‘NSFW’ – UNCENSORED Is The Biggest Surprise Of The Season

Treasure Island’s New male revue comes out of Nowhere and Blows The Rest Away…


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This is one of the rare times that I feel guilty for writing a rave review. Why? Because I’m about to state that the newest male revue in Las Vegas is far superior to anything we’ve seen before. And that’s a pretty significant claim to make. Get ready for Uncensored International Show at Treasure Island Hotel Casino.

Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of Chippendales and Aussie Heat. I’ve also enjoyed Rock Candy and the vastly-improved Thunder From Down Under (Magic Mike Live will undoubtedly remain a steaming pile of shit when it moves to Sahara this fall). So how can Uncensored International come out of nowhere and blow the others away?

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First and foremost, Uncensored International has the hottest collection of guys you will probably ever see on one stage. Their tagline is “Younger. Stronger. Harder”. The flawless faces, stunning physiques, perfect skin and stimulating body language truly are of the highest caliber. Believe me when I tell you that the cast is huge! There are at least eight jaw-dropping gentlemen onstage at any given time, and each one is sheer perfection in talent and size (ahem).

Uncensored International is performed in the second-level event space of Senor Frog’s, known to many as the home of the world-famous Voss Events Drag Brunch. The unusual, sprawling layout of this venue would be a challenge for most productions, but Uncensored International transforms it into something both intimate and epic at the same time.

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There are three performance platforms inside Senor Frogs – a wide central stage and two smaller ones. All of them are utilized simultaneously, enveloping the audience in the action from every angle. The guys crisscross from one spot to the the next, leaping across tables, swinging on poles and running from end to end. Live video feeds are broadcast on floor-to-ceiling digital screens, ensuring that you won’t miss a second of the sizzle.

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Never before have I seen a male revue packed with such energy and power. Lighting and effects are amped to the max, accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack that dares you to sit still. Thankfully, chit-chat is kept to a minimum, aside from the priceless emceeing of the Supreme Queen herself, Shannel. This world-famous drag star is known to millions via her appearances on television’s RuPaul’s Drag Race, as well as her Vegas stints at 53X and Drag Brunch.

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Uncensored International begins with a bang. Actually, lots of them, as the guys position themselves behind large drums across the entire space. When the music begins, their pounding causes a Blue Man Group-inspired water spray which drenches their clothing. So begins a striptease that gives way to pole dancing directly over the audience.

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Various set pieces include Game of Thrones-inspired barbarians, a classy Vegas crooner number, locker room showers, and a prison transport sequence. Looking to heat things up even more? Wait until the stage is literally set on fire. Audience members are frequently pulled in for some seriously raunchy antics, so don’t expect to remain a wallflower for long.

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Alas, there are a few minor caveats to the new production. Despite the fact that at least one quarter of the attendees on premiere weekend were men, guys are barely acknowledged by the dancers. My companion questioned a cast member on this issue, and the response was something along the lines of “We’re working on that”. Let’s hope so. My two-part article (here and here) compares other Vegas male revues for inclusivity, an important matter these days. 

Update 6/16/21 – I’ve seen Uncensored International two more times since posting this review, and the cast, producers and host have taken major steps to making the show inclusive. Shannel now acknowledges the gentlemen in the audience with jokes and banter, the performers make eye contact, give close-up dances and more.

My friend and I were drawn into the action this past Saturday, as these photos demonstrate. They even came over after the show to chat with us in the casino. Way to go, everyone!!!!

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My second beef has to do with cocktail service. There was only one bartender, who was located in a dark, grungy corner far opposite the entrance and stages. I had to ask an employee where to get a drink, then missed the beginning of the show due to a long line. A cocktail server eventually came around, but by then the show was more than half over. Everyone knows that the real money is in alcohol sales, so Senor Frog’s needs to step up their game right away. More bartenders plus more cocktail servers equals happy Vegas partiers. 

Update 6/21/21 – I have now seen UNCENSORED five times since it opened, and drink service has improved dramatically. There are now cocktail waiters and waitresses on the floor during seating and canvassing the showroom throughout the performance. Since my initial complaint, I’ve had no problems getting served. It’s nice to see improvements actually taking place in an era where service and amenities are constantly being chipped away. Dollars and sense…

As for the production, it was created in 2014 and at one point featured Latino actor/heartthrob William Levy. Producer Omar Suárez is known throughout Latin America for his work on Perfume de Gardenia, the largest stage spectacle ever seen in Mexico. It was choreographed by Eitan Tellez, who specializes in jazz, hip-hop, ballet and Latin fusion. Together, they’ve delivered a scorching 75 minutes that Las Vegas audiences expect and deserve.

I was extremely pleased with Uncensored International Show, and plan to visit again and again. Sin City might still be in shock by Chippendales‘ ouster from Rio Las Vegas, but there’s new crop of bad boys to scratch that itch. And they’re more than welcome on the Strip.

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Senor Frog’s is located off the casino floor at Treasure Island. Showtimes are as follows:

Tuesday: 8:30 pm
Wednesday: 8:30 pm
Thursday:  7:00 pm  & 9:30 pm
Friday: 7:15 pm / 9:45 pm
Saturday: 7:15 pm / 9:45 pm
Sunday: 7:00 pm  & 9:30 pm

Audience members must be 18 and over. Tickets start at $65 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here

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Photos: Sam Novak

 

COVID-19 Aftermath – Shows Most Likely (and Least Likely) To Return


Taking a hard and painful look at the Vegas entertainment landscape as Sin City’s quarantine drags on…

As a devoted enthusiast of Sin City entertainment, it pains me to think of the hundreds of gifted performers currently out of work during the pandemic shutdown. Devoted to a volatile industry in which success is never guaranteed, many artists work multiple jobs and/or share living expenses just to get by. Combine this with a lack of adequate health care and spotty unemployment compensation, and it wouldn’t be surprising if many struggling entertainers decide to leave the city…or the industry altogether.

Sadly, there’s a likelihood that numerous residencies and production shows will decide to fold (or have their lifeline unceremoniously yanked) once the ramp-up begins. How this plays out is anyone’s guess, but I’ve been doing my own pondering on what changes lie ahead. Keep in mind that my conclusions aren’t in any way a reflection of quality…or lack thereof. Instead, I’ve considered factors such as pre-virus buzz, operation overhead (costs), post-virus marketability, name recognition, longevity, and brand loyalty.

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I might be completely wrong on these predictions or right on the money. Your guess is as good as mine. We won’t know until it actually happens, but here’s my list of shows that might weather the storm. And those that I believe will most certainly blow away.

Very Likely To Return –

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David Saxe Productions – the long and colorful list produced by David Saxe amounts to a well-oiled machine. His self-named theater inside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops and nearby V Theater churn out hits like Vegas! The Show, Zombie Burlesque, V – The Ultimate Variety Show and many more. Saxe is a master of efficiency and knows how to run and market his business. His children will survive just fine.

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ABSINTHE – (Update – reopened on October 28th with vastly reduced seating)

Spiegelworld‘s naughty alternative to Cirque du Soleil is an instant hit that would have celebrated its ninth anniversary on April 1st. The bawdy burlesque ABSINTHE has spun off two successful companion productions and shows no sign of slowing down. Relatively low overhead (an outdoor tent, pre-recorded music, and simple props) should help it to last through a sluggish restart (if that’s how things play out, that is).

Other Spiegelworld titles OPIUM and ATOMIC SALOON SHOW might not have it so easy. Their out-of-the-way locations inside expensive Cosmopolitan and Venetian/Palazzo might prove to be a bigger challenge in the long run. Cosmo‘s costly parking fees make OPIUM an easy pass for locals, too. (Update 5/19/20 – Cosmopolitan has announced its intentions to discontinue parking fees)

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“O” at Bellagio – Despite a mountain of debt that Cirque du Soleil is carrying, it’s unlikely that they’ll allow their highest-profile Vegas production to fold. Since “O” is synonymous with the Bellagio image (just like its outdoor fountains and seasonal conservatory displays) it’s easy to envision the resort taking ownership of the show if it came down to that (Steve Wynn did that with Le Reve). “O” is still a very popular draw despite two decades and thousands of performances. Not my cup of tea, but for many tourists, it’s a must-see.

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CELESTIA – 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.

Sex Tips For Straight Women from a Gay Man – This is an easy one to envision continuing. An extremely Vegas-y premise, an attractive local cast and very low overhead within an intimate theater setting. What’s not to love?

Solo and Lounge Acts – Our deeply-fractured economy is going to have a ripple effect on both consumers and the products they offer. Returning guests with limited discretionary income will most likely avoid the high-ticket attractions. That’s where one-man/woman shows come to the rescue.

With low overhead and a simple format, solo acts can offer solid entertainment and a retro vibe while passing the savings onto their audiences. Look for returning favorites like Mike Hammer, Murray Sawchuck, Carrot Top, Xavier Mortimer, Jen Kramer and maybe even the once-popular Gordie Brown to shine brighter in the spotlight. I anticipate that bloated, self-serving star vehicles like Criss Angel – Mindfreak Live and Mariah Carey‘s endless residencies will go down in flames, though. Darn.

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Expensive mega-residencies could also feel the same heat. Last year people were forking over a grand or more to StubHub for Lady Gaga tickets. Who has that kind of money now? Even though Paula Abdul‘s lip-syncing stomp-fest at the Flamingo couldn’t warrant a $49 price tag last fall, her short-lived residency now seems like a million years ago. Look for a glut of similar shows (like Derek Hough: No Limit), along with the resurgence of intimate lounge acts, to tide us over until the economy…and Vegas…rebounds.

Say Farewell –

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Blue Man Group (Update 6/30/20 The cast of Blue Man Group has been laid off by parent company Cirque du Soleil)

They’re old, tired, and as cliched as the fanny pack strapped around your cargo shorts. The trio of silent weirdos known as Blue Man Group is as annoying as those outdoor escalators that are constantly “under service”. Luxor‘s long-running production returned to the pyramid a few years ago, after more than a decade at Venetian and Monte Carlo. Now they’re in a much smaller venue and it’s easy to forget that they’re still around. Maybe COVID-19 will be the nudge that gets them to squeeze their final Twinkie.

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Human Nature (Update – permanent closure announced 6/10/20) –

It really upsets me to have this one on the list, but the Aussie quartet known as Human Nature appears to have been struggling for a while. I’ve been to the show a number of times in the past twelve months, and attendance has been anemic during each and every visit. Their live band has been downsized as a cost-cutting measure and the dancers were given a pink slip before that. They’ve also jettisoned the “Jukebox” format and returned to the Motown sound that put them in the U.S. limelight.

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Magic Mike Live (Update – Sahara opening postponed once again to August 2021) –

                               We can wait even longer for this execrable slop to return….

The movie-inspired male revue received a scathing write-up from me upon its debut (deservedly so). Yet, the man-bashing mess, hosted by a shrill, leather-clad harpy who never shuts her f*cking mouth, somehow managed to become a hit. Still, the closure of Hard Rock Hotel sent the strippers dancers off into the sunset last year.

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Audiences were promised a spring relaunch at the newly-rebranded Sahara Hotel, yet an official debut date was never set and tickets have yet to go on sale. The 360-degree format requires a custom-built arena that Sahara didn’t have, so costly construction was required. Alas, an insider told me that the venue’s build-out was halted many weeks before the shutdown, suggesting that the bump-and-grind may actually be over. Today’s visit to the official website reveals that the word “spring” was removed, most likely due to the shutdown. Or are revised negotiations holding things back?

During the interim, MML has gone global with residencies in London, Berlin, Sydney, and Melbourne, so a pricey Vegas space is no longer a top priority for the franchise. Sahara Hotel has yet to prove itself as a hip destination, as demonstrated by the premature shuttering of similar-themed Blanc de Blanc. Combine that with the perpetual postponements of nearby Fontainebleau/The Drew and Resorts World, and things are looking pretty dead for Magic Mike Live.

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Cirque du Soleil 

Update 6/30/20 – Cirque du Soleil announced today that they have filed for bankruptcy protection and have eliminated 3,500 jobs…

I know what you’re thinking – “But you just said that “O” was safe?!?!?!?!”. True enough. But in our new reality, Vegas cannot sustain six (already down from eight) of what is basically the same show…especially at $150 and up for decent seats.

According to FinancialPost.com, Cirque owes more that $1.25 billion to creditors. MGM Resorts operates five of their six Vegas shows and is known to brutally slice away expenses wherever and whenever possible. So who gets their trapezes pulled? I’m looking at KA, The Beatles LOVE, and maybe Michael Jackson ONE.

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Hanging In The Balance/Probably Safe –

MYSTERE – the longest-running Vegas Cirque show follows its own set of rules since Treasure Island operates separately from MGM Resorts. MYSTERE is smaller in scale and has the lowest ticket prices. The others have massive sets, live musicians, huge casts and expensive automation that requires an entire team of technicians to operate and maintain. SO…..overhead…

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ZUMANITY – (Update 11/16/20 permanent closure announced)

Never a critical darling or fan favorite, but this one might not be in real jeopardy. It has many of the advantages that MYSTERE enjoys (smaller cast, intimate venue, lower ticket prices), and has already trimmed back its musicians and singers. But despite the adult-skewing format, ZUMANITY now pales in comparison to raunchy offerings from Spiegelworld. So once again, your guess is as good as mine.

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Le Reve – (Update 8/14/20 permanent closure announced)

Wynn‘s signature production was never an out-and-out hit (some still believe it’s part of Cirque du Soleil fifteen years in), but it’s a critical darling and those who know it, love it. Le Reve is also owned by Wynn/Encore, which has deep pockets and an image to protect. When Steve Wynn’s own SHOWSTOPPERS was shuttered, massive shockwaves rippled through the entertainment community. That’s unlikely to happen again.

‘WOW: The Las Vegas Spectacular’ Celebrates Two Years on the Strip

WOW: The Vegas Spectacular – another budget-friendly production that hung in there despite the competition, WOW could in fact raise its profile and attendance numbers in the months ahead. Room rates at host hotel RIO start at a ridiculously-cheap $10 (plus resort fees/taxes) for the first half of May, so if the city actually opens, expect a pilgrimage to the aging off-Strip resort.

Sister production EXTRAVAGANZA missed its debut date at Bally’s last month and could possibly be in jeopardy. The cast of performers came from Israel and has yet to log a single hour in front of a paying audience. Housing the entire cast during quarantine is no doubt chipping away at the show’s reserves. Whether that could bring WOW down as well involves legalities that aren’t known to me. But from the outside looking in, it’s a pretty grim picture for EXTRAVAGANZA.

What are your thoughts, predictions and opinions? Feel free to add your comments or email me at Sam@VegasUnfiltered.blog.

Blue Man Group – Fresh and Vibrant as Ever


Guest author Kristopher Kidd of discount ticketing site VegasFool.com grabs the reins for a review of the latest iteration of a long-running favorite…

If you’ve been visiting Las Vegas for any amount of time, there is no doubt that the colorful Blue Man Group have at least piqued your interest. Their Las Vegas journey began years ago at Luxor, followed by a move to Venetian, then Monte Carlo and now back again to Luxor.

Being one of the longest-running shows in the city is quite the accomplishment. Having seen the show before (and blown away), I was wondering if the Blue men had anything new up their sleeves. I was not disappointed.

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From the Blue Man-themed box office to the paper streamers before the show, we already knew we were about to experience something unique and fun. With so many new and re-imagined acts, it felt like I was seeing something familiar yet also somehow new.

The smoke drums are now one of my favorite parts of BMG. You’ll even be treated to the Big Drum, which is only found in the Las Vegas version of the show (Blue Man Group performs in New York, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, and Berlin as well).

Have no fear, many of your favorite Blue Man moments are still a part of the show. This includes catching marshmallows in their mouths from across the stage, the drum-bone, embarrassing late arrivals and the iconic paint drums.

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Yes, Blue Man is still loud, still hilarious, still in your face, and still the masters of sound using unconventional items for instruments. Who knew that three blue men with no ears could be such brilliant musicians?

On top of being a visual comedy concert, Blue Man also makes you think. They are better philosophers than they get credit for. Staying culturally relevant by exposing our obsession with smartphones gives the audience a chance to remind themselves to live in the moment.

The atrium-level theater at Luxor is one of the coziest you will find. With the show being so massive and the theater being so well laid out, you will literally feel the vibrations of the PVC pipe percussion.  If you’re brave enough to grab seats up front, parts of the show might land in your lap…in the form of paint and Twinkies.

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Don’t worry, ponchos are provided for those sitting in the appropriately named ‘poncho’ seats. Even sitting in the second half of the theater, you will still likely be within a few feet of a Blue Man at some point in the show. The interaction and audience involvement is all part of the fun.

Las Vegas shows sometimes struggle at simultaneously being entertaining for kids, teens, and adults. It’s hard for a show to appeal to all ages, but Blue Man Group is entertaining for everyone. It’s worth belaboring the point that it’s wildly entertaining even if your group consists of only adults.

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What’s so brilliant about BMG is their ability to entertain in many ways. It’s not just funny. It’s not just musical. It’s not just visual…it’s all of the above. You could even say it’s physically exhausting, not just for the performers, but for the audience.

Keeping up with so much activity at once is quite the accomplishment, so much so that you may be tempted to see the production again for anything you may have missed. From start to finish, the guys in blue will keep you entertained and engaged. The end of the show is as unexpected and hysterical as ever.

Blue Man Group is way too much fun!

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Blue Man Group performs nightly at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Luxor Hotel Casino. Tickets can be purchased here. Deals for all other Las Vegas shows can be found by clicking here. The author of this article can be reached via email at KKidd@vegasfool.com

Photos: Blue Man Group, Kristopher Kidd