2019 – The Year in Review: ‘What The CL#@K!? – The Second Half-Dozen


A look back at the second half of a year filled with memorable and some truly bizarre happenings in Sin City…

In the first half of this column, I began the year at a vacant, frozen outdoor carnival and left you hanging with the world’s biggest buttcrack at a stadium that was beginning to resemble a giant toilet bowl. Brace yourself, though…things were just starting to get weird. This is going to be a long one…

When the intense heat of Vegas summers reaches its peak, residents often enjoy their own version of “snowbirding” by heading to milder climates. With this being my first July as a local, I took the cue and headed for a ranch in the mountains of Oregon. The cool, fresh air revived my spirits, but then it was time to return for July 4th festivities back at home.

July –

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July 3rd was when the world moved…literally. While sitting on my couch writing a column for BestOfVegas.com, I felt the house begin to rumble and sway. Wondering if I was having a stroke or seizure, I scanned the internet and read page after page of “Did we just have an earthquake?” postings on Facebook. Although the city was a little “shaken”, the day continued.

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The early part of July 4th came and went with the usual pool parties and firecrackers, then the sh*t really hit the fan. I was at AMC Town Square watching a horror film when the Big One hit. Halfway through the film, the seats started bucking and the rows of chairs were visibly moving. I captured a quick video of the theater evacuation (above) which was picked up by local TV stations, Telemundo and NBC News out of New York City.

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Evacuating the shopping complex in my car, I barely dodged a tree that fell onto the road, then braved the bridge over the interstate to get home. Neighbors were in a panic and my underground irrigation system was ruptured, but other than shaken nerves, there was no real damage. Nevertheless, some of us have been a little on edge ever since.

The LGBTQ community came out to witness the official opening of ICONIC Nightclub. The reborn party spot took over a venue once occupied by SHARE. Despite a strong start and plenty of effort to make it a great alternative to popular PIRANHA, the turnout wasn’t strong enough to cover expenses and ICONIC shuttered in just a few months.

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As a regular patron, I was really disappointed by the lack of support for ICONIC. Owner Adam Simmons went above and beyond to provide outstanding staffing and make everyone feel at home. ICONIC offered great cocktails (my favorite was “Cucumber Fantasy”), wild entertainment and what may be the most attractive crew this city has ever seen, all at very affordable prices. So kudos to Adam and husband Jason for what they brought to the scene.

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My trip to Oregon had caused me to miss the grand opening gala of FLIGHTS Restaurant at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops. Fortunately, owner Alex Hult welcomed me and allowed me to experience the establishment’s fantastic food and beverage options for this review. I’ve been a regular ever since. I’m just glad I wasn’t under that fuselage during the tremor. It must have been impressive to see the safely-secured airplane “taking flight” for a minute or two.

Monsoon season arrived by mid-July but was supposedly weak compared to previous years. It’s not unusual for the Las Vegas Strip to experience significant flooding during summer downpours.

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Remember to NEVER park on the ground level in the Linq/Harrah’s area, as that spot is prone to violently flooding.

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          Scott Roeben (VitalVegas.com) joined the gang on his first visit to Golden Tiki

As neighborhoods around the city cleaned up mud and debris, I took a watery trip of a different kind…down the rapids and over the falls to the Land of the Lost. Actors Wesley Eure (Will) and Kathy Coleman (Hollie) of the classic TV series paid a visit to The Golden Tiki, where the legendary TV siblings were presented with shrunken-head replicas of themselves, courtesy of Branden Powers and his ever-expanding Cabinet of Curiosities.

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On a whim, I invited Kathy and Wesley to join me for another rip-roaring ride…this time to Chippendales. The expressions on the faces of my childhood icons as the men of Chippendales strutted their stuff were priceless! Performer/host Jayson Michael gave the stars a rousing introduction and the crowd loved it. Talk about surreal!

Lest anyone forget, the biggest WTF of the year…and perhaps the decade, remains the Grasshopper Invasion of 2019. The final days of July made worldwide news as Sin City was covered in a blanket of billions of migratory grasshoppers. The swarms were so thick that they showed up on weather radar as thunderstorms. Luxor‘s light beam acted as a beacon, creating a scene straight from the Bible.

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Was Sin City being visited by one of the great plagues? The wrath of God, perhaps? Well, according to the scientists it was just a side effect of the valley’s unusually most spring. Those same experts also predicted that the invasion would last for several weeks, which it didn’t. So I’m sticking with the “Ten Commandments” explanation.

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Allegiant Raiders Stadium was just about to complete its frame-out, casting an impressive shadow along Interstate 15.

August –

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Rio Las Vegas seemed to constantly be in the news. Will it be sold? (It was.) Will it be leveled for a new stadium? (Time will tell). But for fans of all things Star Trek, what mattered was whether the annual Official Star Trek Convention would return for another year (it did).

Once again, thousands of fans from around the world flocked to the off-Strip resort, which was transformed into the USS Enterprise. Just about every square foot of the convention hall was utilized for lectures, interviews, broadcasts, photo ops, virtual reality exhibitions, vendor space and a recreation of Quark’s Bar (formerly located at Las Vegas Hilton).

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That same weekend, the Las Vegas Hilton, now known as Westgate Las Vegas, celebrated 50 years of history and rebirth with a massive gala. I was honored and excited to receive an invitation. The event was held in the Grand Ballroom with live entertainment, a spectacular dinner, and tributes by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and resort owner David Siegel.

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I learned that August is apparently the unofficial month of hangovers, thanks to nonstop parties in Las Vegas. First up was the Annual Black and White Gala, a benefit for AFAN (Aid for AIDS of Nevada). This year’s event returned to Hard Rock Hotel (soon to be Virgin Hotel) after a so-so outing to Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club in 2018.

The adults-only soiree’s attendees are encouraged to wear black and white (as much or as little as they dare) while enjoying live entertainment and a variety of bites and cocktails provided by sponsors. Attendees including an array of performers like the cast of Sex Tips, members of Tenors of Rock and my main girl Endia Abrante of ShowgirlArrivals.com.

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Much of the decor was provided by Michele Rothstein‘s Balloons With A Twist. Michele recently became engaged to comedian John Di Domenico, best known as the World’s Greatest Donald Trump Impersonator.

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John provided the laughs at last year’s Mondays Dark year-end celebration and had proven to be a perfect foil for Ester Goldberg and Anne Martinez at Totally Outrageous Brunch. Congratulations to one of Sin City’s happiest couples and thanks to Michele for making the colors black and white even more beautiful.

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The next party was a media launch at Sugar Factory’s Chocolate Lounge for burlesque performer/singer Melody Sweets‘ new single “Flavor of the Month“. Guests included Amy Saunders of Miss Behave Game Show, fitness competitor/health coach Mandy White Eskelin and husband Sami Eskelin (Chippendales, sports fitness entrepreneur). My prolific colleague Chris Yandek of CYInterview.com posted this interview with Ms. Sweets soon after.

More festivities followed at Silverton Casino‘s VEIL Pavilion with the CFO of the Year Awards, sponsored by VegasINC and City National Bank. Next up was Havana Nights: Top Men of Success hosted by MyVEGAS Magazine and Blue Martini at Town Square.

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As for the Stadium, it had now come full circle…..er, “oval”.

September –

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Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, where the pool lines start to thin out and tourism drops. If all of that August party-going didn’t exhaust you, the final holiday of the summer surely would.

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I spent the evening enjoying the sounds (and sights) of DJ Nick Ayler, whom you may remember from this profile piece. Nick and I had a great time chatting (and downing tequila) between his sets at AVANT Lounge inside Iconic Nightclub. The crowd was a bit thin but the fun was certainly memorable.

Over at OYO (the former Hooters Hotel Casino), master mixologist Eddie Perales was keeping things smoking with his longtime partner and fellow cocktail craftsman Bobby G. You may remember Eddie from his many contributions to the Rio, Paris, and Westgate hotels, among others. He is also a world record holder in cocktail creation and a longtime Sin City resident.

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The newly-rebranded Sahara Hotel held a bubbly premiere for their champagne-themed adult variety show Blanc de Blanc. The men of Aussie Heat joined celebrities like SEXXY‘s Jennifer Romas, magician David Goldrake (who’s been teasing a Vegas comeback), BMX pro Ricardo Laguna, mentalist Marc Savard and musician Vin A. from The Bronx Wanderers.

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A pre-show gathering was held at the brand-new CASBAR LOUNGE before moving to the main event. Cast members from Thunder From Down Under and FANTASY enjoyed the performance from their VIP Premium-seating hot tubs. Yes, you read that correctly. Hot-tub seating for a Vegas show….why not?

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Just like the Star Trek Convention, this year’s Olympia Fitness Expo and Competition lured in thousands of devotees. Celebrities like Mark Wahlberg enjoyed top billing while Tropicana‘s own Chef Robert Irvine peddled his products and posed for pics.

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No matter where you looked, hot bodies and healthy lifestyles were on display. Vegas nightclub favorite and romance-novel coverboy Nick Bennett was busting his sleeves while promoting CELSIUS fitness and energy drinks, taking over for rapper Flo Rida from the previous year. I was unsuccessful in getting his shirt off for a pose, but there’s always Olympia Expo 2020

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Community-driven venue The Space was host to special fundraising event The Power of Pink and Purple to benefit the American Cancer Society. Organized by the big-hearted Logan Seven, the evening gathered those same tireless performers from Aussie Heat, SEXXY and David Goldrake along with Swing It Girls and “Pink” illusionist Kenneth Rex.

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Even though Monsoon Season 2019 was about to officially come to a close, the skies above Vegas offered one final reminder to never become complacent.

October –

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The tenth month of the year began on a solemn note, as it will continue to do so for decades to come. October 1st marked the second anniversary of the mass shooting across from Mandalay Bay. I happened to capture the above photo from the hotel’s rooftop Foundation Room.  You can spot the location across Las Vegas Boulevard as a darkened area that was once home to Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.

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No city does Halloween the way that Las Vegas does. Things get an early kick-off here, too. October 2nd saw the debut of SCARE at Town Square, an immersive and expansive experience to be shared by young and old. And best of all, there was an adults-only nightclub area, too.

The charity-driven UNDEAD MAZE rose once again, this year at Tivoli Village in the northwest section of the city. A passion project by tireless entertainer Shaun Friedrichs with ample assist from big-hearted Heidi Elkhill, it’s rated as one of the top haunts in the city.

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Hofbrauhaus on Paradise Road continued their annual tradition of Oktoberfest celebrity keg-tappings. The line-up this year included Zowie Bowie‘s Chris Phillips, Chippendales, Australian Bee Gees and Ricardo Laguna. If you’ve never experienced an evening at Hofbrauhaus, you owe it to yourself to visit. BTW, the talk is true….the staff paddles patrons on their birthday.

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Historic Mansion 54 in the Arts District kicked off costume parties with The Shade Tree‘s 30th Anniversary Mask Off Gala. The Shade Tree is an organization that provides sanctuary and support to women in jeopardy along with their children and pets.

Entertainment during the fundraiser was provided by the cast of Le Reve. PHo headliner Christina Aguilera made a brief appearance to accept an award. Amazingly, I missed seeing the superstar, as it was blink-and-you’ll-miss-it brief. Thank goodness the food by sponsors like Evel Pie, VegeNation, PublicUS and Le Thai was so memorable.

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Campy horror-comedy EVIL DEAD: The Musical made a “splashy” return to Las Vegas, this time with a significant upgrade. The onetime hit at V Theater had a two-week run as The Evil Dead HD Tour at The Space.

The community-driven venue was draped in plastic and outfitted with immersive high-resolution video “sets” that were used to brilliant effect. Rabid fans of the “Deadites” clamored for the front sections, where they’d be soaked in a spray of gore. How often do you see audience members exiting the theater while wringing blood from their hair and clothing?

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             This fellow was so soaked in fake blood that he threw his shirt in the trash…

November –

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The penultimate month of the year was a mellow one by any standards. No swarms of insects, not a single earth-shaking event…just a few new openings, a haloed moon and the return of one very bright star.

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Once again, The Space was THE place to be for noteworthy activities. While the best little theater in the city had been serving up gore and body parts just a few weeks earlier, now it was dishing out good old southern cooking and a night of unforgettable vocals.

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Demonstrating a level of class and warmth rarely seen these days, songstress Ruby Lewis made a triumphant return to the Vegas stage. The star of BAZ and Marilyn: The New Musical brought her one-woman show for a single-night event that was treasured by fans. Offering a clever mixture of prose, memories, laughter and towering vocals, Ms. Lewis and her band reminded everyone that the best performers are never too great to lose their sincerity.

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Ruby greeted guests with a crock of her own black-eyed peas, turkey, and cornbread, then joined them after the show for pictures and hugs. Self-proclaimed “divas” like Mariah and Madonna could learn a vital lesson from this classy young woman – R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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ARIA opened KALOLOGIE, the very first and only medspa located on the Strip. Housed within the hotel’s expansive spa, KALOLOGIE offers treatments like body contouring, laser skin treatments, injectables and get this…..IV hydration therapy.

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So if the effects of Vegas partying take their toll on your face and body, you can still return looking better than when you left home. We in the media were treated to a flashy shindig with free B12 shots and a bag of goodies to take home. I’m addicted to my FOREO sonic skin cleansing device.

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ARIA was also one of the first hotels to officially kick off the holiday season. Their culinary artists from Aria Patisserie created a life-size gingerbread house in the main lobby, along with a counter to purchase hot beverages and sweets. I happened to be there when the pastry chefs were gathering for official photos, and they seemed deservedly proud of their work.

Beloved charitable photographer Noel Dahl presented yet another beautiful fundraising calendar, this time to benefit Amor Peludo Animal Rescue. Featuring adorable kittens, pups and hot male celebs like Ryan Worley, Adam Barr, and Gerry Haro, the event took place at Lazy Dog Restaurant in Town Square.

Alas, Mr. Dahl was once again the victim of higher-than-thou patrons who found his artistry to be offensive. A few faint-hearted Sin City parents complained to management that photos of shirtless men were in view and demanded that the fundraising display be removed.

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You may recall this article that I penned detailing Noel’s work being dragged through the mud by parents on local television. These are the same hypocrites who choose to raise their children in a city where prostitution billboards roll down the streets. To them, I say “Go f*ck yourselves”.

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Speaking of billboards, this riotous monument to failure was spotted along I-15 and the Desert Inn overpass at the tail end of November. Apparently, the abrupt closing of KAOS right after Halloween left no contingency funds for pulling down the advertisements. That meant we had to continue looking at the smelly remnants (aka “Cardi B”). Don’t let her roofie and rob you, guys.

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The always colorful Golden Tiki brought the month to a memorable close with their annual Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Traditional Peanuts favorites like jelly beans, pretzels, toast, and popcorn were served on a pingpong table while a pair of naughty parrots sang dirty limericks and farted overhead. Only in Vegas, friends….

December –

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The month of December was bitterly cold by Vegas standards. Just like in February, the snows arrived on a recurring basis. Roads to Mt. Charleston, the Red Rock scenic driveway and interstate to Los Angeles were closed to traffic, leaving thousands of motorists unable to reach their destination during the height of holiday travel. Luckily, the city has thousands upon thousands of extra hotel rooms in what is always the slowest tourist season of the year.

The days leading up to Christmas turn Sin City into a bit of a ghost town. The only real activity comes from the residents, who go about their business as usual. Shows and restaurants go on hiatus, casino workers use their vacation time and hotels drop their rates to the lowest of the year. For those looking for a quiet, affordable getaway, mid-December in Las Vegas is bliss.

While the resorts took advantage of the downtime to dive into construction projects and improvements, the tireless members of The Bronx Wanderers were adding more shows to the schedule. In addition to special Christmas performances of their residency at The Linq (moving soon to Harrah’s showroom), breakout star Vin A. was spearheading a collection of three holiday spectaculars around the valley.

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I was fortunate enough to attend A Very Swingin’ Christmas at M Resort on December 21st, where Vin was joined by studly guitarist David Braun and patriarch Vinny Adinolfi. A crackerjack band, members of the Beach Boys and other talented musicians made for an unforgettable night that I hope will return next year.

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One entertainer who won’t be back is funnyman Jeff Civillico. After a decade of shows on the Strip, Jeff has decided to step off his unicycle, put down the juggling balls and focus on other ventures. The handsome comedian has been outspoken with his frustration at casino management over lack of support for entertainers. So he’s decided to step away from the Vegas stage. We’ll miss him.

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Russ White of QLife Media and The Charity Gurus was able to provide me with one final photo of Allegiant Raiders Stadium construction for the year. He took it from his condo in Veer Tower, part of CityCenter complex on the Strip.

Over at Rio, WOW – The Las Vegas Spectacular celebrated two years and 1,000 performances. A post-show party at CHAYO was attended by cast, crew, publicist Michael Caprio and the creator Hanoch Rosènn, who flew in from Israel to attend. Mr. Rosènn was incredibly kind and complimentary regarding the article I’d published on the show a few weeks earlier. During the tumultuous times for live entertainment productions, it’s wonderful to see WOW‘s success.

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Venetian/Palazzo is gearing up for another success of their own. Continuing their tradition of opening new restaurants at the close of the year (Matteo’s, Mott 32), my favorite luxury resort gave a sneak peek at Majordomo Meat and Fish. The latest offering from Chef David Chang is a massive undertaking located on Palazzo casino’s northwest side.

The invitation-only gala was attended by my wonderful colleague Allison Duck, hunky FREEZONE bartender Ric James Naughton and KTNV personalities JJ Snyder, Jason Dinant and Micah Manalo along with talented singer Brandon Nix (Magic Mike Live, Rock of Ages, Velvet Elvis). Majordomo Meat and Fish is open daily from 5:30opm to 10:30pm.

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At last, New Year’s Eve was upon us, so it was back to Westgate Las Vegas for their annual gala. This year’s attendees included FOX5 Emmy-winning anchor Jason Feinberg, the cast of Soul of Motown and prolific go-to photographer Ira Kuzma accompanied by his lovely wife Marie.

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After an incredible dinner, dancing, east-coast ball drop and entertainment throughout the resort by classy crooner Mark O’Toole and David Perrico’s Pop Strings Orchestra, the party moved upstairs via private elevator to Westgate’s famous Versailles Sky Villa. The rooftop mansion’s outdoor deck provided the perfect location for fireworks viewing of both the Strip and nearby STRAT Skypod.

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From there it was off to Charlie’s, a country-western bar near Orleans Casino that has somehow become a destination for local drag queens. They hosted a costume contest into the wee hours that was as funny as it was outlandish. And that’s how 2019 came to a close…as oddly as it began. Because nothing says “New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas” like cross-dressers and barechested muscle boys. Happy 2020, everyone!

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This year-end wrap-up is dedicated to the memory of my little lady Daphne, who passed away on Christmas Day.

 

 

 

Hot Guys of Vegas – International Edition


Serving up a heaping helping of Sin City beefcake from all over the world…

Sometimes an accent can make your heart beat faster. Sean Connery‘s Irish brogue. Antonio Banderas‘ Spanish stylings. The suave sophistication of Daniel Craig and his “Queen’s English”. Then of course there are the men of Australia. Each are sexy on their own terms.

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With Las Vegas being the capital of entertainment, studs (and damsels) from all over the world make their way here, often competing to find their way to the top. Dancers, models, singers, fitness celebs, strippers…and sometimes even escorts (this isn’t Disney, folks). If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

I’ve been lucky enough to become acquainted with some stunning examples of manhood since this column began. Graced with charm, ambition, great personalities and boundless talent, the Hot Guys of Vegas continue to fascinate and astound. This is my latest entry in Hot Guys of VegasInternational Edition.

 

Fabian Batey Petrina – immigration coordinator/bodybuilder

 

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                                                              Fabian Batey Petrina

Where You’ve Seen Him – Events, Physique Magazines, Bodybuilding competitions

Wrap your mind around this reality – a hard-bodied hunk with the cheekbones of a top model and the physique of a Greek god is actually an intellectual on a social mission. Now accept that reality as a truth. Meet Fabian Batey Petrina.

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Fabian grew up as a happy boy in Heidelberg. The son of a single mother, he remembers being very content. “Germany’s full of beautiful memories. I had an amazing childhood. Every time I think back on it, I just smile”.

Fabian’s mother grew up under rough circumstances with an abusive father and a mother who committed suicide when she was very young. Finding strength in the situation, she dedicated her own life to making her son’s a happy one. Then she fell in love with an American soldier and suddenly Fabian had a younger brother.

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When he was fourteen, Fabian’s family moved to Hawaii to be with his new stepfather. Things didn’t go well in this new environment. He describes himself as an awkward kid with glasses who didn’t know English well and was the target of mental and physical abuse by bullies. Things got so badly at school that he nearly followed his late grandmother’s path to escape the torment.

Then came the health issues. A tumor developed in one of his legs. A degenerative cartilage condition attacked the other. Multiple surgeries followed, with lengthy periods in a wheelchair and then crutches. But Fabian found a way to work through the emotional and physical pain. Bodybuilding ended up being his salvation.

As Fabian told Muscle & Performance magazine for their December 2017 issue:

The schoolyard became a battlefield in which I found myself dodging verbal and physical attacks, hiding in whatever shadow I could find. My left jaw and eye socket were fractured the one time I did try to stand up for myself, which shattered my self-confidence.

The one “friend” who remained by my side was the sport of bodybuilding. Working out became more than a hobby, it became my foundation, my sanity and my safe haven. Through hard work, I constructed an armor that took the target off my back and allowed me to stand up tall and be proud of who I am.

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Not satisfied with developing his body, Fabian earned multiple degrees in English and German literature and language. While attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Mr. Petrina served as an English tutor, despite it being his own second language.

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                    Fabian with his beloved mother at college graduation…

Passionate about the power of words, this remarkable young man assisted foreign and mentally disabled students who had difficulty with remedial and developmental English. His goal was to assist them through the cultural differences they were experiencing like he had. To accomplish that, he coordinated a program designed to give a smooth transition into the college lifestyle.

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If that wasn’t enough to solidify his place as a true-life hero, Fabian was also a volunteer at the Honolulu Fire Department, assisted the homeless via Houseless ‘Ohana organization and devoted his free time to the staff at Honolulu’s The Queen’s Medical Center.

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Of course, living in the Island State’s sunny paradise provided for plenty of outdoor adventures…and opportunities to tan his amazing physique. Eventually Fabian decided to move to mainland San Francisco. Now he splits his days between the Bay area, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

To me, living in Las Vegas is the perfect environment for bodybuilding. Not only is it extremely low cost of living, but the fitness community is huge here. My favorite part is the heat. I love desert heat. I don’t really like Vegas that much in the winter, but when it’s nice and hot it gives me energy.

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Whenever possible, Fabian likes to hang out with his fitness pals at Venice’s famed Muscle Beach. There’s no better place in the physique culture for photo ops and networking.

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This ambitious young man earned his WBFF professional status last summer, which allowed him to compete in London. Plus he’s now a brand ambassador for the MuscleTech line of fitness products and apparel.

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Fabian hasn’t forgotten the difficulties he faced as an immigrant. In fact, he’s now “paying it forward” in a sense. For the past three and a half years he’s been a Global Immigration Coordinator for Fragomen, a worldwide group of immigration consultants, solicitors and attorneys.

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It’s been a tough journey for this once-frail little dreamer. But Fabian’s story was never going to be ordinary. With his mother as his inspiration, Fabian believes that anything is possible. You’ve just go to be willing to work hard for it. Very hard.

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Get up early, bust ass, dream big, believe in yourself, and always – ALWAYS – remember to SMILE. – Fabian Petrina

 

 

David Goldrake – magician/philanthropist

 

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                                                    David Goldrake

Where you’ve seen him – IMAGINARIUM at Tropicana, charity events

In 2006, Hugh Jackman portrayed a mysterious illusionist in the film The Prestige. Sporting a lush wardrobe of ornate vests and gorgeous tuxedos, the Aussie heartthrob had many fans wishing the aristocratic magician would ditch his costumes to reveal a little of his famous physique.

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In 2017, Vegas fans of that movie got their wish…in a sense…when Luxembourg’s David Goldrake opened IMAGINARIUM at Tropicana‘s historic showroom. Much like Hugh Jackman, the beefy entertainer fills his jackets with rippling muscles and physical ferocity. And in a tension-filled segment, he DOES strip down to be submerged for an underwater escape. You can breathe now.

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As gorgeous as he is on the outside, David Goldrake has the same beauty within. I’ve had the pleasure of building a friendship with this gentleman over the past few months and continue to be fascinated with the kind and gentle soul that forms his core.

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Goldrake has performed throughout Europe for the better part of two decades. In 1997 he had his own weekly television show “Magic With David Goldrake”. A favorite at world-famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles, he estimates that he has entertained twenty million people around the world.

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David’s love for people is demonstrated by his dedication to philanthropic causes. He strive to raise awareness for issues dear to his heart, like Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner, a charity that assists children fighting cancer and their families.

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David entertaining children at SOS Village of Niger in 2011...

Then there’s SOS Villages d’Enfants Monde, a Luxembourg-based organization aimed at helping thousands of vulnerable children and their families worldwide. There are many more as well.

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Early next month, David will be a guest performer at the annual AFAN Black and White Party, a fundraiser for Las Vegas men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. The event takes place September 8th at Mandalay Bay’s DAYLIGHT Beach Club. Tickets are available by clicking here.

The fact that David is fluent in seven languages continues to intrigue me…as does his unique Luxembourg accent. He can strike up a conversation with anyone…about anything…and usually in their native tongue. His love for people comes through at every moment…that’s especially true when he’s in front of an audience.

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Many illusionists see their performance as being “in character”. For Goldrake, his actual personality is as much of the show as his props or sets. Ever observant of the audience, he engages as many guests as time and crowd size will allow. This makes each visit to the production unique and satisfying.

Last week it was announced that IMAGINARIUM would be coming to a close at the end of September. So now it’s more of a must see than ever. David’s eloquence, passion for the art of illusion and over-the-top sexiness set him apart from most other entertainers on the Strip.

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That makes IMAGINARIUM a thing of true beauty…just like its star. Don’t miss it.

David Goldrake IMAGINARIUM performs Tuesday through Sunday at 7pm. Groupon is currently offering discounts starting at $26.00. Click here for tickets. 

Photos – Fabian Batey Petrina and David Goldrake via Facebook/Instagram, Wainwright Images, SOS Villages

 

 

Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo Will Leave You Breathless


Two-day event at the Las Vegas Convention Center is a jackpot of thrills…

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UPDATE: The 2019 Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo will take place Friday and Saturday September 13th and 14th. Tickets are $30 per day or $50 for a weekend pass. Order by clicking HERE

Earlier this week I introduced you to the annual Mr. Olympia events in Las Vegas, and today I’ll be exploring the most fun a fit guy or gal can have in Sin City. By that I mean the Olympia Fitness Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center. So bring an empty gym bag and get ready to fill it with swag.

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Friday and Saturday from 10 am through 5 pm is where you’ll find the world’s biggest collection of fitness fans. The Olympia Fitness Expo draws thousands from around the globe. For a $30 admission price (or $50 for a two-day pass), visitors can completely envelop themselves in every aspect of physical fitness culture.

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Dozens of booths and exhibitors line two levels of the Convention Center floor and it’s anything but a static business presentation. Both sides of the space have areas for physical competitions such as power lifting, martial arts, Tae Kwan Do, kickboxing, wrestling, karate, Olympic weightlifting and wheelchair championships.

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On the stage are contests for Men’s and Bikini Modeling, judging and awards for Men’s and Women’s Physique and the very “Vegas-y” pole competition. But the masses gravitate towards the vendor exhibits, where true paydirt awaits.

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Upon entry, attendees are given an enormous shopping bag which quickly becomes filled with giveaways. We’re talking protein powders, energy drinks, pre-workout mixes and pills, skin products, snack bars, weight-loss stimulants, shakers, t-shirts and more.

Those who purchase VIP packages get to enter an hour before the general public and are able to snag the best goodies on both days (I even got a zippered hoodie and five workout shirts). Better freebies go to those who take on physical challenges like chin-ups, arm curl contests, high jumps…and giant bowling?

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The photo below is just a sampling of what I collected while making my rounds and meeting the vendors. Most merchants require an email or Facebook registration to collect a sample bag and those lines are usually the longest…because they give away the best stuff.

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For those who find it hard to stay on their fitness plan when visiting Vegas, consider planning a trip around the Olympia weekend this year. It takes place every September, is a lot more fun than you’d think, and you’ll come home a winner. Just remember to bring an extra suitcase for all those freebies.

 

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                                           Myself looking small next to the big boys…

Photos: Sammasseur

Mr. Olympia: When Muscle Comes To Vegas, Fit Happens


A look back at my coverage of the 2015 Mr. Olympia competition and red carpet premiere of The Perfect Physique…

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As an admitted fitness buff, I always look forward to yearly Mr Olympia competitions…and especially the related events. They’re a massive convergence of like-minded individuals with a culture all their own. And for a few days a year, Las Vegas is one big fitness retreat.

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The extended weekend is packed like an overstuffed gym bag, with thousands of physique, bodybuilding, fitness and modeling enthusiasts competing, teaching, inspiring….and selling lots of products. Each year is bigger and better, and in 2015 I was right smack dab in the heart of it, representing the press for the first time.

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It should be mentioned how tough it is to get official media credentials for Mr. Olympia access and coverage. It’s an arduous and time-consuming procedure (three years of applying until finally getting my first approval).

Being a fledgling site made getting credentials even more difficult, so it was an honor to attend alongside the “big-boy” media outlets of the world. It also didn’t hurt that one of my photos was used in a two-page spread for the December 2013 Mr. Olympia issue of FLEX Magazine (toot toot!).

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But, I digress. After picking up my official press kit and badge at Orleans Casino (the host hotel), it was off to Brendan Theaters inside The Palms. This was for the world premiere of the docu-drama The Perfect Physique.

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                     Matt Christianer, David Morin and director Kandice King…

Once again, I was lucky to be one of only five media outlets to photograph the official red carpet proceedings and the only member of the press to party with the cast and director afterward. It’s doubtful that Ghostbar at The Palms ever hosted such an eye-catching crowd before (present company excluded).

The Perfect Physique is this generation’s answer to Pumping Iron. It explores the lives of fitness/physique competitors, misconceptions of being “shallow” and what drives these athletes to dedicate every moment of their existence to their bodies.

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                                         Actor and fitness model TJ Hoban…

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                     Fitness stars Matthew Christianer and Heather Schneider…

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                                      Fitness star Toth Atilla (left) and a friend…

It’s also dedicated to fitness superstar Greg Plitt, who was tragically killed in an unrelated photo shoot after filming was completed.

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                                                  Greg Plitt 1977-2014

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The movie is emotional, raw, revealing, unexpectedly uplifting and often quite funny. It’s directed by prodigy Kandice King, who produced her first film at 18 years of age. The Perfect Physique was screened in major metro areas with the cast and director via a modified roadshow theatrical release. It is now available for streaming on Netflix., and I was honored to have a quote from this article posted on the DVD/blu-ray boxes.

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The following morning was the launch of official Mr. Olympia proceedings, with a press conference featuring all qualifying competitors for the main event on Saturday night. Much like the theatrical match-ups before boxing and pro wrestling matches, the Olympia press conference is a lot of bravado, self-praise and rah-rah to get the audience pumped up. It’s always free to the public, and the Orleans Theater was packed to the max.

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My favorite part of the weekend is always the Fitness Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center. Held Friday and Saturday from 10am to 5pm, it’s an all-out festival of fitness stars, products, demonstrations and competitions. It really has to be seen to be believed.

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For those who don’t follow Mr. Olympia, Seattle native Phillip Heath was going for his fifth consecutive win. His nemesis Kai Greene did not enter, and depending on the source you believe, was either banned from competing or refused to sign his contract to compete.

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                             Myself with seven-time champion Phil Heath in 2013

At the end of the night, Heath won his fifth trophy and a $400,00.00 prize. As usual, he and his entourage would party the night away at Wynn/Encore’s XS Nightclub. And Heath would return again in 2016 for crown number six.

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I, like always, will be back this year to give you all the details when Phil Heath goes for trophy number eight. Don’t miss out…order your tickets now.

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This year’s Mr. Olympia Competition and Fitness Expo weekend runs September 13th through the 16th. Tickets, schedules and information are available by clicking here

Photos: Sammasseur, publicity still via The Perfect Physique

“Aussie Heat” Host Creates a Natural Approach to Fitness Products


Adam Barr launches his Green Barr cannabis-based wellness formulas…

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Having covered the Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo for many years in Las Vegas, I’ve seen many outside-the-box health and fitness products. Ones like ManCakes high-protein pancakes. Arctic Zero fit frozen desserts. Ostrim ostrich-based jerky and meat sticks. Now Aussie Heat host Adam Barr has opened up a whole new world of ideas with a cannabis-based line of health and wellness products named Green Barr.

The uses of marijuana go back thousands of years, from ancient anesthesia in China to treatment of cataracts in Egypt. Until just recently, marketing items from this family of plants in contemporary United States would have been illegal…and perceived by many as outlandish. But times are changing and the laws are catching up.

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There are those who view cannabis as a type of miracle cure. It’s been used for treatment from conditions as diverse as epilepsy in children to dementia in Alzheimer’s patients. It’s also known to ease the side effects of cancer treatments and has been proven to attack cancer cells.

As the medical community reverses its position on marijuana/cannabis from being a recreational drug to one of serious medical importance, the general public is taking note. And while everyone is playing catch-up with the legalities, forward-thinking individuals are preparing to usher in a new wave of uses.

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     Adam Barr (center, back row) and the guys have a flex-off with this writer…

Adam Barr is one such individual. You may recognize Barr from my numerous articles on the innovative upstart Aussie Heat male revue Planet Hollywood’s V Theater. Adam is a stand-up kind of guy…literally. When not using his charisma to host the sexy production, he sometimes takes to the stage for his own comedy routines.

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Adam Barr is an advocate of all things natural…                  

But Adam’s venture into the cannabis business is no joke. This lover of nature in all its forms has looked to ancient healing methods to create the Green Barr line. His products use natural medicines to restore healthy living and promote recovery. With them, he intends to take the fitness community by storm.

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In a phone interview last week, Adam explained the varieties of marijuana and why various classes are regulated differently.  He said that most people associate marijuana with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering form that creates a euphoric “high”…and a stimulated appetite. THC is currently listed as a Schedule 1 drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and is regulated as such (a detailed explanation is here).

But then there is CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive compound that’s mostly derived from hemp. While CBD won’t affect the mind, its positive effects on the body make for an impressive check-list of treatments for common ailments.

The most promising research these days is for the use of CBD to fight cancer. Cannabidiol has been shown to block the spread of cancer cells, slow their growth and encourage the destruction of cancerous cells altogether.

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The use of CBD and cannabis derivatives for everyday problems is what Green Barr is all about. By that I mean stress, anxiety, pain, acne, inflammation and depression. Then there are anti-emetic (nausea and vomiting) and anti-oxidant (neuro-regenerative) benefits as well.

Barr had the idea to create a line of micro-dose CBD (Emerald) and cannabis (Green) products that would target athletes, fitness enthusiasts and those looking for a natural alternatives for healing.

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         Stuntman Simon Farrow’s heroic frame is built on Green Mag Mist…   

Adam then teamed up with Simon Farrow, his muscular cast mate from Aussie Heat. Farrow is a sometime movie stuntman (Alien: Covenant) and actor who already had his own Organics4me line of magnesium-centric pre-workout spray. Together they’ve expanded and refined Green Barr‘s presentation to include teas, capsules, tablets, moisturizing creams and spray mist.

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While laws continue to change regarding the distribution of CBD and cannabis, Barr is taking a grassroots (pardon the pun) approach to marketing. In order to do that, Adam is starting small…like selling at farmers’ markets in Los Angeles.

Behind that will be conventional retailing through gyms and online. Of course, the goal of any marketing plan is mass distribution. In this case, easy-to-access state-regulated dispensaries are where Adam ultimately wants Green Barr to be sold.

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Not having tried marijuana products of any kind in the past, I was hesitant to sample a relaxation formula that Barr gave me. But years of insomnia have haunted me and it is difficult to get through an entire night.

So I tried one micro-dose capsule before bedtime and slept like I hadn’t in years….with zero negative effects the next day. In fact, I woke up feeling refreshed and alert and got that result every time. As you might imagine, it was thrilling.

The cast of Aussie Heat also uses and swears by Green Barr. With those hard-working bodies on display at the intimate V Theater each night, there’s no way to hide the results of their successful regimens.

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Simon Ata puts “flex” in “flexible” thanks in part to Green Barr supplements…

Simon Ata aka “Simonster” is one of Green Barr‘s biggest advocates. As a member of StrengthProject.com‘s fitness team, this shredded young athlete performs astounding gymnastics, yet his body is always flexible and healthy-looking.

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Performing a physically-demanding show nightly can be taxing on bodies of any age. For the Aussie Heat guys, a typical day requires rehearsal and stretching before hitting the stage at 10:30pm. Then they move over to nearby Blondie’s to greet and hang out with audience members before having dinner after 2 am. Then some of them hit the all-night gym for strength conditioning. If Green Barr products can help performers like these guys to get through a typical work week, imagine what they can do for someone in the conventional 9-to-5 world.

To learn more about the beneficial effects of micro-dose cannabis and CBD, check out Green Barr‘s Instagram page or visit them on Facebook.

Future of health and wellness #greenbarr #greenbarr2020 website greenbarr.com launching in August! Please follow me @greenbarr2020 thanks for the support guys.  –  Adam Barr

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Me (center) flexing with the guys from Aussie Heat…                 

Note: This is not a compensated endorsement. Green Barr works for me.

Aussie Heat performs Thursday through Sunday at 10:30 pm inside Planet Hollywood’s V Theater. 

Photos: Sammasseur, Green Barr, Simon Ata, Adam Barr, Simon Farrow, Aussie Heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Olympia Fitness Fans Flood Sin City


Annual event makes Vegas the world capital of hot bodies once more…

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The 53rd Mr. Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend has come and gone, as have the enthusiasts who swarm Las Vegas each year. Physique, fitness and bodybuilding fans from around the world made the journey to Sin City, which is essentially the unofficial Mecca of Muscle.

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The four-day event, taking place at Orleans Hotel Casino and Las Vegas Convention Center, was a hotbed of hot bodies, products and photo ops. Celebs, sponsors, news crews and supplement manufactures swarmed both venues, out-muscling one another for the chance to promote the latest in products, clothing and workout tips.

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The big news was Phil Heath‘s seventh Mr. Olympia win, tying the record of Arnold Schwarzenegger. For those who couldn’t attend (or afford the pricey tickets), sponsor Amazon.com live-streamed the competition. Last year, surprise guest Dwayne Johnson had announced that CBS Sports would air the 2017 event in cooperation with his Seven Bucks Productions, but that seemed to be an unfulfilled promise.

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Instead, Johnson returned to present this year’s trophy. Heath, a seven-time champion, will most likely return with hopes of an eighth win. That would tie him with Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman for the most Sandow statuettes.

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If all that “competition talk” bores you, fear not. The daytime events at the Convention Center were much more freewheeling…with music, dancing, posing and twerking in the aisles. See for yourself in the video below:

                 Video highlights from the Olympia Fitness Expo…

Ageless physique pro Tobias Young showed me around Optimum Nutrition‘s mobile Gold Standard Zone, an interactive outdoor exhibit. Guests were invited to use computer technology to analyze their diets and map their macros. A “magic mirror” utilized artificial-intelligence cameras to study workout form and correct movements.

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Tobias Young (left) at the Lift Yourself – Lift Others chin-up station…

Best yet, a pull-up station allowed attendees to challenge themselves for charity. Sponsored by the wonderful Amazon Smile, “Lift Yourself – Lift Others” arranges for donations to your charity of choice (this writer directs Amazon Smile donations towards Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary).

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Inside, Optimum Nutrition was one of dozens of vendors unveiling new products, services and experiences. Recording star Flo Rida made his first appearance as CELSIUS HEAT Elite, Chief AmbassadorCelsius Heat is a new healthy alternative to conventional pre-workout drinks. Flo greeted fans with photo ops, autographs and full-size product giveaways.

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In every direction, people were jumping, pumping, hopping and climbing. Experts were there to analyze technique, assess conditioning and offer advice. Several vendor booths awarded prizes for push-ups, power punches and other physical challenges.

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On both sides of the massive South Hall, informative lectures vied with group classes and various sports for attendees’ attention. The large rear stage was home to scheduled competitions such as Flex Magazine‘s Bikini and Male Model Search, Classic Physique judging and Men’s/Women’s Physique Olympia.

Tt was the cameras that got the most intense workouts. Vendor reps were eager to show what their products could do. Of course that required a lot of shirt-lifting and flexing, right?

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Scott Mathison (center) and the athletes of Performix…                  

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Tim McComsey (center) and the BANG Energy crew…                

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Big Brother star Mr. PEC-Tacular Jessie Godderz for Vitargo…                

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IFBB Pro David Paterik strikes a double-bicep….          

One of my personal favorites, IFBB Pro Matt Christianer, hammed it up with me for a pic and autograph. Matt can be seen on Netflix in the moving documentary The Perfect Physique. In it, Matt details his emotional journey of recovery from a traumatic auto accident. The newly-engaged Christianer underwent a hip replacement last year but is back in amazing form.

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Matt and fiance Heather Schneider at last year’s Expo…                  

On a side note, while the Olympia press conference was taking place in its new larger home at the Orleans Arena, director Kandice King was across town at City Athletic Club on West Sahara, shooting footage for The Perfect Physique 2: The Road to Pro. Like I said at the lead-in…Vegas is the Mecca of Muscle.

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      Vegas resident and former Chippendale Kris Davis at the MET-Rx booth…   

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Doing his best “Robert Irvine” at the FIT Crunch booth…                       

Mr. Olympia and the Fitness Expo both return to Las Vegas in 2018. Hotels fill up early, especially The Orleans and Westgate Las Vegas, so check out this planner to get up-to-date recommendations and rates.

Plenty of hopefuls will be eyeing the stage, yearning to take the title from Phil Heath and enter into the history books. If you don’t want to miss the showdown, mark your calendar now for the 54th Annual Mr. Olympia Fitness and Performance Weekend Sept. 13th through the 16th. I’ll see you there.

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Photos by Sammasseur

Hot Guys of Vegas: Bodybuilder Edition


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

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

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

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

A.J. TrunkEmcee/producer/choreographer/dancer

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A.J. Trunk               

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

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

Noteworthy traits – Electric blue eyes, concrete abs

Carl Matthews – cocktail server/actor/bodybuilder

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Carl Matthews                  

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

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

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

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

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

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Alex O’Connor                      

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

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

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

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

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

Carlos Maurizio Martinez Trejo – model/dancer/internet celeb

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                 Maurizio Trejo                                  

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

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

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

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

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

Notable traits – mysterious personality, allergic to shirts

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