Hot Guys of Vegas: Men of ‘The Garden’


Superlative new nightspot/restaurant has a painfully attractive cast of hunks….and one particularly hot lady…

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It’s tough enough to launch a new business under any circumstances. But what about during the tail end of a quarantine? As Vegas entrepreneur Eduardo Cordova recently learned, if you do so with careful planning and COVID-19 safety protocols, you’ll be off to a great start. The Garden Las Vegas did exactly that, providing the perfect tonic to a fun-starved community while offering a luscious assortment of mouth-watering eye candy.

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The Garden LV has only been open for two months but is already recognized as a runaway success. Located in the heart of downtown’s Arts District, the restaurant/bar has quickly become Sin City’s hip hotspot. The indoor-outdoor venue is located next to ARTIFICE BAR in the trendy Art Square, also home to monthly First Friday festivals.

Cordova had this to say about his latest venture: “The Garden is a fresh, new concept. It is an intimate and chic LGBTQ lounge bar (that) dives into an untapped market in the Las Vegas community, championing craft cocktails, light bites, and an indulgent ambiance.

While others have written about The Garden‘s lush decor, delicious food, stunning cocktails, and superlative entertainment, this column is called “Hot Guys of Vegas” for a reason. So let’s get straight to the beef and take a close inspection of a few of the hunks that make The Garden Las Vegas such a sumptuous experience.

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Shyllon Melatti I first introduced you to Shyllon Melatti when the model and budding actor had taken over the role of “Stefan” in SEX TIPS at Paris Hotel. Since then, the handsome Vegas native was offered a hosting gig at Chippendales…just as the pandemic shutdown went into effect.

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Undeterred, Melatti joined the cast by way of Chippendales@Home, a virtual service in which the legendary entertainers present you and your friends with a private party. Shyllon’s been bumping and grinding along just nicely ever since. He also hosted a series of live fitness sessions and was featured in a guest spot for Las Vegas Magazine:

When The Garden had their initial casting call, Shyllon naturally stood out. Now he’s a favorite of guests both new and returning, skilled at presenting signature cocktails with a wholesome smile that his face mask does little to hide. Ask him nicely, and the charming cat-dad might flash his abs for you.

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            Shyllon Mellati serves up smiles for celebrity medium Thomas John (right)…

Alejandro Chirino – Every cast has that one member who’s mysterious and shares very little about themself. Alejando Chirino is apparently that kind of guy. Strong and silent, the native of Matanzas, Cuba is able to say a lot by speaking next to nothing. The muscular hunk moves quietly through the lounge area of The Garden, instantly commanding attention by not trying to.

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Clearly an enthusiast of fitness, the model-server has been devoted lately to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for justice in a time when our culture is in chaos. Alejadro’s also a supporter of LGBTQ causes, dedicating his birthday towards the plight of gay and transgender people, especially in the Las Vegas community.

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Ger Haro –  The fabulous Ger Haro is another returning favorite to the “Hot Guys of Vegas” column. The model and master mixologist is famed throughout the city for his rocking body, stunning tattoos, ever-dazzling hairstyles, outgoing persona and a shockingly-deep voice.

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Known as “Gerry” to his friends, Mr. Haro is a favorite subject of photographer Noel Dahl. The two collaborated on a 2020 fundraising calendar to benefit Amor Peludo, a Spanish-language non-profit that assists pet care and housing in the Las Vegas Latino community.

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This month, Gerry stepped out from behind the bar to try his hand at hosting The Garden‘s Thursday Bingo Night. But don’t be concerned…you’ll still be able to indulge in the handsome stud’s hand-crafted cocktails every Thursday through Sunday. And wait until you see what he can do with a cucumber.

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Brandon Grimm – There’s a silent one in every group, and there’s also the guy or gal who sparkles. And “Sparkles” just happens to be the nickname of Brandon Grimm. If you’ve ever hung out in West Hollywood, you might have encountered the bedazzled boy at world-famous The Abbey Food & Bar, where Brandon was once a dancer and manager. He’s also performed alongside Willie Gomez as a backup dancer for Britney Spears.

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Back in Las Vegas, the fair-skinned musclehunk has become airborn in Atomic Saloon Show, alternating center stage with fellow performer Davide Zongoli (another “Hot Guys of Vegas” alumnus). A skilled aerialist and pole artist, Brandon entertains audiences with his light-hearted wit and physical prowess. Both of those qualities come in handy when taking care of the loyal patrons that now return to The Garden every weekend.

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Eduardo Cordova and Chandler Kramer Barbra Steisand once sang a cynical ode to nightlife romance:

Love comes from the most unexpected places
In bars that thrive on loneliness
Where people sell their sorrow for your time

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Fortunately for the adorable duo of Chandler Kramer and Eduardo Cordova, the opposite became true. Working side by side in a new business could easily fray nerves, yet this couple’s relationship has grown stronger. The two took their next step this past Independence Day weekend when Mr. Cordova proposed to Mr Kramer (an ICU Nurse at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center) inside The Garden, to the delight of their patrons…and friends throughout the city.

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Lilian Aguilar – When I first decided to do this article, I approached bartender Lilian Aguilar while she was on duty. My apologetic words were something along the lines of “I’m about to do a feature on The Garden‘s staff. Unfortunately, I can’t include you, as it’s going to be all about the boys”. Miss Aguilar was quite understanding and thanked me anyway.

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Since then, I’ve observed this young lady in action and have realized that Lilian truly deserves her own special mention. After more than three years of Vegas Unfiltered and literally dozens of related articles, Lilian Aguilar is now the First Lady of “Hot Guys of Vegas“. She’s dynamic, glamorous, and a truly integral part of the team.

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Lilian may be “one of the boys”, but she’s all woman…and an ambitious one at that. A longtime vegan, she’s a certified fitness trainer, certified plant-based nutritionist, a title-holder for Mrs. USA Globe, and of course, a model. She, along with The Garden‘s equally dynamic operating partner Edith Castillo (below) bring a powerful female presence to Sin City’s latest success.

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The Garden is located at 1017 S. 1st St – Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (702-202-0900)

Hours are Thursday & Sunday 6pm-1am, Friday & Saturday 6pm-2am. Reservations are recommended for dining. Click here for menus, reservations and additional information.

Photos: Higor Almeida Photography, The Garden LV, Brandon Grimm, Lilian Aguilar, Ger Haro, Alejandro Chirino, Eduardo Cordova, Chandler Kramer, Sam Novak

 

 

2017 In Review Part 2 – The “Bye, Felicia” Award for Most Interminable Residency


The inaugural “Vegas Unfiltered Wrap-up” is upon us. Brace yourselves…

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Within the laughter, tears and tragedy were moments of amazement and joy. Whatever you sought, there was something for you to relish and moments to make you cringe. Nothing will let you forget 2017 – the Year in Las Vegas.

The “Bye, Felicia” Award for Most Interminable Residency – Mariah Carey/Britney Spears (tie)

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Mariah and Britney are a couple of very defiant fish. You throw them into the lake and they stubbornly hop back into your boat. And like a couple of dying carp, they stink up their respective venues with dead eyes and mouths that sporadically gulp for air.

In Carey’s case, she can’t even be bothered to walk or dance. Instead, she gets carried around like a sack of lumpy potatoes. Or perhaps a corpse, as this infamous moment from July suggests:

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Mimi’s outrageous ego must have taken a nasty blow when Caesars failed to extend her 2-year residency. That final evening at the Coliseum was so under-attended (despite deep discounting) that the so-called diva refused to perform “until the place filled up”.

How do I know? Because I was there, talking to staffers who were laughing about it as it happened. Still, she came back for five sappy Christmas shows during the slowest week of the year. Tickets started at only $59.00. Ouch!

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Britney Spears will flap her arms and sleepwalk her way through a final performance of Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood this New Year’s Eve. Thank goodness her hunky and talented singer/dancer Willie Gomez will be onstage to inject a much-needed spark.

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There’s talk that Britney will resurface at another property, much like legionnaire’s disease keeps attacking guests at Rio Las Vegas. Her resilient career is proof that wooden objects really do float.

Dishonorable Mention – Criss Angel’s Mindfreak Live (closing October 2018)

Future Superstars: Singer Willie Gomez Emerges From Britney’s Shadow


Spear’s longtime dancer is a vocalist who’s about to explode…

People flocked to Britney Spear‘s residency ever since it opened at Planet Hollywood in 2013. The large-scale production turned out to be a huge hit with her fans across the world. Britney – Piece Of Me was all about the star’s impressive songbook, spectacle, costumes, and dancing.

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However, there was secretly a powerhouse singer on that stage along with the pop star. His name is Willie Gomez, and he’s working to make sure his voice is also heard around the world.

Gomez, who grew up in Miami, was inspired to take dance lessons after watching Britney Spears videos in his youth. That inner fire served him well, as he’s been featured in three of Britney’s music videos. A few months after appearing in Womanizer with her in 2008, he was cast as a principal in the pop singer’s Circus tour.

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Willie remains a member of Britney’s dance crew and  was a part of the Piece of Me residency from the beginning. They embarked on a short-term set of dates across Israel and Asia last summer before returning to Planet Hollywood for a final round of performances that ended on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Even though this writer is not a Britney fan, friends frequently urged me to check out the show. So I did…by way of YouTube. What I discovered was riveting – a small army of very attractive dancers with precision choreography and stage presence. Despite all of them being world class performers, one in particular stood out. His physique, facial gestures and movements were just in another league.

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Being an admirer of hard-working performers, I had to know more. It took a bit of research to identify Willie’s name. Fortunately, he has an established fan base who mentioned his name in the video comments. They raved about his dancing…and his singing?

Yes, Willie has his own Youtube Channel with a growing collection of music videos. This is his most recent:

You can also check out his cover songs via Soundcloud by clicking here.

As the fates would have it, Willie is friends with a Hollywood chiropractor that I used to work with a dozen years ago in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Steve Hoorn connected us and Willie agreed to meet for a conversation. A short while later, the two of us were having coffee before one of his performances at Britney: Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood.

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It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you encounter a person with that intangible “something.” There’s an energy they give off…an electric feeling you perceive almost subliminally. Willie has that aura. There’s a fire in his eyes and he crackles with energy, magnetism, and lots of warmth.

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As much as Willie loves to dance, he feels he’s ready to share his passion for singing with the world. The videos that he’s released so far have been covers of songs by other artists. His expressive vocals give those familiar compositions a unique flavor. Now he’s preparing a collection of original recordings.

“I’m very involved in song-writing. I know what kind of songs I want to sing and there are some great writers working with me. They understand what I feel and how I want to bring those emotions across. Together we’ve collaborated on pieces that reflect who I am as an artist”.

Willie’s great looks have placed him on the cover of several magazines. Modeling and acting have brought him plenty of attention, but now he’d like to scale that back a little. When asked how important looks and sexuality are for a successful music career, he had this to say:

“I’ve done plenty of magazine shoots…and I’ve shown a lot of my body. It’s been fun, but they always want you to show more…and more. The past few years I’ve been getting away from that. I want my music to speak for itself, without relying on sex or gimmicks to sell it”.

While that philosophy is great for career longevity, there’s no question that Willie’s video performances have been drenched in fluid sexuality. Much of it undoubtedly came from his collaborations with Britney, which overflow with hot bodies of both genders.

After our conversation, Willie had me as his guest for Piece of Me. It was my first time seeing the show, but I learned during our conversation that I’d unknowingly seen him perform a few years back at the Caesars Palace Coliseum.

Willie was an aerialist in Australian pop star Kylie Minogue‘s incredible Aphrodite tour. That stunning, massive production was once rumored to be eyeing a Vegas residency. “I doubt you would have recognized me back then” he joked. “My head was shaved and I was mostly hanging upside down”.

Along with Minogue, Willie has shared the stage with the likes of Katy PerryChristina AguileraMary J. BligeKesha and many prominent Latino artists. But his loyalty to the pop princess is strong.

“The thing about Britney is that she allows us to be ourselves. Sure, we’re doing the choreo, but she encourages me and the others to make it our own. She’s very supportive, which is why I work with her. Not all artists are like that”.

Eventually, Britney posted a video message on her Instagram page, wishing Gomez luck on his singing career: “Willie is a dancer of mine, and not only is he a great dancer, but he is an amazing singer…and I had no clue. You’re amazing, good luck on your project, and I’m sending all my kisses to you”.

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With a few years of preparation behind him, the Dominican Republic native made plans to release a four-song EP, tentatively entitled “My Life”. He began the process by enlisting his favorite writers, producers, and directors. Then came an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign to help finance the project.

The hardest thing, though, was just gathering enough courage to take the first steps:

“From the time I was a little boy I had big dreams, with music running through my veins. But, I had fear in my heart.  I was afraid of rejection and sharing who I really was, and what I always wanted to be – a singer”.

Willie did his first concert appearance in LA not long after the original version of this article appeared on another site. He posted some highlights and was thrilled by the response:

It’s only matter of time before Willie Gomez goes from a backup dancer to a full-fledged marquee name. With so many successes already under his belt, I asked the dancer/singer/actor/model how he’d most like to be remembered years from now:

No matter what I do, I give it my all. Right now I’m focused on my passion for singing. But I don’t want to be categorized for just one thing. I’m a performer.

That’s who I am.

Britney Spears has reportedly signed for an upcoming series of shows at PARK MGM Theater beginning in 2019.

.Photos: Willie Gomez via Instagram/Facebook/Youtube, Sammasseur