Category Archives: Uncategorized

Learn Erotic Macramé in Las Vegas

Leave your momma at home.  This Las Vegas macramé class on Sunday is definitely not for the faint of heart or those that want to learn  to craft a mere plant holder.  

No, in this class participants will learn how to make chest harnesses, rope corsets, crotch ropes and even rump bindings.  We kid you not. 

The higher learning class will be led by Lee Harrington, who has been tied to the BDSM community for more than 14 years, and has written books on the role of ropes in bondage play. 

Submissive students will learn the erotic knotty art in pairs, and must provide their own rope. 

Rest assured, what you learn here won’t come undone- no matter how much or how loud you moan. 

The class will be held this Sunday, March 7, 12:30 p.m., at the Erotic Heritage Museum, 3275 Industrial Road, 702-369-6441; $25 ($20 in advance).

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Las Vegas Entertainers Come to Aid of Singer/Musical Conductor Bill Fayne

Members of the Las Vegas entertainment community are once again stepping up again to help one of their own. An all-star lineup will be donating their time this Saturday for a fundraiser at the Suncoast for singer/musical conductor Bill Fayne, who is recovering from major throat surgery for cancer. 

“The great news now is that he is on a course to full recovery,” said entertainer Clint Holmes, co-host of the afternoon show with his wife, Kelly Clinton-Holmes. Fayne has been Holmes’ longtime conductor and arranger. 

Fayne, who has lost 50 pounds from his  surgery and diabetes complications, and Clint Holmes have been friends since their college days. 

Taking the stage will be Terry Fator, Frankie Scinta, Lance Burton, Louie Anderson, Robin Leach, Sandy Hackett & the Rat Pack Show, the ladies from “Menopause,” Elvis Presley tribute artist Paul Casey, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute artists “Oh What a Night” and Human Nature. 

The lineup of entertainers include Domenick Allen, Leigh Zimmerman, Cayleigh Capaldi, Rick Faugno, Lena Prima, 5th Avenue, Voci Vegas, the Las Vegas Tenors, Tony Sacca, Jerry Lopez, Jeff Neiman and Vincent Falcone. 

The event begins at 2 p.m. this Sat., March 6 at the Suncoast. Tickets are $45, $35 and $25 and are available at the Suncoast box office and other Boyd Gaming properties.

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Donny and Marie Osmond Announce Return to their Las Vegas show

Donny and Marie Osmond are scheduled to return on March 9 to their Las Vegas show following the death of Marie’s 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil. 

The sibling musical duo will return next Tuesday to the Flamingo Hotel & Casino and add five extra show dates for “Donny & Marie” from April 13 through17. 

As previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, Blosil, who had battled depression, committed suicide in Los Angeles last week.

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Academy Awards Parties Start Tonight in Las Vegas

The Academy Awards are approaching with warp speed.  This year’s event – 82nd Annual Academy Awards – will be held on Sunday March 7, 2010. 

Leading up to the awards, in Las Vegas the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino and American Superstars will host their 19th Annual Reel Awards tonight, Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Theater of the Stars Showroom. With a unique red carpet, filled with faux celebrities, The Reel Awards honors the world’s best tribute artists and impersonators. 

The Reel Awards, a high-energy variety show produced by International Celebrity Images, will include comedy, singing, dancing and impersonations by some of the industry’s top tribute artists. 16 Reel Awards will be presented to winners in various categories based on their achievements throughout the year. Emcee impersonators of Dame Edna and Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will offer sidesplitting comedy and parodies. In addition to performances from tribute artists portraying Marilyn Monroe, Julio Iglesias, LL Cool J, Whitney Houston, Selena, Bette Midler, and the Blues Brothers. 

Additionally, the winner of the Vegas Tribute Idol competition, held during the Celebrity Impersonator Convention March 2 & 3, will be announced. Donny Moore, will be one of the “idol” judges, selecting one performer to be introduced Friday, March 5th with the cast of American Superstars. 

Reel Awards show tickets cost $50, taxes and service charges included. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.thereelawards.com or call (760)318-0460.  The Stratosphere Hotel & Casino is located at 2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South. For more information, call 702-380-7777 or toll free at 1-800-99-TOWER (998-6937) or visit www.StratosphereHotel.com

Times are tough, so how about hosting an Oscar viewing party at your home?  Private Oscar viewing parties are quite en vogue and can be just as swank as the actual Academy Awards themselves.  

On the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences web site, you can find everything you need to host your own Academy Award viewing party including downloadable Oscar ballots, party play-along games, recipes, cocktails ideas and much more at http://www.oscars.org/partykit 

But, if you rather want to be out and mingle among the masses, you might want to check out Avello that will host the Wynn Las Vegas’ first-ever Academy Awards viewing party on Sunday.  

Or, if you prefer, Oscar Night America is rolling out their red carpet for a huge Academy Awards party at 4 p.m. on Sunday in the Millan Ballroom at The M Resort  & Spa. This Las Vegas event is one of 50 parties officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that will be held across the country on Oscar Night, benefiting Variety – the Children’s Charity of Southern Nevada. Tickets are now on sale at the Variety office, 3401 Sirius Ave., Suite 1, Las Vegas, or online at www.varietysn.org, or by calling 702-383-8466. 

If you know of other Oscar parties in Las Vegas, please drop Las Vegas Backstage Access a comment note and we’ll post.

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Asian Festival & Tradeshow in Las Vegas on March 5

This huge Asian cultural event takes place in Las Vegas on Friday, March 5, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., to promote and celebrate the rich Asia Pacific Culture through entertainment and activities including a fashion show, Asian talent showcase, cultural performances, and live concerts by local and international talents, community recognition awards, and more. 

Hungry?  Eighteen food vendors will be on hand representing the authentic cuisine of the Asia Pacific will be serving mouth watering dishes to the crowd. 

AFT is an event that gives manufacturers, distributors and retailers a chance to meet and network with the consumers and attendees to promote and sell their products and services. 

The event is in Las Vegas at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Boulevard South.

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First Tiger Woods’ Mistress Rachel Uchitel Moves to Las Vegas to Restart Career

Rachel Uchitel, the VIP hostess with the mostest, whose alleged affair with golfing icon Tiger Woods was the flashpoint of the recent epic scandal, has apparently moved to Las Vegas to restart her career. 

Uchitel has moved into a Turnberry Place tower in Las Vegas where she purchased a ground-floor unit for $820,000 in 2006. 

Recent reports have Uchitel, who worked the velvet ropes for clubs in Las Vegas, New York and Southhampton, N.Y., getting involved now in the entertainment television field. She reportedly has been offered a job as a nightlife reporter with “Extra,” the nationally syndicated entertainment television show. 

Sources at Turnberry Place say she has leased her 1,556-square-foot luxury condo and is renting a nearby unit. Uchitel recently pulled her ground-floor unit at Turnberry Place off the market. Vegas Confidential reported in December that she had listed the property at $1.35 million. 

Uchitel formerly worked at Tao nightclub in Las Vegas but had a falling out well before she was linked to Woods. 

Uchitel was the first of about 20 or so mistresses to surface in the Woods scandal that broke during Thanksgiving weekend.

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Go Extreme in Las Vegas!

It’s once again time for the Extreme Thing in Las Vegas. 

Tickets are on sale for the Clark County Parks and Recreation Departments 15th annual Extreme Thing Sports and Music Festival, Saturday March 27 at Desert Breeze Park in Las Vegas.  

This is the first year the event will have three stages:  The Verizon Wireless Stage will feature Sum 41; the AP (Alternative Press) Stage will showcase Call the Cops and I Fight Dragons in addition to Story of the Year and The Cab; and the XPOZ Local Band Stage will feature loca Las Vegas acts.  Which local acts is still a question as Las Vegas bands are competing in the XPOZ Battle of the Fans.  For more information on Battle of The Fans checkout www.smokefreescene.com 

In addition to great music, Ricardo Laguna will once again present his pro-BMX dirt jump competition.  Professional wrestler Adrenaline Unleashed brings professional wrestling to the outdoors. And the roller derby tournament and skate competition is sure to be a fine flying feature. 

Sponsors of the 2010 event include Las Vegas City Life, Red Bull and X107.5FM.  

Tickets can be purchased for $17 general admission or #45 for the combo package at www.extremething.com  by phone at 702-454-4000 and at participating Smith’s Grocery stores.  Tickets will be $20 on the day of the event.

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Homicides on Display in Las Vegas

An exhibit covering a century of ultra high-profile homicides and crime cases in Los Angeles opens today, Wed., March 3, at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.  

The first-time display is part of the training for 800 detectives that are learning all the in’s and out’s of proper crimesmanship at the California Homicide Investigators Association 2010 Conference put on by the Los Angeles Police Department. 

The provactive items include evidence, photos and video from the murder trials of Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson (“if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”) as well as steamy evidence associated with the death of Bobby Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Black Dahlia slaying and more. 

Daring attendees can even get their own crime mug shots. 

The exhibit will be open to the public today and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Barry Manilow Spreads Lotsa Love in New Las Vegas Digs

Barry Manilow believes that a good love song never goes out of style.  He believes it so much that he has now released an album dedicated to the idea.  “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time”, released January 2010, contains 15 classic love songs including “Fools Rush In” and “How Deep Is the Ocean.”  And the 63-year-old singer will be bringing these songs and more to his two-year run at the Paris Las Vegas hotel-casino starting Friday, March 5. 

“I’m actually going to focus on the fact that we are in the most romantic world called Paris,” a gushing Manilow said. “Since I sing such romantic songs, I thought that would be a really good place to do something like this.” 

Manilow hopes his new Las Vegas show will receive the same response as his prior Hilton show.  The Las Vegas Hilton performances were primarily collections of his greatest hits. However, fans need not worry, he plans to incorporate those long-time favorites into his new Paris show as well. 

Tickets start at $95 and can be purchased at parislasvegas.com; 800-745-3000.

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Get Drunk in Las Vegas for a Great Cause

The struggling Lake Las Vegas community is arguably on life support, but that isn’t stopping them from launching an event for a good cause.

The Village Lake Las Vegas and Buckbean Brewing Co. are joining forces to present the Brews Best Village Beer Fest to raise funds for New Vista Community from 2 to 8 p.m. on March 13.

The festival will showcase a gadzooks numbers of breweries – mostly from Las Vegas – including Buckbean, Boulder Dam Brewing, Barley’s Brewing, Gordon Biersch Las Vegas, Backyard Brew Pub, Stone Brewing Co., Tenaya Creek, Sonoran Brewing Co., Nevada Beverage and Del Norte Brewing Co. 

Breweries will be set up along the waterfront’s cobblestone streets of The Village Lake Las Vegas.   Guests will be able to taste beers while being serenaded by live musicians- that means NO DJS!

Worried about driving home drunk or having a hangover after the festival?  No problem.  A special Brews Best Beer Fest package will be available with an overnight stay at MonteLago Village Resort or Vacation Villas. 

For more information, please call 888-600-2688 or visit www.montelagovillage.com, or for Vacation Villas, please call 702-568-1174 or visit www.lakelasvegasrentals.com

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Osmond’s Las Vegas Show on Hiatus after Suicide of Marie’s Son

The suicide death of Marie Osmond’s teenage son is forcing the singer to put her Las Vegas act with brother Donny on hold for an indefinite time.

The duo’s show at the Flamingo Hotel Showroom was canceled Saturday night and People.com cites a rep who says it’s not yet known how long the hiatus will remain in effect.

Los Angeles police say Marie’s 18-year-old son, Michael Blosil, leapt to his death last Friday night from the downtown apartment building where he lived.

In a statement, Marie Osmond said she and her family were “devastated and in deep shock.”

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Celebrity Shenanigans in Las Vegas

Lindsay Lohan is apparently back to her vintage shenanigan ways again, this time heading to Milan for fashion week when she had previously committed to hosting a club night Saturday at Las Vegas hotspot Pure nightclub.

The thrill-a-minute ditzy Lohan abruptly canceled her appearance at the club on the day of Saturday’s planned event, with no explanation to anyone, and was later spotted and photographed in Milan. 

Though Lohan may have stealthily skipped out from her Las nightclub engagement, still Sin City got a double dose of star-power on Saturday night when Mariah Carey and Ciara appeared at Haze Nightclub. Mariah was presented with a huge tiered cake after wrapping her Angels Advocate  tour at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, while Ciara hosted the evening at the ARIA Hotel & Casino hotspot at CityCenter, singing along to her hits “Goodies” and “Oh.”

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Kim Kardashian Stylin’ & Marketing Non-Stop in Las Vegas

Kim Kardashian looked her very buxom best at the launch of her very first fragrance at the Tao nightclub in the Venetian in Las Vegas on Sat., Feb 27. 

Kardashian wore a form-fitting, low-cut beige-and-black number with matching black heels. She paired it up with hair worn down and neutral colors on the face.

While we think it’s an odd choice of colors to wear to an evening event, we’ll let it slide, seeing as she’s usually on the money! Let’s hope her new fragrance is too.

Kardashian showed up at the party escorted by her mother, Kris, and celebrity publicists Simon Huck and Jonathan Chaven. 

It’s been a very busy week for K-ster, who previously tweeted Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek, plugged her fragrance on the sets of QVC shopping channel and met up with beau Reggie Bush at the salon.

Proving she has all the right stuff, she appeared chipper early next morning, Sunday, when she popped out of bed with the chickens to attend the NASCAR opening cermemonies at the Shelby American race in Las Vegas, rooting her namesake’s car on. 

Her touted fragrance, named simply Kim Kardashian, is a provacative, heady mix of tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine and is packaged in a circular black bottle. It is available exclusively at Sephora retail stores and QVC.

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College in Nevada Offers First Dining Card

The College of Southern Nevada has launched its first Dine About Card to raise much needed funds for student scholarships and educational programs.

The $20 card is sponsored by Metro PCS and provides cardholders with exclusive monthly dining offers and discounts at a host of Las Vegas restaurants, ranging from fast food to primo gourmet dining. 

A sampling of participating restaurants include Hash House A Go Go, Pizza Hut, Panda Express, Sonic, Ricardo’s, La Scala Ristorante and Jamm’s.  A full list of restaurants is included with the card at the time of purchase.

The dining card is good through Dec. 31 and includes offers such as free appetizers, free desserts, two-for-one entrees or special pricing on specific menu items.

The card can be purchased at www.csnfoundation.net or by calling 702-651-5947.

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Celebrate National Pig Day in Las Vegas

The ‘lil deceased oinkers are finally having their long overdue special day in Las Vegas.   To celebrate, you’re invited to attend any of Famous Dave’s locations in Las Vegas and enjoy all the delightful squeals of National Pig Day on Monday, March 1.  For showing your concern, you’ll receive a free lunch-size pork sandwich for anyone who comes in wearing pink.

Each location will also will be holding a contest where the general manager will pick the best pig costume from 5 to 6 p.m., and the winner will receive a $100 Famous Dave’s gift card for having to go through the dress indignities.

Locations in the Las Vegas Valley are 1951 N. Rainbow Blvd. (702-646-5631), 4390 Blue Diamond Road (702-633-7427), 9695 W. Flamingo Road (702-871-5631), and 2630 E. Craig Road in North Las Vegas (702-399-8000).

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Battle of the Bands Seeks Talent in Las Vegas

Smokin’ Hot Aces in Las Vegas will host an as-yet untitled battle of the bands beginning March 7.   

This is not your run-of-the-mill band contest.  The winner receives $10,000 in cash and prizes, the opportunity to open for a Universal act during Memorial Day weekend performance at the Venetian’s new rock bar, and exposure to major record labels. 

Judging the event will be Las Vegas musicians, Strip performers and celebrities to later be announced. 

Band performances will be spaced two-per-night (9 and 10 p.m.) every Sunday from March 7 through Memorial Day. 

Judges scores will be combined with online and in-person ballot voting to determine the competition’s four finalists. 

If you think you’re smokin’ hot enough, please contact Steve Slaughter at steve@thirtythreegroup.com

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It’s not easy being Mr. Las Vegas

Entertainer Wayne Newton’s money woes and legal skirmishes are continuing at warp speed. 

Newton has had a long history of financial problems.  Newton famously declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy after becoming mired in roughly $20 million in debt about 18 years ago and the IRS said in 2005 that Newton owed $1.8 million in back taxes and penalties. 

Then, earlier this month it was learned that Newton abandoned his plane at the Oakland County International Airport three years ago and now owes more than $60,000 in storage fees and now faces lawsuits. 

Also this month, a civil lawsuit was filed in Clark County District Court by Bruton Smith, chairman and founder of Speedway Motorsports Inc. Smith is seeking to seize Newton’s home for repayment of a $3.35 million loan. 

Smith alleges Newton and his wife intentionally defrauded him and misrepresented their ability to repay the loan. 

A lawsuit was also filed last summer for nonpayment of $32,000 worth of hay for his horses. 

To top that off (if that’s possible), yesterday a large posse of Clark County sheriff’s process servers and moving vans showed up in the morning at Newton’s 38-acre ranch at Pecos and Sunset roads in Las Vegas, trying to serve the entertainer with judgment documents and take his property pertaining to a civil lawsuit brought by his former pilot, Monty Ward.  

Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt in September ordered Newton to pay Ward about $455,000 in back wages with interest accruing at the rate of roughly $129 per day. Court records show Newton paid less than $4,000 to Ward as of September. 

A similar action by Ward is simultaneously being pursued in U.S. District Court. 

Ward filed a federal breach-of-contract lawsuit in 2006 against Newton and a Nevada company called Desert Eagle. 

According to the lawsuit, the defendants asked Ward around February 2003 to work as their private pilot for the next decade. He was to start at a minimum annual salary of $92,000, plus medical and dental benefits, according to the complaint. 

“In reliance on assurances of continued employment and payment from defendants for a minimum of 10 years, Ward left his employment of 16 years as a captain and pilot with Horizon Airlines and became defendants’ private pilot,” the lawsuit alleges. 

Then, around August 2005, according to the document, Newton and Desert Eagle decided to discontinue using their private aircraft. The lawsuit claims Ward sent the defendants invoices for his services and benefits for periods after they decided to discontinue using their private aircraft, but despite repeated demands, they refused to pay him. 

In January 2009, then-U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval ruled that Newton and Desert Eagle had breached a settlement agreement they had reached with Ward, and Sandoval entered a judgment of about $455,000 against the defendants.

Late last month, a writ of execution was issued in the case by the U.S. District Court clerk. The writ directed the U.S. Marshals Service to enforce the judgment, which, with interest, has grown to more than $500,000. 

This Tuesday, Ward filed a notice of his intention to take Newton’s deposition on March 4 in Las Vegas.

Yesterday, deputies left Newton’s compound without being able to properly serve him  The documents were returned to District Court marked “unexecuted,” and no further service will be attempted pending civil court actions, police said. 

The Wayne Newton saga is hardly over.   If anything, it will be rapidly ramping up in the next few months.  Please stay tuned to Las Vegas Backstage Access for developments.

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NASCAR in Las Vegas Will Exceed Super Bowl Fan Draw

The many NASCAR driver meet-and-greet events and deafening varooms befitting plenty of exciting dirt track racing action all started yesterday in Las Vegas.  By the time the marquee Sprint Cup Shelby American on Sunday is over, an estimated 300,000 people will have experienced the roar of racing in their ears and smell of gasoline enticing their nostrils.   That’s four times the attendance at the Super Bowl, according to Chris Powell, president of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

For the Sprint Cup race alone – the biggest event of the weekend – in 2009 about 140,000 spectators saw the race.  That’s down from about 152,000 in 2008 and the record attendance of 156,000 in 2007. 

Regardless of the ending attendance figure this year, the significant question is if those people can translate into record spending.  Most Las Vegans are hoping and praying it does, giving their languishing economy a much needed economic bump. 

Out-of-towners hold the key trump card to this weekend’s economic prosperity, comprising 70 percent of the race crowd invading Las Vegas. 

Attempting to lure more tourists to the track than prior years, race ticket prices at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway have been greatly reduced this year. With more people attending, hopefully, that will translate into more ancilliary spending on goods and services. 

Las Vegas hotels will undoubtedly be the major economic beneficiaries. The recessionary price levels of hotel rooms that have plagued Las Vegas for the past year have virtually disappeared, albeit temporarily. The Riviera, mirroring what most Las Vegas hotels are doing, is jacking their weekend’s room rates to a whopping $224 per night.  But next weekend the Riviera will zoom back down to their customary $79 level. 

Budget hotel are also raising their rates, as well the higher priced Strip hotels, such as Harrah’s that is sold out all weekend, and Wynn Las Vegas and the Hard Rock Hotel, both sold out on Saturday. 

VEGAS.com reports their Web site’s hotel room sales are up 30 percent. 

Rolling up the total revenue picture, excluding gambling revenue, the associated revenues from last year’s NASCAR weekend raked in $107 million, according to the Las Vegas convention and Visitors Authority. 

But that doesn’t come close to 2008 revenue, when the haul was $134 million. Most don’t think this year will equal that level. However, should the heavy rain that is anticipated to blanket Las Vegas intermittently on Saturday postpone Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 race and cause the race to move to Monday, that might be just the silver lining needed to help close the revenue gap, keeping race fans in Las Vegas and extra day or two, perhaps aided in no small part by the dangling carrot of being able to see heartthrob racer Danica Patrick strut her stuff. 

Will this year’s racing events add up to yielding the top revenue producing weekend in Las Vegas?

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Belly Dancing a Go-Go in Las Vegas

Belly dancers galore will be performing at the Massive Spectacular in Las Vegas in a weeklong affair that starts Sat., Feb. 27 and runs through Thurs., March 4 at the Railhead in Boulder Station in Las Vegas, 4111 Boulder Highway. 

Billed as the “Massive Spectacular,” the event will feature dozens of belly dance performers from Tribal Massive performing a wide range of the dances under the big umbrella of belly dancing. On the evening of March 4, dancers, many of whom are instructors for the proceeding week’s workshops, come together on the stage at the Railhead in Boulder Station. 

The doors for the Massive Spectacular open at 6:15 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Railhead at Boulder Station, 4111 Boulder Highway. Tickets are $35 in advance at http://www.TheMassiveSpectacular.com or $40 at the door. Admission for children 13 and younger is $5. Only cash will be accepted at the door. 

Proceeds will benefit the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

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Become a Playwright, Actor or Composer in Las Vegas

Insurgo’s No Shame Theatre in Las Vegas may just be the ticket you’re looking for to show you can write plays that people will flock to see. 

No Shame is a longtime national movement that has finally arrived in Las Vegas.  The first 15 written works arriving each week at Insurgo Theatre will be cast, rehearsed and performed- on the same night.

You can bring literally anything in to showcase- from avant-garde to music- or movement-based pieces to improvisational works, monologues and scenes.

Non-writers interested in acting can also show up and let the Insurgo staff know they’re ready to perform whatever’s thrown at them.  The only rules for actors and playwrights is that you can’t hurt yourself, the audience or the space.  And no breaking the law.   Anything else is fair game.

No Shame Theatre on Thursdays beginning Feb. 25 at 9:30 p.m.  $5 for both general audience and participants.  Insurgo Theatre Movement, 900 E. Karen Ave., Las Vegas, 702-369-3692.  www.insurgotheater.org

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Nevada’s $6.8 Billion Casino Loss in ’09 the Largest Ever

As a result of declining gaming revenues, reductions in hotel rates and reduced consumer spending, Nevada’s highest-grossing casinos generated a net loss of almost $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2009- the largest ever for Nevada. 

The huge loss resulted from a total revenue of more than $22 billion including money spent by customers on gaming, hotel rooms, food, beverage and other attractions.

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Gamblin’ in Las Vegas is Human Nature

What does the very popular Austrialian vocal group Human Nature when they’re not performing at Imperial Palace in Las Vegas?  Gamble.   What else?  It’s Sin City! 

Human Nature, who formed as a doo-wop band in 1989 in Sydney, Austraila, has now been performing “The Ultimate Celebration of the Motown Sound” to rave reviews at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas for the past nine months. 

Tight harmonies and rich vocals are what make Human Nature standout in concert. Songs like “Reach Out”; “Just My Imagination”; “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch);” The Jackson Five’s “ABC,” and the group’s moving version of Robinson’s “Ooh Baby, Baby,” are their mainstays.  

Motown music legend Smokey Robinson has acted as their official envoy and presenter of the LasVegas show and its touring production.   Now, it appears that Robinson has switched gears somewhat, gearing up for doing his own shows and promoting his own music including his new CD on his own label, “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun,” which is an album that embraces Robinson’s favorite theme: Love.

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Burning Man Festival Gains Momentum

The official once-a-year celebration in Nevada occurs in Black Rock City, starting on Aug. 30 and running through Sept. 6.  But if you can’t afford to lose that much time from work – or simply don’t want to fry your ass with some 48,000 or so other radical and self-reliant Burning Man participants (called ”Burners”)  – there are other alternatives close to Las Vegas to get your radical art and nature urges on.

The first major event is “Forgotten City,” running April 22 through 25 in Nipton, California, one hour south of Las Vegas. 

The next artist conclave is on May 6 through 9 called, “Toast!” an Arizona burner event in Witch Well, Arizona.   Four days of large scale art, music, performance, and interactive participation. The Azburners are an interactive group of artists, performers, musicians and participants.  

Vegas Backstage Access has written many articles on “Burning Man” which can be searched on our site in the right hand column. 

And, here is a cool 360-degree movie style panoramic of the various enclaves comprising the big daddy Black Rock City event.

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Danica Patrick, NASCAR, Sprint Cars & Food Mix in Glorious Las Vegas Weekend

Yes, there really is NASCAR racing in Las Vegas next weekend, Feb. 26-28.  (Did you really think it was just an outing to ogle Danica Patrick?) 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., though, isn’t getting overly excited about his late charge to a surprise second-place finish at Daytona.  After the season-opening Daytona 500, the restrictor plates are now off during the 1½-mile Las Vegas oval track races and the focus is back on the the kind of tracks that dominate the 36-race championship season.  

It can be anyone’s race. 

Earnhardt said he feels good about his team and crew chief Lance McGrew, who is starting his first full season after replacing Tony Eury Jr. last May and having the interim tag removed by Hendrick in late October. That gave them a whole off-season together to get ready for 2010. 

“We built a lot of new cars. We did a lot of hard work, Lance especially, during the off-season to put us in a position to bring better cars to this race and to Vegas and so forth,” Earnhardt said. “Just give me a good car and I can run real good.” 

“Everybody in the garage kind of feels like this is the start of the regular season. Daytona is so different than every other kind of racing that we do and of course it’s the Daytona 500,” said Jimmie Johnson, the four-time Sprint Cup champion and California native who has won four times at his home track. 

“Everybody is really interested and anxious to understand where we are with the cars,” says Johnson. 

The added good news is that even before the entire NASCAR contigent fully descends on Las Vegas next weekend, racing fans will get two opportunities to add a little dirt to their diet as the USAC Sprint and Midget Series and the World of Outlaws Sprint Series come to town.

The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the United States Auto Club (USAC) on Thursday, February 25 and the World of Outlaws the next night for three thrilling A-mains between the two groups of talented drivers. 

To keep up your energy while walking endlessly around the track, don’t forget to first eat your fill before heading to the track, stopping by the NASCAR Café inside the Sahara.

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Las Vegas NASCAR Complete Schedule

Everywhere you look this week it’s NASCAR all over Las Vegas. Here’s the definitive NASCAR meet and greet schedule: 

First, click here for the complete schedule for what’s happening at NASCAR only at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Next, here are the sequential driver events occuring BEFORE the Las Vegas NASCAR events:

Thurs., Feb. 25  

Noon – Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Michael Waltrip, crew chief Pat Tryson at Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em Poker Tournament at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. Spectator admission is free; $225 to play. 

2-4 p.m. – Raybestos Rookie drivers Terry Cook and Kevin Conway (and others TBA) from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will participate in a cooking competition at the ESPN Zone in the New York New York Hotel & Casino. 

4-6 p.m. – Tony Stewart at Office Depot, 1435 W. Craig Road 

4 p.m. – Brad Keselowski at Discount Tire, 6565 E. Lake Mead Blvd. 

4 p.m. – Dale Earnhardt Foundation Poker Tournament, Stratosphere Hotel & Casino: Kerry Earnhardt, Kenny Wallace, Kirk Shelmerdine, Casey Mears, Matt Crafton, Regan Smith, Aric Almirola, Eric McClure, Todd Bodine, Mike Bliss, Scott Lagasse Jr, Andy Ponstein, Danny Efland and car owner Tommy Baldwin. Spectator tickets are $20. 

5 p.m. – Sam’s Town Live! inside Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall – 12th annual AutoTrader.com NASCAR Driver Auction. Drivers scheduled to appear include: Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan and Kyle Petty. Event also includes silent auction, appearance by Home Improvement TV star Mickey Jones and music by Skid Rodeo. Admission is $20. 

5:30 p.m. – Kasey Kahne at PT’s Pub, Interstate 215 at Decatur Blvd.   

6 p.m. – Kurt Busch at Pole Position Raceway, 4175 S. Arville 

6:30-8:30 p.m. – Kyle Busch at M&M’s World on Las Vegas Blvd. 

6:30-7:30 p.m. – David Reutimann at NASCAR Café at Sahara Hotel & Casino 

8-9 p.m. – Trevor Bayne at NASCAR Café at Sahara Hotel & Casino 

FRIDAY, FEB. 26  

7-9 p.m. – Bobby Labonte, Terry Cook at the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino 

7-7:30 p.m. – Trevor Bayne at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

7:30-8 p.m. – Michael McDowell at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

8:15-9:15 p.m. – Kurt Busch at Indigo Lounge in Bally’s Hotel & Casino 

Show cars only:

Friday, Feb. 26
10 a.m.-5 p.m. – Joey Logano’s No. 20 at Home Depot at Lamb Blvd. at E. Charleston 

SAT., FEB. 27  

5 p.m. – Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman at Lagasse’s Stadium in the Venetian Hotel & Casino. Stewart will be honored as part of The Venetian and The Palazzo’s Legends of the Sport series. An $89 package is available for purchase which includes premium seating in Lagasse’s Stadium for the Q&A session, meet-and-greet with Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, and autographed photo by both drivers. 

5:30-6 p.m. – Marcos Ambrose at The Pub at the Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino 

Race Tickets 

Tickets for the Feb. 28 Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Feb. 27 Sam’s Town 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event and the fabulous Neon Garage fan experience may be purchased by calling the LVMS ticket office at (702) 644-4444 or online at www.LVMS.com. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.

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‘Queen’ Celine Dion Saves Las Vegas Single-Handedly

Let’s face it:  Celine Dion operates like a city within Las Vegas.    When many performers are looking to hang it up, or at least slow down, Dion, 41, who started singing professionally when she was 12, churns full speed ahead with no end in sight.    

Keeping a relative secret for over a year, Dion recently officially revealed that she is returning to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on March 15, 2011 with an all-new show and a three-year contract, while planning to stay in her Lake Las Vegas home.    Tickets are now available.

During her last five-year reign at Caesars, a custom-built Colosseum was completed for her at a cost of $95 million, who then proceeded to sell more than 200 million copies of her 25 albums in French and English.   The queen singer also drew celebrities galore into Las Vegas, refreshing the entertainment scene like few others before her.  Most can’t wait for her Las Vegas comeback. 

Her Las Vegas show, A New Day, took in more than a whopping $400 million at the box office and in merchandise, and the production employed hundreds – the 50 dancers, musicians and others visible onstage were just the half of it. 

It has been announced that she’ll be employing 31 musicians, a full orchestra and a band.   Not bad for a city starving for any economic bumps it can get. 

Talking about bumps, after four unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization, Céline Dion is not giving up hope for a second child, with her husband, Rene Angelil, 26 years her senior. 

“I’m going to try until it works,” says Dion, who continues giving herself daily hormone shots — and enduring the roller-coaster ride of emotions they bring — after the heartbreaking loss of a pregnancy in August and three other failed IVF attempts last fall.

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Death by Chocolate in Las Vegas

Willy Wonka has nothing over Max Brenner, or should we say Oded Brenner, right, the real Max Brenner.

Brenner, the epitome of the consummate professional sweet tooth, whips up a cavity-inducing array of pure chocolate decadence including such entrees as chocolate pizza, chocolate quesadillas, chocolate s’mores and, if that is not enough to smash competition, their utterly chocolate extravagance called The Sticky Caramel Chocolate Concoction. 

The Israeli-based premiere chocolate-to-die-for chain of Max Brenner stores, owned by the Strauss Group, now has worldwide domination squarely in their sights, planning to open this summer an enormous branch store in the Forum Shops in the Caesars Palace mall in Las Vegas, facing the H&M flagship store. 

The chocolate bar alone will spread over two floors and 9,310 square feet including more than 200 seats and a bar with 12 stools and bar tables. The Las Vegas branch will also offer a chocolate shop and a room for private parties of events of up to 45 people. 

Another Max Brenner branch is also expected to open soon in Boston, in the Restaurant Row area. It will spread over one floor measuring 5,844 square feet in size and will include about 150 seats as well as a full-service bar with stools, a chocolate shop and, yes, even a chocolate restaurant. 

According to Giora Bar-Dea, CEO of Strauss-North America:  “This year we began implementing our strategy to build Max Brenner as an international brand.  The opening of new branches in central Las Vegas and in Boston is aimed at introducing the brand in the West Coast of the United States and strengthening our international exposure, with the goal of opening additional branches in the continent.” 

About $5.35 million was invested to open both branch stores. 

The new branches will join the chain’s 30 branches worldwide: two in Manhattan, 18 in Australia, two in the Philippines, two in Singapore, and six in Isreael, the company’s headquarters, which houses 15 staff people, led by founder Oded Brenner. 

The Max Brenner chain was established in 1995 by Oded Brenner and Max Fichtman, and is now owned by the Strauss Group after it was acquired by Elite in 2001. The chain’s global sales turnover is $32 million annually.

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Las Vegas Deathfest

If blood-curdling, gut-churning heavy metal (emphasis on ‘heavy’) music is your relaxing Las Vegas cup of tea on a leisurely weekend, best to plan to make tracks  to the 2nd Annual Las Vegas Deathfest.  

Details are still being received on the timing and venue, but last year it was held on July 16 and 17 at Cheyenne Saloon, 3103 N. Rancho Drive, 702-645-4139. 

Their eclectic music lineup includes such bruiser bands as Putrification, Despondency, Incinerate, Inherit Disease, and Pathology.

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Down Goes Hawaiian Tropic Zone in Las Vegas

The Hawaiian Tropic Zone, located inside the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas, known for its great drinks, wild parties and innovative promotions, has succumbed to bad economic times. 

Sadly, the restaurant, bar and lounge will close in the wee hours this Sunday morning.   No news forthcoming on exactly what will fill the physical void or when.

The Hawaiian Tropic Zone in Las Vegas opened its doors in January 2008.

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Wayne Brady returns to Las Vegas, follows Chazz Palminteri, Joan Rivers

Entertainer Wayne Brady, right, to many, may not have left Sin City.  But that he did.  Now, Brady of “Let’s Make a Deal” fame, which taped at the Tropicana, is returning to the Venetian in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend.  

Brady, produced by Zeiger’s Base Entertainment, is scheduled to perform 15 weeks scattered though the rest of this year, while presumably working around the new taping schedule of “Deal.” 

But before Brady arrives, Chazz Palminteri and Joan Rivers will keep his Venetian stage warmed up. 

Palminteri performs his autobiographical one-man play “A Bronx Tale” April 28-May 9 and Oct. 6-18.  It’s a Las Vegas exclusive engagement- the only booking this year for Palminteri. 

Joan Rivers will host Venetian dates in April, times to be later announced.

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Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin to Receive Las Vegas Star Tributes

The Las Vegas Walk of Fame will install sidewalk star memorials to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in ceremonies at 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 22 in the Flamingo showroom. 

Deana Martin will speak on behalf of her father, Dean. 

So, why did these mega-stars of the Las Vegas heyday get their stars after Tony Sacca and Wayne AllenRoot?  Simple:  These latter guys were paid for by the recipients’ families, while Sinatra and Marine families didn’t see the need to pay for an honor that virtually existed anyway through their mass audience appeal for decades.  

The Walk haunchos, apparently, had a soft spot in their heart and is financing Sinatra and Martin on their own dime.  That’s nice. 

Money talks- and for sure in Las Vegas.

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Fly into Las Vegas, Buy Booze while at Luggage Carousel

Buying booze at an airport luggage carousel will soon join the “only in Vegas” list.

Clark County commissioners are actively looking for a vendor to run a liquor store at McCarran International Airport’s baggage claim areas.

McCarran will be the only airport in the U.S. where highly spirited travelers could shop for euphoric fueling spirits as they await their bags to come down the turnstile. 

Randall Walker, the airport’s aviation director, estimates that the store would bring in $400,000 to $600,000 a year.  Definitely not chump change in a stale economy.   Equally important, the innovative approach would help the county help curb the fees on airline, which, in turn, would give airline carriers less reason to cut flights into the Entertainment Capital of the World. 

It’s wasn’t a slam-dunk decision, though.  Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak resisted the idea and asked that the board put off action for at least a month so that businesses, travelers, the taxicab authority and others can weigh in.  But his colleagues rejected the feeble plea, so he finally gave in and joined the pack in approving the booze store.

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Naked in Las Vegas

Greg Friedler is a fine art photographer.  Translated, he has a passion for capturing unique still photo scenes.  But his other finely honed artsy ability is taking photographs of willing people posed clothed and naked in front of a studio canvas. 

Las Vegas, undisputed City of Sin, was squarely in his camera’s viewfinder years ago and is now part of a documentary film, “Stripped: Greg Friedler’s Naked Las Vegas,” by David Palmer, which will premier in March 2010 and is planned to be on Showtime for two years. 

Their creative effort started in 1973, working from scratch and with no confirmed photo subjects nor even a confirmed location to shoot, Denver, Colorado-based avant-garde photographer Friedler and Los Angeles-based filmmaker David Palmer embarked on a multi-dimensional and highly emotional 30-day Las Vegas roller coaster ride, that would eventually bring together 173 naked human beings of every shape, size, and walk of life. 

Participants in the project entered a small white room with a red curtain and opened themselves up, literally, for what eventually became “Stripped: Gred Friedler’s Naked: Las Vegas,” baring not only their naked bodies, but, equally important, a bit of their inner souls. 

In 2008, with a pre-release copy of Greg Friedler’s book “Naked Las Vegas” in hand, David Palmer would journey back to Las Vegas and follow up interpersonally with 40 of the book’s true-life characters whom he had documented during Friedler’s initial Las Vegas shoot.  What would become apparent was that not only had the city of Las Vegas gone through very drastic changes, so too, on multiple levels, did the people whom Friedler and Palmer had photographed. 

Through Palmer’s discerning lens, which at times becomes so humanizing that even clothed, the film’s characters feel more naked than ever; viewers are privileged to see what happens when everyday human beings stripped of clothing, comforts and society’s judgments discover an even playing field of beauty, humanity and ultimately self love. 

The variety of visual candy is amazing.  From a homeless man who strips himself of his past regrets to find employment, a home of his own, and along with it his dignity; to a hermaphrodite couple exposing the truth that beauty and love can be shared beyond social stigmas; to an Elvis impersonator nakedly confronting his own lack of trust in society and finding faith in others by keeping his own commitments, “Stripped” prevails by sharing an honest, true story of ultimate triumph over what may seem like insurmountable social and personal odds. 

In our society that is overwrought with an obsession for money, fame and beauty, this collective of unique and sometimes bizarre individuals, living in one of the world’s most infamous cities, shows all of us it is possible to grow from crisis, to find the betterment of humanity through vulnerability, and ultimately be uplifted and inspired by the triumphs of coming to terms with who we all really are.

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Eva Langoria Parker to be honored for Latin Chamber of Commerce Business Leadership Award in Las Vegas

Eva Longoria Parker, entrepreneur and owner of two new, successful CityCenter ventures, Beso steakhouse and Eve nightclub, will host the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce 35th Installation Gala on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Eve in Crystals at CityCenter in Las Vegas.  Red carpet starts at 6 p.m. for media. 

Part of the official swearing-in ceremony of the 2010 Board of Directors. Luis Valera, Chairman of the Board, will share his vision for 2010 and present Longoria Parker with the first-ever “Premio de Oro – Distinguished Leadership” award. The award recognizes Longoria Parker for her success as the Las Vegas Strip’s sole Latina restaurant and nightclub owner and for her commitment to expand opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. 

In addition, the City of Las Vegas and Clark Country will declare February 20 as “Eva Longoria Parker Day.” 

Following the proclamation ceremony starting at 6:45 p.m. and award presentation at 7:45 p.m. for media, Longoria Parker will host an after-party celebration at Eve nightclub. Eve event is open to the public.

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Las Vegas Pawn Shop Doubles as Reality TV Show, Proving Junk Sells

Well, it’s not all junk.  But many may think their dust-collecting, largely abandoned asset won’t bring much money- that is until they haggle with Rick Harrison, center, or his father, Richard, left, or son Corey who co-own a hugely successful Las Vegas pawn shop, Gold and Silver Pawn. 

Recession?  What recession?  Boom times are out the roof, thanks in no small part to the History Channel’s hit reality TV series “Pawn Stars.” 

Back in July, before the show started, the family business about 70 customers a day that showed up at the 713 Las Vegas Blvd. South address. 

And now? “We do about 1,000 a day,” said beaming Rick Harrison. 

The 35 episodes of national TV exposure have doubled revenue and generated a non-stop waiting line of 50 customers throughout the day, which usually ends at 11 p.m. 

The Harrisons have even added a surreal touch for their customers: a velvet rope for crowd control, ala a Las Vegas nightclub. 

Two of the more shocking items that recently arrived: a bronze medal from the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics and a 1998 Denver Broncos Super Bowl ring.  Rick Harrison said he paid $700 for the medal and $11,000 for the bejeweled ring.  The medal came from a shoebox found in a garage by a son-in-law who was cleaning up after his wife’s father died. The family, who lived in the Midwest, was vacationing in Las Vegas and decided to sell the medal. 

“Names aren’t etched on Olympic medals so we have no idea who it belonged it to,” Harrison said. 

Harrison said the ring owner identified himself as a former landlord of Bronco safety Tori Noel, a late addition to the team roster. The former University of Tennessee standout saw little action that year in Denver, the first of back-to-back Super Bowl titles, and suffered a career-ending injury the next year during training camp. 

It’s not the only Super Bowl ring pawned at Gold and Silver. Harrison said he purchased Brock Williams’ ring from the 2002 Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots. 

Williams, a former cornerback at Notre Dame, was paid about $2,000 for the ring. He never returned to buy it back, Harrison said.

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Las Vegas Foodies Offered 50 Percent Discount

One of the focus areas of Las Vegas Backstage Access is fine dining, so it’s a big deal when supermarket food can be purchased at a 50 percent saving– that leaves more money in the budget for dining out at lots of cool Las Vegas restaurants! 

Today, Friday, from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Star Theater in the Greek Isles Hotel, 305 Convention Center Drive a launch party is being held for the Las Vegas Food Co-op, operated by The Verve Foundation, where multiple vendors offer a monthly menu of food items at a tremendous value.  There are no membership fees or monetary qualification to join.

The free kickoff party features The Sturdy Band, Imagine Dragons and A Crowd of Small Adventures.  A cash bar and menu is available. 

Food can be ordered online at www.thevervefoundation.org with credit cards.  Or, to pay with cash or food stamps, people may call the foundation office at 702-425-3951. 

Food orders placed can be picked up the last Saturday of each month at the foundation’s Las Vegas warehouse, 7850 Dean Martin Drive, Sutie 503.

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Lake Las Vegas Continues Death Throes

Casino MonteLago, which opened in 2003 – the only gaming location inside the upscale, now bankrupt Lake Las Vegas, located approximately 50 miles south of Las Vegas – has announced it will close on March 14, eliminating in its wake 177 jobs. 

The 40,000 square foot casino has 635 slot machines, a dozen gaming table games, a race and sports book, and two restaurants. 

This venue casualty follows a notice a week ago of the impending shutdown of the Ritz-Carlton in Lake Las Vegas, planned for May, costing an additional 350 jobs. 

Two of the three luxury golf courses have already been shut down during the community’s prior Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. 

Lake Las Vegas already has more than $700 million in liabilities- and growing. 

The only holdout, for now, is the 493-room nongaming Lowes Lake Las Vegas and the MonteLago Village retail center. 

Come June, the environmentally pleasing alternative to the fast-pace and glitter of the Las Vegas Strip, will be largely transformed into a gem of a ghost town.

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Welcome to Sin City, Mr. President!

With an unprecedented 30-mile radius air traffic prohibition in place (usually it’s half that) during his trip to Las Vegas, costing commercial air tour travel operators thousands of dollars of lost revenue, President Barack Obama remains undaunted, planning to land his Air Force One gas guzzling hog later tonight, marking his second presidential visit to Sin City– you know, the little hideaway berg that encourages corporations to blow their government bailout funds or simply have students waste their college savings on gambling forays. 

Despite having such a notorious moniker, Las Vegas tourism officials have weathered the multiple gaffes and predict a million more visitors in 2010.  Thank you, Mr. President. 

He’ll probably need to bring a strong suit of armor and sharp swords when he speaks Friday for select invitees at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, where his prior barbs were specifically aimed.

His olive branch offering, if you will, will be his quest to seek congressional approval of the Travel Promotions Act- an overseas $4 billion promotion program that could bring more moneyed foreign tourists to Las Vegas.   Morevover, the bill promises it could bring 40,000 new American jobs and $320 million in new federal tax revenue, according to the U.S. Travel Association. 

If that doesn’t stick when the Prez throws it against the wall, his backup plan (or an add-on, depending on crowd rancor) could be to announce the Department of Transportation’s $30 million project for a new Sahara Avenue – one of the most traveled byways in Las Vegas – bus project as part of the multibillion stimulus package. 

But outspoken ex-mob lawyer turned Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will not being rolling the red carpet out.   Goodman remains upset at President Obama. Goodman said he needs to be true to his conscience and, therefore, won’t accept invitations to greet the president of attend any town hall meeting unless he personally gets “some kind of retraction.”  

If you like to be part of this surely politically entertaining event, you can line up for tickets now at Green Valley High School in Henderson for Friday’s 10 a.m. town hall meeting. 

Mr. President, please be sure to enjoy yourself when you’re in the home of sin.  It’s a devilishly fun town.

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First-Ever Amusement Expo Heads to ‘Fun’ Las Vegas on March 10

What a better place to go and have fun and be amused- and make money!- then in fabulous Las Vegas?

The first-ever edition of the Amusement Expo will take place from March 10 through March 12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where their exhibits will be commingled with a Fun Expo. 

Although fewer than 100 exhibitors had signed up for the combined Amusement Expo and Fun Expo as of mid-January, their numbers are expected to expand significantly by show time. 

One indicator of strong support for the combined show was the Jan. 15 announcement by Incredible Technologies that it would exhibit. This is first coin-op spring show that the maker of Golden Tee Golf will be a part of in eight years. 

During Amusement Expo, there will host a free seminar program for street vendor operators. 

Fun Expo’s seminar program includes the Fun Academy and a series of standalone educational events such as the Party Workshop. 

The new Amusement Expo is co-owned by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association, both based in Chicago. The show is managed by W.T. Glasgow Inc. (Orland Park, IL), which has long managed AAMA’s Amusement Showcase International, AMOA International Expo and Fun Expo, which is now owned by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

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Las Vegas’ World Record Hug-Off

Need a hug?  Then big-hearted Jeff Ondash is your man. 

The 51-year-old Ohio man embraced the Valentine’s Day spirit faster than anyone before — passionately embracing 7,777 hugs in 24 hours for a new world record. Jeff Ondash, who sought the squeezes under the costumed alter ego Teddy McHuggin, broke the record Saturday night outside the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. 

In his quest, Ondash also broke another record:  1,205 hugs in one hour- another world record. 

Ondash did it all to raise money for the American Heart Association. He said that all of his hugs helped raise awareness of America’s Heart Month, a cause especially important to him because his father and brother died of heart problems. 

Ondash’s Las Vegas feat smashed the record 5,000 hugs in one day previously set by Siobhan O’Connor in Dublin Ireland.

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Poker Pro Antes Up Las Vegas World Series of Poker Winnings “For a Song”

A professional poker player and award-winning songwriter, Jason Mershon, has come up with a unique and ambitious plan to promote his new poker song called “Playin’ Poker for a Livin’.” 

In what is believed to be the first offering of its kind, Mershon is planning on entering the 2010 Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this summer, and is agreeing to share 50 percent of any Final Table winnings with the first 15,000 people who download and purchase his song at his website: www.playinpokerforalivin.com

“It’s just my way of saying ‘thank you’ to those fans who like my new song,” says Mershon. “I wrote the song to humorously tell what it’s really like being a professional poker player; the sarcastic attitudes of many professional poker players; and the monotony of actually playing poker for a living and grinding out the long hours in a casino card room.” The song itself, “Playin’ Poker for a Livin’,” has already received great reviews from poker players and card room owners alike, who have stated that it’s the best song written about poker in years. 

Mershon has spent most of his life in the entertainment business, and is now a recognized professional poker player in Southern California. He plans to update his progress during the tournament on his Twitter and Facebook page, thus giving people a “virtual seat” at the tournament. 

Since winning two awards at the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2006 for his rock musical, “Rock and Roll Heaven” (aka “Heaven Rocks”) which can be found at www.rnrheavenrocks.com, Jason Mershon has been a regular fixture in the California and Las Vegas poker circuit. 

“I probably spend 90% of my time playing in cash games,” says Mershon, “but I’m also considered a pretty good tournament player as well. So, I don’t want people to think I’m ‘dead money’ in the World Series of Poker,” he laughed. 

“Additionally,” he concluded, “I’m offering a special extended limited edition of my poker song which will only be available to the first 15,000 fans who purchase the song.”

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Las Vegas Celebrates Chinese New Year by Ringing in Wealth, Casting Out Demons

In celebration of the Chinese New Year’s – Year of the Tiger – and as part of the Las Vegas diversity initiative, the famed Lohan School of Shaolin lion dancers will perform in the Las Vegas City Hall Plaza, 400 Stewart Ave., on Wed., Feb 17 from 8:30 to 9 a.m., prior to the start of the Las Vegas City Council meeting. 

The Lion Dance is meant to ring in wealth and prosperity in the New Year and scare away evil spirits galore.  (Heaven knows, Las Vegas need lots of wealth in 2010 and have possessed evil spirits galore lurking in Sin City.) 

Also, during the Council meeting that follows, Councilman Steve Wolfson will recognize the Lohan School of Shaolin for their continued dedication to promote Asian culture and arts for more than 15 years in Las Vegas.

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Las Vegas Relics Get Rebirth

No, mobsters are not being dug up.  (Have they really left?)  Regardless, located behind chain-link fences, rests 150 relics of vintage Las Vegas.  The relics belong to the Neon Museum, which has been collecting old neon signs since 1996 and showcasing them throughout the city and at its Neon Boneyard. 

But with no place to adequately display its vast collection, the Neon Museum for five years has been forced to operate on an appointment-only basis. 

That has all started to change this week with construction starting on the Neon Boneyard Park. 

The park will be located on the corner of McWilliams Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard and will back up to what is now part of the Neon Boneyard. 

The $1.9 million improvement project will jumpstart a sluggish Las Vegas economy and be located along the section of Las Vegas Boulevard that was recently designated a National Scenic Byway and is at the heart of the Las Vegas cultural corridor.  

The project includes the development of the half-acre park and paving part of the Neon Boneyard for a parking lot. The Bureau of Land Management funding the project. 

When the park is completed, visitors will find landscaping, benches, picnic tables, a stage and informational kiosks. 

A sign made up of replicas of old neon letters will welcome visitors to the new park.  The company building the sign, Federal Heath, chose iconic letters from the old Horseshoe, Desert Inn, Caesars Palace and Golden Nugget signs to spell out the word “neon” in LED lighting. 

The Neon Boneyard will move across McWilliams Avenue, behind the restored La Concha Motel lobby, which will serve as the visitor center. 

The change will allow the Neon Museum to better serve visitors, expand public hours and operate under a general admission format, rather than visitors making appointments for tours. 

In light of the construction, the Boneyard is now closed to the public temporarily but will reopen in the spring for modified tours. The new facility should be up and running by the summer.

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Gilley’s Returns to the Las Vegas Strip on April 16

Gilley’s is coming back, bull and all. The mechanical bull that has long been victorious in numerous battles waged by tourists, locals and bikini-clad riders is back to buck off all comers at it’s new ‘arena’ at Treasure Island, when Gilley’s Saloon, Dance Hall and Bar-B-Que re-opens April 16. 

A Las Vegas cousin of the famous Texas saloon, it was THE popular country honky-tonk and a huge attraction at the New Frontier for years until owner Phil Ruffin sold it and bought Treasure Island for $775 million. 

It will be going in the former Tangerine nightclub space now occupied by Christian Audigier the Nightclub, which overlooks the Sirens of T.I. gunbattle. Gilley’s will have retractable glass for outdoor Strip seating, and will be accessible from inside the casino and via a newly constructed bridge in front of the Siren’s ship.  

Gilley’s will be open for lunch and dinner, featuring a show kitchen and custom saddle seats at the bar, live entertainment Thursday through Saturday, line dancing and the world-famous Gilley Girls.

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Harrah’s Entertainment in Las Vegas Going… Retail

Harrah’s Entertainment is reportedly seeking a building permit for a three-story, 72,000-square-foot Strip-front build-out on the southwest corner of Paris Las Vegas. That space, which now has a fountain and an outdoor dining area, would get a retail store, new restaurants and a nightclub.

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China Comes to U.S. Rescue of Maglev Train from Los Angeles to Las Vegas

Long discussed and hotly debated for years, it appears if the magnetic levitation train (called ‘Maglev’) ferrying passengers (and tourists!) from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is really to get started in earnest, it will take Chinese funding- lots of it. 

China announced last week that it is willing to loan $7  billion to build the project. 

All that is needed for the loan to go though is a promise of support from the U.S. government. 

Maglev officials said the Export-Import Bank of China is willing to lend the money with the knowledge that if the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission is unable to pay the funds back, federal officials will. 

What’s a little petty cash transaction between friends?

{Also, a prior article is available on the high speed Maglev train issue by Las Vegas Backstage Access.}

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Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas at Zero Gravity: Fly like a Superhero, Float like an Astronaut

Now, if you have daring-do, you too can take part in a weightless experience like no other in Las Vegas onboard G FORCE ONE, Zero Gravity Corporation’s specially modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft. 

Guests will have the unique opportunity to float freely and lighten up in complete weightlessness onboard the ZERO-G flight. It’s not a simulated flight.  Rather, the actual flight pattern replicates the same levels of weightlessness enjoyed on Mars (1/3-gravity), the moon (1/6-gravity) and zero gravity. 

Available on select February and March dates in Las Vegas for your romantic getaway weekend, this is truly a one-of-a-kind package, ranging in price from $14,500 to $15,500. 

For more information or reservations/bookings for Zero Gravity package in Las Vegas, please visit Pure Entertainment Group or email: concierge@purentonline.com

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Big League Baseball Sort of Comes to Las Vegas

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar B. Goodman, Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese and Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown all were on hand recently to praise the new baseball sports park as a world-class attraction for local and visiting ballplayers and families. 

“Big League Dreams (BLD) is a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that raises the bar for baseball and softball in the city of Las Vegas,” Goodman said. “Las Vegas is known for having the best entertainment, hotels, restaurants and shopping, and now we also have the best ball fields.”

 BLD owners and representatives included former Los Angeles Dodgers star Bill Russell, a BLD consultant. 

“This is our 10th Big League Dreams Sports Park, and it’s a great fit for Las Vegas,” Russell said. “We know that this park, even more than our others, will attract visitors from all over the country.” 

BLD includes six fields designed for youth baseball and adult softball, two sports-themed restaurants, an indoor field house for soccer and other activities, batting cages, playgrounds and an area for picnics and private parties. 

BLD is operating and maintaining the sports park in a public-private partnership with the city of Las Vegas. The 35-acre Big League Dreams is part of the city’s upgrade of its 68-acre Freedom Park on the city’s east side. BLD has a 30-year maintenance and operations agreement with the city, covering all expenses related to the sports park at no cost to the city, which shares gross revenue from the complex. 

Big League Dreams is at 3151 E. Washington in Las Vegas. Their website is www.BigLeagueDreams.com

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Sara “Rogue” Palin Plans Tea Party U.S. Tour Launch in Nevada on March 27

Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice president running mate of Sen. John McCain, now morphing into a conservative Republican rock star and Fox News contributor, is saddling up her horse to ride smackdab into Democrat Sen. Harry Reid’s hometown in Nevada. 

Palin will be galloping into Searchlight, Nevada on March 27 to launch a Tea Party Express cross-country bus tour that ends in Washington, D.C. on April 15.  She is helping step up the Tea Party activists’ campaign to unseat Democrats and GOP incumbents who reportedly don’t espouse less spending, less taxes and less government. 

The GOP primary candidates seeking Reid’s seat who have confirmed they are coming to the March 27 shindig include Sue Lowden, Danny Tarkanian and Sharron Angle. 

Senate Majority Leader Reid, 70, who is seeking his FIFTH term, responded to Palin with a bring-it-on statement:  “Make sure you stop by the Nugget for a 10-cent cup of coffee with free refills- and make sure to say ‘Hi’ to Verlie.”

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Tropicana in Las Vegas Taps New Marketing Vice President

The Tropicana hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has a new marketing vice president.

Tropicana Las Vegas President Thomas McCartney announced  that Cynthia Mun has been hired to head marketing of the property’s $125 million restoration and rebranding. 

McCartney says the effort will focus on the Tropicana casino, pool, restaurants and bars, guest rooms and conference center. 

McCartney says Mun has 20 years of marketing experience, most recently as executive director of business insights and strategy at casino giant MGM Mirage. 

Mun previously was a new product development executive at Dun & Bradstreet, and co-founded a wireless technology company based in San Francisco. 

She studied biophysics, biochemistry and sculpting at Yale University, completed Harvard Business School’s leadership and strategy programs, and attended Le Cordon Bleu’s California Culinary Academy.

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Huge Church of Scientology Opens in Las Vegas without Tom Cruise

Fifteen hundred Scientologists and their guests from across Nevada and the Western United States gathered last Saturday for the grand opening of the new Church of Scientology of Las Vegas. The 40,000-square-foot Church, located at 2761 Emerson Avenue, will serve parishioners from throughout Nevada and represents significant growth for the congregation formed in Las Vegas 40 years ago. 

Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, presided at the evening dedication ceremony, welcoming the assembled Scientologists and guests to their new Church.

Special guests participating in the dedication of the new Church included United States Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas City Council member Steven Ross, and Las Vegas Neighborhood Services Department specialist and mayor’s representative to the Community Interfaith Council Maria Castillo-Couch.

In welcoming the parishioners and guests, Mr. Miscavige said, “You don’t get much closer to the spirit of what we represent than a city that rests on the dreams of artists and treats everybody as somebody. So, yes, we have opened new Churches in cultural epicenters before. But talk about ‘Center Stage Planet Earth.’ This one stands in a town so bright you can even see it glowing from deep space. And now it’s home to our newest Church of Scientology and Celebrity Centre Las Vegas.” 

Talking about the new Church, Mr. Miscavige said that Celebrity Centres are those special Churches of Scientology designed to enhance a culture by enhancing the artist.

“The first of this new breed was opened only just last year in Nashville-otherwise known as Music City, USA,” he said. “But as your honorable Mayor pointed out, what plays in this city now plays in every other cultural capital on earth. 

“And even more than that-and with all due respect to your Mayor’s modesty-it’s not a London, a Paris, a Tokyo, Milan or New York that tops the resume of international performers these days. No, it’s the fact one can say: ‘I do Las Vegas, which is Show Town planet Earth.’ 

Set on five acres of desert landscape, the former synagogue and school has undergone extensive renovation to accommodate all Scientology religious services and also serve as a home for the community services the Church provides through the many activities and humanitarian programs of its members. 

An expansive Public Information Center houses a permanent multimedia exhibit describing the Church’s beliefs and practices and the life and legacy of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard. Displays also cover the Church-sponsored humanitarian and social betterment programs that offer practical answers to the societal ills of crime, drug abuse, illiteracy, declining moral values and natural and man-made disasters. These programs represent the work of the Church of Scientology in servicing every community in which they reside as well as other communities around the world.

There is also a Chapel for Sunday services, weddings, naming ceremonies and other congregational gatherings including workshops and seminars for artists; spiritual counseling rooms; course rooms for religious study; seminar rooms; a bookstore containing the written and spoken materials of L. Ron Hubbard; and Community Relations offices and meeting rooms to coordinate social betterment programs with like-minded organizations in the community. There are spacious lounges and a central courtyard to serve as a gathering place for artists and community visitors, in keeping with the unique purpose of a Scientology Celebrity Centre to help the artist and thereby benefit the culture as a whole. 

In closing the dedication ceremony, Mr. Miscavige spoke of the significance for Las Vegas of the new Church: “Yours is a city that rose out of sand to become an artistic empire and inspire the world. As such, it really is a place of dreams-and extravagant dreams at that. So as we, too, know what it means to build upon a dream, let this new Church of Scientology signify the fact we believe in your artists, we respect the audacity of your vision-and together, we can light up this city so brightly, it will shine unto eternity.”

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World Trade Center I-Beam Gets Las Vegas Home on Feb. 27

Photographs and news feeds are often the first thing to come to mind when remembering September 11 and the World Trade Center.  Most of us will never have the opportunity to visit Ground Zero in New York and so, to a certain extent, the 9/11 attacks remain almost an abstract event.  Something so important to our nation should be more than an intangible image which is exactly why the Atomic Testing Museum is including a beam from the shattered World Trade Center in their permanent exhibit. 

Since 2005, the Nevada Test Site and the international Cold War has been immortalized at the Atomic Testing Museum located just a few minutes from the Las Vegas Strip.   The exhibits reveal the progression of nuclear testing taking into account not just the act of detonation, but the impact of the nuclear age on the world.  The conclusion of the exhibit includes a piece of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the end of the Cold War, and a three-foot Trade Center beam on loan from the Smithsonian, a symbol of the on-going war on terror.  

The ATM is returning the smaller beam to the Smithsonian and on February 27, will replace it with a 6 foot tall, one ton steel I-beam from the World Trade Center. 

The I-beam will be displayed in such a way as to allow visitors to touch the the scorched and damaged steel. Troy Wade, chairman of the Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation said “this will allow people to get a step closer, to actually touch a piece of one of the most historic occasions in the history of this country.’ 

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Trivia:

What national catchphrase preceded  “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” and even pre-dates “Sin City?” 

During the Liberace and Frank Sinatra years, Las Vegas was known as “The Up and Atom City”, a direct reference to the mushroom clouds and atomic research conducted at the Nevada Test Site.  While active nuclear testing concluded in 1992, the test site is now used for developing counterterrorism devices.

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Celine Dion Plans Baby, Las Vegas Comeback

Celine Dion, 41, is reportedly in a New York City fertility treatment center.  She was impregnated in August but it was announced in November that the embroyo transfer was unsuccessful. 

Dion will be reportedly announcing on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” this week that she is returning to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in March 2011.

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Media Finally Snags Interview, Photos with Nevada’s First Male Prostitute

Finally, “‘Markus,” Nevada’s first prostitude, spilled the beans about his erotic ways at the Shady Lady Ranch brothel in Nye County, Nevada.  

But it took lots of moxy and personal sacrifice from New York Post undercover (and we do mean “undercover”) reporter Mandy Stadtmiller to really stretch and lay it all out, going where no reporter before her ventured.

Her full article, complete with photographs, appeared in the Feb. 2 issue of the New York Post. 

Making a long story very short, Stadmiller paid Markus $500 for a two-hour session (Markus’ second client), showered naked with the dude, surreptitiously interviewed and photographed him, but, reportedly, they never had sex. 

Stadmiller exhibited rare passion and creativity for her journalist assignment and career.  But, sadly, in the end, when push came to shove, she didn’t take the football over the goal line.

{Also, a prior article on  the male prostitude  by Las Vegas Backstage Access.}

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Tropicana in Las Vegas Getting a New Nightclub?

The Tropicana in Las Vegas is reportedly negotiating a deal with nightclub chain Nikki Beach.

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Wynn Las Vegas Encore Named Best Nightclub in U.S.

Barely a year old, the megaclub at Encore at Wynn Las Vegas has been named the No. 1 club in the nation. Sister club Tryst finished fifth. 

The Las Vegas nightclub industry not only swept the first five spots — Tao at The Venetian was second, Pure at Caesars Palace, third; and The Bank at Bellagio, fourth — but almost one-fourth of the Top 100 are Las Vegas nightclubs. 

XS raked in an astounding $70 million. 

The awards will be presented March 8 during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas. 

“Clearly, Las Vegas maintains its dominance as a nightclub destination,” said David Henkes, vice president of Technomic, the Chicago-based hospitality market research firm that partners with Nightclub & Bar magazine to determine The Top 100.  They provide the industry’s only ranking of leading nightclub, bar and lounge venues based on total revenue. 

Las Vegas has seven clubs in the Top 10. LAX at the Luxor was ninth and Jet at The Mirage was 10th. 

The other Las Vegas nightclubs that made the list: 

11. Lavo at the Palazzo. 12. Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel, now closed.) 13. Moon at the Palms. 14. Ghostbar at the Palms. 16. Drai’s After Hours at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall. 28. Christian Audigier at Treasure Island. 31. The Playboy Club at the Palms. 32. Rumjungle at Mandalay Bay. 36. Rain at the Palms. 37. Blush at the Wynn. 45. Studio 54 at MGM Grand. 49. Krave at Planet Hollywood. 52. Stoney’s Rocking Country. 94. Tabu Ultra Lounge at MGM Grand.

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Las Vegas Pot Convention Cancelled

A three-day convention for marijuana supporters will not happen in Las Vegas. Organizers of “Cannapalooza” say the March event at Mandalay Bay has been cancelled. 

According to the group’s website, the hotel “decided to cancel our contract for space,” and the event won’t take place. Organizer Lou Wozinski told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he had set up a meeting with Las Vegas Metro Police on “Cannapalooza” security last month, and found himself in a room with about 100 not to friendly law enforcement officers. 

Wozinski says he “felt ambushed, like General Custer surrounded by Indians.” One day later, Wozinski, says Mandalay Bay officials mysteriously cancelled the convention. 

“Cannapalooza” was billed by organizers as a “fun, safe, educational event,” and the “largest head shop on the planet.” Wozinski says the event would have brought about 50,000 marijuana fans to Las Vegas.

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Screaming Cheerleaders Bring Pom Poms to Las Vegas on Feb. 14

The Cheerleaders of America organization is hosting their National Championship in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center on Feb. 14.  Thousands of screaming fans will be cheering on hundreds of competitive cheer and dance teams from around the U.S., competing for prizes and sis-boom-bang bragging rights.

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Ready, set, GO to Denny’s for FREE Grand Slam tomorrow!

Denny’s is doing it again.  They’re offering their FREE Original Grand Slam®, Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. everywhere.  (And don’t forget to visit Denny’s for a Free Original Grand Slam® on your birthday.)

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Super Bowl in Las Vegas Brings Reported $1 Million Bet

Adam Meyer, who has the license plates, “Bet on Me,” on his Bentley, has supposedly been approved for a whopping $1 million Super Bowl bet at the M Resort.

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Paula Abdul Ready to ‘Mate’ with Las Vegas

Paula Abdul and Las Vegas hotels are reportedly getting close to ink a deal to host the sometimes controversial performer.  Major announcements involving Abdul in Las Vegas are imminent. 

Abdul was spotted during the week in the valet area of Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas chatting with Hilton executive Ken Ciancimino, who confirmed that he’s been shaping a deal with Abdul for quite some time.

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‘Mr. Las Vegas’ Wayne Newton asks for his Indian Tribe Recognition

“Mr. Las Vegas” Wayne Newton has reportedly abandoned his mouldy plane languishing at a Detroit airport, racking up bills of more than $60,000, but the good news is he’s asking Virginia legislators to grant state recognition to his Indian tribe. 

The Virginia-born entertainer has appealed to the House Rules Committee to officially recognize the Patawomeck, or Potomac, tribe, of which he is a member.

The recognition allows the group to be known as a tribe but does not grant sovereignty. 

Newton and Patawomeck Chief Robert Green said it would validate their identity and help them protect sacred burial grounds.

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Where are the Super Bowl Parties in Las Vegas? Everywhere!

Why spend thousands of hard earned dollars to go to Miami when you catch all the action literally everywhere in Las Vegas for a comparative mere pittance? 

Apparently, thousand of people are of the same persuasion. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority anticipate 278,000 people to visit Las Vegas this weekend- that’s a whopping 13.5 percent increase from last year’s visitor totals.  The nongaming impact from all those visitors is expected to be up 2.4 percent to $89.7 million. 

So, why don’t you see advertising on Las Vegas’ Super Bowl activities?  It’s simply because of the National Football League’s half-baked and business-choking stance against sports betting, the league has threatened legal action against Las Vegas casinos that use the Super Bowl name in their promotions of parties and events surrounding Sunday’s game. But that hasn’t deterred casinos from promoting “Big Game” activities at their properties or kept Super Bowl bets from becoming a major draw at local sports books. 

Station Casinos, South Point and The Orleans, for instance, will show the game in a ballroom that is open to the public. NFL rules do not allow companies to charge admission to rooms where the game is being shown. 

Las Vegas casinos also can have free but private viewing parties for invited guests and VIPs away from the sports book. 

Station Casinos, which owns 10 Las Vegas casinos, are holding viewing parties for invited guests and are offering $1 hot dogs and $1 Budweisers. 

The Las Vegas Hilton is also having a huge viewing party. 

The Palms will hold its football viewing party for VIPs in its Fantasy Suites, including the Hardwood Suite where guests can relax and shoot hoops during breaks in the game. 

The Hard Rock Hotel, which just opened 824 new hotel rooms and 40,000 square feet of new casino space, is having a public party in Wasted Space and a party for invited guests at The Joint. 

For Boyd Gaming Corp., whose properties include Sam’s Town, The Orleans and Suncoast, this weekend is one of the biggest on its winter calendar. 

“It’s far more than just the sports book,” Boyd spokesman David Strow said. “On Sunday, you’ll be able to see the game pretty much in every nook and cranny of the casino.” 

MGM Mirage is also expecting a big weekend even without a lot of extra hype. The gaming company said it has sold out or is near selling out at its 10 Strip properties even though it is not holding any special game-day parties or promotions, other than offering free T-shirts at Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s with $25 parlay bets. 

Nothing boosts business at Las Vegas sports books like the Super Bowl.  With a record haul predicted for the contest (previous article on Feb. 4, 2010 by Las Vegas Backstage Access), still wagering has never reached the elusive $100 million mark.  It has steadily increased over the years, from around $50 million in 1989 (when the San Francisco 49ers nipped the Cincinnati Bengals) to $71.5 million in 2002 (when the New England Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams) to a record $94.5 million bet on Super Bowl XL in 2006, when Pittsburgh beat Seattle.   Maybe this will be the year?

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Michael Jackson’s Las Vegas Mansion Sells for $3.1 Million

Michael Jackson rented a 16,400-square-foot Las Vegas mansion in 2007/2008 for six months while looking for a place to call his permanent home. That estate, located at 2785 S. Monte Cristo, was later taken over by Eastern Savings Bank when the owners defaulted on the lender’s loan. 

On Jan. 30, after being on the market for a mere four days, a California couple reportedly plunked down $3.1 million for the mansion. 

According to Real Estate agent Zar Zanganeh in a statement issued regarding this 10 bedroom, 15,461-square foot house:   “It’s serendipity that we sold the home that we had also rented to Michael Jackson. 

The estate became famous and generated tremendous interest because of the MJ connection; in fact, the buyer is a big Michael Jackson fan.” 

That buyer’s name has not been released, but what has been released is the fact that Michael Jackson had bigger plans for living in Las Vegas in the form of a house at 7000 Tomiyasu Lane. 

On the block in October, 2009 for $16.5 million as noted in a Zillow.com listing, the Las Vegas Sun reported that real estate czar Zar Zanganeh claims Michael Jackson was ripe to buy the 10-acre, 15,000 square-foot Mediterranean/contemporary Las Vegas manse as soon as MJ returned from his London tour, ‘This Is it’. 

Zanganeh claims to have shown Michael and his three children the Sin City complex many times. 

Zanganeh, a Realtor with Fine Vegas Estates, said, “He got so excited, the minute we drove through the gates here he got that feeling of Neverland. As soon as he stepped out of the car, he said, ‘Zar, I love this place. I’m calling it Wonderland.’” 

Built by casino king Gary Primm, the enormous edifice is kidnapper proofed (obviously, a big draw for Michael Jackson), custom-designed with three secure gates. Other safety precautions include secret tunnels, bulletproof doors, and a panic room. 

As for the fun stuff at this so-called real Wonderland: A tennis/basketball court, a 20-seat theater, a cave room den, an orchestra loft, a car showroom, a fitness room and, of course, a dance floor.

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Shane Mosley to Fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 1 in Las Vegas

Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have finally agreed to square off for a welterweight super fight on HBO Pay-Per-View at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 1. 

The hubbub for the anticipated fight started after Mayweather came out of his 18-month retirement last September. 

Mosley, 38, stepped up his interest after the 32-year-old defeated lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. 

Later, in a post-fight interview, Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) challenged Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) to his face. 

Mayweather became available to fight three weeks ago when negotiations for a Manny Pacquiao ticket stalled. 

All parties agreed to conditions for a March 13 bout when Mayweather wanted to have a random blood testing done in addition to the agreed random urine testing. 

The last time Mosley fought was against Antonio Margarito last January, winning his title in a ninth-round knockout.

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Michael Jackson’s Doctor to Face Charges Tomorrow – UPDATE

It appears now that Michael Jackson’s personal doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, with offices in Texas and Las Vegas, will most likely formally face involuntary manslaughter charges tomorrow in Los Angeles, California. 

UPDATE:  Dr. Murray WAS indeed going to face charges today, Feb. 5.  And, in fact, was in Los Angeles waiting – begging – to turn himself in, but Los Angeles authorities refused to act on his pleading, saying they will on Mon.,  Feb. 8.  We apologize for any inconvenience this caused in your day. 

Dr. Murray has been investigated for the past seven months since the pop icon’s untimely death. 

The charge results from improperly administering Michael Jackson the propofyl sleep inducing drug that ultimately ended his life. 

The charge, many feel, is a mere legal wrist slap, probably being a 4-year prison term, if that, if deemed guilty.

Yesterday, Dr. Murray was supposed to appear in a $130,000 civil suit in Las Vegas, but decided not to appear, losing the case. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access has covered the entire Michael Jackson case, with numerous articles posted.

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Super Bowl Betting the Largest Total Ever

Most Super Bowl betting experts predict this year’s Super Bowl to be the biggest in terms of overall traffic and amount of bets placed at the online sportsbooks and in Las Vegas.  

A Las Vegas bookmaker makes the Indianapolis Colts an early four-point favorite to beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 Super Bowl and the bookies (both in Las Vegas and online) pushed the line up to -5 ½.  Sportsbetting.com and a few others have moved the line up to Colts -6. 

Sean Van Patten of Las Vegas Sports Consultants recently told the AP that the Colts’ experience on the NFL’s biggest stage (they won Super Bowl XLI three years ago) helped them take the decided edge. 

The total in this Super Bowl, with a number that has remained steady for the most part, is 56 ½, being the highest total ever posted. 

“In the Super Bowl, most people don’t mind if the defense doesn’t show up as much,” Jay Rood, director of the MGM Mirage’s Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview last week with Bloomberg News Friday. “For the most part they like to see a track meet back and forth. This one could deliver.” 

John Avello, the race and sports book director at the Wynn Las Vegas, said he can envision several scenarios that would keep this year’s game from being a high-scoring contest. 

“For the most part I’d believe that the weather will cooperate, but there’s always the chance it won’t,” said Avello, noting that both clubs played their first two playoff games in domed stadiums. “Second, the Colts’ defense is a lot better than people anticipate and the Saints’ defense showed they can get to the quarterback. This game may not be quite the shootout that’s anticipated.” 

“This is clearly the highest total for a Super Bowl we’ve ever had,” said Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Hilton Race and Sports Book. “People like to bet on offense and it’s shaping up to be an offensive game.” 

Despite the high number, nearly 75 percent of those betting the total were still backing the OVER heading going into the contest.

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Super Bowl Parties Bring Out Cheap Drunks

Expect to see free-flowing Patron and Grey Goose at your upcoming Super Bowl party?   You say, “Whatz Dat?”

This year you’ll be lucky to imbibe on wood grain alcohol at your friends’ party.

Americans’ love affair with top-shelf booze apparently has really cooled last year, as recessionary woes took a dramatic toll on high-price tipples.

Although people drank more alcohol, it turned out to be much cheaper brands, according to a report by an industry group.  They also appeared to be more ‘closet’ drinkers, preferring to guzzle more at home and less in pricier bars and restaurants to save money- and, perhaps, to avoid costly drunk-driving arrests.

Industry growth slowed in 2009, with the amount of liquor sold by suppliers up by only 1.4 percent– the smallest hike since 2001.

And the lowest-priced segment, including brands like Popov vodka, reportedly grew the fastest, with volume rising 5.5 percent.  The most expensive brands – think Grey Goose, tumbled a whopping 5.1 percent.

So, better crank up your dusty still- it’s almost Super Bowl time!

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Sports Illustrated Models Coming to Las Vegas

Gentlemen (and ladies), dust off your zoom lenses because the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models are returning once again to Las Vegas next week. 

Shortly after the cover-girl ceremony is held in New York City next Tuesday, the models will jet off to Las Vegas, where they will participate in numerous activities over two days. 

Their first scheduled stop will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Margaritaville at the Flamingo. From there they go to The Mirage for a poker tournament, followed by an appearance at the Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace. 

Thursday’s schedule includes appearances in The Mirage lobby from noon to 2 p.m., Le Cabaret at Paris Las Vegas from 1-3 p.m. and Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo from 3-5 p.m. 

They’ll make nightclub appearances at Jet at The Mirage on Wednesday (9 p.m.), Vanity at the Hard Rock towers on Thursday (9 p.m.) and Tao (Venetian) at 1 a.m. Friday. 

All three are invite-only events. 

{Last year, Las Vegas Backstage Access covered the event and a video of the event and the gals is posted on Feb 14: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Prove Life Exists After Football }   We could supply photos for your publication if desired.  Please  provide a reply to this post and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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Go to Las Vegas- and Go Broke?

A careless remark by President Barack Obama about Las Vegas has triggered a furious backlash from Nevada’s cash-strapped gambling mecca and a key Democratic ally fighting a tough re-election battle in the state. 

Speaking about the economy yesterday at an event in Nashua, New Hampshire, Mr. Obama told Americans: “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices.” 

The economy of Las Vegas, the world’s most famous gambling and entertainment destination, is heavily dependent on tourism and Las Vegans were already incensed by a crack from Mr. Obama a year ago that companies should not use federal bail out money for trips to the city.   The city is still reeling from that comment, trying to keep bookings and revenues up on conventions and other events. 

Mr. Obama’s latest remark about Las Vegas prompted a swift and angry retort from Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, who is fighting an extremely uphill battle to win re-election in Nevada, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. – a whopping 13 per cent.

Mr. Obama hurriedly dispatched a letter to Mr. Reid. “I hope you know that during my Town Hall today, I wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas,” he wrote. 

Oscar Goodman, the Mayor of Las Vegas and an independent, also got into the fray, raising his voice and describing President Obama as “a real slow learner” who has a “psychological hang-up” about Las Vegas. 

Mr. Goodman added that this time an apology from Mr. Obama wouldn’t be enough. “I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot.” 

Last year, Mr. Obama apologized for his prior gaffe and during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas said that it was good to get out of Washington and “there’s nothing like a quick trip to Vegas in the middle of the week.” 

Repercussions surrounding the current incident are not nearly over.  In a couple of weeks, Mr. Obama is planning another visit to Las Vegas, which surely will cause sparks to fly anew.

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Nicolas Cage Gone in Sixty Seconds from Las Vegas

It seems no matter who you are – or how much you earn – it’s never enough to cover all the bills.  

In June 2009 Forbes magazine ranked actor Nicholas Cage 45th on its list of the 100 most powerful celebrities and estimated his income at $40 million for the previous 12 month period.  Just 6 months later Cage’s $8.5 million Las Vegas home went into foreclosure and has now reportedly been sold for $4.95 million after just one day on the market.  The 14,000+ square foot home on Spanish Heights Drive has six bedrooms, seven and a half bathrooms and features a theater and a subterranean 16-car garage.  

This is only the latest round of financial troubles trailing the Academy Award winner.  In November, 2009, the two homes Cage owned through Hancock Park Real Estate Company in New Orleans were sold at a foreclosure auction and this followed the loss of a residence in California.  This is all right on the heels of a lawsuit Cage filed in October against business manager Samuel Levin.  

In the lawsuit, Cage claims he has “discovered that he is now forced to sell major assets and investments at a significant loss and is faced with huge tax liabilities because of Levin’s incompetence, misrepresentations and recklessness. Rather than attaining financial security, Cage has been forced to dispose of significant assets in order to pay for Levin’s gross misconduct.” 

In addition to home losses, Cage also owes back property taxes and a substantial amount to the IRS.  

“Over the course of my career I have paid at least $70 million in taxes. Unfortunately, due to a recent legal situation, another approximate $14 million is owed to the IRS,” Cage told People magazine.  The good news for Cage is that as a bankable Hollywood actor, he won’t be finding himself on the unemployment line soon and his five projects currently in play should help him regroup and, hopefully, regain his financial footing.

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‘Slick Willy’ Slithers into Las Vegas

President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, apparently never gets old.  He will speak at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Monday, February 22 at 7:30pm. President Clinton’s lecture is titled “Embracing our Common Humanity”. The special evening event is presented by Caesars Palace and AEG Live. 

Tickets for the evening event went on-sale Monday, February 1 at 10 a.m. and may be purchased in person at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace Box Office, or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, or by visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com  , keyword “Caesars Palace”

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Super Bowl Brings Football Legend Paul Hornung to Las Vegas

Football legend and Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung will be signing free autographs in the Tropicana Las Vegas’s Celebration Lounge between noon and 2 p.m., prior to the Big Game on Sunday, Feb. 7. 

Hornung is one of only five players to have earned both the Heisman Trophy as well as football’s prestigious Most Valuable Player award. He is known as one of the most versatile players in football, having played halfback, quarterback and placekicker. Nicknamed the Golden Boy during his tenure at the University of Notre Dame, Hornung moved quickly into professional football as a first-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers. He was named All-Pro twice and went on to win four league championships with the Packers including the very first Super Bowl in 1967. He was later inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. 

Following autographs in the Celebration Lounge, Tropicana Las Vegas guests can watch every play of the Saints as they crush the Colts on big screen TV’s throughout the casino as well as enjoy a variety of food and drink specials.

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Bette Midler Says Sayonara to Las Vegas, Receives Bitch-Slap

Entertainer Bette Midler on Sunday gave her final wave and curtain call – for now – for her show, “The Showgirl Must Go On,” ending her two-run at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. 

The Devine Miss M was honored during the finale from a variety of well-wisher cameos, including Marie Osmond, dissing Donny; Gladys Knight, Pip-singing “Memories,” and, via video, Celine Dion, who is reportedly returning to Caesars Palace soon. 

But minutes before going on for her grand entrance, she arrived to ride the elevator up to the stage and a Cher impersonator, Steven Wayne, from Frank Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas” show at Imperial Palace showed up holding a sign aloft that read: “Get off My Stage, Bitch.” 

The friendly rub came after 50 members of Midler’s cast and crew attended Marino’s show last week.

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Las Vegas Does the Egyptian

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum in downtown Las Vegas is celebrating a milestone thousands years in the making.  Last Saturday, Jan. 30, the Museum opened a new permanent exhibit called The Treasures of Egypt, which features nearly 500 reproduced artifacts including the tomb of the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun. 

The exhibit, located in the museum’s new 4,000-square-foot Egyptian Pavilion expansion, provides a glimpse into the ancient past of Egyptian civilization. It features replicas generously donated by MGM Mirage that were formerly on display in the King Tut Museum & Tomb inside the Luxor Las Vegas, including the world-famous guardian statues, King Tut’s sarcophagus and an array of statues, vases, baskets and pottery. The Museum was able to recreate the tomb of King Tut as discovered by Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt in 1922. This unique replica of the actual tomb is the only known exhibit of its kind outside of Egypt. 

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum is located at 900 North Las Vegas Boulevard. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for students, seniors and military and $5 for children ages 3-11. Children age 2 and under are free. Admission includes access to the entire Museum, including the new exhibit. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

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Miss America Crowned in Las Vegas; Historic Legacy Continues

The 2010 Miss America has been crowned.  Saturday night, 22-year-old Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron, walked the Planet Hollywood stage in Las Vegas wearing a canary yellow evening gown, sporting the traditional Miss America tiara and, of course, giving the traditional Miss America wave. 

In 1920, the Business men’s League of Atlantic City was looking for a way to keep sunbathers on the boardwalk past Labor Day.  They held a Fall Frolic including tennis tournaments, parades and concerts.  But one Boardwalk publicity event, where young men pushed decorated rolling wicker chairs through the streets, truly captured the public eye.  It wasn’t the spectacle of the young men or chairs that caught the public interest – it was the young women in the chairs and in particular, Ernestine Cremona, wearing a delicate white robe.  The event was a huge success and was repeated in 1921.  Only now, there was the addition of a “bathing revue” and it came to pass the crowning of the first Miss America, 16 year old Margaret Gorman. 

From the start, the Miss America pageant has struggled with the paradox of presenting a conservative image of women as virtuous and innocent while parading them around in swimsuits and skin tight evening wear.   But, as the years went by, the pageant had it’s highs and lows, eventually struggling to survive as society evolved while Miss America clung to it’s original conservative roots.   

But even though growth came slowly to Miss America, it did come, most notably in the 40’s.  In 1945 Miss America Bess Myerson received the first scholarship awarded as one of the pageant prizes.  But 1945 also signaled a turning of ethnic tide at the pageant, as Myerson was the first Jewish American to win the title.  Just a few years later the “color” barrier was broken when Irma Nydia Vasquez from Puerto Rico, and Yun Tau Zane from Hawaii, the first Asian contestant, walked the pageant stage. 

In 2004, after several years of declining ratings, the pageant’s Aqua Net hairstyles and glitterati gowns were no longer welcomed on network television.  And then in 2006, the pageant turned to the city of reinvention – Las Vegas, Nevada – to begin to, well, stage a comeback. 

And now it’s in Las Vegas, under the gaudy neon lights, playing to a crowd of 7,000 at Planet Hollywood that Fredericksburg, Virginia, native Caressa Cameron received her crown.  

During her on-stage interview – the segment of all pageants that has drawn the most criticism and interest during recent years – Miss Cameron was asked about how to deal with the epidemic of childhood obesity.  Her reply: “We need to get our kids back outside, playing with sticks in the street like I did when I was little.  Expand your mind, go outside and get to see what this world is like.” 

Good advice for anyone…

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It’s Red Flag Season in Las Vegas!

Perhaps not as well known as the hunting season in Idaho or the ski season in Vermont, Red Flag season in Las Vegas means increased activity in the sky above and around the city.  It’s a little extra noise and traffic for North Las Vegas locals to endure but for military personnel, Red Flag training exercises are an opportunity to immerse themselves in situations which would be encountered in actual combat. 

Essentially, there are two teams made up of personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom.  The Red team is the “aggressor” defending key targets including missile sites, tanks and airfields.  The Blue team has one mission – to attack the targets.  

The event, running Monday, January 25 to Friday, February 5, will be conducted on the 15,000 square mile Nevada Test and Training Range north of the city of Las Vegas.  Participating aircraft will depart Nellis Air Force Base twice each day, first in the mid-afternoon and later in the evening. 

Photo at right is of a F/A-18 Hornet blasting through the sun’s rays, supplied courtesy of photographer Mike Stotts.

For the first time in 16 years, Red Flag will include members from the 93rd Fighter Squadron and Maintenance Squadron from Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida.    And the Homestead ARB F-16 “Mako” will be included in the aerial training exercises. 

“Participating in Red Flag is a huge milestone for the Air Force Reserve Command,” says Lt. Col. David W. Smith, 93rd FS commander. “This is the best training in the world to prepare pilots for integrated joint operations in the most robust air-to-air and air-to-ground combat threat environment.”

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New Senior Center Opens in Henderson, Nevada

Any large business opening is a big thing in this stifling economy- and especially one of this magnitude.  The formal grand opening for the City of Henderson Heritage Park Senior Facility will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30. 

The Senior Facility, which will replace two other older facilities, has been the topic of discussion regarding whether the reported $11.7 million spent on the Heritage Park Senior Facility and the estimated total cost of $26.2 million for the entire Heritage Park complex, was a wise investment during the current economic climate.  

At the time of the July 2008 groundbreaking, the two-year project seemed to be exactly what was necessary to meet the needs of the community.  But as funding for other commitments dried up and the financial domino effect of the mortgage crisis became more apparent, there was little consideration given to putting any kind of hold on the project.  

“Unlike a park, you can’t just leave a half-built building sitting there.” said Kim Becker, spokeswoman for the Parks and Recreation department.  Yet that is exactly what has been done at other local building sites, most notably the bankrupt Fontainebleau sitting just north of the Riviera.  

The Senior Facility, which opened for use on December 16, is a recreational center for adults over 50.  It features a commercial kitchen as well as a demonstration kitchen and the specialty rooms include a dance room, craft room, conference room and media room.  Mindful of the concerns and needs of the community, the Senior Facility also houses a wellness center and health screening rooms and the cafe and lounge area are equipped with the latest in WiFI.  But the centerpiece of this building has to be the fitness room which includes the latest in exercise equipment and the indoor aquatic area. 

“We’re very pleased to be pursuing LEED Gold certification for this building, which truly blends form and function,” said Mary Ellen Donner, director, City of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department. “So many elements are eco-friendly and energy efficient, including a ground source geothermal sustainable energy system, flooring made from recycled products, and insulated skylights and windows to optimize natural lighting. It’s a striking building that will truly enhance the quality of life for Henderson’s 50+ residents.” 

In the end it’s possible that the Henderson Parks and Recreation department will find themselves thanked by many in the Henderson community.  As money has become tighter and tighter, families are turning away from expensive hobbies and weekend entertainments and are spending more time at the park.  The reported 13.5 percent uptick in use at the six Henderson recreational centers during the last half of 2009 is expected to continue or increase, especially as this summer season begins and community pools come more into play.

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First Miss Cougar Las Vegas Seeks Eager Cubs, Votes at Jan. 22 Convention

Want to know what Demi Moore, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, Jennifer Anniston, Ivana Trump, Cameron Diaz, Mariah Carey, and Joan Collins have all discovered? 

Women who are attracted to younger men are invited to compete for the title of Miss Cougar Las Vegas at the first-ever Las Vegas Cougar Convention, Friday, January 22, at the Tropicana Hotel Conference Ballroom.

 One lucky prowling cougar will be crowned Miss Cougar Las Vegas and win a free berth on one of two Cougar Cruises (May 16-23 to the Mexican Riviera) or Dec 3-6 to The Bahamas), a DVD of Ashton Kutcher’s cougar movie Spread and many other prizes courtesy of SinglesTravelCompany.com.  Eligible contestants must be legally single and at least 40 years old. Cost is $20 at the door. Dressy attire recommended.

The most qualified vixen will be selected by the younger men cubs in attendance.  

Doors open at 7 p.m., with an entertaining keynote address at 7:30 p.m. by author Rich Gosse, America’s foremost authority on finding a romantic partner. He is the author of eight books on this topic, including You CAN Hurry Love, Singles Guide to America, and A Good Man Is EASY to Find  (“This is a great book!” says Oprah Winfrey). 

“Age discrimination is perhaps the most pervasive prejudice in American Society,” says Gosse.  “Older women, in particular, are victimized by our youth-oriented society. They are regarded as ‘non-sexy’. Supposedly every American male is only attracted to nubile 20 year olds found in the centerfolds of men’s magazines. The truth is that there are millions of American men who find older women attractive, and we will prove it at the Las Vegas Cougar Convention!”

From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. the dance party gets into full swing, stopping briefly at approximately 11 p.m. for prizes and one cougar attending the convention will win the title of Miss Cougar Las Vegas. 

The event is co-sponsored by the Society of Single Professionals, the worlds largest nonprofit singles organization SinglesTravelCompany.com, and many other companies.

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Nevada’s First Male Prostitute Waits to Please

The Shady Lady Ranch in Nevada, located 150 miles northwest of Las Vegas, had its first male prostitute working on Wednesday, a 25-year-old from California named “Markus.”  But through Saturday, not any lady was shady enough, apparently, to take him up on his enticing offer. 

All 5 feet 9 inches of him, weighing in at 180 pounds, patiently waits- and hopes. 

The brothel’s owner, Bobbi Davis, said she has received a couple of nibbles, inquiries that is, from curious women, including one who talked about making an appointment soon.   But Davis is quick to point out that things are usually slow this time of year. 

Meanwhile, Markus was mentioned by talk show host Jay Leno Wednesday night, but has granted just two interviews – one with “Details” magazine, the other with ABC’s “Nightline” – but Davis said she asked him not to talk to any more journalists.  Probably that was because in the “Details” article he compares himself to a key figure of the civil rights movement, Rosa Parks. 

“This actually isn’t about selling my body. This is about changing social norms,” says Markus. 

Could it be that Markus has a “Going Rogue” book deal in the works? 

Markus, hailing from the adult film business, where he appeared in a few porn movies, if he does get a client, will get paid the same rates as female brethren:  $300 for one hour, $500 for two.  That price includes “anything within reason,” according to Davis. 

“We’re working on our second guy, but we’re kind of slowing it off until we see how good we can do with Marcus,” Bobbi Davis says.

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Las Vegas Illusionist Plans School Visit with Live Bengal Tiger!

Illusionist Dirk Arthur plans to bring plenty of good luck to students of the Hebrew Academy in Las Vegas.   Celebrating the year of the tiger – touching a tiger’s tail will reportedly bring one good luck – daring students will have the rare opportunity to see up close and personal the pearly white fangs of Saber, a 3-month-old rare white Bengal tiger cub.  Touchy-feely is the order to of the day. 

Arthur hopes to start the year off with luck for the students, grades K through 12, at the Hebrew Academy, 9700 West Hillpointe Road, in Las Vegas at noon on Jan. 25, providing them with the rare opportunity. 

White tigers are extinct in the wild since the early ’60s. Today, they are only found in captivity, of which it is estimated that there are only 500 to 600 0f the noble animals surviving on our planet. 

Arthur has arguably the largest exotic cat habitat in the world; Saber makes number five for white tigers at his home. Saber will be three months old when he meets the children and will weigh about 12 to 15 pounds.

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Boxing Trainer Roger Mayweather Bound Over for Las Vegas Trial on Battery, Coercion Charges

A Las Vegas judge said today that boxing trainer Roger Mayweather should stand trial on three felony charges, alleging he attacked a female boxer he used to train.

The woman, 26-year-old Melissa St. Vil, testified that the 48-year-ld Mayweather punched and choked her during an Aug. 2 confrontation at an apartment he owned. 

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Pro-Tem James Gubler ruled St. Vil’s testimony was sufficient to bind the case over to state court on coercion, battery-strangulation and battery causing substantial bodily harm charges. 

Mayweather, the uncle of trainer of unbeaten boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., did not testify at the evidentiary hearing, and his lawyers chose not to call witnesses. 

The judge set arraignment for Jan. 26 in Clark County District Court. Mayweather’s lawyers say he’ll plead not guilty.

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Man Starts 10-Day Las Vegas Stay- Lounging with Deadly Snakes

An expert in deadly animals is planning to stay for 10 days inside a box full of deadly snakes at a Las Vegas Strip casino as part of yet another reality television show. 

Donald Schultz will enter the clear glass box outside O’Sheas Casino in Las Vegas this Sunday, starting with 50 snakes inside. Plans call for five new snakes to be added to the box each day until there are 100 snakes – including cobras, pythons and rattlesnakes. 

The stunt will be filmed for Animal Planet’s “Wild Recon” series.

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Harrah’s Starts to Manage Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas on Saturday

Harrah’s Entertainment is taking over management of hotel operations at the Planet Hollywood casino-resort in Las Vegas as it continues to negotiate with lenders to buy the property. 

The privately held casino operator, who likes Planet Hollywood for its location and brand, said today that it would start managing the hotel at midnight this Saturday, Jan. 16. 

Regulatory filings show the resort defaulted on an $860 million loan in September. 

There is no deal yet for Harrah’s to take ownership of the property, but the gambling giant has applied with Nevada gambling regulators for a license to run it. 

Planet Hollywood has 2,500 rooms and manages another 1,200 units, including vacation homes and regular hotel rooms, in a tower that opened earlier this month.

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Las Vegas’ New Art Junkie Mecca?

Believe it or not, Las Vegas does have a Downtown Arts District.  Yesiree, and, not only that, but they are offering up a second showing of cultural artsy-fartsy festivities with the inauguration of Third Friday this Friday, Jan. 15, starting around 6 p.m., running until approximately midnight. 

Following the footsteps of the economically challenged First Friday, now Las Vegans have the added opportunity to browse art galleries, enjoy the bands and mingle amongst fellow art fanatics twice a month — doubling the pleasure and doubling the fun- if not immediate income to producers. 

Taking place on the same Las Vegas streets and benefiting the same cause, Third Friday may be similar to First Friday in many ways, but it’s projected to vary slightly. 

While Cindy Funkhouse, of the Funk House and Fallout galleries, runs the beginning of the month installment, Cion Noble of the Box Office gallery and venue is coordinating this middle-of-the-month run. 

Hans Cewe , one of the owners of the Gypsy Den — a vintage boutique and art gallery which also triples as a music venue — is happy to see the rise of another event to bring people Downtown Las Vegas, hoping thing will expand from there. 

The Gypsy Den, also run by Cewe’s daughter Katie, will be offering up it’s stage to local bands for the night, with the lineup so far including local acts Vitamin Overdose, Close to Modern and The Marquees. 

Third Friday’s main focus is not merely on the patrons it brings Downtown, but also on the various artists involved. 

“It’s basically going to be a networking opportunity for creative people,” says Noble. “The theme is to network… I don’t anticipate vendors and crafts in the first couple of months — I’d like to see it grow into something that’s similar to First Friday eventually.” 

The mix of “creative people” so far set to ring in Third Friday’s opening night at the Box Office includes Cameron Grant, rock and blues bands Black Cherry Blue, Flux and JD Vittles, as well as a comedy improv and musical open mic event hosted by LV Freeze. 

In keeping with the idea of supporting Las Vegas arts, Funkhouse isn’t viewing the second installment as a threat. Instead she’s offering her support, “merely as a participant,” and opening her galleries’ doors — although she says the art on the walls will be the same as what’s viewed the first weekend of the month. “It’s not practical to change our show out every two weeks, that’d be too much work,” explains Funkhouse. 

If Third Friday catches on, perhaps the struggling downtown Las Vegas can look forward to a more regular crowd. Who knows, maybe a little more culture in our Sin City lives, with good eats, is a good thing.

Here’s a map of area, showing central Box Office.

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Steve Sebelius Joins 8 News Now TV Team in Las Vegas

Steve Sebelius, a Las Vegas columnist and CityLife editor, is joining 8 News Now’s award winning I-Team in Las Vegas. 

“He will be aggressively breaking significant stories that affect our community.  He is an edgy, no-holds-barred reporter who has earned a reputation for getting to the heart of the stories he reports,” said News Director Ron Comings, 8 News Now. 

“I’m excited, honored, and a little nervous about joining the respected I-Team reporters George Knapp, Colleen McCarty and Jonathan Humbert but I am definitely looking forward to being a part of Channel 8’s top rated coverage,” Sebelius said. 

Sebelius has been reporting in Las Vegas for 15 years and has extensive experience in covering everything from police to politicians. 

Sebelius will continue his duties at CityLife in addition to his new role with 8 News Now. His first day on the job will be Monday, Jan. 11th.

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Porn Vixen Sasha Gray Speaks Out Against Sex- for Cats & Dogs Today in Las Vegas

Award-winning adult film icon Sasha Grey says, “Too much sex can be a bad thing”—for dogs and cats, that is—in a provocative new PETA ad in which she’s shown posing nude in a bed. 

The adult film star will unveil the campaign – and her real passion – after she delivers the AVN keynote speech earlier this afternoon, Jan. 8, at the 2010 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas. She is the latest celebrity to appear in PETA’s ad series that is aimed at reducing dog and cat overpopulation by promoting spaying and neutering.  

Each year, up to 8 million dogs and cats are dumped at U.S. animal shelters, and about half of them must be euthanized because of a lack of suitable homes. Sasha urges all her fans to help curb the overpopulation crisis by spaying and neutering their dogs and cats to prevent pregnancies. 

If you need professional photographs and/or an interview/article, please let us know by responding to this post by Noon, PT zone, today, Jan. 8.  (We will not post your comments.)

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American Idol winner Kris Allen at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Las Vegas

2009 American Idol winner Kris Allen is making a special appearance at B.B. King’s Blues Club at The Mirage in Las Vegas on Friday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. 

Allen will be performing a very special solo acoustic set.  His previous appearance at B.B. King’s saw him perform with a full band, playing hits from his latest album as well as spins on favorite songs from years past.   

Allen’s path to the recent “American Idol”  victory included memorable performances of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Kanye West’s “Heartless.” He was praised by the judges for his original arrangements of such well-known songs. 

Since the finale, Allen has had multiple songs appear on the Billboard charts and his finale song “No Boundaries” was No. 1 on the iTunes chart. Earlier this month, Allen released his debut album for 19 Recordings/Jive, featuring the already hit single “Live Like We’re Dying.”

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The Venetian in Las Vegas Adds Aresenal of Pocketcasino Games

More than offering just pocketcasino sports wagering, which Cantor Gaming launched at The Venetian last September, Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of the global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, has announced yesterday that their pocketcasino (only available on the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian and The Palazzo), is now offering casino style games in addition to in-running sports wagering incuding traditional casino games such as blackjack, video poker and slots.  

Included in the new choice of casino games are innovative games including XtraOdds Blackjack and XtraOdds Baccarat. These games offer extra propositional bets that dynamically calculate odds based on the cards dealt, giving an extra opportunity to press or hedge your bets.  

Pocketcasino gaming promises a dramatic increase to business revenues while allowing casino patrons to multi-task and gamble like never before, including allowing patrons the ability to play casino style games while roaming throughout the high limit slot salon, Grazie gold lounge, race & sports book, and designated public areas currently including  bars, lounges and restaurants at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

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Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Kicks Off in Las Vegas

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is scheduled to kick off on Thursday, Jan. 6th in Las Vegas. The show will be smaller than it has in the past but there are still lots of exciting devices expected to be revealed. 

One of the most talked about electronics that could potentially be revealed two days before the big event is the Nexus One. This is Google’s version of the iPhone using the Android 2.1 technology. 

New tablet style computers are also expected to be introduced by several different manufacturers as well. There is hope that Apple will be unveiling their version of the tablet. 

Electronic readers for the popular e-books are expected to be very popular at the show this year.  E-books have taken off with warp speed in the past year and consumers are excited for different versions, including the very popular Amazon Kindle. 

3D HDTV’s are undoubtedly going to be an integral part of the electronics future; the first will be introduced at the upcoming show. Several different companies are expected to reveal their latest versions of this exciting technology that is in high demand.

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Vince Neil of Motley Crue Launches Las Vegas Projects

Doug Elfman of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that MÖTLEY CRÜE singer Vince Neil is in Las Vegas at friend Danny “Count” Koker’s Desert Moon Productions recording his new solo album, “Tattoos And Tequila”, with bassist Dana Strum and Jeff Blando (both of Slaughter) and drummer Zoltan Chaney.

One of the tracks being laid down during the sessions is a cover version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, “Who’ll Stop The Rain?”  An April release is expected.

In a recent interview with The News Tribune, Vince stated about the upcoming CD’s title, “It’s rock ‘n’ roll. That’s it. It has nothing to do with MÖTLEY CRÜE. Tattoos and tequila is basically my life.”

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Neil is also writing a book akin to MÖTLEY’s autobiography, “The Dirt”, with Esquire writer Mike Sager.

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Bad (Really Bad) Karma Surrounds Las Vegas Fountainbleau Project

If a building could have feelings and emotions, the Fountainbleau project in Las Vegas would be severely depressed.  Fountainbleau Las Vegas lenders recently sued hundreds of contractors as lien disputes escalate over unpaid bills at the now bankrupt 3,815-room casino resort project. 

There are 342 contractors and other mechanics lien holders, claiming to be owed a whopping $467 million for work at the stalled Las Vegas Strip development, that have been pressing for the right to take over the project for what they are owed. 

Lenders, in response, charge that the liens filed by Fountainbleau subcontractors are inferior. 

Meanwhile, iconic financier Carl Icahn is reportedly moving forward with his plans to buy the project during an auction this month, offering $156.2 million.

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Best New Year’s Eve Deal in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Backstage Access has scoured the plethora of deals (and steals) in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve and we think for the money, the best place to be is the Crazy Horse III.  They’re offering unlimited well drinks the entire evening, free admittance, and free limo rides all for $40.  If you want a bottle of good champagne, it’s $100. 

More than that, their entertainment complex, now called Party On (was Afterhours) is featuring a free birthday celebration party for Scott Ian of Anthrax.   And you can also hang out to listen and dance to Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and the Junk Beer Kidnap Band.  They’ll be having lots of surprise guests during the evening. 

Equally important, instead of fighting the over 300,000 revelers on the Strip to travel anywhere, their conveniently located off of Interstate 15 at 3525 W. Russell Road. Phone 702-673-1700.

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Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas Offers Affordable New Year’s Gala

Everything in Las Vegas does not need to emphasize the new and expensive ritzy venues.  Take for example the Fremont Street Experience in “old” Las Vegas.   For only $10 (locals) to $20 (visitors) they’re offering a “TributePalooza” this New Year’s Eve featuring the tribute bands of INXS, U2, Depeche Mode, Van Halen, No Doubt, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will lead the countdown in a fireworks show in a specially designed New Year’s show that will take place under the street-long video screen canopy. 

Only people age 21 and older will be allowed.  

The concerts start at 6 p.m.  For more information, please call 702-678-5600.

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Las Vegas Pops for $500,000 New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show

It must be nice.  Despite record Las Vegas unemployment, layoffs, foreclosures, and other nefarious economic indicators, this evening at the stroke of midnight, somehow $500,000 of fireworks will shoot skyward from the rooftops of MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian, Stratosphere, and the brand new entry this year- the top of CityCenter’s Aria. 

In seven minutes and eleven seconds the fireworks extravaganza, dubbed “America’s Party: A Vegas Celebration” will be over and one for the history books. 

For the past four days, 65 pyrotechnicians from the famed Grucci brothers have been rigging the big bangs to delight Las Vegas locals and mesmerize an estimated 315,000 out-of-town partiers. 

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will have every commissioned officer – all 3,200 of them – keeping order in Sin City.  The Strip will be close to vehicular traffic and several on-ramps and exits on Interstate 15 will be shut down starting about 6:30 p.m. 

And if you were thinking on bringing your six-shooter and firing it wildly into the air, think again.  Police are promising to step up enforcement of firearms laws to reduce celebratory gunfire to ring in the New Year. 

Anyone for just imbibing on sparkling grape juice and crackers in their abode?

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New Las Vegas Nightclubs Opening Doors

Despite high Las Vegas unemployment, foreclosures, and a stifling recessionary environment, that’s not stopping Las Vegas casinos from pulling out all the stops and opening new nightclubs this New Year’s Eve. 

The 25,000-square-foot Haze nightclub, the newest offering from the Light Group, will be opening its doors tomorrow night at Aria in the new CityCenter.  Also at CityCenter, Eva Langoria Parker’s Eve nightclub will be opening. 

The new rock bar Smokin’ Hot Aces is also having its grand opening in The Venetian’s retail shops on New Year’s Eve, following a soft opening that started Monday. 

The 14,000-square-foot Vanity nightclub – featuring a $1 million chandelier with 20,000 crystals and another 20,000 LED lights – will open on New Year’s Eve at the base of the Hard Rock’s new HRH tower (previous article by Las Vegas Backstage Access). 

For fans of the Hard Rock’s Body English nightclub, the basement club will fade into oblivion on Jan.1, having its last hurrah on the same night Vanity opens.

One of the Vanity club partners is Las Vegas major leaguer Jason Giambi says celebrities will have to earn their keep.  “Gone are the days where you would pay a celebrity $200,000 to just show up and you had a chance to make your make your money back,” says Giambi, adding, “I’m thankful that’s over.”

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Paris Hilton Gets Married in Las Vegas

It’s been awhile since the ditzy, aging socialite Paris Hilton has been in the news.   Over the weekend, however, Hilton reportedly got hitched in Las Vegas at the iconic Little Church of the West wedding chapel. 

Just don’t get all excited- it was all staged for publicity during a mock wedding.  The faux groom was Piers Morgan, from “Britain’s Got Talent.”

Hilton — and her revolting rat-looking dog — were dressed in white for the occasion. And there were plenty of witnesses- all dressed as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.

The wedding will air Jan. 2 on VH1’s “Piers Morgan” show.

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FREE Las Vegas Bus Rides on New Year’s Eve

Southern Nevada transit officials say they are again offering free bus rides to partiers in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve and early New Year’s Day. 

The free rides on all fixed-service routes are given in hopes of keeping traffic down and intoxicated drivers off the streets. 

The free rides will run from 6 p.m. Thursday until 9 a.m. on Friday. 

Officials say some routes will be detoured, including the Deuce bus along the Las Vegas Strip. That’s because much of the Las Vegas Strip will be closed to vehicle traffic as revelers party in the streets.

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New Hotel Rooms Aplenty in Las Vegas Create Buyer’s Nirvana

Recession?  What recession?  Apparently, Las Vegas is being true to its persona- betting heavily that 1,575 new hotel rooms are just what the doctor ordered- if not now, maybe in the future? 

A mere two weeks after the debut of the Aria at the $8.5 billion new CityCenter, two more casino properties have entered the Las Vegas lodging fray in a market already straining to fill the rooms it already has, witnessed by an average mid-80 percent fill rate and drastically declining room rates. 

The 52-story PH Towers at Planet Hollywood Resort have just added 1,201 rooms yesterday.  The rooms are being marketed at $229 midweek and $349 weekends.   And the top four floors will be 16 condominiums for sale, ranging from 6,000 square feet to 18,000 square feet.

Not to be outdone, the Hard Rock Hotel also yesterday added their HRH tower, bringing 374 more rooms that include seven penthouse suites and eight spa villas.  Opening with their tower is the 25,000-square-foot Reliquary Spa, a new parking garage with a porte-cochere and 40,000 square feet of new casino space.  Think it ends there?  Hardly.  A new Hard Rock nightclub, the 14,000-square-foot Vanity, waits opening on Dec. 31, which will also mark lights out for the venerable celebrity hangout, Body English.

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Aria’s New Poker Room in Las Vegas

Fans of Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio will be happy to hear there is an equivalent in the Aria poker room in the new CityCenter complex and it has already been put to use.  Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, Davide Benyamine, Tom Dwan, and Patrik Antonius were all spotted recently playing in the secluded VIP lounge. 

While the room is semi-private, ogling railbirds can still get a peek at their favorite high-stakes players through the glass front door.  According to one of the employees at Aria, Phil Ivey is currently in talks to loan his name to the room in the same fashion that Bobby Baldwin did at the Bellagio, so news of big games being played in “Phil’s Room” could be on the horizon. 

A number of poker pros have taken time to check out the new poker room, including Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke and and UB.com sponsored pro Bryan “Badbeatninja” Devonshire.  Both had generally positive remarks about the new room and they took the time to relay their sentiments recently to Poker News Daily. 

When Poker News Daily paid a visit to the new room, the emphasis on service was apparent.  There was a short wait for $1/ $3 No Limit Hold’em, but everyone was being seated in a relatively short amount of time and the use of chip runners helped to speed up the process even further.  Beverage service is currently available and food service is said to be supposedly coming in the near future.

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Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Shutters Two of Three Towers

For the first time in recent memory, a Las Vegas hotel is closing rooms in December, just before the New Year’s Eve holiday. 

A representative for the Sahara Hotel and Casino cited weak room demand as the reason it is closing two of its three towers, but said the closing is not permanent and reservations were still being taken. There was no word on whether staff members would be laid off. 

Last week, the resort’s buffet closed due to shrinking sales. A reopening date hasn’t been announced for the buffet or the towers. 

The Sahara’s announcement, coming on the heels of Binion’s closing of its hotel downtown earlier this month in yet another devastating blow for owners of smaller Las Vegas casinos. 

With the Decemeber opening of the 4,004-room ritzy ARIA resort in the $8.5 billion CityCenter, it just could be the result of competition that may be too much for properties that aren’t tied to massive gaming conglomerates. 

The Sahara is owned by Los Angeles-based SBE Entertainment, which purchased the resort in 2007.   

When it opened in 1952, the Sahara was among the most famous hotels on the growing Las Vegas Strip, attracting mega-superstars such as Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. 

In recent years, it has become the lone casino-resort at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. Although the Las Vegas Monorail (now facing bankruptcy- previous Las Vegas Backstage Access article) extends to the Sahara, its distance from the resort corridor and a lack of development at the intersection has left it in the shadow of other properties.

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Las Vegas Monorail Faces Bankruptcy

Administrators say the Las Vegas Monorail might seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an effort to restructure its bond debt. 

Despite handing out extravagant raises for a losing operation, Board member Bruce Woodbury said the company hasn’t raised enough money from fares to pay off the $650 million in construction and startup loans floated to build and start operating the system in July 2004. 

The 3.9-mile system runs on an elevated track linking several large hotel-casinos and the Las Vegas Convention Center east of the Las Vegas Strip. 

And, despite its dismal failure, Woodbury says plans still call for building a whopping $500 million extension to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport and other Strip resorts to boost revenues that didn’t happen with original monorail.

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Gift of Lights Offers Plenty of Las Vegas Holiday Fun

Looking for a fun holiday season activity?  Then come and celebrate the holidays by experiencing more than 400 animated and sparkling scenes and millions of lights all displayed in a convenient, comfortable totally drive-through setting.  

The Gift of Lights attraction is at Sunset Park in Las Vegas, located on the southeast corner of Sunset Road and Eastern Avenue, running nightly until Jan. 4.  Show times are Sunday – Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

The cost is $13 per vehicle Sunday – Thursday; $15 per vehicle, including Sundays and Holidays.

For more information, please call (702) 451-1641.

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Steve Wynn, Light Group Plan Las Vegas Nightclubs

Steve Wynn is apparently ready to counter the opening of ARIA’s new nightclubs in the $8.5 billion CityCenter project with some nightlife of his own, according to a report in the New York Post.

Wynn is planning to spend $100 million to build a new nightclub, called Surrender, and a new Encore Beach featuring three pools, 30 private bungalows and a gaming pavilion.  

Wynn’s Encore resort, which opened in December 2008, has been enjoying the great success of its XS club, which extends into the pool area and features two levels of private bungalows.

Not to be outdone, The Light Group, which has established itself as one of the premier nightclub operators in Las Vegas, is also getting ready to open the 25,000-square-foot Haze club at ARIA. It will also open the Liquid pool venue in the spring.

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Super Las Vegas Holiday Hotel Deals

The Las Vegas Advisor says some grand deals are to be had this holiday season in Las Vegas.   In its annual December rate roundup, the Advisor found 43 Las Vegas casino hotels with rooms for less than $40, vs. 38 last December. Among them are Strip properties such as Bally’s, Excalibur and Harrah’s. 

The total below $30 was 27, two more than 2008. They include Arizona Charlie’s Boulder; Boulder Station; Circus Circus, El Cortez; Ellis Island Super 8; Fiesta Henderson; Fitzgeralds; Four Queens; Imperial Palace; Lucky Club Ramada; Plaza; Riviera; Sahara; Sam’s Town; Santa Fe Station; Stratosphere; Tropicana; Tuscany; Vegas Club. 

A whopping seven Las Vegas casinos had rates below $20, versus just one in 2008. Texas Station came in lowest ($14.99). Others in the under-$20 club: Fiesta Rancho; Gold Spike; Golden Gate; Hooters; Palace Station; and Wild Wild West. 

Other good December deals found included Luxor ($40), Las Vegas Hilton ($41), Monte Carlo ($46), Hard Rock ($47), New York-New York ($48), Rio ($49), Paris ($55), Palms ($59), TI ($60), Planet Hollywood ($68), MGM Grand ($70). 

The survey used multiple sources available to the public, Advisor publisher Anthony Curtis says, including casino reservation lines and Websites, third-party reselling Websites and the rate search engine Travelaxe. Rates change frequently, and the lowest ones may be sold out. 

Rates are “marginally higher than in July,” Curtis says. So, casinos may have “finally drawn their line in the sand” on lowering prices. “However, I think the low rates will hold for awhile and when they begin to nudge up, there will be tremendous and more targeted (packages).” 

The Advisor (lasvegasadvisor.com), which costs $37-$50 a year, is currently offering a $9.95 special at the Golden Gate downtown for members through Dec. 24.

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Second Minus 5 Ice Lounge Plans Las Vegas Freeze

With winter just officially being declared and nips of cold air and alcohol flowing in the veins and arteries of the denizens of Las Vegas, the Monte Carlo is joining in the spirit of the season, announcing a second Minus 5 Ice Lounge, in the space currently occupied by the Lance Burton Magic Show and an MGM Mirage Players Club kiosk. 

The new boomerang-shaped lounge will be unveiled early-to-mid February and will not feature a lodge bar like its older sister in the Mandalay Place shops, though it will be 300 square feet larger. 

From the outside, guests will be able to gaze through a regenerating ice wall at television screens inside.  From there they will suite up in Minus 5’s gear including a parka, hat, mittens and booties to prepare guests for temperatures of 27 degrees Fahrenheit, not to mention $100,000 worth of icicles, chandeliers and ice chaise lounges complete with draped faux-animals skins. 

Accommodating up to 110 guests (as opposed to just 65 at Mandalay Place), guests sip vodka cocktails from ice cups made from New Zealand water.   

Up in the development air are new possibilities of a stripper pole and a fireplace– fire and ice gone wild?

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Harlem Globetrotters Dunk Into Las Vegas

In their 84th consecutive season touring the world, the venerated Harlem Globetrotters bring their basketball hi-jinks as part of the 2010 Magical Memories World Tour to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for one-night-only, February 10 at 7:00 p.m.. 

Also known as the Magicians of Basketball® and the Ambassadors of Goodwill®, the Harlem Globetrotters entertain audiences with a dose of slapstick comedy and a unique mix of trick shots, high-flying dunks and basketball handling wizardry. 

The legendary team has played more than 25,000 games in their nearly 85-year history.  They have played in 120 countries, on six continents and for more than 130 million fans—including everyone from Presidents of the United States to the Pope. For the North American leg of their 2010 Magical Memories World Tour, the team will play nearly 270 games in more than 215 cities in 44 states, five Canadian provinces and in Puerto Rico. 

Tickets are on sale now and are priced at $21.00, $29.00, $36.00, $56.00, $76.00 and $114.00, inclusive of tax and fees. Tickets can be purchased at the Orleans Arena Box Office by calling 702-284-7777 or by visiting www.orleansarena.com.

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Strippermobile Shuns Las Vegas, Launches U.S. Tour

Just because it doesn’t happen in Las Vegas anymore, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense- and money. Though the strippermobile is no longer trolling for customers down the Las Vegas Strip due to earlier Clark County Commissioner’s admanat objections based on safety concerns, in the next few weeks it will be going up and down Main Street, USA. 

On January 10, it will become a Las Vegas-born – and banned – business that took its show on the road. 

As previously reported by Las Vegas Backstage Access, the last and only time the vehicle rolled was November in Las Vegas, when bikini-clad strippers hopped aboard and gyrated inside the truck’s Plexiglas-enclosed cargo area, swung around a brass pole affixed to the middle of the truck bed. 

Launching what arguably may be one of the greatest marketing ploys ever, the  “Strippermobile Winter Tour 2010,” as it is dubbed, will be filmed as a documentary, carrying a full production crew with them.  Larry Beard, marketing guru for Déjà vu gentlemen’s club in Las Vegas, hopes to have it broadcast on cable television, albeit most likely adult on-demand channels. 

With three select strippers ready and willing to tout their wares, Beard expects the truck to roll out of Sin City on Jan. 10, making its first stops on their national tour in Southern California.  That state has almost 20 Déjà vu- operated strip clubs.  The strippermobile with then go up the coast, lingering in Portland, Ore., because, says Beard, the decency laws there are lax and the dancers will be totally nude during that stretch of the trip.   

After Portland, it’s off to Seattle, then to the Midwest- Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan- all of which have Déjà Vu clubs.  Then it’s off to New York City and Times Square, down to Maryland, over to Kentucky and Tennessee, down to Florida for the college spring break and over to Louisiana for Mardi Gras.  Then their itinerary takes the crew to Colorado before the wayward truck comes home to roost once again in Las Vegas in the spring. 

“And on our travels, of course, we’ll get pictures of the girls alongside Mount Rushmore and other famous sites,” Beard says.

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Welcome to Las Vegas Sign Vandalized Again

For the second time this year, the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip has once again been vandalized.  

On Friday , Dec. 18 police say 69-year-old Joseph Pepitone, wearing his trademark barrel and a red Santa cap, splattered red and black paint on the most visible part of the iconic sign at Las Vegas Blvd. and Russell Rd.. 

This vandalism was more visible than the incident earlier this year which basically caused damaged to the bottom of the sign. Clark County commissioners and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman immediately had that mess cleaned up. No arrests were made in the first incident.  

Friday’s incident marked only the second time the “Welcome” sign has been vandalized in 50 years, officials said. 

Pepitone was arrested and booked into the Clark County Detention Center on a charge of injuring/damaging the property of another. 

Pepitone is the cousin of the former famed New York Yankee with the same name.  He’s had an ongoing well-documented 12-year beef with Las Vegas casino Arizon Charlie’s, where he claims his $463,895 slot machine win was voided because casino officials said the machine malfunctioned. 

He appealed the decision as far as the Nevada State Supreme Court, but lost each time. 

Pepitone has continued to protest the decision, doing so in an unorthodox way:   He wears a barrel fastened with suspenders from his shoulders as marches frequently in public at demonstrations (including O.J. Simpson’s murder trial), carrying signs that read claims such as, “I was robbed!” in bold, large print.

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Guy Fieri’s ‘Roadshow’ Rocks into Las Vegas Today

It must be the pits constantly traveling around the country, especially at the holidays.  But for the Food Network Star (“Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives”) at least it’s old home week in Las Vegas today.   High-energy spiky-haired chef/restaurateur/author and TV personality Guy Fieri, a UNLV alum that loves the university, will be bringing his 16-person road crew and their $150,000 stage/demo kitchen to put on his audience participation rock ‘n’ roll style “Guy Fieri Roadshow” to the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas at 8 p.m. today. 

Los Angeles-based DJ Cobra will spin all the punk, rock and metal music. 

The tour kicked off in Lowell, Mass., on Nov. 17 and by the time today’s Las Vegas date wraps, it will have hit 21 cities in 30 days. 

At each stop of the tour, Fieri teams up with local chefs and culinary students to celebrate the alluring combination of food, drink and fun.  In Las Vegas, his opening act will be executive chef John Gremo of UNLV’s hotel college, who was a colleague of Fieri’s during their student days at the university. 

For his segment of the show, Gremo will prepare pan-seared Nantucket diver scallops served on wild mushroom and fennel ragu, topped with truffle oil, roasted red pepper, roasted tomato capers and a tomato tapenade and covered with wild greens and assorted micro greens.   Hungry yet? 

Accompanying Gremo will be some his culinary students, UNLV mascot Hey Reb and a few UNLV cheerleaders.  

Assisting at the show will be students in the ProStart culinary programs at Silverado High School in Las Vegas and Carson High School in Carson City, California.  The students will prep food ingredients before the show, and help out behind the scenes during it. 

Tickets are from $35 to $150.  For more information, please call 702-632-7600.

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Las Vegas Strippers Slither into Gooey Ice Cream Fray

Times are tough.  And wise businessmen know that without reinvention, their business death in imminent- or, for strippers, they lose the pole touch.  Knowing that, Little Darlings Strip Club in Las Vegas has just started experimenting with icy cold idea- free complimentary gooey sundaes with all the ‘toppings’ to all patrons every Sunday night. 

But it doesn’t end there.  Heavens no. The real treat takes place when two lovely ladies are squished into a giant oversize glass situated at the center of the adult entertainment venue.  Canisters of whipped cream are then handed out to salivating patrons who are invited to build a sundae directly on the gals while they smother one another with gobs of ice cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles and cherries.  After awhile, dollars fly into the sundae-making fray, making a mess beyond compare while boosting profits for the club and hostesses. 

From all indications, the business promotion is a smashing success.  The only complaints are when the guys run out of whipped cream.

Need photos?  Please contact us in the reply and we’ll get back to you.

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World’s Largest Cut Christmas Tree Displayed in Las Vegas

M Resort in Las Vegas has a Christmas tree that stands 109-feet tall, making it the tallest cut Christmas tree in the country, M Resort execs contend. The largest living, non-cut Christmas tree is in Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho and stands 161-feet tall. 

This year, Anthony Marnell III and family, the M Resort execs, found their tree in Oregon – a 109-foot, 11-ton White Fir — the tallest non-living Christmas tree, M Resort executives contend. 

The tree made its journey from Oregon on a truck Nov. 29 and arrived in Henderson, Nevada on Dec. 2. Since the tree arrived at M’s Villaggio Del Sole Piazza, workers on cranes and ladders have been busy decorating it with thousands of lights and ornaments. 

But how is M Resort sure it has the tallest tree in the nation? 

“We have a guy up in Oregon who has done this for us in the past,” Executive Vice President and General Manager John Lipkowitz said. “He takes care of all the measurements, weight and calculations. We really didn’t know it was going to be the tallest until others released their numbers.” 

A close second goes to Costa Mesa, Calif.’s 96-foot-tall White Fir. 

Probably the most famous Christmas tree in the nation — the one in Rockefeller Center in New York — is 76 feet tall. 

The National Mall tree in Washington, D.C., is an 85-foot Blue Spruce from the White Mountains of Arizona, while the Obama family tree is an 18.5-foot Norway Spruce from Shepherdstown, W.Va. 

There are several categories by which cities and resorts measure their trees. 

There’s tallest non-living tree (M Resort’s category), tallest living tree, tallest floating tree and the tallest artificial tree. 

The Coeur d’Alene Resort in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, says it has the world’s tallest living tree this year at 161 feet. 

Mexico City’s 367-foot tower of lights shaped like a tree is the tallest artificial tree, while Rio De Janeiro has the tallest floating artificial tree. 

Lipkowitz said the Marnell family had the nation’s tallest tree another year, at the Rio, but former staffers can’t remember the year. The family’s goal, regardless, has been to open its spaces for family-orientated, holiday fun, Lipkowitz said.

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Las Vegas has Third Worst Tap Water Quality in U.S.

A new study just out this weekend shows how unsafe our Las Vegas tap water can be. 

The Environmental Working Group released the results of a three year investigation of city water supplies across the U.S., looking at how contaminated some water supplies are. 

Some 49 million Americans in 45 states were found to be drinking contaminated water, to varying degrees.

Las Vegas came in third place for worst water quality. 

Worst water quality:

1. Pensacola, FL
2. Riverside, CA
3. Las vegas, NV

Best water quality:

1. Arlington, TX
2. Providence, RI
3. Fort Worth, TX

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Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas Planning Series of Beyonce Concerts?

It is rumored in media circles that Steve Wynn is presently exploring the possibilities of arranging a string of concerts by popular American Rhythm and Blues (R&B) singer and song writer Beyonce Knowles.  It is further speculated from sources that the agreement amount with Beyonce will be in the tune of $750,000. The number of concerts and durations are not yet decided. 

Wynn Resorts spokesperson Jennifer Dunne reportedly said that the deal is yet to be finalized and contract has not been signed. The association between Beyonce and Wynn Casino started few months back when this year during July 30 and Aug. 2 the singer visited the casino for recording a DVD for her concert. It is said that during her shoots both Wynn and its sister resort Encore saw a huge fan following and increase in number of guests. Soon after this the singer has been spotted too often in the casino.

It is said that Beyonce will be following the footsteps of famous Canadian singer Céline Dion who signed a contract with Caesars Palace casino of Las Vegas few years back. In this she performed in 717 concerts within 5 years and earned a reported $400 million. 

The casino also experienced a huge surge in its popularity and earning during the concerts. It has been observed that fans from faraway places come to watch their favorite singers perform in Las Vegas casinos.

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Las Vegas’ Palms Casino Resort Hosts Performance of The Darling Stilettos’ Rock-N-Roll-A-Go-Go by Matt Sorum

The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas will host a special performance of The Darling Stilettos’ Rock-N-Roll-A-Go-Go, presented by rock legend Matt Sorum. 

The rock music show features four sexy female leads, takes the audience on a rock-fueled journey through the history of rock music from the British Invasion to Punk and Classic Rock. Backed by Sorum on drums and a guitarist, the show is an experience for any rock music enthusiast.  

These special performances of The Darling Stilettos’ Rock-N-Roll-A-Go-Go will take place on Friday, December 18 and Saturday, December 19 at 11 p.m. 

The good news is the show is complimentary and is open to the public. Must be 21 years of age and older. For more information, please visit www.darlingstilettos.com.

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Nevada’s Shady Lady Ranch First to Offer All Male Prostitutes

If you are between 21 and 40 and service-oriented, you could be Nevada’s next male prostitute!

The Shady Lady Ranch in Nye County, a quick two-hour drive from Las Vegas, is set to add male prostitutes to its roster of good-time, fun-lovin’ ladies. 

The change is thanks to Nevada’s recently altered health laws. In the past, all prostitutes had to undergo regular cervical testing for sexually transmitted diseases — a slight problem for the menfolk.  But now urethral testing is also OK’d by law.  

With that bit of anatomical housekeeping out of the way, Shady Lady owner Bobbi Davis is ready to give the men a tumble. The ranch’s website is already looking “for a few good men.” 

Their stated requirements:

– Between 21 and 40

– Have a good work ethic

– Have a willingness to please

– Must be service oriented

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Michelin Three-Star Chef Masayoshi Takayama to Open First Las Vegas Restaurant

Michelin three-star chef Masayoshi Takayama — who opened Ginza Sushi-ko in Los Angeles in the ’80s, transplanted his temple of sushi from a mid-Wilshire Los Angeles strip mall to a second-floor aerie off Rodeo Drive (where Urasawa is now) in the ’90s and moved to New York to open Masa and Bar in 2004- is set to debut his first Vegas venture on Dec. 17: another Bar Masa and Shaboo, a shabu-shabu restaurant. 

He joins fellow three-star chef  Pierre Gagnaire of Paris (who opened Twist, his first restaurant in the U.S.) as well as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Michael Mina, in the $8.5-billion CityCenter on the Vegas Strip.   

“It’s a new, gigantic building where I get to create my idea, my style,” Takayama says. “It’s more than the food. Very different from Ginza Sushi-ko style.” 

It’s also very different from Bar Masa in New York; the Las Vegas outpost — inside the Aria Resort & Casino — is about three times the size, decorated in high Strip style with 15-foot doors of teak and copper, curved red leather banquettes and arched ceilings. 

Takayama calls it coming full circle. On his first trip to Los Angeles from Tokyo, he got off the plane and drove directly to Las Vegas to see “flat land.”  

The menu for Bar Masa in Las Vegas will recall the one in New York, with Japanese small plates such as spicy cod roe pasta with purple shiso flowers; duck with foie gras; sizzling spicy octopus; or grilled eel with rice. (He says his fish will still be from the Tsukiji market in Tokyo.) 

The more-intimate 52-seat Shaboo is located inside Bar Masa, serving omakase (tasting menu) shabu-shabu at tables equipped with individual induction heating elements for cooking beef flown in from Chiba prefecture.

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Las Vegas Women’s Pro Tackle Football Team Looks for Good Smashers

The Las Vegas Showgirlz, Las Vegas’ only semi-pro female tackle football team, is recruiting for the 2010 season that begins in April. 

Tryouts will be held Sunday, Dec. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Ed Fountain Park near Vegas Drive and Decatur Boulevard. 

The team, which plays its home games at Faith Lutheran High School, competes in the Women’s Football Alliance, a national league comprised of 50 teams from the United States and Mexico.

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Magician Steve Wyrick Mysteriously Disappears from Las Vegas

Magician Steve Wyrick has been a solid mainstay in Las Vegas since 2007, performing in a $35 million showroom located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.  He has disappeared nightly; but, this time the vanishing magic act is apparently a indefinitely canceled show. The performer failed to appear for last night’s show and, apparently, the show is no more. 

Wyrick shaped his reputation performing supposed dangerous stunts, but blew his magic cover when a July 4th vanishing act went awry after stage curtains around his “Death Drop” stunt burst into flames and a crew member was injured. 

Speculation about his Las Vegas reappearance has not materialized, yet.

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B.B. King’s Blues Club Grand Opening at The Mirage in Las Vegas

Looking for a great blues music experience while visiting or staying in Las Vegas?  Now’s you can have it all at the new B.B. King’s Blues Club in The Mirage in Las Vegas.  

With few blues clubs in Las Vegas, the club’s grand opening is a welcome addition to our entertainment and dining landscape.  The venue opens with a blue carpet gala this Friday, Dec. 11, from 7 to 8 p.m.. Confirmed celebrities include the legend himself, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Willie Nelson, Steve Cropper, Lee Ritenour, Robert Cray, Lee Roy Parnell, Matt Goss, Robin Antin, Taylor Barton, Cast of History Channel’s “Pawn Stars,” Cast of Thunder From Down Under and many more. 

The empire of B.B. King is rapidly expanding, with clubs opened in Orlando, Memphis, Nashville, Itta Bena, West Palm Beach. 

Located across from The Beatles REVOLUTION Lounge, next to Samba Brazilian Steakhouse in The Mirage, the new Las Vegas venue offers music seven nights a week, ranging from funky and fast style to soulful and smooth tunes that emanate from the in-room stage. 

The house band, B.B. King’s All-Star Band, surpasses the standard of what many know to be a house band and friends of the King are very likely to stop by at any time to join them and jam the night away. 

And if you feel like cutting the rug, you can dance the night away on their spacious dance floor. 

Hungry?  Not only can you enjoy all the music, you can come in anytime for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining to check out Executive Chef Oscar Pena’s delicious Creole cuisine. 

It’s also a great place to book for your meetings and events. 

For more information, please visit www.bbkingclubs.com or call at 702-242-KING (5464).

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Oh Where, Oh Where has Julianne Hough Gone?

It’s been a rather long time since Las Vegas Backstage Access has written on the Dancing With the Stars Julianne Hough- on April 6, 2009 to be exact, when she garnered awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards show in Las Vegas. 

Hough, 21, who as a Las Vegas youth attended the Las Vegas Academy and whose mom still lives here, is reportedly recording a CD that will reflect her musical influences (such as U2 and Coldplay), and she’s also making two movies, the remake of Footloose, as well as Burlesque, starring along with Cher and Christina Aguilera.  If that’s not enough, she also has a cardio ballroom dance workout DVD, Dance with Julianne, due out in January. 

Is she done with Dancing With the Stars?  

“Never say never,” Hough says, “but at least for the next two seasons.”

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Sand Dollar Lounge to Try Anew in Las Vegas

The famous Sand Dollar Blues Nightclub & Lounge at 3355 Spring Mountain Road in Las Vegas is older than Schep is a pup (and that’s a damn old pup), known for providing some of the best blues music on the planet- let alone Las Vegas. 

Not only that, but every biker that’s anyone has kicked up their boots and stayed awhile at the music venue. 

But, sadly, as with many Las Vegas businesses, it has succumbed to economic plights, closing last month.  

But don’t throw in the towel just yet.  

New owner Steve Champlin says the venue should be back up and swinging sometime over the next couple of weeks.  He says to expect pretty much the same “blues-oriented” Sand Dollar us locals have come to know and love, but with more rotating bands, more benefit events and, eventually, multiple acts slated each night. 

That’s good news for a blues population that has been faced with fewer and fewer Las Vegas venues. 

The dank lighting, aromatic carpet and even the cobwebs taking up corner residences will remain part of the unique ambiance.

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Give the Gift that Keeps Giving on the Holidays in Las Vegas

One Warm Coat is a helluva great company.  The national non-profit has as its mission the procurement and distribution of donated winter coats to the needy. 

Recently, One Warm Coat, Burlington Coat Factory and ABC TVs Good Morning America teamed up for a national coat drive that runs through Jan. 15. 

Now’s your chance to do some real holiday giving.  C’mon, Sc rooge, you can do it… 

You can drop of a coat for men, women or children at drop boxes located in Las Vegas at the Burlington Coat Factory at 560 N. Stephanie Street, 5959 W. Sahara Ave. and 4750 S. Eastern Ave. 

For your effort – if helping the needy isn’t enough in these challenging economic times – you’ll also get a 10 percent-off-coupon for Burlington Coat Factory.

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Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Brings 27,000 Runners; Caroline Rotich Wins

Last year, only about 13,000 runners took part. This year, organizers say an international field of elite athletes helped round out and expand the registered runners, bringing out 27,000 racers on a brisk and wintry day today in Las Vegas.  

Runner Caroline Rotich led all runners, finishing with a kick and crossing the finish line with a time of 2:29:49 to win the Rock ‘n’ Rock Las Vegas Marathon today, Sunday.  She took home $25,000 for her win. 

The festive marathon started at 6:15 a.m. today on Las Vegas Blvd. north of Russell Rd, near Mandalay Bay parking lot.  And, for the first time ever for the marathon, nearly 7 1/2 miles of the Strip was closed to traffic.   

As the name Rock ‘n’ Roll suggests, there were more than 35 live bands, cheerleaders and themed water stations set up along each line of the Las Vegas Strip course. There were also be hundreds of running Elvi and 85 couples taking part in the Run through Wedding. 

Event organizers expect the Las Vegas economic boost to be around $30 million. There is a strong international presence of athletes who have come from 39 countries and all 50 states.

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Jockstrap Maids Will Clean Your Dust Bunnies for a Wiggle & Coin

Ladies, you might want to step aside:  a jockstrapped good looking man may be just prancing in to invade your marketspace in Sin City. 

Owner Max McCammond has run a “traditional” maid service for almost a decade. 

He said he came up with the idea for Jockstrap Maid Service in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, which turned his Sugar Land home in Houston into “party central” for his power-deprived pals. 

The reponse towards the male maid service exploded from the get-go. The only choice was to take the enterprise national and the best way to do that was via an effective and agressive online presence. 

So, Jockstrap Maid Service then teamed up with nVisionMax Media of Los Angeles to develop a Jockstrap Maid Service Web site that was quite intuitive to use and great looking too. 

Founded by an MIT graduate, the team at nVisionMax “did everything to make our vision a reality.” “They were just fantastic,” Max comments, “Think about it, you can order up your chef, hairdresser, just about anything these days, so why not a maid?” 

At last count, almost 35 different U.S. cities think it’s also a pretty good idea.  Las Vegas is just one of them, at present featuring two hunky men.  

Supposedly, it’s not a bad gig.  Las Vegas Backstage Access checked out a Jockstrap Maid Service in Houson that was paying $50 per hour with a two-hour minimum.  Part timers were accepted for day and night.  However, the educational requirements were you had to be smart. Oh, well. 

So, if you want, log on and check out the newly launched maid service that’s stirring up more business than your dust bunnies. 

And while we’re on the subject of unique Web sites, there is a new one that for free tracks what you’ve borrowed from others or loaned out.   Like for panties and other unmentionables.  http://www.returnmypants.com/

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Las Vegas Freeze Approaches– 16-Foot Polar Bear Appears!

The Palazzo in Las Vegas is uniquely celebrating the holiday season with artic décor complete with a larger-than-life 16-foot polar bear poinsettia sculpture that raises awareness about conservation of polar bears and Arctic habitat. 

While guests of The Palazzo Las Vegas will enjoy the usual sunny weather for the holiday season, from December 9 through the New Year they’ll also encounter the winter décor display anchored by a special Arctic visitor: a 16-foot tall polar bear mother and 6-foot tall polar bear baby, made entirely of a specially-developed white poinsettia named “Polar Bear.”

The “Polar Bear” Poinsettia is developed exclusively by Ecke Ranch, the largest grower in the world of poinsettias.  The strong white coloration of the “Polar Bear” Poinsettia with its bracts of deep green veining is the perfect topiary fur for the polar bear display. The custom, hand-sculpted and hand-painted heads and paws, constructed by Design Solutions, bring the bears to life.  The mother and baby bear, consisting of approximately 10,000 poinsettias planted in sphagnum moss and weighs in at approximately 5,000 lbs. The bears snuggle on a custom-sculpted ‘arctic ice float’ that hovers over a water feature located at The Palazzo Atrium. 

In addition to the larger-than-life polar bears, The Palazzo embraces the holiday season with Arctic inspired décor elements that combine to create the breathtaking winter wonderland display. The gardens are filled with a variety of unique poinsettias and 25-foot silver tip pine trees; an 80-foot whimsical vine transitions to holiday with oversized pine cones, holiday berries, poinsettias and twinkling holiday lights; over 225,000 cranberries donated by Ocean Spray float above a water feature creating a sea of cranberries and snow will elegantly fall from above the décor adding to the Arctic theme. 

The white “Polar Bear” Poinsettias have an important message to promote awareness of polar bears and the loss of their Arctic habitat due to climate change. Ecke Ranch is donating a portion of the proceeds from each poinsettia cutting sold to Polar Bears International (PBI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears through research and education.  This event will serve as the official launching pad for Ecke’s “Pay-it-Forward for Polar Bears” campaign which benefits PBI.   

“In a part of the world that never sees snow, it can be challenging to explain why the most important initiative that we can undertake at this time is saving polar bear habitat in the Arctic. Polar bears need sea ice for their survival, and so does the rest of the planet. The Arctic is a key regulator of the global climate system, and loss of Arctic sea ice will impact people and wildlife around the world. So when we save the polar bears, we save so many other species from butterflies to frogs,” said Robert Buchanan, president of Polar Bears International. 

“Currently the world’s CO2 level is at 385 parts per million (ppm) and growing at an average of two ppm per year. Scientists believe that the tipping point in the Arctic is around 400 ppm. Once this level is reached, the domino effect may not allow the summer ice to return for tens of thousands of years. This of course will not only affect wildlife but the ocean currents and humans in the end. This is not an irreversible situation. Individuals can and must make a difference. It can be as easy as packing a reusable bag when you shop, buy carbon off sets for your flights and purchasing products with limited and/or recycled packaging,” continued Buchanan. 

On December 9, The Palazzo will host the unveiling of the Arctic-inspired winter décor display to kick-off the holiday season and raise awareness about conservation of polar bears. The event will take place at 5 p.m. in The Palazzo Waterfall Atrium and the general public is welcome to join in the celebration.

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New Store Openings Continue at CityCenter in Las Vegas

CityCenter, the largest $5.8 billion completed construction project in the U.S. this year, continues with gala Las Vegas store openings and special events.  40% of available space is reportedly currently occupied. 

Openings Today, Dec. 3:  

Huge high-class retail Crystals venue opens including Beso (Eva Longoria Parker’s restaurant), Mikimoto, CENTERPiece Gallery, H.Stern, Tom Ford, Marni, Bvlgari, Robert Cavalli, Nanette Lepore, Cartier, Assouline, ILORI, Porsche Design, Tourbillion, Tiffany & Co., de Grisogone, Louis Vutton, Bottega Veneta, Bally, Paul Smith, The Cup, Rodney Lough Jr. Wilderness Collection Gallery, Phillip Plein. 

Opening Dec. 16: 

Aria, the centerpiece 4,004-room hotel casino, opens plus Kiton, Kiki de Montpamasse, Brasserie PUCK, Van Cleef & Arpels, The Pods by Wolfgang Puck, Carolina Herrera, the GALLERY featuring Dale Chihuly, The Art of Richard MacDonald, T.E. Pub 

Opening 2010: 

Mastro’s Ocean Club, Ermengildo Zegna, Emilio Pucci, Prada, Christina Dior, Hermes, Versace, Miu Miu

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Harrah’s Entertainment Plans to Buy Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. has filed an application to purchase the struggling Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said Monday. 

The casino giant has formed a new subsidiary, PHW Las Vegas LLC, with the intent of taking over the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. PHW filed the application to casino regulators last week, a person at the Control Board said. 

The Las Vegas Planet Hollywood is a separate entity from the restaurant chain, which has locations around the world. 

Harrah’s began pursuing Planet Hollywood in September when it purchased a $140 million piece of Planet Hollywood’s $870 million debt for an undisclosed amount from Goldman Sachs Group. 

A person close to the situation said that it appears the slice of debt Harrah’s purchased could give the casino giant enough influence over the other lenders to control the property. 

Harrah’s controls six contiguous Las Vegas casinos just north of Planet Hollywood. Those properties are across the street from City Center, the $8.5 billion MGM Mirage resort has been opening all this week in Las Vegas. 

In an email to employees last week, Harrah’s Chief Executive Gary Loveman reportedly said the location made the distressed Planet Hollywood an attractive acquisition. 

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. currently manages the project’s hotel and also has a minority stake in Planet Hollywood. 

Restaurateur Robert Earl, who developed the movie-themed Planet Hollywood restaurant chain, and investment manager Bay Harbour Management acquired the Las Vegas property in 2007.

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AVN Adult Movie Awards Kick Off in Las Vegas in January

The nominations for the 2010 AVN Adult Movie Awards were announced and the winners in more than 100 different categories to be revealed live at the AVN Awards Show on Jan. 9, 2010, at Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. 

This year’s gala event is co-hosted by none other than two of the biggest names in the world of erotica, Kayden Kross, right, and Kirsten Price, left.

The 27th annual ceremony is the most important and star-studded night for the adult film industry as it rolls out its red carpet and celebrates the best and brightest in the business.  More than 5,000 releases were reviewed by the AVN staff during the year.  The event is a Herculean effort treated with the same seriousness and on par with the talent as the Academy Awards. 

Awards will be given out in 125 categories, including Best Video Feature, Best Parody, Female Performer of the Year, Best Adult Web site and numerous Best Sex Scene awards.  Movie titles receiving multiple nominations included 2040, Nurses, The 8th Day, Throat: A Cautionary Tale, Pure, Tori Black is Pretty Filthy, Flight Attendants, The Sex Files; A Dark XXX Parody, Ass Worship 11, Teachers and many more.  Stars such as Sasha Grey, Manuel Ferrara, Jenna Haze, Tori Black and others also received multiple nominations for their work this year.   A full list of categories and nominees can be found at www.avnawards.com

Tickets are available at avnawards.com for $300 each. 

First presented in 1983, the AVN Adult Movie Awards show is the adult industry equivalent to the Academy Awards for mainstream filmed entertainment.  Each January, industry talent, producers and technicians gather together in Las Vegas – THE Sin City – for a night of accolades, entertainment and fun.  The AVN Adult Movie Awardshonors the best movies, performers and production companies in adult entertainment in more than 100 different categories.  For more information on the AVN Adult Movie Awards show, please visit www.avnawards.com

AVN Media Network has become a global leader in the adult entertainment community.  AVN’s portfolio of business includes the widely-recognized industry journals:  AVN, AVN Online, GAYVN, and AVN Novelty Business.  In addition, AVN hosts the leading industry conventions: AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, Internext Las Vegas, Internext Summer, AVN Adult Novelty Expo and the consumer show Erotica LA.  It also provides online coverage through AVN.com news and AVN Live, along with cutting-edge industry e-newsletters.  AVN also hosts the annual AVN Adult Movie Awards and GAYVN Awards ceremonies.  For more information, visit the web site at www.avn.com 

For reservation information at the Palms, please call toll free at (866) PALMS-RES, (866) 725-6773, or visit www.palms.com. For groups of 15 rooms or more, contact the Sales Department at (866) PALMS-MTG or (866) 725-6768.

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Las Vegas Sun Newspaper Continues Staff Bloodletting

On Nov. 11, Las Vegas Backstage Access was one of the first media sources to break the story that Michael J. Kelley, 67, managing editor of Las Vegas Sun since 1997 and in the news biz since 1960, would be retiring from his post this December. 

Well, it’s December and from credible sources we’re hearing that the behind the scenes, camera shy, but dogmatic Kelley is retiring this week.   Timing is everything.

Curiously, though, no news on when or if a pink carpet or anything similar is planned.  But maybe that’s all for the better, what with all the Las Vegas CityCenter opening galas this week attendance would probably be low at the bon voyage happening- and perhaps for another reason… 

What we learned from Valerie’s Miller’s article today in the Review-Journal is that at least 20 Greenspun Media Group (publisher of the Las Vegas Sun) employees occurred yesterday, Dec. 1.

Interestingly, the lion’s share of layoffs were focused mainly on Las Vegas Sun staffers- Kelley’s “people” you might say.  Layoffs reportedly included at least 15 Las Vegas Sun staffers, an In Business Las Vegas editor and reporter, two Las Vegas Weekly staffers, a couple of support personnel and an unknown number of online employees, according to Miller’s sources.  Names of personnel were not provided. 

The reorganization of the continually dessiminated organization and layoffs were announced Tuesday in a statement released by Brian Greenspun, the Greenspun Media Group Chairman, who said his company will “reorganize into a single location, with the goal of fully integrating print and interactive operations.” 

So nicely said by the lawyer-trained kingpin, don’t you think?  What really happens only time – and money – will tell. 

Greenspun, however, who reportedly spends much time outside his Las Vegas office and Nevada, plans to combine the operations and staffs of its daily newspaper, tucked in the folds of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun Web site and the tabloid style Las Vegas Weekly, Las VegasWeekly.com, In Business Las Vegas, Las Vegas Magazine, Vegas Magazine and Vegas2Go.  

That’s a tall combo order to trim from an already large media waistline and especially for the publishing industry that is among the hardest hit business segments in our recession– regardless if you’re lucky enough to have won the Pulitzer Prizer, as the Sun did earlier this year.

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Tiger Woods – Las Vegas wants you to weigh in with your opinions…

News is rolling in like a broken water spicket on the reported Tiger Woods scandals since his car accident last week.  It’s all Tiger, all the time.  In the blinding media onslaught, the US Weekly tabloid feature that hits newsstands today alleges Woods had a 31-month affair with Rachel Uchitel, who was once a TAO VIP hostess in Las Vegas, having the voice mail smoking gun panic message from Woods and photos to prove it, and stories about a brief affair Jaimee Grubbs, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress and actress on VH1 Tool Academy, who claims she has over 300 text messages from Woods and also his voicemail which suggest his wife suspected the affair.

Undoubtedly, the iconic Woods will be flailing his nine irons until the unfortunate mess is resolved- if it is ever truly resolved.  Not only will there undoubtedly be microscopic scrutiny of his actions, but security will be beefed up at the events he attends and participates.

Las Vegas Backstage Access requests you to weigh in with your beliefs and comment on our post, below.  We’ll keep your contact details confidential. Do you think his private life and transgressions should be his own, secured from prying eyes and ears?  And, if you don’t like what he did, just don’t watch the golf matches or by his endorsed products?  Or, since he makes booku millions in public endorsements of products, there is a level of public trust and truth at issue here and honesty should be maintained on all personal fronts?

We’d like your opinions.  Thank you.

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Sammy Hagar to Open New Cabo Wabo Cantina in Las Vegas on Dec. 4

Legendary rocker Sammy Hagar will personally rock the red carpet at Cabo Wabo Cantina in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. with a grand opening fiesta and live performance with his band, The Waboritas.  

The rock and roll event is open to the public. Complimentary tickets will be given out to the first 400 lucky fans beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, December 4 at Cabo Wabo Cantina. 

Cabo Wabo Cantina, located at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, is Hagar’s newest flagship U.S. location for the legendary rock and roll restaurant. The two-level, 15,000-square-foot Cantina brings the best of Cabo San Lucas to Vegas combining Hagar’s signature blend of killer margaritas, flavorful Mexican food and rock ‘n’ roll style. Cabo Wabo Cantina is open daily at 11 a.m. 

For more information visit www.cabowabocantina.com.  More information about Hagar and his famous tequila can be found at www.redrocker.com and www.cabowabo.com.

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CityCenter Unveils Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas Today

MGM Mirage and Dubai World marked the unveiling of their CityCenter project today with the opening of the luxurious Vdara Hotel and Spa. 

Executives cut the ribbon on the 57-story, 1,495-suite luxury property shortly after 10:30 a.m. today. 

The hotel’s suites come in one- or two-bedroom variations, ranging from 500 square feet to 2,000 square feet, each featuring gourmet kitchens and washer and dryer units among their amenities. 

Other amenities in the non-gaming Vdara Hotel include an 18,000-square-foot spa, Asian fusion restaurant Silk Road and direct access to the Bellagio’s casino floor. 

Vdara has partnered with Vanity Fair for its private grand opening celebration tonight with appearances by actor Orlando Bloom, actress Rosario Dawson and photographer Sebastian Copeland. While VIPs will fill the hotel tonight, Vdara won’t welcome its first public guests until Wednesday evening. 

Following Vdara’s opening will be the unveiling of the high-end retail and entertainment district, Crystals, on Thursday, then the opening of Mandarin Oriental will be Friday. 

CityCenter’s crowning jewel and only gaming property — the 4,004-room Aria Resort and Casino — will round out the month with a Dec. 16 opening. Residential occupancies at Veer Towers will begin January 2010 while the Harmon will open in late 2010.

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Historic Binion’s Hotel in Las Vegas to Close

Another legendary landmark Las Vegas hotel has put up a permanent no vacancy sign. Binion’s announced Monday it will shut down its 365 rooms on Dec. 14. The casino and other operations, though, will reportedly remain open. 

Binion’s officials have said the reason for shutting down the hotel operations was because of the ever slumping economy which has forced room rates to drop and vacancies to rise. 

Even though the casino will stay open, there’s no question the decision will be a blow to a downtown that has struggled — even during the talks of revitalization. 

It’s been a staple on Fremont Street for more than half a century. Word of the closure spread quickly. 

Binion’s original coffee shop and Keno operation will also close, but the entire casino operation — including the Sports Book and the famed poker room which hosted the World Series of Poker from 1970 to 2005 — will stay open. 

But the hotel closure could impact gaming. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is trying to help Binion’s owners and lenders hammer out a deal to keep the hotel open. He said he does not think this will impact his plan to revitalize downtown. 

“Once you start saying you’re not going to do those things, then you recede. Vegas is a very funny place. We go through these ups and downs. We’ve been here before, perhaps not to this level, but I don’t blame this on Las Vegas. Las Vegas has the infrastructure in place. We’ve got the best hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment,” Goodman said. 

Goodman said it’s hard to find investors to come in with fresh money to refurbish rooms, but he’s not giving up.  “We have to keep pushing forward, now more than ever,” Goodman said. 

About 100 people will be laid off when the hotel closes. 

Anyone who has a reservation after Dec. 14 is being referred to Binion’s sister property across the street, The Four Queens. 

Most of the restaurants, including the famed Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse, will remain open.

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“Cowboy Up” in Las Vegas – National Finals Rodeo Buck into Las Vegas

On Dec. 3-12 the Wrangler National Finals rodeo — the sport’s answer to the Super Bowl and World Series — is back with latigo and spurs at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas– with some huge numbers to celebrate. 

This is the silver anniversary of the rodeo’s move to Las Vegas, and it comes with plenty of gold — a rodeo-record purse of $5.75 million. 

The move from Oklahoma City to the Entertainment Capital of the World in 1985 has worked out beyond all expectations for rodeo — and for Las Vegas. Every performance has been sold out for more than 20 years, and telecasts of last year’s 50th anniversary edition of the rodeo drew 15.4 million viewers. 

The non-gaming economic impact of the rodeo to the region last year was $54.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. 

But those numbers are just the by-product of the rodeo’s real business of determining world champions. Eleven months of crisscrossing the country in trucks and planes, going short on sleep and subsisting on fast food only qualifies a cowboy to compete for a gold buckle. Every world title is decided on Las Vegas’ big stage. 

If that’s enough cowboy action, the NFR Cowboy Christmas gift show also starts on Dec. 3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, running through Dec. 12. 

The Las Vegas Backstage Access calendar lists some of the many events.

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Ex-NBA Star Avoids Jail for Las Vegas Casino Bad Check Charges

Former NBA all-star Antoine Walker has agreed to pay more than $900,000 to settle bad check charges with three Las Vegas casinos and avoid trial on felony criminal charges, a defense lawyer and prosecutor said Monday. 

Walker wasn’t in court when his attorney, Jonathan Powell, described a plan for his client to pay a minimum of almost $13,000 a month over five years to settle a complaint stemming from casino debts at Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Red Rock Resort. 

Powell on Monday described his 33-year-old, 6-foot-9 client as unemployed, but said he hopes to sign with a team in the U.S. or Europe. If he does, Walker promises to increase payments to almost $21,400 per month and finish the repayment plan within three years. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access has written other articles on this case.

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Huge CityCenter Project Prepares for Las Vegas Public Unveiling this Week

The cost: $8.5 billion.  The decision: Let it ride- open the doors to the public!  

The much anticipated CityCenter project in Las Vegas- the largest construction project in the U.S. this year – is taking its opening public curtain calls this week.  

Updated Public Opening Schedule: 

Dec. 1 – Vdara Hotel & Spa opens

Dec. 3 – High-end retail shops, entertainment venues open, featuring Crystal

Dec. 4 – Mandarin Oriental luxury hotel opens

Dec. 16 – The project’s centerpiece, Aria Resort & Casino opens 

Since March, Las Vegas Backstage Access has written extensively on the project, covering it from all angles.  Please check out our articles on March 4 & 25; July 13, 16 & 28; Sept. 3, 17 & 25; Oct. 13 & 18; and Nov. 9, 14, 18 & 19.

C’mon over to Las Vegas and check it out!

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USA Sevens Rugby Tournament Prepares for Huge Las Vegas Tournament in February

Sports fans may find something to interest them during the usually quiet February when Las Vegas, the so-called Entertainment Capital of the World, hosts the USA Sevens rugby tournament and an International Fan Festival on February 13 and 14.

Set to take place at the Sam Boyd Stadium, the two-day weekend rugged and highly competitive event will feature some of the world’s leading rugby sevens teams, including vanguard teams representing England, South Africa and New Zealand. 

Currently ranked 11th internationally, the U.S. team, departed last Thursday, Nov. 26 for the Series opening tournament in Dubai, UAE (Dec. 4-5), where it will face England, Kenya and Russia.

Returning players from the U.S. squad that went to Dubai in 2008 are Matt Hawkins and Mark Bokhoven, who both return from injuries, Nese Malifa and Shalom Suniula. The remainder of the U.S. team is comprised of relatively new faces, but the players are reportedly fast, fit, strong and very skillful.

Captaining the U.S. team is veteran Jone Naqica, who is the most capped U.S. Sevens player and all-time leading scorer for the Eagle Sevens team.

Attendance at the 2009 games was more than 37,000, an increase of greater than 40% from 2007, with 2010 games anticipated to grow even more. 

Featuring 16 professional teams from all parts of the world, the Las Vegas weekend event captures international attention with 44 games providing more than eight hours of play on each day. 

Each game of the round-robin style tournament is less than twenty minutes, providing fast and intense competition.  Watching some of the quickest and most agile athletes in the world, spectators are entertained by the fast paced, high scoring games, as well as the electric atmosphere created by the avid fans. 

To learn more, please log onto http://www.usasevens.com/

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Mist Lounge in Las Vegas to be Resurrected as Gilley’s Saloon in TI

The cozy Mist Lounge in Las Vegas, located just off the Treasure Island casino floor, has closed awhile back, ending its memorable six-year run.   Now, a new nightclub and restaurant is planned in its space. 

The Lounge has been sold back to former Frontier, now TI (Treasure Island) owner Phil Ruffin, who plans to create his hallmark sawdust-on-the-floor country nightclub Gilley’s at TI in the former Mist Lounge space. 

TI Vice President of Hotel Sales & Marketing Don Voos confirms that Mist will indeed become home to the rebirth of the nostaligic, countrified Gilley’s Saloon– with a little help from its neightbor, Pizzeria Francesco’s that will be demolished  and merged in with the new space. 

“We will be building a new Gilley’s Saloon & BBQ restaurant,” says Voos.

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Ne-Yo to Perform in Las Vegas on Jan. 1.

Grammy-award winner Ne-Yo is set to perform at The Pearl Concert Theater in the Palms Casino Resort on Jan. 1. 

In 2006, Ne-Yo hit the R&B scene with a style all his own – a mix of classic sounds with a modern twist. His debut album, In My Own Words, hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and solidified his role as an artist to watch. The Las Vegas singer’s sophomore album, Because of You (2007), also peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 and brought Ne-Yo much acclaim when he won Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 2007 Grammy Awards. 

With Ne-Yo’s third DVD, The Year of the Gentleman, the Las Vegas native and premier songwriter has constructed a suite of songs that shows exactly what he means by class. Written over the course of travels through Europe and his own fascination with the hometown boys known as the Rat Pack, Ne-Yo explains, “For me, the sharpness of Sammy and Sinatra is the kind of style I strive for in clothes and music. Year of the Gentleman is named in honor of those guys.” 

This event is produced by Andrew Hewitt and Live Nation. The Pearl Box Office in the Palms Casino Resort is open from noon – 7 p.m. daily. Doors will open at 8:00 p.m. and show time is 9:00 p.m.  For more information, please call 702-942-6888.

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Las Vegas Prepares for New Year’s Eve Blow-Out

PURE Nightclub in Las Vegas is hosting rapper 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) to get 2010 off to a great start. 50 Cent’s rise from street hustler to rap superstar is legendary in the rap industry and was the basis of the hit movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” in which he portrayed himself.  The movie album shot straight to number one and sold 1.5 million copies in its first week and a half of release, the highest ever for a debut album. His hits include the smash “In Da Club,” “Candy Shop,” If I Can’t” and “Just A Lil Bit.” 50 Cent continues to rap either solo or with his group G-Unit.  50 Cent expects to expand his showbiz career to act, write, produce and direct in true superstar fashion. 

Down the Las Vegas Strip, LAX Nightclub will welcome the Grammy Award-winning The Black Eyed Peas to help Las Vegas ring in 2010. The Black Eyed Peas, who are comprised of will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo and Fergie, have become a music phenomenon since their album “Elephunk” debuted in 2003. The group’s hip hop and dance-oriented style has catapulted them to music stardom, as the group has sold an estimated 20 million albums worldwide and 13 million singles. Their most recent album, “The E.N.D.” includes hit singles “Boom Boom Pow” and chart-topper, “I Gotta Feeling,” which was the number one US single for 26 consecutive weeks, more than any other song in history. 

Tickets for both performances begin at $150 and will be sold exclusively at Vegas.com.

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Las Vegas Backstage Access Says “Thank You”

Thanksgiving.  It’s a time for slowing down a bit, all the while giving and sharing.  So, we at Las Vegas Backstage Access want to take time to give thanks to everyone that has helped us along the way. 

We could print a list, but we didn’t want to accidentally forget to list someone, so consider this our “umbrella thank you” that’s sent with our bountiful, universal love to everyone. 

Meanwhile, you too might want to take a little time to reflect on what you’re thankful for and hear other people’s stories.    At www.thanks-o-meter.com, readers are encouraged to write a short entry about an instance when they’ve been grateful. 

But, whatever you do, take time to enjoy being with your friends!

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Las Vegas Lady Entrepreneur to Star in “Launch My Line”

Bravo’s new fashion reality TV show “Launch My Line” partners successful professionals with established fashion designers to do just as the title says:  create a fashion line. 

A graduate of the Harvard Executive Business School, Marilyn Crawford, who lives in Las Vegas, has established herself as the ultimate expert and spokesperson in business and entertainment.  Crawford is the CEO of Windsor PTM, a global strategic marketing company. She is also Chairman of 2810, a private business membership club. 

When she was three years old she got the fashion bug–  a woman who lived down the street from her made clothes that Crawford designed with the help of her father. 

Fast forward, now Crawford figures if she could catch a fashion guru’s eye, she shouldn’t have a hard time launching a fashion line.  She envisions a clothing collection designed for the “average-sized woman,” which Crawford describes as 12-14.  She says her line would be a cross between Miranda and Samantha from the TV show “Sex and the City,” and, like those two characters, make a loud statement. 

Meanwhile, not to let grass grow under her feet, Crawford continues to travel extensively around the globe for her business and entertainment clients which include: Coca-Cola, Sony Universal, Master Charge, CNN, Volvo, Larry King, Russell Simmons and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. 

Crawford has been named “Woman of the Year” from Arts Horizon and TD/Commerce Banks, and has received The International Women’s Exchange Compass Award, The Humanitarian of the Year Award and Ebony’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 

“Launch My Line” premieres Wed., Dec. 2 at 11 p.m. (PT) on Bravo.

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Las Vegas’ Rough Road Continues

That potent one-two Las Vegas punch has lost its zing. 

All year long it’s been a hard fought battle, with the bad economy and slashed discretionary spending yielding the crushing blows. 

Adding to the demise, with more than 150,000 hotel rooms and heavily dependent on convention business, the tough times are getting unbearable. 

Fewer people are visiting, let alone spending.  Many casino floors are half-empty during the day. 

Taxi drivers up and down the Strip complain that they wait a long time between pickups. The fares they do get negotiate nearly every rate and no longer tip even minimally. 

Even fewer flights are landing in Las Vegas – US Airways Group Inc. announced last month that it was cutting arrivals in half.  Las Vegas hotels are heavily discounting and are doing anything it takes to lure folks back. 

At the Imperial Palace, rooms are going for $25, $65 on Saturdays. At the Palms Casino Resort, a standard room costs $59, $99 for a studio suite. 

High-end casinos such as Mandalay Bay are offering rooms for about $109.99, with a special two-night-minimum promotion that includes a 50 percent discount on a suite upgrade, a two-for-one House of Blues restaurant voucher, $25 resort credits on food, beverage, or merchandise, and 30 percent off tickets for The Lion King

Las Vegas’ woes are also not a good omen for other casino towns – or tourist destinations in general.  The falloff effect is pronounced and enduring. 

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. What happens in Vegas spreads out to all the rest of us,” said Meryl Levitz, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. 

“When Las Vegas greatly lowers its rates, consumers don’t think of it as Vegas being Vegas. They think along the lines, ‘Well then, I should be able to get a good deal anywhere.’ ” 

In September, for the first time since May 2008, the number of visitors to Las Vegas went up year over year – 4.3 percent. But the average daily room rate was down nearly 25 percent, to just over $92 a night. Gambling revenue was down 3.6 percent, the 21st straight monthly decline, according to figures released last week by the city’s convention authority.

All the big casino companies are feeling the pinch. Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns the Venetian and the Palazzo on the Strip, reported a $123 million net loss for the third quarter that ended Sept 30. MGM Mirage, which owns 10 casinos, the most on the Strip, posted a $750.4 million net loss. And Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., which owns eight casinos here, had more than a $1 billion net loss. 

Conventions and meetings, which characteristically drive midweek Las Vegas room occupancy, are way off this year. Attendance is down 27.1 percent compared with the same period in 2008; the number of gatherings is down 18.2 percent. 

About 400 meetings were canceled from late 2008 to May, resulting in $166 million lost in nongaming revenue, so says the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. 

One reason: restrictions on using federal-bailout funds for certain types of corporate travel, said Rossi Ralenkotter, the authority’s president and CEO. The other: Las Vegas’ reputation as a lavish meeting destination. 

The town’s party-hearty image had to be tweaked, said Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive of R&R Partners Inc., the Las Vegas public relations firm that created the “What happens here, stays here” slogan. Its current campaign features high-level executives hard at work in Vegas. 

“We began delivering a much more sober business message and didn’t talk much about the play side,” Vassiliadis said yesterday. “We were dealing with the perception of whether it would be frivolous to hold a meeting in Vegas. Clearly, after the first quarter of the year, executives needed validation and support to come here for a meeting.” 

During a panel discussion last week at the annual Global Gaming Expo, also known as G2E, Ralenkotter said: “Las Vegas [has] worked hard to ensure that the value of face-to-face meetings was better understood. We have also worked hard to attract new business to Las Vegas and have signed 24 new contracts with [trade] shows that have either never been . . . or have not been here in more than five years.” 

G2E seemed to mirror its host town: more subdued, less boisterous. The event drew an estimated 25,000 gambling executives, regulators, slot manufacturers, and suppliers to discuss industry trends and showcase the latest products – down from 26,500 last year. Registered exhibitors numbered 566, down from 724, and the amount of exhibit space used at the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center was 258,600 square feet, down from 335,480 in 2008. 

With the supply of convention visitors dwindling, luring back the leisure traveler became a priority, Jacob Oberman, a casino consultant with Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., said at a recent panel discussion on filling hotel rooms in a down economy. 

“They’re doing this by either giving gaming customers more favorable complimentaries than in the past, increasing their allotment of rooms, and presence with Internet wholesalers such as Expedia, [or] offering creative discount room offers and packages to the general public. 

It appears everyone in Las Vegas, or planning to go there, are cinching their belts a few notches.  It’s not that parites are not happening– it’s just they’re not as lavish or widely participated in as in the past.

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Donny Osmond Wins “Dancing With the Stars”

An estimated 19.2 million people watched Donny Osmond last night win “Dancing With The Stars” — the smallest audience for the show’s finale since the first season – and take home the show’s traditional mirrored ball trophy in the season finale of the ABC TV contest reality program. 

Helping push Osmond over the top was the tango he performed Tuesday with his professional dancing partner, Kym Johnson. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba hailed his performance as “artistry in motion.” It earned the top score of the final performances. 

Osmond, the former teen pop star of the iconic singing Osmond family, said the show has been a highlight in a career of ups and downs.  

The 52-year-old showbiz veteran, who headlines at the Flamingo in Las Vegas with his sister, Marie, has been performing almost all of his life, but said that there’s a difference between cutting albums and selling records and dancing competitively. 

Donny Osmond now holds the distinction of being the first Las Vegas headliner to win “Dancing’ while having a show on the Las Vegas Strip. 

He competed during the show’s finale Tuesday against singer Mya and Kelly Osbourne, daughter of rock star Ozzy Osbourne. 

Mistakes on the dance floor during the season weren’t the only missteps of ABC’s live broadcast. At the top of Tuesday’s show, as highlights from Monday’s show ran, the video froze on shot of Miss Piggy, prompting host Tom Bergeron to remind viewers that the broadcast was live and send the show to an early commercial break. 

This was the ninth edition of the contest, one of television’s most popular shows. The Nielsen Co. says ratings have been down all season for the show, an indication that viewers weren’t as attached to the contestants as they had in the past.

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Steve & Elaine Wynn Plan Amicable- & Most Expensive Divorce in History

Steve and Elaine Wynn, in a joint statement released yesterday, after eight months of hammering out some of the details, the couple announced they have reached “an amicable settlement” agreement in the split of their estimated $2 billion gambling empire– giving it the distinction of one of  the most expensive divorces on record. 

According to the statement, the terms and conditions of the settlement are confidential.   

Their divorce is expected to be finalized the first part of 2010. 

It also appears to be business as usual after the divorce is final.  Elaine Wynn will continue her role as director and board member of Wynn Resorts, Ltd., emphasizing community outreach and charitable contribution projects, working together with ex-hubby Steve Wynn.   

Their divorce papers were filed March 5 and sealed the same day, keeping secret such details as who filed. 

There has been speculation that the divorce settlement could eclipse the $1.7 billion worth of assets media mogul Rupert Murdoch agreed to give wife Anna in their 1999 divorce. That deal included her receiving a reported $110 million in cash. 

The Wynns were married in 1963, divorced in 1986, and re-married again in 1991— all the while acquiring their current financial fortune. 

The Wynns split after the hotel developer’s romance with a British divorcee, Andrea Hissom, went public this year. They met in 2008 on the Riviera, where he has a luxury yacht. 

Steve Wynn, who turns 68 Jan. 27, and Hissom were seen yesterday at the “Regis & Kelly Live” TV taping at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. 

The Wynns are now living in separate villas at Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip. 

In his divorce complaint, Wynn said that because of the couple’s wealth of community property, neither party should be awarded alimony or other financial support. 

But under Nevada law, community property is supposed to be split in half, which means each is entitled to half of the couple’s lucrative Wynn Resorts stock. Exactly how the stock is being divided, however, remains to be seen. 

Steve and Elaine Wynn reportedly each own more than 24 million shares in Wynn Resorts. Wynn Resort stocks have been hovering between $60 and $70 a share. 

Nevada gaming regulators have been watching the divorce proceedings because Elaine Wynn may have to come forward for licensing if she ends up owning 10 percent of Wynn Resorts stock. It depends on how her ownership share is structured.

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Bone-Jarring Off-Road Desert Race Planned outside Las Vegas, Dec. 4-5

The Henderson Fabtech Desert Classic off-road 60-mile race for cars, trucks and utility vehicles will be Dec. 4-5 in Henderson, Nevada, located just south of Las Vegas. 

In its eighth year, the event marks the final race for this year’s Best in the Desert Racing Association calendar. 

Racing on BLM land, an estimated 15,000 people are anticipated to attend the event, including about 800-people who make up the driving teams. 

On the line is $10,000 for winning the Ford-sponsored event. 

The race is as much for the racers as it is for the onlookers.  Pit areas for onlookers are set up along the course, off Highway 604 south of Sloan. 

The free Henderson Fabtech Desert Classic off-road event kicks off at 11 a.m. on Dec. 4 with vehicle inspectons and an off-road race expo until 6:30 p.m. on Water Strret, near the Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street in Henderson, Nevada. 

The first race, for the lower horsepower vehicles, is from 7 a.m. to noon on Dec. 5, followed by the larger horsepower vehicles from noon until about 7 p.m. 

Fans can watch from a spectator area or two pit areas along the course off Highway 604 south of Sloan. 

For more information, please call 702-267-2171, or visit www.hendersonlive.com or www.bitd.com 

Las Vegas Backstage Access plans to be there.  If you need a professional article and/or professional photography, please send us a note.  Just complete a reply to this post and we’ll be right back to you.

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Disaster Planned for Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas is the designated epicenter for a mock nuclear explosion planned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

FEMA had planned to simulate a nuclear explosion right on the Las Vegas Strip to test for emergency preparedness. But the plan is meeting a lot of opposition from all the key players, including Boyd Gaming, MGM Mirage, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Convention and Vistors Authority (LVCVA). 

Critics say a mock nuclear explosion should happen at a place where the damage would have a greater impact, like the Hoover Dam. But the actual site selected will be a step-by-step process and the first battle won is moving the exercise away from the Strip and over to Sunset Park.   

LVCVA says a flood or earthquake drill would be a better alternative over a nuclear blast drill. 

FEMA is continuing to reach out to key stakeholders, including state and local officials, to receive their input on site preferences. 

The exercise is scheduled for May 17, 2010 and is expected to bring 10,000 people to Las Vegas.

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Las Vegas Pitches for Fossil National Park

Las Vegas is making a pitch to have an area including fossil beds northwest of Las Vegas designated as a national park. 

A Clark County spokesman says commissioners endorsed the idea last week and officials say Las Vegas and North Las Vegas are expected to take similar action this week. 

Dubbed the Upper Las Vegas Wash, the area is more than 10 miles northwest of downtown Las Vegas. 

Local officials cite fossil finds from the Pleistocene age and the work of scientists in 1962 who catalogued the remains of ice age mammals such as the Columbian mammoth, American lion and ancient horses.   

No word on whether any mobster remains may be there. 

The legislative resolution asks Congress to designate the area a national park with visitor facilities and working field sites where the public could observe scientific research.

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Sean “Diddy” Combs to Open Las Vegas Nightclub

Sean “Diddy” Combs is about to open a new nightclub in Las Vegas.  Well, at least he’s going to help open one. 

“(The) Hard Rock is opening a club and I’m supposed to be opening up that new club for them,” so says the versatile artist. 

The new nightspot, Vanity, is set to open on New Year’s Eve. 

Still, the rapper formerly known as Puff Daddy won’t necessarily be at the Hard Rock when the ball drops on 2010. 

Instead, he said he is scheduled to host a day or two after the grand opening celebration, on or around Jan. 2. 

Still, he may very well be there at the Hard Rock on NYE. 

Maybe. 

“I may be out here, I may be shooting a television special,” he teased, adding with a smile, “I can’t give you any more details, that’s breaking news.” 

Still, it’s pretty safe to say Puffy is planning to party somewhere in Las Vegas on Dec. 31. 

The hip-hop heavyweight is no stranger to the Las Vegas club scene and likely has a litany of lucrative hosting offers on the table for New Year’s Eve. 

“I’m the Black Sinatra,” he said. “I’m supposed to be out here.” 

It wasn’t always this way for the rapper/actor/producer/fashion designer/fragrance developer/father/vodka czar.  Whew! 

“I used to come to Vegas maybe once every other year,” the outspoken 40-year-old icon said. “I’ve been out here already four times this year … This is the most I’ve been out here.”

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