Saturday, August 6, 2011

Magician Steve Wyrick Postponed Again; Will He EVER Open?

That's not just my question. It's the one stalking the folks at the Las Vegas Hilton, too. There's some snag going on over there that goes beyond needing more time to perfect the show, and now I have a Hilton source telling me there are financial problems. Before it even opens, there are financial problems?!?

I had exclusively reported on July 26 the the journeyman magician's new headliner gig had been postponed from a 7/27 opening to an 8/5 opening, and the other day a ticket agent told me its new opening date was 8/6. Well, that's today, and the Las Vegas Hilton website has scrubbed those dates and a ticketing agent said it's supposed to open 8/9 but "I can't really predict the future."

Indeed. Don't hold your breath on that, either, because the resort's website shows Wyrick scheduled to appear EVERY SINGLE NIGHT UNTIL JANUARY 31, 2012 WITHOUT A SINGLE DAY OFF.

Yeah, right.

[Aside: By then will it even be "the Hilton" by then?]

If you try to book tickets for any of these dates, you evidently can do it, though. They're $39.95 to $125. Something tells me there'll be plenty of seats available on a walk-up basis, though, so I'd hold off on that.

Why does this even matter? Well, Wyrick's face is already plastered on a 20ish-foot-tall banner on the side of the resort where Barry Manilow's visage once gazed down upon the masses. Has there ever, in the history of Las Vegas, been a show advertised and promoted like that that has simply never opened?

Wyrick, of course, has a long history of financial troubles and disappointing shows. Most recently, he went bankrupt after the $35 million Wyrick Theater and bar complex in the Miracle Mile Shops failed miserably. And yet he keeps trying to come back, and that spirit and effort deserves a certain admiration from even those not impressed by his tricks.

There's one more bit of proof, though, that Wyrick is clearly not ready for primetime at the Hilton. This... what you find out front at SteveWyrick.Com. Maybe that's a time-traveling DeLorean? THAT would be an awesome trick.

KSNV's Beautiful Tribute To Miles

Yesterday was Miles' final day at KSNV, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas. He worked there or at the company's Reno station for 12 years, finishing up as the executive producer overseeing the entire news operation for the past four years. To commemorate the occasion of his departure -- he's coming with me to Ann Arbor to partake in my fellowship -- his friend and anchor Jessica Moore offered these truly lovely words at the close of the last newscast he produced, the 5 p.m. show:

FYI, we're having a little party at
Piero's on Aug. 13 from 2-5 pm where friends, colleagues, listeners, readers and viewers are welcome to swing by and visit with us. Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gay Golconda: Nevada's Homo Haven?!?

Lots of folks are slicing and dicing 2010 Census data, including those interested in tracking the lives of gays and lesbians. The Census does not ask sexual orientation so there's no raw count of how many gay Americans there are, but it does track same-sex households by allowing gays to check either "married" or "unmarried partner" when indicating the second adult's relationship to whomever is Person No. 1.

The first time this was done was in 2000. Before that, the computer automatically changed the gender of Person No. 2 to make hetero-sense of the responses. When the data came out in 2001, it was significant because it was statistical proof that gays literally, truly, are everywhere. Same-sex couples lived in more than 99% of counties in America, meaning we lived among the rest of you even in the reddest, most conservative and religious nooks.

Thus, it's not surprising that on this go-around, the data similarly shows there are same-sex couples in all 17 counties in Nevada. It's equally unsurprising that the percentage and raw numbers of them is high in the Vegas and Reno areas as well as Pahrump. You can see the various breakdowns, including by gender and percent with children, for Nevada and almost every other state here.

But take a look at this map from the Williams Institute at UCLA's Law School:

What, pray tell, is that darker blue splotch that suggests a concentration of The Gay up there in the middle of Northern Nevada's mining country? At first, I thought maybe it was third-largest-"city" Elko, but it's not. I consulted a Silver State county map so I could determine...

...that it sits in the southeastern corner of Humboldt County. This graphic shows Winnemucca, which would be of gay historical significance because one of the most beloved characters in the great novelist Armistead Maupin's "Tales Of The City" series, Mrs. Madrigal (played by Olympia Dukakis in the PBS mini-series) was raised there in a brothel. Her mom's character, in fact, is Mother Mucca.

I digress, though. I got Dr. Gary Gates, the demographer responsible for tabulating and analyzing these numbers, to make sense of that splotch. We worked out that, in fact, the census tract that is that shape doesn't even include Winnemucca. Rather, according to the Census website... just misses that metropolis. Instead, there's another colored bubble therein that implies some sign of life. Let's look closer:


Uh, what?

Golconda. Duhhh! Everybody open your Internet hymnals to Wikipedia:

Golconda is an unincorporated community in Humboldt County, Nevada, United States. Located along Interstate 80 in the northwestern part of the state, it is named for the ancient diamond mining center of Golkonda in India. The community lies east of the city of Winnemucca and the Golconda Summit, a nearby mountain pass. A post office is located in the community.

Golconda was built when discovery of copper, silver, gold, and lead brought entrepreneurs who opened mines and mills in the district. The town was a diverse society including both native-born Americans as well as foreign populations including individuals of French, Portuguese, Paiute, and Chinese descent who all lived and worked in the small community. During 1898-1910, the town had a train depot, several hotels, a school, businesses, newspapers, and two brothels. Its population peaked at about six hundred in 1907-08. Although boosters predicted growth for Golconda, after 1910 the mines played out, leaving the region as an area of ranches and farms. Most of the town's buildings from its mining heyday are gone, and Golconda today is a minor stop on Interstate 80.

And that's all she cut-and-pasted, folks! A short, dry passage, nothing to indicate a love of rainbows or show tunes or Subarus. I may go and update this page shortly, however, to provide the BREAKING NEWS that it's also, according to the data, the GAY CAPITAL OF NORTHERN NEVADA.

Gates and I had quite a chuckle over this. He said that sometimes anomalies arise because people live in complicated households of multiple adults and shared-custody children and don't fill out the forms right. But he took a careful look at what Census gives us for that tract and he found that there are 17 same-sex couples among the 1,824 households reported. (The Wikipedia entry indicating that the population peaked at 600 more than a century ago could refer to a peak at that time and not more recent population data. I'm further baffled by the 1,824 households, though, because this also implies far fewer people up there than what Census came up with.)

Either way, 17 pairs is obviously not a particularly large number, but proportionately -- that is, per capita -- it puts Golconda in league with the Reno area and makes it significantly gay-coupleier than Pahrump. And Pahrump is holding its first gay pride event in a couple weeks!

Here's a cute old picture from the UNR library showing Goldconda in its heyday:

I've put in a request with the Nevada Secretary of State to see how many same-sex couples are registered domestic partners in those parts. (You can be counted as a couple on the Census but not be registered with the state.) I can't wait to ring some of them up and ask them: What gives? Is there a hummus place up there to die for or something? Did "Brokeback Mountain" inspire some sort of retro, head-for-the-hills migration boom? D0es the County Commission hand out free Birkenstocks?

Why do I feel I've got one last Nevada reporting trip in my future?

P.S. Thanks to whomever it was who put that uber-gay-looking Golconda ballcap pic on the Interwebs. God only knows why, but bless you.

LVW Col: The Weight Watchers Guy From Vegas

Evidently, there's just no way for me to move through life without smacking into a good story. About two months ago, I started Weight Watchers. At my third meeting, our leader was excited to report that WW Magazine would have a man on the cover for the first time, and that he was from Vegas. So my tentacles went up, and here's that column. God knows what I'll do with myself when that happens during my fellowship. Yikes! P.S., I'm now down 17.6 pounds as of this morning's weigh-in. Woo hoo! -sf

Las Vegas Loser

Weight Watchers magazine

Years ago in San Francisco, I met up with some vacationing British friends. The guests were surprised that the people of the City by the Bay seemed so fit, and one friend asked, less-than-half-jokingly, “Where are all the fatties? All we hear about is how fat the Americans are.” Before I could reply, another Brit fired back: “They’re at the buffet in Vegas, ain’t that right, Steve?”

I couldn’t protest. Men’s Fitness has, after all, dubbed Vegas America’s fattest city, and clearly our girth precedes us. We are huge, and not in a good way.

That’s why the accomplishment of math teacher Chris Smith ought to be trumpeted. Not only has he shed 117 pounds in about two years, down from 322 pounds, but this month he becomes the first man to grace the cover of Weight Watchers magazine. You’ll also see him holding one of his “before” photos on new TV commercials with, among others, newly svelte Jennifer Hudson.

The actual news in there is that Weight Watchers is finally highlighting the importance of weight loss for men. Guys don’t realize it until we try to drop a few pounds, as I recently have, but the diet industry focuses obsessively on those with the milk-producing variety of breasts. When a man who isn’t gigantic decides to diet, people actually ask why.

That’s what I’ve found since I began WW in June.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Strip IS live tonight...with a Mystery Guest

I don't want to announce who our guest is this week because Miles doesn't know yet, either, but let's just say that we're taking care of some old business from the earliest days of Vegas S&MThe Strip. So join us at about 8p at this UStream site to hear the interview, then stick around for Miles to come home for the live show.

And, no, just to head off needless speculation, it's not Steve Wynn. I think he's still peeved that I was first in both the print media and the blogosphere to call out his anti-Socialism/pro-Sinophilia contradiction.

Anywho, we're running out of time, folks, so come on down for the live show and watch the puppies eat their snacks. It'll be grand. Or wait for the podcast version. That's great, too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wolfgang Puck Departing Springs Preserve?

Just got word that Wolfgang Puck appears to be about to relinquish control over the food service at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve Cafe. The replacement is actually pretty interesting, too.

Here's what employees of the water district, which oversees the 4-year-old Spring Preserve, were told today in an e-mail blast:

"The LVVWD Board of Directors today approved a staff recommendation to negotiate a contract with the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas to operate the Springs Preserve's restaurant and onsite catering. If the Board approves the contract at a subsequent meeting, the Culinary Academy would replace Wolfgang Puck as operator of the Springs Cafe. The Culinary Academy of Las Vegas is a nonprofit partnership—between Union Local #226, Bartenders Local #165 and Las Vegas Strip properties—which provides employment and training for hospitality-industry workers."

That's kinda cool, right? The local cooking school will manage this? It's sensible, undoubtedly less expensive and a smart partnership between two educational institutions.

Still, it can't be a good sign for the Springs Preserve's visitation numbers. And for Puck is like the Cirque du Soleil of food around these parts; he's only previously closed one restaurant in Vegas that I know of, Chinois.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Shows are UP: Charlie Palmer & Hal Sparks

Here we go, another two-fer week as we wind down the program. Enjoy. Click on the date below to play or right-click to save the show. Or you subscribe -- for free -- in iTunes or Zune. -sf

July 31: Charlie Palmer, Hall of Famer
EXTRA: Hal Sparks on Vince Neil, QaF and Minority Comedy

The last time we spoke to celebrity chef Charlie Palmer, he used this program to break a WORLD EXCLUSIVE about his plans to build a hotel in Las Vegas. This time around, he joins us as one of the three newest inductees into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame. Palmer talks about that, about the aforementioned hotel he still intends to build some day and about a particularly wild birthday meal he had on an island in Fiji. That’s all coming up. Also, we excerpt our interview with comic Hal Sparks, the former “Talk Soup” host and “Queer As Folk” star who appears this weekend at the Las Vegas Hilton. It was Sparks’ show, you might recall, that Vince Neil interrupted in order to confront a former girlfriend, Alicia Jacobs.

In Banter: Drrrty pools, Wyrick delays, Vegas Top Cheffers, Bucket Lists and more.

Open & Banter: Start to 18ish
Charlie Palmer: 18-50ish
Trivia/Poll/Letters: 51ish-1:04ish
Hal Sparks Excerpt: 1:04-1:07ish
TSTToTW: 1:08-end

Links To Stuff Discussed:

The sites of Hal Sparks and Charlie Palmer
The Daily’s piece on pee in the pools
Bellagio’s rooms pictorial and report by VegasHappensHere.Com
WSOP betting at sports books are open and popular, says the Sun's Case Keefer
Top Chef Just Desserts contestants from Vegas
Charlie Palmer’s Fiji birthday extravaganza