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


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

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

Miss Behave Gameshow

Enter if you dare…                               

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

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

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

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

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

    Video highlights from Miss Behave Gameshow…                                             

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

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

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

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An audience member enjoys her “mystery prize”…                         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos/videos by Sammasseur

 

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Hot Guys of Vegas: Bodybuilder Edition


First in a series. Bringing you the most dazzling heart breakers from the entertainment and service industries…

Whatever your vision, it’s crystal clear that lovely people flock to Vegas. They come in all makes and models, so no matter your taste, somebody is bound to turn your head.

Many gorgeous specimens settle here to make their fortunes and share their skills. Models, athletes, performers and bartenders are in top demand…as are the gyms, tanning salons and stylists that keep them showroom-new.

While other sites lavish praise on the female form, Vegas Unfiltered has no problem with saluting the hot guys of Vegas. And in honor of this week’s Mr. Olympia Competition and Fitness Expo, I’m launching this series with the timely “Bodybuilder Edition”. Enjoy!

A.J. TrunkEmcee/producer/choreographer/dancer

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A.J. Trunk               

Where you’ve seen himMen of Sapphire, David Goldrake’s IMAGINARIUM

Multi-hyphenate A.J. Trunk (banner man above) is as busy behind the scenes as he is onstage. The eye-catching host of Men of Sapphire performs as well as being the show’s producer and choreographer. Born in 1980, this New York native takes “chiseled” and amplifies it to the max. Aside from being the front man for his own production, you can see him Tuesday through Sunday in the new David Goldrake’s IMAGINARIUM at Tropicana.

Noteworthy traits – Electric blue eyes, concrete abs

Carl Matthews – cocktail server/actor/bodybuilder

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Carl Matthews                  

Where you’ve seen him – Chippendales at the Rio Hotel Casino

Tough and tender are perfect descriptions for Carl Matthews. This soft-spoken mountain of muscle is just as eager to lift someone’s spirits as the stacks of iron in his favorite gym. He charms the ladies every night while serving cocktails in the audience for Chippendales. Somehow, Carl still finds time to bust some heads in grindhouse action flicks and feed his obsession with futuristic technology.

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Carl’s positive attitude and refreshingly honest view of the world make him a rare find in Sin City.  If you ask him about his nickname (The Blessing) he’ll tell you this: “It’s not my name, it’s my mission…to be a blessing to someone every day”.

Noteworthy traits – bulging shoulders, gentle demeanor, makes 50 look like 35

Alex O’Connor – world’s hardest-working bartender

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Alex O’Connor                      

Where you’ve seen him – any place an expert bartender is required

Another gentle giant, mixologist Alex O’Conner is passionate about his craft. Driven to giving the best service possible and pleasing his guests with amazing cocktails, this tall hunk of New England beef is in demand at the hottest bars and nightclubs around Sin City.

Powered by adrenaline from intense workouts, Alex dashes from shift to shift carrying prepared meals and protein bars between short sleep cycles. His hot body attracts attention whenever he works shirtless, but Alex looks just as great in formal attire (for catered functions) or a simple polo shirt (at venues like O’Shea’s).

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Be sure to stop by Hard Rock Hotel‘s Center Bar on your way out of Magic Mike Live. Better yet, skip the show and just hang out with Alex. You can also see him at Aria‘s Jewel Nightclub.

Notable traits – perfect smooth skin, man-rack of death…and those biceps…

Carlos Maurizio Martinez Trejo – model/dancer/internet celeb

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                 Maurizio Trejo                                  

Where you’ve seen him – Gold Diggers “Sexy Firemen” troupe at Golden Nugget

It’s hard to tell you very much about this fella, as he changes his name and social media pages more often than some folks change their socks. Currently going by Martinez Carlos on Facebook, he’s also been known on Instagram as Maurizio Trejo.

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We first met when he was in the male revue Men of Steele. Since then, Maurizio has been the frontman for a Sexy Firemen modeling group on Fremont Street and is a frequent visitor to fitness competitions.

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The two of us at last year’s Mr. Olympia press conference…                

I hung out with this elusive 20-something bodybuilder for a bit last year at the Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo. Chances are that he’ll be attending once again this weekend. If you’re reading this Carlos/Maurizio….what name shall I call you this year?

Notable traits – mysterious personality, allergic to shirts

Photos: Carl Matthews, Alex O’Connor, Martinez Carlos, A.J. Trunk via Facebook, Sammasseur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ranking Male Revues from a Gay P.O.V.


In this era of inclusion, how welcome are men at various male stripper shows?

Back in 1985, John Travolta played a Rolling Stone reporter in the semi-fictional drama Perfect. Assigned to cover the singles scene in Los Angeles, Travolta finds himself attending a male revue (save the jokes for later). Interestingly, he is forced to watch the proceedings from behind a screen. According to Laraine Newman’s character, men are forbidden from attending the show (a thinly-disguised Chippendales).

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That was 35 years ago. These days, you’re as likely to see men in the audience as on the stage. I can say that from experience, as these shows are one of my favorite things to do when in Sin City. And they’re an absolute balls-to-the-wall blast!

While I attend as an openly gay man, not every guy in the audience is homosexual. It’s worth pointing out that women of all persuasions have been attending topless revues for decades, and that has always been acceptable.

As we gravitate towards an era of full inclusion, the lines of sexuality have blurred. But that doesn’t mean that men will get the same level of welcome and interactivity at each and every show. Many readers have asked me to recommend guy-friendly male revues, based on my personal experiences. Please note that this article in no way reflects the sexuality of the performers appearing in their respective shows.

So here they are, rated on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.

MAGIC MIKE LIVE – 1 out of 5

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The stand-and-model troupe at Magic Mike Live disappoints on all counts…                

A stillborn offspring of Channing Tatum’s film franchise, Magic Mike Live really isn’t recommended for anyone. It’s a difficult slog to sit through and already my choice for the worst new show of 2017. The guys remain clothed for much of the running time, which is somewhat of a blessing in disguise (see below). Worse yet, a screeching female host makes the production nearly unbearable by squawking post-menopausal life lessons throughout.

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 It’s a bumpy road to Magic Mike Live. Don’t take it…         

Public relations insiders have told me that the team at Magic Mike Live has shown little interest in marketing to the lucrative gay demographic. There’s very little reason for me to doubt that, especially after on my own experience.

Men hoping to get a lap dance or a round of onstage excitement will leave feeling disappointed…and out of lots of cash. Drinks and tickets are quite expensive. On the upside, cocktail servers are attentive (not to mention especially attractive) and save the evening from being a total loss.

THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER – 2 out of 5

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Thunder From Down Under doesn’t rank high on the list for guys…             

The long-running Aussie revue Thunder from Down Under at Excalibur allows men to attend (as do they all), but 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.

Straight men will find the atmosphere completely “non-threatening”. Don’t expect to see guys brought up onstage for any audience participation segments, either. But they CAN purchase a group shot after the show.

Said one former member of the troupe “Guys don’t go to ‘hen shows’ where we come from. We just aren’t used to that.”

Chippendales – 4.5 out of 5

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Chippendales is shy of getting a perfect score, but an absolute favorite…            

The grand master of all male revues, Chippendales still packs them in and keeps up with the times. There is a moderate amount of interactivity with guys during audience numbers and plenty of shout-outs to gay members celebrating birthdays and such. I’ve even seen a guy celebrating his 21st brought onstage for a free calendar.

Straight guys should find this one well within their comfort zone. It’s kind of like hanging out with the bros…and single straight men should have a good time in the Flirt Lounge before and after the performance, chatting it up with the female attendees.

What keeps Chippendales from achieving a perfect five-star rating is that, after attending dozens of times, I’ve yet to see a man brought onstage for any regular segments. If you’ve witnessed otherwise, be sure to hit me up in the comments.

UPDATE 12/3/18: Since the original publication of this article, the creative team at CHIPPENDALES has upped their efforts to be more inclusive. Gentlemen are frequently, albeit briefly, brought onstage now. However, the segment I’ve seen this happen in (and have been included in myself) is not exactly of an erotic nature. So, although the addition is most welcome and another move in the right direction…their placement on this list remains unchanged.

I’m giving Chipps an extra half star since the production is a huge public supporter of gay fans. They’ve even featured an openly-gay host or two. Gentlemen are welcome to purchase group photos with the cast, and you can chat with the guys one-on-one after the final performance of each evening.

Aussie Heat – 5 out of 5

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This upstart group takes on the big boys…and wins top honors. Not to be confused with Thunder from Down Under, the Aussie Heat show is a no-holds-barred fest of boy-flesh for men and women equally. Held in the intimate second-level V Theater 2 at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops, Aussie Heat fills the space with abs, biceps, butts and pecs. No audience member is ignored, and that’s the case from beginning to end.

Men are regularly selected for an onstage lap dance contest where three participants are blindfolded. They’re then asked to identify a particular dancer based on other senses…including taste and touch!

The Aussie boys spend plenty of time in the audience, often draping themselves across laps and inviting you to lick, fondle, rub and squeeze. Every dancer is an equal-opportunity flirt, besides being classically-trained performers in their own right. So this one is only recommended for open-minded straight men with a sense of adventure…and fun.

I’ve written two previous articles regarding the willingness of Aussie Heat to entertain male audiences. They’ve even gone so far as to have their nightly after-party once a week in a short-lived gay venue nearby.

Pre-show VIP experiences allow you to meet and photograph the guys in the prep room while they stretch and pump up their muscles. Photos with the cast are available for purchase after the show (proceeds go to Opportunity Village, a local charity), which can be as naughty as you want.

Men Of The Strip – 5 out of 5

Male revues

I debated whether to include Men of the Strip in these rankings, as the production is currently on hiatus. What started as a planned residency ended up as a 6-night stint in Vegas with a possible tour on the way. But since there’s a chance of it returning with a regular schedule, I’m listing MOTS here with the others.

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And Men of the Strip is certainly worthy of a gay male audience. Emcees address both genders in the audience with equal enthusiasm while lap dances and interaction are guy-friendly (cash tipping is allowed). Straight guys might be squirming in their chairs, but won’t mind hanging out with the worked-up ladies at the bar afterward.

MOTS ranks right up there with Aussie Heat in bringing guys onto the stage and into the action. If you want to see what I mean, check out the clip above from a performance at Hard Rock Cafe. Be aware that it’s not safe for work.

Black Magic Live aka Vivica’s Black Magic – Rating to be determined

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This one is a toughie, compounded by the fact that I haven’t actually seen it…or spoken to anyone who has. This all-black male revue, currently playing at Ron Decar Events Center after a stint at Tommy Wind Theater, gained notoriety when actress Vivica A. Fox angered members of the LGBTQ community in a radio interview suggesting that gays weren’t welcome to attend. She later apologized.

Fox and the show’s executive producer Jean-Claude LaMarre have entered a legal battle over the issue:

“As a result of Fox’s defamatory social media campaign, LaMarre’s customers canceled ‘Black Magic Live’ tickets and demanded refunds at shows” the suit states. VARIETY 6/5/17

It remains unclear at this point whether Fox is still affiliated with the production, as the official website refers to the show with two titles, one conspicuously removing Vivica’s name. A very well-known member of the media, who was previously in a Vegas male revue, wrote to me directly with this information:

The owners are actually very gay friendly. I know some of the cast too. Sweet guys. All very gay friendly as well. I’d hate to see them get shot down before ever given a chance.

If you’ve seen Black Magic, please leave your impressions in the comments or drop me a line directly.

Next up, I’ll visit Kings of Hustler and Men of Sapphire, two male-centric offshoots of popular female stripper clubs. I’ll examine their guy-guest policies and what to expect when attending. Click here to read it. 

Photos by Sammasseur, VivicasBlackMagic.com

 

 

 

 

 

ALICE Blends “Wonderland” with a “Mad World”


Red Rock Casino’s steampunk fantasy concert is a striking new vision of the Looking Glass fables…

I’ve often contended that some of the purist forms of entertainment are passion projects…especially when they spring from the mind of performers. It’s one thing to sing and act out someone else’s material, but performing your own creation takes it to rarely-seen heights.

Unfortunately, passion projects often end up as little-seen ventures in out-of-the-way venues. This time that’s not going to happen. The day has come for the masses to discover ALICE: A Steampunk Concert Fantasy.

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If you’ve followed me here from my previous site, chances are you’ve already heard of ALICE…or at least its creator and star, Anne Martinez. Anne is the prolific singer/dancer/producer/director who plays “Satine” in BAZ: A Musical Mash-up at Palazzo. Then she hops down the Strip and onto the Stratosphere stage as one half of Heart in World’s Greatest Rock Show.

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Somehow, this gifted lady finds the time to balance dual roles and her personal life with the ongoing adventures of her brainchild, ALICE. And what a journey it has been. From small gigs at Tuscany to Hard Rock‘s Vinyl to the concert venue of Brooklyn Bowl, ALICE has continued to grow almost entirely on word-of-mouth.

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This summer, Alice and her friends are hosting tea parties one Monday a month at Red Rock Casino‘s Rocks Lounge. The next performance is scheduled for September 25th at 10pm. Admission is only $25 at the door and includes a welcome specialty cocktail.

If the concept of “steampunk” is unfamiliar, you may have already encountered it without even being aware.  Martin Scorcese dabbled in steampunk with the gorgeous and glorious Hugo. Movie fans might recall when Man of Steel director Zack Snyder went steampunk in the adults-only fantasy Sucker Punch.

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HUGO (2011)                       

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SUCKER PUNCH (2011)                            

Since steampunk blends historical settings with modern technology, the genre lends itself perfectly to classic fantasy tales. Perhaps that’s why Tin Man, the revisionist Oz miniseries with Zooey Deschanel and Richard Dreyfuss, was such a hit (and led to this year’s Emerald City).

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Ryan Kelsey, Anne Martinez and Michael Radiff…                      

So…why not a steampunk version of Alice In Wonderland? It had to happen eventually. Luckily, ALICE was beautifully conceived by Martinez, one of the most gifted artists in Sin City. She was aided by dancer Claudia Mitria, aerial choreographer April Leopardi and co-director Ryan Kelsey, who have been with Anne and her BBR Productions since the beginning. With them, ALICE has gone from “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” to “We going to need a bigger theater”.

If ALICE were simply a straight-forward concert, it would still kick ass. Hits like Bjork’s “Army of Me”, Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and The Beatles’ “I Want You” are delivered with a ferocity rarely seen in a smaller productions. Paired with a whimsical take on “Killer Queen” and a tea party staged to the moody “Mad World”, the effect is breathtaking.

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Ashley Fuller is front and center as “Ecila”…                   

Powerhouse vocals come courtesy of Ashley Fuller, former lead singer for Jubilee! at Bally’s. Fuller plays “Ecila”, a dark reflection of the titular character. She belts out Whitney Houston’s “Queen of the Night” as Lora Kelsey creeps onto the stage in stilts. Towering over the audience as the “Red Queen”, Lora unleashes a pole-dance sequence that will have you questioning your sanity.

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Lora Kelsey plays a towering Red Queen….                   

Of course, no Vegas show would be complete without some aerial work. Newest cast member Michael Radiff  brings his acrobatic talents to ALICE by way of Royal Caribbean Productions and the legendary Folies Bergere.

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As the artistic Gods would have it, cast members who go down the rabbit hole with ALICE are very gifted in other areas, too. Make-up artist Adolfo Barreto, choreographer Ryan Kelsey and costume designer Jeffrey DeBarathy have all contributed their expertise to make A Steampunk Concert Fantasy worthy of a residency on the Strip.

A regular residency could prove difficult, though, as most of the cast are committed to other ongoing productions. For instance, Ryan Kelsey is in Chippendales and DeBarathy and cast-mate Leopardi also ghoul out and strip down each night for Zombie Burlesque. And of course there’s the issue of Alice herself, played by Martinez…already in two nightly shows.

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    The Chippendales prowl the hedge with the Chesire Cat (Jeffrey DeBarathy)…                 

With a bigger budget and some epic sets, ALICE could easily be the newest breakout hit in Vegas. But until that time comes, consider making the trek to Red Rock Resort. Put on your mad hat and join the Cheshire Cat and crew for some tea at ALICE: A Steampunk Concert Fantasy.

ALICE performs select Mondays inside Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Casino. Pre-show at 9pm, performance begins at 10pm. Click here for dates and details. 

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Photos and video by Sammasseur

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chippendales: Shirtless Angels of Charity


Legendary sexy dancers earn their wings with collars and cuffs…

The Chippendales show at Rio Las Vegas is one of my favorite productions. Along with being a rip-roaring night of entertainment, it’s also filled with the nicest bunch of guys you can hope to meet (and you will, just by sticking around after the final performance of each evening).

Sure, they’re hot, daring, mysterious and alluring…but behind those sultry glances are guys you’d be proud to take home for the holidays. Straddling the delicate line between “bad boy” and “mama’s boy”, the guys from Chippendales manage to be incredibly sexy and “innocent” at the same time.

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That successful formula is what makes Chippendales the class act of male revues…so much so that they’re a welcome fixture at charity events of all kinds. When they aren’t working out or rehearsing, you can spot them at numerous functions across the city, day and night. Apparently they never sleep.

The Chippendales lend their smiling faces and gleaming pecs to fundraisers, community awareness gatherings, social movements and much more. While covering media events over the past few years, I’ve seen the boys in action at numerous functions…and have missed many more than that.

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              Matthew Marshall and Bryan Cheatham at Showboy Bakeshop

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             …selling cupcakes to aid Pulse Nightclub shooting victims

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      James Leigh Davis “Drops The Mic” for Noah’s Animal House charity…

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     Sharknado 4 premiere party to benefit Animal Foundation of Las Vegas

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                   Cameron Brown at McDonald’s “Eggs for Education” event…

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Great Santa Run to benefit Opportunity Village…                     

Along with all the charity appearances, the Chippendales lend their celebrity clout to just-for-fun events. They’re fixtures at the annual Octoberfest keg-tapping at Hofbrauhaus Bavarian Restaurant, ride the waves of Planet Hollywood‘s FloRider surfing experience and show off their tans at Cowabunga Bay water park’s opening day.

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Of course, even when having carefree fun, the men of Chippendales inevitably seem to find a tie-in to charitable causes. Earlier this month, James Leigh Davis was one of the judges at TREVI Italian Restaurant‘s annual pizza competition, which awarded $500 to the charity of choice for the best media-celebrity pizza maker.

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Although Chippendales is known as the “Ultimate Girls’ Night Out”, they’ve welcomed men to their shows for a very long time….and they’ve built a very large gay following. The Chipps have embraced the LGBTQ audience so much that they appear regularly at Las Vegas Pride‘s daytime park festivals and the yearly evening downtown Pride Parade.

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You’ll see the Chipps marching for a cause at the AFAN Aids Walk and putting their black ties and white cuffs/collars on for the yearly Black and White Party. Both of those raise funds for Aid for AIDS of Nevada, an organization dedicated to HIV/AIDS patients and their family members.

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Human Rights Campaign to defend diversity…              

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                                        AFAN’s Black and White ball…

Nevada Ballet Theatre Honors Olivia Newton-John At 32nd Annual Black & White Ball

…Human Nature, Marie Osmond and Olivia Newton-John…                   

In 2015, the members of the cast became body models for a very unique breast cancer self-examination video:

Chippendales supported that instructional video by participating in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure march. They continue to work regularly on a number of breast cancer events.

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Many, if not all, of the Chippendales philanthropic contributions can be traced back to their publicist, Michael Caprio. Michael, whom I’m proud to call a friend, is a tireless supporter of numerous causes, both locally and around the country.

Soon Michael will be flying to Australia to participate in the annual Wellness Walk and Research Run with with his friend and client Olivia Newton-John.

Here’s a message posted by Caprio concerning the event:

As many of you know, Olivia is not only a client but a dear friend – and she is going through her second cancer journey. She has brought so much joy to so many of you so, it’s your turn to help me (and her) raise much needed funds for the ONJ Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.   I am walking and raising funds for the Centre, ONJ and for some important people. My husband Randy who had his own cancer journey (and WON!), my Grandpa Dave (who unfortunately didn’t win) and, for my friend Benjamin Lemke – who at the age of 35 is currently on his SECOND cancer journey.   We need to kick cancer’s ass – so, please help with whatever you can – as we ALL have someone close to us who is going through or has gone through the cancer journey. It sucks.

I have been a part of the ONJ Cancer Wellness & Reserach Centre since the idea was born and working with Olivia and the amazing ONJ Centre team from inception to opening to today – I can truly tell you the Centre has the same magic and healing power as Olivia.  Please dig deep – or shallow – anything helps!  Thanks. – Michael

For more details on how you can sponsor Michael’s march with Olivia Newton-John to help find an end to cancer, follow this link.

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    Michael and Olivia last fall at TURN UP THE PINK breast cancer fundraiser…

Closer to home, the boys of Chippendales will be getting shirtless, wet and sudsy for two more rounds of Celebrity Car Wash on August 31st at Caesars Palace (near Flamingo-side valet parking) and September 7th at Caesars Employment Center parking lot (behind Bally’s).

Cost for a car wash is ten dollars, with celebs like Jeff Civillico, Anthony Cools and the ladies of X-Burlesque joining in on the fun. Proceeds will benefit BCA Breast Cancer Awarness and Beanies for Warriors, who donate hand-knitted caps for chemotherapy patients. Donations of knitting supplies and volunteers are welcomed on both days.

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So the next time you see a barechested hunk holding up a sign for donations, it’s probably not your imagination. Chances are it’s just the Chippendales, making the world a better place one shirtless day at a time.

Chippendales performs seven nights a week at Rio Las Vegas. Tickets start at $49.95 (plus taxes/fees) and are available here.

Photos: Sammasseur, Michael Caprio, Cameron Brown via Facebook, James Leigh Davis via Twitter, Official Olivia Newton-John Facebook, Hofbrauhaus, Planet Hollywood, Travelivery.com

 

 

 

 

Binion’s Cafe Gets a Menu Upgrade


Fremont’s struggling casino gives you new reasons to visit….

A few weeks back I wrote about the trend of casinos pushing their dining and retail operations to the very front of their properties. In many cases, they even go out onto the sidewalks themselves. Binion’s historic downtown property is one of those I mentioned in the piece.

Binion’s is the best example of how Downtown casinos shifted their focus from interior to the sidewalks. Exploring the property, you’ll find numerous examples of a time when guests stayed and played indoors. On the second floor, a buffet and the Gee Joon Asian restaurant are collecting dust. In the basement, a once-popular 24-hour Coffee Shop is abandoned as well.

As visitor habits changed, the once-popular Binion’s Gambling Hall shuttered their lodging operations along with my go-to favorite, the downstairs Coffee Shop. The casino-floor cafe, which was basically a lunch counter surrounded by slot machines, was best known for its fresh-ground Binion’s Burger and not much else.

Eventually the space was enclosed and converted into a full-service restaurant with improved seating and an expanded menu. That successful expansion was the springboard for another re-invention when Benny’s Bullpen (a cigar lounge/sports bar) became Benny’s Smokin’ BBQ and Brews.

While Binion’s has seen casino traffic dwindle with the closure of a short-lived bingo room and their historic Poker Room (original home to World Series of Poker), Binion’s Cafe continues to draw in long-time visitors and new guests.

Binion's Cafe

                                       Classic Pot Roast with corn bread…

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                                Linguine and all-beef meatballs…

This week, Binion’s Cafe rolled out an updated version of their menu with lots of new items to dive into. Added dishes include Classic Pot Roast ($14.99), Linguine with all-beef Meatballs ($12.99) and Poached Shrimp Alfredo over Linguine ($14.99). Entrees come with a choice of salad or soup.

Binion's Cafe

                                   Shrimp alfredo…

Binion's Cafe

                                       Mo’s Poutine…

If you’re looking for something smaller, try a plate of Mo’s Poutine ($5.99), crispy fries topped with molten cheese curds and gravy. Health nuts like myself will appreciate house-made Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Hummus ($5.99) served with warm pita bread, cucumber slices and celery sticks.

Binion's Cafe

                                                         No more chili….

I was shocked to see one of my favorite Vegas indulgences, Binion’s famous truckstop-style chili, missing from the new menu. That greasy-spoon bowl of tomatoes and beans had gotten this fellow through many a night of partying in the past. I later learned that it’s still available at nearby Binion’s Deli, but only from 12pm-8pm.

Of course, mainstay Binion’s Burger remains ($5.99) on the menu and comes with their delicious potato salad (fries and cheese are extra). Also, the Club Binion’s Player’s Card will get you special discounts on select items.

Binion's Cafe

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          Ham Steak and Eggs is only $8.99 with your Binion’s Club Card….

It’s worth mentioning that meats and poultry at the Binion’s Cafe are cut daily at their own in-house butcher shop. Symbols identify these dishes, along with those designated as “heart healthy” and selections available only during limited hours.

Click here for a PDF copy of the full menu.

Binion's Cafe

Binion’s Cafe is open daily from 7am to 2am. Be sure to ask for Alicia when visiting…and tell her that Sam sent you.

Photos: Sammasseur, Alicia P., Binion’s, TripAdvisor

Westgate’s Superbook Lands a Slam Dunk at “The Court”


New dining outlet at world’s largest sportsbook is a hit with the fans…

In the past couple of years I’ve reported on the numerous improvements that have taken place in and around Westgate Las Vegas, best known as the former Las Vegas Hilton. Along with renovated rooms, modernized amenities and a new approach to customer service, a big focus of the current owners has been in food and beverage offerings.

Since the inception of VegasUnfiltered this summer, I’ve reviewed Fresco Italiano and Bar Sake, two immensely gratifying offerings along Westgate’s “restaurant row”. Last week I was invited back to experience the new, improved quick-bite outlet in Westgate’s enormous Race and Sports Superbook betting complex.

Westgate Superbook

Unlike those other two meals, The Court was anything but a formal experience…and that’s the idea. Focusing on tried-and-true favorites with elevated quality, moderate pricing and rapid service, the venues that make up The Court aim to satisfy by way of the food as much as the convenience.

Cordovano Joe’s NY-style Pizza, Drafts Sports Bar & Grill Express and Nacho Tacos Authentic Mexican are all created by Westgate’s own food and beverage team. The three share one main dining area and an additional space for overflow, which came in very handy on the Tuesday afternoon that I visited.

Westgate Las Vegas

The Court‘s trio of offerings are overseen by Jeffrey DiVito, Westgate’s new VP of Food and Beverage. DeVito came to Westgate Las Vegas by way of L’Auberge Lake Charles and Station Casinos (and was involved in the design and opening of both Red Rock and Alliante resorts). He joins a growing list of talented execs and chefs who have come to Westgate from other big-league Vegas properties.

Westgate Food Court

Westgate Food Court

            The previous incarnation invoked a truckstop/diner atmosphere…

The Court takes over an area previously known as Superbook Deli. Glaringly-bright diner decor has been toned down with softer lighting and mellower colors, bringing the Superbook atmosphere into the service and seating areas.

Westgate Food Court

Westgate Food Court

Westgate Food Court

                  So long, stadium hot dog stand…hello, neighborhood pub…

To accentuate the tavern atmosphere, pool tables and dart games have been installed at one side of The Court, making it appealing for those who may want to hang out around the Superbook without actually betting.

The Superbook’s unique placement within the resort allows for direct access via the casino or a dedicated entrance and parking lot. Those looking to drop by for casual eats and brews should be pleased by the variety of selections that The Court now offers.

Westgate Food Court

Assistant Executive Chef Aaron Losch, who made a name for himself at both Red Rock and Wynn, invited me to sample some of the new menu items that he created for The Court. We mostly focused on Nacho Taco‘s menu, with an item or two from Draft’s (I’ll have to come back for pizza during my next visit).

Being a fitness buff who tries to eat cleanly, I was a bit shocked by my mouth-watering response to the items that the staff brought over. It’s actually hard to upload the photos into this article without the same thing happening again.

Westgate Food Court

                                             Carne Asada Street Tacos…

My tasting started with selections from the Nacho Tacos kitchen. I began with a trio of Carne Asada Street Tacos ($13), served with cotija cheese and salsa on warm corn tortillas with beans and rice. All main dishes on the Nacho Tacos menu start with the basics ($8 for vegetarian), then are priced upwards according to toppings/fillings.

Westgate Food Court

                   Quesadillas with a side of Philly Cheesesteak, eh?

Grilled Chicken Breast with paprika, cumin and lime adds $3 to your dish, Carnitas (braised pork with chili and cumin) or Al Pastor (pork marinated in orange and pineapple juices) add $4, and Carne Asada (marinated skirt steak with garlic and lime) adds $5 more.

Westgate Food Court

                         Taqueria Fries topped with braised pork carnitas…

Instead of tacos, you can design your plate with a Tortilla Salad, traditional Nachos or a Quesadilla. For really hearty appetites, I’d recommend indulging in Taqueria Fries, a layer of crispy string potatoes topped with queso, pico de gallo, sour cream and jalapenos. All entrees at Nacho Tacos are priced the same way as street tacos, each according to the filling.

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Sandwiches, Caesar salads and chicken wings/tenders are the main offerings at Drafts Sports Bar. My favorite was the Philly Cheesesteak ($14), smothered in melted provolone with grilled onions and peppers.

Drafts also has a NY Pastrami Reuben on Rye ($13), 1/3lb. Grilled Angus Burger ($13) and a Grilled Nathan’s Foot-long Dog on a poppy seed bun ($9). All sandwiches include fries or coleslaw. You can make your meal a combo by adding a 20-oz fountain drink for $4 or a 16-oz draft of Budweiser or Bud Light for $5.

Cordovano Joe’s has sandwiches as well, like an Italian Hoagie ($13), Shaved Italian Beef ($14), Sweet Sausage with roasted peppers and carmelized onions ($12) and Meatball with mozzarella and marinara ($13). Joe’s specialty is individual authentic New York-style pizza. Basic 8-inch cheese pies run $6, Veggie or Pepperoni for $7, Meat Lover for $8 and finally $9 for Supreme.

Losch stated that many of Superbook Deli‘s core customers were regulars, so many favorites have remained at The Court with room for continued tweaking. He recounted how one frequent customer complained when a favorite disappeared…and just like that, they brought it back. “We’re not going to turn away people who helped to keep us going all these years” he said.

Westgate Food Court

The Court‘s newfound popularity might keep sportsbook customers off the betting floor for extended periods, but there could be a simple fix. Chef Aaron told me that they’re looking into various methods for guests to order food from the Superbook seats. “We may be able to provide cocktail servers with electronic pads so you can place a request from your seat”. And there’s always those handy smartphone apps…

Westgate Food Court

The sooner that remote ordering can be set up, the better. It’s obvious from the long lines I witnessed that The Court is serving up just what Westgate Superbook guests want. “We’ve only been open for a few weeks” said Chef Losch, “but we’ve already had some of the busiest days this space has ever seen”.

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Photos: Sammasseur, Deli pics via TripAdvisor