up millions in losses. Virgin Hotel (the former Hard Rock) and Allegiant Stadium completion dates will be pushed back. And you can forget about Resorts World and Fontainebleu/The Drew opening any time soon….yet again.

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The Governor’s announcement was like licking the stamp on a death notice that was waiting to be mailed. Las Vegas has been struggling for quite some time, mostly due to poor decisions that have turned an inexpensive, beloved retreat into a tourist-gouging cesspool of greed. The bigger the city has grown, the less forward-thinking it has become. What we as citizens saw and heard tonight will forever be embedded in our minds. But can we say the same about the big-company execs who are directing the city’s future?

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After the news conference, my new roomie and I gathered our wits and headed to the Strip to absorb the shocking reality of it all. What we witnessed were empty sidewalks, abandoned massive resorts, and shuttered storefronts. The world-famous Bellagio Fountains were dark, as was the Mirage volcano and the boardwalk along Treasure Island. Gone were the endless lines of taxis waiting to pick up tourists.

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Overhead, pedestrian walkways were void of people, and the outdoor escalators at each major intersection went silently up and down with nary a soul to ride them. Amusingly, they all seemed to be working for a change, now that there was nobody to use them. If you were looking for the company of others, all you had to do was head for the nearest dispensary, where people encircled the buildings, hoping to get their stash before mandatory shutdowns went into effect.

                  Lines at marijuana dispensaries stretched around the block…

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         “Visit Las Vegas” is airing nationwide TV promising a bigger, better Vegas…

Now that we’ve witnessed that fall of Las Vegas, where do we go from here? As I said, it will most likely be a very different place…but will it be better? Maybe the “new normal” will yield smaller-scale ideas, where charming lounge-style acts push multi-million-dollar headliner residencies out of the way.

                         Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport 3/18/20, 10am

Perhaps we’ll see a resurgence in gaming, bolstered by better odds than visitors can get at their local casinos. And if we’re lucky, quality service by smiling human beings will shove out main offender MGM Resort‘s move toward automation and self-service. If I’m paying $50 for a buffet, is it too much to ask for an actual person to refill my iced tea?

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                                                    Found on my Facebook feed…

What Las Vegas REALLY needs is to learn a hard, definitive lesson from this punch to the stomach. Hotels must send parking charges out into the desert, never to return. People are sick of looking at their restaurant/bar tab and finding a laundry list of bogus service charges and taxes added onto their already-expensive bill. And when a hotel advertisement says “Stay here for $___”, that better be the actual rate. We’re done with $45 resort fees. Stop it…right now!

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There are only so many times that a city built on tourism can bounce back from major disasters. Las Vegas has survived at least three of them in the past two decades. If the corporations that run this city don’t push the “restart” button and bring back what made this city successful for decades, then maybe it doesn’t deserve to recover at all.

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Click HERE to read this article’s companion piece: “Is Sin City Determined to Drive You Away?”

Photos: Sam Novak, Bobby Watson, Kevin Janison, Marianne LeMoine Phoenix, Greg C., Bill Chenowith, Vin A., Andrew Hill. Special thanks to Richard Lindblom. Banner photo from ABC News 

Las Vegas Drive-in Theater is a Virus-Safe Cure for Cabin Fever


Retro-cool outdoor movie theater provides box-office hits without the need for human contact…

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UPDATE: Even though a statewide quarantine is currently in effect, Las Vegas West Wind Drive-in is being allowed to operate under strict conditions. See below for details. 

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Located just a little northwest of downtown near Texas Station and  Fiesta Rancho casinos, West Wind Las Vegas 6 is riding a sudden wave of popularity. While many drive-ins are long gone, West Wind continues to be an entertainment success. The modern digital picture is sharper, brighter, and is easily a match for their indoor counterparts. Sound is broadcast through high-quality FM onto your own car speakers, so you can control the volume and “oomph”.

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What makes drive-in theaters especially popular right now is that their unique concept (watching movies under the stars) fits right into the coronavirus outbreak’s “social distancing” guidelines. Once you slide your payment through a crack in the car window, you can avoid being in close proximity to other human beings. The only folks you’ll encounter are the ones inside their concession stand building (or if you need to use the restroom).

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While indoor theaters charge upwards of $12.00 for a single movie, adult admission to West Wind 6 Drive-in is only $7.75. The titles change every week, with a combination of brand-new releases and holdover hits. Certain screens offer a double-feature of two recent films for the same low price. Children ages 5-11 get in for $1.75, and kids under 5 are free. Tuesdays are even cheaper, with adult tickets costing $5.50. The website offers a newsletter with Internet coupon offers, too.

When global pandemics aren’t the biggest worry of your day, you’ll want to return on a regular basis. An expansion of the outdoor dining and playground areas has added to the drive-in’s appeal. The snack bar offers typical movie-going fare but at noticeably lower prices. And, they’ve upped the fun factor with seasonal activities. During Halloween, the snack bar gets turned into a mini haunted house, complete with staff members in costume. Several times a year, West Wind hosts a Customer Appreciation Night with absolutely free admission, fun, and games.

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The main concession building is located in the center of the property. It has a playground and outdoor picnic tables so you can stuff yourself on hot dogs and nachos without missing the movie. Of course, if you want to sneak a peek at one of the other five screens, I won’t tell. They often host special events with pony rides, live entertainment, and a petting zoo.

So, if the quarantine has you suffering from cabin fever, West Wind Drive-in Theater has the cure. Step back in time, look for the lighted arches and classic neon signage. Bring a pillow, wear your pajamas and bunny slippers if you like, and it’s even okay to smoke. And, nobody will scold you if you chat or decide to make out in the back seat.

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West Wind Las Vegas Drive-in Theater is open year-round, rain or shine. It’s located at 4150 West Carey Avenue, northwest of downtown. Click HERE for their current movie titles/showtimes or call  (702) 646-3565 OR (702) 647-1379 for more information.

Photos: West Wind, Sam Novak, Yelp!

‘Señor Frog’s DRAG BRUNCH’ Extends Performance Schedule at Treasure Island


Trendy hit adds weekday performances to accommodate capacity crowds…

BestOfVegas

Click HERE to get discount tickets and read this article via BestOfVegas…

It’s bold, outrageous and one of those experiences that you just can’t wait to tell your friends at home about. It’s Señor Frog’s DRAG BRUNCH, the wild adults-only hit at Treasure Island. Presented by Voss Events, Drag Brunch is delicious food, shocking comedy, crazy dance numbers, and audience interaction, all served with a heaping helping of sass. And after four successful years, it’s one Sin City production that just keeps growing.

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The recent launch of RuPaul’s Drag Race Live! at Flamingo (also by Voss Events) is the latest cherry on that bright, sugary confection known as “drag.” A longtime Vegas institution, female impersonation goes back several decades in legendary shows up and down the Strip. From “Boylesque” at the Silver Slipper Casino to “Frank Marino’s DIVAS” and the current incarnation of Tropicana‘s “LEGENDS IN CONCERT,” drag continues to become more popular with each passing year. It’s also changed with the times and evolved from “fringe” to “mainstream”.

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Senor Frog’s DRAG BRUNCH was way ahead of the craze when it launched in 2016. The late-morning experience was already a hit in cutting-edge cities like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Toronto. But the unpredictable nature of audiences led Drag Brunch Las Vegas to start off slowly with only one scheduled performance per week. Fortunately, capacity crowds resulted in the addition of a second same-day performance, then an expansion to both Saturdays and Sundays.

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Now you can channel your inner diva eight times a week as Senor Frog’s DRAG BRUNCH is taking over a few weekdays, too. Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alumnus “Shannel”, the show features a rotating cast of top-tier talent, many familiar to fans of the hit TV series. Their current performance schedule is Thursday through Sunday at 11:30am and 2:30pm. A large unlimited buffet featuring breakfast favorites, lunchtime selections, and delicious Mexican specialties, is provided by Senor Frog’s Restaurant.

Admission price to DRAG BRUNCH includes seating, show, brunch, and bottomless mimosas. There are upgrade packages for VIP seating, full open bar, and photos with the cast. If you’re a newbie and uncertain about “transitioning” into the world of drag entertainment, an inconspicuous standing-room option at the rear bar ($10) allows you to enjoy the insanity from a “safe” distance. Chances are that once you discover the wonderful world of drag, your concerns will fade away and you’ll soon join in on the fun.

With chart-topping dance hits, classic impersonation and lots of naughty innuendo, Senor Frog’s Drag Brunch is a top-notch smorgasbord of sights and sounds. So grab your friends, leave your inhibitions at the door…and make sure the little ones stay at home.

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Photos: Sam Novak, Senor Frog’s Drag Brunch

 

 

 

 

Explore Your Deepest Desires With ‘Body Kink’ (NSFW)


Daring new service allows you to safely explore your secret adult fantasies…

As children, we’re often told: “If you can dream it, then you can live it.” Sadly, that concept gets thrown out the window when we enter adulthood. Our dreams evolve into fantasies that society would prefer for us to keep hidden. Even Sin City, the land of extreme pleasure, has so many laws and restrictions in place that sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the risks to investigate the possibilities.

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Now there’s BODYKINK.COM, a free platform that safely allows your dreams to become reality. The site was launched by entertainer and personal trainer Ryan Worley, an ambitious young man whose own personal journey is a page-turner (read his unforgettable story HERE). Body Kink brings its members (aka “fans”) together with high-quality attractive models in order to experience consensual fantasy scenes.

The first question that undoubtedly crosses your mind is “Can this be legal?”. The answer is quite simply…yes! As long as both “model” and “fan” remain within certain liberal guidelines, there is nothing illegal about this service. Worley has consulted legal experts to ensure that Body Kink operates entirely within the parameters of the law.

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It took the 29-year-old about eight months of careful planning and research to make Body Kink a reality. He could barely contain his excitement when it finally came to fruition.

The idea for Body Kink popped into my head in August of 2019. I had a roommate, Davin, who made most of his money from muscle-worshipping sessions, fantasy dates and selling used underwear. He was marketing himself on social media, but Instagram was threatening to take down his profile because of the content.

I realized that there is a disconnect between models and Fans. It is completely legal but just not talked about that much, even though the demand is there. So, I was suddenly on a mission to create a safe place for models and Fans to interact with their kinks and fetishes.

Becoming a fan or model at Body Kink is free. It doesn’t require a sign-up fee or recurring subscription. After creating a personal profile, fans can browse through available models, each of whom has their own detailed page. Models provide photos, brief personal descriptions and a list of the scenes they’re into (or willing to participate in) for a fee.

Body Kink is for the Fans and the models. I like to think that I work for them by creating a platform where they can interact. I want them to have a great experience in a safe place. They can express themselves and have their kinks fulfilled without any “kink shaming.” My mission is to normalize having a kink, no matter how unique or rare it is.

Shame is an emotion that Ryan Worley fought against for a very long time. He experienced sexual stigmas while growing up in a strict Mormon household. That background negatively affected his relationships, self-image, and confidence. Determined to break free, he arrived in Las Vegas just a few short years ago and set out to rediscover life on his own terms.

Taking a position in a prominent male revue became a catalyst for Worley’s personal growth. He came to appreciate the importance of human sexuality in all of its forms. No matter who we are, what we look like or where we come from, all of us were conceived through physical interaction and it’s a part of our very essence.

The tag line that I came up with is “What’s Yours?”. It implies that we all have kinks and should be open to discovering them…as long as they fall within the law. I want to keep this site completely legal, so we don’t offer anything in the gray area (like feces or urine) or anything violent.

One of my favorite sections is called “Custom Kink.” Kinks are very unique and personal, so it’s impossible to represent all of them. I created a section where Fans can post their unique kink and then models will apply for it. (Btw, I’m always looking for quality models to represent the brand).

The Fan can put a price they are willing to pay or can have models come at them with their best price. This is a great section because Fans can be represented in their own way and can browse what others are requesting, allowing everyone to explore what they might be interested in.

You might notice that Body Kink membership is pretty heavy on the male side of the spectrum. That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with erotic adult industries. But in 2020, definitions of both gender and sexual identity have become somewhat fluid.

The Models Directory offers categories of “All Men”, “All Women” and “All Others”, but what you won’t find are labels like “Gay”, “Straight” and “Bi-sexual”. Why? Because it’s perfectly normal for an identifying heterosexual to explore kissing, touching, and other physical/emotional experiences with members of the same sex.

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Along with being the creator and CEO of Body Kink, Worley lists himself as a premium model. It’s clear that he stands behind his philosophy of supporting desires without judgment. When I questioned him about the “Reviews” section, where members can see that he’s had physical encounters with other men, his response was “I honestly don’t care, lol. Maybe I’ll rub off on people.”

What Ryan does care about, though, is channeling Body Kink into a powerhouse engine for positive action. Along with being a safe haven, the site has partnered with two important charities – Golden Rainbow of Las Vegas and The Trevor Project.

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Golden Rainbow is a Vegas local charity that helps individuals suffering from HIV/Aids. I met with Gary Costa, their Executive Director, and was blown away by his passion to make a difference. He gave up a job that pays twice as much because he truly wants to help people with HIV/Aids. After meeting with him I knew that I wanted to help, so a portion of Body Kink‘s profits each month will go to Golden Rainbow.

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The Trevor Project is a suicide-prevention foundation with a great story and a great cause (dedicated to saving young LGBTQ lives). I love what they do and what they represent. Eventually, I will start my own foundation where I can give back on a greater scale. But for now, helping these two charities makes me feel like I am making a difference. I’m sure that most of the Fans on Bodykink.com will love to be a part of these fantastic charities.

We’re currently experiencing social turbulence, not unlike the cultural upheavals of the ’60s. The harder that we push towards freedom in our lives, the more difficult that struggle seems to become. Body Kink is dedicated to providing positive change, and the timing couldn’t be better.

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This has been a long and stressful journey, trying to get Body Kink off the ground. But I know the positive impact it will have on both the Fans and the models. I want to make a difference…and I want to build a brand that people are proud to represent and be a part of.

                                                                     – Ryan Worley

Photos: Noel Dahl, Body Kink, Sam Novak, The Trevor Project, Golden Rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Into the Magic Phone Booth of ‘Bucket Listin’


Raucous Vegas-based comedy-adventure series features the antics of AGT’s Daniel Emmet and heartthrob Mark Justice…

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What’s more fun than a pair of regular “bros” cutting loose in Las Vegas? The answer lies in Bucket Listin’, a brand new web-based show debuting on YouTube. Bucket Listin’ follows the free-wheeling and unpredictable team of singer Daniel Emmet and actor Mark Justice as they teleport from one Las Vegas adventure to the next…via a retro telephone booth. How do they decide on their latest destination? Well, from picking pre-loaded fortune cookies out of a wooden bucket, of course. Yes, it’s just as crazy as it sounds.

While the premise is certainly outrageous, the strength of Bucket Listin’ lies in the charming personalities of its two hosts and the effusive chemistry they share. Emmet is fresh off a successful stint as a finalist in 2018’s America’s Got Talent. His powerhouse voice has been entertaining audiences at events and concerts all around the country. He’s also been riding a well-deserved wave of stellar reviews for his residency at Cleopatra’s Barge inside Caesars Palace.

Readers of Vegas Unfiltered and its corresponding Facebook page should be quite familiar with my affection for Mark “You probably don’t know me at all” Justice. The handsome and chiseled action star/underwear model bounces around the city like a Price Is Right Plinko chip, landing in places as diverse as Excalibur‘s Tournament of Kings, Fremont Street Experience and last fall’s Halloween event SCARE at Town Square. He’s also a writer/director/producer with over one hundred credits listed on the Internet Movie Database, including a collection of fantasy and horror films shot right in and around Sin City.

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Emmet and Justice first released a teaser for Bucket Listin’ on Christmas Eve, when they gathered around the fireplace for a fractured version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. It was clear right away that the two were planning on presenting something unusual and quite fun for 2020. The series was officially announced on New Year’s Day (S1E0), then the pilot arrived last week, a whole month earlier than expected.

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Apparently, the creative team behind Bucket Listin’ has a fetish for holidays, as the premiere episode (S1E1) is entitled “Valentine’s Day Chocolate Destruction”. All the better to play a cringe-inducing game of chocolate-dipped “Who Knows?”, followed by a trip to Battlefield Vegas for a crushing romantic encounter with a tank.

Subsequent episodes will chronicle the boys’ exploits as they face some of the many extreme adventures that Las Vegas has to offer. From a Grand Canyon experience and high-speed police chase to skydiving and flying a plane, Emmet and Justice are sure to tickle your funnybone and raise  adrenaline to maximum levels. Since I’ve already crossed those challenges and more from my own bucket list, I’m sure the guys are up to the task. They’ll just look way cooler while doing it…and a whole lot funnier. Kids these days…..I tell ya.

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Follow Bucket Listin’ on its official Facebook page and subscribe to their YouTube Channel for regular updates. 

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


Cosmic circus production invites guests to be a part of the show…

CLICK HERE TO READ THIS ARTICLE VIA THE AWESOME BESTOFVEGAS.COM WEBSITE…

BestOfVegasIn today’s era of heightened reality, the world of entertainment continues to become more immersive. From 3-D movies to interactive video games, audiences yearn to be a part of the action. Now The STRAT Hotel Casino invites you to ascend to the cosmos of CELESTIA with ‘VIP Star Experience’.

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CELESTIA fondly harkens back to the days of pure circus artistry that many of us grew up with. Live music, death-defying acts, dazzling lighting and a large cast of international talent come together under a glorious Big Top that is unlike anything Las Vegas has ever seen. The interior of the tent is awash in astral projections that transport the audience beyond the planets and to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

                                         CELESTIA is appropriate for all ages…

Star VIP Experience allows up to eight guests at a time to witness the magic of CELESTIA right on stage with the performers. You will feel the heat as flaming batons fill the starry sky and gasp in awe as acrobats sail through the air, mere inches from your seat. Surrounded by musicians, dancers, aerialists, and contortionists, you’ll be drawn into the show in a way never before possible.

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The journey of CELESTIA‘s characters culminates in the Wheel of Death, a massive spinning structure on which two daredevils run, jump, skip rope and flip. As a VIP Star, you’ll feel the rush of air as the Wheel of Death spins faster and faster. Your seats will rumble from the shockwave created by the giant device, and your heart will skip a few beats as you witness this amazing climax closer than ever before.

CELESTIA‘s new VIP Star Experience is more than an artist’s-eye view of the performance. As a participant, you’ll be welcomed into the Big Top through a dedicated entrance, where you’ll receive a commemorative laminate, hot fresh popcorn, and a cocktail or beverage. Members of the cast will greet you before the show begins and personally escort you to your onstage vantage point for 70 minutes of award-winning excitement.

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Individual photo opportunities wrap up the Experience, including onstage pics with artists in front of the famed Wheel of Death. Then you’ll receive a tote bag filled with CELESTIA merchandise before returning to the Earth-bound confines of your everyday world.

Since opening, CELESTIA has set itself apart from its Vegas counterparts in numerous ways. The Big Top’s north-Strip location makes CELESTIA a unique gateway to the city’s Arts District. Late last year, the show’s outdoor courtyard began hosting Artists’ Square, a weekend showcase provided free-of-charge to local artists. Performance pieces and stationary exhibits will greet visitors each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

Every Friday and Sunday at 4pm, CELESTIA hosts an Open House inside their 30,000 square foot tent. Also complimentary, these 30-minute forums give new visitors and returning fans alike the rare opportunity to meet performers and learn what it takes to be a part of the circus. You can witness their challenging training techniques and enjoy awe-inspiring demonstrations of their amazing skills.

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                 CELESTIA is perfect for groups of friends. Tickets start at only $29…

CELESTIA performs Wednesday through Sunday at 7pm with an additional 9pm performance on select weekend nights. The show is appropriate for all ages. Click HERE to order tickets through BestOfVegas.com. 

Photos: Sam Novak, Bobby Watson, CELESTIA via Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hofbrauhaus Brings Munich to Sin City


BestOfVegas

Hofbrauhaus celebrates sixteen years in Las Vegas this week. Let’s party! Click HERE to read the BestOfVegas version on their awesome site.

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Las Vegas is known for its endearing recreations of famous cultural landmarks. From the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids to the canals of Venice, they’re all here. But venture a few blocks off the Strip and you’ll encounter the most authentic experience of them all…Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas. Hofbrauhaus has been bringing the sights, sounds, and flavors of Germany directly to your table for sixteen years.

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Situated on the corner of Harmon Avenue and Paradise Road (and just a pretzel’s toss from Hard Rock Hotel), Hofbrauhaus is based on the world-famous Munich original. An astonishing structure that’s even more impressive on the inside, every corner is teeming with fun, frivolity, and culinary excitement. No expense has been spared and no detail too small to make your visit a true Bavarian treat.

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The Las Vegas location is the only officially-licensed extension of Germany’s revered treasure. Munich’s grand Beer Hall and “outdoor” Biergarten are here, as are replicas of German chestnut trees that only grow in Europe. The Vegas variety is made using thousands of hand-created artificial leaves placed onto living trunks. Artists have painstakingly duplicated the beer hall ceiling’s gorgeous murals by hand, lending authenticity to the exact 1:1 construction.

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European craftsmen have fashioned dozens of sturdy benches and tables to handle the hundreds of rowdy revelers. As part of the tradition, guests climb onto the benches every day, steins held aloft. They’re arranged in a communal-dining style so you’re sure to make new friends while you eat, drink, and make merry.

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Of course, every restaurant is only as good as its food, and this is where Hofbrauhaus truly excels. They import their smooth creamy sauerkraut directly from Germany, and the dough for their famous Bavarian pretzels is shipped across the ocean in climate-controlled containers. Nothing is processed or made from mixes, and the kitchen uses timeless recipes and authentic ingredients.

The Hofbrauhaus menu is a veritable cookbook of German specialties. Munich Pork Roast (Schweinebraten) and Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (Gegrillte Hähnchenbrust) will vie for your attention with an extensive list of sausage dishes like Majoran – Kalbsbratwurst (veal), Currywurst, Nürnberger Rostbratwürstl (pork) and Geflügelbratwurst (chicken). If you can’t decide, dive into Wurstplatte, a trio of favorites served with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and onion mustard.

There are a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan dishes, sumptuous salads, traditional desserts like imported Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) and of course, those giant baked-to-order pretzels served with Obatzda cheese and two kinds of mustard. Side dishes and appetizers include Bavarian potato salad, homemade spätzle, bread dumpling, red cabbage, apple sauce, potato pancakes, and radishes & rye.

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Naturally, you’ll want to pair your meal with a few steins of legendary Bavarian beer. Hofbräu Original Lager, Hofbräu Dunkel and Hofbräu Hefeweizen brews are all imported directly from the King’s brewery using 400-year-old recipes. Every keg is made following the Purity Law of 1516 (The Reinheitsgebot) as declared by Dukes Wilmhelm V and Ludwig X of Bavaria. The kegs are shipped to Vegas and stored in a perfectly-chilled beer cellar along with wines and liquor used for Signature Shots.

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Speaking of shots, the Sin City extension of Hofbrauhaus has developed a tradition of its own. Since the little glasses of liquor are delivered to tables on long paddles, some fun-loving guests began requesting a spanking after downing theirs. The ritual caught on and is especially popular for birthdays and other special occasions. So don’t be surprised when you see fellow diners bent over a table or grabbing their ankles. Smack!

But there’s no need to wait for a special event to visit Hofbrauhaus. Every night is a party! There are live bands, sing-a-longs, group toasts, and dancing. Themed events salute both German traditions (Käsespätzle challenge) and uniquely American traditions like National Pretzel Day and the annual “Big Game” viewing.

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Each year, the Beer Hall hosts a month-long Oktoberfest celebration. Weekends are especially festive with keg-tapping parties hosted by guest celebrities like Australian Bee Gees, the Chippendales, Cesar Millan, magician Hans Klok, Rich Harrison (Pawn Stars) and BMX pro Ricardo Laguna. It’s the perfect time to enjoy one of their seasonal beers like Oktoberfestbier with a plate of Oktoberfest Jägerhackbraten (homemade German-style meatloaf).

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But no matter what season you visit, Hofbrauhaus is always a great time. You’ll learn some German phrases, make some great memories and leave with a satisfied appetite and a song in your heart.

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Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas is located at 4510 Paradise Rd. Hours are Sunday – Thursday 11AM-11PM and Friday – Saturday 11AM-12AM

 Photos: Sam Novak, Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas