Las Vegas Shutdown Gives Birth to ‘VINdemic’


Not even a killer virus can extinguish the creative supernova of ‘Bronx Wanderers’ own Vin A.

It’s often said that forest fires are nature’s way of restoring balance. After an inferno, the soil is replenished with vital nutrients, and new life springs forward. Las Vegas entertainment is in the midst of its own conflagration. Once the smoke clears, rotted logs like Mariah Carey, Terry Fator, and Criss Angel will have hopefully dried up and blown away. That’s when the rebirth of Las Vegas will really begin.

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Raw, hungry talent like Colin Cahill and Makenzie Fly (Mak and the Cheese), Dai Richards (Tenors of Rock), Ian Ward, and Andrew Diessner having been yearning to move to the front. But they aren’t waiting for the flames to subside. They’re digging in, planting new seeds, and maximizing their time away from the stage to create, express, and surge forward.

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You might say that Vin A. of The Bronx Wanderers is leading this ambitious youth movement. Driven by the ongoing closure of his family show at Harrah’s, Vin has been working nonstop since mid-March. Music videos, virtual concerts, writing/hosting his own web program, penning new songs, and even launching an offshoot band…all this and more have kept the handsome hunk at the peak of his game.

It’s a mad world, according to our man of the hour. Ask where he gets his boundless motivation and the smart-aleck New Yorker is likely to answer “It’s all about the money, man!”. But don’t believe it for a moment. Vin has the “entertainer gene” ingrained in every cell, fiber, and drop of blood. He lives for music, the rush of creative expression, and the thrill of sharing his vision with the world.

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Vin totally knocked it out of the ballpark early this summer when he debuted the imaginative music video for “Know Where (To Begin)“. A jaw-dropping analysis of God, creation, war, and the fate of our existence, it’s delivered on an epic wave of gripping instrumentals and passionate vocals. Check it out.

Vin has been prepping several follow-ups to 2017’s wonderful “Geology“. One is VINdemic, a solo acoustic album that shares a name with his collaboration with family patriarch Vinny Adinolfi. Carefully following mandated health guidelines, the duo has been performing sold-out shows at E String Bar, an intimate “jazz supper club” in Henderson.

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Another place you may have enjoyed Vin’s music is at Tuscany Suites Resort, where he recently appeared alongside Vegas favorite Kenny Davidsen. Kenny’s “Bowtie Cabaret” is a weekly series highlighting local favorites like Jimmy Denning, Colin Cahill, Cassie Stone, Lorena Peril, and Ashley Fuller.

Are you tired yet? Well, Vincent Adinolfi the third isn’t. He’s also been appearing on programs like Rocking Comedy Show with Jay Bird and Time2Vegas. His own talk show What The Cluck?! started season two this year with a new location at The Space. The daring chat-fest mixes politics, comedy, social commentary and current events in wildly-random doses. You never know where a conversation will lead, just like Vin’s music.

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As a die-hard fan, I truly enjoy the pleasures of Vinny’s compositions. Many of them are styled like an opus, with dramatic shifts in tone, style and direction. He deftly crisscrosses genres within a song, dallying in classic rock, pop, soul and funk along the way. “Know Where (To Begin)” will be one of the singles from his OTHER new album entitled “Mountains of Ignorance“, and yet another Bronx Wanderers recording is on the way. Geesh!!!

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In a normal year, Vin’s fizzy upcoming “Wishing Well” would have been a chart-topping summer hit to cruise the streets by. This week, he and multi-tasking partner Elizabeth Jane Hunt, along with a sizzling team of dancers, filmed a music video for “Wishing Well“. The shoot drew talent from the casts of X Country and Aussie Heat.

Here’s a sneak peek directly from the studio:

You may be wondering at this point if there’s anything left to do. I haven’t even gotten to the biggest undertaking…personalized Bronx Wanderers shows. Since the beginning of August, fans have been able to commission custom live performances. You choose the songs and select either VINdemic (father and son) or the full Bronx Wanderers group. Rates start at only $50 and you can get all the details by clicking here.

Not only will the guys play whatever song(s) you choose from the 130+ song menu, you will watch your performance LIVE and interact with the guys via A private Facebook feed on your phone or computer in real time. THE BEAUTY OF THIS OFFER is you will receive a polished video of the performance via email with great audio AND video quality that you can keep FOREVER.

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While other Vegas shows have been quietly waiting to return…or have permanently folded…Vin A. and The Bronx Wanderers refuse to become a faded memory. You can follow the latest announcements, including their eventual reopening at Harrah’s, through the official Bronx Wanderers page and the dedicated Vin A. Facebook page.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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                                     Mark Shunock and comedian Brad Garrett…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Vegas Comes Together for Australian Relief Event


The world supported us when we were under siege. Now is our turn to return the love. ‘SHOW UP FOR DOWN UNDER’ assembles a stellar cast for Australian wildfire disaster aid show and fundraiser…

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You’ve seen the heart-wrenching headlines. Looked at the horrifying photos. Covered your ears at the devastating statistics. All of the loss being endured by our brothers, sisters, and wildlife in Australia is almost too much to grasp. Thankfully, we can channel those feelings of helplessness into action and provide much-needed aid to the people and animals of Australia.

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All proceeds from this concert event will go to Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors established by Steve and Terri Irwin

As you might remember, I penned this article detailing the unique bond shared between the Las Vegas community and the Land Down Under. So many of their citizens call this city “home” and provide us with joy through their endless talents. From the casts of Human Nature and Australian Bee Gees to the men of Aussie Heat and Thunder from Down Under, the Strip is alive with the people from Oz.

Now’s the time for us to give back. On January 28th at 8:30pm, THE SPACE will be hosting SHOW UP FOR DOWN UNDER, a fundraising show and event featuring a stunning array of entertainers. Here’s the official press release:

Given the catastrophic bushfires in Australia right now, Australian entertainers living in Las Vegas could not stand by idly while watching their beloved country suffer. True-blue Aussie spirit is alive and well in Las Vegas. With the incredible support from the entire local entertainment community, an exciting evening of song, dance, and sausage sizzling has been scheduled to raise much-needed funds and awareness.

Australian expats/Las Vegas performers Steve Judkins (Mayfair Supper Club & Mamma Mia), Sasha Judkins (Chicago & Mamma Mia), and Jessica Lane (Jubilee! Principal Dancer) are producing and coordinating this Vegas A-list charity event. Las Vegas Strip headliners Human Nature, Australian Bee Gees, Aussie Heat, and Tenors of Rock will provide top-notch entertainment.

Special appearances will be made by comedian/celebrity impersonator John DiDomenico, Australia’s Got Talent “PiP Comic Illusionist,” and Jubilee Showgirls. Anne Martinez (Baz & Fantasy), Shai Yammanee (Jubilee! & Mamma Mia Broadway Tour), Valerie Witherspoon Knecht (FRIENDS! The Musical & Cocktail Cabaret), Kelly Anne Williams (House of Blues & Les Mis West End), and Justin Michael Rodriguez (ExtremeLive) are only a few of Las Vegas’ finest performers who are lending their extraordinary voices to this cause. Entertainer/philanthropist Mark Shunock has graciously donated use of The Space for this upcoming benefit concert.

THE SPACE | 3460 Cavaretta Ct., Las Vegas, NV 89103
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. | Performances from 8:30 p.m.
Door Prize, Wine Tasting, Auctions and Raffles, plus a good old Aussie Sausage Sizzle
Tickets are $25 and available for online purchase at:

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All proceeds from this benefit concert will go to Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors. Established in 2002 by Steve and Terri Irwin, The Wildlife Hospital has treated over 90,000 animals. Their mission is to protect and care for injured, threatened, or endangered wildlife. However, with extreme drought, human impact, and wildfires, the hospital is only getting busier and busier. They now must rapidly expand field services in response to the current bushfire crisis to provide emergency supplies and medical caregivers for animals that cannot be transported.

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Please be sure to buy your advance tickets here, spread the word and share this information on social media. If you have auction items, services, manpower or talent to donate to this event, contact Elaina Bhattacharyya at (702) 498-2162 as soon as possible.

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THANK YOU!

 

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.

 

 

 

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


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

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

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

As my year ends at ‘Sex Tips’, it’s reviews from friends like Sam that keep reminding me of how grateful I am to have had this opportunity and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me here in Vegas! My LAST show at ‘Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man’ here in Vegas is Sunday September 29, 7pm! Would love to see everyone there or before then!

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

Looks like I will be taking over as Dan Anderson in “Sex Tips For Straight Women From a Gay Man” starting September 30th!!! I am beyond honored, excited and thrilled to be headlining this amazing production and can’t be more grateful to all of those involved in the casting process!

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Guys of Vegas: Gentlemen of Influence

 


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

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

 

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                                                   Ricci Lopez-Hammargren

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

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

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

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

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

Notable traits – brooding gaze, warm heart

 

Mark Shunock – philanthropist/entertainer/emcee

 

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                                                          Mark Shunock

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Notable traits – rosy cheeks, bedroom eyes

 

Gordon Prouty – public relations/media magnate/fashion icon

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                                                              Gordon Prouty

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Jamal Parker – publisher/restaurateur/advertising

 

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                                                          Jamal Parker

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

Straight to the Heart: Hospice, Therapy Dogs and a Pet Drive


“Man’s best friend will be there until the end”…

Having just lost my dear cat Sunny to cancer a few weeks ago, I’ve had plenty of hours to reflect on love, loss and courage. It’s been a rough time for this writer, so I can appreciate the enormous grief that families and friends face when losing a loved one. For patients who know that they won’t be recovering, there’s an absolute right to move on with dignity and compassion.

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Not all of us are equipped to handle end-of-life situations. Thank goodness there are community resources to ease the journey and provide comfort along the way. Nathan Adelson Hospice of Las Vegas is one such organization. This non-profit has been around for four decades, providing top quality in-home and in-patient palliative treatment and hospice care.

Nathan Adelson was a visionary administrator for Sunrise Hospital, the largest medical facility in Nevada at the time of its construction. Mr. Adelson was deeply respected as a humanitarian, overflowing with kindness and compassion. When cancer took his life, friends and family established the hospice to continue his enormous legacy.

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                                Nathan Adelson was taken by cancer in 1978…

The volunteers at Nathan Adelson Hospice dedicate time and their hearts to hundreds of dying patients each day. Naturally these special people come from all walks of life and a myriad of different social environments. Some volunteers even come from local animal shelters.

You see, therapy dogs are a big part of Nathan Adelson’s many programs. Their organization recognizes and promotes the comfort that animals bring to those undergoing emotional challenges. To make that happen, hospice patients get visits from specially trained support animals.

Paws for Paul Pet Therapy Program was created for in conjunction with celebrity Brad Garrett, a longtime advocate for NAH. Brad’s brother Paul Ames was the widely-respected manager of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand. Sadly Paul, who was an ardent supporter of animals, passed away from pancreatic cancer last year. To honor his legacy, Garrett and NAH President Carol Fisher launched the Paws For Paul pet therapy team.

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This dashingly handsome fellow is named Panzer. He and his mom Becky Gang are part of the Paws for Paul team. Becky is Panzer’s trainer and the two of them volunteer for Nathan Adelson Hospice. Becky has been training service and support animals for many years. Panzer is her ninth NAH co-volunteer and her current star pupil.

Here’s an excerpt from the NAH blog that tells a fascinating story about Panzer’s gifts:

When Panzer was leaving the Swenson facility one day, he insisted on stopping at the door of a patient. Becky asked the family if it would be okay if Panzer visited the patient and they gladly approved. Panzer went right up to the person’s bed and stayed nearby on the floor, providing quiet, calming support. It appears Panzer also has an awareness of when a patient is nearing the very end of his or her journey of life, as that patient was in the stages of actively dying.

When Panzer puts on his work vest, he knows he’s on the job and his temperament suits the task at hand – providing that gentle comfort to patients in need of a furry friend. He’s more playful and energetic at home. Becky says, “When he gets home from visiting hospice patients, it’s almost like he’s bragging to the other pets that he got to go out and provide help that day.”

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                          Panzer and trainer/co-volunteer Becky Gang….

Panzer and Becky are also doing their part for the 8th Annual Dog Bed and Blanket Drive. They’re asking the public to donate unopened food, blankets and bedding at designated collection sites to be distributed to local shelters. The winter months pose special challenges for local animal shelters. Contrary to popular belief, it does get cold in Las Vegas…and those concrete shelter floors can be unforgivable.

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Shelter cats are also included in the drive. Kitty care requires food, toys, beds, bowls and litter. Please consider dropping off cleaning supplies, towels, wash cloths, paper towels and other basic necessities too. These items are desperately needed to help keep animals comfortable, safe and healthy while they wait for someone to adopt them…or recruit them as service and support animals.

The marvelous mission and multitude of community-driven programs that the folks at Nathan Adelson carry out require a great deal of funding. Fortunately they’ve been selected as a 2019 recipient of the MONDAYS DARK program.

You may recall my recent piece on MONDAYS DARK, an entertainment series which donates the proceeds from every performance to a different cause. Their March 18th production at The Space (3460 Cavaretta Court) will benefit Nathan Adelson Hospice…and by extension, the Paws for Paul pet therapy program. Click here to learn more and get tickets to the show.

The cycle of compassion, kindness and caring on display in this community is absolutely massive in scale. It demonstrates once more what a closely-knit group the citizens of Las Vegas truly are. As a new resident, I couldn’t be more excited and proud to call this place my home.

The Paws for Paul Pet Drive runs through February 1st. If you’d like to donate, please bring new or gently-used items and unopened food to any of the four Nathan Adelson Hospice locations:

* 4141 Swenson St., Las Vegas

* 3150 N. Tenaya Way (near Cheyenne), Suite 350, in the Mountain View Medical Office Building, Las Vegas

* 2270 E. Commercial Rd., Suite A/B in Pahrump

* 1201 Nevada State Drive in Henderson

You can also deliver donations to any Ovation Property Management location listed here.

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                                            Dedicated to Sunny Novak   

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Special thanks to Emma Williams and Allison Duck for their assistance with this article.

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


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

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

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

MOST OUTRAGEOUS – Miss Behave Gameshow

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

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

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

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

MOST IN NEED OF A FACELIFT – Carrot Top at Luxor

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

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

BEST DOWNTOWN SHOW – Mike Hammer Comedy Magic

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

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

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

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                                            Little guy. Big entertainment…

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

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

BEST VINTAGE VEGAS VIBE – Cocktail Cabaret at Caesars Palace

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

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

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

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

BIGGEST SNOOZE – Mat Franco: Magic Reinvented Nightly

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE TOPLESS REVUE – Chippendales/SEXXY (tie)

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

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

Runner Up – Zombie Burlesque

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER – Opium at Cosmopolitan

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

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

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

SADDEST CAREER PATH – Gordie Brown (Hooters)

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

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

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

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

BEST LOCALS SHOW – Mondays Dark at The Space

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

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

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

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