Criss Angel Wins “Magician of the Century” Award

Las Vegas magician and illusionist and Luxor headliner Criss Angel has won the “Magician of the Century” award, which was presented to him after Angel’s second “Believe” show this Tuesday by Tony Hassini, founder of the International Magicians Society. 

Hassini was at the center of a controversy last year when questions arose after his society reportedly honored three different female magicians as the top female magicians of the year for 2008, including former Las Vegas headliner “Scarlett — Princess of Magic.”

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‘Stripper-Mobile’ Putt-Putts Back to Las Vegas

The creator of the “stripper-mobile” plans to bring it back to Las Vegas but officials say they’ll try to enact a permanent ban on the traveling nudie show. 

Larry Beard, the creator of the innovative truck featuring strippers dancing in the back in a lighted Plexiglas box to advertise local strip clubs, said he wants to bring it back after their national “tour” to participate in Las Vegas’ April 30 Pride Parade. 

The truck debuted in November 2009 with dancers from the Deja Vu and Little Darlings strip clubs, but when Clark County commissioners complained, Beard took it off the streets. 

Since then, the truck has gone to New Orleans for the National Football Conference championship game, then to Miami for the Super Bowl. It also spent some time in Tampa Bay and St. Louis. 

“I’d like to run it up and down the road {in Las Vegas} a couple times,” Beard said. “If I get half a chance, you know, I will.” 

Clark County Commission members say they want to rewrite an existing law to keep the “stripper-mobile” off the Sin City streets for good.

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Harrah’s Entertainment Expands Rewards Program to Nongamblers

Each day in Las Vegas tens of thousands people spend oodles of money on nongaming activities.   Knowing this, Harrah’s Entertainment has recently come up with a new revenue enhancing idea- expanding their rewards programs to nongamblers. 

Customers signed up on the programs can now earn a reward point for every dollar spent in stores and restaurants at Harrah’s casinos.  Although the largest chunk of overall casino revenue is generated by gambling, that amount is falling as other segments, including rooms and drinks, is growing at warp speed.

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Las Vegas Gay Pride Parade and Festival on April 30

Las Vegas Gay Pride is built around two key events: the Las Vegas Pride Parade, held on Friday, April 30, at 8 pm; and the Las Vegas Pride Festival, which takes place the following day, Saturday, May 1, from noon until 10 pm. Keep in mind, though, that there are a number of smaller gatherings and parties leading up to the big weekend – here’s a full calendar

Las Vegas’ first Gay Pride took place in 1983 – there’s a nice synopsis of the event’s history on the Pride Las Vegas website.

More than 10,000 people attended in 2009. 

Las Vegas performer Frank Marino acts will be the Grand Marshal on Friday during the Gay Pride Parade in downtown Las Vegas.    

The Pride Parade takes place in downtown Las Vegas at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 30. The parade route is along 4th Street from Charleston Blvd. to Ogden Avenue.

In 2009, organizers added a Parade Pre-Party, which takes place on Friday at 5:30 pm in the pedestrianized Fremont Experience section of downtown’s historic Fremont Street. 

The Las Vegas Pride Festival is set at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater at 500 S. Grand Parkway on Sat., May 1 from noon until 10. This action-packed, all-day event always features a slew of notable entertainers. 

Of course, additionally, numerous gay bars as well as gay-popular restaurants, hotels, and shops have special events and parties throughout Pride Week. Please check local gay papers and websites, such as Q Vegas and GayLasVegas.com, for details.

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Spinning Out of Control in Las Vegas

If you’ve driven through any major intersection in Las Vegas (or even along roads around the country) you’ve likely encountered one of them. They’re pumped up, rhythmic, sweating and holding (or spinning, or jumping over) some kind of sign while trying to make eye contact. In the industry they’re known as “human directionals,” and they take many forms—ranging from a man in an Astro Boy costume with a “COLONICS!” sign at Green Valley Parkway and Interstate 215 to Pelvis Cleansly, the colonics-crooner dressed like Elvis who works for A Gentle Cleanse on Wigwam Parkway and Pecos Road.

While we’re a bit, uh, murky on why human directionals point toward colonics so frequently, we do know this: Sign spinners are about more than clean colons. They’re used by all kinds of businesses. And in Las Vegas, they’re perennial.

A variety of companies offer the services of human directionals, a.k.a. sign twirlers or sign wavers. EyeShot, for example, lays claim to being the “original human directional company,” having been in the directional business for more than 26 years. EyeShot works with local businesses to pair them with its attentiongetting sign spinners.

The four or five times a year Cricket Communications uses human directionals from EyeShot, the business has a noticeable increase in traffic, says Traci Holman, office manager for Cricket in Las Vegas. “It drives business,” she says.

Sign spinners who work for Aarrow Advertising, which is based in San Diego but operates in Las Vegas and 26 other cities, puts its spinners through a boot camp. By the time they’ve hit the street corners they’ve learned up to 500 tricks out of Aarrow’s “tricktionary,” with names such as the Bruce Lee, the Helicopter and Jump Rope.

But it’s not just about the tricks, according to Joe Ambert, director of business operations for Aarrow. A large amount of training is devoted to the presentation of the sign—how to freeze it and give each of the thousands of passing cars time to read it. That personal touch, he says, is key.

“Traditional forms of advertising are becoming obsolete almost—radio, TV, print,” Ambert says. “Nowadays you have to have something new, you have to stay on top of it. Having street-level advertising that’s targeting the people one by one, or hitting each single target it really causes them to remember the message.” For five years, sign spinner and Aarrow director of training Johnny Aarrow (who legally had his name changed because, he says, he loves being a sign spinner) has worked to share many messages.

But to hear him talk, he’s received at least as much as he’s given.

“On a good day it gets to the level you would see at a concert when someone’s performing onstage,” he says. “There’s 10, 20 people leaning out of their cars screaming, ‘Yeah! That’s awesome!’ And we get tips and, I don’t know how appropriate this is, but I’ve definitely had a couple of people flash me on the corner. It’s full-scale performance. I put everything I have into it and I think people recognize that.”

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Indians End Blood Feud

The University of Arizona has agreed to pay $700,000 to 41 Havasupai tribal citizens to settle claims that the university misused DNA samples given by tribe members over a decade ago. 

In 1989, some members of the small Grand Canyon-based Havasupai Indian tribe gave their blood to university researchers in order to participate in diabetes study. Tribal members later learned that samples of their DNA, without their knowledge or approval, had been analysed further, and played a key role in research conducted on schizophrenia, inbreeding, and one study even supported the Bering Strait Land Bridge theory. 

In addition to monetary compensation and returning blood samples, both ASU and ABOR formally apologized to the Havasupai tribe for the alleged wrong doing. 

Other important provisions of the agreement included a promise to collaborate with the Indians on various issues including health, education, economic development and engineering planning.

Also, a third party funding for a health clinic and high school is in the offing. 

Among the immediate gains will be tele-medicine services for Havasupai citizens, and scholarships for tribal members at ASU, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University. 

The tribe had originally asked for $50 million in its pre-litigation claim, and individuals who filed the other separate lawsuit sought $10 million. 

Carletta Tilousi, the lead plaintiff in the case and a tribal council woman, said she hopes the settlement will make a statement on behalf of all indigenous people that their cultures should be respected, not analysed by scientists.

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Cirque du Soleil’s New Michael Jackson Show in Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil has confirmed months of rumors and announced plans to unveil a Michael Jackson-based show in 2011 in Las Vegas. Shows, actually—there will be two of them.

The first, a touring arena show, will debut next fall and get “an extended run” in Las Vegas before the permanent Jackson show opens in late 2012.

Assuming none of the existing shows—KÀ, The Beatles Love, O, Mystère, Zumanity, Believe or Viva Elvis—don’t close between now and then, the incoming MJ spectacle will make the eighth resident Cirque show in Las Vegas.

Cirque is keeping tight-lipped about where the show will be housed, among other facts, but its promised “special lifestyle projects, including a nightclub.”  Rumors say the show will be at Mandalay Bay.

The new show announcement comes less than a year after Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009. 

Michael Jackson’s estate will receive royalties from the projects—but it will also share in half the costs of “creating, developing, building and producing” the shows, too.

The size and scope of the Cirque show will be unprecedented, including larger than life 3-D technology and most likely the largest budget for any Las Vegas show.

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