I’m Too Sexy For My…Burger?


Award-winning hunks turned away from Palms poolside cafe…

Sin City. The name alone suggests wild, outrageous parties, outlandish behavior and sex galore. In most cases, the city delivers on that promise. Mobile billboards offer “Ladies Direct To Your Room”. Puppetry of the Penis is a runaway hit at Erotic Heritage Museum. Porno conventions take over entire resorts. But shirtless guys eating burgers at a poolside cafe? That’s apparently too graphic for one Las Vegas restaurant.

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You may be scratching your head and wondering “How could this even be an issue?”. That’s a legitimate question, but don’t get bogged down by the specifics. I’ll elaborate on the details in a moment. Instead, allow yourself to digest this fact: A private luncheon for shirtless Vegas celebs is considered “unacceptable” by Station Casinos…specifically Palms Place.

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If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’ve written many columns saluting the Hot Guys of Vegas. Performers, bartenders, a popular celebrity publicist…even a well-known lawyer. Respected, hard-working gentlemen, one and all. They are great sports and have had plenty of fun with my columns.

Out of gratitude, I thought it would be a wacky idea…and make another great article…if I gathered a few past and future recipients of that series for lunch. My group included performers from the likes of Absinthe, WOW – World of Wonder, DIVAS, Men of the Strip, Jubilee and Men of Sapphire. The idea was to allow them to network with one another, take some photographs and share an “only in Vegas” experience with you, the readers.

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I invited several guys to revel in gratuitous shirtlessness. They’d arrive sans tops and remain that way for a meal, drinks and laughs….a positive social experiment. Every invited guest agreed to join in on the fun and yours truly would pay the bill. The location would be my favorite casual-dining spot in the city: Cafe 6 at Palms Place.

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This awesome, secluded burger joint on the sixth floor of the Palms Place tower is serviced by a dedicated elevator (directly from the parking lot to the cafe entrance). It sits next to a lovely pool and hot tub with only walls of glass separating the swimmers and the diners. The effect is that of eating at the pool deck while remaining indoors.

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Another reason for choosing Cafe 6 is that they have a private meeting room immediately to the left of the entrance. My guests would be able to arrive discreetly with only an infinitesimal chance of being spotted by patrons in the main dining area. Nobody who could be potentially offended would be affected. Perfect, right?

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I then chose a weekday afternoon in the middle of December, historically the slowest week of the year in Vegas. It’s so slow that many shows shut down and restaurants send their staff on vacation. So you’d think that any restaurant would welcome hundreds of dollars of guaranteed business during those days.

With a plan in place, I emailed a known contact at Palms Casino Resort who is involved in food and beverage operations there. I described our gathering, the number of people in our party, our willingness to order from the regular menu and other assorted details along with a few possible dates. For the sake of anonymity, I won’t specifically name anyone involved here.

It never crossed my mind that our lunch party would be denied. After all, Palms was until recently home to the “World’s Largest Hooters”. Because, you know, female breasts sell chicken wings…

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Anyway, the person I wrote to copied another individual on their team when replying back. They informed me that they would discuss my request, then they passed it on to a third person in their public relations department for final disposition.

It should be noted that in the follow-up correspondence, our group promised to be respectful and behave discreetly. I even suggested the name of a particular server who is very outgoing and enjoys male eye-candy. Nevertheless, our party was refused with a curt denial:

“Hi Sam, thanks for considering us, at this time we are going to politely pass on the opportunity.”

That was it. No questions, no offer of alternate conditions., no mention of potential code violations..and most importantly, no explanation of any kind. While it’s safe to assume that bare chiseled torsos were the deciding issue here, how can we know for sure? And WHY is a sexy guy forbidden to show his abs in a poolside cafe?

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View from inside the main dining room of Cafe 6…                   

As you might imagine, I found this response to be quite ludicrous. Cafe 6, as I mentioned earlier, is my favorite lunch place in town. I gave it a stellar review in a previous column, chose Cafe 6 as my “Best Vegas Bargain of 2016” and even hosted my most recent birthday party there. So what gives? And should I have even bothered to describe our reason for gathering in the first place?

Luckily, Dave Wahlen, General Manager of Flair Nightclub and the soon-to-open Hamburger Mary’s on Flamingo Avenue, caught wind of this absurd situation and welcomed us with open arms…and shirts.

Sam, I’d love to have them…anytime you want! The city gave us the final approved plans a week ago Tuesday. We have been balls to the walls. We have a night and a day crew working on the kitchen. It has taken nearly 8 months to get this done. Come see us as we love these guys at Mary’s. I miss seeing you buddy. I hope you’re doing well!

And that, dear readers, is how you do good business and promote healthy public relations. I understand that Cafe 6 and Palms Place are undergoing a transition of ownership and management. But their response to a simple request has successfully alienated an entire group of Vegas influentials…and one beef-loving blogger.

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Thanks for being such a soggy pile of wet blankets, Palms. Let us know when you’ve removed that stick from up your _____. As for me and my guys, it’s “Next stop…Hamburger Mary’s”!

Photos: Sammasseur, CBS Daytime, KTNV.com, Hamburger Mary’s

 

 

Hot Guys of Vegas: Heartbreakers and Dream Makers


Get a little closer with guys who sweep you off your feet, sometimes literally…

Last time in this series I took you to the world of bodybuilders…those superhuman, rock-hard specimens of manliness that gym-bunnies aspire to emulate. This month it’s time to get comfy with the kind of men who make your dreams and fantasies come true. From Prince Charming types to men behind the desk and behind the scenes, these are the Hot Guys of Vegas: Heartbreakers and Dream Makers.

Alexander Stabler – dancer/aerialist/stylist

Hot Guys of Vegas

                                                   Alexander Stabler

Where you’ve seen himLe Reve The Dream at Wynn

Alexander Stabler (banner photo above) is one of those guys who looks like they stepped out of the cover of a romance novel. Strapping frame, carefully-mussed hair, billowing open shirt and a stature that says “hero”, Alexander will sweep you off your feet as the hearththrob of Le Reve – The Dream.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Once part of the troupe of ballroom dancers who glide into and out of the water spectacular, Alexander is now front and center at the core of Wynn‘s signature production. As his role has increased, so has Alexander’s visibility throughout the city. From charity fundraisers to a boat on Lake Mead to hiking the rocky cliffs with his dog Samson, you never know where you’ll find this real-life Prince Charming.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Not content to just lie in the sun, this Newport Beach native has dabbled in many varied projects throughout the city. His Axle Entertainment provided hot visuals for Liaison Nightclub and his studies through Paul Mitchell make him a well-respected stylist.  Alex was a principal dancer at Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles and is a former cast member of Zumanity by Cirque du Soleil. No wonder he’s a hot commodity on the stage.

Years of living in Macau and Hong Kong gave Alexander a unique humanitarian view that belies his young age. Although this avid traveler has been around the world, Alexander Stabler is now proud to call Las Vegas his home.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Noteworthy traits – “ballet boo-tay”, heroic man-rack

 

Eric Roy – attorney

Hot Guys of Vegas

                                                    Attorney Eric Roy       

Where you’ve seen him – billboards, television, community events                                       

Sometimes a guy is so absurdly handsome that he can stop traffic. When you see advertisements featuring Attorney Eric Roy, you’ll know precisely what I mean. If Eric wasn’t such an all-around good guy, I’d be tempted to accuse this personal-injury attorney of deliberately causing traffic accidents. Have you seen his stunning billboards? But personal injuries aren’t the only cases he handles, so I guess the Twin Falls, Idaho native has a solid alibi.

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Some people dislike attorneys in the same way that used-car salesmen get no respect. Eric Roy Esq. has been able to avoid that stigma by becoming a beloved member of the Las Vegas community (not to mention the recipient of numerous awards for achievement in his field). He’s a favorite at speaking engagements and on television segments, offering helpful legal advice to people across the Las Vegas Valley.

Hot Guys of Vegas

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Attorney Roy is tireless in his devotion to charities and advocacy for organizations that promote social positivity. From volunteering for Goodie Two Shoes Foundation, which provides shoes and socks for underprivileged youngsters…to sponsoring a girl’s soccer team…to delivering food for income-strapped locals via Hopelink of Southern Nevada, Eric never passes on an opportunity to help out those in need.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Of course, all work and no play would make Eric a very dull boy. So in his free time, this white-collar hunk is an avid traveler who likes to ditch the suit and tie for rugged hiking and mountain biking. Doggies Big Boy and Lil Girl and lady-love Elizabeth keep him grounded…as does some obviously well-spent time in the gym.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Noteworthy traits – matinee-idol looks, action-hero physique

 

Michael Caprio –  publicist/marketing/management/media design

Hot Guys of Vegas

          Michael Caprio                                

Where you’ve seen him – premieres, fundraisers, celebrity functions

The term “mover and shaker” was probably coined after Michael Caprio. Very little happens in Sin City entertainment without his involvement in one form or another. This master of Public Relations is a favorite of high-profile celebrities across the country.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Las Vegas has Michael to thank for the triumphant residency of Olivia Newton-John at Flamingo. It was he who brought Richard Marx to the same hotel for a landmark series of performances this summer. And Michael is the Big Daddy behind the world-famous Chippendales. There’s also Leeza Gibbons, Jon SecadaJohn Tesh and Melody Sweets of Absinthe in his portfolio, if you don’t mind a little name-dropping.

Recently, the founder of Caprio Media Design has been traveling across the country for promotional appearances with Aussie group Human Nature (be sure to attend their annual holiday show at Venetian). And he’s also been behind the successful launch of the new WOW – World of Wonder at the Rio (see my review here).

Hot Guys of Vegas

Fans of the Sharknado movie franchise have benefited from Michael’s expertise. He represents star Ian Ziering and was responsible for the huge premiere party at Stratosphere last summer for entry #4 in the wildly-successful series. No doubt their collaboration on those films yielded two successful guest-hosting stints of Ziering at Chippendales as well.

Each year, Caprio flies to Australia to join Olivia Newton-John for her annual ONJ Wellness Walk and Research Run.  The event is dear to his heart and he crusades to raise funds for the ONJ Cancer Wellness and Research Center. Olivia’s recent second bout with the disease made the trip even more poignant this year.

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Michael is constantly flying from Vegas to Los Angeles to New York City, so it’s rare that he gets to settle down with hubby Randy Slovacek and their adorable dogs for a quiet evening at home. But when they do, Michael’s culinary expertise yields some gloriously beautiful gourmet dishes.

Hot Guys of Vegas

                                           Michael and hubby Randy

Notable traits – infectious grin, mile-long eye lashes, grace under pressure

 

Adam Barabáš – dancer/acrobat

Hot Guys of Vegas

                                                      Adam Barabáš

Where you’ve seen him – Divas, Jubilee!, WOW – World of Wonder

The next dancer on our list is Adam Barabáš. If Adam’s profile photo looks a little (actually a lot) like Aquaman, the resemblance has served him well. This native of Slovakia is currently dancing on water in Rio‘s aquatic spectacular WOW – World of Wonder.

Hot Guys of Vegas

                           Adam takes flight in WOW – World of Wonder…

Despite being only 27 years old, Adam may have already made some Las Vegas history. He’s the only performer to my knowledge to have ever been in two major re-enactments of the sinking of Titanic.

Hot Guys of Vegas

First he played double-duty in Jubilee!, donning a tuxedo for the ballroom sequence before quick-changing into a shirtless laborer for the engine room scene. Now he gets to do it again, five nights a week, in WOW‘s high-tech variation on the dreaded event. How’s that for a little trivia?

Hot Guys of Vegas

This graduate of The Private Conservatory of Arts in Nitra, Slovakia also appears regularly in Frank Marino’s DIVAS at Linq Hotel. Part of their sexy troupe of dancer boys, Adam provides back-up for the likenesses of Cher, Pink, Madonna and Celine Dion.

Being a cast member in two major productions doesn’t leave much time for leisure, especially when Barabáš has that chiseled body to maintain. He’ll hit one of the various Las Vegas Athletic Clubs around the valley for his workouts. If time is very tight he’ll even go through his fitness routines at the theaters between shows…or use his own home gym.

Hot Guys of Vegas

                       Spending the day with Chipp at Red Rock Canyon…

When the great outdoors calls, Adam takes his four-footed pal Chipp for a round of fetch. Sometimes it’s hiking at Red Rock Canyon or Mt. Charleston. Growing up in the small village of Dubnica nad Váhom (population 26,000) gave Adam few opportunities for luxuries. Now that he calls Las Vegas his home, he enjoys the comforts of a great meal…and a day at the spa to soothe those amazing, hard-working muscles.

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Noteworthy traits – abs of steel, European mystique

 

Mike Hammer – magician/comedian/emcee

Hot Guys of Vegas

Mike Hammer                   

Where you’ve seen him – self-titled comedy/magic show at Four Queens

Somewhere in Chicago, a retired school teacher is wondering “What ever happened to that class clown Michael Hammer?”. Well, I’d bet he or she would be surprised to know that little Mikey grew up…and became the biggest and best entertainer in Downtown Las Vegas.

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                       “A boy’s best friend is his mother” – Norman Bates

Mike Hammer can be seen onstage five nights a week at Mike Hammer Comedy Magic, a fast-paced gas that will have you returning time and again. His hyperkinetic energy, lightning-fast improvisations and dazzling illusions make Mike a standout on the entertainment scene.

Hot Guys of Vegas

                Offering fashion advice to Robin Leach at a charity event… 

Naturally, this quick-witted guy is known for charitable functions (are we seeing a pattern here?). Hammer has hosted numerous events for other organizations when not preparing for his own. Just a few weeks ago, Mike and his famous friends came together for the 3rd Annual Mike Hammer Celebrity Go Kart Race to benefit Wounded Warrior Project. This year, proceeds were shared with Las Vegas Victims’ Fund.

Hot Guys of Vegas

             Sharing fitness tips with Chippendales performer Ryan Worley…

The success of Mike’s own show gave him the clout to produce a second one at Four Queens. Spirit of the King, starring Elvis tribute artist Steve Connolly, draws in a line of fans that stretches across the casino floor each evening. Then there are the TV appearances, emceeing MMA matches, corporate events, and his own weekly radio program The Vegas Take with Brian Shapiro.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Keeping such a busy schedule was starting to wear the Hammer down – he was literally forgetting to eat. After getting way too thin, the over-40 sports enthusiast decided to consult a nutritionist for a personalized program, then combined it with intense late-night workouts. He quickly began to fill out his slender frame. “I don’t actually look different in my suit”, he said “but I have more muscle. Getting there!”.

Notable traits – sarcasm, hair of epic proportions, chiseled cheekbones

 

Steve Kim – entrepreneur/dancer

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                                                              Steve Kim

Where you’ve seen him – Chippendales/American Storm/Mr. Olympia/magazines

Our final Hot Guy of this chapter is Steve Kim. I first met Steve on the opening night of Men of the Strip this summer. Despite the fact that the venue was filled with hundreds of celebs, male strippers and their fans, this hunky former Oregonian managed to stand out in the crowd.

Hot Guys of Vegas

Naturally I had to find out who this dude was. We struck up a conversation and I learned that his home town is Portland, just north of where I currently live. The more we talked, the more fascinated I became.

Kim owns and operates Wild Entertainment, which provides sexy guys and gals for a wide variety of corporate functions and private parties. You need some hot shirtless bartenders or sexy golf caddies? Steve’s got them. Some voluptuous product reps for a convention? No problem. Discerning ladies of taste can even find a reputable and proper male escort for a safe evening out. And they’re completely LGBTQ-friendly, too.

My company is proud to be #LGBTQ friendly. We don’t discriminate based on age, sex, race, religion, whatever.. as long as you’re a decent human being, you deserve to have as much fun as anyone else in Las Vegas!

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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, but there was an open bar that evening), it’s clear that he was paying attention when studying marketing at Santa Clara University.

You can be sure that Wild Entertainment guarantees the highest level of professionalism…and discretion. Of course, a product is only as good as the person supplying it, and Steve is hot hot hot. This former Chippendale dancer has graced the cover of fitness magazines, competed in physique contests and even worked as a software developer for Microsoft. Brains plus brawn? A lethal combination to be sure.

Hot Guys of Vegas

There isn’t a lot of free time in Steve Kim’s life, but he enjoys it to the fullest. Hanging out with friends, de-stressing on a yoga mat or tossing treats to brother-and-sister dogs Hachi and Yumi are the things that make him smile.

Steve has some major plans in the works for Wild Entertainment, and soon we’ll be sitting down to discuss them for a future article. Until that happens, he offers this teaser:

Big things are coming and soon the world will know about my company and my ambitions. We’re taking over exotic entertainment in Vegas. It’s gonna change everything!

Hot Guys of Vegas

Notable traits – flawless golden skin, electromagnetic aura

Photos: Ashley Kacvinsky, Ashley Kemp, Michael Caprio via Facebook, Eric Roy via Facebook, John Ganun, Patrick Rivera, Luis Raphael, Adam Barabáš via Facebook, Mike Hammer via Facebook, Steve Kim via Facebook. Banner photo courtesy of Armando Farfan Jr.

Male Revues from a Gay P.O.V. – Part 2


More info on where to go and what to expect from a gay guy’s perspective…

A few weeks back I explored the various resident male revues, ranking them in terms of their inclusion of audience members who are guys. It was, I think, a pretty thorough guidebook, but not entirely complete. At the end, I promised to contact two long-running stripper clubs that included male revues in their entertainment roster.

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Since publishing that original piece, I have reached out several times to the powers that be at Kings of Hustler and Men of Sapphire. Both expressed interest in participating in this article, yet neither provided responses to a series of questions I sent their way. Numerous follow-up attempts yielded nada, so I’m just going to let that go.

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I can say, however, that both locations permit attendance by men. Your level of interactivity will vary depending on the individual performers…and perhaps the degree of business they have that night (everyone has bills to pay and lap dances aren’t free). Also, since I was a guest at both places, I’m unable to provide admission prices.

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Another unresolved matter was my review of the upstart Black Magic Live. Unseen by me when Part 1 of this series was published, I wish that had remained the case. Black Magic Live is an absolute mess and I cannot recommend it at all. While not a mega-flop on the level of Magic Mike Live, it is indeed a cheap, chaotic disaster unworthy of your time and money.

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Because nothing says “Sexy Night in Vegas” like a wedding hall…                

Black Magic Live began its run at the Tommy Wind Theater, otherwise known as the place where shows go to die. It quickly moved to Ron Decar Events Center, a banquet hall belonging to Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel.

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Male revues gay

You may find yourself wanting to look away, too…                             

BML is now on its third venue for calendar year 2017. As of this month, the show is performing inside the little known Embassy Night Club in a skeevy industrial area past the west side of the Strip. The Latino spot was in the news this past April when three patrons were stabbed in the parking lot. Stay away!

I’ve also revisited both Chippendales and Aussie Heat at V Theater since the last article. The boys at Chipps continue to be the glossiest cast in town, but not much has changed aside from the completion of Tyson Beckford‘s hosting stint (…or is he back? The website still lists him). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Chippendales set the bar for all male revues.

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Aussie Heat, on the other hand, seems to have ramped up their willingness to entertain guests of both (all?) genders. Along with an infectious silliness and sense of fun, the lesser-known troupe from Oz (not to be confused with the always-coasting Thunder From Down Under) continues to bend over backward for each and every audience member.

And like the stripper clubs, they offer a free party bus to get you there and some of the lowest ticket prices in town. Groupon is currently offering $49 general admission seats for Aussie Heat with no additional fees. Compare that to Magic Mike Live, where the farthest seats of the upper balcony will still run you over $120.00.

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You may remember that I chose Aussie Heat as my #1 male revue for inclusion of all audience members. As you can see, the response is overwhelmingly positive:

Male revues gay

Male revues gay

Check out this clip below for a taste of Aussie Heat, recorded Saturday 10/28/17. Be aware that it is probably NSFW.

So there you have it, my most complete guide to male revue residencies for guys. Whichever one you choose, be sure to cut loose and have some fun.

After all, Sin City can’t do any sinning without you.

Photos: Sammasseur, Black Magic Live, Aussie Heat, Men of Sapphire, Kings of Hustler

Magic Mike Live Is D.O.A.


Poorly-conceived circus collapses under the weight of its own contradictions…

Imagine a bunch of “bros” arriving in Vegas, intent on having a rowdy time. They prop up their feet at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club, booze and money in hand, eager to be titillated. But instead of bare breasts and g-strings, the party boys get some low-rent male comedian babbling about his problems…and the ladies stay clothed.

You can believe there would be booing, flying fists and sailing beer bottles within a few minutes if this happened to guys. And yet, that same bait-and-switch is exactly what you’re served at Magic Mike Live…with the genders reversed. It’s a whole lot of  pro-female “humor” and blah-blah-blah masquerading as a male revue.

Magic Mike Live

Magic Mike Live

Despite being named after actor Channing Tatum’s pair of male-stripper films, this live show has essentially ZERO to do with them. It starts off promisingly enough, with local favorite Mark Shunock (Rock of Ages) gliding into the audience with a flashy jacket and flashier grin, then quickly plummets down the stairs.

One would assume that Shunock is channeling the first film’s “Dallas” (loosely based on real-life Vegas resident London Steele of Kings of Hustler). That calculating club owner, as portrayed by Matthew McConaughey, would make the perfect campy host for a rowdy night out. Alas, after a few raunchy jokes about desert-dried vaginas and such, Shunock disappears entirely (a cardboard standee of him is brought out during final bows…I’m not kidding).

Magic Mike Live

Next, a quartet enters the performance space, clad as your typical fantasy-hero types: cowboy, fireman, police officer, etc. A woman is coaxed onstage from the audience. It turns out that she is a plant…and subsequently the REAL emcee of the show. This abrasively-voiced harpy chides these characters for being misogynistic and cliched. But isn’t that what the movies were about?

What attracted audiences to the films were Channing and his hot Hollywood pals gyrating around in various states of undress, not the plot line. Complaints of “too much story” were even addressed in the sequel, wherein dance numbers and skin quotient were amped up.

Tatum and his production company, Iron Horse Entertainment, decided…after reading message boards…fans were demanding “more dancing and less story”. “Look, at the end of the day, it’s a stripper movie,” he says. Hence the extended dance sequences, with catchy tunes and screaming women in the background. The Straits Times, 7/8/15

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               The cast of Magic Mike Live begs you to buy into their nonsense…

But back to the show….the foursome of “Village People rejects” are forced offstage by the actual dancers of MML. You’re told in no uncertain terms that these are the kind of guys that women TRULY fantasize about. Spotlights scan the crowd, searching for “a doctor, a musician, the nice guy with a job, someone who will rub your feet without being asked”…you know, the type of men that sex-crazed women flew all the way to Vegas to drool over.

The hostess then promises multi-cultural offerings in what’s to follow and proves so by lining up four men in deepening shades of brown.  She squawks “I’ve always wanted to have a mixed (bi-racial) baby!” in an irritating cackle. Imagine how offensive this scene would be if viewed in the context of a stage production of ROOTS. It’s as ugly and off-putting as it sounds.

Magic Mike Live

Tatum has promised in interviews that Magic Mike Live would not reflect the movies (but has no issue with using the bankable name). Instead, his goal was for this project to focus on “female empowerment.” According to this show, what women want is just someone to impregnate them and pay their bills. It seems to me that women relying on men to get through life is the antithesis of female empowerment, wouldn’t you say?

So if you’re heading to Magic Mike Live to get your guy-porn on, you’ve just learned in no uncertain terms that you are SOL. Fortunately, there are genuine, infinitely superior and far less expensive male revues in Las Vegas for ladies (and gay guys) to spend their entertainment dollars on.

The messages conveyed in MML are so conflicting that they’re delusional. The fun-sucking emcee, portrayed by little-known Chicago comedienne Lyndsay Nicole Hailey (with Vegas local Chelsea Phillips-Reid subbing on Wednesdays), turns what might have been a guilty pleasure into a treatise on man-bashing. Expect divorce rates to soar among ticket-buyers.

At this point, you might be wondering how anything from the Magic Mike films connects to this fiasco. That answer comes in two parts. First, Lyndsay prays to a “mystical unicorn” who rewards her with a bejeweled microphone lowered from the ceiling (a magic mic….seriously?). She uses said mic to lure a handsome waiter onstage to try his hand at a striptease. It turns out that he’s also a plant…an employee supposedly named “Mike”. Oh, brother.

In the film, Mike is a construction worker who persuades a new guy on the crew to moonlight with him at a dance club. In a lame effort to distance the show from the movie, Mike is now the newbie instead.  He claims that he can’t dance, so Lyndsay exposes him to a series of sequences designed to fire up his libido and get those hips gyrating.

Magic Mike Live

What follows is a watered-down variation on Absinthe. Sets, props, and characters descend from the ceiling and rise from the floor. Singers, acrobats, aerialist and musicians appear, awkwardly draping audience members across a grand piano and the lap of a drummer.

Songs take center stage with relatively little in the way of actual strip-tease. The dancers are fully clothed for much of the proceedings. When they aren’t, you might find yourself wishing they were.

Magic Mike Live

It’s a bumpy ride both onstage and off at Magic Mike Live….      

The emcee struts onstage after each sequence, loudly declaring “how hot that was!”. At one point, that swagger becomes a stagger…her blouse and jacket are torn apart and her hair has fallen loose. “I feel like my vagina was just beaten up!” she exclaims. Is this entertainment or a PSA for battered women? Whatever it is, it’s in poor taste…and not funny in the slightest.

Magic Mike Live

Exactly 54 minutes pass before the first guy ditches his pants. Even then, his church-friendly briefs stay in place. How do I know the length of time so precisely? Because I couldn’t stop staring at my watch, eager for this mess to end.

Before the show limps its painful but welcome finale, Lyndsay can’t resist one final reminder of the inadequacies of men. She urges the ladies in the audience to get to their feet and hold one another. “When’s the last time you slow-danced with someone?”, she asks. Thanks, MML, for that feminist group-therapy session. Can we have some fun now?

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t reviewed the dancers, that’s because they play such an inconsequential part of the production as a whole. None of them are particularly memorable. Not even “Mike”, whose transformation into the titular character is actually quite dull.

Magic Mike Live

Magic Mike Live

The saving grace of the production is the venue itself. LOTS of Tatum-infused cash has been laid out to transform Hard Rock‘s Body English nightclub into an absolutely glorious theater. The corridor leading into it is tastefully appointed (aside from dozens of oddly-empty picture frames). A narrow stairway leads you down to the basement theater, a multi-level beauty.

Magic Mike Live

One oddity worth mentioning is the lack of a gift shop. Where are the t-shirts, calendars, posters and memorabilia? These things are standard at most Vegas shows. With more than a year of preparation since MML was announced, surely a line of souvenirs could have been produced and marketed. Very strange…as if Hard Rock had little faith in an extended run.

Update – since the original publishing of this review, an online store has been established. I’m uncertain if products are available at the showroom, as I’ve not been (and have no intention of going) back.

Magic Mike Live No

                                       This audience member’s sign says it all…

Once seated, a massive team of attractive ushers, bartenders and wait staff will make you feel welcome and pampered. A Hard Rock insider told me two months ago that all waiters and bartenders would be shirtless throughout their shifts (sadly, that’s not the case). But even without a show, I’d still stop there just to let them serve me a cocktail…or three.

Magic Mike Live

The true standouts here are indeed the wait staff…a collection of charming, attentive and handsome lads that exude more charisma and sex appeal than anything you’ll see onstage. Imagine, if you will…the first fake-out (Village People vs. Modern Man) gives way to a SECOND fake-out, wherein the studly waiters who’ve been giving you excellent service suddenly set down their trays and take to the stage. Now THAT would have been different…and far superior to anything that MML currently offers.

Magic Mike Live

Superstar Channing Tatum tossed oodles of money onto a vacuous stage….

As it is now, Magic Mike Live is a misandristic mess…an expensive and overblown bomb that’s about as sexy as Menopause – The Musical. It ranks alongside the first phase of Criss Angel BeLIEve as one of the most poorly-conceived Vegas productions of the past decade.

This is one major show desperately in need of a gutting and overhaul. Tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough.

MAGIC MIKE LIVE performs Wednesday through Sunday at 8 pm and 10:30 pm. Tickets start at $75 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here

Photos: Sammasseur

This article was previously posted elsewhere in another form.

Singer Willie Gomez Emerges From Britney’s Shadow


Spear’s longtime dancer is a vocalist who’s about to explode…

The following article previously appeared in a different form on anther website.

People have been flocking to Britney Spear‘s residency ever since it opened at Planet Hollywood over two years ago. The large-scale production has been a huge hit with her fans across the world. Britney – Piece Of Me is all about the star’s impressive songbook, spectacle, costumes, and dancing. However, there’s secretly a powerhouse singer on that stage along with the pop star. His name is Willie Gomez, and he’s working to make sure his voice is also heard around the world.

Gomez, who grew up in Miami, was inspired to take dance lessons after watching Britney Spears videos in his youth. That inner fire served him well, as he’s been featured in three of Britney’s music videos. A few months after appearing in Womanizer with her in 2008, he was cast as a principal in the pop singer’s Circus tour.

Willie Gomez

Willie remains a member of Britney’s dance crew and has been a part of the Piece of Me residency in Las Vegas since it opened. They embarked on a short-term set of dates across Israel and Asia before returning to Planet Hollywood in August (the final Vegas performance is scheduled for New Year’s Eve 2017).

Even though this writer is not a Britney fan, friends frequently urged me to check out the show. So I did…by way of YouTube. What I discovered was riveting – a small army of very attractive dancers with precision choreography and stage presence. Despite all of them being world class performers, one in particular stood out. His physique, facial gestures and movements were just in another league.

Willie Gomez

Being an admirer of hard-working performers, I had to know more. It took a bit of research to identify Willie’s name. Fortunately, he has an established fan base who mentioned his name in the video comments. They raved about his dancing…and his singing?

Yes, Willie has his own Youtube Channel with a growing collection of music videos. This is his most recent:

You can also check out his cover songs via Soundcloud by clicking here.

As the fates would have it, Willie is friends with a Hollywood chiropractor that I used to work with a dozen years ago in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Steve connected us and Willie agreed to meet for a conversation. A short while later, the two of us were having coffee before one of his performances at Britney: Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood.

Willie Gomez

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you encounter a person with that intangible “something.” There’s an energy they give off…an electric feeling you perceive almost subliminally. Willie has that aura. There’s a fire in his eyes and he crackles with energy, magnetism, and lots of warmth.

Willie Gomez

As much as Willie loves to dance, he feels he’s ready to share his passion for singing with the world. The videos that he’s released so far have been covers of songs by other artists. His expressive vocals give those familiar compositions a unique flavor. Now he’s preparing a collection of original recordings.

“I’m very involved in song-writing. I know what kind of songs I want to sing and there are some great writers working with me. They understand what I feel and how I want to bring those emotions across. Together we’ve collaborated on pieces that reflect who I am as an artist”.

Willie’s great looks have placed him on the cover of several magazines. Modeling and acting have brought him plenty of attention, but now he’d like to scale that back a little. When asked how important looks and sexuality are for a successful music career, he had this to say:

“I’ve done plenty of magazine shoots…and I’ve shown a lot of my body. It’s been fun, but they always want you to show more…and more. The past few years I’ve been getting away from that. I want my music to speak for itself, without relying on sex or gimmicks to sell it”.

While that philosophy is great for career longevity, there’s no question that Willie’s video performances have been drenched in fluid sexuality. Much of it undoubtedly came from his collaborations with Britney, which overflow with hot bodies of both genders.

After our conversation, Willie had me as his guest for Piece of Me. It was my first time seeing the show, but I learned during our conversation that I’d unknowingly seen him perform a few years back at the Caesars Palace Coliseum.

Willie was an aerialist in Australian pop star Kylie Minogue‘s incredible Aphrodite tour. That stunning, massive production was once rumored to be eyeing a Vegas residency. “I doubt you would have recognized me back then” he joked. “My head was shaved and I was mostly hanging upside down”.

Along with Minogue, Willie has shared the stage with the likes of Katy PerryChristina AguileraMary J. BligeKesha and many prominent Latino artists. But his loyalty to the pop princess is strong.

“The thing about Britney is that she allows us to be ourselves. Sure, we’re doing the choreo, but she encourages me and the others to make it our own. She’s very supportive, which is why I work with her. Not all artists are like that”.

Last fall, Britney posted a video message on her Instagram page, wishing Gomez luck on his singing career: “Willie is a dancer of mine, and not only is he a great dancer, but he is an amazing singer…and I had no clue. You’re amazing, good luck on your project, and I’m sending all my kisses to you”.

Willie Gomez

With a few years of preparation behind him, the Dominican Republic native is coming close to releasing a four-song EP, tentatively entitled “My Life”. He began the process by enlisting his favorite writers, producers, and directors. Then came an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to help finance the project.

The hardest thing, though, was just gathering enough courage to take the first steps:

“From the time I was a little boy I had big dreams, with music running through my veins. But, I had fear in my heart.  I was afraid of rejection and sharing who I really was, and what I always wanted to be – a singer”.

Willie did his first concert appearance in LA this summer, not long after the original version of this article appeared on another site. He posted some highlights and was thrilled by the response:

It’s only matter of time before Willie Gomez goes from a backup dancer to a full-fledged marquee name. With so many successes already under his belt, I asked the dancer/singer/actor/model how he’d most like to be remembered years from now:

No matter what I do, I give it my all. Right now I’m focused on my passion for singing. But I don’t want to be categorized for just one thing. I’m a performer.

That’s who I am.

 

Photos: Willie Gomez via Instagram/Facebook/Youtube, Sammasseur

Pride, Prejudice and a “Pitchfork”


Choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard redefines coming-out dramas with a genre-bending slasher film…

People who run on creative energy frequently have a passion project tucked away deep inside their mind. It lives there, growing and taking shape until it finally breaks free and becomes reality. For Emmy-nominated dance man Glenn Douglas Packard, that secret desire has been the creation of his own horror epic.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Glenn and I first connected in the cyber-world a few years back when a mutual friend posted a review of a movie thriller. As my longtime Florida buddy (who also happens to be named Glenn) and I were discussing the merits and shortcomings of the film, Packard chimed in…and I was like “Hey…aren’t you the guy from Men of the Strip?”.

Being a fan of MOTS frontman Jeff Timmons (98 Degrees), I’d had the good fortune to pen numerous Vegas Chatter articles about the show. Packard and crew had just wrapped up their splashy showcase at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues and it seemed surreal that we were now debating slasher films from far-flung corners of the country.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard, Timmons and Foland at Men of the Strip rehearsal…             

Fast forward to summer 2017, and once again I’m in Las Vegas, shadowing Timmons, show financier “Money” Mike Foland and Packard for a relaunch of Men of the Strip. One evening after rehearsals, Glenn and I (along with his associate and right-hand man David Mayorga) headed over to LGBTQ locals’ gem The Garage for cocktails…and to discuss how they turned Packard’s imagination into a silver-screen reality.

Pitchfork was created in the spirit of 70’s and 80’s franchises that, like their titular villains, refuse to stay dead. But the film’s tagline “Every Generation Has Its Monster” cuts a bit deeper. In our era of political turmoil, where LGBTQ citizens view the White House with concern and suspicion, one might ask who the true monster is.

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At the home of main character “Hunter”, that answer is even more complex. Returning to his family’s sprawling rural dairy farm and estate, Hunter is about to face a stern father who recently learned of his son’s homosexuality. Hunter’s not coming back alone though, as his art-school classmates have packed into a van for the weekend to throw him a coming-out party of sorts.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Sexual dynamics are front and center in most slasher films. Those barn-loft trysts and back-seat hookups inevitably lead to a bloody demise. In Pitchfork, sex and sexual subtext permeate nearly every sequence, especially as the story reaches its outrageous climax.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

It’s no accident that Pitchfork‘s maniac is a muscular, shirtless man…abs and pecs on display as he slices his way through the cast of characters. Under other circumstances he might be considered hot…in a kinky kind of way. But there’s the issue of a farm tool in place of his left hand. That’s one detail you’d probably leave out of your Grindr profile.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Both Hunter and “Pitch” have daddy issues and highly involved mothers. Each views himself as an outsider, desiring acceptance from his respective family. How they deal with being different, the way they were raised…and how they turn out as adults…offer a strong metaphor for “growing up gay” in today’s volatile and ever-changing society.

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When dreaming up the concept for Pitchfork, it’s unlikely that Packard envisioned he’d one day be acting as its producer, director, casting supervisor and choreographer, too. Yes…choreographer. Would you seriously expect a bunch of vacationing art students to NOT have a barn dance on their gay buddy’s farm?

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Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Did someone say “Barn Dance”?                         

Despite this being his directorial debut, Packard fills Pitchfork with plenty of style and memorable imagery. The camera swoops in and around each scene, accentuated with glorious aerial shots and starkly-lit night sequences by cinematographer/editor Rey Gutierrez. It boggles the mind that the film was recorded with a single camera in 21 days on the director’s own family farm.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

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                  Men of the Strip’s Keith Webb gets a sticky facial…                                              

Like most passion projects, family and friends offered their time and energy to make Pitchfork a reality. Dancer Keith Webb, who also worked with Packard on Men of the Strip, amps up the cast’s hunk quotient as an ill-fated jock.

Plenty of Sin City DNA infuses the heart and soul of Pitchfork. Vegas resident Mayorga from Zombie Burlesque and Men of the Strip served as Assistant Director. Darryl F. Gariglio of Grand Adventures Tours Las Vegas was its Executive Producer/writer. Chris Arrendondo, who creates the eerie creatures and characters for Circus Circus Fright Dome, did the stunning make-up work.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Packard and David Mayorga (back row) clown around with the cast….                         

During filming, Packard revealed a rather moving detail in the film’s making-of documentary: the lair where “Pitch” brings his victims is the actual shack that the director retreated to when he was bullied as a child.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Growing up as a gay person, especially in a rural community, can leave scars that never disappear. In Packard’s case, he used his own safe haven as a symbol for the damage that society can inflict on a developing psyche. His courage to face those memories and channel them into something positive is echoed in a soul-baring “It Gets Better” video from 2010.

Packard told me in our conversations that the effort that went into filming Pitchfork was crazy and intense, yet everyone seemed to have a great time. One would assume that the cast of eager young actors found it cool to be in a horror movie.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Since its release, Pitchfork has won accolades and awards throughout the horror-film universe. Now that Halloween season has arrived it’s finding a new legion of fans, especially within the LGBTQ community.

Glenn continues to promote the film via conventions and screenings. And there’s even a new comic-book novelization by actor/artist Andrew Dawe-collins (“Pa Hollister” in the film) that you can check out here.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

Any worthwhile slasher entry teases a sequel, even when the killer seems to be dead and dismembered. In Pitchfork, the unpredictable left-field denouement will leave you gasping…and clamoring for more. Luckily, Glenn told me that ideas for Pitchfork 2 and 3 are already swirling in his semi-twisted mind.

Pride Prejudice Pitchfork

That’s great news for chiller-thriller fans, because every generation needs its monster-movie king. Like John Carpenter and Wes Craven before him, Glenn Douglas Packard is on his way to becoming the next Master of Horror.

Pitchfork is available on a Special Edition Blu Ray/DVD and streaming services like REVRY, YouTube Movies and Amazon Prime.

Photos: Pitchfork, David Mayorga

Run, Don’t Walk to “Miss Behave Gameshow”


It’s kindergarten for grown-ups in this insane freight train to Bonkersville…

What do you do when a signature production shuts down, leaving its namesake theater empty? Well, if you’re Bally’s, you forget about the Jubilee! Showroom for awhile and convert the space that was once a gay bar (and a steakhouse before that) into a playground for adults. Then you put in a glitter-clad lady sword-swallower and her gender-nonspecific sidekick and let the balls fly.

Miss Behave Gameshow

Enter if you dare…                               

That’s the best description I can offer for Miss Behave Gameshow, the upside-down crowd-pleaser currently running at Bally’s. This faux-competition comedy/variety hybrid in The Back Room (adjacent to Indigo Lounge) will have you dancing, singing and playing with bags of trash. Seriously.

Miss Behave Gameshow

Run onstage and take a selfie…there are no rules…                       

The brainchild of British comedian Amy Saunders, Miss Behave Gameshow presents Saunder’s alter-ego “Miss Behave” in the title role as host. Assisted by a young guy with a carnival-barker mustache who goes by the name of “Tiffany” (not sure why, but okay), Miss Behave is a rapid-fire assault on the senses.

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The audience…and “Tiffany”…get split down the middle…                 

Combining pop culture trivia with today’s obsession with smartphones and a handful of sideshow acts, Miss Behave will have you buzzing about it long after the show is over. Be sure to charge your phone beforehand, as you’ll want to share your WTF video clips with friends when you return to the real world.

    Video highlights from Miss Behave Gameshow…                                             

It’s rather jarring to see the gorgeous former Liaison Nightclub stripped of its expensive custom oil paintings and adorned with Sharpie-marker cardboard signs. But Miss Behave Gameshow wears its cheapness proudly, like when a “mystery prize” turns out to be sacks of garbage hurled at the audience.

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Miss Behave Gameshow

Don’t worry, you’ll be tossing that refuse right back at Miss B. and Tiffany…they wallow in trash…and trashy humor. They also like sing-alongs and impromptu dance numbers. Don’t expect to sit in your seat for very long. The atmosphere here is literally uplifting, invigorating and totally free.

The premise of MBGS is simple. The audience is divided into two teams – iPhone users and “others” aka Android and the game is afoot. Saunders goes through a stack of cardboard signs on which questions and challenges are scribbled. For instance, “Shout Loudest” might have you trying to out-scream the other team…or just shouting the word “LOUDEST”. Can you guess which one scores a point?

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An audience member enjoys her “mystery prize”…                         

The rules are vague and flexible, as are the challenges and prizes. You want a point for your team? Stand up and ask for one. You may get it, maybe not. But that tactic can also backfire and end up losing your team several points instead. Offering bribes and cash will work, though. Really.

Miss Behave Gameshow

Despite her real-life Guiness Book records for sword-swallowing, Miss Behave keeps pointed objects away from Bally’s audiences. The sharpest things in her collection here are a razor blade wit…and a tongue that’s penetrated by the stem of a flower (don’t look if you’re squeamish).

Miss Behave Gameshow

Rewards are handed out randomly, like the lucky gal who got “A Prize”…those actual words written on a piece of cardboard. The grand prize is a go-for-broke plastic ball fight that makes the Chuck E. Cheese ball pits look like a night at the opera. Kindergarten for grown-ups, indeed!

Miss Behave Gameshow

There are no true victors at Miss Behave Game Show. As Saunders says during the final bows,  “Life is just a game. There are no winners, no losers…just players. So how do you win a game when there are no rules?  You just enjoy the game!”

After some uplifting philosophy, Miss B. and Tiffany join the audience in the anteroom for half-price cocktails, photos and conversation. You’ll find yourself wanting to stick around and relish the madness and positivity that exude from this wild, magnetic duo.

Miss Behave Gameshow

As Vegas continues to smother its productions with sameness and bland repetition, Miss Behave Game Show stands out as something uniquely “Sin City”. It’s an experience that you can’t have anywhere else…and that’s what Las Vegas is all about.

Miss Behave Game Show performs Wednesday through Sunday at 8pm inside The Back Room of Bally’s. Tickets start at $49.99 plus tax/fees and can be ordered here. VegasFool has a discount offer for $29 plus tax/fees by clicking here. Audience members must be 21 or over.

Photos/videos by Sammasseur