“Businesses With Heart” Hosts Winter Expo


“Cause Marketing Chamber of Commerce” presents a networking event and Winter Expo to benefit Hearts Alive Village Animal Sanctuary….

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Awhile back I told you about the wonderful Hearts Alive Village Animal Sanctuary, where special-needs cats and dogs are given hope. Their Communications Director Sheryl Green recently contacted me about an upcoming effort that will benefit the sanctuary:

Businesses with Heart Event Teaches Businesses and Non-Profits to Work Together

The mission of Businesses with Heart is “to educate and foster relationships between businesses and non-profits to improve sales, visibility, and our community as a whole. On January 31st, the 5th Businesses with Heart Expo will be held at United Way of Southern Nevada. The event will feature vendors, networking, educational speakers, and a ribbon cutting for the first ever Cause Marketing Chamber of Commerce. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit Hearts Alive Village Animal Rescue.

The Businesses with Heart Winter Expo will be held from 1pm to 5 pm with the Cause Marketing Chamber ribbon cutting at approximately 1:15. It will be followed by open networking and then educational presentations from Sheryl Green, Don Lainer, CEO of Platinum Elite Group, Angela Carlson, N.D and Hansilena Roberts. The event will also feature vendors and complementary headshots from Las Vegas Event Photography. Sponsors of the event include Rob Martinez with Liberty Mutual Insurance, Yes Of Course Cellular Accessories, Peak Image Design, Coast 2 Coast Printing, and LVIP Dining.

For tickets or more information, click HERE.

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                       Hearts Alive Village: An animal sanctuary built on hope….

To read my article on Hearts Alive Village animal sanctuary, click HERE.

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Hot Guys of Vegas – Humanitarians and the Humane


The latest of my series on the good-looking men who make Las Vegas a better place to live…

Hard to believe so much time has passed, but it’s been five whole months since my last entry in the “Hot Guys of Vegas” series! Since we’ve just come out of the “Season of Giving”, it only seems fitting to salute this current crop of hunks. One way or another, they’re all doing their part to make Las Vegas more live-able, either by promoting businesses, supporting worthy causes…or sharing their love for the animal kingdom.

Ricardo Laguna – Pro BMX rider/ TV personality

 

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                                                          Ricardo Laguna

Where you’ve seen him – sporting events, magazines, community functions

There are very few people in Las Vegas who haven’t encountered Ricardo Laguna. This stunning man has been a resident since the age of thirteen. When he’s not emceeing an event, helping with a charity or enjoying time with his family, he’s flying through the air on his BMX bikes. Sometimes he’s doing all of them at once.

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           Raising funds for the NSPCA at Vegas Indoor Skydiving Tunnel Jam…

Ricardo’s known for his charisma, community efforts and undying love for the city he calls home. He also owns an eye-catching wardrobe, thanks in part to friend Ricci Lopez-Hammargren at STITCHED Men’s Haberdashery (more on Ricci soon). But underneath those gorgeous clothes is an equally stunning body. In or out of a shirt, Ricardo Laguna is always dressed to impress.

Several children’s charities are close to Ricardo’s chest…er, “heart” . You may find him doling out ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s “Free Cone Day” to benefit CASA Foundation or fighting childhood obesity via Jump 4 Joy Foundation. But whatever he’s doing or how high he soars. Ricardo Laguna eventually ends up with his feet…and his wheels…firmly on the ground.

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Noteworthy traits – defiance of gravity, ability to great cheese on his abs

 

Mike Foland – entrepreneur/reality TV star/entertainer

 

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                                                          Mike Foland

Where you’ve seen him – E!’s Men of the Strip/FLO Advertising/Chippendales

Mike Foland might not be a household name…unless you’ve seen him as the smooth-talking “Money Mike” in E! Television’s Men of the Strip movie event. Nevertheless, Mike’s presence is felt in just about every corner of Sin City. He’s a man on the move, just like his awesome FLO Advertising mobile digital billboards that you may have seen this blog displayed on.

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Foland is one of those guys that everyone seems to know and love…and rightly so. He has his hands in so many operations and activities that it’s hard to describe exactly WHAT Mike does…or just how wide his interests are. Along with the advertising business, Foland works behind the scenes to create new Vegas entertainment, is a member of the National Addiction Center Treatment Alliance and owner of Sunshine Sober Home in Florida.

Mike’s remarkable background is just as varied. The West Palm Beach FL native began as a wrestler which segued into an MMA fighting career. Somehow along the way he managed to become a member of the world-famous Chippendales. No shortage of testosterone in this guy, that’s for sure.

Mike says his dancing days are far behind him now, but love for animals will always be a part of him. Very much a cowboy at heart, Mike enjoys farmer life and outdoor activities. Fishing, boating, hiking and diving are all part of what makes this rugged hunk a real “man’s man”. But deep down inside and underneath that ever-present cowboy hat, Mike Foland is a true softie.

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Noteworthy traits – gentle demeanor, major masculinity

 

Jeffrey Frischmann – showroom manager/animal rescuer

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                                                    Jeffrey Frischmann

Where you’ve seen him – Mike Hammer Comedy Magic/Spirit of the King

If you’ve had the good fortune to attend one of the two sterling shows at Four Queens Hotel Casino, chances are you’ve met young Jeffrey Frischmann. This handsome, soft-spoken boyish gentleman presents himself with a demeanor and elegance reminiscent of the showroom maitre d’s of yesteryear Vegas.

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                  Jeffrey joins Steve Connolly onstage at Spirit of the King

Jeffrey usually wears a wacky logo t-shirt under his dark blazer. which adequately represents the dual personality of this outstanding guy. Jeffrey’s quite formal on the outside but life-loving and adventure-filled within.

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You’d be hard pressed to find a photo of Mr. Frischmann by himself. He’s always with…or holding…someone or something he loves. Married to lovely Ayin with two-year-old daughter Farrah, this family shares their home with some other very special members.

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Jeffrey and Ayin are actively involved in providing homes for French bulldogs. As part of Nevada Frenchie Rescue, the couple has been instrumental in relocating pets from other areas into better situations…and have adopted several of them as well. Of course, they’ve experienced many tearful farewells along the way, but Jeffrey knows that the pain is worth the rewards.

This aficionado of all things retro-cool loves to hit up antique shops with his pal Carrot Top, listen to rock music on his vintage record changer and play pinball with pals. During the scorching Vegas summers, Jeffrey heads out to Lake Mead for swimming, boating and diving. In the winters, there’s snowboarding to keep him fit.

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Being Mike Hammer’s right hand man means that Jeffrey is ever-present at fundraisers and charity functions that Hammer hosts and attends. Most notable is a series of annual Mike Hammer Celebrity Go-Kart Races that have benefited a long list of charities.

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However Jeffrey spends his days, you can always find this great guy charming his guests at the Four Queens Showroom five nights a week. Making people smile comes naturally for Jeffrey. He represents his generation VERY well.

 

Notable traits – tough-guy tattoos, boyish grin

 

 

Straight to the Heart: Hospice, Therapy Dogs and a Pet Drive


“Man’s best friend will be there until the end”…

Having just lost my dear cat Sunny to cancer a few weeks ago, I’ve had plenty of hours to reflect on love, loss and courage. It’s been a rough time for this writer, so I can appreciate the enormous grief that families and friends face when losing a loved one. For patients who know that they won’t be recovering, there’s an absolute right to move on with dignity and compassion.

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Not all of us are equipped to handle end-of-life situations. Thank goodness there are community resources to ease the journey and provide comfort along the way. Nathan Adelson Hospice of Las Vegas is one such organization. This non-profit has been around for four decades, providing top quality in-home and in-patient palliative treatment and hospice care.

Nathan Adelson was a visionary administrator for Sunrise Hospital, the largest medical facility in Nevada at the time of its construction. Mr. Adelson was deeply respected as a humanitarian, overflowing with kindness and compassion. When cancer took his life, friends and family established the hospice to continue his enormous legacy.

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                                Nathan Adelson was taken by cancer in 1978…

The volunteers at Nathan Adelson Hospice dedicate time and their hearts to hundreds of dying patients each day. Naturally these special people come from all walks of life and a myriad of different social environments. Some volunteers even come from local animal shelters.

You see, therapy dogs are a big part of Nathan Adelson’s many programs. Their organization recognizes and promotes the comfort that animals bring to those undergoing emotional challenges. To make that happen, hospice patients get visits from specially trained support animals.

Paws for Paul Pet Therapy Program was created for in conjunction with celebrity Brad Garrett, a longtime advocate for NAH. Brad’s brother Paul Ames was the widely-respected manager of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand. Sadly Paul, who was an ardent supporter of animals, passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. To honor his legacy, Garrett and NAH President Carol Fisher launched the Paws For Paul pet therapy team.

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This dashingly handsome fellow is named Panzer. He and his mom Becky Gang are part of the Paws for Paul team. Becky is Panzer’s trainer and the two of them volunteer for Nathan Adelson Hospice. Becky has been training service and support animals for many years. Panzer is her ninth NAH co-volunteer and her current star pupil.

Here’s an excerpt from the NAH blog that tells a fascinating story about Panzer’s gifts:

When Panzer was leaving the Swenson facility one day, he insisted on stopping at the door of a patient. Becky asked the family if it would be okay if Panzer visited the patient and they gladly approved. Panzer went right up to the person’s bed and stayed nearby on the floor, providing quiet, calming support. It appears Panzer also has an awareness of when a patient is nearing the very end of his or her journey of life, as that patient was in the stages of actively dying.

When Panzer puts on his work vest, he knows he’s on the job and his temperament suits the task at hand – providing that gentle comfort to patients in need of a furry friend. He’s more playful and energetic at home. Becky says, “When he gets home from visiting hospice patients, it’s almost like he’s bragging to the other pets that he got to go out and provide help that day.”

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                          Panzer and trainer/co-volunteer Becky Gang….

Panzer and Becky are also doing their part for the 8th Annual Dog Bed and Blanket Drive. They’re asking the public to donate unopened food, blankets and bedding at designated collection sites to be distributed to local shelters. The winter months pose special challenges for local animal shelters. Contrary to popular belief, it does get cold in Las Vegas…and those concrete shelter floors can be unforgivable.

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Shelter cats are also included in the drive. Kitty care requires food, toys, beds, bowls and litter. Please consider dropping off cleaning supplies, towels, wash cloths, paper towels and other basic necessities too. These items are desperately needed to help keep animals comfortable, safe and healthy while they wait for someone to adopt them…or recruit them as service and support animals.

The marvelous mission and multitude of community-driven programs that the folks at Nathan Adelson carry out require a great deal of funding. Fortunately they’ve been selected as a 2019 recipient of the MONDAYS DARK program.

You may recall my recent piece on MONDAYS DARK, an entertainment series which donates the proceeds from every performance to a different cause. Their March 18th production at The Space (3460 Cavaretta Court) will benefit Nathan Adelson Hospice…and by extension, the Paws for Paul pet therapy program. Click here to learn more and get tickets to the show.

The cycle of compassion, kindness and caring on display in this community is absolutely massive in scale. It demonstrates once more what a closely-knit group the citizens of Las Vegas truly are. As a new resident, I couldn’t be more excited and proud to call this place my home.

The Paws for Paul Pet Drive runs through February 1st. If you’d like to donate, please bring new or gently-used items and unopened food to any of the four Nathan Adelson Hospice locations:

* 4141 Swenson St., Las Vegas

* 3150 N. Tenaya Way (near Cheyenne), Suite 350, in the Mountain View Medical Office Building, Las Vegas

* 2270 E. Commercial Rd., Suite A/B in Pahrump

* 1201 Nevada State Drive in Henderson

You can also deliver donations to any Ovation Property Management location listed here.

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                                            Dedicated to Sunny Novak   

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Special thanks to Emma Williams and Allison Duck for their assistance with this article.

NSPCA and FLO Advertising Team Up to Save Animals In Need


High-tech mobile digital billboard brings much-needed attention to Nevada’s no-kill shelter…

You’ve seen them on the Strip, grabbing the attention of thousands of tourists with its stunning clarity and brightness. You’ve read my articles touting their collaborations with PALMS Casino and SAW ESCAPE EXPERIENCE. You might have witnessed seen my own visage frightening visitors a few months ago.

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There’s no question that FLO Advertising‘s mobile digital billboard service makes things happen. Now they’re using their technology to make a difference for homeless cats and dogs at the Nevada Society for the Protection Against Cruelty to Animals aka NSPCA.

 

 

Located at 4800 W. Dewey Drive, just a chew bone’s toss away from Mandalay Bay, the NSPCA operates as both a charitable organization and a no-kill shelter. The Las Vegas chapter, which is also the state headquarters, is home to over a thousand found and surrendered animals at any given time. This staggering number means that they operate at full capacity and rely on adoptions to make room for other needy animals.

Every soul is precious.  Dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals offer perfect love — unconditional devotion — and depend on people for care and survival.  Each one deserves kindness and a happy home.

Nevada SPCA rescues “unwanted” animals, those with advanced challenges (abuse, birth defects, illness, injury, neglect, starvation), and those in peril at other shelters. Volunteers and staff help mend broken hearts and broken bones.  They heal without deadlines and learn that people can be compassionate and nurturing. We then strive to match each rescued animal with people by personality and lifestyle in order to find them lifelong, stable homes.

Besides annually adopting and rescuing thousands of cats and dogs, and hundreds of birds and rabbits, Nevada SPCA also rescues and adopts more than a dozen other domesticated species in urgent need, including guinea pigs, ferrets, fish, goats, pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, degus, sugar gliders, and turtles.

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It’s vital to recognize that any shelter worth its mission statement is very careful to match pets with the proper families. This vetting process ensures that each cat, dog or other pet will have the greatest success in integrating with someone’s household. It’s a painful truth, but not every person is meant to be a pet parent, and not every pet is right for every home.

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So along with protecting and providing for these animals, the NSPCA provides education to the public. A vast amount of their resources and time are devoted to rehabilitating pets that come from bad situations and/or health issues and injuries. All of these challenges require money, of course, so fundraising and community outreach make up a big part of the NSPCA‘s operations.

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Celebrities and other organizations often come to the aid of NSPCA. In October of this past year, Vegas Indoor Skydiving hosted the Third Annual Tunnel Flight Jam Competition and Celebrity Challenge. Familiar faces like Carrot Top, Golden Knights announcer Mark Shunock and BMX Pro Ricardo Laguna gathered to raise money for the shelter. Along with food, blankets and toys, the event collected over $3,000.00

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 Mark Shunock of MONDAYS DARK (with “Rugby”) is a big supporter of NSPCA…

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, Las Vegas is a tight-knit community. The residents here are always eager to lend a hand and help one another. As luck would have it, popular thrill-maker Jason Egan of SAW Escape Experience is on the NSPCA’s Board of Directors.

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After his successful FLO Advertising campaign for the thrilling SAW attraction, Egan invited FLO’s Mike Foland to volunteer his mobile digital billboard services to the NSPCA. In no time, FLO was touting the glories of gorgeous Mamma Cass and her pups, along with Chevy (banner photo above), a badly-injured cat that was saved from a car engine and brought back to health.

It’s easy to recognize a FLO Advertising truck. They’re the biggest and brightest on the Strip, so naturally they leave a lasting impression. I can speak from experience, for when I advertised on FLO my readership absolutely soared. My billboard also expanded Vegas Unfiltered‘s demographics and coverage far beyond Las Vegas. In fact, I was recognized in the small town of Tonopah NV, over two hundred miles away, simply because of the advertisement you see below…and my enormous cranium, of course.

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All of the animals you see below and hundreds more are waiting for loving parents. If that person is you. make plans to visit the NSPCA and discover your new family member. Not only will you change their life, but they will change yours, too.

For information on  NSPCA, including adopting, donating or volunteering, click here. Hours for visiting are 10 am to 4 pm Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 5 pm on Friday and Saturday (no public hours on Sundays).

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To learn more about FLO Advertising or to request a quote, visit their webpage at floadvertising.com or call Mike Foland at 702.203.0471.

Photos: NSPCA, Jason Egan, FLO Advertising, Sam Novak

Sexy Power Duos: Alejandro and Sarah Le Clear-Domingo


The city’s best dancers are a husband and wife team that brings down the house each night at Palazzo’s BAZ….

Ask anyone what their must-do Vegas experiences are and you’ll undoubtedly get a list of familiar answers: a romantic stroll by the fountains of Bellagio…people-watching at Mon Ami Gabi…drinks at a favorite cocktail lounge.

For this writer, no trip to Vegas is complete without a seat at the Palazzo Theater for BAZ: A Musical Mash-up. And that experience was recently taken to new heights with the addition of husband-and-wife dance team Sarah Le Clear and Alejandro Domingo.

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Stunning to look at (Alejandro was featured as “Best Abs” in my column four years ago) and a revelation to see in action, this power duo exudes every aspect of power, sensuality, sophistication and the sheer stunning artistry of dance. Audiences may recognize them from nearly five years at David Saxe‘s glorious VEGAS! The Show, but BAZ has unleashed their abilities in a way rarely seen on any stage.

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I recently spoke with the couple after seeing BAZ for the the 27th time (yes, really) and invited them to participate in a fun Q & A. I’m honored to say that they excitedly agreed. But before we get to that, here’s a little about them and how they came together as a professional team.

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Sarah and sister Julianne were born in southern California and grew up in the Bay area of San Francisco. Their parents were college sweethearts who encouraged their daughters’ love of performance arts. So, Sarah began formal dancing classes at age five.

I started intense ballet training at a very young age at Contra Costa Ballet Centre. A very prestigious school that I took very seriously, but I knew I wanted to study all aspects of dance. This is when I started my training at Dance Connection Performing Arts Center in Concord California, under the direction and ownership of Paula Henson.

My years at the studio is when I flourished the most…I became involved in the competition aspect of the studio competing all over California through the competition season. I was so thrilled to be expanding my repertoire of styles.

Years of practice and competitions were rewarded by a Sue Pipo Memorial Dance Scholarship, and Sarah’s future in the world of dance was assured.

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After graduation I auditioned to be an NBA Dancer for  the Golden State Warriors and became the youngest on the team. From there I moved to LA to continue my training at EDGE Performing Arts Center.

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Alejandro is from Buenos Aires. A rare combination of brains, brawn and grace, he played soccer and piano in his youth before pursuing a career in civil engineering. Despite his athletic frame and dashing looks, the Argentinian native enrolled in dance classes at the age of sixteen just to overcome shyness. By eighteen this natural talent was already touring with the salsa-heavy Latin musical Baracatun.

Many entertainers credit their parents and family for setting them on the show-business path. Ale is no exception:

My parents, Jorge and Ana, are just the best parents you could ask for. They always have supported my crazy dreams, and me, even though it meant being away from them for long periods of time. I have also a very smart and sweet little sister called Mariana, four years younger than me. I’m very proud of her and the person she is becoming.

Alejandro received a scholarship to further his dance studies in ballet, jazz, contemporary and partnering at Teatro Colón and the National Institute of Art in Buenos Aires. In 2006 he left Argentina to perform at the Chateau du Versailles in the renowned Fêtes de Nuit. After that he settled for periods in both Paris and Barcelona then continued his training throughout Europe and the United States.

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In 2008 the couple met in Hollywood, Florida when both were hired as dancers and aerialists for Royal Caribbean‘s Explorer of the Seas. Rehearsing nine hours a day, six days a week can bring people very close…and so can a first date at the local Martini Bar. That was a decade ago, and the gorgeous couple has never looked back.

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You might think that sharing the workplace and being together around the clock might tighten the pressure on a relationship, but for Sarah and Alejandro, their art is what brought them together and keeps them strong.

As Ale tells it:

Sarah and I met working together. Since then we have been blessed with sharing the same stage in many different productions, something quite unusual in our line of work. We have had our share of ups and downs in this crazy performers’ world.

I personally love working with Sarah because I always know that she has my best interest at heart…and I have hers. So any criticism or note we give to each other always comes from a caring and honest place and it’s intended to make the other person better.

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Sarah added:

The tense moments are very rare for us because we know how lucky we are to still be performing together. More than anything, it’s fun. A lot of hard work goes into it but it’s worth it!

I asked the couple if either of them tends to “take the lead” during their rehearsals….

We have both been “dance captains” so it depends on what we are rehearsing for, honestly. We pay attention to what the other one needs because if we are going to look and feel good on stage we both need to feel comfortable. (Alejandro)

Hahaha…I think we both want to take the lead! That’s the thing when you’re married to your dance partner…you both want to be in charge. But I think we have a very strong communication and respect for the other so we’re able to tell each other our needs as a partner. Ale is a fabulous ballroom teacher and I will say I have learned a lot from him as far as execution goes. (Sarah)

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Life in Vegas has definitely agreed with the couple. Along with having a great collection of friends in the community, the two enjoy much that the city has to offer. Alejandro offered these insights:

In my free time I like reading, going to the gym and to the movies. I’m not great at cooking but do enjoy it. I always enjoy trying new restaurants and Vegas is an awesome place for that.

I don’t dance much when I’m not on stage, but I have always enjoyed salsa dancing. It’s the first style I ever learned and it’s so much fun in social settings. I’m not a nightclub kind of guy. I prefer going to a chill bar with friends and having a drink, listen to some music and have a good conversation.

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I like taking Sarah out for dinner to a good restaurant and buying her nice things. I love Sinatra at the Wynn…the atmosphere and awesome background music. For a “cheat meal” I’d have to say Vege-Way…some of the most delicious vegan burgers you’ll have.

We also enjoy taking some much needed time off and going on a relaxing vacation. So far my favorite spot has been the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

Sarah enjoyed Mexico as well, but she’s partial to a different vacation destination:

Hawaii!!!!! We make an effort to spoil ourselves with nice vacations. We also love going to the M Resort pool during the summer as well as trying new restaurants on the Strip or downtown. I love cheat meals!!! Mon Ami Gabi is one of our favorites.

At my “seasoned” age I’m not much for the nightclub scene anymore…and because we perform so much we tend to enjoy our nights off with no dancing. Although the occasional line dance night at Stoney’s with my girls is always a blast. And we love catching new shows and supporting fellow performers.

I was a competitive swimmer for eleven years, so swimming is a fun hobby of mine. Fitness is a huge part as well so I enjoy the gym. And of course I have my “guilty pleasure” hobbies which include “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and “The Bachelor”, haha.

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It seems that animal rescue is a common thread among cast members of BAZ. Along with Anne Martinez and Ron Remke, the Domingos have a special place in their hearts for the Vegas community’s needy animal population.

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                                              Little Milo loves his toys…

“We both love animals and support the work of amazing nonprofits like The Animal Foundation“, Ale stated. Sarah continued “I am a member of the Humane Society and like to donate to any charity that helps and aids animals..this is very important to me! We have one dog named Milo and he is our baby. He is a rescue dog and has become a part of the family!”

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Speaking of family, I inquired as to where the Domingos saw themselves twenty years from now. Both hinted at the possibility of little dancers in their future.

Maybe I will go back to school and become an engineer. I’v wanted to finish that career. Hopefully we will have kids by then and we will be choreographing for Broadway, cruise ships, or another Vegas show.

Bob Fosse’s work has always been an inspiration for me. I would love to perform some of his work on stage someday. I absolutely love his style and legacy to the dance world. I would also love to work with choreographers like Jerry Mitchell, Sergio Trujillo and Andy Blankenbuehler.

Maybe we will own our own production company… Who knows? (Alejandro)

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Sarah shares her partner’s admiration for the work of Bob Fosse, too:

I would love to work with Broadway choreographers or any master of “Fosse” style like Ann Reinking. Any Broadway show or tour would be a dream of mine, but I also consider myself very lucky and grateful for the career that I’ve had thus far.

The exciting thing about this question is that I just don’t know. We are gypsies and follow the work. Vegas has been incredibly good to us, but the “show” aspect of the city is changing. I do know that we will always be involved in the industry, one way or another.

And by then, maybe we’ll have our own “little performers” in the making.

It’s true that the future of production shows in Las Vegas seems rather uncertain, especially recently. The sometime-abrupt closures of long-running hits combined with many short-term failures reflects a changing landscape for Strip entertainment.

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The Domingos left secure positions with VEGAS! The Show after nearly five years to join BAZ. Only a short time later, they learned that the last performance would be on July 29th, 2018.

As they prepare for an emotionally-charged final weekend with this landmark production, neither displayed any regret for coming aboard at Palazzo‘s signature musical. Instead, they’ll look back with fondness and gratitude:

This is a tough one to talk about and not get emotional. I will never forget the very first time I saw BAZ two years ago. I left the theater feeling completely overwhelmed with what I’d just experienced and witnessed. I remember thinking to myself “What an incredible show to be a part of”.

When Alejandro and I received the call with an offer we were absolutely blown away. After our time at VEGAS! The Show I was now being given the opportunity to be a part of a production that I love and admire. Words can’t really describe how I feel about being a part of the magic of BAZ…especially with Alejandro. (Sarah)

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                      “The first time I saw BAZ”. Sarah Le Clear-Domingo

The more I think about it the more I’m convinced this was where we were meant to be at this moment in our lives and careers.  It’s a memory I will forever cherish, and will always put a smile on my face.

I absolutely love the movies BAZ is based on, and have been a fan of the production since it first opened at Light in Mandalay Bay. The level of talent is incredible, and I’m fortunate enough to share it with the person I love the most, my beautiful wife.

It also allowed me to go back to my beginnings in ballroom and perform in a style that has always been so close to my heart. It’s a show that I truly believe in and that I am so proud to be a part of. There’s nothing else quite like it in the city, and I think Vegas is losing a true gem.

This show reminds people that love is the only thing really worth living for, no matter what situation life throws at you. Yes, it can cause pain, but only if you were lucky enough to truly love someone.

BAZ has real content and real entertainment. I would love for people to remember its message alongside with the talent that brought it to life: “Love is like … oxygen. Love is a many-splendored thing… Love lifts us up where we belong.” (Alejandro)

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BAZ: A Musical Mash-up concludes its two-year run at Palazzo Casino Resort this weekend.

Photos: Alejandro and Sarah Le Clear-Domingo via Facebook, Nicholas Foote, Patrick Rivera, banner photo by David Brenot Photography, video courtesy of Dominick Pepe

Hearts Alive Village: An Animal Sanctuary Built On Hope


Visiting a shelter for special-needs cats and dogs…

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She’s sophisticated, regal and just a tad bit aloof. Watching the world from her crow’s nest inside of Hearts Alive Village‘s “Cat Cottage”, Sadie (pictured above) is one of the rescue’s longest residents. A former feral who was part of a colony that was in a desperate situation when its caregiver died, Sadie and her companions were trapped and brought to Hearts Alive Village in April of 2014.

There Sadie remains, hoping to someday find a forever home as she looks out the window at the people who pass by…or stop in for a visit. She continues to make strides with her socialization skills, despite a harsh outdoor life, as she journeys towards happiness.

Sadie projects the character of a lady who’s seen plenty of adventure in her years. All of the other cats from Sadie’s colony have found permanent homes except for her and an FIV-positive senior named Tuffy. Perhaps she’s used up a couple of her nine lives, but Sadie’s face says “I could tell you a number of amazing stories…if you’d bring me home and listen to my tale”.

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Every animal at Hearts Alive Village has a story to tell. Most of them would start off with the wide-eyed innocence of puppy or kitten life, then take a sad turn to abandonment…or injury…or illness. Often these factors come together until the pets are at serious risk of being euthanized at the valley’s local shelters.

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That’s where Hearts Alive Village comes in. This all-volunteer organization (except for one veterinary professional who works part time) came together to assist animals facing the threat of “being lost in the shelter system”.

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Hearts Alive Village sprang from a concept by Christy Stevens, President and Founder of HAVLV. Wishing became reality when her daughter Kendall expressed a classroom desire to aid needy animals. Turning that dream into an actual, functioning organization was no easy task. Then again, projects that arise from a desire to make a difference rarely are.

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It has indeed taken a village to make Hearts Alive the effective organization that it has become. Countless volunteers and agencies have donated their time, money, living spaces, emotions and tears to rescuing and providing homes and supplies for these needy pets…and the loving humans who parent and foster them.

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Since coming together in 2013, the dedicated troupe:

– Saved over 700 dogs and cats from being lost in the shelter system.
– Feeds as many as 300 pets in low income homes each month.
– Assisted more than 200 community animals with training, medical assistance, spay and neuter…and more.
– Taught more than 500 children how to be responsible pet owners, approach animals safely and be kind to all living creatures.
– Became a Best Friends Animal Society network partner

I first learned about Hearts Alive Village while reviewing Richard Marx’s show at the Flamingo. Seated at our table was Sheryl Greenblatt, Communications Director for HAVLV. Casual conversation turned toward love of animals, and Sheryl told me about her involvement with Hearts Alive. I promised to visit in the near future and did so last week.

At the beginning, HAVLV focused their efforts on finding foster homes…and permanent homes…for exceptional-need animals. I learned recently that my friend Lisa Watson, who has a veterinary background, currently fosters for them. She shared a heartwarming rescue story she is involved in, centered around a misunderstood pit bull with time running out:

I found out about Hearts Alive when I saw a plea on FB about a pit bull in L.A., Bella, who was on the list to be put down. Bella had spent the majority of her life in a shelter, adopted and returned 5 times. Some said she was bad with kids, others say she was aggressive.

There’s a program that puts dogs who are at shelters with a foster family for a week during the Fourth of July, since this is when most shelters reach max capacity due to dogs being scared and they get lost.

So a friend of Hearts Alive fostered Bella during that time. When she was returned to the shelter she was put on the kill list. Her previous foster mom sent out a plea for help because Bella is the kindest most gentle dog she had ever met.

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Cera Ward takes Bella on her “freedom ride”…              

My family was just finishing up fostering a round of kittens and thought it was time for a dog to foster. Turns out that my best friend Cera Ward was in L. A. and rushed to save Bella. She drove 5 hours back to Vegas and we’ve had her ever since. She was seen at Legacy Animal Hospital, who welcomed her with open arms.

Hearts Alive provides all food and medical to the foster family and we provide a stable home environment that makes them easier to adopt out once they’re ready. It really does take a village to make all of this possible.

– Lisa Watson, a Hearts Alive Village foster parent…

In the days before becoming an actual shelter, the volunteers of Hearts Alive did everything they could to find homes for pets….and assist those who were surrendering theirs to shelters. Sheryl told me how she would stand across the street from a local Humane Society, stopping people to offer Solutions Over Surrenders, asking what it would take for them to reconsider giving up their pets.

Sometimes all it took was something as simple as a crate if the animal was wetting in the home. Or maybe they needed pet food or medical treatments they couldn’t afford. Luckily, we receive donations and could offer help to these people. In the end, they never wanted to give up their pets. They were making desperate decisions in desperate times.

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The back room of Hearts Alive Village’s retail store and adoption center is well-stocked with quality foods, toys, carriers and crates. Dubbed Kendall’s Kupboard after Christy’s daughter, the beautifully-organized area stores donations of all kinds. They are then funneled back into the community, assisting families who love their pets but are of limited means to provide for them.

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Speaking of the store and adoption center, it’s a great place to visit when the excitement and indulgences of Vegas are wearing you down. The Cat Cottage is a wonderfully comfortable and clean room where you can relax or study while the kitties visit with you. The serene atmosphere is therapeutic…without the cost of a spa.

All of the Cat Cottage residents are up for adoption, too. My heart was stolen by the wonderful Squeek, whom I fell in love with on my visit. Squeek has been a resident since early 2015. You read that correctly…unadopted for two and a half years. Fortunately, Squeek is healthy, safe and loved by everyone…especially those who can charm this fiercely independent heart-breaker.

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            Squeek has been waiting for a home for two and a half years…

I’ve been told that Squeek can have an unpredictable personality, but she was on her best behavior that Saturday afternoon. If you’d like to see about adopting Squeek or any of the cats and dogs at Hearts Alive Village, come down to meet them or call (702) 870-0065 to find out more.

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The adoption center is also a store that offers a wide variety of quality pet products, food and treats. Christy told me that their prices are the lowest you’ll find anywhere. Plus, there is no sales tax since the not-for-profit proceeds are used to fund the charity’s operations. The center is located at 1750 S Rainbow Blvd #4 between Sahara Avenue and West Charleston Blvd.

Along with active pet adoptions through their own location and pet stores, Hearts Alive Village does plenty of community outreach. Sheryl and Christy go to schools to teach children about animal care, have appeared on news and entertainment programs, and spearhead programs to assist veterans, seniors and the homeless with their pets.

If this wasn’t enough, there is The Village, an actual house that serves as a residential treatment program for especially-frightened cats and senior dogs.

We’ve rented a house that gives us the opportunity to provide a home environment when a volunteer foster home is not available. The cats who spend time at The Village aren’t ready for the Cat Cottage. They need some extra home time to become a little less fearful of people and find their true confident selves. Just because you’re a “scare-dy cat” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a chance to become a treasured family member.

Hearts Alive Village recently assisted two injured dogs that were hurricane evacuees from Houston. Despite the generous assistance of Legacy Animal Hospital, treatment for just those two animals wiped through most of their reserve funds. But Hearts Alive Village continues to soldier forward with their mission, offering hope for animals when others would give up.

If you’re interested in becoming involved, donating to this wonderful organization or supporting their fundraising activities, there are many ways of doing so. This week, Defending the Caveman at Downtown’s The D Hotel is helping restore that depleted account by donating a portion of ticket sales to HAVLV. Follow this link and use the code “Hearts Alive” when purchasing tickets for any performance through November 11th.

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That’s just one of the events that HAVLV has in store. Next month they’ll be celebrating at the fourth annual Monday’s Dark Anniversary Party. The Mondays Dark series donated proceeds from last March’s performance to Hearts Alive Village. Ms. Greenblatt said it was wonderful to receive the check and be able to pay a large portion of the shelter’s ever-rising medical expenses.

Mondays Dark Fourth Anniversary Party will be at Hard Rock Hotel on December 18th. Tickets range from $20 to $50 and can be purchased directly at Hearts Alive Village so they receive additional proceeds from the event.

To keep informed of upcoming fundraising events, check out the official Hearts Alive Village Facebook page. And if you’d like to make a monetary donation, please click here. Any amount will help to provide food, medical care and shelter for special-needs dogs and cats.

More than anything else, Hearts Alive Village exists to provide loving, permanent homes for animals in need. Click here for information on adoption policies (yes, there are rules to assure that animals are safely placed) or to fill out an online adoption application.

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Hearts Alive Village Adoption Center and Pet Supplies is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. It is located at 1750 South Rainbow Blvd, Unit # 4 Las Vegas

Photos: Sammasseur, Hearts Alive Village via Facebook