Daily Archives: June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson’s Wax Likeness Worshiped in Las Vegas

The King of Pop’s wax figure has been residing at Madame Tussauds at The Venetian in Las Vegas since the museum opened 10 years ago.  Now, with news of the pop icon’s death on Thursday, his likeness has been moved to outside the museum, where it will remain for the next few days to allow throngs of mourners and passers-by to pay their last respects, leave flowers and sign the guest book. MichaelJacksonTussauds

Many smiled as family members snapped photos from a few feet away.  Some cried.  One grabbed his crotch, in an exaggerated imitation of one of Jackson’s signature dance moves. 

“It seems very surreal,” said Carolyn Boyle, a 47-year-old visiting from Scotland, who hadn’t heard the news of his death until she passed the exhibit.  An employee of Madame Tussauds broke the news to her and she broke down in tears. 

After fighting to contain herself while here husband snapped a photo of her next to the figure, Boyle said, “It’s such a shame.”

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Get Naked in Las Vegas

For those enjoying the company of other naked people while in Las Vegas, please complete the contact link at the top of our Las Vegas Backstage Access blog and we’ll send by return e-mail a compiled listing of Vegas hot spots to let it all hang out, ranging from Las Vegas locations, groups, pools and more.

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Michael Jackson’s Ties to Las Vegas

Although Michael Jackson never performed a ticketed show in Las Vegas during his adult career, he had a high profile in the city and was a frequent visitor and sometimes resident in the recent years. MichaelJacksondeath

A teenage Jackson and his brother performed on the Las Vegas Strip as the Jackson 5, starting in April 1974 at the original MGM Grand (now Bally’s).  They performed several times that year. 

The King of Pop was also a guest for long stretches in the poolside villas of The Mirage during the ‘90s, when his friend Steve Wynn was the hotel chairman. 

The closest Jackson came to a ticketed performance in Las Vegas was in February 1994, when “The Jackson Family Honors” was taped in front of a live audience at the MGM Grand Garden arena for an NBC special.   The crowd screamed and cheered so much when Jackson came onstage that it took several minutes for him to be able to continue with his presentation, with his longtime friend and confidante Elizabeth Taylor finally quieting the crowd. 

Jackson started turning up more frequently in Las Vegas beginning in 2002.  He received the key to Las Vegas from Mayor Oscar Goodman in October 2003, and lived in Las Vegas with his children during a six-month stretch in 2007.  

On and off during the past decade he lived in Las Vegas in a Spanish Trails mansion owned by the Prince of Brunei, a home on West Palomino Lane (near Wasden Elementary School), and a rented house just west of Decatur Boulevard near Sahara Avenue. 

It is not immediately known how recently he lived in Las Vegas, but CNN reported he relocated from the Las Vegas to Los Angeles in May. 

During the filming of a controversial British documentary that aired in 2003, journalist Martin Bashir followed Jackson on shopping sprees around Las Vegas. 

Jackson created a media circus on November 20, 2003, when he returned to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara, California after posting his $3 million bail following charges of child molestation.  A slow-speed car chase ensued in the evening as local and national media followed from the air and ground Jackson’s Lincoln Navigator as it wandered the streets of Las Vegas and Henderson. 

Jackson stayed during that period at Green Valley Ranch and the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas before moving back to California to await his trial.   After being exonerated in June 2005, he left the United States for 18 months, spending time between Dubai and Ireland, before flying to Las Vegas on Christmas Eve 2006 with his children. 

He ended his stay in Las Vegas in June 2007, leaving a Summerlin rental home in filthy shambles, with piles of junk left on the curb in his wake. 

During his stay in Las Vegas, Jackson and his children were often spotted at local shows and attractions, fueling reports that Jackson three years ago was pursuing a Celine Dion-type residency on the Strip.  Eventually, Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts, had to issue an official denial of any plans to host Jackson in June 2005. 

In December 2008, Jackson was bailed out of the $24.5 million he owned on Neverland Ranch in California when Colony Capital, owned by billionaire Tom Barrack, bought the loan that also owns the Las Vegas Hilton.  That fueled speculation that Jackson would perform in La s Vegas to pay off the debt. 

The Wall Street Journal reported the possible tribute show at the Hilton similar to Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles show “Love” at The Mirage in Las Vegas.   Although talks and dinner meetings ensued with potential promoters, his “This is It” tour ended up planned in London. 

He was rumored to be a possible headliner at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. AEG Live, which books the Colosseum, said only that Jackson’s performance in London there would be judged for viability before discussing plans to bring him to Las Vegas. 

About a year and a half ago, Jackson resided and recorded at the Studio at the Palms Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas for two months, with Akon and RedOne producing.  Some of the material appeared on the 25th anniversary of his “Thriller” album, released last year.  It is not known how much more his work recorded there remains unreleased or the future of it.

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What do Las Vegans do when the thermometer hits 120 degrees? RUN!

Sounds crazy- but, then again, Las Vegans are the epitome of crazy.  

Running with the Devil (he owns a couple of foreclosed houses in Sin City) is exactly what a group of hardy – and deranged – athletes will do when they gather at Lake Mead National Recreation area in Boulder City, Nevada this Saturday for the Running of the Devil races. 

Starting and finishing at Boulder Beach, runners will compete in five distance options, with the longest being 50 miles, roughly a DOUBLE marathon.   It’s about an 11-hour race-  for those that survive. 

Participants are described by event organizers as athletes looking for a challenge that goes beyond a mere morning job through the neighborhood.  Really? 

Running with the Devil is all about facing the challenge of extreme heat.   Last year the temperature reached 112 degrees, and it hit 116 the year before.

 All those who finish the race alive will receive a medal.  So far, 45 people have signed up to run the 50 mile gauntlet. 

Some runners are using this race as a warm-up (?) for Badwater, a 135-mile run though Death Valley in California starting July 13, where the temperature can reach 125 degrees or higher, with the race taking up to 60 hours to complete.  Now, that’s endurance! 

Interested?  Check out www.calicoracing.com for more information.  You can register for the race on Friday at the Hacienda Hotel in Boulder City from 5 to 9  p.m., or on the day of the race at Boulder Beach.

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Las Vegas Makes Two Major Sports Announcements to Boost Local Economy

The Orleans Arena and parent company Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas announced on June 24 two major sporting announcements. 

First, the Orleans Arena will be the host for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships in 2011 and 2012, a major NCAA tournament.

 The 8,500-seat Orleans Arena became a leading college basketball venue in 2006 when it hosted the Las Vegas Invitational, featuring a showdown between defending national champions Florida and Kansas.  Since then, the Las Vegas Classic has become an annual event each December featuring top college basketball programs.  In March 2009, the Orleans Arena hosted the sold-out NCAA West Coast Conference Championships. 

The WAC decision two years in the making,  came down to two host cities, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, with the unanimous nod to select Las Vegas by coaches and WAC management.  

“It was the easiest and quickest decision we’ve made,” said Karl Benson, right, of the WAC, adding they want to become “long-term business partners with the Orleans.” 

The neutral site afforded by Las Vegas overweighed any issues and concerns related to gaming and alcohol.  

The WAC tournament will be played March 8-12, 2011 and March 6-10, 2012.  The conference’s eight members are Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State, and Utah State.

Tickets information will be provided at a later date. 

Adding even more team interest in Las Vegas, earlier this year the WAC announced plans to hold its 2009 Volleyball Tournament at the Orleans Arena November 23, 24 and 25. 

Further strengthening its reputation as one of Las Vegas’ leading sports and entertainment venues, the Orleans Arena also announced that it will host the Arena Football League 2’s ArenaCup 10 championship game on Saturday, August 22.  

With more than 25 teams competing in its 10th anniversary season, the Arena Football League 2 (af2) showcases fans-friendly football across the country having more than 200 regular-season and 15 post-season games scheduled.  The current season began on March 20. 

“We are excited to bring the ArenaCup to Las Vegas,” said af2 President Jerry Kurz, right. “Our owners saw the value in bringing our league’s showcase event to the biggest showcase city in the world.  Our fans will be treated to a unique, total entertainment experience from touchdown to takeoff.” 

The decision to select Las Vegas was a unanimous decision from all 25 league owners. 

Kurz might have also let the cat out of the bag, adding that they would like to have a team in Las Vegas and this championship game could be a precursor to that happening.  “We want to date before we get married,” said Kurz. 

With the Orleans Arena holding up to 7,100 fans for the championship game, tickets for ArenaCup 10 will go on sale July 10 at 10 a.m., priced from $17.50 to $60, said Orleans Arena Executive Director Davis. 

Ticket information is available by calling 702-284-7777 or visiting www.orleansarena.com

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