All eyes will turn to sin city for a groundbreaking new virtual reality/live LGBTQ experience
Remember last summer when we were all going batshit crazy with cabin fever thanks to a certain virus? Well, the brilliant minds at Fresh Wata Creative decided to host events outside of their home base at 3905 W. Diablo Drive (near Allegiant Stadium). Topless revues, drag shows, comedy acts and more drew crowds of locals and visitors alike And just like that, Dreamland Drive-In was born.
Fast forward twelve months, and now Fresh Wata‘s interior has been transformed into StarBase, a hybrid event center for in-person and virtual-reality functions. Born out of the entertainment needs of a deeply-changed society, StarBase is fully equipped with high tech, ten rooms of excitement and a team that’s ready to welcome revelers to our new reality.
StarBase’s creators believe hybrid events are the future for companies and brands post-pandemic and wanted to give event planners a turn-key solution by booking the event space. In hosting your conference or party at StarBase, you have the option to live stream content out to Facebook, Twitch or into the StarBase building.
There are many firsts at StarBase from the first NFT gallery in Las Vegas, to being the first fully operable hybrid event venue in the world featuring a digital twin in Microsoft’s Altspacevr called StarBaseXR. Attendees can meet at StarBase physically and virtually. StarBase XR is a world presented by a group of developers and professional producers at Fresh Wata, to replicate the venue as a 360 environment online.
StarBase XR can be visited in virtual reality from a headset, like an Oculus 2, or a Mac computer or PC. In other words, the venue is not limited to the physical location in Las Vegas and in general the team believes the sky is not the limit! Engagements will be held virtually inside StarBase XR for those unable to visit in person.
This weekend, Pride XR will lift off from the StarBase launching pad. PrideXR is the world’s first live/VR global LGBTQ Pride event:
StarBaseand Dreamland presents PrideXR, the world’s first hybrid live/virtual reality Pride event on June 25 and 26, presented by Bud Light Seltzer and InterPride, a nonprofit dedicated to producing Pride parades, marches, festivals and events.
Revelers can celebrate two ways – through a custom-built virtual reality world via VR headset, or in person. Hosted on social platform AltspaceVR, the VR world features a full Pride experience with a dance floor, red carpet, vendors, hologram DJs, charity auctions and a PrideXR parade.
Friday, June 25 at 7 p.m. – Failed to Render Comedy Show
Stand-up comedians from Failed to Render, the first-ever hybrid comedy show, will take the stage in real life for the first time while simulcasting their show in VR. Following the show, DJ Celeste and DJ Skye will perform at the after party, along with live performances by Puerto Rican trap artist DAmire MAjor and more. Tickets are $35 and include a complimentary drink. Click here to order. Table and bottle service also available for the live show.
Saturday, June 26 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. – Starfire Saturday
Edie from Faaabulous! The Show will host the hottest LGBTQ+ dance party in the galaxy, featuring hybrid live/virtual reality performances by DAmire MAjor, Kristine Mirelle, Vanessa Lynnae, DJ Celeste, DJ Skye, DJ Aravi and DJ Luke Dice, along with surprise guest appearances throughout the night.
Tickets give you general access to all PrideXR events at StarBase on Saturday, June 26th, featuring the world’s first hybrid live/virtual reality nightclub experience presented by Bud Light Seltzer. With dazzling out-of-this-world performances hosted by Edie from ZUMANITY, and special celebrity guest appearances all night.
Tickets are $39.05 and include a complimentary drink. Vegas Unfiltered readers can get $20 off by using code “sam20“. Click here to purchase tickets. Bottle service available first come first serve or book in advance via email at email@example.com. StarBase is located at 3905 W. Diablo Drive in Las Vegas, near Allegiant Stadium.
Some of you might be familiar with GLITTERING LIGHTS, the annual attraction at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now in its 20th year, the massive drive-through celebration is the largest of its kind in the Valley. It’s also about as far from the Strip as you can get while still being in Las Vegas.
JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE is conveniently located at 2330 Industrial Road, just a snowball’s throw from Wynn/Encore under the watchful gaze of the StratosphereThe STRAT tower. During the rest of the year, the venue is known as The Industrial Event Space, an indoor-outdoor venue for special functions.
While it may lack the scope of its older brother, JOURNEY TO THE NORTH POLE makes up for it for with plenty of charm and good cheer. You’ll know right away when you’re greeted at the gate by one of Santa’s friendly helpers. The happy elf will safely scan your pre-purchased admission code and guide you through the procedures while all of your party remain inside.
A mask is required if/when you interact with any of the cast members, and your windows should remain up when possible. You’ll be given a radio station to tune to, which syncs seasonal classics with the lights of the attraction. Once inside, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase hot cocoa and snacks (very reasonably priced, by the way) before proceeding.
The journey begins with a super-cool recreation of the Northern Lights. Once you pass through the garland entrance, you’ll enter the “Path Of Lights”, festooned with glittering orbs, twinkling tunnels and a flurry of “snow”.
Along the way you’ll encounter live dancing elves, whimsical projections, over 100,000 lights, more than 380 strands and over 100 holiday fixtures. Everything has been designed and handmade by more than 30 local creative professionals who’ve been impacted by the events of this year.
The centerpiece of JOURNEY is a computer-programmed “mega tree” which “dances” and blinks to holiday tunes. But of course everything leads to Santa’s Workshop, where you can visit with the big guy himself. Since the original Mr. Christmas is required to maintain distance this year, there won’t be any visits to his lap. But he’ll definitely chat it up and take notes for his gift-giving list.
“Journey to the NorthPole” can be experienced nightly from 5 to 10pm at the INDUSTRIAL event space, located at 2330 South Industrial Road, through Sunday, Jan. 3. Advance tickets are required and start at $20. Purchase at northpolelv.com/tickets. “Journey to the NorthPole” is a co-production of Josh Abelson (the INDUSTRIAL event space), Emo Palumbo (Tag Team Productions) and Brian Rogerson (Sin City Scenic).
Vegas performers and influencers share their tips for staying healthy while at home….
A strong body and clear mind both aid in warding off infection. They also help in reducing stress during these tenuous times, Nobody knows for certain how long the quarantine will last, but when restrictions are lifted, the stars of the Strip will need to be in top shape and ready for their first night back.
Vegas locals work hard to make your Vegas visit something worth treasuring. And just like you, they’re facing a lockdown that has not only put them out of work but confined their activities to the home. Spouses MaKenzie Fly (Sex Tips) and Colin Cahill (Atomic Saloon Show) have been working overtime to entertain everyone via their new page Mak and the Cheese. It’s packed with wit, skits and original songs to make you laugh. Here’s a sample:
Some have been sharing their tips to stay in peak physical condition, and you can join them in their quest for optimal health. Whether you’re limited to household objects and portable resistance bands or have a full gym set-up on your patio…get out there, use it and be safe.
Hunter Hobbs with a special message for Vegas Unfiltered readers…
The world-famous hardbodies of Chippendales male revue were some of the first on the scene with online fitness tips. Profile recipient Ryan Worley caught the eye of TMZ for a pair of video tutorials that launched the Chippendales series. Using everyday objects like almond-milk jugs, pillows, and staircases, Worley demonstrates how to tighten your glutes and build upper-body strength.
Aided by Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack”, towering hardbody Pat Tanksi shows how he stays limber and flexible. His handsome canine companion “Geno” donned a trademark collar and bowtie to join his dad for a set of slinky moves. You can expect more helpful videos from the men of Chippendales in the days ahead. Be sure to see the guys in person when Chippendales – The Las Vegas Show returns.
Le Reve – The Dream at Wynn boasts a cast of 60 gorgeous guys and girls. They’re a stunning collection of athletes that dive, flip, sail through the air and dance on water. Muscular lead performer Alexander Stabler is known for his graceful movements, strong legs and world-class gluteal development. Here he keeps “dat ass” firm by performing squats in a driveway, using his partner in place of a squat rack. There’s also a breakdown of Alexander’s cross-fit plan, with weight provided by stone-filled backpacks.
The erotic side of Cirque du Soleil comes to life in ZUMANITY at New York NY. Longtime cast member Wayne Skivington (read his Vegas Unfiltered profile HERE) stays in top condition year-round, whether at the theatre’s training room or in his own home. Here he works up a sweat in the back yard, pounding a sledgehammer onto some concrete.
Westgate‘s Soul of Motown features a five-member cast with lush vocals and nonstop dancing. During the production’s hiatus, vocalist Brandon Godfrey has been featuring his “Quarantine Fitness” regime on Facebook. Regular physical activity keeps his body as tight as the show’s gorgeous harmonies.
Jennifer Romas shares the Westgate Cabaret with Soul of Motown‘s cast. Her successful SEXXY has performed hundreds of shows in the gorgeous space. The production’s creator and star continues to rehearse and will be ready to excite audiences when the doors reopen.
“Men of Sapphire” offers a masculine take on the traditional stripper club bump-and-grind. Their billboards feature Roberto Alejandro Granados, an absurdly handsome accomplished dancer who’s been involved in large-scale productions like Jeff Timmons‘ MEN OF THE STRIP and Chippendales offshoot 53X.
Here, Roberto demonstrates how to keep your abs tight, using the Dual Ab Roller, an easy to use piece of equipment that’s readily available at Amazon.com for under $12. Click HERE to order.
Gunnar Walcavich is a real live “Ivan Drago”. Much like the mountain of muscle from Rocky IV and Creed II, Gunnar aka “The Big Gun” is a boxer of Russian descent. He’s also six feet four inch of power, energy and drive. But unlike the villainous character made famous by actor Dolph Lundgren, this resident of Henderson is kind, caring and funny!
Now an NFPT-accredited personal trainer, Gunnar hosts online fitness sessions. However, he prefers the one-on-one approach, where he can focus on the “personal” aspects of personal training. He’ll even do personalized visits in your home. Once an overweight young man with a goal to go “from zero to hero”, he’s transformed his own body and can do the same for you.
Here’s what Gunnar has to say about fitness in regards to the COVID-19 situation:
During the pandemic, I know money‘s been tight for people so I’ve been accommodating rates for everyone. They started out at $35 a session, but because of the pandemic I’ve been doing $20 a session. The sessions last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and create a very intense HIIT (high intensity interval training).
Whether you’re just starting out or looking to up your game, personal training opens new doors to health, confidence and inner peace. To learn more or arrange an appointment, text Gunnar Walcavich at 608-622-5945 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All In The Family
We’re always wishing to have more time with our families. Now that it’s here, you can make the most of the situation by having your loved ones join in on your workouts. Adam D. Tucker aka “Vegas McGraw” was recently featured in my Hot Guys of Vegas column. His spot-on impersonation of Tim McGraw draws in fans from around the country. But it’s Adam’s bulging arms and gleaming pecs that earned him a spot in the segment.
Here, Adam uses his son Beau for added weight in a garage workout that’s as fun as it is effective.
Parent/child routines are a great way to establish habits that will last a lifetime. Of course, heading out to the sidewalk for some biking (or a stroll with the wagon) are perfect photo opportunities, too. So enjoy the eye candy and take to the streets (or the yard) to burn off those unwanted calories. Just remember to observe social distancing guidelines to protect yourself and your neighbors.
Musician Haini Wolfgramm is one of the founding members of The JETS, the phenomenal pop group from Tonga that swept the world. The JETS – The ’80s & ’90s Experience is an awesome concert event that you’ll want to enjoy over and over…once it returns to Planet Hollywood‘s V Theater, that is (read my full review HERE).
Haini is a fitness enthusiast who seemingly spends as much time at the gym as he does behind his guitar. Keeping those biceps pumped to the max has become a family experience, thanks to a backyard gym that’s getting everyone into shape and keeping them happy until the quarantine is lifted.
Wayne Skivington gets a special mention in the “family” category, too. Young son Rowan is quickly following in his father’s footsteps with an athletic prowess that would make teenagers and grown men envious. Follow the Skivington’s father/son workouts on Instagram by clicking HERE.
We are all in this together. Let’s use this time to disconnect from society but reconnect at home. I’m going to be posting some in-home workouts ideas to do with your children. Have fun, it will mean more to them than you might think.
– Wayne Skivington
When a city is overflowing with professional entertainers, it’s not surprising that those who cover the scene can hold their own, too. Greenspun Media publisher Jamal Parker and gorgeous wife Mackenzie Marshall Parker (The Doll Factory) show how the family gets loose with this splendid TikTok dance:
Alberto del Campo is a longtime Sin City resident who’s performed in huge acrobatic productions like Le Reve, KA and now The Beatles LOVE. His two boys Alex and Zach have inherited dad’s athleticism. They’re also members of the LOVE cast.
Here, Alberto gathers his sons along with wife Genevieve for a fun roller-skate workout that they like to do poolside. You might find it to be a bit of a challenge, but for the energetic Del Campos, this is just another day. of fitness fun.
If you’re a newbie to roller blades or could use some help with brushing up on the basics, fear not. The magnetic and talented Del Campo boys have launched their own YouTube channel. Here’s one of their tutorials:
Dance As If Nobody’s Watching
Sure, the beach clubs are dried up for now and the nightspots have gone dark. But when ya gotta dance, ya gotta dance. Party people have been taking to their back yards, front yards, driveways, patios…and even the streets…in order to shake their groove thang.
Endia Abrante of ShowgirlArrivals.com is been streamlining her diet and using an E-Stim ab belt to keep things nice and tight for when the clubs reopen. Recently the entrepreneur/deejay/aerialist/duck rancher strapped on some rollerblades and donned a unicorn-themed onesie to blow off some steam.
Later came the glowsticks and a neon party costume to throw a solo virtual rave. Fortunately, her best friend Dusty Demetria was there to document the invitation-only affair. If you haven’t followed Endia’s outrageous Facebook page, you’re really missing out.
Bad boy Kris Davis is one of those guys who does what he wants when he wants to do it, and the name of the game is “fun”. The beefy host at Golden Nugget‘s Troy Liquor Bar was bitten by the dance bug a long time ago.
A veteran of Vegas male revues, Davis continues to move and groove whenever the mood hits him. A crowded market, the heart of the casino floor, or even the top level of a parking garage…when this big boy wants to dance, feel free to join him. Otherwise, get the heck out of the way.
Relentlessly funny man James Michael aka the Redneck Magician has been posting a series of videos from his parking lot. No doubt the neighbors enjoy watching his antics from behind the protective glass of their windows. And you can catch his roller-disco antics by visiting his Facebook page. Then check out his show when Redneck Comedy Magic returns to The STRAT.
Remote-Access Class Action
Sexy celebrities like THOR’s Chris Hemsworth have been sharing online tips and virtual classes to get your body into superhero condition. In the spirit of giving, most of them are free.
Hi there all, during this period of self isolation and uncertainty, I am offering six weeks of my health and fitness program @Centrfit for FREE! Go to centr.com and sign-up. Centr was founded to make health and happiness accessible to all, and I hope that this will make that access even easier during the current global health crisis. I think now more than ever is when we need to focus on what I believe to be the 3 key pillars to living healthier and happier- movement, nutrition, and mental fitness.
– Chris Hemsworth
Here in Sin City, we’ve got several heroic figures who are donating their time, sharing their talents and generously giving you the shirt off their backs.
Pole-fitness enthusiast Alberto Del Campo (see above) was also featured in my Hot Guys of Vegas column. Since the COVID-19 quarantine went into effect, he’s been offering free online pole fitness classes via his Instagram page. Click HERE to follow Alberto and get in on the action.
Regular attendees to the annual Mr. Olympia Fitness Expo are sure to recognize entrepreneur Tim McComsey. The registered dietician/trainer has been uploading Social Distancing workouts on his YouTube channel. He also offers virtual workouts through Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. Follow this link to visit Tim’s Facebook page and send him a personal message. Sign up for one of his TrymFIT programs, tell Tim that Vegas Unfiltered sent you and you’ll get extra supplements perks!
Dancer/actor George Blick (Sex Tips, Aussie Heat) is a rhinestone cowboy of sorts. The big-city hunk has a little bit of country in him, as he’s an award-winning line dancer. George is gearing up to present a live line-dance class soon. Visit George’s Facebook page to keep posted on when the next one will take place.
You might remember this profile article I wrote on Teresa Van – Trainer to the Stars. Teresa is offering online training courses (for a fee) along with free videos that you call follow along at home. Click HERE to view Teresa’s online information and get started right away.
Makenzie Fly and Colin Cahill are “Mak and the Cheese”…
Makenzie Fly is a respected performer and also a skilled instructor of yoga. Husband Colin Cahill filled me in on what they’re up to in the days ahead:
Kenzie’s teaching live yoga class Monday on Instagram (click here for her page), and probably Facebook too if we can figure out how to stream both simultaneously. When it comes to our exercise for this it’s been primarily bodyweight workouts in the living room, running stairs in our apartment, yoga, and lifting heavy foods from the fridge to our faces. I’ve got those resistance bands you posted about a while back shipping to us currently.
But honestly, it’s been a huge struggle to try to stay active. I’ve definitely been putting on the poundage this past week so we started hitting the workouts hard this week. Our new song “Quarantine 15” more accurately represents our fitness journey since the shutdown.
Makenzie also has a YouTube channel to help you get started in the world of yoga. Here’s the intro to her video series:
For all people curious about yoga! This channel is meant to be a no-excuses platform. Got 5 minutes? Let’s practice. It’s not meant to be perfect. Don’t think, just do. Anytime, any place!
Until very recently, MaKenzie shared the Sex Tips stage with handsome “Hot Guys of Vegas” recipient Shyllon Melatti (read his Vegas Unfiltered profile right HERE). While the actor/singer/dancer/model prepares for a juicy new role (I’m sworn to secrecy) he and his partner have used the quarantine downtime to raise an adorable rescue kitten named “Merlot”.
And while being a pet parent can be physically exhausting at times, it takes more than a sprinkle of catnip to keep Shyllon’s stunning torso in check. You can find out how he does it by joining a live workout on Instagram. The session takes place Saturday 4/11 at 9am PST. The full-body workout requires no equipment and is free. Click HERE to participate.
Be sure to keep plenty of water and a towel handy, because “Master Melatti” knows how to make you sweat.
The stunning acrobatic couple of Mary Wolfe and Tyce Nielsen is professionally known as Duo Transcend. The America’s Got Talent favorites had just signed on to join CELESTIA at The STRAT when COVID-19 rolled into town, shutting down every show on the Strip.
While waiting to finally live their dream of a Vegas gig, Duo Transcend has been hard at work on…working out. They’re teaching live classes via the ZOOM app and have posted 30-minute no-equipment workouts that you can access right here:
If you or any of your Vegas friends are offering online fitness tips or classes, send an email to Sam@VegasUnfiltered.blog and I’ll be sure to update this article with the information. Be smart, be safe, and be strong.
A quick-reference guide for current shows and my take on their worthiness for your hard-earned discretionary income…
With all of the productions that have come and gone in 2019, it’s tough to know what is playing, let alone what to see. This is the most complete list of titles I could compile as of 12/22/19. The guide includes only shows that I’ve actually seen, along with three categories to help you decide. Where possible, I’ve provided a link to my reviews, which can be accessed by clicking on the colored letters.
DON’T MISS IT!!!!
ABSINTHE – “Daring burlesque variety show continues to amaze in its 9th year”.
ATOMIC SALOON SHOW – “You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe and you’ll most definitely be titillated.”
AUSSIE HEAT – “The ‘other’ Down-Under male revue is faster/hotter/better than you’d ever expect.”
BEATLES LOVE by Cirque do Soleil – “Remains one of the most spectacular and satisfying shows in town.”
Iconic hotel casino is Sin City’s first mega-resort…
Many historians consider Mirage to be the first super-sized hotel concept in Las Vegas. The truth is that the resort now known as Westgate Las Vegas began the era more than 20 years earlier. Opened in the summer of 1969 as International Hotel, this massive structure became the largest hospitality destination in the world.
Full of superlatives and packed with luxurious amenities, the International was created with a goal of supplying top-quality accommodations and stellar entertainment with the best staff ever assembled. A dream project of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the 30-story structure was fast-tracked from ground-breaking to grand opening in under 17 months, an amazing feat even by today’s standards.
Many of today’s visitors still refer to Westgate as “the former Las Vegas Hilton“, the name it carried from ’71 through 2012. During that time it would become associated with Elvis Presley’s landmark residency and later, Star Trek: The Experience. It was also home to dozens of legendary performers like Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Suzanne Somers, Charo, Wayne Newton, The Commodores, Sheena Easton and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Starlight Express.
Five years ago the property was acquired by Westgate Resorts and CEO David Siegel pumped millions of dollars into a massive restoration project, keeping the entire resort operating as renovations took place. The new owner refused to allow his staff to lose their jobs during the transition, protecting thousands of workers from financial hardship.
Siegel’s dedication and longtime love for the property was in full display during an epic 50th anniversary celebration on August 3rd. Invited guests strolled down an ornate corridor festooned with images of historic moments, pausing for photographs on the carpet before a pre-party cocktail reception.
Glass cases of memorabilia lined the perimeter of the room, recognizing noteworthy events and moments of the last five decades. Mr. Siegel joined Mayor Carolyn Goodman and President/GM Cami Christensen onstage to toast the legacy of the hotel. They also recognized the thousands of people who have contributed to its ongoing success.
Dignitaries from the worlds of entertainment and media then joined high-rollers and honored staff for a spectacular meal in the main dining hall. Guests enjoyed an appetizer of lobster tail and prawns, a main course of beef wellington and champagne as performers like Frankie Scinta and Zowie Bowie provided music and laughter.
Christensen then honored longtime employees including theater usher Angel Lopez Rosas. Mr. Rosas has been part of the service team since the hotel opened, working an estimated 12,000 shows. The party then moved to famed International Theater for a stunning performance by Elvis tribute artist Ted Torres Martin and “Sweet Inspirations”, which included a performer who had shared the very same stage with Presley during his sold-out residency.
Looking forward, Westgate continues to… (Click HERE to continue reading)
Epic fundraiser returns to Hard Rock Hotel this summer…
A lot of party-goers will be pleased to know that AFAN Black & White Party is back to its old stomping grounds for 2019. Last year’s move to Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay probably wasn’t the success that organizers had hoped for. Attendance seemed to be lacking over previous installments and the overpowering heat did nothing to encourage attendees to stick around. Plus, it was a freaking marathon hike to the venue.
The Joint concert venue at Hard Rock Hotel, along with a neighboring ballroom space, is perfectly tailored for the combination party/convention/performance/fundraiser event that everyone has come to know and love. There is ample free parking via two garages, providing easy in-and-out for those wearing elaborate costumes. And mercifully, it’s air conditioned!
AFAN stands for Aid for AIDS of Nevada, the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the state. Founded in 1984, the organization provides direct client service programs, food programs, prevention and education programs and community outreach. Their mission is to do so while promoting dignity and improving the quality of life of the individuals they serve. 100% of the proceeds from this event stay in Southern Nevada.
The Black & White Party, now in its 33rd year, encourages attire in just those two colors, wearing as much as you want or as little as you dare. Expect outrageous fashions, group ensembles and themes galore. The 21+ gathering is decidedly “adult” in nature, so much of the live entertainment will skew in that direction.
Emcees Greg Chase and Norma Llyaman have great energy together and are loved by the Vegas LGBTQ community. Announced performers include the casts of both Chippendales and Magic Mike Live, Australian quartet Human Nature, Westgate’s SEXXY, Rio’s WOW – World of Wonder, Little Miss Nasty, Tenors of Rock, Legends in Concert and Celestia. Longtime AFAN supporters Penn and Teller will be on hand as well.
General admission ($35) begins at 9pm on Saturday August 10th. Food will be provided by Pink Taco, Oyster Bar, BonaBatiste, Caked Cupcakes, Dunkin’ Donuts and The Hard Rock Pastry Department. Refreshments of the liquid variety will be poured by Tito’s Vodka, Ambros Banana Whiskey, Malibu, Beefeater, Altos Tequila, and The Long Drink Gin.
VIP ticket-holders ($85) will be admitted one hour earlier and gain access to a reception of intimate entertainment, two drink tickets, champagne toast by Moet & Chandon, a complimentary souvenir photo by Most Organic Productions, and “VIP-only” bar access. Extra perks include photo ops and interactive décor from ByDzign, LV Photo, and Balloons with a Twist.
The dance floor should be a swirl of black and white bliss thanks to the music of DJ Axis. Nearby Piranha Nightclub will host the official post-event festivities. And don’t worry about partying too hard. LYFT rideshare service has offered discount round trips to attendees by using promo code “BWPARTY19”, good for 15 percent off two Lux Black Rides.
33rd annual Black & White Party will take place inside The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel Casino Saturday, Aug. 10 from 8pm to 1am. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at afanlv.org.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
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)
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
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.
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.
Photographer Greg C concludes his photo essay on Westgate’s Sky Villas…
In the world of casino hosts, the most coveted type of client is the “whale“. These super-high-rollers are enticed into visiting and remaining loyal by being showered with lavish treatment and perks. Usage of limousines and private jets, shopping excursions, star-studded parties…and of course, lodging in the hotel’s most palatial Sky Villas. All are intended to keep that high-roller on the property long enough to bet (and ideally to lose) large sums of money, and hopefully, to return in the future for more high-stakes wagering.
Sky Villas are rarely seen by the general public, and even more rarely are photographers allowed access to the degree that Greg C has been at Westgate Las Vegas. Today’s tour of the Verona Suite concludes his trilogy of photo sessions (take a look at the previous two here and here).
With any luck, we’ll be able to turn this collection into an ongoing series, one that gives our readers unparalleled access to those dreamy suites that adorn the clouds over Sin City. But for now, enjoy the Verona Sky Villa, courtesy of the staff and management at Westgate.
“My first impression was like stepping into a palace of Old World splendor…a blend of Italian Renaissance and Roman Glory. They say that you come to Vegas to party and see the sights — the room is just to sleep and shower (and, you know). Well, not so here. The Suite itself is an adventure. You could make a vacation out of it”. – Greg C.
The city of Verona in northern Italy is known for its art, architecture and spirit of romance. After all, William Shakespeare placed his titular characters in Verona for Romeo and Juliet. Once a colony of Rome, Verona is rich with statues, arches, domed ceilings, pillars and artistic motifs. True to its namesake, the Verona Suite at Westgate is ornate and overflowing with gorgeous detail and accents.
The Verona was the first of the three to be built (completed December 1994) and is the largest at 15,400 square feet. If you were a fan of the Robin Leach series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, you might recognize the three-bedroom Verona, which was once featured on that popular show.
Filmmakers used the Verona Suite as a stand-in for Liberace’s residence in the 2013 biopic Behind The Candelabra.
“The piano is a nice touch. If you’re a piano player, you have another reason to “stay home” in your suite. Talk about a nice ambiance to practice”.
“Those statues! The one staring back at you with imperious Roman hauteur….the demure young beauty protecting her modesty in the garden”.
“Yep…another awesome bedroom “suite within a suite”. And, of course, TV in bed…just what a vacationing Roman senator would require in the 21st century”.
“Relax by the fireplace AND soak in the tub at the same time”.
New hotels in Las Vegas have become somewhat clinical, almost office-like complexes. Their suites are tech-heavy and massive, yet could easily be found in any other city. It’s nice to know that glossy, lavish places like the Verona Suite still exist in Vegas and are treated with reverence today. They’re living reminders of a time that represented the true spirit of Sin City.
You can learn more about these accommodations on the Westgate Las Vegasreservation website. They are rarely seen by the general public and are usually reserved for their top-tier guests. Nine other themed “specialty suites” are also available…if you feel like living large and have the wallet to back it up. Click here to explore them.
There’s always room at the top. Don’t let them tell you that there is not. – Singer Adam Ant
This article previously appeared on another site. It has been updated.