Production Construction – ‘MEN OF THE STRIP’

Men are hard at work as ticket sales go live and an opening date looms nearer for Men of the Strip.

The following is a reprint of an article from 5/17/17…

THREE YEARS AGO

The number of details that have gone into producing Tropicana‘s Men of the Strip, like any production, have been daunting. Hours of planning, casting, networking, legalities and preparation must bring those elements together before a single performance is tallied. But they all get traced back to one thing…an idea.

Singer/writer/producer Jeff Timmons is the brains (and considerable brawn) behind Men of the Strip, the new show bowing this month at Trop’s Havana Room. As the story goes, Timmons was guest-hosting Chippendales at Rio a few years back when he became inspired to create his own cutting-edge male revue.

From there, the inevitable avalanche of brainstorming, financing, auditions and show creation yielded a nationwide tour that culminated in a triumphant Vegas showcase. Alas, things came to a grinding halt after a tragic event. Despite the successful run and a ravenous fan base, Men of the Strip was shelved indefinitely.

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Inside the Henderson, NV dance studio during costume fittings…

FOUR WEEKS AGO

This spring, the creative process is back again in full swing. Earlier in April, three key players from Men of the Strip‘s creation converged in Las Vegas for a relaunch…this time on a much larger scale (last month I reported on the expanded show/nightclub/pool party concept here). And as promised, I was there to capture some of the preparation and speak with members of the team…both new and returning.

Timmons was front and center…and all around the studio…during auditions for new dancers. An open casting call had been announced in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for the first two days of April, with candidates encouraged to pre-submit video demonstrations of their skills.

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Mike Foland arrives at Tropicana with rookie Tyler Froehlich…

Social media plays a big part in casting these days. Show choreographer Glenn Douglas Packard, returning from MOTS’s initial run, reached out to various dancers in the industry. He also stepped out of the box by direct-contacting newbie Tyler Froehlich, whose Instagram page he happened upon.

Both Timmons’ and MOTS’s Facebook pages broadcast the auditions live, with viewers encouraged to chime in on their favorites. The show’s financier Mike Foland told me that the cast would constantly be interactive with fans, both online and after each performance. He wants the audience to get to know the men as individuals and enjoy their unique personalities as much as their looks and dancing skills.

With a projected start date looming and ticket sales about to go live, only one week passed before the cast was chosen, notified and assembled to begin rehearsals. I stopped by the following Monday at The Stage, a professional studio in Henderson, where the men were already sweating through their paces.

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Choreographer Packard (far right) and Men of the Strip 2.0

Timmons wasn’t present on the day of my visit. As has been the case since announcing the residency, he was making the rounds of a media publicity blitz. That means traveling to various cities, appearing on talk shows and doing interviews to promote his baby.

Mike Foland greeted me and showed me around as costume fittings were underway. I immediately recognized the uber-cool biker costumes that opened up the show in 2014. Over in the main studio, choreographer Packard was shouting out instructions for that very same number: “Okay, helmets on your shoulders. One-two-three, thrust, turn, turn!” (or something to that effect).

After putting the dancers through their paces, Packard discussed his goals for MOTS 2.0. The multi-talented choreographer/dancer/TV star is fresh from directing his first film, PITCHFORK, a horror thriller (released on Blu-ray and DVD this month).

With creativity in overdrive, Packard said he has taken the best of the Mandalay Bay show and pared it into a fast-moving 90 minutes designed to leave audiences out of breath.

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“We’ve got a great bunch,” he said. “They’re deep into the third number, and it’s only been one week. It took a month to get this far the last time around. We’re lucky to have gotten a really good group. The challenge now is to teach what we already have to a whole new cast of men…” Packard confided.

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Advertising materials inside the resort will soon blanket the city…

Fortunately, he’s inherited ample support from the group’s mentor-figure, returning performer Joel Sajiun. Dominican Republic native Sajiun moved back to South Florida after MOTS disbanded, waiting for a phone call. “Three years I wait. Three years! I was about to take a construction job next week when the phone rang” he said. “It was fate.”

Foland echoed that sentiment. “We waited a long time for Men of the Strip to come back together. We had to heal first. When we were ready, it was hard to find the right place”. He and others scoped numerous locations in Vegas and came close to signing a deal with The Stratosphere (the former Poly Esther’s nightclub). “Then Havana Room was presented to us, and we knew this was it. Everything fell into place”.

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Mike Foland surveys the Havana Room after meeting with Tropicana execs…

Now that the team is back in action, Joel Sajiun finds it hard to keep his emotions in check. He choked up several times during our conversation. The dancer recounted stories of special-needs audience members who attended the nationwide tour, and one dedicated fan whose family sent a message of gratitude after she had passed away.

“What we’re doing here is special. It isn’t just a male stripper show. In some way, we’re making people feel better and affecting lives. Anybody can give extra attention to a pretty girl in the audience, but to us, everyone is special.”

As he stood up to rejoin his partners, Sajiun stopped and looked me in the eye. “This sounds funny, but what we’re doing here…somehow it’s special. It makes a difference to people. I know it does…and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

LAST WEEK

Timmons and Foland sat down with me at the Tropicana‘s casino lounge last week to discuss their progress. They’d just come from a meeting with hotel execs. Both were energized by the challenges involved in organizing a residency versus a tour.

“Last time around was easy!” said Timmons. “When we were touring, we just advertised at a city, showed up in our bus and performed. Now it’s a whole different game. I’m trying to make sure we’ve got coverage in People magazine, US WeeklyTMZ. We’re learning the intricacies of Vegas marketing…taxi ads, ticket brokers, hotel concierges, timeshare people. You can’t just erect a billboard here and expect people to line up.”

Havana Room never had a resident show before” Foland added. “We’ve needed to work with Ticketmaster to map out the space, arrange seats and decide on price points. Glenn has to rework production numbers for the uniqueness of the floor layout and audience placement. It’s tough!”

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Timmons and Foland chat with industry colleagues outside of the Viva Vegas awards….

With only two weeks to go before opening night, I joined the cast and management of MOTS for the Viva Vegas TV Awards celebration at nearby Mandalay Bay. That industry-centric event had already nominated MOTS for “Best Male Revue” (their showcase performance at MB in 2014 made them eligible). They ended up taking the prize over more established brands like Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under.

Clearly, the word has gotten out that Men of the Strip will be a formidable entry in Vegas male revues. Coming out of a three-year holding pattern, that’s encouraging to Timmons: “You know, we waited a long time for this. Tragedy struck and nearly wiped us out…but I never gave up hope. The universe has aligned for us”.

“Now is the time. And we’re ready!”

Men of the Strip cast

Men of the Strip will perform Thursday through Sunday at 9 pm at Tropicana beginning May 25th July 14th. Tickets start at $49.99 (plus taxes/fees) and are available via this link. Use offer code “PARTY” for a 30% discount. 

Photos: [Sammasseur, Men of the Strip]

Terry Fator – AGT’s Biggest Winner Is Sin City’s Biggest Loser

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.

Click here to continue reading via VEGAS 411.

APERO Is Sexy, Sassy, and a Whole Lotta Fun


My latest for CHIC Compass Magazine revisits the fabulous show with DNA from ZUMANITY and Le Reve…

The state of entertainment in post-pandemic Las Vegas is one of turmoil and flux. Long-running productions have permanently shuttered, and legendary stars have been shown the door. Fortunately for some entertainers and creative minds, new opportunities have arisen. That’s how APÉRO was born.

APERO is a sexy new revue presented at Baobab Stage. A swanky, intimate showroom within Baobab Café, Baobab Stage is located at Town Square on South Las Vegas Boulevard. Featuring talent from nowshuttered ZUMANITY by Cirque du Soleil and Wynn’s long-running LE REVE – The Dream, APÉRO takes the finest ingredients of those world-famous spectaculars and blends them into a delicious, fizzy cocktail delivered right to your seat.

APÉRO‘s premise is built around the aperatif, an oh-so-French tradition of early-evening libations and nibbles (something you’re invited to partake in before and during the show). An ultra-hot cast of men and women meet, flirt…and try to impress each other with feats of grace and strength. A threadbare concept to be sure, but who cares when the antics are this sexy?

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Continue reading by clicking here via CHIC Compass Magazine…

Hot Guys of Vegas: Guitar Heroes

Songs sound so much better when the visuals match the music


“Hey, don’t objectify me. I’m a serious artist”. Yeah yeah yeah….we’ve heard it a thousand times. Beautiful people often complain that they aren’t respected for their talents. Yet most of us grew up in a time when you had to be MTV-ready to make it in the music industry. Just ask Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees.

Jeff Timmons of ’98 Degrees’ Weathers the Storm

Perennial “Hot Guys” recipient Jeff Timmons doesn’t play guitar

These days, TikTok and Instagram have made  “models” out of millions, so very little has changed. Luckily for readers of this column, three Vegas hunks have been strumming their guitars like they’re pumping iron at the gym. So here they are…Hot Vegas Guitar Heroes of 2021

Michael Shapiro –  singer/guitarist/producer

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Do you remember that old Burger King jingle “It takes two hands to handle a Whopper“? Well, Michael Shapiro not only has two full hands, but he also wears hats in two separate bands. As front man to both Many Miles Away and Reckless In Vegas, Shapiro does more in one evening than most do in a week.

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I first chatted with the handsome musician when we were guests on What The Cluck, a topical comedy chat-fest by The Bronx WanderersVin A. Prior to that, I’d enjoyed Michael’s tribute to Bruce Springsteen in World’s Greatest Rock Show at The STRAT. During the pandemic, Shapiro was busy writing music for his newest musical venture. 

Produced by Paul Fletcher, MANY MILES AWAY debuted their new songs in a showcase at The Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails (inside Cosmopolitan) earlier this week. It was a star-studded affair attended by movers and shakers like man-about-town Mark Messina, comedian/actress Elaina Bhattacharyya, Paula Maggio, Vin A. (of course), his behind-the-scenes muse Elizabeth Hunt, Review-Journal entertainment columnist John Katsilometes and singer Travis Cloer (see below).

May be an image of 5 people, people playing musical instruments, people standing and text that says 'RECKLESS IAVEGAS A MODERN TWIST ON VINTAGE VEGAS Thursday, July 15, 2021 Italian American Club 2333 E Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104 TICKETS $65 Dinner 6:30-7:00pm-- Show 8:00pm For Reservations go to iacvegas. or call (702) 457-3866'

This coming July 15th, Shapiro’s Reckless In Vegas will be back onstage at Italian American Club. Overflowing with style and sexiness, the retro-cool Reckless In Vegas takes vintage swagger and turns it on its ear with modern interpretations. Seating is 6:30 pm and you can get tickets/info by clicking here. This is one night on the town that you won’t want to miss.

Travis Cloer–  singer/guitarist/actor

 

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Photo by Dianne Davis

It’s impossible to follow Vegas music and NOT know Travis Cloer. A rip-roaring bundle of positive energy, Travis is beloved not just by fellow musicians and fans, but by the entire Sin City community. And because he’s smokin’, Travis has made it onto my Hot Guys of Vegas column twice. 

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Last November, I told you about the Jersey Boys star’s Christmas single Holiday With Me. Now he’s prepared to heat up the summer charts with Standing Here. Releasing this week, Standing Here finds the crooner fresh off a sold-out Composer’s Showcase at NOTORIETY, where he performed the new ballad.

Produced by popular Vegas entertainer Frankie Moreno, Standing Here is the type of song you play during a relaxing summer drive. Close your eyes, imagine you’re riding along a country road with the windows down, and listen to a sample right here. Standing Here is available for pre-order via the same link. 

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Thanks for the great vibes, Travis!

Miles Schon – singer/guitarist/songwriter

 

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Miles Schon is as handsome as he is talented

If I have to explain why our final Guitar Hero made the list, perhaps it’s time to visit an optometrist. Miles Schon is the ultimate hot musician. Handsome, humble, charismatic and an ace on the strings, he’s got the DNA to back up his impending super-stardom.

Miles is the son of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Neal Schon. Dad has been involved with such legends as Journey, Santana, Joe Cocker, The Allman Brothers, and Sammy Hagar. When you grow up in that type of household, you’re bound to have a passion for great music, too.

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Music is always a collaborative effort, and Miles found his perfect partner in Michael Shapiro (above). The two formed MANY MILES AWAY, a moniker undoubtedly inspired by the younger Schon’s first name. The two even wrote a single sharing the same title, which they performed in Salt Lake City earlier this year:

Miles cites R & B, pop and metal as his primary musical influences. An avid jock, he enjoys the great outdoors, which explains his stunning physique. Excited about a successful first Las Vegas performance at The Barbershop last Monday, Miles is eager to learn what comes next:

“We have no idea what the future holds. Looking back on looking into the future…I had no clue and still don’t. Just keep grinding and be the best you can be.” – Miles Schon

Photos from recipients’ social media and websites. Caricatures by Neal Portnoy.

 

Voices United: MUSIC FOR LIFE Concert at Westgate Las Vegas

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.

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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.

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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

Hot Guys Of Vegas: Grab A Handful of ‘Rock Candy’

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.


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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.

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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. 

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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 –

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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.

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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 Rock Candy, too. And…why wait for “then” when you can see him RIGHT NOW!

Follow Miguel’s Instagram right here.


Miguel Reyes Santiago –

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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!

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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.

Take a trip with Miguel Reyes Santiago through his Instagram page.


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Ryan Kelsey –

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.

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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.

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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).

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Get to know Antonio a little better by stalking visiting him on Instagram via this link.

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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.

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If you’d like to dive a little deeper into Jeffrey Garrovillo, then check him out on Instagram right here.

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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.

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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.


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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. 

Broadway’s Ruby Lewis Extends ‘STARLET’ at The Nevada Room

The GOlden Age Of Hollywood Lives Again at Sin City’s Hip new Venue…


Update 6/1/21 – After an extremely successful debut weekend, The Nevada Room has extended Ruby Lewis: STARLET with amazing pianist Dan Ellis. Performances are June 1, 8, 22 and 29. There is no cover charge, an a la carte menu and cocktails are available before and during the show. Click here to reserve a table (no minimum charge). 

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If there’s one Sin City entertainer who embodies vintage glamour, it’s the gorgeous Ruby Lewis. A sweet southern gal with the voice of an angel, Ms. Lewis has risen from small town ingenue to her name in lights on Broadway. And this weekend, the star of “Marilyn: The New Musical” and “Paramour” from Cirque du Soleil brings “Ruby Lewis: Starlet” to The Nevada Room for three glorious performances.


Journey back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with the multi-talented sensation, Ruby Lewis, and step into the shoes of cinema’s most beloved leading ladies through song.

In this “star-studded” performance, Ruby takes on Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, and Kathryn Hepburn, just to name a few. With the Incomparable Dan Ellis at the Piano.


The Nevada Room is coming off a spectacular launch just last evening with a quartet of acts. Hannah Brady, Paula Dione Ingram, Denita Asberry, & Swing It Girls all showcased their upcoming gigs at sister club The Vegas Room. Pianists Michael Joy and Christopher Lash provided music during dinner and for the show.

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To celebrate its first weekend, The Nevada Room is offering a two-for-one special on Ruby Lewis: Starlet. Get two tickets for Saturday evening 6:30 pm, which includes a five-course dinner. Price is $85 when you purchase online using this link and enter the coupon code ‘RUBY241’ at checkout.

There will be an additional Brunch edition of Ruby Lewis: Starlet on Sunday, May 16th at 1 pm.  Follow this link for tickets and enter coupon code ‘RUBY241’ at checkout to receive two tickets for only $65, which also includes a five course meal.

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Hours and scheduled entertainment at The Nevada Room Piano Bar Bistro are as follows:

Tuesdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Patrick Hogan 7 PM to 10 PM

Wednesdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Keith Thompson 7 PM to 10 PM

Thursdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Michael Joy 7 PM to 10 PM

Fridays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Mike Clark/Johnn Jones (alternating) 7 PM to 10 PM & Dave Seigel 10 PM to Midnight

Saturdays: 5 PM to 10 PM – Chris Lash 7 PM to 10 PM & Dave Seigel 10 PM to Midnight

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Visit TheNevadaRoom.com for more information or to make reservations. The Nevada Room is located at 953 East Sahara Avenue, Suite E1A, Las Vegas, Nevada

Photos: Ruby Lewis, The Nevada Room, Robert Watson, Review-Journal via John Katsilometes

‘THE CARPENTERS’ Return In A Passionate Tribute Concert

Lovingly-rendered Salute Brings The Sibling Duo to Life…


I have no shame in admitting my passion for music of the seventies. The legendary rock groups, family bands and solo artists will be remembered long after today’s contemporary noise has disappeared. And very few artists represent the heart of that era better than Karen and Richard Carpenter.

Much like the Osmonds, the Carpenters wrapped us in their warm embrace. Known for their gentle nature. loving rapport, Karen’s flawless voice, and Richard’s instrumental wizardry, the clean-cut siblings felt very much like family.

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Karen’s untimely death in 1983 still hurts, but her songs remain a part of our lives, especially during the holiday season. With her life cut prematurely short, fans never got the privilege of an expanded songbook or a Strip residency (Donny and Marie played at Flamingo for a full decade). Thankfully, the timeless music of The Carpenters is coming to Las Vegas in a new residency at Town Square.

CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT will debut at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country on May 11th. Slated to perform every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm, the new residency is an authentic recreation of the duo’s 1976 U.K. tour. Starring Sally Olson as “Karen” and Ned Mills as “Richard”, the comedy-spiced production promises spot-on performances of all the hits you know and love.

Vegas fans have enjoyed CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT for a number of years. The show has performed throughout the city, most recently at Chianti’s Restaurant and the ever-popular Italian American Club on East Sahara Avenue. During the pandemic, the production offered live streaming performances to keep fans entertained during quarantine. 

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Sally Olson is the only artist to have performed as Karen Carpenter for the long-running LEGENDS IN CONCERT. The Rutland, Vermont native studied at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is an avid painter. In addition to being the central performer, Ms. Olson serves as Artistic Director for CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT.

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Pianist Ned Mills studied jazz composition and arranging at North Texas University. He’s served as musical director for a number of entertainment heavyweights like Joan Rivers, the Ink Spots, and The Shirelles. Mr. Mills is also the founder and president of SONORE, a music-based company here in Las Vegas.

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The announcement of Olson and Mills’ upcoming residency took place on May 5th at a benefit for The Composer’s Showcase Entertainment Relief Fund. The event was held at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, the location for their six-week st. CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT joins the sexy new Apero (which I covered here) in an ever-growing list of live entertainment to be featured at Town Square

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Direct from Las Vegas – Carpenters Tribute Concert: A Re-creation of the 1976 UK Tour is the definitive show celebrating the music and legacy of the famed brother-sister duo. Starring Sally Olson as Karen Carpenter and Ned Mills as Richard Carpenter, the show is a re-creation of the 1976 UK tour, featuring hits including “We’ve Only Just Begun”, “Yesterday Once More”, “Superstar”, Karen’s drum solo, Richard’s classical piano feature, a Spike Jones parody of “Close To You”, comedy antics and much more.

Randy Schmidt, author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter, says “Sally’s tribute to Karen Carpenter is heartfelt and honest” and David Halston of Tribute Masters says, “Sally is remarkable, spot-on, and delightfully entertaining.” Sally is truly unsurpassed in her startling representation of Karen Carpenter, including authentic hairstyles and makeup, vintage costumes, gestures, and stunning voice. 

This amazing production show is unique due to its high degree of authenticity. Carpenters Tribute Concert has captivated audiences across the country with faithful and spot-on recreations of the Carpenters’ music and has played to performing arts centers, cabaret spaces including the famed Triad Theater in NYC, and SOLD OUT showrooms in Las Vegas. The show was featured at the Carpenters 50th Anniversary Celebration in Thousand Oaks, CA in April 2019. Sally is the first-ever and only Karen Carpenter tribute artist to perform with Legends in Concert. 

Carpenters Tribute Concert: A Re-creation of the 1976 UK Tour features a powerful live band, historical commentary, lovely arrangements and video, taking audiences on an incredible journey down memory lane into the world of the Carpenters – the world’s ONLY authentic Carpenters tribute production in sight and sound.


Tickets for CARPENTERS TRIBUTE CONCERT start at only $15 (plus taxes/fees) and are available here.  Stoney’s Rocking Country is located at 6611 S Las Vegas Blvd # 160 at Town Square.

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‘CELESTIA’ Is Poised To Rise Again

Classic-style circus seeks new venue for its glorious tent extravaganza…


In the realms of media and show business, one of the most gratifying phrases you can use is “I told you so”. And this particular writer is looking forward to announcing in the near future that Intrigue Shows has found a new home for CELESTIA, the wonderfully-entertaining spectacle that launched at The STRAT during the summer of 2019.

When the pandemic swept through Sin City, its impact was devastating. Companies filed for bankruptcy, long-established productions announced permanent closure, and cast and crew from all facets of entertainment scattered like petals in the wind.

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At one point I was compelled to assemble a list of the shows I felt were most and least likely to return….along with a bunch that could topple to either side of the fence. I may have swung a bit broadly on some, but others were home runs. On my “Most Likely To Return” collection was the fledgling CELESTIA. Here’s what I said on April 13th of last year:


My insiders at CELESTIA assure me that the fledgling big-top production is on solid ground. STRAT Hotel Casino has a strong financial stake. which seems to be a common thread in the current make-or-break environment. Four-wallers (independent contractors) will suffer while casino-owned shows are likely to last. It all comes down to money.


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

While the reason for my faith in CELESTIA‘s return might not have been correct (The STRAT is now willing to part with the tent-based production), there’s no denying that a family-friendly circus with a desirable price point has built-in appeal for post-COVID Vegas. That’s why the show’s General Manager Kim Scott (formerly of Cirque du Soleil) has dedicated every available resource to making sure the CELESTIA tent reaches towards Vegas skies once more.

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Here’s the letter that Ms. Scott sent out to all 88 cast members, technicians, ushers, front-of-house and other crew just this afternoon. The email was motivated by an article from one of my colleagues, who yesterday announced the show’s permanent closure despite the lack of a formal statement:


Hello Everyone with Celestia,

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying the reopening of Las Vegas.

I want to give you an update on the status of Celestia and its future in Las Vegas. As you know, COVID hit many businesses hard and our company ownership has tasked me with finding new ownership for the tent and show.

I have been working nonstop to source a buyer for the tent and a company interested in running the show. I want you to know that finding a new home for Celestia has been my only priority during the shutdown.

We do have a few companies interested in the tent and a potential company interested in operating Celestia.  While I cannot guarantee that Celestia will return to the stage, I can ensure you that I am working to make that happen for all of you.  I can confirm that Celestia and the tent will not remain at The STRAT and will be relocated until a new owner can be identified. The move will happen within the next few weeks.  

I want to sincerely thank all of you for your patience as I work to navigate the next steps focus and your courage and commitment to Celestia during this past year.

Please don’t fall into the rumor mill of Las Vegas. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly.

Kim Scott

General Manager Intrigue Shows, Inc.


Regular readers will remember that I’ve published a number of articles about CELESTIA, from a stellar original review to an insider’s view via their STAR VIP EXPERIENCE (with onstage seating) and a profile of their latest electrifying cast addition, DUO TRANSCEND from America’s Got Talent.

As an avid supporter of every hard-working individual who dedicates their talents both behind the scenes and onstage, I’m excited for the possibilities awaiting those involved with CELESTIA.

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Support from large corporations and casinos may come and go with wildly unpredictable results. But Intrigue Shows, and Kim Scott in particular, have years of experience behind them. They know the do’s, the don’t’s, and B.S. that get tossed around by big-talkers. They’re independent thinkers with a passionate desire to put on an old-fashioned spectacle….just what we need in today’s turbulent environment.

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Photo by Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

Don’t count out CELESTIA just yet. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.

Photos: Sam Novak, Intrigue Shows, Cipriano Moreno Aparicio

Revamped “Thunder” Goes From ‘Strike-out’ to ‘Home Run’

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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