New male revue features pedigree talent, chiseled abs…and one sizzling lady…
With nearly every major production already re-opened or slated to, it’s inconceivable that world-famous Chippendales male revue was recently evicted from Rio Las Vegas. In the past few months, a reborn Thunder From Down Under has gained steam, Aussie Heat continues to pack Mosaic Theater, and the awful Magic Mike Live‘s relaunch at Sahara Hotel is now scheduled for August (several false starts later).
While Chippendales searches for a new home, some cast members have scattered to parts unknown or taken non-entertainment roles. But at least three of the cuffs-and-collar crew are back onstage in a fledgling male revue called ROCK CANDY.
ROCK CANDY has taken a clever casting route by filling its recipe with laid-off performers from major shows like Le Reve and Cirque du Soleil productions. There’s also a heaping helping of AUSSIE HEAT with a few sprinkles of Thunder. Add a dash of one sexy lady and you’ve got a colorful display of morsels that is worth digging into with both hands and your teeth.
Rock Candy Male Revue is an intimate fantasy journey through the mind of your hostess, Rosa. This is not your typical Male revue, where the men think they know how to fulfill every woman’s fantasy. Rock Candy will entice your mind and stimulate your senses from a female perspective, as Rosa directs the dancers like her muses to bend to her will and desires. Every performance is different, while Rosa’s mind wanders from voyeuristic fantasies, uniformed dreams, and even a bit of bondage play. The Rock Candy dancers are Rosa’s playthings as she daydreams the night away.
Rosa Agius – Your Host
The big-budget Magic Mike Live could learn a few lessons from ROCK CANDY. Foremost is how to have a female host that doesn’t run interference between the guys and the audience. Mike‘s shrill emcee yanks you out of the fun with her incessant blather, but Rosa Agius serves as the perfect tour guide.
This super-sexy dancer/actress/choreographer/entrepreneur explores a variety of scenarios that draw you so deep, deep, deep into fantasy land that you just might need a towel.
Sydney-born Rosa is one of the most ambitious entertainers in the city. Besides performing in ROCK CANDY, she runs her own apparel/furnishings company (Aussie Allure), operates an entertainment production company and is a VIP hostess at The Garden, the hunk-packed nightspot I told you about in this article.
Rosa probably has her lovely hands in even more enterprises, but thinking about it has made me exhausted. So let’s just enjoy a few of her fabulous photos before proceeding onto the men.
You can see more of Rosa Agius by following her Instagram page here.
Now let’s taste a few delicious samples from the extensive selection at ROCK CANDY. Keep in mind that the large cast rotates from performance to performance….so you’ll want to dig into the candy bowl more than once.
Miguel Rivera Laureano –
When dancer Miguel Rivera Laureano made the move from Le Reve to Chippendales, his new employers couldn’t have been more pleased. “We’ve been trying for about two years to get him”, one of them confessed to me. And who could blame them for wanting to land this level of smoldering talent? Miguel is as good of a dancer as they come, and his looks and physique made him the perfect match for their cast.
Seeing Miguel back onstage at Rock Candy this past week was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been an admirer of his for a long time (Le Reve was my favorite production until the pandemic forced its closure). I can’t say if he’ll return to Chippendales when they reopen, but he’s a terrific fit for RockCandy, too. And…why wait for “then” when you can see him RIGHT NOW!
If you’re into Latin lovers, then one scorching Miguel is never enough. ROCK CANDY serves up two hot tamales with the casting of Miguel Reyes Santiago. Be careful not to confuse them, as Santiago was in the Le Reve cast, too. He’s also been in Cirque du Soleil‘s MJ One and Vegas! The Show. So while other male revues are more about the looks, Santiago’s resume proves that the studs of ROCK CANDY can really dance!
Mr. Santiago’s manly chest and rippling abs are the product of hours of training. An avid cross-fit participant, he recently traveled to Tulum, Mexico, where he gave their famous “Jungle Gym” a try. Shirtless, of course. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re a follower of local Vegas bands, chances are that you’ve seen Ryan Kelsey behind the guitar. A born entertainer with show business in his blood, Kelsey plays venues of all sizes. He’s also a consummate dancer, having progressed from Chippendales swing performer and calendar model to their official Dance Captain.
As is the case with Miguel Rivera Laureano, the handsome musician joined the cast of ROCK CANDY while Chippendales loyalists await the verdict on when, where, or if the original male revue will return. In the meantime, Kelsey is tantalizing audiences at Alexis Park Resort every weekend. His fans will undoubtedly follow him there. And you can follow Ryan via Instagram by visiting this page.
Antonio GrandA manzano –
Young Cuban Antonio Granda Manzano is another one of those handsome hardbodies that you’ve seen all over town. You might not know his name, but it’s hard to miss his memorable features on billboards and ad campaigns for The STRAT hotel, Passion libido spray (say what?), Navi Collection swimwear and INMEX eyewear.
An international entertainer who’s been all over the world, the singer/dancer/actor has been in numerous stage productions, TV commercials and films. Antonio is also a horror movie enthusiast who spends many evenings attending the fright fests at West Wind Las Vegas Drive-in Theater. And he somehow finds the time to pick up extra cash as one of the hot staff at The Garden, along with his dear friend Rosa Agius (see above).
Get to know Antonio a little better by stalking visiting him on Instagram via this link.
Jeffrey Garrovillo –
Every class has a clown. And every group of guys has the “bad boy”. Jeffrey Garrovillo fulfills both roles in ROCK CANDY. As outlandish as he is naughty, the seasoned entertainer sports a physique as memorable as his distinctive hair style.
Jeffrey is as home in the water as he is onstage, being both an experienced technician for “O” at Cirque du Soleil and a former man of Chippendales (yes, another one!). If you want to how this sexy stud got that slamming body, then ask Teresa Van. She’s the owner of ENVY Training, which I profiled here. Jeffrey is a trainer at ENVY and excels at kickboxing, which explains his supple abs and impressive flexibility.
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into Jeffrey Garrovillo, then check him out on Instagram right here.
Nino Anthony SMith –
He’s a stunning dancer. An actor. A stuntman. A teacher. A host. He’s Nino Anthony Smith, the multi-hyphenate action man of ROCK CANDY. Nino might come across as a little intense, especially with his steely gaze. But once he smiles, you’ll see the little kitten behind Nino’s panther-like facade.
Speaking of panthers, word has it that Mr. Smith was part of the large cast of Marvel‘s mega-hit BLACK PANTHER. How’s that for an impressive entry on the resume? He’s also a big fan of horror films. One of his favorite actresses is Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 and 5), who happens to be the manager of The 35 Cinema right here in Las Vegas. And Nino has delved into the horror genre himself, playing the undead in a recent zombie flick.
If you want to see Nino Anthony Smith very much alive and up close, get your tickets to ROCK CANDY. And you can follow his latest activities on Instagram.
ROCK CANDY performs Friday through Sunday at 8pm inside Alexis Park Resort at 375 East Harmon Avenue. Audiences members must be 21 or over. Tickets start at $59.95 via the official website, but you can save up to 25% by ordering via BestofVegas.com. right here.
Photos: ROCK CANDY cast and show social media, Levi Walker and Noel Dahl. Photographers are credited at those sites.
The Sin City you knew and loved has gone a little bit “Mad Max” and a whole lotta “Resident Evil: Extinction”…
Wynn Las Vegas is putting new security measures in place on weekends, requiring customers to be screened for metal objects and putting more uniformed officers in place.
The moves follow a fight on Labor Day Weekend that prompted an aggressive lawsuit by Wynn, and problems at other properties on the Las Vegas Strip that included shootings recently. Metro Police say they have noticed an uptick in violence at or near Las Vegas Strip properties since August, which has already led to more than 1,100 arrests.
Back in October 2018, I penned a piece announcing my transition from “Vegas visitor” to “Sin City local”. In that article, I promised to continue writing from the perspective of a tourist, while peppering in the additional tips I’d absorb as a resident along the way.
Since then, a lot has changed. You’re about to read what may be the final entry in this blog. Only time will tell. Keep in mind that the name of this site is “Vegas Unfiltered”. You might not like what you’re about to read, but quite often, the truth is ugly. And that’s the state of Las Vegas right now. Very ugly.
It’s often said that art imitates life….and vice versa. So when I looked towards the entertainment world for a representation of Las Vegas circa “summer 2020”, I found myself inside the dystopian setting of “Resident Evil: Extinction“. You’re probably familiar with that particular film, and if you aren’t, the description might seem uncomfortably familiar.
Based on popular video games and third in a series of movie adaptations, “Resident Evil: Extinction” depicts a post-pandemic Las Vegas in which our iconic hotels and casinos are overrun with hoards of the infected. The Strip is a wasteland, and those who survived the global pandemic become victims of bloody violence.
Factor in “Mad Max”-style high speed police chases along with the new phenomenon of ¨scooter gangs¨ in place of outlaw bikers…and you’ve got an post-apocalypse double feature that none of us could have imagined witnessing during our lifetime.
Does that seem dramatic and exaggerated? Well, perhaps you should follow Vegas news more often. Sin City has indeed become a seedy, violent place to visit. Since the shaky reopening of the Strip, downtown and surrounding areas, the shootings, muggings, murders, suicides, protests, riots and brawls have become rather routine. Sounds like the perfect vacation spot, doesn’t it? Just bring your bulletproof vest and join in on the fun.
Grim business prognosis from 8NewsNow published 9/21/20
Sights like this were common just a few short months ago…
The seeds of chaos were planted in May
Las Vegas Metropolitan Captain James LaRochelle told ABC News on 6/24/20 that the department saw an increase in crime starting late the previous month.
“Three weeks ago, we had a really bad week, with 11 murders in 10 days. Some of those were domestic violence-related. Our gang murders are about 22% of our homicides, and our rate of solving those is a bit lower. At one point in April we had solved 100% of our murders, and now we’re at about 80%,” LaRochelle told the outlet. “We’re still slightly down in violent crime year-to-date, but lately we are seeing an uptick and it is a concern.”
Police chase on Las Vegas Boulevard, Labor Day weekend 9/5/20
When the first restrictions were rolled back and chains were cut from casino doors, I penned a series of articles detailing the efforts to lure tourists back. From new sanitation protocols to removal of parking fees, I assured readers that Vegas was ready and waiting for you. In retrospect, that was a foolishly optimistic stance.
Brawl at Encore 9/6/20 (Labor Day weekend)
Getting here is one tough battle
If you plan on visiting in the coming weeks or months, prepare for a very nerve-wracking experience. It begins at your local airport, where restrictions and measures will make everything from going through security to sitting at the gate and your actual flight anything but pleasant.
Chances are that you already had a rough time booking your trip, as airlines are bleeding cash and have slashed the number of daily flights into and out of the city. Along with limited options, expect an increased likelihood of delays and cancellations, too.
You’ll be required to wear a mask from the time you enter your departure point until you actually breathe Nevada air…it’s not a negotiable matter. You can say goodbye to having an in-flight cocktail to set the mood, and forget about even having a soft drink unless you buy a bottle at the pricey terminal newsstand. In an effort to minimize contact, flight attendants will mostly remain at the front and rear of the plane. You’ll get a cup of water and perhaps a bag of crackers…also known as “prison rations”.
You won’t know if the flight attendants and gate agents are smiling behind those masks. They certainly don’t want to be in an enclosed space with potentially infected passengers, but they’ve got to make a living. So shut up, avoid your neighbors, follow the lengthy list of rules, deal with the lack of in-flight amenities and sit still until the plane comes to a complete stop.
It may be a long time before McCarran International Airport is thriving again…
Things are beginning to look bleak
Once you disembark, the airport will provide a depressing first impression, with closed restaurants and bars, darkened slot machines and minimal available services. Due do decreased demand, you may deplane in a different terminal than usual, requiring a shuttle bus, tram or lengthy walk to pick up your baggage.
Most local UBER and LYFT drivers have given up servicing the airport, so anticipate a wait time of 30 minutes or so for a pickup. Tempers are short and I’ve witnessed multiple arguments in the terminals and at pick-up areas. Are you happy to be here yet?
When you arrive at the hotel, you’ll have your body temperature scanned by one of a variety of different methods, walk through a maze of stanchions to get to the few human beings behind the reception desk, or opt to check yourself in via an automated kiosk. The goal once again is to limit human contact in a city once known for its heightened hospitality. And keep that mask on at all times…unless you’re smoking, of course. Then it’s okay.
First class service is a thing of the past
After standing in line to pick up your room key, you’ll most likely stand in another line to use the elevator. Most resorts are restricting the number of persons allowed on each trip, yet they’ve closed off certain areas of the hotel to maximize efficiency during decreased occupancy. So you’re all going to the same floors in the same tower while being instructed to practice social distancing and not crowd into the elevators together. Did you follow that?
Take note that, just like the airlines, Vegas hotels and casinos are operating at a loss. They’ve cut their workforce tremendously, so services are minimal and not always offered in a pleasant manner. Those who remain employed are severely overworked and under a great deal of stress.
South Point Casino 8/30/20
Are you the kind of person who likes to have your hotel room serviced on a daily basis? Most travelers do…it’s nice to have someone else fix the bed, replace the towels and wipe down sinks and countertops. Well, not in today’s Vegas. It’s now standard for housekeeping to only do their tasks when you completely check out.
Need towels or supplies? Leave a message with housekeeping, and if you’re lucky, what you requested may eventually be hanging from the knob outside your door. Is your trash can full? Bag it up and leave it in the hallway with everyone else’s. There’s no room service if you wish to have breakfast in bed or splurge on a midnight snack. Doesn’t this all sound lovely?
MGM Resorts recently announced the layoff of an additional 18,000 workers. That’s on top of the thousands that they’ve already let go. So yes, that associate you’re engaging with is happy to have a job, but that’s the extent of their joy. Don’t hint for an upgrade…they aren’t in the mood to hear about your birthday while they’re wondering if or when they’ll get the ax.
Popular hotels like The Palms, Rio, The Cromwell, Planet Hollywood, The Linq, Tropicana, Main Street Station, and Park MGM continue to remain dark. Others have reduced operating hours, closed restaurants and buffets (Wynn already shut down their buffet after re-opening it in June), scaled back gaming options, eliminated valet service, and closed pools, spas, salons, fitness facilities, player’s club lounges, and more. You’re still on the hook for the full price of resort fees, despite the removal of most amenities.
The once-popular Wynn Buffet during peak lunch period on Saturday 8/16/20
Low down and dirty
Maintenance at most Strip hotels, with the notable exceptions of Wynn and Westgate, has been downright disheartening. Common areas and guestrooms are receiving poor to indifferent upkeep, despite the PR crap they’ve been shoveling. Hotels may be promising “Clean and Safe” but the puddles of dried urine/vomit, dirty rooms, grungy common areas and filthy parking garages tell a different story. Once again, cost-cutting and workforce reduction are to blame.
Guests returning to Flamingo Hotel Casino during reopening week were greeted with filth and disarray…
Glitz and glamour have been replaced with crime, decay and neglect.
If you decide to venture out, know that Las Vegas Boulevard is a mess. As usual, outdoor escalators are out of commission despite months of opportunity to repair them during the shutdown. Sidewalks and overhead walkways are filthy, too. The homeless problem has grown, so you’ll be dodging a lot more beggars than in the past.
One place that doesn’t seem to be suffering economic loss is Fremont Street. Nevertheless, the nightly street party is a COVID-friendly petri dish of overcrowding, gang bangers, hot heads, and anti-maskers. Going there on a weekend evening is literally taking your life into your own hands.
Labor day Anarchy as crowds go “Mad Max”
Check out this shocking video from Friday night, 9/4/20 (Labor Day Weekend). Take note of the pair of Las Vegas Metro police officers at 00:11 to 00:17, strolling through the crowd without masks. Apparently it’s optional for them to wear face coverings but not for you. So why aren’t they stopping the violators they see in every direction?
Public video posted to Facebook by Martin Laursen has gone viral…
After a Labor Day weekend filled with violence and brawls, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Captain Patricia Spencer held a press conference at the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign on Tuesday 9/8/20. She declared “We understand that our neighboring states all have COVID restrictions and the residents are looking for places to go and be entertained and get out. However, we cannot tolerate the violence.”
“There were numerous fights that took place with large amounts of people in various Strip properties,” Spencer continued. “For those people who are coming here to have fun and take part in the festivities and the entertainment here, we welcome you. For those of you who are coming here to prey on the tourists or residents of this community, it will not be tolerated.”
Here’s another video from Labor Day weekend on Fremont Street, capturing the tail end of a confrontation between the crowd and law enforcement. Why would you subject yourself to this kind of atmosphere?
Public video posted to Facebook by Martin Laursen…
Despite thousands of empty hotel rooms, abandoned hotel towers, and a vacant new stadium, massive construction projects continue…
Room rates have been slashed, so people who couldn’t normally afford high-end hotels are taking advantage of once-in-a-lifetime bargains. What does that mean to you? The luxurious experience you may have once enjoyed has now gone “ghetto”.
Wynn Resorts Ltd. spokesman Michael Weaver said the company is increasing its room rates and investment in its security workforce and procedures after a fight broke out at Encore over the weekend. The company has no record of injuries from the incident.
Weaver said the changes are being made to ensure Wynn’s two Las Vegas properties, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, “maintain the guest experience standards for which (they) are known.” Las Vegas Review-Journal 9/8/20
Brawling at Wynn/Encore 9/6/20 (public photo posted to Facebook by Martin Laursen)
Vulgar, obnoxious, and violent behavior are prevalent around the clock. Both the police force and private security officers have their hands full dealing with anti-maskers, fights, street racing, protests, on-property marijuana use (prohibited by law) and additional crimes.
Downtown and the Strip saw their share of protests and riots this spring…
Why bother coming when there’s nothing to do but brawl?
If you can look past all of the above in hopes of “getting your Vegas on”, what’s left to do? Well, right now there are no nightclubs, day clubs or casino bars. There are a few scattered deejays, no karaoke and minimal live entertainment. Dancing is strictly prohibited (I’m not sure if you’re allowed to quietly hum the theme from “Footloose”, though). You might catch a lounge singer here and there, or perhaps some “Streetmosphere” performers at Venetian/Palazzo. That’s about it.
On and around Las Vegas Blvd 10 am on Tuesday 9/22/20. It’s a ghost town.
There are no production shows, no headliners, no topless revues, no singing gondoliers, and no magicians or comedians. Cirque du Soleil has gone bankrupt, Human Nature and Blue Man Group have left the building, and Wynn’sLe Reve has sunk to the bottom of the pool. Every single stripper joint is out of commission, and prostitution is still illegal here, too. I’ll ask again….are you having fun yet?
Update 9/23/20 – Nevada’s governor lifted restrictions on bars effective Monday 9/21/20. I ventured out the following evening for happy hour at a Palazzo eatery, then a nearby local tavern during the first Raiders home game. I was expecting a healthy turnout, yet both places were nearly empty. See below.
Entertainers bite the wrong hand
If you’ve followed this column for any length of time, you know that I have a soft spot for the entertainment community. I’ve hyped individual performers, new shows, revisions, special events, and pop-up appearances. Charity efforts, openings, profiles pieces, sexy celebrities, and passion projects have made up the bulk of Vegas Unfiltered Blog.
In an effort to assist the return of live entertainment, last week I contacted dozens of entertainers and requested that they record a 30-second video plea to Governor Sisolak to eliminate restrictions on live performances. I volunteered to gather and forward them to the Governor. After all, if movie theaters and water parks can reopen, why not production shows? But it would seem that many entertainers would rather eat their own tails than use their voices to make a difference.
In this age of selfies and TikTok videos, turning one’s phone into a tool for self-preservation should seem like a no-brainer. What I got instead was an avalanche of negativity, mockery, apathy and downright hostility from a number of entertainers. To say that I was shocked would be mild, especially after years of selflessly supporting them. I’m still reeling from the pain.
“You aren’t an entertainer…stay out of it”. “Are you crazy, suggesting that I go back to work? You’re telling me to put my life at risk!”. “I’m busy right now, let me think about it”. “I don’t appreciate being put in this position”. “I can’t take a political stance…it might jeopardize my job”. Oh, you mean the job that left you high and dry without unemployment compensation? The one that might never actually return while you sit on your ass getting fat? Yeah, that one.
Where am I going with this particular tangent? Well, the response I got was a punch to the throat, and quite indicative of the ugliness that has pervaded Sin City…and the nation as a whole. The amount of negativity around us is off the charts, but especially here, where there is little hope of things returning to normal anytime soon.
Considering all of the lost jobs, closed businesses and violence in the streets and neighborhoods, it’s completely understandable for people to feel this way. But would I recommended coming here for a vacation at this time? Absolutely not.
After recovering from the 10/1 mass shooting, 9/11 attacks, and 2008’s economic crisis, COVID-19 may be what finally causes Las Vegas to topple…
Consider sitting out the next couple of rounds
This city can no longer deliver any of the excesses that it’s famous for. Carefree revelry doesn’t have a place in a COVID-impacted society, and today’s Vegas offers nothing that you can’t get somewhere else. After spending the better part of a decade encouraging you to come here, I can no longer do that in good conscience.
Las Vegas isn’t worth your time, the inconvenience, the expense, or the risk to your health and safety. For now, it’s better for you to just stay home and wait it out.
Update 9/11/11 – in an effort to reduce the amount of violence on their properties, Wynn Resorts has filed an agressive and daring lawsuit. They’ve also vowed to increase their security force and have committed to raising room rates to discourage bad apples.
In a 9/9/20 interview with Las Vegas Review-Journal, CDC Consulting Vice-president Greg Mullen stated “Several of our higher-end profile clients say their high-end guests are done coming until this is under control. They’re scared to walk outside their rooms, and don’t feel safe on elevators or on the casino floors themselves. It’s a bad look. … You can really, severely, put a tarnish on Las Vegas.”
Vegas Unfiltered Blog will be taking an indefinite break. If and when there is a reason to put Sin City back on your to-do list, you might see this site return. Until then…stay safe, stay smart and be well.