Hot Guys of Vegas: Andrew Diessner, Entertainer Extraordinaire


Multi-hyphenate entertainer is so all-around stunning that ya just wanna…

Do you remember that guy in high school who was seemingly perfect? Everyone loved him, he was the captain of every club and team, and somehow was also the teen that never got a blemish. He didn’t trip in the hallway or drop his books…and he had the body of a young physique model.

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Yeah, every class has at least one of those, then we get older and those guys turn into “one of us”. Unless your name is Andrew Diessner…then you just keep getting better looking…and better at everything…with each passing year. Where do these people come from, anyway?

Well, in Andrew Diessner’s case, the answer is “humble beginnings”. The sizzling gentleman whom you see in the clip above is far removed from the overweight child who was bullied by his peers. It was through internal motivation that the multi-octave hunk who’s equally impressive in jazz, opera, pop, soul, and rock music was once an insecure boy who disliked his own reflection.

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“I was bullied relentlessly because I carried a little more weight than most. Being a “husky” kid was brutal. Children don’t hold back from telling each other how they feel and digging it in with a double-edged sword. I will never forget how uncomfortable I always felt in my skin. I never had the Nike Jordans, or the cool baggy pants (which were TERRIBLE, by the way, lol).”

“I didn’t really fit in any specific circle in school, so I bounced around a lot. I was sort of the class clown for each clique. Unfortunately, the words and the actions of those kids stuck with me for a very long time.”

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That’s why the Denver, Colorado native is drawn to causes that assist depression, addiction, suicide prevention, and childhood bullying.

“I still see that 12-year-old me in the mirror sometimes. I don’t want any child to have to go through that. I know it gave me thick skin, but some kids don’t ever pull out of it. That leads to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and so many other terrible things. If I can start a program, a charity, SOMETHING to get the word out and make a difference, I would give it everything I got.”

“Giving it all” is the fiber that seemingly holds this 34-year-old, 5-foot 10-inch hunk together. Those in the Vegas entertainment field have had it especially rough, as the unpredictable nature of their work has been infinitely compounded by COVID-19. But Andrew once again looked inside, gathered his strength, and came out better in a variety of ways.

“During the beginning of the pandemic, I sort of let myself go. Sort of is an understatement. I gained 16 lbs. (172lbs to 188lbs). I got sick of looking at myself in the mirror and feeling sorry for myself because I was uninspired and out of work, so I joined a transformation competition that I saw posted on Instagram. It was with a newish app called Fitness Culture Training.”

“I always like a good old-fashioned competition, and I am pretty competitive by nature, so I figured, why not make some money while simultaneously getting my physique back? It was a no brainer for me. I ended up doing really well and probably making one of the best transformations I have had to date. I wanted to be ready for when the city came back…mentally as well as physically. I wanted to be hireable NOW…being confident in my skin and having a Vegas-ready body was imperative.”

With the amount of uncertainty ahead in the entertainment field, many performers have been looking into alternate and additional careers. It’s our harsh current reality where only the smart and pro-active may be able to cover their expenses while still pursuing their passions.

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“Man, this pandemic has been relentless. I honestly didn’t imagine it was going to last this long. I lost all my contracts at sea, as I am a guest entertainer that travels with two 45-minute shows. I had plans of buying a house in May when all my contracts at sea were done. I wanted to start building solid roots here in Vegas and become more involved in the entertainment scene here. I had two weeks scheduled to fill in for Colin Cahill¬†at Atomic Saloon Show that I was really looking forward to performing in as well.”

“Pretty much every opportunity was stripped from me overnight. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that I would just have to keep a strong mental state. I haven’t been able to the entire time, but getting heavily involved in my transformation and digging into my passion for fitness, pulled me out of it. It was the healthiest option, and I was tired of feeling mentally and physically ill all the time. I knew I was better than that.”

“I am now starting online classes to become a certified personal trainer with ISSA, as well as a certified sports nutritionist, and transformation specialist. This has been a path I’ve wanted to explore for a long time, and there is no better time than now. It is something that I am very passionate about, and I am really looking forward to helping people change their lives.”

“To all the friendly people who laughed, pointed fingers and called me a fatty in middle school…love ya ūüėä If you struggle with getting back into shape and you need some help and motivation…pm me. Helping you achieve your best self is my passion. Let’s do this together!”

I mentioned that Colin (Cahill) is known around town as “The Shirtless Singer”, yet Andrew is more of a white-shirt-and-bow-tie guy. I couldn’t help wondering if that was about to change now that the two of them are on a level playing field in the physique department.

Colin Cahill and Andrew Diessner (as “Blue Jackson”)

“Haha…Colin is the Man…and a dear friend of mine. He definitely has the reputation of losing the shirt on the stage, and I could never blame him. He looks fantastic! I have always been performing for a bit of a different demographic, so the bow tie and white collared shirt were necessary.”

“But it’s funny you mention that specifically because in my current desert photoshoot, I am walking with an open white collared shirt while removing a bow tie…sort of funny you mentioned it. So I guess you could say, that IS changing. I have worked hard for what I have, why not show it off more? Hard bodies sell. That’s just a fact.”

Watching Andrew perform, I was reminded of another handsome hunk with powerful vocals and a swaggering style…Grammy-nominated singer/actor/songwriter Cheyenne Jackson (Glee/American Horror Story/Descendants). I’ve spoken to Jackson several times, both in New York City and Las Vegas’ own Smith Center for the Performing Arts. I pointed out that he’d be great at playing Andrew in a biopic…and Diessner seemed to enjoy the comparison.

¬†Andrew and Cheyenne Jackson follow similar career paths…

“OMG this is too funny. It’s like you’re calling out everything in my life as it has happened haha…Cheyenne Jackson is one of my favorites. He did a show called Xanadu on broadway, and I played the same character, Sonny Malone, in the show when a theater did it in Colorado. I had a good friend of mine tell me that I should just follow his career moves because we were so similar.”

“I take it as such a huge compliment because Cheyenne is a major talent and a great looking guy. So, I would choose Cheyenne or Henry Cavil (to play me). Cavil has that steel jaw, great physique, and heaps of talent. Though, both of them have more hair than I do at this point. I may be going down a Statham/Willis/Johnson/Diesel route these days.”

With Halloween creeping up on us quickly, I inquired if that finely-tuned physique would get some exposure in the form of a gratuitous skin-baring costume. Perhaps something along the lines of Rambo or a superhero?

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“Those are all really great costume Ideas. Rambo would be fun because I could put on a wig with a bandana, dirty up the face and chest, throw some ammo over my shoulder, and a cigar in my mouth. I have always enjoyed action flicks and have the dream of one day being able to star in a few of my own. That is why Captain America would be a close second…Marvel…HINT HINT COUGH COUGH…next superhero? What a blast that would be!”

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And what would he be wearing under those camouflage pants or tights? “Boxer briefs….always”.

After you’ve gotten on the subject of a guy’s undies and realize that you haven’t even covered some of the basics, it was time to backtrack a little. So I threw out some of those traditional interview questions about his background, stats and likes/dislikes.

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“I have been in Vegas for 4 years now. Originally, a relationship brought me out here ūüė¨ Turned out, It was the best thing even though we are not together anymore (he’s currently single). There are so many performance opportunities for me here. I can’t wait until the city comes back.”¬†

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Dogs or Cats: “I grew up with both cats and dogs.¬† My preference has to be with dogs though. They are loyal, always happy to be beside you and be the companion you need. I prefer medium to large dogs, though I do have soft spot for the little ones. Cats turn on a dime and you never know what the hell they’re thinking…except you can guarantee they think they’re better than you lol I do, however, love watching cats get into trouble due to their curiosity.”

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Hobbies: “Snowboarding, fishing, cooking, writing music, craft beer connoisseur, hiking, Jeeping, lake adventures (paddleboarding, boating, wakeboarding), raveling, being close to the ocean (snorkeling, jet skiing, scuba diving), trying new foods and drink, bar games (pool, darts), Texas Hold em…”

Charitable causes:Three Square (a Food Bank) is my favorite place to volunteer, Mondays Dark, and I am currently looking for more opportunities!”

Apparently, those opportunities include an audition video for Magic Mike Live, which I happened to discover on YouTube. And yes, he strips the shirt off at the end:

Dream role and collaboration: “A show I would love to star in…if we are talking about the stage, I would have to say Sweeney Todd. I LOVE the music and the character. It’s dark, it’s witty, and playing a loveable villain is always a good time. Duet partner…hmmmmm that’s a tough one…but I do love Anna Kendrick. So if you have some connections, throw them my info haha.”

“Otherwise, I would love to co-write a song with Brandi Carlile…What an incredible songwriter and singer she is. I can’t help but get emotional when I listen to her music. If we are talking here in Vegas…I really really really want to sing with Lorena Peril from FANTASY. She has a stunning voice, is downright beautiful, and has a heart of pure gold.”

As we brought our time together to a close, I mentioned that I found Andrew’s voice to be unexpectedly powerful. I inquired as to whether he felt that was due to physical or emotional traits.

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“I believe it to be both. I use the emotions that connect me to the song to emote power, volume, nuance, finesse, and whatever else is required of me vocally. And I’m lucky to have a voice that is versatile and can deliver different sizes of voice, as well as warmth and color. I studied opera theater in school, and I believe it gave me the training to be able to sing many different genres healthily.”

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As we soldier through the most trying time of our lives, being healthy is indeed at the top of everyone’s list. Thank goodness that awesome hunks like Andrew Diessner and fellow members of “Hot Guys of Vegas” can inspire us…while adding a much-needed helping of eye candy to our recipe for overall wellness.

Photos courtesy of Andrew Diessner social media, clips via YouTube…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get ‘Portnoyed’ With Sin City’s Philanthropic Artist


Famed caricaturist Neal Portnoy donates talent and funds to furloughed Las Vegas performers…

Update 7/12/20 – In addition to the wonderful effort that Portnoy Gallery has put forth to assist entertainers in the community, this year it will be hosting a benefit for St. Jude Ranch for Children. The announcement from Dorothy Cannata Portnoy is as follows:

We are excited to announce our Annual Christmas in July event and Raffle Fund Raiser. Limited tickets for social distancing during event and unlimited virtual tickets available. The day will be broken down to 4 sessions each having different raffle prizes and one grand prize at last session including all who bought tickets Pick the group you like best or all. The virtual tickets are set up the same way. Click here for full details. Looking forward to a great day of supporting St Jude’s Ranch for Children.

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Donations of household items are also being accepted – you can request a copy of the wish list from Dorothy Cannata Portnoy by clicking here.

UPDATE5/17/20 –¬† Neal Portnoy messaged me to let me know that my oversized mug had been “Portnoyed”, too. The honor is overwhelming…and I’m thrilled that he made the decision to include me in this illustrious collection. You can obtain yours and help the unemployed entertainers of Las Vegas by clicking here.

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                                                         Hey, my mug is on a mug! 


For many entertainers, the benchmarks of success are seeing their name in lights and perhaps, someday, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But you’ll know that you’ve really made it when your likeness has been “Portnoyed”.

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Neal Portnoy is a successful artist who specializes in caricatures (or “cartoon portraits”) of famous performers and sports figures. His Portnoy Gallery¬†in Las Vegas is a veritable shrine to pop culture and the entertainment world. Its centerpiece is the Wall of Honor, a collection of Portnoy’s most revered work.

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Once a year, the Gallery holds a red carpet induction ceremony that’s attended by public figures, prominent athletes, celebrities and one very special doggie. Neal’s background as a baseball player and sleight-of-hand entertainer gives him a unique insight that few artists possess. His portraits, most often created with felt markers, capture the dedication of his subjects along with their humor, talent, and charisma.

Working with felt markers is a unique and challenging medium. As Neal explains it:

Markers…unlike oils, unlike acrylics, unlike water colors…is a stain. You can change colors in water colors, acrylics and oils, and kind of put what you want down. But with marker, every line you put down, stays down.¬†¬†If I make a mistake, I make it into something else…’cause every line is an expression.

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When it comes to being charismatic, the Massachusetts native exudes a wonderful degree of warmth and confidence. It’s easy to understand why some of the most powerful names in entertainment have entrusted their images to Neal. From members of the Las Vegas Raiders to Barry Manilow, Freddy Mercury to Aretha Franklin, each work of art is timeless and unforgettable.

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My first opportunity to chat with Neal was earlier this year. It was at the Summerlin birthday party of influential power-player Mark Messina, where I shared a table with the artist and his charming wife, former New Yorker Dorothy Cannata Portnoy. During our conversation, Dorothy told me that she is the gallery’s Director. She also tirelessly assists her husband in his efforts to support the local community.

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The Portnoys invited me to their studio to check out Neal’s collection. Alas, a certain pandemic became headlines soon after, placing my visit on a to-do list for when life returns to normal. In the interim, I’ve researched the gallery via websites and social media. There I learned about a heartwarming effort that the couple and Mark Messina have created to assist out-of-work Vegas entertainers.

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As you may recall from last week’s article on the Mondays Dark Live Stream Telethon, the residents of Sin City are unparalleled when it comes to taking care of their own. That’s why Portnoy Gallery has decided to donate 50 percent of sales from Portnoyed.com:

Las Vegas has been hit particularly hard due to quarantines and venue closures.  Our entertainers have been among the hardest hit.  We would like to give back to the community, by providing our out of work entertainers 50% of proceeds from our current online products.  Please browse our store for your favorite Las Vegas entertainer, and together we can help them get through this period.

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Up for grabs are 76 uniquely-designed coffee mugs, each featuring a beloved Vegas celebrity. Musicians like the Bronx Wanderers, Niki Scalera, David Tatlock, Mark O’Toole, Michael Shapiro, and Zowie Bowie can join your coffee break, along with comedians Carrot Top, Mike Hammer, and John Di Domenico. Even Messina and my colleagues Gabe Ginsberg, Chet Buchanan and Johnny Katsilometes have their mugs committed to a mug.

To obtain one or more of these uniquely Vegas collectibles (while simultaneously fueling the movement to keep Las Vegas entertainment alive) visit this link. Until the gallery reopens, you can browse and purchase prints of Neal’s creations by clicking HERE.

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Portnoy Gallery is located at 1537 W Oakey Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89102. Phone 702.685.2929 for more information.

Photos: Neal Portnoy, Dorothy Cannata Portnoy, David Orlov, Dianne Davis, Jonathan Scott

 

‘Mondays Dark’ to Host/Stream Telethon for Vegas Entertainment Community


UPDATE 4/21/20 – The official entertainment line-up was released today and is posted immediately below. Expect even more performers to be added in the days leading up to the event.

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“When Vegas goes dark, the Stars come out.” That statement takes on a deeper meaning in our harsh, new reality. Now thanks to the team at Mondays Dark and The Actors Fund, Sin City’s entertainment community will be on the receiving end of founder Mark Shunock‘s charitable organization for the first time.

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Mondays Dark variety show at The Space has donated to dozens of charitable organizations since its inception six years ago, raising over one million dollars in total. Every event benefits a different organization/cause and presents a unique theme. Performers from all over the city have gathered on a bi-weekly basis, offering their time and talents. Now they’re the ones in need of assistance.

¬† ¬† ¬† Perpetually shirtless Colin Cahill will join wife Makenzie Fly for “Mak and the Cheese”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, all performance venues in Las Vegas have been shut down. Thousands of entertainers, artists and support crew are without work, and very few are receiving temporary compensation to get by. The Actors Fund, best known in Los Angeles and New York City, has partnered with Mondays Dark to help raise money for the Vegas entertainment community during this desperate time.

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Mark Shunock and comedian Brad Garrett…

With all of the joy that these special people have given us, along with the pain and sacrifices inherent in their profession, now is the best time to show our appreciation and support. Beginning 5pm PST on April 27th, local and national entertainers will take to the virtual stage. The six-hour event features Brad Garrett, Joey Fatone, Dot Marie Jones, Jon Taffer, Clint Holmes, John DiDomenico, Bucky Heard (The Righteous Brothers), Colin Cahill & Makenzie Fly (aka “Mak and the Cheese“), cast members from Cirque Du Soleil and more. A complete lineup of entertainers for the evening will be announced in the coming weeks.

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The Live Stream Telethon will be broadcast free of charge on the Mondays Dark website and all their social platforms. Mondays Dark will donate 100 percent of funds raised to the local entertainment community through The Actors Fund.

In addition to the telethon, Mondays Dark has been selling the FUCOVID hat, an extremely unique baseball cap to benefit the same effort. So far the project has raised more than $5,000.00 for struggling entertainers. Hats are just $20 and proceeds go to the Mondays Dark Performers Fund – dedicated to helping performers who have been affected by the pandemic. Get yours by following this link.

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President Trump” aka John Di Domenico, tells you how to get yours in this amusing clip:

It’s clear from events of the past decade that when people of Las Vegas are hard-hit, they come together and push back with twice as much force. Sin City will rebound…it may take a long time and there will be tough moments along the way. Please show your appreciation for the people who’ve made our lives so joyful and contribute to this special cause.

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Members of the Las Vegas entertainment community seeking assistance are encouraged to visit The Actors Fund website at www.theactorsfund.org.¬†Those interested in donating may visit www.mondaysdark.com. If you’d like to send funds in advance of the telethon, you can do so by clicking on this link.¬†

Photos: Mondays Dark, The Actors Fund, Mark Shunock, The SPACE via Facebook, Vin A., Andrea Dupper, Jim McCoy

 

‘Sex Tips’ Star Louis D’Aprile Brings On The Steam


Handsome and hunky singer/actor plays “Dan” in the outrageous romp at PARIS Casino-hotel…

You may have seen my past article for BestOfVegas.com regarding cast additions at ‘Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man’. If not, check it out here. But it’s a well-known reality that the only “constant” in Las Vegas is “change”. So not long after publishing, it was time to say farewell to Mark Gregory Melton as lead character “Dan Anderson” and welcome some new blood….and more beefcake.

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Mark was great in the role but was ready to return to his singing career.

As my year ends at ‘Sex Tips’, it‚Äôs reviews from friends like¬†Sam¬†that keep reminding me of how grateful I am to have had this opportunity and I can‚Äôt wait to see what‚Äôs next for me here in Vegas! My LAST show at ‘Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man’ here in Vegas is Sunday September 29, 7pm! Would love to see everyone there or before then!

With Mark’s departure, the character of “Dan” was filled by Vegas resident Louis D’Aprile, best known to audiences as “Joey Vitale” in Tony and Tina’s Wedding at Bally’s. The excitement was clear when Louis posted the news on his Facebook page:

Looks like I will be taking over as Dan Anderson in ‚ÄúSex Tips For Straight Women From a Gay Man‚ÄĚ starting September 30th!!! I am beyond honored, excited and thrilled to be headlining this amazing production and can‚Äôt be more grateful to all of those involved in the casting process!

Watching my dreams come true before my eyes is truly amazing and I can’t wait to see where my career goes from here! If you need me, I’ll be submerged in my script the next two weeks!!! CHEERS!!!

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If you think I was being a little sexist by introducing Louis with the above photo, you’re absolutely correct. His stunning face and steamy chiseled body automatically land him a coveted place in my Hot Guys of Vegas column. But D’Aprile’s talent and accomplishments speak for themselves.

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Louis has a Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theater from AMDA. Born and raised in New York City, he’s been bi-coastal for the past decade, taking turns in productions like Rock of Ages and even a music video for RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Violet Chachki.

 

Here in Sin City, Louis has become a favorite at Mark Shunock’s charity-driven Mondays Dark and at¬†Kenny Davidsen’s Bow Tie Cabaret at Tuscany Resort. And if you’re wondering how he got such a stunning body, he’ll show you as your spinning instructor at The Ride Premium Indoor Cycling.

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Louis joined an impressive list of actors and celebrities in the male lead of the Vegas production of¬† ‘Sex Tips’. Previous performers include “Queer Eye” star Jai Rodgriguez, Douglas Katch Gray and of course, Mr. Melton. With the stellar inclusion of MaKenzie Fly and George Blick, ‘Sex Tips’ continues to be a must-see.

With all-new chemistry and character nuances. ‘Sex Tips For Straight Women From a Gay Man’ deserves a place at the top of your entertainment list.

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Previous cast with Shyllon Melatti, MaKenzie Fly and Mark Gregory Melton…

Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man performs nightly (dark Wednesday). Times vary by day. For adult audiences only. VegasFool.com is currently running a special on tickets for $29 by clicking HERE. 

5 Reasons to Party with ‘Tenors of Rock’


The all-hits classic rock show at Planet Hollywood brings down the house…

From lounge lizards of the Golden Era to the headliners of today, music has always been at the heart of Sin City entertainment. And nowhere does that heart beat stronger than with the dynamic stylings of Tenors of Rock.

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An international confection of rip-roaring vocals, boundless energy and a live onstage band, Tenors of Rock has evolved from a group of X-Factor hopefuls into a world-renowned brand with two touring groups and their own chart-topping hits. Now in their third year of Las Vegas success, the boys recently landed a new home at Planet Hollywood’s Sin City Theater.

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Whether you’ve seen their previous residency at Harrah’s or are discovering them for the very first time, here are some great reasons to spend the evening with Tenors of Rock.

Classic Rock Anthems – the popularity of classic rock is at an all-time high. Tenors of Rock brings you American favorites like “Sweet Child of Mine”,” Shook Me All Night Long”, “Desperado”, “More Than A Feeling” and British hits including “Pinball Wizard”, “Satisfaction” and “Back in Black”, all delivered in their signature style.

Intimate Venue –¬† Rock shows often get caught up in bombast and pyrotechnics, rarely offering the subtleties of lush harmony and complex vocals. Sin City Theater¬†provides a rare personal experience with a band that has played to upwards of 100,000 at a time. Percussionist Nannette Fortier and guitarist Chris Cicchino also benefit from the smaller space, allowing the musicians to absolutely shine.

Dynamic Personalities – Vegas audiences immediately fell in love with members Dai Richards and Jonathan Williams (Wales), Daniel Shumann (Melbourne), Tommy Sherlock (Liverpool) and kilt-clad extrovert Jimmy Denning (Scotland). Onstage chemistry makes every performance an electrifying concert experience. Newest members Andrew Freeman (Raiding the Rock Vault) and BAZ alumnus Paul Johnson (Las Vegas) are injecting a healthy dose of American DNA into the mix.

Amazing Talent – The level of experience behind Tenors is world class. Williams excelled as Les Miserables lead “Jean Valjean” in London’s West End. Shumann has a background in TV, opera, cabaret and musicals. Richards is a founding member who…

Click HERE to continue reading.

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Photos: Tenors of Rock

Hot Guys of Vegas: Gentlemen of Influence

 


Continuing my series on good-looking men who make Sin City a better place to live. In this chapter I visit stylish, classy guys who carry a lot of cultural weight. They’re a whole different kind of “Gentleman’s Club”.

Ricci Lopez-Hammargren – stylist/journalist/voice actor/entrepreneur

 

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                                                   Ricci Lopez-Hammargren

Where you’ve seen him –¬†FOX Sports/STITCHED menswear/magazines

It’s often said that when you look good, you feel good. And when you’re wearing a great outfit, your behavior and manners tend to become elevated. That’s how Ricci Lopez-Hammargren has made a significant cultural impact on the male of our species. He’s taken the very definition of “gentleman” and turned it into a living, breathing thing.

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Ricci is the handsome face and a guiding force behind STITCHED, the men’s haberdashery at Cosmopolitan that I told you about a few months ago. Much more than a clothing boutique, STITCHED promotes a lifestyle of manners, class, dignity…and quite a lot of fun.

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Ricci enjoys bringing his unique talents to the masses. He does so by outfitting many of the most cutting-edge celebrities and athletes in the world today. They turn to Ricci to make themselves better, thereby influencing their followers to do the same.

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I’ve had the pleasure of watching Mr. Lopez-Hammargren in action a few times, most notably when he hosted a “Bad Santa” party at TAO Nightclub last month. He’s clearly revered by colleagues, friends and others around him. They’re energized by Ricci’s positivity and overwhelming charm. In our current society, where decorum and manners have seemingly taken flight to parts unknown, it’s wonderful to have men like Ricci Lopez-Hammargren to balance things out.

Notable traits –¬†brooding gaze, warm heart

 

Mark Shunock – philanthropist/entertainer/emcee

 

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                                                          Mark Shunock

Where you’ve seen him – Mondays Dark/Rock of Ages/LV Golden Knights

It’s truly impossible to discuss Las Vegas humanitarian efforts and NOT mention Mark Shunock. This multi-talented hunk personifies community charity on a scale few have ever envisioned, let alone achieve.

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As the creator of Mondays Dark and The Space, Mark and his team have raised close to a million dollars for local charities. You can read all about Mondays Dark in my recently-published article on its Five Year Anniversary.

Mark’s a high-energy guy that never sits still. Whether he’s hosting a performance, singing, dancing or emceeing a Golden Knights game, Mark’s attention-grabbing voice and handsome face will hold your attention throughout the final moments. He¬†and wife Cheryl Daro are especially fond of benefits for local animal shelters and have even hosted an adoption drive at The Space.

 

Of course, the fact that Mark’s one ridiculously handsome fella ensured that he would eventually make this column. That hair! Those teeth! The matinee-idol looks! No wonder audiences swooned when he entered the stage in the long-running¬†ROCK OF AGES. Even with the mullet wig and 80’s threads, it was impossible to disguise Shunock’s hunk status. Nothing but a good time, Mark!

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Notable traits – rosy cheeks, bedroom eyes

 

Gordon Prouty – public relations/media magnate/fashion icon

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                                                              Gordon Prouty

Where you’ve seen him – media events/Westgate Las Vegas/charity functions

Any article on Las Vegas’ influential culture is destined to feature¬†Gordon Prouty¬†prominently. This fine gentleman is class personified. The fact that Gordon is such a beloved member of the professional community nicely compliments his status as the city’s best dressed man.

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Gordon Prouty is the go-to emcee for any type of media event. He’s a perfect blend of wit, knowledge, charisma, humor and eye candy. “Everyone loves Gordy” is a phrase you’ll often hear when Mr. Prouty is at the podium. From awards programs that honor tech wizards to gatherings that recognize accomplished female professionals, Gordon is the voice and face pf many community functions.

 

One of the great things about Gordon is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s always approachable, lighting up the room with his radiant smile and impressive tan. And even though his collection of suits is to be envied, this fitness fanatic looks just as stunning in workout wear.

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A true inspiration, Gordon’s tireless efforts to educate, motivate and accelerate the cultural growth of Las Vegas makes him the ultimate role model. I’m proud to call him a friend.

 

Jamal Parker – publisher/restaurateur/advertising

 

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                                                          Jamal Parker

Where you’ve seen him – media gatherings/community events

 

Our final example of refined class and influence comes courtesy of¬†Jamal Parker. This handsome man about town is a publisher at Greenspun Media Group, the Vegas-based company behind such popular mags as Las Vegas Weekly and Vegas2Go. He’s also worked for labor relations at Bally’s and Paris casinos, owned and operated his own upscale jazz/blues restaurant in Philadelphia (Le Cochon Noir) and served as General Sales Manager for Clear Channel Radio.

Chances are you’ll see Jamal and pal Gordon Prouty at the same events, as both are quite involved in the community efforts of Greenspun Media. Mr. Parker tends to gather crowds at any social function, drawing people in with his powerful voice, sly grin and epic storytelling skills. There’s no subject that Jamal can’t produce a great tale about.

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Despite his refined presentation, Jamal is often just as comfortable hunkering down with his favorite team jersey. Whether sipping a fine wine at Edge Steakhouse or cheering on the Golden Knights at Lucky’s Lounge, Jamal knows how to savor every bit of fun and excitement that life in Las Vegas has to offer.

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A true family man, Jamal is rarely without the companionship of gorgeous wife Mackenzie. Together with their twin son and daughter, this foursome is a close-knit unit of happiness, love and togetherness. While Sin City can be a rather….er, “complex” place to raise a family, these fine folks make it look easy…and beautiful.

 

 

Noteworthy traits –¬†basso profundo voice, fleet-footed dancing skills

All of the gentlemen you’ve met above exemplify a new standard for being a “Hot Guy in Vegas”. I’m sure their friends, families and partners will agree.

Do you know someone who would make a great “Hot Guys of Vegas” candidate? Send me an email at sam@vegasunfiltered.blog and you may see them here in a future chapter.

 

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‚Äôs on the job and his temperament suits the task at hand ‚Äď providing that gentle comfort to patients in need of a furry friend. He‚Äôs more playful and energetic at home. Becky says, ‚ÄúWhen he gets home from visiting hospice patients, it‚Äôs almost like he‚Äôs bragging to the other pets that he got to go out and provide help that day.‚ÄĚ

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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   

                                                    (unknown- 1/2/19)

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

‚ÄėMONDAYS DARK‚Äô CELEBRATES FIVE INCREDIBLE YEARS


It started out as a small idea…

What if off-duty¬†Sin City performers¬†got together once a month to put on a show…and donate all the proceeds to charity? A simple and brilliant premise indeed, and one that has grown far bigger than anyone could have ever anticipated.

Mondays Dark just celebrated five wildly successful years of giving back by holding their annual wrap-up at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel. And just like on the night of its very first appearance, singers, comedians, dancers and magicians used their free time (many shows go dark on the slowest night of the week) to come together and raise money for a wide variety of worthy causes.

According to creator¬†Mark Shunock, Mondays Dark was a very basic premise with the potential to do very big things. Coming from Los Angeles to take a lead role in The Venetian’s¬†Rock of Ages, the native Canadian quickly fell in love with Sin City, and desired to do something positive for the residents of his new home.

Continue reading by clicking here.

Vegas 2018 – Best of the Best, Worst of the Worst in Smaller Shows


Which one ones to rush to…and a few to steer clear of…

Earlier this week I put the spotlight on a few of the more spectacular resident productions on the Strip (read here). But for every grand-scale shows there are a dozen or more economical choices vying for your entertainment dollar. These little guys must survive without massive advertising budgets or big-name stars. The casts have to work that much harder to please their audience, often making for a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Let’s take a look at a few of these lesser-known and more intimate shows…and sort out the gems from the lumps of coal.

MOST OUTRAGEOUS – Miss Behave Gameshow

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Sometimes you just need to do something a little crazy. And that madness is even more intoxicating when there are dozens of like-minded guys and girls taking the same trip down the rabbit hole with you.

Miss Behave Gameshow is offbeat, raunchy, free-wheeling fun from creator Amy Saunders. Accompanied by a curious fellow named Tiffany, Saunders (as Miss Behave) guides you through a game whose primary rule is “There Are No Rules”.¬†It’s part improv, part avante-garde performance and a heaping helping of audience participation.

Miss Behave Gameshow earns every laugh in the best way possible…by being genuinely entertaining. And there’s a heartwarming philosophy at its core that will send you out into the casino with a smile on your face. For something you can’t do at home, put this one on your next Vegas “must-list”. Full review here.

Runner Up –¬†Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man

MOST IN NEED OF A FACELIFT – Carrot Top at Luxor

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Let’s be clear right away…I’m referring to Carrot Top’s act, not his actual face. And while I adore the orange-haired comic both personally and professionally, his act has become quite stale. It’s still hysterical for those who haven’t seen it in the past, but he’s been performing the exact same jokes and gags for over a decade now.

When I first started visiting Vegas in 2006, Carrot Top at Luxor‘s Atrium Theater was a must. As the years wore on, so did the jokes. Even his props look old and dirty now. The Hooters application. Rosie O’Donnell’s buffet tray. A-Rod’s steroid-filled bat…all past their prime. We love ya dude, but give us something new. And once again, I’m not talking about your face.

BEST DOWNTOWN SHOW – Mike Hammer Comedy Magic

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Mike Hammer shares his name with a fictional detective character, but you don’t need to be a sleuth to figure out why he’s such a success. The Chicago-born multi-hyphenate is good-looking, suave, a little bit raunchy and a whole lotta funny.

You might be thinking “Great, another cheesy magic act” but Mike Hammer Comedy Magic is a lot more Don Rickles than David Copperfield. Sure, his illusions are sharp and frequently earn gasps from the audience, but it’s his jokes that you’ll remember long after you leave.

There’s a lot going on when you watch Mike Hammer. The guy is clearly at the top of his game, mixing topicality with wit, sarcasm, unforgettable facial expressions and wonderful sleight of hand. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ridiculously handsome, stylish and more fit than guys half his age, too.

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¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Little guy. Big entertainment…

Dollar for dollar, you won’t find a better entertainment value Downtown…or anywhere else in Las Vegas. If you’re heading down to Fremont Street, be sure to start your adventure at the showroom of Four Queens. And be sure to stick around after the performance to chat (or flex) with Mike. Sometimes that’s the best part of the night.

Honorable mention –¬†Spirit of the King (also at Four Queens)

BEST VINTAGE VEGAS VIBE – Cocktail Cabaret at Caesars Palace

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For awhile it seemed like this little treasure was gone for good, then it returned a few months ago to Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars. Nobody seems to know exactly how or why, but what matters is that Cocktail Cabaret is back.

The concept here is simple…a traditional early-evening lounge act overflowing with superb local celebs doing their finest standards and witty repartee. Backed by the wonderful Philip Fortenberry band, this foursome strolls throughout the audience, encouraging you to imbibe as they dance, sing and tell jokes.

Of the three times I’ve attended Cocktail Cabaret, lovelies Maren Wade (The Morning Blend), Niki Scalera and Eric Jordan Young (Vegas! The Show) have been constants. Guest performers include Ron Remke (BAZ), Travis Cloer (Jersey Boys), Daniel Emmet (America’s Got Talent), Shai Yammanee (Jubilee) and James D. Gish.

Whatever the line-up, the talent will be top notch and you’re certain to be entertained. Cocktail Cabaret is the type of show that put Las Vegas entertainment on the map. It’s vintage Vegas at its finest. Don’t miss it.

BIGGEST SNOOZE – Mat Franco: Magic Reinvented Nightly

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Vegas has become a bit of a sanctuary for America’s Got Talent contestants. Some hit it big (Terry Fator), others fade away quickly (Paul Zerdin). In the case of Mat Franco, there was a lot at stake.

If the gossip is to be believed, NBC put a chunk of their own bucks into renovating the Linq Hotel showroom for their latest AGT winner. The desire to solidify their brand in Vegas caused a riff between the hotel and Frank Marino’s DIVAS, which was being pushed to the side in favor of Franco. Few know it, but the long-running DIVAS was already in the crosshairs before a financial scandal slammed the door on the drag queen’s closet.

As for Magic Reinvented Nightly, nothing could be further from the truth. Good luck trying to spot something that you haven’t seen before. The production relies heavily on the star’s charisma to make it exciting. Sadly, Mat Franco is about as dull as a dead rabbit. His boyish grin is the only thing the magician has to offer, so you’re left with…..well, not much else.

Tickets to Magic Reinvented Nightly should come with a complimentary dose of No Doz.

FAVORITE TOPLESS REVUE – Chippendales/SEXXY (tie)

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In this era of equality, why should beefcake and T&A be separated into their own categories? Not at Vegas Unfiltered, where I’ll crow about the assets of Rio’s Chippendales and Westgate’s SEXXY in equal measure. Both are held in small-ish cabaret venues, feature a nice blend of traditional and cutting-edge sequences…and have a broad range of ages and ethnicities. In other words, there’s something here to curl everyone’s toes.

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Despite their naughty nature, Chippendales and SEXXY casts are quite akin to angels. Tirelessly working to raise funds and awareness for charitable causes, the topless performers of Chipps and SEXXY are as admirable as they are breathtaking. Read about Chippendales’ charity work by clicking here.

Runner Up –¬†Zombie Burlesque

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER – Opium at Cosmopolitan

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I hesitated to include OPIUM in the small-production category, as it really could go either way. It may have the backing of¬†Spiegelword entertainment group….and a huge financial push courtesy of a big marketing campaign. But at its heart, OPIUM is very much a quirky little independent production.

Using a re-purposed showroom and sets from their previous flop Vegas Nocturne, the folks at Spiegelworld have fashioned a balls-to-the-wall variety show that wears its cheapness on its sleeves. Not to say that the costumes themselves aren’t fantastic, but any production whose central prop is an old Mattel Simon game…well, I’m sure you catch my drift.

Drenched in the type of naughty nastiness that you might expect to find at an underground avante garde show, Opium will do anything to make you gasp and bellow with laughter. A live band and vocalists, up-close acrobatics, a horny android and the cutest dog act you’ll ever see make Opium a great addition to the Strip. Read my full review here.

SADDEST CAREER PATH – Gordie Brown (Hooters)

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Pity poor Gordie Brown, a textbook example of a career in free-fall. The one-time Venetian headliner has been on a downward slide for over a decade. After leaving the Strip, this singer/impersonator settled in nicely at his own Golden Nugget showroom. As tickets sales continued to dwindle, Brown was shown the door. That led to a series of continually-smaller showrooms at Planet Hollywood and now the little-known Night Owl Showroom at Hooters.

It doesn’t help that Gordie’s material is as weathered and shop-worn as his voice. He tries his best, working up a messy sweat while attempting to get the most out of tired George Burns, Nicholson and DeNiro bits…all between gasps of air. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you have to identify the characters to your audience….but since they all sound the same, does it even matter?

It’s worth noting that Mr. Brown is quite a beloved member of the local community. He’s a fixture at just about every fundraiser you can mention. He’s well-respected by his colleagues and fellow performers.

But as for his career, the once-promising star on the rise is now just bargain-basement filler. Even at $24.99 via Groupon, you’ll still feel cheated. Give Gordie Brown a hard pass.

BEST LOCALS SHOW – Mondays Dark at The Space

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Mondays Dark gets its name from the fact that most ongoing shows are “dark” on Monday, the slowest day of the week in Sin City. That frees up performers to do their own thing…and many of them still long to be onstage.

With that in mind, creator Mark Shunock (Rock of Ages and the miserable Magic Mike Live) gathers his show-biz friends a couple of times a month to “put on a show”. Then they donate all the proceeds to charity. Each event is absolutely unique from the others…and so are the casts. Each December, stars and the year’s charity reps gather at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel to celebrate their success and announce the next year’s charities.

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A humble concept has grown into one of the biggest little secrets in Las Vegas. I’ll be publishing a full article on Mondays Dark in an upcoming piece for BestOfVegas.com. But if you’re interested in learning more right now, follow this link.

Stay tuned for my next entry in 2018’s “Best of/Worst of”. Thanks for being a reader in 2018 and I hope to see you around town.