Scandal-laden puppet-master rides his shit-spewing rocket to New York NY’s obscure upstairs banquet room…
People often say that you shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down. But it’s hard to resist when the person in question is ventriloquist Terry Fator. Once the jewel in The Mirage’s entertainment crown, this walking tabloid magnet tumbled so hard and so fast that he was asked to leave the property.
Even his Tery Fator store was replaced with a shop that sold Kim Kardashian’s nasty-ass underwear. Refusing to admit defeat and fade off into memory, the controversial mouthpiece “Man of a Thousand Voices” vowed to return and rise again. Sound like anyone you know?
Fator managed to secure a holiday gig last year inside the former Zumanity Theater of New York NY. The news didn’t sit well with Christoper Kenny, creator of “Edie“, Zumanity’s host for more than a decade. You see, through his residency Fator has garnered a well-documented reputation of being a homophobe and bigot.
All eyes will turn to sin city for a groundbreaking new virtual reality/live LGBTQ experience
Remember last summer when we were all going batshit crazy with cabin fever thanks to a certain virus? Well, the brilliant minds at Fresh Wata Creative decided to host events outside of their home base at 3905 W. Diablo Drive (near Allegiant Stadium). Topless revues, drag shows, comedy acts and more drew crowds of locals and visitors alike And just like that, Dreamland Drive-In was born.
Fast forward twelve months, and now Fresh Wata‘s interior has been transformed into StarBase, a hybrid event center for in-person and virtual-reality functions. Born out of the entertainment needs of a deeply-changed society, StarBase is fully equipped with high tech, ten rooms of excitement and a team that’s ready to welcome revelers to our new reality.
StarBase’s creators believe hybrid events are the future for companies and brands post-pandemic and wanted to give event planners a turn-key solution by booking the event space. In hosting your conference or party at StarBase, you have the option to live stream content out to Facebook, Twitch or into the StarBase building.
There are many firsts at StarBase from the first NFT gallery in Las Vegas, to being the first fully operable hybrid event venue in the world featuring a digital twin in Microsoft’s Altspacevr called StarBaseXR. Attendees can meet at StarBase physically and virtually. StarBase XR is a world presented by a group of developers and professional producers at Fresh Wata, to replicate the venue as a 360 environment online.
StarBase XR can be visited in virtual reality from a headset, like an Oculus 2, or a Mac computer or PC. In other words, the venue is not limited to the physical location in Las Vegas and in general the team believes the sky is not the limit! Engagements will be held virtually inside StarBase XR for those unable to visit in person.
This weekend, Pride XR will lift off from the StarBase launching pad. PrideXR is the world’s first live/VR global LGBTQ Pride event:
StarBaseand Dreamland presents PrideXR, the world’s first hybrid live/virtual reality Pride event on June 25 and 26, presented by Bud Light Seltzer and InterPride, a nonprofit dedicated to producing Pride parades, marches, festivals and events.
Revelers can celebrate two ways – through a custom-built virtual reality world via VR headset, or in person. Hosted on social platform AltspaceVR, the VR world features a full Pride experience with a dance floor, red carpet, vendors, hologram DJs, charity auctions and a PrideXR parade.
Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. – Failed to Render Comedy Show
Stand-up comedians from Failed to Render, the first-ever hybrid comedy show, will take the stage in real life for the first time while simulcasting their show in VR. Following the show, DJ Celeste and DJ Skye will perform at the after party, along with live performances by Puerto Rican trap artist DAmire MAjor and more. Tickets are $35 and include a complimentary drink. Click here to order. Table and bottle service also available for the live show.
Saturday, June 26 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. – Starfire Saturday
Edie from Faaabulous! The Show will host the hottest LGBTQ+ dance party in the galaxy, featuring hybrid live/virtual reality performances by DAmire MAjor, Kristine Mirelle, Vanessa Lynnae, DJ Celeste, DJ Skye, DJ Aravi and DJ Luke Dice, along with surprise guest appearances throughout the night.
Tickets give you general access to all PrideXR events at StarBase on Saturday, June 26th, featuring the world’s first hybrid live/virtual reality nightclub experience presented by Bud Light Seltzer. With dazzling out-of-this-world performances hosted by Edie from ZUMANITY, and special celebrity guest appearances all night.
Tickets are $39.05 and include a complimentary drink. Vegas Unfiltered readers can get $20 off by using code “sam20“. Click here to purchase tickets. Bottle service available first come first serve or book in advance via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. StarBase is located at 3905 W. Diablo Drive in Las Vegas, near Allegiant Stadium.
Treasure Island’s New male revue comes out of Nowhere and Blows The Rest Away…
This is one of the rare times that I feel guilty for writing a rave review. Why? Because I’m about to state that the newest male revue in Las Vegas is far superior to anything we’ve seen before. And that’s a pretty significant claim to make. Get ready for Uncensored International Show at Treasure Island Hotel Casino.
First and foremost, Uncensored International has the hottest collection of guys you will probably ever see on one stage. Their tagline is “Younger. Stronger. Harder”. The flawless faces, stunning physiques, perfect skin and stimulating body language truly are of the highest caliber. Believe me when I tell you that the cast is huge! There are at least eight jaw-dropping gentlemen onstage at any given time, and each one is sheer perfection in talent and size (ahem).
Uncensored International is performed in the second-level event space of Senor Frog’s, known to many as the home of the world-famous Voss Events Drag Brunch. The unusual, sprawling layout of this venue would be a challenge for most productions, but Uncensored International transforms it into something both intimate and epic at the same time.
There are three performance platforms inside Senor Frogs – a wide central stage and two smaller ones. All of them are utilized simultaneously, enveloping the audience in the action from every angle. The guys crisscross from one spot to the the next, leaping across tables, swinging on poles and running from end to end. Live video feeds are broadcast on floor-to-ceiling digital screens, ensuring that you won’t miss a second of the sizzle.
Never before have I seen a male revue packed with such energy and power. Lighting and effects are amped to the max, accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack that dares you to sit still. Thankfully, chit-chat is kept to a minimum, aside from the priceless emceeing of the Supreme Queen herself, Shannel. This world-famous drag star is known to millions via her appearances on television’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as her Vegas stints at 53X and Drag Brunch.
Uncensored International begins with a bang. Actually, lots of them, as the guys position themselves behind large drums across the entire space. When the music begins, their pounding causes a Blue Man Group-inspired water spray which drenches their clothing. So begins a striptease that gives way to pole dancing directly over the audience.
Various set pieces include Game of Thrones-inspired barbarians, a classy Vegas crooner number, locker room showers, and a prison transport sequence. Looking to heat things up even more? Wait until the stage is literally set on fire. Audience members are frequently pulled in for some seriously raunchy antics, so don’t expect to remain a wallflower for long.
Alas, there are a few minor caveats to the new production. Despite the fact that at least one quarter of the attendees on premiere weekend were men, guys are barely acknowledged by the dancers. My companion questioned a cast member on this issue, and the response was something along the lines of “We’re working on that”. Let’s hope so. My two-part article (here and here) compares other Vegas male revues for inclusivity, an important matter these days.
Update 6/16/21 – I’ve seen Uncensored International two more times since posting this review, and the cast, producers and host have taken major steps to making the show inclusive. Shannel now acknowledges the gentlemen in the audience with jokes and banter, the performers make eye contact, give close-up dances and more.
My friend and I were drawn into the action this past Saturday, as these photos demonstrate. They even came over after the show to chat with us in the casino. Way to go, everyone!!!!
My second beef has to do with cocktail service. There was only one bartender, who was located in a dark, grungy corner far opposite the entrance and stages. I had to ask an employee where to get a drink, then missed the beginning of the show due to a long line. A cocktail server eventually came around, but by then the show was more than half over. Everyone knows that the real money is in alcohol sales, so Senor Frog’s needs to step up their game right away. More bartenders plus more cocktail servers equals happy Vegas partiers.
Update 6/21/21 – I have now seen UNCENSORED five times since it opened, and drink service has improved dramatically. There are now cocktail waiters and waitresses on the floor during seating and canvassing the showroom throughout the performance. Since my initial complaint, I’ve had no problems getting served. It’s nice to see improvements actually taking place in an era where service and amenities are constantly being chipped away. Dollars and sense…
As for the production, it was created in 2014 and at one point featured Latino actor/heartthrob William Levy. Producer Omar Suárez is known throughout Latin America for his work on Perfume de Gardenia, the largest stage spectacle ever seen in Mexico. It was choreographed by Eitan Tellez, who specializes in jazz, hip-hop, ballet and Latin fusion. Together, they’ve delivered a scorching 75 minutes that Las Vegas audiences expect and deserve.
I was extremely pleased with Uncensored International Show, and plan to visit again and again. Sin City might still be in shock by Chippendales‘ ouster from Rio Las Vegas, but there’s new crop of bad boys to scratch that itch. And they’re more than welcome on the Strip.
Senor Frog’s is located off the casino floor at Treasure Island. Showtimes are as follows:
Stellar talent raises awareness and funds to combat opioid crisis through ‘Victoria’s Voice Foundation’
Ah, freedom…it feels so wonderful. Gone are the capacity limits, mask requirements and temperature checks. Restaurants are back to serving great meals, clubs are opening and entertainers have taken to the stage. As Las Vegas welcomes back conventions, sporting events and concerts, one of the first fundraisers out of the gate is MUSIC FOR LIFE: An Evening to Save Lives at Westgate Las Vegas.
If you caught my article from a few days ago, you know that June 5th will be an exciting evening with actor Mark Patton (A Nightmare On Elm Street 2) to benefit LGBTQ youth. As luck would have it, the star’s host hotel Westgate will have their own spectacular show on the same evening. On June 5th at 7 pm, a collection of world-renowned names will donate their talented vocals for Victoria’s Voice Foundation.
The story behind Victoria’s Voice is one of tragedy and inspiration. Westgate Resorts patriarch David A. Siegel and wife Jacqueline lost their lovely daughter Victoria to a drug overdose in 2015. Only 18 years old at the time, Victoria left behind a secret diary that her parents found with the help of a friend. The grief-stricken parents decided to publish the diary, along with helpful resources, as a book. Their hope is that Victoria’s first-hand account might change the path of other youth facing the same demons.
In the ensuing six years, Victoria’s Voice Foundation has grown into a a massive initiative of projects, events, videos and resources. They’re aimed at ultimately ending the tragedies that result from drug dependency and abuse, especially in our young population. You can learn more about the services available from Victoria’s Voice Foundation by visiting here.
After the chaos of 2020, the nation needs charities like Victoria’s Voice more than ever. That’s why Westgate Las Vegas is bringing the power of entertainment to their International Theater for a one-night concert like no other:
Music For Life
A tribute to life, this momentous program aims to feature the country’s top talent and recognizable artists to parents and kids alike, such as AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC, and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, in one of the most exclusive venues in all of Las Vegas, The International Theater of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
Known to be the home of music icons Elvis Presley, Dionne Warwick and Barry Manilow, this venue now becomes the site where David and Jacqueline’s friends and partners will come together once again to take the mission to the next level.
An Evening to Save Lives: MUSIC FOR LIFE is a special event to support the critical mission of the Victoria’s Voice Foundation to end the opioid crisis and save our youth. The work of the foundation is even more urgent now as the current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of overdose-related deaths. All of your support and donations from this invitation-only event will help us continue our fight.
Music for Life is being produced by Johnny Wright, one of the most successful music executives in the industry. Wright has played a key role in the careers of multi-platinum acts like Janet Jackson, Menudo, Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake and NSYNC. The concert line-up definitely reflects his background, with the inclusion of some significant performers from the boy band era.
World’s greatest party rocker DJ Lux will bring the crowd to its feet. Then Chris Blue, one of the brightest new stars on the scene, will take to the stage. Chris is the winner of season 12 of The Voice and is rising up the charts with his new single “Moon”. Watch the video here.
The roster of entertainers should thrill a broad spectrum of attendees. Fans of Detroit-style R & B can groove to the smooth, sultry sounds of Soul of Motown. This five-person act, which sets a new standard for tribute groups, just returned to Westgate Cabaret with their residency show. In addition, members Sean and Brandon Godfrey have risen to new heights with their NPerson duo gigs at Westgate’s International Bar.
Vocalists include Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC, AJ McLean of Backstreet Boys, and my personal favorite….Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees. Jeff and I go back a number of years, and this Sin City mega-hunk is always ready to dive into charity events…especially ones that take place in his hometown.
To reserve your seats for this one-of-a-kind evening, follow this link. Tickets start at only $39.95 (plus taxes/fees). If you’d like to learn more about Victoria’s Voice Foundation, head here.
MUSIC FOR LIFE will be held Saturday June 5th at 7pm inside Westgate International Theater. Tickets start at $39.95 (plus taxes/fees).To better accommodate accessible ticket needs, Westgate Las Vegas Resort has requested that all special seating accommodations be solicited only through their representatives. Please contact a Westgate Las Vegas Resort representative for further help with your ticket purchase. Advance ticket purchase may be required. Telephone Number(s):702 732-5755 OR 800 222-5361
Embattled actor shares survival story that cuts deeper than fred kreuger’s glove…
It seems as though every horror movie franchise has an entry that’s perceived as the “red-headed stepchild”. There’s JASON X, in which Friday the 13th’s hockey-masked slasher is sent into space. HALLOWEEN 3 replaced Michael Myers with a mask-making Irish warlock (sounds absurd but is actually freaking awesome!).
Some of these films eventually gain a huge cult following for being ‘ahead of their time’. That’s exactly what happened to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: Freddy’s Revenge. A sequel to Wes Craven’s 1984 breakout hit, 1985’s homo-erotic Part 2 broke nearly all the rules. “Nancy”, the survivor of the first film, was written out and forgotten. Robert Englund‘s dream-stalking Fred Kreuger was now able to occupy the real world. But the most daring decision was to make Kreuger’s new target an awkward teenage boy.
That might not seem like such a big deal now, but remember that in the 80’s, Jamie Lee Curtis and other female “scream queens” were screeching their way to the top of box office and video rental charts. To complicate matters, Elm Street 2‘s sensitive male protagonist “Jessie Walsh” seemed to be (despite initial denials by the writer) more than just a little gay. He appeared to be PLENTY gay. And as it turned out, so was Mark Patton, the actor who brought Jessie to life.
I could delve into great detail on how Patton’s breakout role, combined with his closeted homosexuality, made life a living Hell for the young man. But you can relive it through Mark’s own words via the award-winning Scream, Queen – My Nightmare On Elm Street. This powerful documentary, which holds a 100% critics rating on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, dives deeply into Patton’s painful treatment, fan backlash, casting-director blacklisting, public slandering, and his eventual decision to leave Hollywood and the United States behind.
Decades later, Mark was found in Mexico by private investigators who were hired on behalf of NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. This four-hour Elm Street documentary (ironically spearheaded by Heather Langenkamp, the actress he replaced) allowed Patton to revisit his experiences on Part 2, which now carries the label of “gayest horror film ever made”. Thus began his journey back into the limelight, one that changed Mark’s personal outlook from “victim” to “survivor”….and eventually to “social activist”.
Patton believes that his personal survival of Hollywood homophobia can inspire today’s LGBTQ youth, so he’s coming to Las Vegas for a special screening of Scream, Queen. What’s more, he’s inviting a group of gay Las Vegas teens (some of them homeless) to attend. Cineloggia Movie Prop Museum Gallery, in conjunction with THE CENTER (also known as the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Las Vegas), will welcome these young people free of charge.
Mark Patton devotees, Elm Street enthusiasts, and the general public are invited to purchase tickets to Scream, Queen and two related events. Here’s the press release:
As you may remember from my previous articles, fan-centric events really are a hot ticket. I’ve covered the annual Star Trek Convention, told you about meet-and-greet opportunities at The 35 Cinema, and given you insider details on this year’s DAYS OF THE DEAD in downtown Las Vegas. Now Sin City cinephiles have the rare opportunity to spend a few intimate hours with horror cinema’s most reclusive trailblazer.
Westgate Las Vegas has graciously offered their services as host hotel for Mr. Patton during his first appearance in Sin City. The iconic resort will present MUSIC FOR LIFE, a benefit for Victoria’s Voice Foundation, on the same weekend. I’ll be providing information on that concert, which raises funds to combat America’s youth opioid crisis, in an upcoming article.
If you’d like to attend any or all of Cineloggia‘s Mark Patton/Scream, Queen weekend events, tickets can be ordered here. And if you’d like to offer support for THE CENTER, they always welcome sponsors, volunteers, supply donations, and financial aid. Click here to learn more about THE CENTER.
New male revue features pedigree talent, chiseled abs…and one sizzling lady…
With nearly every major production already re-opened or slated to, it’s inconceivable that world-famous Chippendales male revue was recently evicted from Rio Las Vegas. In the past few months, a reborn Thunder From Down Under has gained steam, Aussie Heat continues to pack Mosaic Theater, and the awful Magic Mike Live‘s relaunch at Sahara Hotel is now scheduled for August (several false starts later).
While Chippendales searches for a new home, some cast members have scattered to parts unknown or taken non-entertainment roles. But at least three of the cuffs-and-collar crew are back onstage in a fledgling male revue called ROCK CANDY.
ROCK CANDY has taken a clever casting route by filling its recipe with laid-off performers from major shows like Le Reve and Cirque du Soleil productions. There’s also a heaping helping of AUSSIE HEAT with a few sprinkles of Thunder. Add a dash of one sexy lady and you’ve got a colorful display of morsels that is worth digging into with both hands and your teeth.
Rock Candy Male Revue is an intimate fantasy journey through the mind of your hostess, Rosa. This is not your typical Male revue, where the men think they know how to fulfill every woman’s fantasy. Rock Candy will entice your mind and stimulate your senses from a female perspective, as Rosa directs the dancers like her muses to bend to her will and desires. Every performance is different, while Rosa’s mind wanders from voyeuristic fantasies, uniformed dreams, and even a bit of bondage play. The Rock Candy dancers are Rosa’s playthings as she daydreams the night away.
Rosa Agius – Your Host
The big-budget Magic Mike Live could learn a few lessons from ROCK CANDY. Foremost is how to have a female host that doesn’t run interference between the guys and the audience. Mike‘s shrill emcee yanks you out of the fun with her incessant blather, but Rosa Agius serves as the perfect tour guide.
This super-sexy dancer/actress/choreographer/entrepreneur explores a variety of scenarios that draw you so deep, deep, deep into fantasy land that you just might need a towel.
Sydney-born Rosa is one of the most ambitious entertainers in the city. Besides performing in ROCK CANDY, she runs her own apparel/furnishings company (Aussie Allure), operates an entertainment production company and is a VIP hostess at The Garden, the hunk-packed nightspot I told you about in this article.
Rosa probably has her lovely hands in even more enterprises, but thinking about it has made me exhausted. So let’s just enjoy a few of her fabulous photos before proceeding onto the men.
You can see more of Rosa Agius by following her Instagram page here.
Now let’s taste a few delicious samples from the extensive selection at ROCK CANDY. Keep in mind that the large cast rotates from performance to performance….so you’ll want to dig into the candy bowl more than once.
Miguel Rivera Laureano –
When dancer Miguel Rivera Laureano made the move from Le Reve to Chippendales, his new employers couldn’t have been more pleased. “We’ve been trying for about two years to get him”, one of them confessed to me. And who could blame them for wanting to land this level of smoldering talent? Miguel is as good of a dancer as they come, and his looks and physique made him the perfect match for their cast.
Seeing Miguel back onstage at Rock Candy this past week was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been an admirer of his for a long time (Le Reve was my favorite production until the pandemic forced its closure). I can’t say if he’ll return to Chippendales when they reopen, but he’s a terrific fit for RockCandy, too. And…why wait for “then” when you can see him RIGHT NOW!
If you’re into Latin lovers, then one scorching Miguel is never enough. ROCK CANDY serves up two hot tamales with the casting of Miguel Reyes Santiago. Be careful not to confuse them, as Santiago was in the Le Reve cast, too. He’s also been in Cirque du Soleil‘s MJ One and Vegas! The Show. So while other male revues are more about the looks, Santiago’s resume proves that the studs of ROCK CANDY can really dance!
Mr. Santiago’s manly chest and rippling abs are the product of hours of training. An avid cross-fit participant, he recently traveled to Tulum, Mexico, where he gave their famous “Jungle Gym” a try. Shirtless, of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re a follower of local Vegas bands, chances are that you’ve seen Ryan Kelsey behind the guitar. A born entertainer with show business in his blood, Kelsey plays venues of all sizes. He’s also a consummate dancer, having progressed from Chippendales swing performer and calendar model to their official Dance Captain.
As is the case with Miguel Rivera Laureano, the handsome musician joined the cast of ROCK CANDY while Chippendales loyalists await the verdict on when, where, or if the original male revue will return. In the meantime, Kelsey is tantalizing audiences at Alexis Park Resort every weekend. His fans will undoubtedly follow him there. And you can follow Ryan via Instagram by visiting this page.
Antonio GrandA manzano –
Young Cuban Antonio Granda Manzano is another one of those handsome hardbodies that you’ve seen all over town. You might not know his name, but it’s hard to miss his memorable features on billboards and ad campaigns for The STRAT hotel, Passion libido spray (say what?), Navi Collection swimwear and INMEX eyewear.
An international entertainer who’s been all over the world, the singer/dancer/actor has been in numerous stage productions, TV commercials and films. Antonio is also a horror movie enthusiast who spends many evenings attending the fright fests at West Wind Las Vegas Drive-in Theater. And he somehow finds the time to pick up extra cash as one of the hot staff at The Garden, along with his dear friend Rosa Agius (see above).
Get to know Antonio a little better by stalking visiting him on Instagram via this link.
Jeffrey Garrovillo –
Every class has a clown. And every group of guys has the “bad boy”. Jeffrey Garrovillo fulfills both roles in ROCK CANDY. As outlandish as he is naughty, the seasoned entertainer sports a physique as memorable as his distinctive hair style.
Jeffrey is as home in the water as he is onstage, being both an experienced technician for “O” at Cirque du Soleil and a former man of Chippendales (yes, another one!). If you want to how this sexy stud got that slamming body, then ask Teresa Van. She’s the owner of ENVY Training, which I profiled here. Jeffrey is a trainer at ENVY and excels at kickboxing, which explains his supple abs and impressive flexibility.
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into Jeffrey Garrovillo, then check him out on Instagram right here.
Nino Anthony SMith –
He’s a stunning dancer. An actor. A stuntman. A teacher. A host. He’s Nino Anthony Smith, the multi-hyphenate action man of ROCK CANDY. Nino might come across as a little intense, especially with his steely gaze. But once he smiles, you’ll see the little kitten behind Nino’s panther-like facade.
Speaking of panthers, word has it that Mr. Smith was part of the large cast of Marvel‘s mega-hit BLACK PANTHER. How’s that for an impressive entry on the resume? He’s also a big fan of horror films. One of his favorite actresses is Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 and 5), who happens to be the manager of The 35 Cinema right here in Las Vegas. And Nino has delved into the horror genre himself, playing the undead in a recent zombie flick.
If you want to see Nino Anthony Smith very much alive and up close, get your tickets to ROCK CANDY. And you can follow his latest activities on Instagram.
ROCK CANDY performs Friday through Sunday at 8pm inside Alexis Park Resort at 375 East Harmon Avenue. Audiences members must be 21 or over. Tickets start at $59.95 via the official website, but you can save up to 25% by ordering via BestofVegas.com. right here.
Photos: ROCK CANDY cast and show social media, Levi Walker and Noel Dahl. Photographers are credited at those sites.
Long-running male revue takes early lead as most-improved production of 2021…
Regular readers of Vegas Unfiltered Blog have probably figured out by now that this writer is an out-and-proud gay man. If you haven’t, my long-running “Hot Guys of Vegas” series should have tipped you off. Nevertheless, this column has never been focused on that aspect of my personal life. I just mention it now to give some insight on my perspective of male revues.
Clowning with the guys of “Aussie Heat”…
That being said, I’ve spent many a night with my friends at Aussie Heat and Chippendales. And I’ve deliberately avoided that misguided mess called Magic Mike Live (one of the worst major productions of any kind). The other that’s been high on my “Do Not Fly” list is Australia’s Thunder From Down Under at Excalibur.
My first visit to “Thunder” was in December 2015…
If you’re curious as to why “Thunder” ranks so low in the hierarchy of Vegas beef-fests, the full review from 2018 is here. But I can give you the Cliff Notes version:
“It’s everything that the equally awful Magic Mike Live ridicules male revues for being. Packed with rote production numbers, Thunder will have you mentally scratching off each item from the list of cliches as it plays out on a cheap plywood stage.”
Now, I experience no joy in publishing negative reviews, especially when the cast and crew are rarely to blame. “Thunder” being in a temporary venue at the time (their second-floor showroom was undergoing a desperately-needed re-fit) certainly didn’t help. But three years later, I revisited this “Outback throwback” on a whim and found myself having a fantastic evening.
“Thunder” shares a revamped showroom with “Australian Bee Gees”…
Let’s start with the venue itself. The newly-christened THUNDERLAND showroom received a pretty modern retrofit. The odd two-level footprint is sadly unchanged, and the choice of furniture is somewhat curious (psuedo-IKEA, much like Mat Franco’s space at The Linq). But the current positioning of seats and tables has improved the sight lines. Moving video walls double as a stage curtain, bar service has received an overhaul (with optional online ordering), and the lighting/sound system booms like a beating chest.
Speaking of chests, the cast of Thunder is one pec-tastic bunch. Each is chiseled, handsome, and much better at dancing than the last go-round. And this is where I noticed the first major improvement…individual performers are given a chance to shine. Each guy is introduced after their respective showcase moment, removes their mask, offers a few words to the audience…and one even sings the rafters loose.
As for the ensemble numbers….my biggest gripe was the lazy choreography and cliched acts. Mercifully, “George of the Jungle” seems to have crashed into his final tree, and the vampires have retreated to their coffins. Replacing them are an uncomfortable SWAT team sequence in riot gear (too soon, guys) and a take on the 300 Spartans (meh). The rest is a top-shelf combination of musical hits, contemporary moves, and extreme athleticism that brings horney guests to their feet.
It’s worth noting that the element of male audience inclusion remains unchanged since my last review:
“Don’t expect to get more than a fist-bump from the dancers as they work their way through the audience. The rough-and-tumble men of the Outback are dripping with testosterone, but only seem interested in sharing it with the ladies.”
The show is specifically geared towards women, and the few guys in attendance are presumed to be supportive straight men (not tonight, fellas!). Hopefully the minds behind Thunder will catch up with the all-are-welcome Aussie Heat and realize that they’re turning away an untapped, lucrative market. Click here and here for more of my analysis on that topical subject.
New host Scott Reading is sass, class…and one sweet surprise…
Now for the best improvement of all….host Scott Reading. This bloke is just about everything you could hope for in a male-revue emcee. He’s sexy, charming, charismatic, funny, engaging, spontaneous, and downright fantastic. In other words, he’s everything that former front-man Marcus Deegan wasn’t:
Abrasive and short-tempered, Deegan seems to take delight in belittling rowdy audience members. The past two times that I’ve seen THUNDER, Deegan’s stopped the show dead in its tracks to berate rowdy women. He’s gone so far as to blatantly tell them to “Shut the f*ck up”. On one occasion, he came out during final bows to flip his middle finger at an audience member while mouthing “F*ck you!”…and it wasn’t done with a wink.
Yes, Marcus…that’s the exit door…
Who knows how many ticket-buyers failed to return thanks to Marcus and his abusive antics? But with any luck, he’s gone for good. Let’s hope that Scott Reading is a permanent fixture. He alone is worth the price of admission….and that’s before he unleashes a massive surprise at the finale.
With the recent sale of RIO Hotel Casino to Hyatt, there’s no telling when gold-standard CHIPPENDALES will return to Sin City…if ever. Thank goodness Thunder From Down Under has stepped up to the plate. It’s an early front-runner for “Most Improved Production of 2021”. And once COVID restrictions are finally removed, this generous serving of beef from the Outback will become a veritable buffet.
Australia’s Thunder From Down Under performs Wednesday through Monday at 9pm with additional showtimes on weekends. Click here for full schedule and to order tickets. Prices start at $70.95 (plus taxes/fees).
Photos: Sam Novak, Thunder From Down Under, Scott Reading via Instagram
New production dares to break the cardinal rule of drag entertainment….
Update 3/12/21 – Since the original publication of this article in 2019, much has changed on the Vegas entertainment landscape. After a thorough search (and waiting for just the right time), the creators of ‘FAAABULOUS! The Show’ are launching this evening at their new resident location.
‘FAAABULOUS! The Show’ will perform every Friday night at 8pm inside the innovative and daring NOTORIETY LIVE in downtown Las Vegas. Price is $39.99 plus taxes/fees. To learn more about NOTORIETY LIVE, click this link for my article. To purchase tickets for ‘Faaabulous’, head right here.
NOTORIETY LIVE is located in downtown Las Vegas on the third level of NEONOPOLIS at the corner of N. 4th Street and 450 Fremont Street, above The 35 Cinema and The Nerd.
There are those who say that Britney Spears’ residency at Planet Hollywood was essentially a large-scale drag show. Outrageous costumes. Sexy back-up dancers. A heavily made-up performer who mimed her way through songs while sashaying around the stage, lip-syncing to the lyrics. Check-check-check.
Being a naysayer of Spears and her own wooden, detached performances, I’ve found it more entertaining to enjoy the talents of Britney impersonators. Becoming someone other than yourself….now that’s real talent. Vegas favorites like Derrick Barry (America’s Got Talent, DIVAS) and Katie Murdock (Blond Invasion, Legends In Concert) take that artistry even higher by physically embodying the star while having angelic singing voices of their own.
The one common element for all of these productions is that drag artists rarely do any actual singing. Lip-syncing is the norm for this type of entertainment, hence the references to Britney. But that’s about to change with the debut of FAAABULOUS! The Show. This limited-run production will be the only singing/dancing/comedy drag show in Las Vegas…and they hope it finds a permanent home.
FAAABULOUS! The Show is a labor of love. It’s created by two heavy-hitters with lengthy show-biz pedigrees. Christopher Kenney is best known to audiences as “Edie“, hostess of ZUMANITY by Cirque du Soleil. Writer/performer Jamie Morris is currently starring in the eye-opening Puppetry of the Penis at Erotic Heritage Museum and created new material for ZUMANITY’s 2015 refresh.
Together, this partnership of boundless talent has captured the essence of drag and infused it with the vocal and comedic skills of five artists, each possessing their own impressive accomplishments:
Bella T. Ross, Dusty Muffin, Junebug, San San and Vita Summers…
BELLA T. ROSS is the creation of Josh Ross, a Los Angeles native and a Debbie Allen Dance Academy graduate who has been performing professionally for 15 years. Some of his credits include The Disney Channel’s “Suite Life of Zack&Cody,” Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!,” Tokyo Disney’s “Mystic Rhythms,” “Chicago The Musical” aboard The Allure of the Sea, “Cats The Musical” at Tuacahn Center for the Arts, “The Grinch Live!” at Universal Studios Hollywood, and “A Las Vegas Christmas” at The Linq Las Vegas.
DUSTY MUFFIN is the creation of C. Lash who is music supervisor/director and arranger for FAAABULOUS. He also created arrangements and direction for BAZ – Star Crossed Love (Palazzo), Scorsese: An American Crime Requiem (The Wallis), Tarantino (The Wallis) and Love Actually: Live (The Wallis). He was also the resident musical director and guest faculty member for UNLV’s Theatre Department.
JUNEBUG is the creation of Brooks Braselman, a Leo who enjoys thunder storms and keeping secrets. After majoring in musical theater at Boston’s Emerson College Brooks moved back to his home town of New Orleans. It was here he first squeezed his enormous head under a wig as Chicklet in “Psycho Beach Party” (Big Easy Award nomination). Since then Brooks has played a gaggle of lovely “ladies” including Christina Crawford in “Mommie Queerest (LA Weekly Award nomination), Natalie Green in “The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode,” Clarice startling in “The Silence Of The Clams,” Agnes Gooch in “Auntie Mame”, Velma Cruther in “Shut Up Sweet Charlotte!” He can currently be seen as Brock Hutchinson, along side John Malkovich, in the film “Supercon”, currently streaming on Amazon Prime!
SANDRA SANTIGOLD (“San San”) is the creation of Justin Rodriguez, a native of Queens, N.Y. who has called Las Vegas home for over 25 years. Credits include the National Tour of “RENT” (Angel), emcee/host of “Island Heat” at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino, multiple roles in “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” at Bally’s Las Vegas; and even survived the short lived “Spoofical: The Musical” at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. He is currently the front man for “Extreme Live”, a brand new immersive music experience at the Linq Las Vegas.
VITA SUMMERS is the creation of Ashton Shawver who played the role of Suzanne Sugarbaker in “Re-Designing Women” in Dallas (world premier), San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale and off-Broadway in New York. As Vita, Ashton has won several titles in the drag world including Texas All-American Goddess at Large and Miss Fire Island her first summer performing at the popular LGBTQ enclave. Vita also performed alongside Katy Perry on Saturday Night Live. A native of Texas who now lives and works in Ft Lauderdale, Vita is excited to be making her Las Vegas stage debut!
“No lip-synching. No impersonations. The cast of “Faaabulous! The Show” – Vita Summers, Bella Ross, Sandra Santigold, Dusty Muffin and JuneBug – are true triple threats. They sing, they dance, and they are damn funny! Kenney and Morris want to take drag to the next level and they believe this is the show that Las Vegas needs right now”.
Prolific Performer Is Back On the ‘JUBILEE’ Stage For Sin City’s Newest Spectacular…
There’s a familiar saying that you “can’t go home again”, a perspective that never made much sense to this writer. So many things in our culture revolve around homecomings: family and class reunions, “home for the holidays”, the tale of the “prodigal son”. It’s only through revisiting our beginnings that we gauge how far we’ve come in life.
Entertainer Adam Barabáš has had many homes throughout the years. He grew up in Dubnica nad Váhom, Slovakia, and spent several years on tours across the world. He even had an extended stay in Japan that would make for an interesting movie (you’d have to ask him about that yourself). But through all those adventures, Adam still finds his way back to Sin City time and again.
I graduated from ballet at the Conservatory of Dance and Arts in Slovakia. After that I won ‘Mr. Slovakia’, and I decided to try my chances in the U.S. So, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles and continued taking classes five times a week. Getting an agent was how I found my way to Vegas.
I first became aware of Adam at a performance of JUBILEE. Sailing across the stage in a classic top hat and tails, the handsome blonde captured my attention with his stunning grace and magnetic smile. Waltzing through the infamous “TITANIC” sequence, Barabáš exited, then reappeared in the next set….a recreation of the ocean liner’s engine room.
Now a sweaty laborer, Adam was soaking wet, stripped to the waist, and covered in grease and grit, fighting for his life in the fiery boiler room of the ill-fated ship. It was all very over-the-top, just as the famed showgirl spectacular was meant to be. And it showcased the visual and physical attributes of this athletic heartthrob in the best possible way (I’m not drooling…you are).
Over at The Linq Hotel Casino, you might have caught Adam serving as arm candy to Frank Marino‘s DIVAS LAS VEGAS. Powered by a selection of top hits, DIVAS was great fun for the audience, but not necessarily the best showcase for serious dancers. Still, Adam enjoyed his time there. Asked if the DIVAS dancers got the attention they deserved, he had this to say:
Yes, we actually did get respect from the audience by the end of the show. We were basically in every number, working our butts (and our shirts) off, so the audience was able to fall in love with us and pick out their favorite dancer!
After Jubilee, the energetic actor/model/gymnast/dancer headed overseas for a musical production of The Bodyguard. Then it was off to Japan for iMen Tokyo, a male revue that allowed him to strip and grind. After spending time in Slovakia with the family, it was back to the States to join WOW, the water-themed musical spectacular at Rio Las Vegas.
I used to perform at DIVAS at The Linq in the afternoon, then I’d run to the Rio to do two shows at WOW. Once you’re passionate about anything, it comes easy. I love singing. I used to sing folk music back at home, which I miss very much. I play piano. And I’m good in math.
Adam’s best pal is his golden retriever “Chip”…
Right upstairs from WOW, crowds packed in nightly to see Chippendales male revue. Eventually, Adam auditioned for the touring version, and was once again back on the road. Wildly popular, he made the 2021 all-star edition of their world-famous calendar as “Mr. March”. Somewhere in between, the busy hunk managed to model, do corporate gigs, and spend time with his golden retriever “Chip”. He might have visited the gym on occasion, too.
Just as Adam was riding a new high, civilization came to a crashing halt, and Chippendales was put on hiatus. When Las Vegas shows started to return, the first new production out of the gate was Bally’sEXTRAVAGANZA. And Adam Barabáš found himself back on the stage that gave him his first Las Vegas break.
My roommate (dancer Derrick Boyce of DONNIE AND MARIE/JUBILEE/THE PROM on Netflix) told me about EXTRAVAGANZA. When I looked into it, I discovered that it was the same production company I worked for in WOW.
I knew EXTRAVAGANZA was looking for dancers but I didn’t know if I was ready to leave Chippendales. It was the first show I was not a backup dancer in, but the star. Yet not knowing when they would be back on the road – I missed dancing so much!
Adam, roommate (and fellow JUBILEE alumnus) Derrick Boyce, along with friend and entertainer Alexi Irvine (center), celebrated the holidays in style…
I reached out to the EXTRAVAGANZA dance captain and she sent my stuff to the director, who already knew me…and he called me right away. After hearing his vision for the show and how amazing it would be to be a part of this, I cut my time short in Texas, flew back to get my COVID test and started rehearsals right away.
Coming to the JUBILEE Theater and seeing most of the props backstage made my heart jump. Very bittersweet feeling. Also I worked with Silvia Silvia and her husband before, which made it even more exciting! I hope the fact that EXTRAVAGANZA is open will bring lots of hope for all the performers and shows.
Bringing up the pandemic was a perfect opportunity to explore how the 30-year-old entertainer had spent all those months away from the stage. And I hit him with a few off-the-wall questions…just for the Hell of it.
How did you keep busy during the Vegas show shutdown?
I spent most of the time in Texas, where I went right after rest of my tour got canceled. At first I thought “TikTok will keep me busy”, but it was actually being on the phone with unemployment every day! It took me 19 weeks to get paid. Also I spent a lot of time outdoors on my bicycle, swimming at the lake and at night, I usually cooked with lots of wine. I had a great time. I’m very lucky.
Do you still work out at a gym or have you adopted a home fitness plan?
My gym where I live has two floors, but now that it’s closed, I downloaded some fitness apps that work for me. Usually I work out 4-6 times a week.
It seems that no matter what role you play, Adam Barabáš always ends up shirtless. Is this a coincidence or do you deliberately seek roles that allow you to showcase your perfect body?
Hahahahaha….thank you. I don’t necessarily seek it but anytime there is an opportunity to show what I’ve been working on so hard, I’m in! I am a technically trained dancer, so I definitely appreciate technique in a choreography. I’ve always loved hip hop music video-style dancing.
Is there a particular celebrity you’d like to work with someday?
Lady Gaga. Beyonce. Madonna. Missy Elliott. Meryl Streep. Brad Pitt. So many. It’s always been a dream of mine to tour with people like Madonna and other pop stars. So whatever style they do is the style I love! Also, performing solo is easier to do because I can just make it my own.
Kelly Clarkson, Shania Twain and Lady Gaga all want you to work in their show. Who do you pick? LADY GAGA!
Pick one: Tuxedo, Jeans, or Swim Trunks? And where will you be going in that outfit?
Swim Trunks. To Whole Foods. It happened.
You have eight hours to do whatever you want in Las Vegas, no matter how much it costs. What will you do?
First I would go have a dinner at NOBU, then I would rent a penthouse at the Palms, hire Diplo, and would invite all of my friends and strippers. Wait…all my friends ARE strippers!
What has been your happiest moment in show business?
Whenever my family comes see me perform. Actually, last year in Vienna I had more than 30 people from home in the audience. To have them buy my calendars, posters and even t-shirts, was a dream come true. I am very close to my only sister Simona, who lives in Slovakia. She’s awesome. 🙂
Is there one show you’re most proud to have been in?
My journey in Vegas started as a showboy in legendary JUBILEE. Six years later I’m back, opening EXTRAVAGANZA during a pandemic. JUBILEE will always have a special place in my heart. I am proud of every show I’ve done. I’m grateful on so many levels. #FullCircle
EXTRAVAGANZA performs at Bally’s Las Vegas at 6:30pm and 9:30pm with 4pm matinees on select dates. Click here for full schedule and to order tickets.
From Hard-bodied Scholar To beefcake Bartender, a Las Vegas Resident Learns To Roll With The Punches…
Even if you’ve never seen the 1983 film FLASHDANCE, you certainly know the premise: “Welder by day, exotic dancer by night”. It seems as though there are plenty of scenarios like that in Las Vegas. This year, COVID-19’s destructive path has shifted career goals, altered destinies, and destroyed lifelong dreams. But it has also allowed resourceful people to excel at things they’d never considered before.
One such survivor is Las Vegas resident Danny Wilkinson. This resilient 31-year-old learned the hard way that personal growth is no longer an option but a necessity. That’s how the Mesa, AZ native found himself as a staffer at The Garden, Las Vegas Art District‘s newest sensation.
It’s unlikely that Danny ever expected that his career path would lead him behind the bar of an LGBTQ hotspot. With an MBA from Western Governors University and a BS in kinesiology, he had worked his way through the ranks of Amazon.com‘s local distribution center to become a mid-level manager.
Alas, cost-cutting at the wildly-successful online retailer led to some pre-COVID layoffs (ironic now in hindsight). Sadly, Wilkinson was part of a group that got their pink slips. So what’s a straight, educated hunk to do for employment during a pandemic? Well, you take the advice of friends who suggest marketing your impressive physique to the local gay bars.
When nightlife wizard Eduardo Cordova announced a casting call for “model servers” and “model bartenders”, Danny showed up to The Garden with a winning smile and gym credentials in hand (or under his shirt, in this case). Asked why he wanted to work at The Garden, Wilkinson candidly answered “My gay friends think I’m cute!”.
If you remember my article on “Men of the Garden“, you’ll notice that Danny wasn’t included. He’s not quite as “showy” as some of the other boys. He’s more likely to kindle a slow burn…one that gets hotter upon return visits. Clever, observant, and genuine, he leaves a lasting impression with casual conversation and a laser-sharp gaze. Mandatory facial coverings can’t conceal that radiant smile, either.
It took a long time for this article to come to fruition. Several months into the idea, Danny and I finally sat down for drinks and to talk about it. What I learned was that to survive in “new Las Vegas”, Danny rolled with the punches, was receptive to daring ideas, and still manages to have fun in a demanding new position.
Your social media pictures depict a guy with a wacky sense of humor, yet you come across as really conservative when at work. Who’s the real Danny Wilkinson?Hhhmmm…. I’m definitely a fun loving guy that always wants to make people laugh and ensure that they’re having a good time, as well as have a good time myself.
What came first…the big muscles or Amazon.com?Hahaha! The muscles did! As the second youngest of seven kids, I was always trying to compete with my siblings. Naturally I wanted to be better at something than they were, which proved to be extremely difficult because they’re all very talented.
When did you start cross-fit training, and how does it fit into your daily routine? Man… I started doing cross-fit seven years ago, if I remember correctly. Exercise/working out has done a lot for me mentally, as well as physically, so I try to make sure I get in the gym or work out at least once a day. Or at least do something active every day of the week!
Where did you go, pre-pandemic, for fun in Las Vegas?I really enjoy drinking coffee and trying new breweries in town. So definitely going to coffee shops and checking out new ones in town and all the local breweries. Oh, and definitely checking out new restaurants…I’m a self proclaimed foodie that loves sweets.
Are you more of a night owl or a day-dreamer?I’m honestly like a reversible shirt… definitely adaptable to every situation. But I’d say that I do enjoy the day and being in the sun. I’m a child of the sun!
This is my boy Gabe. He is a lethal white Australian Shepard. He is 4.5 and I got him from A Home 4 Spot, a rescue here in Vegas. Gabe is literally my best bud!
You just lost a bet and you have to do something embarrassing in front of a crowd. Will you do a sexy dance or sing a romantic song? Oh wow… well I’m absolutely terrible at both, but I’m going to say that my voice is way worse than my dance moves. So a sexy dance it is!
You just won a vacation and your choice is Alaska, Hawaii, or Miami? Which one…and what would be the first thing you do when you got there? Oh man! I’m going to Hawaii! First thing I’m doing is looking at booking a sky diving jump and a swim with the whale sharks! That’s on my bucket list to do both of those in the same day!!
Do you have a favorite charity or social cause?I’d say anything that can benefit kids and can offer them more resources, or ability to participate in sports.
People would be surprised to know that you __ are a huge nerd. I really enjoy reading, subject matter is usually self-development, and I geek out on computer stuff. I don’t play many, or any video games, but building computers and seeing how people push the performance limits of them is pretty cool!
You’re going to be locked in a room for three days and can only eat one type of food. What are you taking in with you?Oh this is too easy! I’m bringing all the fixings for a peanut butter and jelly hahaha! Yes, I do eat them quite regularly!
Hollywood is about to make a movie on your life. You get to choose the actor playing Danny Wilkinson.The actor is definitely going to be whoever the sexiest leading male actor is at the time! Hahaha, I’m kidding… or am I?! The real actor would be… seriously though, I think Jensen Ackles (SUPERNATURAL) would be a good fit!
Favorite big-screen movie – Ooohhhh, that’s a tough one, too!!! I really enjoy going to the movies! It’s a bit nostalgic for me as I frequently went to the movies with my father growing up… but I’d say… THE CONJURING 2.
Is this the first time you’ve worked at a gay bar? How do you deal with flirting? The Garden is the first time I’ve worked at a gay bar. And usually I’ll laugh it off awkwardly, strictly because I’m a bit awkward. But most recently, I just flirt right back, haha.
The Garden launches a sexy new themed night and bartenders are required to work shirtless. Your response is A) Do I really have to? B) Hell, yeah, I can finally show what I’m made of, or C) Whatever…I’m easygoing –I would say that I’m a mix of B and C. You know, we gotta be comfortable showing the guests what they want to see!
The Garden Las Vegas is located at 1017 S. 1st St Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89101. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 6pm to 1am. Call 702-202-0900 or visit their website to make reservati0ns.