Monthly Archives: July 2015

Talk of the Town Strip Club Marketing Strategy Might Be the Most Las Vegas Thing, Ever

Las Vegas is known for its innovative, often provocative, marketing. Now, one Las Vegas strip club, Talk of the Town, is using a unique strategy to market its products and services: Swingers.

That’s right. Outside of downtown’s Talk of the Town, dancers take turns swinging, literally, to attract customers.

Talk of the Town

What, you thought we were making this up?

Technically, Talk of the Town isn’t just a strip club. It’s also an adult video and toy store. But the young women swinging outside are definitely hawking the strip club aspect of the business, and the traffic-stopping technique seems to work.

The day we stopped by (you know, for blog research purposes), a dancer by the name of Skyler was kind enough to show us the ropes. Sorry, chains.

Talk of the Town

Skyler has a heart of gold, so be nice.

Skyler said when she swings, she makes $10 an hour. If she swings a couple of hours, it nearly covers the fee performers pay to dance at the club ($25).

Yes, it’s standard practice for dancers to pay a “stage fee” (also called a “house fee”) to the club, just as a hairdresser might lease space at a salon.

Skyler said she typically swings if business is slow, and she’ll sometimes make tips when passersby request a photo with her on the swing.

Talk of the Town is a fairly nondescript building, and easy to miss, but not when Skyler or her colleagues are outside working the swing shift. (We’ll be here all week.)

Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town is located a couple of blocks north of the Stratosphere on Las Vegas Boulevard. Bring hand sanitizer.

Talk of the Town is fairly value-oriented compared to many Las Vegas strip clubs. There’s a $10 cover, with $10 lap dances.

Talk of the Town is fully nude, so there’s no alcohol served.

Yes, during our visit we experienced some pangs of concern about the objectification of women, but the dancers we’ve talked to seem comfortable with their life decisions. It’s Vegas, after all, and bills aren’t going to pay themselves.

If the world of Las Vegas strippers is as interesting to you as it is to us, check out our Five Things We Never Knew About Las Vegas Strippers. Or our wildly popular list of strip club slang. Perv.

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Mirage Las Vegas Resort Will Be Sold to Former Owners of Riviera

Another Las Vegas hotel bombshell is about to drop: The Mirage Las Vegas will soon be sold. (Note: We originally reported an announcement of the sale would be made within three weeks of this story being reported. That date has come and gone, and lots of other things have transpired, too. Jump to the bottom of this post for updates.)

There’s been no official confirmation of the sale, but that’s never stopped us from sharing such news in the past! (Suck it, journalism.)

Rumors are swirling that The Mirage, owned by MGM Resorts International, will be purchased by Starwood Capital Group, former owners of the now-closed Riviera for an undisclosed sum. We’re betting it will be “many millions of dollars.” Experts are guessing between $1.2 and $1.4 billion.

Those same experts note, “MGM has taken its international marketing team and players out of The Mirage.” That’s a huge “tell” for any Strip casino.

Mirage Mermaid

You’re not going anywhere, lucky mermaid. Call your union rep.

Once the sale of The Mirage is complete, the casino will be managed by Paragon Gaming, the company which took over operations of Westgate Las Vegas after the sale and closure of the Riviera.

Paragon Gaming managed Riviera’s casino for two years prior to the Riviera closing on May 4, 2015.

The sale of The Mirage comes as MGM Resorts International is shaking things up in a big way on the other end of The Strip. The company has invested heavily in the new MGM-AEG arena, a 5,000-seat concert theater and The Park, a new shopping and entertainment district. There are also plans for a major renovation and rebrand at Monte Carlo Las Vegas, including a new name for the hotel.

The windows of The Mirage are gold, from actual gold dust used in the tinting process.

Hopefully, ventriloquist Terry Fator can pull some strings and stick around.

The Mirage has a storied history in Las Vegas. It was built by Las Vegas visionary Steve Wynn at a cost of $630 million. At the time it was built, The Mirage was the most expensive casino-hotel in history.

The Mirage Las Vegas opened on November 22, 1989, a fact we knew off the top of our head, probably.

Mirage lobby

The Mirage boasts a 53-foot-long aquarium behind its registration desk. Which is definitely not there to distract you from the line you’re waiting in. Definitely.

The Mirage was built on the site formerly occupied by the Castaways Hotel & Casino (once owned by bajillionaire Howard Hughes), and before that the Red Rooster Nite Club. That was back before people realized spelling it “nite” is kind of annoying.

The hotel was home to the iconic Siegfried & Roy show, and later impressionist Danny Ganz was the hotel’s main entertainment draw. The well-reviewed “The Beatles – Love,” from Cirque du Soleil, continues to be a successful offering.

Love show

Given the relationship with Cirque and MGM Resorts in Las Vegas, the fate of “Love” would appear to be up in the air.

The Mirage recently made news for cutting back on the frequency of its free volcano shows.

One of the best things that could come out of a sale of The Mirage is the possibility new owners might take a long, hard look at the hotel’s Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Public criticism about the plight of the dolphins, especially has grown over the years, and now would be a great time to let the dolphins cash in their stock options and retire.

While details of the sale of The Mirage Las Vegas are few at this time, it’s yet another intriguing turn of events sure to spark conversation of what the change of ownership means for this beloved hotel and the Las Vegas Strip in general.

An MGM Resorts spokesperson has said the company does not “comment on rumor and speculation.” That doesn’t mean you can’t! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Stay tuned for more unverified rumors as they become available!

Update (8/4/15): In response to our story, the CEO of Mirage Resorts, Jim Murren, has publicly stated the Mirage is “not on the market.” Murren also said the Mirage’s “future should become more clear by the end of the year as MGM evaluates its strategic options.” We take that as confirmation an official announcement of the sale of the Mirage will come by the end of 2015.

Update (8/4/15): Our friends at Edge Vegas claim the sale is happening and the new owners will partner with Marriott.

Update (10/29/15): MGM Resorts announced it will include Mirage in a REIT (real estate investment trust), and confirmed it will not be selling the resort. Read more.

Update (11/10/15): Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin says rumors about a Mirage sale to Starwood were “never true.” Read more.

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Cosmopolitan Fire Wreaks Havoc On the Hotel’s Pool Deck

The 14th floor pool deck of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was trashed by a fire that created billows of smoke and a serious freak-out in social media. Billows, of course, are one of the most popular smoke formations, second only to plumes.

Cosmopolitan fire

“It’s the hottest pool scene in Vegas!” Thanks to Courtney Cyr for the pic.

The fire, which happened just after noon on July 25, 2015, laid waste to cabanas and artificial palm trees. Injuries to humans were minor, with two people ending up in the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Damage to The Cosmo’s hotel tower was limited to a few broken windows and some heat damage to rooms on the hotel’s 14th floor.

It’s been reported 110 firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire The Cosmopolitan. In firefighter parlance, a “two-alarm” fire means, “Relax, it’s plants and cabanas. Vegas will make more.”

The cause  of the fire is still under investigation, but as with many such incidents, we’re putting our money on somebody doing something bone-headed. Probably with a cigarette.

There have been reports of hotel guests flicking cigarettes off their balconies. They have to fall somewhere, including on cabanas and artificial trees (the likely culprit, as authorities have determined the fire started in one of the trees).

Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt, and our Las Vegas firefighters kept the blaze contained.

Cosmopolitan fire

The Cosmo definitely caught a break this time. Clark County Fire Department Station 32 is just 200 feet from where the fire broke out.

The fire has caused minimal disruption at The Cosmopolitan, although the hotel’s valet was closed temporarily after the incident and the hotel’s 14th floor has some smoke and heat damage that will have to be repaired. The pool re-opened almost immediately.

Marquee, the hotel’s nightclub, was on social media immediately after the fire was extinguished, letting visitors know they’re open and ready to take obscene amounts of money in exchange for a place to sit.

 

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Kabuki Actor Set to Battle Giant Carp at Bellagio Fountains

The Bellagio fountains, one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, is about to be turned into a massive, high-tech Kabuki theater.

Japanese actor Ichikawa Somegoro will take to a 165-foot stage on Lake Bellagio to perform a Kabuki piece called “Koi-Tsikami,” or “Fight With a Carp.”

The special performances are scheduled from August 14-16, 2015.

Bellagio Kabuki

Yes, there’s a plot! A man falls in love with a woman who is really a carp. She takes human form to exact revenge upon humans because they killed her fiance, also a carp. It only sounds like the origin story for Aquaman, trust us.

The schedule for the “Fight With a Carp” show, which we can’t believe we’re actually typing, is as follows:

  • Aug. 14, 9:15 p.m.
  • Aug. 15, 9:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 16, 9:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Each performance will run 30 minutes.

During the performance, animations of a battle scene will be projected onto the Bellagio fountains. Shout-out to projection mapping! Water screen projections can be amazing. Why, here’s one now.

This Kabuki performance is “part of MGM Resorts’ larger commitment to celebrating Japanese culture and the arts.” Which, in casino parlance, translates as, “MGM Resorts is very interested in attracting Asian gamblers.”

The performance is free and open to the public. We’re assured no carp will be harmed in the making of this Kabuki spectacle.

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Las Vegas Ownership Group Officially Applies for NHL Expansion Team

A group of rich guys is another step closer to bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas.

The ownership group submitted their application with a fee of $10 million, $2 million of it non-refundable. The fee is to ensure applicants are serious about wanting a pro hockey team.

The Las Vegas contingent was one of two entities applying for an expansion team, the other was Quebec City, which we assume would on a map had we the time to look such things up.

Here’s a look at a potential uniform for the new team, likely to be called the Black Knights, or perhaps just The Knights.

Las Vegas Black Knights

Counting down the minutes until we see a Black Knights ad containing the phrase, “In Vegas, always bet on black!”

The Las Vegas owners, collectively called Las Vegas Hockey Vision, includes Bill Foley, a super rich guy, and the Maloof family, consisting of several rich guys.

The rich guys will need their riches if an expansion team is awarded. The expansion fee is expected to be $500 million. That sounds like a lot, but we’re pretty sure that’s billionaire Bill Foley’s average cocktail waitress tip.

If the NHL expansion plan succeeds, it’s expected the Black Knights (the name isn’t set in stone) would take up residence in the new MGM-AEG arena being built on The Strip behind New York-New York. The arena will hold about 18,000 people during hockey games.

MGM-AEG Arena

The MGM-AEG Arena is likely to have a new name when it opens. We’re thinking Vital Vegas Arena, but we may not be completely objective about this.

Las Vegas seems primed for a professional sports team. During an NHL ticket drive in Las Vegas, Las Vegas Hockey Vision got about 13,000 commitments for sports fans to purchase season tickets if Sin City gets its team.

News of the official expansion team application has whipped many Vegas sports fans into a frenzy.

This blog doesn’t know anything about hockey, so we’re sort of neutral about the possibility of an NHL team in Vegas. Unless there are cheerleaders. In which case, go rich guys!

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Riviera Slot Machines Get Second Life at The D Las Vegas as Vintage Vegas Floor Goes Ticket-In, Ticket Out

If you’re missing the now-closed Riviera, you’re in luck. The D Las Vegas has integrated dozens of Riviera slot machines into its Vintage Vegas floor, while phasing out its coin machines.

The D Las Vegas

The Vintage Vegas floor at The D is also the Vue Bar floor, or as we like to call it, our home away from home.

Ever since The D purchased more than 850 Riviera slot machines back in June, the downtown casino (formerly Fitzgerald’s) has been swapping out 15-20 per week with existing machines on its second floor, a floor devoted to classic machines.

Now, the only coin-operated slot machine at The D is the popular Sigma Derby.

Sigma Derby

When you play Sigma Derby, you don’t just win money, you win lifelong friends. Which we should totally trademark.

The move to TITO (ticket-in, ticket-out) means The D’s second floor cage will be dismantled, and coin redemption from Sigma Derby will be handled in the casino’s main cage, downstairs.

The D Las Vegas

It’s curtains for The D’s second floor cage.

The integration of the Riviera’s machines means a greater variety of games for players, and far fewer headaches for The D.

There’s a long list of reasons most Las Vegas casinos don’t offer coin-operated machines. Some of the reasons are obvious, others are a little more technical.

The owner of The D Las Vegas, Derek Stevens, says, “The games from the Riv had some advantages over the machines we previously had on the second floor. For example, many of the games at The D previously wouldn’t accept the new $5 or $20 bill. There wasn’t any ability to fix this problem, as the bill validator manufacturer for those machines had long since gone out of business, and those slot machines couldn’t run without that specific type of bill validator. It forced us to keep ‘old’ bills in our cages and slot techs with wallets of old bills to swap out for new bills from customers.”

The technical term in casino parlance is “huge pain in the ass.”

The D

We have personally found those Wheel of Fortune machines on the right to be very loose. Especially after a couple of cocktails.

Stevens comments, “I decided to keep the Vintage Vegas theme, but just change the games out so all the games have TITO and bill validators that not only work but also have the ability to detect counterfeits, something that has become epidemic over the last 3-4 months. In some cases, we replaced old machines with older machines, but with the necessary TITO and bill validators.”

It goes without saying the cost of maintaining a coin-operated slot floor is far more expensive than having non-coin machines. Although we just said it, so perhaps it doesn’t go without saying after all.

While there’s a certain charm to grime-covered hands and the “clink” of coins falling into a “hopper,” it can get old. There are still a few spots in Las Vegas where you can play coins, but the demand for such machines is fading fast.

Derek Stevens says he’s seen the demand for coin-operated slots dwindling, especially within the last five years.

The D Las Vegas

“We don’t need your validation!” scream the bills. Um, wrong.

Overall, about 200 slot machines from the Riviera have been placed on the casino floor at The D and its sister casino, Golden Gate.

The second floor of The D is a great place to get intimate with the history of Las Vegas. If your hands are feeling too clean, bust open some rolls of quarters and bet on your favorite Sigma Derby horse. Otherwise, give a former Riviera slot machine a try.

And before you do any of that, rub the casino’s Blarney Stone. Long story.

Full disclosure: The D Las Vegas is a member of the Fremont Street Experience family of casinos. We work at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions remain our own.

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