So excited to have been today’s guest on SUMMER SPOTLIGHT 2020 with Gayle Nicholson, discussing the pandemic’s effects on Sin City…and the awesome way that Westgate Las Vegas welcomed everyone back.
Video link courtesy of Gayle Nicholson
So excited to have been today’s guest on SUMMER SPOTLIGHT 2020 with Gayle Nicholson, discussing the pandemic’s effects on Sin City…and the awesome way that Westgate Las Vegas welcomed everyone back.
Video link courtesy of Gayle Nicholson
A while back I did this feature on Hearts Alive Village, a shelter and charitable foundation for cats and dogs. The wonderful sanctuary is an all-volunteer organization to assist animals with an extra focus on those with special needs.
I was given a tour of the facility by Sheryl Greenblatt, who serves as Director of Commubnity Engagement. Sheryl allowed me to visit the longtime “residents” of Hearts Alive Village and showed me their retail side, which sells high-quality pet foods at great tax-exempt prices to help fund their services. She also introduced me to Kendall’s Kupboard, a food bank/pantry created to assist pet parents suffering from financial difficulties.
This weekend, Sheryl reached out to let me know that the Kendall’s Kupboard is filled to the brim with donations, and she asked if I could help spread the word that resources are available for those in need:
We have a ton of food to help people who are facing financial difficulty during these crazy times and we need some help spreading the word. In the last two months we have served over 670 families, which equates to 1,415 dogs and 743 cats, We have seen the need for pet food increase 10x due to COVID-19. – Sheryl Greenblatt
With the rampant unemployment that’s crippled our valley, it would be unthinkable for families to have to abandon their pets because of the inability to purchase food. That’s why awareness of Kendall’s Kupboard is so vital.
Despite many businesses reopening, the unemployment rate in Las Vegas is over 33% and our community is hurting. Many of our neighbors don’t know how they will make their bills in the coming months. Sadly, this means that some people will think they have to choose between caring for themselves and caring for their furry family members.
If you need some extra support right now, it’s not your fault and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Hearts Alive Village has expanded Kendall’s Kupboard to feed community pets impacted by these difficult financial circumstances.
Please, if you or someone you know needs help feeding your animals, we are here for you. Visit Kendall’s Kupboard for more information and to fill out an application. No fur baby should ever go to sleep with an empty belly. – Hearts Alive Village
The reason that the food pantry is bursting at the seams is that it recently grew in scope and purpose. In April, Kendall’s Kupboard became the Pet Food Disaster Distribution Center for the State of Nevada, thanks to food donations from GreaterGood.org and a grant for space and equipment from the Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation.
All of this is great news for the people of our state, now more than ever:
This local distribution of pet food is part of a multi-million dollar nationwide donation effort that GreaterGood.org is executing to help the pet communities across the U.S. impacted most by the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an unprecedented animal sheltering crisis, while also affecting pet parents,” said Liz Baker, CEO for GreaterGood.org. “It is our duty to step in and offer assistance on a national level by creating a network of relief distribution centers with our local animal shelter partners while also supporting them.”
Be assured that social distancing protocols and limited-contact distribution are already in place. You can feel safe knowing that your health is as important as that of your pets.
Individuals can enroll to receive pet food through the program at . An appointment will be scheduled and “drive thru” distribution will protect staff, volunteers, and recipients. The website will also include information for those individuals and businesses that would like to support the program with a food or monetary donation.
So if you, friends, family members, or neighbors can benefit from this effort to keep pets with their loved ones, be sure to reach out to Hearts Alive Village and make arrangements. The Vegas community is truly resilient, and this is another wonderful example of how we pull together in times of crisis.
Photos courtesy of Hearts Alive Village
Well, you’ve stuck with us through the rough times. Now will be you ready to return? That’s the question that all of us in Las Vegas are asking. Governor Steve Sisolak has given approval for casino hotels to return on June 4th, and the floodgate of information is open!
We’re snapping off the padlocks and sweeping the red carpet to welcome Vegas lovers back to the Strip, Downtown and surrounding areas. The changes will be many, and ramping up will be gradual. For now, only three MGM Resorts properties will be opening on June 4th. But that’s okay, as this will be a litmus test to gauge customer demand and determine a timeline for moving forward.
Here’s the official MGM Resorts announcement in all it’s carefully-worded glory. It provides complete details on the “new normal” that you’re probably already sick of hearing about (sorry, not sorry).
(Las Vegas – May 27, 2020) — MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) (“MGM Resorts”) announced its planned June 4 reopening of Bellagio, New York-New York, MGM Grand Las Vegas and The Signature, following the closure earlier this year of all of its U.S. properties amidst the coronavirus crisis. At opening, amenities at all properties will be limited. As demand for the destination builds, additional venues within these resorts will open and other MGM Resorts properties on The Strip will reopen.
“Our hearts go out to everyone in the communities where we operate, and around the world, who has been personally impacted during this time of crisis,” said Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts’ Acting CEO and President. “As we plan for these openings, the health and safety of our guests and employees is at the forefront of all we do. Getting many of our employees back to work and welcoming guests through our doors once again will allow us to do what we do best – entertain. The team is ready and we can’t wait.”
Health & Safety
MGM Resorts recently released its comprehensive “Seven-Point Safety Plan,” a multi-layered set of protocols and procedures designed in conjunction with medical and scientific experts to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect customers and employees and rapidly respond to potential new cases. The full plan can be reviewed at mgmresorts.com. We will continue to evaluate and evolve our safety protocols. Key initiatives include:
- Employee screening, temperature checks and COVID-19 specific training
- COVID-19 testing offered for employees as they return to work in partnership with the local medical community
- Employees will be required to wear masks; Guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks, and in some settings where physical distancing is more difficult and/or barriers do not exist, will be required to do so. Examples of where masks will be required include salons, certain table games where physical barriers are not in place and elevators, if riding with guests outside of their travel group. Masks will be provided, free of charge
- A physical distancing policy will be implemented, with floor guides serving as reminders
- For areas where physical distancing presents challenges, plexiglass barriers will be installed, or other measures will be used to reduce risks
- Standalone handwashing stations designed by MGM Resorts conveniently located on casino floors
- Contactless Check-In through the MGM Resorts App will allow hotel guests to go through the check-in process on their personal devices, minimizing interactions
- Guestroom Attendants will wear masks and gloves while cleaning each room and will change gloves between guestrooms
- In addition to increased and enhanced routine cleaning of guestrooms and public spaces based on CDC guidance, electrostatic sprayers will be utilized in many large public spaces so that disinfectant is applied efficiently
- Digital menus will be available to view on personal mobile devices via QR codes in the company’s food and beverage outlets
- To minimize groups congregating while they wait, restaurant guests will receive text message notification when their tables are ready
- MGM has compiled its own internal team and processes to respond if a guest or employee tests positive for COVID-19. We ask that if a guest tests positive after visiting one of our properties, they alert us through a special email address (email@example.com). We will immediately report any positive test results to the local health department and assist with contact tracing to support the health department investigators.
For a full listing of amenities that will be available at each resort, please visit mgmresorts.com. Complimentary self-parking will be available for guests; valet parking will not be operational at this time.
A glimpse at what guests can expect:
Bellagio’s Conservatory will open with a beautiful new Japanese Spring Garden display called “Japan Journey: Magic of Kansai”. The resort’s iconic fountains will once again come to life. Food & Beverage amenities will include a variety of lounges such as Petrossian Bar, featuring its signature pianist as well as casual and fine-dining restaurants like Prime and Lago. The Mayfair Supper Club, which opened only a few months ago to rave reviews, will also reopen its doors. The lush pool will open with a selection of cabanas available. The Salon and Fitness Center also will be available.
In addition to a variety of bars and dining offerings including the lively Tom’s Urban, New York-New York guests can enjoy the highly popular Big Apple Roller Coaster and Big Apple Arcade, as well as Hershey’s Chocolate World. Just in time for celebrating summer, the pool will open with a selection of cabanas available. The property’s Fitness Center will be available to hotel guests. Many of the venues at the adjacent Park are slated to open, as well.
MGM Grand and The Signature
MGM Grand, known for its dynamic mix of offerings, will open a number of bars and lounges as well as casual and fine-dining venues including Craftsteak and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. A selection of cabanas will be available alongside a portion of the resort’s exciting pool environment. The Salon and Fitness Center will be available to hotel guests. The Signature at MGM Grand also will open with a variety of its amenities available.
Days and hours of operation at all venues will vary. For a full list of offerings, and to make reservations, please visit mgmresorts.com.
Caesars Entertainment is going a little more conservative than MGM, with only Flamingo and Caesars Palace slated to reopen at first:
We are ecstatic to announce that we will begin the re-opening of the Fabulous Flamingo on Thurs, June 4. We will offer lodging, dining options, access to GO Pool at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino and the Beach Club pool, as well as slot machines & table games in accordance with physical distancing guidelines.
We are pleased to announce that we will begin re-opening the Palace on Thursday, June 4. We are happy to offer lodging, dining options, access to the Garden of the Gods pools, as well as slot machines & table games in accordance with physical distancing guidelines.
Fees for paid self-parking will be suspended. For more information on the Company’s health and safety protocols, visit: Caesars.com/health.
Westgate Las Vegas has set a date of June 18th for their return, but that will quite likely be moved up with everyone else doing June 4th. Click here for updated information via their own reservation site. I already unveiled the historic resort’s extensive care protocols in this piece and am currently in Florida to witness their procedures in action. I’ll tell you all about that in an upcoming series that was announced here.
Nearby Sahara is accepting reservations for stays beginning June 4th. They’ve also released a formal COVID-19 operations plan, as seen here:
(May 21, 2020) – SAHARA Las Vegas today released a comprehensive outline of health and safety protocols under the resort’s SAHARA Cares program that will be implemented upon re-opening following the government-mandated closure of the property on March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The outline details enhancements to the resort’s rigorous sanitation protocols along with new social distance considerations. SAHARA Las Vegas collaborated with experts to establish hundreds of additional practices to minimize risk for guests and team members. A full overview of the SAHARA Cares program may be found at SAHARALasVegas.com/SAHARACares/.“The health and safety of our guests and team members is our number one priority,” said Paul Hobson, SAHARA Las Vegas Senior Vice President and General Manager. “In addition to the enhanced cleaning practices, we have developed new service initiatives designed with the wellbeing of our guests in mind. We recognize the ongoing need to stay informed regarding the latest recommended protocols and resources to deter the spread of the virus. We are committed to ensuring both our guests and team members can feel safe when they come to our resort.”SAHARA Las Vegas continues to follow the orders of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. Resort leadership anticipate a phased approach to re-opening and look forward to welcoming back team members and guests as soon as it is recommended to do so.
(May 27, 2020) – The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas reopens its doors to the public on June 4 at 10 a.m. PST. Following Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s directive on May 26 permitting gaming properties to return to business on June 4, and upon receiving approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, The Cosmopolitan prepares to welcome guests back to the luxury casino-resort. As health and safety remain a top priority, The Cosmopolitan has implemented strict guidelines that meet or exceed the standards set by local, state and federal authorities.
“In the past ten years, we have had the privilege of creating environments that house lasting memories for many. And while our world has changed, our commitment to the wellbeing of our guests, CoStars [Cosmopolitan employees] and community remains. As we all acclimate to this new normal, we know the travel experience our guests have grown accustomed to will be altered. However, we are committed to delivering the exceptional service, energy and dedication that our CoStars provide and our guests seek. We look forward to welcoming our guests back to the resort soon.” – William P. McBeath, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Health & Safety Standards
Under the guidance of health and safety professionals, The Cosmopolitan created a comprehensive, internal plan, The Cosmopolitan Commitment, which builds upon existing health and safety procedures and addresses new operational and reporting processes. An extensive range of enhancements, including advanced cleaning and sanitization protocols, have been implemented resort-wide. Measures include dedicated CoStar training, social distancing guidelines, non-invasive temperature screenings, floorplan and furniture reconfiguration, signage installations, in-room sanitization amenity for guests and more.
Additional offerings that further support health and safety efforts:
· A standout feature provided to guests can be found in the resort’s distinct room design. More than 70% of the 3,033 guest rooms at The Cosmopolitan feature open-air access from a private terrace. Guests who book a room with a terrace can easily step outside for fresh air at any time during their stay.
· The Cosmopolitan’s chat bot and 24/7 digital concierge, Rose, provides contactless guest service and resort information through a guest’s personal cellular device. With a text to Rose, guests can get assistance ordering room service, requesting housekeeping services, making restaurant reservations, and have a direct connection to concierge, guest services, hotel room check-out and more.
· Additionally, QR (Quick Response) codes will be utilized at various bars and restaurants as a touchless option for guests to view menus. QR codes will be introduced to additional areas throughout the resort in the coming weeks.
Further details for guests and visitors can be found on The Cosmopolitan’s Health & Sanitization webpage.
The Cosmopolitan will reopen with a multi-phased approach. Hotel reservations and an initial set of venues and amenities will open with the resort followed by a slow reintroduction of additional outlets in the coming months. Reservation dates are now open for booking and a curated summer promotion is available on the Offers page of the resort’s website. Additionally, The Cosmopolitan will waive paid self-parking for all guests. Valet parking will continue to remain complimentary for hotel guests as previously offered.
The following venues and amenities will be available for guests beginning June 4. Additional information, including instruction for making a reservation and hours of operation, can be found on The Cosmopolitan’s website.
· Restaurants: The majority of The Cosmopolitan’s Restaurant Collection will open with the resort. This includes: Beauty & Essex, Blue Ribbon, Block 16 Urban Food Hall (including District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., Tekka Bar, Hattie B’s, Lardo and Pok Pok Wing), China Poblano, Eggslut, Estiatorio Milos, Jaleo, Holsteins, Milk Bar, Overlook Grill, Scarpetta, Starbucks, STK, The Henry, The Juice Standard, The Pizzeria and Zuma.
· Bars & Lounges: The Chandelier, Vesper Bar, CliQue Bar & Lounge and Race & Sports Book Bar will open with the resort.
· Gaming: The casino floor, high limit rooms and the Race & Sports Book will be available for guests at the time of reopening.
· Spa, Salon & Fitness: Sahra Spa, Salon & Hammam will open daily. The Boulevard and The Chelsea tower fitness centers as well as the outdoor tennis courts will also be open and accessible to hotel guests.
· Pools: The Boulevard Pool will open with the resort, with appropriately spaced lounge chairs, daybeds and cabanas, with dedicated cocktail service, available for guests.
· Retail: A variety of retail shops will open with the resort.
Venues pertaining to entertainment, nightlife or spa remain closed for the time being. Updates and additional venue openings with hours of operation can be found on the Travel Updates page on The Cosmopolitan’s website.
The Cosmopolitan is dedicated to serving the local community through a variety of initiatives, now more than ever in an effort to give-back to first responders and local charities in need.
· Honoring First Responders: The Cosmopolitan honors first responders who have been at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis with 25% off room bookings now through the end of the year. First responders can book their room reservation by calling 800-435-0005.
· The Giving Module: The resort continues its efforts through the Giving Module program, which provides guests with the option to donate change from their slot play winnings to a local charity organization. Beginning in June, charitable beneficiaries include HELP of Southern Nevada, Goodie Two Shoes, American Heart Association and Veterans Village. These are in addition to a local non-profit organization benefiting first responders, which will be announced in the coming weeks. In further support of the selected charities, The Cosmopolitan matches up to $10,000 of all donations each quarter. Organizations interested in benefiting from The Cosmopolitan’s Giving Module program should reach out directly to GivingModuleProduct@everi.com to be considered.
My in-box continues to be flooded with similar announcements as I prepare to publish this piece, but you’re getting the gist of all of them. Clearly, major hotel casinos have been spending their down time reworking the system and waiting for an all-clear. Even the so-called “locals casinos” have sent out their plans. This one is from Boyd Gaming, parent company to The Orleans and several locations at Fremont Street:
Boyd Gaming Corporation today announced plans to resume operations at nine of its Nevada properties on Thursday, June 4, pending receipt of final regulatory approvals: The Orleans, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Aliante, Cannery, Sam’s Town, Fremont, California and Jokers Wild.
“We are excited for the opportunity to resume operations in our home state of Nevada,” said Keith Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming. “By the first week of June, we look forward to having 19 of our 29 properties across the country back in operation, and we are optimistic that we will be able to reopen most of our remaining properties by the end of June. As we continue to return to business, we will remain diligent in protecting the health and safety of every person who comes through our doors, following strict safety protocols that meet the highest standards set by federal, state and local officials.”
Upon reopening, all of Boyd Gaming’s Nevada properties will operate with limited amenities and capacity restrictions in compliance with state and local requirements. Specific amenities and restrictions include:
Food Outlets: All properties will have select dining options open with varied hours. All buffets will remain closed at this time.
Casino Bars: All properties will have select casino bars open with varied hours.
· All properties will have slots and video poker available 24/7, following social distancing requirements.
· Table games will be available at Aliante, Cannery, the Cal, Fremont, Gold Coast, Suncoast, Sam’s Town and The Orleans with varied hours. Seating will be limited in accordance with social distancing requirements.
· The Orleans will offer poker with select hours. Seating at each table will be limited.
· Aliante, Gold Coast, Sam’s Town and Suncoast will offer Bingo with varied hours.
· Sports books will be open at Aliante, Cannery, Fremont, Gold Coast, Sam’s Town, Suncoast and The Orleans with varied hours.
· Fremont will offer valet services. Valet will be closed at all other properties.
· Pools at Aliante and The Orleans will open with varied hours.
· Bowling will be available at Gold Coast, Sam’s Town, Suncoast and The Orleans with varied hours.
· Gift shops will be open at properties that offer this amenity.
· All movie theaters, showrooms, fitness centers and spas will remain closed during the initial reopening phase.
Details on individual amenity, restaurant and gaming openings/closures along with hours of operations can be found on the website for each property.
Additionally, all Boyd Gaming properties will practice “Boyd Clean,” a set of comprehensive protocols aimed at protecting the health and safety of our team members and guests. These protocols include:
· Mandatory face coverings and temperature checks for all team members;
· Social distancing requirements and capacity restrictions across all customer and team member areas, including casino floors and restaurants;
· Enhanced cleaning and sanitation of all high-touch surfaces, including door handles, gaming machines, table games, handrails and elevator buttons;
· Increased placement of hand sanitizer dispensers throughout our properties;
· Required training for all team members on our safety protocols.
For additional information on the Boyd Clean initiative, visit http://www.boydgaming.com/boyd-clean.
Three of Boyd Gaming’s southern Nevada properties – Eastside Cannery, Eldorado and Main Street Station – remain closed during the initial reopening phase. While the Gold Coast will reopen its casino and some restaurants on June 4, the Gold Cost hotel will remain closed at the present time.
Plenty of other Downtown hotel-casinos like Plaza and Downtown Grand are set for a June 4th restart. The Fremont Street Experience removes the barricades one day earlier, June 3rd at 9am. Here’s their official announcement:
LAS VEGAS – Fremont Street Experience (FSE) announced today they will reopen the pedestrian mall and access to adjacent hotel casinos and retail stores when they reopen on June 3 at 9 a.m.
Leading up to the reopening of FSE’s casino partners, the world’s largest single video screen, Viva Vision, will display a 144-hour countdown that will conclude at the exact moment gaming operations restart at 12:01 a.m. on June 4.
Adhering to the guidelines put forth by the Global Association for the Attractions Industry (IAPPA), SlotZilla zipline will also reopen in downtown Las Vegas on June 4 at 4 p.m.
As downtown Las Vegas prepares to reopen, FSE will continue to employ robust cleaning procedures designed to mitigate the spread of the virus based on guidance of Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and public health officials. To ensure the safety of visitors and employees, FSE will disinfect the pedestrian mall, parking garage and SlotZilla towers twice a day with environmentally friendly and highly effective products that are immediately safe for human contact.
“The health and well-being of our guests, tenants, resort partners and employees remain a top priority to Fremont Street Experience,” said Patrick Hughes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fremont Street Experience. “Although experiences will be altered to adjust to this new normal, we are committed to reinvigorating downtown Las Vegas and helping make a positive impact in the community. We look forward to welcoming guests back to Fremont Street Experience soon.”
While many Strip hotels won’t be offering bar service at first, The Golden Tiki in nearby Chinatown will be ready June 5th to serve some of the best cocktails in the city. The Golden Tiki is an absolute must-do, so be sure to head over. Here’s their startup plan, naturally presented with whimsy and a dollop of “outrageous” courtesy of proprietor Branden Powers:
The Golden Tiki, Las Vegas’ world-renowned tiki bar experience, will reopen Friday June 5th from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Creator/Co-Owner Branden Powers announced today. They will open again Saturday, June 6th and Sunday, June 7th, close Mon-Tues and reopen again Wednesday, June 10th on a daily schedule all with the same hours, 5 p.m.- 2 a.m. (until further notice).
A limited number of patrons will be seated and served with heightened service–Reservations via the goldentiki.com website are very strongly suggested. Of course, the best safety and sanitation protocols will be followed at all times.
“Now that our capacity is smaller, we’re looking to use this opportunity to offer our fans a more exclusive-style Tiki experience,” said Powers. “We want to safely transport everyone to a faraway island where the only thing we have to fear is a cursed totem. Oh, and headhunters.”
Led by Head Bartender And Witchdoctor General Adam “Fauci” Rains, the Golden Tiki team will serve the full cocktail menu plus unannounced specials, as well a menu of tasty bites. This is not your grandfather’s pandemic party.
My friends at Las Vegas Magazine just published a comprehensive list of what’s set to re-open. It includes restaurants, attractions, gaming, and much more. You can also visit the website of any particular Vegas destination to find out what plans your favorites have in place.
So at last, Sin City is back….sorta-kinda-maybe. If you’re ready and eager to “Vegas” again, then put on your party shoes and step through the Magic Curtain. Just remember to bring a face mask and an ample supply of hand sanitizer, okay?
Banner photo: Mike Hammer Comedy Magic
On March 17th, 2020, Governor Steve Sisolak shut down the City of Las Vegas, along with the rest of the state, for a minimum of thirty days. In order to slow the rampant spread of COVID-19 aka “Corona Virus”, all non-essential businesses were ordered to shutter. This included bars, hotels, casinos, indoor-dining restaurants, gyms, spas, salons, movie theaters, shows, most stores, parks, recreational attractions and much more.
Caesars Palace Forum Shops and Bellagio….both empty…
Thousands upon thousands of people are currently out of work (myself included). Very few are receiving compensation from their employers during this dark period, leaving homes and families at risk for multiple hardships. Can a town that’s already endured major drops in tourism due to 9/11, 2008’s economic collapse and the 10/1/17 massacre rebound from yet another cataclysm?
The party is over on Fremont Street…at least for the time being…
An insider source requesting anonymity sent these astonishing photos…
Will the stuffed suits in powerful boardrooms learn from their own mistakes…ones that were already dragging our tourist industry downward? What can be done to lure people back…and will we see a return to the perception of Las Vegas as a value destination? One can only hope.
A darkened Wynn/Encore offers hope to the remaining few passers-by…
The days leading up to the Governor’s declaration were filled with unbearable tension. Grocery store shelves were plundered as major Strip productions shuttered one by one. Next came the closing of buffets and restaurants, then entire hotels and casinos. Working parents suddenly had to figure out what to do with their children when all schools closed down this week.
Town Square near McCarran Airport is a ghost town…
As in other cities around the world, mundane activities like getting a haircut or meeting friends for lunch are no longer part of our lives. Everything has changed in just a matter of days. Once it became clear that this was our new normal, a friend and I entered “survival mode”. I was just laid off from two regular writing gigs (supposedly temporarily, but who knows?) and he needed a place to live, so now I have someone to share expenses with…and lean on at the same time.
Having resided for 14 years in hurricane-prone South Florida, this writer was used to disaster preparation as a routine activity. Stock the pantry, refill prescriptions, get extra pet food and litter, withdraw cash from the ATM, gas up the vehicles and charge everything that uses a battery. Then comes more drastic steps like buying plywood to board up the windows, checking/replacing fire extinguishers and having weapons on hand in case violence ensues.
All of this may sound drastic or even dramatic, but let’s face it…if people trample each other for a TV on Black Friday, what would they do when food and supplies run out? The answer isn’t an easy one.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, many have been working hard to maintain hope…and a sense of humor. Facebook has been a great outlet for people to offer assistance, share their talents and keep each others’ spirits high. Cirque du Soleil performer Alberto Del Campo (read about him HERE) is hosting free online pole fitness classes.
Sing along with Mak and the Cheese – You Can’t Spell ‘Virus’ Without ‘Us’
Talented spouses MaKenzie Fly (Sex Tips) and Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show) have created “Mak and The Cheese” a Facebook page featuring witty songs and skits inspired by the “virus hiatus.” And yours truly hosted a “Sexy Apocalypse Party” at Palms Place, where shirts were optional (this is Sin City, after all).
As we locals ride out the long month ahead in our own unique ways, it’s clear that we’ll come out on the other side as very changed people. Thousands will undoubtedly remain unemployed. Homes will be lost and crime rates will rise. Many businesses will most certainly close for good.
The Bronx Wanderers toast their final performance…for now…
Entertainment offerings may no longer be the flashy, expensive productions (like Cirque du Soleil’s R.U.N) that have recently racked up millions in losses. Virgin Hotel (the former Hard Rock) and Allegiant Stadium completion dates will be pushed back. And you can forget about Resorts World and Fontainebleu/The Drew opening any time soon….yet again.
The Governor’s announcement was like licking the stamp on a death notice that was waiting to be mailed. Las Vegas has been struggling for quite some time, mostly due to poor decisions that have turned an inexpensive, beloved retreat into a tourist-gouging cesspool of greed. The bigger the city has grown, the less forward-thinking it has become. What we as citizens saw and heard tonight will forever be embedded in our minds. But can we say the same about the big-company execs who are directing the city’s future?
After the news conference, my new roomie and I gathered our wits and headed to the Strip to absorb the shocking reality of it all. What we witnessed were empty sidewalks, abandoned massive resorts, and shuttered storefronts. The world-famous Bellagio Fountains were dark, as was the Mirage volcano and the boardwalk along Treasure Island. Gone were the endless lines of taxis waiting to pick up tourists.
Overhead, pedestrian walkways were void of people, and the outdoor escalators at each major intersection went silently up and down with nary a soul to ride them. Amusingly, they all seemed to be working for a change, now that there was nobody to use them. If you were looking for the company of others, all you had to do was head for the nearest dispensary, where people encircled the buildings, hoping to get their stash before mandatory shutdowns went into effect.
Lines at marijuana dispensaries stretched around the block…
“Visit Las Vegas” is airing nationwide TV promising a bigger, better Vegas…
Now that we’ve witnessed that fall of Las Vegas, where do we go from here? As I said, it will most likely be a very different place…but will it be better? Maybe the “new normal” will yield smaller-scale ideas, where charming lounge-style acts push multi-million-dollar headliner residencies out of the way.
Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport 3/18/20, 10am
Perhaps we’ll see a resurgence in gaming, bolstered by better odds than visitors can get at their local casinos. And if we’re lucky, quality service by smiling human beings will shove out main offender MGM Resort‘s move toward automation and self-service. If I’m paying $50 for a buffet, is it too much to ask for an actual person to refill my iced tea?
Found on my Facebook feed…
What Las Vegas REALLY needs is to learn a hard, definitive lesson from this punch to the stomach. Hotels must send parking charges out into the desert, never to return. People are sick of looking at their restaurant/bar tab and finding a laundry list of bogus service charges and taxes added onto their already-expensive bill. And when a hotel advertisement says “Stay here for $___”, that better be the actual rate. We’re done with $45 resort fees. Stop it…right now!
There are only so many times that a city built on tourism can bounce back from major disasters. Las Vegas has survived at least three of them in the past two decades. If the corporations that run this city don’t push the “restart” button and bring back what made this city successful for decades, then maybe it doesn’t deserve to recover at all. Right now, the only thing we all share is hope for a better tomorrow.
Click HERE to read this article’s companion piece: “Is Sin City Determined to Drive You Away?”
Photos: Sam Novak, Bobby Watson, Kevin Janison, Marianne LeMoine Phoenix, Greg C., Bill Chenowith, Vin A., Andrew Hill. Special thanks to Richard Lindblom.
Banner photo: ABC News
Our entire nation continues to endure a seemingly endless pandemic lockdown. Weeks have turned into months, and quarantine extensions get added as our bank accounts dwindle. The world will be a very different place when all of this has passed. Only the strong, smart, and very lucky may come out of it relatively unscathed.
The economy of Las Vegas seems to be most in jeopardy of total collapse. No other city depends so greatly on a daily influx of tourists. Our locals form a giant hospitality team, ready to host, serve, and entertain the world. If and how that will happen again has become an aggressively-debated subject, as a cringe-inducing exchange between Anderson Cooper and Mayor Carolyn Goodman recently demonstrated. So while casino execs and politicians huddle over their laptops, hashing out plans through virtual meeting apps, it’s the “little guys” who are about to suffer the most.
This week, a series of letters was sent out to business owners and employees that will put thousands of Vegas residents permanently out of work. Those dedicated staffers and smaller-scale entrepreneurs are being erased from the chalkboard with the flick of a wrist. It’s a crushing blow delivered at time when people couldn’t possibly be more vulnerable, an ugly tactic we should remember with our wallets long after the doors to Las Vegas have been unlocked.
Letter number one comes from Robert Buchanan, Vice President/General Manager of Miracle Mile Shops. Sent to tenants of the busy Planet Hollywood-based mall, the letter requires an agreement to pay the full amount of rent accrued during shutdown. Business owners must sign off on this legal agreement prior to reopening, despite the fact that their businesses have been unable to generate a single dollar of income since mid-March.
The multi-page document, of which I have a copy, offers the option to defer payment of rent and spread it out over twelve months (without interest or penalties). Failure to pay the rent would result in a monetary default of lease terms. Recipients have been instructed to keep the terms confidential and not to discuss the matter with other occupants of the mall or any third parties (oops…too late).
While an interest-free rent deferral might sound generous on paper, the amounts in question can literally be hundreds of thousands of dollars per tenant. These are staggering sums that will more than likely cripple and/or close a significant percentage of Miracle Mile‘s shops and restaurants.
The tenant that contacted me about this situation explained that rental rates are based on a monthly average of the mall’s total annual foot traffic. Nevertheless, no adjustments have been made to reflect a period of ZERO customers. No pro-rating, no discounts, no rent forgiveness, no exceptions. The store owner, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that his business was already struggling to break a profit.
Hard to share too much without giving away _____ (name of business) but I’d been trying to talk to them since this (the pandemic) started. No response, vague replies to emails. I kept asking a week leading into it. No guidance, no direction.
Finally we were given 24 hours to vacate. To get access we now have to schedule a meeting with a Miracle Mile security guy to walk us there. Total lockdown. They still want full rent. So ironic.
At Miracle Mile Shops, as in many other malls, a tenant’s rent is only one part of their financial responsibilities. They also have to pay their share of marketing, insurance, trash, water, security, facilities maintenance, and much more.
In other cities, landlords have taken pro-active steps to offer assistance. They are so concerned about losing valued tenants that they’re asking what can be done to assure that shops will reopen. But in corporate-run Vegas, nothing matters except for pleasing the stockholders.
How is this legal? It’s insane! It will take Vegas at least a year to recover from this so how can the landlord do this to its tenants? Multiple tenantss are grouping together and with one voice seeking legal assistance to fight this greed.
It just simply breaks your gears when you’ve worked so hard for something and been paying big dollars to this landlord for them to rip out our hearts during a crisis like this.
I’ve already mentioned Mayor Goodman, whose “Open up Vegas and see what happens” stance has garnered an enormous amount of ridicule. At the opposite end is Governor Steve Sisolak, who put the statewide shutdown in place. Sisolak supports a slow and organized approach to restoring our daily lives, which has received its own share of protests and demonstrations.
I’m not interested in delving into political arguments here, as I see logic in both approaches. The reason I bring it up is to emphasize that everyone has a stake in the decisions. Nobody has a perfect list of answers, so we wait, sacrifice, obey the rules (or protest) and watch those bank accounts dwindle down to nothing.
In the meantime, everyone seems to be asking the same question: when will MGM Resorts open? The same with Caesars Entertainment properties and Sands Corp. (Venetian/Palazzo). And while we focused our gaze on the big three, a lesser-known chain called Station Casinos swooped in and drove a dagger through the hearts of thousands of its own employees.
Vegas-based Station, which operates ten local establishments including Sante Fe Station and Palace Station, has gotten pretty powerful in recent years. Bolstered by the success of Red Rock Hotel and Green Valley Ranch, Station plunked down a cool billion to buy and renovate the once-popular Palms Casino Resort. An undeniable failure, the “new” Palms bled massive amounts of money, mostly through the catastrophic disaster known as KAOS Nightclub.
Station Casinos rested their billion-dollar Palms investment on the shoulders of a vulgar rapper-felon…and a grown man dressed as a marshmallow…
On May 1st, Station Casinos sent out letters to full-time Palms employees, announcing their terminations…effective 5/16/20. Similar letters were mailed to employees of Fiesta Henderson and Texas Station, both operated by Station Casinos. What makes this letter particularly ruthless is that they’re referring to the shuttering of the three hotels as a “temporary closure”, which in actuality took place two months ago. What this means is that when Palms, Fiesta Henderson and Texas Station reopen (if ever), they will be treated as new entities.
Palms Casino is the latest
tombstone monument dedicated to overreaching ambition…
In the meantime, Station is off the hook for protecting their own employees. The company will grant certain benefits through September, then the labor force is on its own. The letter also stated that their will be “no bumping rights”, meaning that terminated individuals would have to reapply for their previous jobs, forfeiting any earned seniority if they return. This also means zero opportunities to transfer to other Station locations to maintain that seniority.
Photo: Sky News
Some people out there may be inclined to say “Corporations have to do whatever is necessary in order to survive”. But what about right now? Unleashing a bloodbath in the current economy is simply catastrophic. I’d rather see a company dig in for the moment and take its chances later. Much later.
So what is a struggling employee or business person to do in the current climate? We certainly can’t rely on the government to help. Very few people have had success in collecting unemployment benefits, judging by the daily posts I read on social media. Sadly, numerous businesses have announced that they won’t be coming back, either. Friends of mine from every walk of life are considering moving away and some have already begun the process.
Performer Andrew Hill, who entertains audiences at Station Casinos, shared these hard words regarding the closure of Fiesta Henderson on Facebook:
Well looks like our contract at the Fiesta is done and dusted ! Yep, for all the clueless fools sprouting Vegas is gonna bounce back!! ….Can you all Please stfu!
If anyone quotes the most idiotic destructive statement of “Vegas always reinvents itself” or “ we’ll be bouncing back in no time” …. can you please punch them very hard in the face!
When ever the wonderful PR word “ reinvent” is used …. it is code for cost cutting, slashing entertainment and figuring out how to screw people to make more money…
For those who stick it out and hope for a successful recovery, things look bleaker every day. Think back to the long-term effects that 9/11 had on the airline industry. In order to offset dwindling profits, nearly all airlines began charging mandatory fees for checked suitcases and eventually, carry-on bags. Yet once air travel rebounded, those fees remained. They now generate more profit than actual ticket sales.
As you read this, Las Vegas is virtually a ghost town. Every action taken by those in power during the days ahead will undoubtedly become a new standard. If the events of this week are any indication, the citizens of this city are in for for years of serious trouble.
Many of us have been hoping that Vegas will use the shutdown as an opportunity to undo damaging decisions of the past decade. Former Vegas Mayor Jan Jones Blackhurst is among them. We’ve urged the Big Three to toss out resort fees, eliminate paid parking, send “celebrity chefs” packing, dump those $20 cocktails down the drain and make Las Vegas appealing to the masses once more.
Las Vegas may be your playground. But it’s also our home. The future of this city depends on it being recognized as a community of flesh-and-blood people. But nobody seems to be listening.
Banner Photo: Palms Casino via Facebook
Click here for the article’s companion piece “Vegas Goes Dark – The Beginning of the End…or a new Beginning?”
Click here for my related article “Is Sin City Determined to Drive You Away?”
“When Vegas goes dark, the Stars come out.” That statement takes on a deeper meaning in our harsh, new reality. Now thanks to the team at Mondays Dark and The Actors Fund, Sin City’s entertainment community will be on the receiving end of founder Mark Shunock‘s charitable organization for the first time.
Mondays Dark variety show at The Space has donated to dozens of charitable organizations since its inception six years ago, raising over one million dollars in total. Every event benefits a different organization/cause and presents a unique theme. Performers from all over the city have gathered on a bi-weekly basis, offering their time and talents. Now they’re the ones in need of assistance.
Perpetually shirtless Colin Cahill will join wife Makenzie Fly for “Mak and the Cheese”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all performance venues in Las Vegas have been shut down. Thousands of entertainers, artists and support crew are without work, and very few are receiving temporary compensation to get by. The Actors Fund, best known in Los Angeles and New York City, has partnered with Mondays Dark to help raise money for the Vegas entertainment community during this desperate time.
Mark Shunock and comedian Brad Garrett…
With all of the joy that these special people have given us, along with the pain and sacrifices inherent in their profession, now is the best time to show our appreciation and support. Beginning 5pm PST on April 27th, local and national entertainers will take to the virtual stage. The six-hour event features Brad Garrett, Joey Fatone, Dot Marie Jones, Jon Taffer, Clint Holmes, John DiDomenico, Bucky Heard (The Righteous Brothers), Colin Cahill & Makenzie Fly (aka “Mak and the Cheese“), cast members from Cirque Du Soleil and more. A complete lineup of entertainers for the evening will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Live Stream Telethon will be broadcast free of charge on the Mondays Dark website and all their social platforms. Mondays Dark will donate 100 percent of funds raised to the local entertainment community through The Actors Fund.
In addition to the telethon, Mondays Dark has been selling the FUCOVID hat, an extremely unique baseball cap to benefit the same effort. So far the project has raised more than $5,000.00 for struggling entertainers. Hats are just $20 and proceeds go to the Mondays Dark Performers Fund – dedicated to helping performers who have been affected by the pandemic. Get yours by following this link.
“President Trump” aka John Di Domenico, tells you how to get yours in this amusing clip:
It’s clear from events of the past decade that when people of Las Vegas are hard-hit, they come together and push back with twice as much force. Sin City will rebound…it may take a long time and there will be tough moments along the way. Please show your appreciation for the people who’ve made our lives so joyful and contribute to this special cause.
Members of the Las Vegas entertainment community seeking assistance are encouraged to visit The Actors Fund website at www.theactorsfund.org. Those interested in donating may visit . If you’d like to send funds in advance of the telethon, you can do so by clicking on this link.
Photos: Mondays Dark, The Actors Fund, Mark Shunock, The SPACE via Facebook, Vin A., Andrea Dupper, Jim McCoy
A strong body and clear mind both aid in warding off infection. They also help in reducing stress during these tenuous times, Nobody knows for certain how long the quarantine will last, but when restrictions are lifted, the stars of the Strip will need to be in top shape and ready for their first night back.
Vegas locals work hard to make your Vegas visit something worth treasuring. And just like you, they’re facing a lockdown that has not only put them out of work but confined their activities to the home. Spouses MaKenzie Fly (Sex Tips) and Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show) have been working overtime to entertain everyone via their new page Mak and the Cheese. It’s packed with wit, skits and original songs to make you laugh. Here’s a sample:
Some have been sharing their tips to stay in peak physical condition, and you can join them in their quest for optimal health. Whether you’re limited to household objects and portable resistance bands or have a full gym set-up on your patio…get out there, use it and be safe.
Hunter Hobbs with a special message for Vegas Unfiltered readers…
The world-famous hardbodies of Chippendales male revue were some of the first on the scene with online fitness tips. Profile recipient Ryan Worley (CEO of BodyKink.com) caught the eye of TMZ for a pair of video tutorials that launched the Chippendales series. Using everyday objects like almond-milk jugs, pillows, and staircases, Worley demonstrates how to tighten your glutes and build upper-body strength.
Aided by Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack”, towering hardbody Pat Tanksi shows how he stays limber and flexible. His handsome canine companion “Geno” donned a trademark collar and bowtie to join his dad for a set of slinky moves. You can expect more helpful videos from the men of Chippendales in the days ahead. Be sure to see the guys in person when Chippendales – The Las Vegas Show returns. The tentative opening date is April 18th, and popular guest host Vinny Guadagnino (Jersey Shores) rejoins the cast starting April 24th.
Le Reve – The Dream at Wynn boasts a cast of 60 gorgeous guys and girls. They’re a stunning collection of athletes that dive, flip, sail through the air and dance on water. Muscular lead performer Alexander Stabler is known for his graceful movements, strong legs and world-class gluteal development. Here he keeps “dat ass” firm by performing squats in a driveway, using his partner in place of a squat rack. There’s also a breakdown of Alexander’s cross-fit plan, with weight provided by stone-filled backpacks.
The erotic side of Cirque du Soleil comes to life in ZUMANITY at New York NY. Longtime cast member Wayne Skivington (read his Vegas Unfiltered profile HERE) stays in top condition year-round, whether at the theatre’s training room or in his own home. Here he works up a sweat in the back yard, pounding a sledgehammer onto some concrete.
Westgate‘s Soul of Motown features a five-member cast with lush vocals and nonstop dancing. During the production’s hiatus, vocalist Brandon Godfrey has been featuring his “Quarantine Fitness” regime on Facebook. Regular physical activity keeps his body as tight as the show’s gorgeous harmonies.
Jennifer Romas shares the Westgate Cabaret with Soul of Motown‘s cast. Her successful SEXXY has performed hundreds of shows in the gorgeous space. The production’s creator and star continues to rehearse and will be ready to excite audiences when the doors reopen.
“Men of Sapphire” offers a masculine take on the traditional stripper club bump-and-grind. Their billboards feature Roberto Alejandro Granados, an absurdly handsome accomplished dancer who’s been involved in large-scale productions like Jeff Timmons‘ MEN OF THE STRIP and Chippendales offshoot 53X.
Here, Roberto demonstrates how to keep your abs tight, using the Dual Ab Roller, an easy to use piece of equipment that’s readily available at Amazon.com for under $12. Click HERE to order.
Gunnar Walcavich is a real live “Ivan Drago”. Much like the mountain of muscle from Rocky IV and Creed II, Gunnar aka “The Big Gun” is a boxer of Russian descent. He’s also six feet four inch of power, energy and drive. But unlike the villainous character made famous by actor Dolph Lundgren, this resident of Henderson is kind, caring and funny!
Now an NFPT-accredited personal trainer, Gunnar hosts online fitness sessions. However, he prefers the one-on-one approach, where he can focus on the “personal” aspects of personal training. He’ll even do personalized visits in your home. Once an overweight young man with a goal to go “from zero to hero”, he’s transformed his own body and can do the same for you.
Here’s what Gunnar has to say about fitness in regards to the COVID-19 situation:
During the pandemic, I know money‘s been tight for people so I’ve been accommodating rates for everyone. They started out at $35 a session, but because of the pandemic I’ve been doing $20 a session. The sessions last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and create a very intense HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to up your game, personal training opens new doors to health, confidence and inner peace. To learn more or arrange an appointment, text Gunnar Walcavich at 608-622-5945 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re always wishing to have more time with our families. Now that it’s here, you can make the most of the situation by having your loved ones join in on your workouts. Adam D. Tucker aka “Vegas McGraw” was recently featured in my Hot Guys of Vegas column. His spot-on impersonation of Tim McGraw draws in fans from around the country. But it’s Adam’s bulging arms and gleaming pecs that earned him a spot in the segment.
Here, Adam uses his son Beau for added weight in a garage workout that’s as fun as it is effective.
Parent/child routines are a great way to establish habits that will last a lifetime. Of course, heading out to the sidewalk for some biking (or a stroll with the wagon) are perfect photo opportunities, too. So enjoy the eye candy and take to the streets (or the yard) to burn off those unwanted calories. Just remember to observe social distancing guidelines to protect yourself and your neighbors.
Musician Haini Wolfgramm is one of the founding members of The JETS, the phenomenal pop group from Tonga that swept the world. The JETS – The ’80s & ’90s Experience is an awesome concert event that you’ll want to enjoy over and over…once it returns to Planet Hollywood‘s V Theater, that is (read my full review HERE).
Haini is a fitness enthusiast who seemingly spends as much time at the gym as he does behind his guitar. Keeping those biceps pumped to the max has become a family experience, thanks to a backyard gym that’s getting everyone into shape and keeping them happy until the quarantine is lifted.
Wayne Skivington gets a special mention in the “family” category, too. Young son Rowan is quickly following in his father’s footsteps with an athletic prowess that would make teenagers and grown men envious. Follow the Skivington’s father/son workouts on Instagram by clicking HERE.
We are all in this together. Let’s use this time to disconnect from society but reconnect at home. I’m going to be posting some in-home workouts ideas to do with your children. Have fun, it will mean more to them than you might think.
– Wayne Skivington
When a city is overflowing with professional entertainers, it’s not surprising that those who cover the scene can hold their own, too. Greenspun Media publisher Jamal Parker and gorgeous wife Mackenzie Marshall Parker (The Doll Factory) show how the family gets loose with this splendid TikTok dance:
Alberto del Campo is a longtime Sin City resident who’s performed in huge acrobatic productions like Le Reve, KA and now The Beatles LOVE. His two boys Alex and Zach have inherited dad’s athleticism. They’re also members of the LOVE cast.
Here, Alberto gathers his sons along with wife Genevieve for a fun roller-skate workout that they like to do poolside. You might find it to be a bit of a challenge, but for the energetic Del Campos, this is just another day. of fitness fun.
If you’re a newbie to roller blades or could use some help with brushing up on the basics, fear not. The magnetic and talented Del Campo boys have launched their own YouTube channel. Here’s one of their tutorials:
Sure, the beach clubs are dried up for now and the nightspots have gone dark. But when ya gotta dance, ya gotta dance. Party people have been taking to their back yards, front yards, driveways, patios…and even the streets…in order to shake their groove thang.
Endia Abrante of ShowgirlArrivals.com is been streamlining her diet and using an E-Stim ab belt to keep things nice and tight for when the clubs reopen. Recently the entrepreneur/deejay/aerialist/duck rancher strapped on some rollerblades and donned a unicorn-themed onesie to blow off some steam.
Later came the glowsticks and a neon party costume to throw a solo virtual rave. Fortunately, her best friend Dusty Demetria was there to document the invitation-only affair. If you haven’t followed Endia’s outrageous Facebook page, you’re really missing out.
Bad boy Kris Davis is one of those guys who does what he wants when he wants to do it, and the name of the game is “fun”. The beefy host at Golden Nugget‘s Troy Liquor Bar was bitten by the dance bug a long time ago.
A veteran of Vegas male revues, Davis continues to move and groove whenever the mood hits him. A crowded market, the heart of the casino floor, or even the top level of a parking garage…when this big boy wants to dance, feel free to join him. Otherwise, get the heck out of the way.
Relentlessly funny magician James Michael aka the Redneck Magician has been posting a series of videos from his parking lot. No doubt the neighbors enjoy watching his antics from behind the protective glass of their windows. And you can catch his roller-disco antics by visiting his Facebook page. Then check out his show when Redneck Comedy Magic returns to The STRAT.
Sexy celebrities like THOR’s Chris Hemsworth have been sharing online tips and virtual classes to get your body into superhero condition. In the spirit of giving, most of them are free.
Hi there all, during this period of self isolation and uncertainty, I am offering six weeks of my health and fitness program @Centrfit for FREE! Go to centr.com and sign-up.
Centr was founded to make health and happiness accessible to all, and I hope that this will make that access even easier during the current global health crisis.
I think now more than ever is when we need to focus on what I believe to be the 3 key pillars to living healthier and happier- movement, nutrition, and mental fitness.
– Chris Hemsworth
Here in Sin City, we’ve got several heroic figures who are donating their time, sharing their talents and generously giving you the shirt off their backs.
Pole-fitness enthusiast Alberto Del Campo (see above) was also featured in my Hot Guys of Vegas column. Since the COVID-19 quarantine went into effect, he’s been offering free online pole fitness classes via his Instagram page. Click HERE to follow Alberto and get in on the action.
Regular attendees to the annual Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo are sure to recognize entrepreneur Tim McComsey. The registered dietician/trainer has been uploading Social Distancing workouts on his YouTube channel. He also offers virtual workouts through Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. Follow this link to visit Tim’s Facebook page and send him a personal message. Sign up for one of his TrymFIT programs, tell Tim that Vegas Unfiltered sent you and you’ll get extra supplements perks!
Dancer/actor George Blick (Sex Tips, Aussie Heat) is a rhinestone cowboy of sorts. The big-city hunk has a little bit of country in him, as he’s an award-winning line dancer. George is gearing up to present a live line-dance class soon. Visit George’s Facebook page to keep posted on when the next one will take place.
You might remember this profile article I wrote on Teresa Van – Trainer to the Stars. Teresa is offering online training courses (for a fee) along with free videos that you call follow along at home. Click HERE to view Teresa’s online information and get started right away.
Makenzie Fly and Colin Cahill are “Mak and the Cheese”…
Makenzie Fly is a respected performer and also a skilled instructor of yoga. Husband Colin Cahill filled me in on what they’re up to in the days ahead:
Kenzie’s teaching live yoga class Monday on Instagram (click here for her page), and probably Facebook too if we can figure out how to stream both simultaneously. When it comes to our exercise for this it’s been primarily bodyweight workouts in the living room, running stairs in our apartment, yoga, and lifting heavy foods from the fridge to our faces. I’ve got those resistance bands you posted about a while back shipping to us currently.
But honestly, it’s been a huge struggle to try to stay active. I’ve definitely been putting on the poundage this past week so we started hitting the workouts hard this week. Our new song “Quarantine 15” more accurately represents our fitness journey since the shutdown.
Makenzie also has a YouTube channel to help you get started in the world of yoga. Here’s the intro to her video series:
For all people curious about yoga! This channel is meant to be a no-excuses platform. Got 5 minutes? Let’s practice. It’s not meant to be perfect. Don’t think, just do. Anytime, any place!
Until very recently, MaKenzie shared the Sex Tips stage with handsome “Hot Guys of Vegas” recipient Shyllon Melatti (read his Vegas Unfiltered profile right HERE). While the actor/singer/dancer/model prepares for a juicy new role (I’m sworn to secrecy) he and his partner have used the quarantine downtime to raise an adorable rescue kitten named “Merlot”.
And while being a pet parent can be physically exhausting at times, it takes more than a sprinkle of catnip to keep Shyllon’s stunning torso in check. You can find out how he does it by joining a live workout on Instagram. The session takes place Saturday 4/11 at 9am PST. The full-boy workout requires no equipment and is free. Click HERE to participate.
Be sure to keep plenty of water and a towel handy, because “Master Melatti” knows how to make you sweat.
The stunning acrobatic couple of Mary Wolfe and Tyce Nielsen is professionally known as Duo Transcend. The America’s Got Talent favorites had just signed on to join CELESTIA at The STRAT when COVID-19 rolled into town, shutting down every show on the Strip.
While waiting to finally live their dream of a Vegas gig, Duo Transcend has been hard at work on…working out. They’re teaching live classes via the ZOOM app and have posted 30-minute no-equipment workouts that you can access right here:
If you or any of your Vegas friends are offering online fitness tips or classes, send an email to Sam@VegasUnfiltered.blog and I’ll be sure to update this article with the information. Be smart, be safe, and be strong.
UPDATE 4/24/20 – The saga of the Las Vegas drive-in theater has become increasingly convoluted and frustrating. After only two days of operating under special permission granted by Nevada’s governor, the outdoor movie theater was ordered to close yet again. Yours truly was on the way there to attend a screening when I received notification of the latest news.
This situation has become a sore spot for Las Vegas locals desperately in need of a little taste of “normal” life. While hundreds are allowed to gather outside of big box stores at will, the concept of being inside your own closed vehicle in what is basically a large parking lot as been deemed “unsafe”.
Although I have been quite supportive of social-distancing guidelines and closures for public-safety reasons, the state of Nevada has, IMO, seriously dropped the ball on this one. Quite frankly, I’m sick of the inconsistency. Here’s the official statement from West Wind Drive-In as issued on their social media…around 7pm on 4/24/20:
We had received formal approval to reopen the Las Vegas Drive-In with certain operating restrictions and we complied. Unfortunately we have recently been asked to temporarily cease operations pending further direction from the Governor’s office. We are disappointed with this decision but look forward to re-opening as soon as possible. Thank you for your patronage and patience.
UPDATE 4/22/20 – The governor of Nevada has granted permission for West Wind Drive-in to reopen in Las Vegas. See below for details, and click THIS LINK for current movies and showtimes.
-The drive-in is accessible only to those in vehicles–for movies and A/V presentations only (e.g., worship services).
-Vehicles are spaced at least 10 feet apart (every other parking space).
-No one may leave their vehicle except to visit the restroom.
-Access to the restroom is limited to 1 person (plus a minor child or a disabled companion) at a time. Restrooms are sanitized every 30 minutes.
-The snack bar and entertainment areas are closed.
-Social distancing signage is in place, and all of these restrictions are provided to drive-in customers upon entry.
-Staffing is kept to a minimum; they oversee vehicle entry and ensure the above rules are followed or else a vehicle is told to leave.
UPDATE 4/6/20 – The drive-in is currently closed for movies, but the concession stand is operating during set hours to allow for take-home of their fabulous food and snacks. They’re even throwing in “bonus bucks” if you pre-purchase gift cards.
Pick up some burgers and a bucket of popcorn for your own movie night and help keep the drive-in in business for when the quarantine is lifted. Click HERE for info on concession stand hours and up-to-date status regarding reopening.
UPDATE: Even though a statewide quarantine is currently in effect, Las Vegas West Wind Drive-in is being allowed to operate under strict conditions. See below for details.
Located just a little northwest of downtown near Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho casinos, West Wind Las Vegas 6 is riding a sudden wave of popularity. While many drive-ins are long gone, West Wind continues to be an entertainment success. The modern digital picture is sharper, brighter, and is easily a match for their indoor counterparts. Sound is broadcast through high-quality FM onto your own car speakers, so you can control the volume and “oomph”.
What makes drive-in theaters especially popular right now is that their unique concept (watching movies under the stars) fits right into the coronavirus outbreak’s “social distancing” guidelines. Once you slide your payment through a crack in the car window, you can avoid being in close proximity to other human beings. The only folks you’ll encounter are the ones inside their concession stand building (or if you need to use the restroom).
While indoor theaters charge upwards of $12.00 for a single movie, adult admission to West Wind 6 Drive-in is only $7.75. The titles change every week, with a combination of brand-new releases and holdover hits. Certain screens offer a double-feature of two recent films for the same low price. Children ages 5-11 get in for $1.75, and kids under 5 are free. Tuesdays are even cheaper, with adult tickets costing $5.50. The website offers a newsletter with Internet coupon offers, too.
When global pandemics aren’t the biggest worry of your day, you’ll want to return on a regular basis. An expansion of the outdoor dining and playground areas has added to the drive-in’s appeal. The snack bar offers typical movie-going fare but at noticeably lower prices. And, they’ve upped the fun factor with seasonal activities. During Halloween, the snack bar gets turned into a mini haunted house, complete with staff members in costume. Several times a year, West Wind hosts a Customer Appreciation Night with absolutely free admission, fun, and games.
The main concession building is located in the center of the property. It has a playground and outdoor picnic tables so you can stuff yourself on hot dogs and nachos without missing the movie. Of course, if you want to sneak a peek at one of the other five screens, I won’t tell. They often host special events with pony rides, live entertainment, and a petting zoo.
So, if the quarantine has you suffering from cabin fever, West Wind Drive-in Theater has the cure. Step back in time, look for the lighted arches and classic neon signage. Bring a pillow, wear your pajamas and bunny slippers if you like, and it’s even okay to smoke. And, nobody will scold you if you chat or decide to make out in the back seat.
West Wind Las Vegas Drive-in Theater is open year-round, rain or shine. It’s located at 4150 West Carey Avenue, northwest of downtown. Click HERE for their current movie titles/showtimes or call (702) 646-3565 OR (702) 647-1379 for more information.
Photos: West Wind, Sam Novak, Yelp!
What’s more fun than a pair of regular “bros” cutting loose in Las Vegas? The answer lies in Bucket Listin’, a brand new web-based show debuting on YouTube. Bucket Listin’ follows the free-wheeling and unpredictable team of singer Daniel Emmet and actor Mark Justice as they teleport from one Las Vegas adventure to the next…via a retro telephone booth. How do they decide on their latest destination? Well, from picking pre-loaded fortune cookies out of a wooden bucket, of course. Yes, it’s just as crazy as it sounds.
While the premise is certainly outrageous, the strength of Bucket Listin’ lies in the charming personalities of its two hosts and the effusive chemistry they share. Emmet is fresh off a successful stint as a finalist in 2018’s America’s Got Talent. His powerhouse voice has been entertaining audiences at events and concerts all around the country. He’s also been riding a well-deserved wave of stellar reviews for his residency at Cleopatra’s Barge inside Caesars Palace.
Readers of Vegas Unfiltered and its corresponding Facebook page should be quite familiar with my affection for Mark “You probably don’t know me at all” Justice. The handsome and chiseled action star/underwear model bounces around the city like a Price Is Right Plinko chip, landing in places as diverse as Excalibur‘s Tournament of Kings, Fremont Street Experience and last fall’s Halloween event SCARE at Town Square. He’s also a writer/director/producer with over one hundred credits listed on the Internet Movie Database, including a collection of fantasy and horror films shot right in and around Sin City.
Emmet and Justice first released a teaser for Bucket Listin’ on Christmas Eve, when they gathered around the fireplace for a fractured version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. It was clear right away that the two were planning on presenting something unusual and quite fun for 2020. The series was officially announced on New Year’s Day (S1E0), then the pilot arrived last week, a whole month earlier than expected.
Apparently, the creative team behind Bucket Listin’ has a fetish for holidays, as the premiere episode (S1E1) is entitled “Valentine’s Day Chocolate Destruction”. All the better to play a cringe-inducing game of chocolate-dipped “Who Knows?”, followed by a trip to Battlefield Vegas for a crushing romantic encounter with a tank.
Subsequent episodes will chronicle the boys’ exploits as they face some of the many extreme adventures that Las Vegas has to offer. From a Grand Canyon experience and high-speed police chase to skydiving and flying a plane, Emmet and Justice are sure to tickle your funnybone and raise adrenaline to maximum levels.
Since I’ve already crossed those challenges and more from my own bucket list, I’m sure the guys are up to the task. They’ll just look way cooler while doing it…and a whole lot funnier. Kids these days…..I tell ya.
In the first half of this column, I began the year at a vacant, frozen outdoor carnival and left you hanging with the world’s biggest buttcrack at a stadium that was beginning to resemble a giant toilet bowl. Brace yourself, though…things were just starting to get weird. This is going to be a long one…
When the intense heat of Vegas summers reaches its peak, residents often enjoy their own version of “snowbirding” by heading to milder climates. With this being my first July as a local, I took the cue and headed for a ranch in the mountains of Oregon. The cool, fresh air revived my spirits, but then it was time to return for July 4th festivities back at home.
July 3rd was when the world moved…literally. While sitting on my couch writing a column for BestOfVegas.com, I felt the house begin to rumble and sway. Wondering if I was having a stroke or seizure, I scanned the internet and read page after page of “Did we just have an earthquake?” postings on Facebook. Although the city was a little “shaken”, the day continued.
The early part of July 4th came and went with the usual pool parties and firecrackers, then the sh*t really hit the fan. I was at AMC Town Square watching a horror film when the Big One hit. Halfway through the film, the seats started bucking and the rows of chairs were visibly moving. I captured a quick video of the theater evacuation (above) which was picked up by local TV stations, Telemundo and NBC News out of New York City.
Evacuating the shopping complex in my car, I barely dodged a tree that fell onto the road, then braved the bridge over the interstate to get home. Neighbors were in a panic and my underground irrigation system was ruptured, but other than shaken nerves, there was no real damage. Nevertheless, some of us have been a little on edge ever since.
The LGBTQ community came out to witness the official opening of ICONIC Nightclub. The reborn party spot took over a venue once occupied by SHARE. Despite a strong start and plenty of effort to make it a great alternative to popular PIRANHA, the turnout wasn’t strong enough to cover expenses and ICONIC shuttered in just a few months.
As a regular patron, I was really disappointed by the lack of support for ICONIC. Owner Adam Simmons went above and beyond to provide outstanding staffing and make everyone feel at home. ICONIC offered great cocktails (my favorite was “Cucumber Fantasy”), wild entertainment and what may be the most attractive crew this city has ever seen, all at very affordable prices. So kudos to Adam and husband Jason for what they brought to the scene.
My trip to Oregon had caused me to miss the grand opening gala of FLIGHTS Restaurant at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops. Fortunately, owner Alex Hult welcomed me and allowed me to experience the establishment’s fantastic food and beverage options for this review. I’ve been a regular ever since. I’m just glad I wasn’t under that fuselage during the tremor. It must have been impressive to see the safely-secured airplane “taking flight” for a minute or two.
Monsoon season arrived by mid-July but was supposedly weak compared to previous years. It’s not unusual for the Las Vegas Strip to experience significant flooding during summer downpours.
Remember to NEVER park on the ground level in the Linq/Harrah’s area, as that spot is prone to violently flooding.
Scott Roeben (VitalVegas.com) joined the gang on his first visit to Golden Tiki
As neighborhoods around the city cleaned up mud and debris, I took a watery trip of a different kind…down the rapids and over the falls to the Land of the Lost. Actors Wesley Eure (Will) and Kathy Coleman (Hollie) of the classic TV series paid a visit to The Golden Tiki, where the legendary TV siblings were presented with shrunken-head replicas of themselves, courtesy of Branden Powers and his ever-expanding Cabinet of Curiosities.
On a whim, I invited Kathy and Wesley to join me for another rip-roaring ride…this time to Chippendales. The expressions on the faces of my childhood icons as the men of Chippendales strutted their stuff were priceless! Performer/host Jayson Michael gave the stars a rousing introduction and the crowd loved it. Talk about surreal!
Lest anyone forget, the biggest WTF of the year…and perhaps the decade, remains the Grasshopper Invasion of 2019. The final days of July made worldwide news as Sin City was covered in a blanket of billions of migratory grasshoppers. The swarms were so thick that they showed up on weather radar as thunderstorms. Luxor‘s light beam acted as a beacon, creating a scene straight from the Bible.
Was Sin City being visited by one of the great plagues? The wrath of God, perhaps? Well, according to the scientists it was just a side effect of the valley’s unusually most spring. Those same experts also predicted that the invasion would last for several weeks, which it didn’t. So I’m sticking with the “Ten Commandments” explanation.
Allegiant Raiders Stadium was just about to complete its frame-out, casting an impressive shadow along Interstate 15.
Rio Las Vegas seemed to constantly be in the news. Will it be sold? (It was.) Will it be leveled for a new stadium? (Time will tell). But for fans of all things Star Trek, what mattered was whether the annual Official Star Trek Convention would return for another year (it did).
Once again, thousands of fans from around the world flocked to the off-Strip resort, which was transformed into the USS Enterprise. Just about every square foot of the convention hall was utilized for lectures, interviews, broadcasts, photo ops, virtual reality exhibitions, vendor space and a recreation of Quark’s Bar (formerly located at Las Vegas Hilton).
That same weekend, the Las Vegas Hilton, now known as Westgate Las Vegas, celebrated 50 years of history and rebirth with a massive gala. I was honored and excited to receive an invitation. The event was held in the Grand Ballroom with live entertainment, a spectacular dinner, and tributes by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and resort owner David Siegel.
I learned that August is apparently the unofficial month of hangovers, thanks to nonstop parties in Las Vegas. First up was the Annual Black and White Gala, a benefit for AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada). This year’s event returned to Hard Rock Hotel (soon to be Virgin Hotel) after a so-so outing to Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club in 2018.
The adults-only soiree’s attendees are encouraged to wear black and white (as much or as little as they dare) while enjoying live entertainment and a variety of bites and cocktails provided by sponsors. Attendees including an array of performers like the cast of Sex Tips, members of Tenors of Rock and my main girl Endia Abrante of ShowgirlArrivals.com.
Much of the decor was provided by Michele Rothstein‘s Balloons With A Twist. Michele recently became engaged to comedian John Di Domenico, best known as the World’s Greatest Donald Trump Impersonator.
John provided the laughs at last year’s Mondays Dark year-end celebration and had proven to be a perfect foil for Ester Goldberg and Anne Martinez at Totally Outrageous Brunch. Congratulations to one of Sin City’s happiest couples and thanks to Michele for making the colors black and white even more beautiful.
The next party was a media launch at Sugar Factory’s Chocolate Lounge for burlesque performer/singer Melody Sweets‘ new single “Flavor of the Month“. Guests included Amy Saunders of Miss Behave Game Show, fitness competitor/health coach Mandy White Eskelin and husband Sami Eskelin (Chippendales, sports fitness entrepreneur). My prolific colleague Chris Yandek of CYInterview.com posted this interview with Ms. Sweets soon after.
More festivities followed at Silverton Casino‘s VEIL Pavilion with the CFO of the Year Awards, sponsored by VegasINC and City National Bank. Next up was Havana Nights: Top Men of Success hosted by MyVEGAS Magazine and Blue Martini at Town Square.
As for the Stadium, it had now come full circle…..er, “oval”.
Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, where the pool lines start to thin out and tourism drops. If all of that August party-going didn’t exhaust you, the final holiday of the summer surely would.
I spent the evening enjoying the sounds (and sights) of DJ Nick Ayler, whom you may remember from this profile piece. Nick and I had a great time chatting (and downing tequila) between his sets at AVANT Lounge inside Iconic Nightclub. The crowd was a bit thin but the fun was certainly memorable.
Over at OYO (the former Hooters Hotel Casino), master mixologist Eddie Perales was keeping things smoking with his longtime partner and fellow cocktail craftsman Bobby G. You may remember Eddie from his many contributions to the Rio, Paris, and Westgate hotels, among others. He is also a world record holder in cocktail creation and a longtime Sin City resident.
The newly-rebranded Sahara Hotel held a bubbly premiere for their champagne-themed adult variety show Blanc de Blanc. The men of Aussie Heat joined celebrities like SEXXY‘s Jennifer Romas, magician David Goldrake (who’s been teasing a Vegas comeback), BMX pro Ricardo Laguna, mentalist Marc Savard and musician Vin A. from The Bronx Wanderers.
A pre-show gathering was held at the brand-new CASBAR LOUNGE before moving to the main event. Cast members from Thunder From Down Under and FANTASY enjoyed the performance from their VIP Premium-seating hot tubs. Yes, you read that correctly. Hot-tub seating for a Vegas show….why not?
Just like the Star Trek Convention, this year’s Olympia Fitness Expo and Competition lured in thousands of devotees. Celebrities like Mark Wahlberg enjoyed top billing while Tropicana‘s own Chef Robert Irvine peddled his products and posed for pics.
No matter where you looked, hot bodies and healthy lifestyles were on display. Vegas nightclub favorite and romance-novel coverboy Nick Bennett was busting his sleeves while promoting CELSIUS fitness and energy drinks, taking over for rapper Flo Rida from the previous year. I was unsuccessful in getting his shirt off for a pose, but there’s always Olympia Expo 2020…
Community-driven venue The Space was host to special fundraising event The Power of Pink and Purple to benefit the American Cancer Society. Organized by the big-hearted Logan Seven, the evening gathered those same tireless performers from Aussie Heat, SEXXY and David Goldrake along with Swing It Girls and “Pink” illusionist Kenneth Rex.
Even though Monsoon Season 2019 was about to officially come to a close, the skies above Vegas offered one final reminder to never become complacent.
The tenth month of the year began on a solemn note, as it will continue to do so for decades to come. October 1st marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting across from Mandalay Bay. I happened to capture the above photo from the hotel’s rooftop Foundation Room. You can spot the location across Las Vegas Boulevard as a darkened area that was once home to Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.
No city does Halloween the way that Las Vegas does. Things get an early kick-off here, too. October 2nd saw the debut of SCARE at Town Square, an immersive and expansive experience to be shared by young and old. And best of all, there was an adults-only nightclub area, too.
The charity-driven UNDEAD MAZE rose once again, this year at Tivoli Village in the northwest section of the city. A passion project by tireless entertainer Shaun Friedrichs with ample assist from big-hearted Heidi Elkhill, it’s rated as one of the top haunts in the city.
Hofbrauhaus on Paradise Road continued their annual tradition of Oktoberfest celebrity keg-tappings. The line-up this year included Zowie Bowie‘s Chris Phillips, Chippendales, Australian Bee Gees and Ricardo Laguna. If you’ve never experienced an evening at Hofbrauhaus, you owe it to yourself to visit. BTW, the talk is true….the staff paddles patrons on their birthday.
Historic Mansion 54 in the Arts District kicked off costume parties with The Shade Tree‘s 30th Anniversary Mask Off Gala. The Shade Tree is an organization that provides sanctuary and support to women in jeopardy along with their children and pets.
Entertainment during the fundraiser was provided by the cast of Le Reve. PHo headliner Christina Aguilera made a brief appearance to accept an award. Amazingly, I missed seeing the superstar, as it was blink-and-you’ll-miss-it brief. Thank goodness the food by sponsors like Evel Pie, VegeNation, PublicUS and Le Thai was so memorable.
Campy horror-comedy EVIL DEAD: The Musical made a “splashy” return to Las Vegas, this time with a significant upgrade. The onetime hit at V Theater had a two-week run as The Evil Dead HD Tour at The Space.
The community-driven venue was draped in plastic and outfitted with immersive high-resolution video “sets” that were used to brilliant effect. Rabid fans of the “Deadites” clamored for the front sections, where they’d be soaked in a spray of gore. How often do you see audience members exiting the theater while wringing blood from their hair and clothing?
This fellow was so soaked in fake blood that he threw his shirt in the trash…
The penultimate month of the year was a mellow one by any standards. No swarms of insects, not a single earth-shaking event…just a few new openings, a haloed moon and the return of one very bright star.
Once again, The Space was THE place to be for noteworthy activities. While the best little theater in the city had been serving up gore and body parts just a few weeks earlier, now it was dishing out good old southern cooking and a night of unforgettable vocals.