Friday, July 10, 2009

Titty Smackdown: Crazy Horse v Peepshow

It is true, this show was not for me. Literally. "Crazy Horse Paris" is a burlesque show at MGM Grand that, ostensibly, exists primarily to turn on heterosexual men. And there's nothing wrong with that, exactly. It's what this city was built on, right?

Except that I feel a little sorry for the heterosexual guys out there. You deserve better.

I was primed to like this show, which I finally got out to see last night because of the publicity stunt that is the blink-and-miss-her guest star gig by ex-"Baywatch" jiggler Carmen Electra. The posters look cool, the showroom was intimate and exotic and so much else about MGM Grand these days is all so classy. Plus, R-J columnist Doug Elfman said the other day when we were prepping to begin our semi-regular sparring match on KNPR that he considered CHP to be the best, most artistic stripper show in the city.

Sigh. I suppose that could be so if you ignore the awful choreography, simplistic tableaus, kaleidoscopic lighting, extremely poor lip-synching and comical costumes. There were some geniunely erotic and creative moments -- there's a scene where we see just the bottom half of a woman with a perfectly formed bottom and legs as she removes her stockings -- but more often it's a bunch of women bopping around in wigs, doing something repetitive until the music ran out. All yours for $60 a seat; what's it cost for a pole dance at Olympic Gardens these days?

And Carmen Electra? That was just...sad. Like a couple of years ago when we all got snookered into seeing the atrocious Hans Klok magic show at P-Ho because Pamela Anderson was in it, we all waited and waited and waited for the former Mrs. Rodman-Navarro to appear and she finally did about halfway through. She showed no boobies at that point, just shook her big hair about and rolled around on a lip-shaped couch. Yawn. She returned a good 20 minutes later to dance with some bendy poles, vulgarly grinding her g-stringed crack into one of them and sort of obliterating the patina of high-class CHP pretends to attain. Oh, and she showed one breast at the end of the misery, clad in a pasty which, I'm now told by every straight male reader of this blog, doesn't count.

Carmen, in the show through this weekend, does return in one final scene fully topless -- and her surgically created boobs are quite lovely with a cute flair to the nipples -- so I guess the vaginally inclined boys got what they wanted and seemed forgiving of how brief the satisfaction was. But I kept feeling sorry for Carmen that, at 37, she was reduced to such tawdriness to pay the mortgage. There could be no other explanation for why she's there other than the money; she sure didn't put a whole lot of pride in making the performance much.

There are dissenting opinions, to be sure. The R-J's Norm Clarke Tweeted during the show: "Carmen is writhing on the red velvet couch in the shape of Michelle Pfeifer's lips. Eat you hearts out Baker Boys." A few moments later, he Tweeted this: "Swinging door routine...they might be the 8 --ok who's counting -- most breathtaking performers on stage at one time in Vegas."

But even Norm seemed to lose interest; his next two Tweets, sent during the show, were about the Vegas location of the Travelocity Travel Gnome. I thought maybe someone else was Tweeting that stuff for him, but then he wrote: "But I digress....back to the Land of Merkin...and the Hot Legs routine."

OK, so you're thinking, "You're GAY. What do you know about shows about sexy women?" Fair enough. Except that I love "Peepshow" at Planet Hollywood. That is a show with high production value, a bit of a story, original music sung live and really creative ways of presenting gorgeous topless women. Also, at the moment, it has another It Girl, Holly Madison, who unlike Carmen is actually in her career prime. Holly's also required to do a little actual dancing and acting, however uncomfortable she may appear doing so.

The irony of all this is that Crazy Horse Paris is more akin to Crazy Girls, the struggling Riviera show whose operators insist remains a viable business despite a nightly audience of about 100 -- and God knows how few of those suckers paid full price -- and a cast larger than the now-gone "An Evening at La Cage." The most important difference between the two, besides the fact that CHP admittedly has more beautiful women, is that Crazy Girls doesn't pretend to be high art. CHP does, but it ain't.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Show is UP: G-Force Winds

After last week's blustery Andrew Dice Clay chat, saxophonist Kenny G would seem like a light-hearted antidote. And he is, for the most part. But he also gets a bit crabby and snarky, so it was a good time all around. You know the drill: click on the date below to listen or right-click and save to your computer. Or subscribe (it's free!) via this iTunes link or via this Zune link. -sf

July 9: G-Force Winds

On stage and on your stereo, he is laid back and comfortable. But in tonight’s interview, saxophonist Kenny G shows other sides of his persona: arrogant, vain, opinionated and controversial. The musician, who has sold 75 million albums worldwide, also provides a fascinate behind-the-scenes story about his first time on Johnny Carson, discusses Bill Clinton’s influence on the popularity of the sax and has some terse words for audience-scolding showstoppers like Patti LuPone.

Plus, a special INTERVIEW edition of the Trivia Question featuring Las Vegas Advisor publisher Anthony Curtis, aka Curtis Flowers speaking for the first time about his alias.

In Banter: Michael Jackson's memorial, Steve is Hispanic, the WSOP is off and running, The Hangover is mostly Vegasly accurate and more.

Links to stuff discussed:

Tickets for Kenny G on July 10-12 at the Orleans
Kenny G’s website
Alan Albert’s restaurant on Yelp
YouTube clips of Paris Jackson, Mariah Carey and Jermaine Jackson at MJ’s memorial
VegasHappensHere.Com on the possible Jackson Fourish show
VegasHappensHere.Com on Steve’s Hispanic excursion
Survey America’s website
Phil Hellmuth’s arrival at the WSOP on YouTube
Doyle Brunson’s Twitter feed
The Review-Journal’s report on the overage at WSOP’s Fourth Day One
Doug Elfman’s column about Carmen Electra in Crazy Horse Paris
Who is new "Peepshow" Aubrey O’Day?
The YouTube clip of the Vegas TV reporter’s Fremont Street tussle
Kenny G’s Guiness Record for holding a note for 45 minutes challenged

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Las Vegas, on TMZ re: Jackson!!!

This is so great! Click on the image here and zoom ahead to about 1:46ish. The rest is nonsense.

A bevy of MJ Memorial media notes

The debate over whether all that attention and hullabaloo rendered to the passing of Michael Jackson bores me. What's the point of arguing over it? It is, as a former Texas governor once said outrageously of rape, like the weather: It's gonna happen, so just relax and enjoy it.

And so I -- and millions of others -- did so. I suspect the ratings -- like yesterday's funerary show -- were pretty darn awesome. Jermaine Jackson knocking it out of the park with "Smile"? Made me rethink my objections to a Jackson Fourish show in Vegas, although Wynn is still the wrong property for it. Brooke Shields' "What's with the glove?" moment? Great, although I wish she had said what Jackson's answer was. And that little girl breaking down for her Daddy? Crushing. Classic moment. Prediction: Princes William and Harry will be calling to console the Jackson kids soon, if not already.

The only thing that bugged me was the hyperbole about what an unprecedented to-do this was (The A.P.'s Ted Anthony: "a celebrity spectacle like no other") when, in fact, that was so clearly a ridiculous notion. Princess Diana's death actually paralyzed a nation, raised ridiculous sums of money for charity, involved millions of people cramming along a public route to see her coffin, nearly unseated the world's most prestigious monarchy and resulted an Oscar-winning film. Just imagine what THAT would've been like in the age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Happily, I'm not the only one doing the comparison on this score. In today's Las Vegas Sun, columnist Ron Kantowski compares the MJ Memorial Show to a list of prominent funerals. He pointed out that Ayrton Senna, a Formula One champ from Brazil who died in 1994,
drew 3 million casket-gawkers, and I bet that included virtually no Americans. Pope John Paul II drew 4 million. It seems to me that Ronald Reagan drew more people and at least as much sustained TV coverage. Granted, there wasn't a chance for the public to visit Jackson's casket, but still.

Another tip of the hat is due to the Review-Journal's Jason Bracelin and Mike Blasky. I don't know which one of them wrote this, but the lead sentence of their report on Vegas crowds gathering to watch the memorial yesterday at movie theaters was pitch-perfect and had a wonderful ring to it: "The theater was dark and the mood wasn't any brighter."

Finally, it must be said that my pal (and Miles' KVBC colleague) Alicia Jacobs provided some really cool coverage via Twitter. Say what you want about her as a journalist -- it seems to me she occupies a unique netherland between being a reporter and being a celebrity who uses her connections to take the public into worlds we don't usually get to go -- but her @AliciaJacobs text and photo Tweets from her up-close seat at Staples yesterday added a Vegasy dimension to the thing.

The whole thing has me even more psyched about the MJ Memorial benefit concert @ErichBergen and I are in the process of organizing. Details coming very soon!

And now, a LuPonism dissenter

I've been pretty vocal in support of Patti LuPone's mission to remind people what is appropriate and polite while watching a live performance such as a concert or musical. In fact, I wish the people on the movie screen could yell at the audience from time to time.

But fair's fair and I asked saxophonist Kenny G about the LuPone moments on this week's episode of "The Strip" podcast, which is already available for download. (Formal posting with links coming.)

Mr G., who will perform this weekend in the same showroom (for double the ticket price, natch) hadn't heard about her Vegas and New York showstopping moments and was appalled. Here's what he said:

"Just the fact that they’ve already paid for the tickets and taken the time out of their lives to make it to the gig is plenty. If you start trying to tell them how to act during the concert, as long as they’re not violent, of course, that’s taking your role as a whatever, an entertainer, to a level that I don’t think that’s fair. What if the guy’s texting because he’s got a sick kid at home and he’s so worried that he may have to leave the concert and take somebody to a hospital? You’re going to interrupt the concert to tell the guy he shouldn’t be doing that?

You never know what’s going on with people. If somebody’s on the telephone, if I’m playing the most beautiful melody and somebody’s leaning over and whispering to somebody instead of looking at me, who knows? Maybe they’re asking that person to marry them? There’s no way that you can ever, as an artist in my opinion, judge an audience like that and stop a concert and embarrass somebody like that. If somebody’s yelling and screaming at you during a concert, well that’s a different story, they’re getting in everybody’s way.

Generally, speaking, yeah, there’s a lot more texting going on, sure. There’s a lot more picture-taking because the days when they say no cameras are over because everybody’s got a cell phone that’s got a camera. You can’t say no cameras. Everybody’s got 'em and everybody’s using them. Instead of lookin’ at you, they’ve got their camera phone between your face and their face and that’s the way it is."

I followed up.

Friess: You’re saying the folks who pay $75 to see you at the Orleans are welcome to take your picture?

Kenny G: They can do whatever they want to do. I don’t care.

So, Orleans ushers, that's the good word: Stand down. Of course, had the Orleans ushers stood UP in enforcing the rules at Patti's show, she wouldn't have needed to take it upon herself to deal with the issue.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Strip is LIVE tonight w/Kenny G

You think Kenny G and you think bland, but join us tonight for the live version of "The Strip" and hear some unexpected sides: arrogant, vain, controversial, even a little rude. But Mr. G is also a terrific storyteller who reveals how he flummoxed his own management by switching up what he sang at the last minute on his first "Tonight Show" appearance and has some terse words about the showstopping of one Ms. Patti LuPone. Kenny appears July 10-12 in the same Orleans showroom where LuPone did two weeks ago.

Oh! And the answer to this week's trivia question joins us LIVE to explain his alias.

We get going at 7 p.m. PT at LVRocks.Com, where you can hear the live stream, the chat room and view the studio cam.

Come on down or wait for the podcast version, which should be out tomorrow. Subscribe (it's free!) via this iTunes link or via this Zune link.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Breaking: Jackson Bros Envoy Asks About Wynn LV

Chip Lightman, the late Danny Gans' manager, informed me today that he's been contacted by an envoy for Michael Jackson's surviving brothers about the prospect of a permanent Jackson Brothers show in the vacant Encore showroom at Wynn Las Vegas. The room has been empty since Gans died on May 1, save for a handful of performances by Whoopi, Beyonce and, of course, Scarecrow and Mrs. Larry King.

Lightman noted that the call was extremely preliminary and that it's unclear exactly what the Jacksons have in mind, although it would likely have a serious Michael Jackson tribute component and Jackson choreographer Kenny Ortega's name did come up.

Lightman also noted that there's no telling how Wynn management might react, but I suspect the answer would be a "HELL NO." There just aren't enough people who would shell out the sort of money Steve Wynn would demand for a performance by opportunistic siblings whom The Gloved One spent the second half of his tortured life professionally avoiding.

Chip also mentioned that he and Wynn are waiting to see if Garth Brooks -- who has played two free shows in the room recently -- might want to come out of retirement for a standing production. There's no specific deal on the table, but it's clear Wynn would love to have him. Other names being bandied about in Wynnville: Prince and Mariah Carey.

All of those names sound reasonable. The Jackson Fourish? Not so much.

Soy Esteban!

That headline, my friends, is about as much Spanish as I know. Years ago, the Review-Journal had a college instructor come to the paper to teach a half-credit basic Spanish class and from that I have retained the ability to declare my name and say the phrases "tarjeta de credito" and "pero, est muy importante." The most Hispanic thing about me are those cute dogs, and we went and stripped them of their ethnic identities by renaming them as Black and Jack when we got them from the pound. They were Cheech and Chong.

Evidently, though, the fine folks at Survey America at Planet Hollywood don't much care. Last night, I earned $6 for being Hispanic! Bravo! (That's Italian, isn't it?)

Survey America is one of those polling outfits that reside at Vegas resorts. There's also one at Venetian and MGM Grand, the logic being that corridors of Las Vegas, with its mass-market draw, are great places to find survey samples of just about any description. So they either pull you in based on whether you appear to fit what they're looking for or you ask the nice lady standing outside in the uniform if there's anything going on.

That's what I did last night. I had just come from observing "Peepshow" rehearsals but had four hours before I was going to see the show itself. So I wandered by, saw the lady outside, and asked if I could do a survey or something. I figured maybe it might be a good Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week. She said yes and led me up a flight of stairs.

As we were ascending, though, she turned to me and said, "You're not Hispanic in any way, are you?" And I said, "No, I sure am not." Her reply: "Eh, it doesn't matter."

At the top of the stairs, I filled out a paper with the heading "Hispanic Shopping Survey" or something like that. The form did not ask whether I was, in fact, of such descent. I was then led into a room with a series of computers and seated at one where I filled out a survey about shopping. Few of the other folks there looked Hispanic either, by the by, but you never can tell. Some Hispanics, apparently, look just like descendants of Austrian-Hungarian Jews!

Our survey was all about my grocery shopping habits with, oddly, an emphasis on my "beef experience." It went on and on about how much fun I have or don't have buying beef, whether this or that store had a good beef selection, how friendly the staff was at the meat counters. Only one question was specifically about Hispanics, though, the one that asked whether Albertsons, Vons, Smiths or Ralph's "really gets needs of Latinos." We have a Mexican-American neighbor named Maria whose leafblower I borrowed (and broke) who had a lot of Albertson's bags in her house, so I gave them good marks.

That was it. When I was done, they gave me a $6 check and I was on my way. No 'buenos noches' or 'hasta la vista' or whatever. I felt modestly guilty accepting the money, so I went and grabbed some dinner at Taco Bell. Does that count?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Norm v Robin, Round Deux

There are a few updates to report in the mini-feud between Norm Clarke and Robin Leach.

(a) Both have written me to say, in various ways, that they're good friends and it's all good. The Jolly Brit, in fact, mildly chastized me for calling it a "grudge match," but I thought it was clear I was using overblown language -- "exclusive," "breaking," lots of !!!s -- as a sort of tongue-in-cheek homage. Any which way, it became a public thing when Norm took on Robin yesterday on Twitter and Robin would certainly be reporting it if, say, Steve Wyrick took a competitive shot at Lance Burton in this manner, right?

(b) @Robin_Leach has now removed the Tweet that set off the tiff, but the screen shot is still here. @Norm_Clarke, meanwhile, has not Tweeted since he called out his "competitor" -- 17 hours ago and counting.

(c) The Patched One added a splash of gasoline to the matter this morning in his Sunday column by writing that he had Fator's "first interview acknowledging the divorce." Robin told me yesterday that Norm chatted with Fator "after me." Hmmm...