Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 77: Neon Brilliance, Mob Museum Moonshine and More

It’s all the Las Vegas you can fit into your tympanic cavity!

In this week’s episode, we review the new show at Neon Museum, “Brilliant.”

“Brilliant” brings 40 defunct signs back to life through the miracle of projection mapping. Yes, it’s a miracle, and this 30-minute show will make you fall in love with Las Vegas all over again.

Neon Museum Brilliant show

Amazingly, not a single bulb on these signs actually works. “Brilliant” is right!

Next up, we dive headlong into a new offering at Mob Museum, The Underground.

The Underground is a Prohibition-inspired speakeasy and features a working distillery.

On the show, we chat up a master moonshiner about turning corn mash into hooch, then we make our way to a new exhibit at Mob Museum, the “Use of Force Training Experience.”

Mob Museum distillery

Yes, moonshine’s made from corn, which sounds healthy, but still.

The rest of the show is an inebriated blur of Las Vegas rumors, news, a list of our favorite neon signs and self-serving drivel. What’s not to love?

Take a listen and learn why our podcast was named the 11th best podcast in Las Vegas, and that was probably being generous.

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25 Things We Learned About You From the 2017 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study

We find you absolutely fascinating.

The Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study is an opportunity for us to learn something about you through the art and science of surveys.

Each year, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) interviews a group of randomly-selected visitors (3,600 this time) to get a peek at what you do in Vegas, how often and how much you spend doing it.

While some question the accuracy and value of the numbers, the Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study is wildly entertaining and a fun way for us to write a blog post by mostly copying and pasting.

Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study

This publication is as close as we’re ever going to get to liking numbers.

Let’s go! Here are 25 things we learned about you from the LVCVA’s 2017 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study.

1. In 2017, 79% of visitors had visited Las Vegas before, up significantly from 73% last year.

2. Seventy-four percent (74%) of those surveyed said they visited Las Vegas only once in the past year. Slackers.

3. When asked if they had attended a convention, trade show, association or corporate meeting, 11% said they had. That’s a lot of lanyards.

4. Forty-six percent (46%) of Las Vegas visitors arrived by air, with 54% arriving by ground transportation.

5. According to the survey, 29% of visitors reported taking a taxi during their Vegas visit, up from 26% last year, while 19% said they used a ride-sharing service, up from 13% last year. The taxi statistic is one of those questionable numbers we were talking about, as taxi rides have been declining for three years now due to companies like Lyft and Uber.

Lyft Line Las Vegas

Rideshare has changed everything, despite what the survey says.

6. The proportion of visitors who reported using a travel agent to plan their trip to Las Vegas (10%) decreased compared to 2013–2016 usage. Yes, travel agents apparently still exist.

7. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of visitors said they had visited downtown Las Vegas on their trip, up significantly from 2013–2016.

Downtown Las Vegas

Kudos if you can look at this chart and not think about Otter Pops.

8. The average adult party size in 2017 was 2.3 persons, up from 2.2 in 2015. It’s best if you don’t ask what .3 of a person looks like.

9. Fewer 2017 visitors had children under the age of 21 in their immediate party than last year. This is the best news, ever.

10. In 2017, visitors stayed an average of 3.5 nights and 4.5 days in Las Vegas.

11. In 2017, visitors spent much more on food and drink than in each of the past five years. The average expenditure was $376.97. If Las Vegas visitors are anything like us, this was mostly drink.

Lago cocktail

This bad boy at Lago inside Bellagio is a must-taste.

12. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of 2017 visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas, an increase from 69% last year.

13. The average trip gambling budget ($541.18) was down from last year’s, but has remained in the same range over the recent past. We blame it on those “When the Fun Stops” brochures.

When the Fun Stops

You Vegas your way, we’ll Vegas ours.

14. About nine in 10 (89%) visitors who gambled said they gambled on the Strip corridor, while four in 10 said they gambled downtown, a significant increase from past findings. Conclusion: We are spending way too much time downtown.

15. Among those who gambled while in Vegas, 77% gambled for two hours or less, up significantly from each of the past four years.

16. Visitors were asked what other nearby destinations they had visited or planned to visit. The most common responses were the Grand Canyon (65%), Hoover Dam (57%), Zion National Park (12%) and Lake Mead (11%). Yes, many of these destinations are “outdoors,” which is why you “will not find us there.”

Red Rock Canyon

About 8% of Vegas visitors say they’ve gone to Red Rock Canyon, and not just because we happened to have a photo of it handy.

17. The average trip expenditure on shopping was $143.13, up significantly from $122.66 in 2015. Interestingly, at the upscale Shops at Crystals shopping center, guests are charged $143.13 just for thinking about some of the merchandise.

18. Nearly six in 10 (59%) visitors in 2017 attended shows during their stay.

19. Thirteen percent of Vegas visitors who attended shows saw a comedy show and 6% saw a magic show.

Mac King show

Mac King does comedy and magic, so two birds.

20. Almost three-quarters of 2017 Las Vegas visitors were married. Some managed to have a good time, anyway.

21. Sixteen percent of visitors were from foreign countries.

22. A third (31%) of visitors identified themselves as non-white.

23. One in six (17%) visitors to Las Vegas in 2017 were retired.

La Bayou grandmother

Any excuse to share this photo of our Gram, currently getting a hand pay from St. Peter.

24. Almost half (45%) of visitors in 2017 were under the age of 40, hence the proliferation of virtual reality and cornhole in Las Vegas.

25. We saved the best for last: Nearly seven in 10 (69%) visitors used Web sites, social media or apps to plan their Las Vegas trip. Translation: This blog. Or at least another, better, Las Vegas blog. Or the Facebooks and Twitters. Some people even listen to podcasts, and you know who both of you are.

Thank you for making us part of your Las Vegas experience, and for sharing your inner essence with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

See the full 2017 Las Vegas Visitor Profile Study (.pdf).

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Vital Vegas Podcast Ep. 76: Ellis Island’s Birthday, Skill-Based Slot Machines and More

In this week’s installment of the Vital Vegas podcast, we share all the latest Las Vegas news and prove, once and for all, people have extraordinarily low standards for entertainment!

What we lack in podcasting talent, we make up for with great guests.

First, we chat up Christina Ellis, Director of Marketing at Ellis Island Casino. The diminutive casino celebrated its 50th birthday on April 13, 2018, and we dropped by for some scoop, including news about the new Front Yard.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Ellis Island will mark its 50th year with a new place to test your liver, the Front Yard.

We also interview Paul Steelman, a well-known casino architect whose company, Competition Interactive, is making a go of skill-based slot machines.

Steelman talks about his new game, Running Rich Racing. The new game is being field tested at Planet Hollywood, The D and the Venetian.

We played the game at The D and we were awesome. Again, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

Running Rich

Running Rich Racing is the only evidence we’ve seen skill-based slot machines don’t suck.

Also on the show, we share a “Listicle of the Week” featuring Las Vegas resorts that never happened. Some of the names you’ll know, like Alon and Echelon Place. You’ll also learn about the Caribbean Casino, Playboy Hotel and Casino, Montreaux Resort and (wait for it) Titanic Resort.

No, really.

Yes, podcasts might be boring, but they’re better than being alone with your thoughts! Take a listen.

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“Opium” at Cosmopolitan is a Raucous Romp Around Uranus

A new show from the twisted minds at Spiegelworld, the company behind “Absinthe,” has opened at Cosmopolitan. “Opium” is an imaginative, irreverent journey through a vast expanse of WTF.

We’ve got a metric ass-ton of adjectives still to come, but let’s cut to the chase about what “Opium” actually is.

At its core, “Opium” is a comedy-variety show. The good news it’s an exceptionally imaginative one.

Opium at Cosmopolitan

We don’t entirely remember this sequence in “Opium,” but that could be related to the fact the theater’s signature drinks are delicious. Thanks to our pal Erik Kabik for all the production photos.

“Opium” is frothy and puerile and bizarre and psychedelic and LGBT-friendly and downright exuberant.

We warned you there would be more adjectives.

Perhaps we should put it this way: “Opium” is evidence weed is now legal in Las Vegas.

Enough foreplay!

Opium Las Vegas

Subtle, “Opium” is not.

The basic premise of “Opium” (we’re fairly sure they named the show before they knew what it was going to be about) is that a crew of colorful characters is traveling on a spacecraft, the OPM 4.2, from Uranus to Las Vegas.

Yes, there are a lot of Uranus jokes. Maybe you should’ve taken a moment to look up the word “puerile.”

A lot of time and creativity have been devoted to fleshing out the characters in the show, and each has a distinct subplot which unfolds during the roughly 90-minute production.

Opium Cosmopolitan

The cast of “Opium” attacks the outlandish premise with verve and gusto. Fun fact: Verve and Gusto were a popular comedy team in the 1930s.

The characters include Captain Ann Tennille, Lt. Lou Tenant, Chip, Rob the Robot and (wait for it) Leslie. Somebody clearly ran out of steam with the Leslie thing, but the cast never seems to suffer the same fate. They’re universally comedically talented and seem genuinely enthusiastic about taking part in this new theatrical effort at Cosmopolitan.

Along with the larger-than-life characters, there’s a talented singer who drops in with random musical interludes throughout the show, presumably to provide a diversion from the comedy bits and variety performances.

Think Melody Sweets in “Absinthe,” but in drag.


If they give away an award for “Torch Singer With the Hairiest Back,” this guy’s a shoo-in.

Vegas Seven has a rundown of the cast of characters.

The humor in the show, 90 percent of which orbit around sexual organs, is non-stop.

“Opium” isn’t as edgy or caustic as “Absinthe,” but it manages to hit the sweet spot for Las Vegas visitors out for a night of inebriation and adolescent humor.

And while we’re on the subject, it should be noted one might want to avoid comparisons to “Absinthe.” While a common DNA between the shows is undeniable, “Opium” is more strange
than raunchy.

“Opium” also exists on a much smaller scale than “Absinthe.” The mere fact “Opium” is in a theater with a low ceiling means it can’t have some of the more jaw-dropping variety acts that have made “Absinthe” a must-see show in Las Vegas.

“Opium” relies on well-performed, tried-and-true variety acts it can easily swap out with others if needed. You know the ones, they involve variety show classics like hula hoops, unicycles and objects being juggled.


Enjoy classic variety acts? Join the club.

While none of the acts were death-defying, some were stand-outs, like a balancing act with a trained Chihuaua. Then again, that could be because we are a dog person.

There was also a stunning woman wearing S&M garb dancing with, and inside, a giant balloon, a throwback to Angel Perrino’s tap dancing act in the early days of “Absinthe.” We asked for a photo, trust us. No luck.

A favorite of the evening was the sword swallower, Brett Loudermilk. Sword swallowing is standard variety act fodder, but the performer had top-notch material and delivered it


Yes, the sword swallower joke that springs to mind is exactly the one in the show. You should be in the entertainment business!

The biggest laughs of the evening were evoked by a couple who did alarming things with bananas.

Not the kind of alarming things you’re thinking of, perv. They basically bite off pieces of banana and spit them into each other’s mouths through the air. And they’re really good at it.

The duo also gets audience members to participate. Which is as hilarious and disturbing as it sounds.

Highly entertaining acts, to be sure, but we’re thinking if the show finds some success, a bigger budget will be available for variety acts with a similar wow factor to “Absinthe.” Which we’re still definitely not comparing “Opium” to, by the way.

The show’s producers have made it clear the show is still being developed, so we have no doubt the jokes are being punched up and other variety acts are up for consideration.


Hula Hoops were once banned in Japan because the hip movement was deemed indecent. Sort of a selling point for “Opium.”

Other items of note: The show’s five-piece band is top notch. One would expect nothing less in Las Vegas.

The psychedelic sci-fi costumes are eye-popping and ingenious. Nearly all are shimmery and intentionally too tight, which adds to the androgynous vibe of the production.

Opium Las Vegas

Leave it to Las Vegas to take banana hammocks to the next level.

Because we know how you are, we can confirm there is some toplessness in “Opium,” but it’s more for the sake of comedy than arousal. All due respect.

The show takes place in the Cosmo’s Opium Theater, adjacent to Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Find the box office at the top of the escalators above Vesper lounge.

A bar inside the theater offers a limited selection of liquor, as well as a signature drink menu themed to the show. Drinks include the Kiss My Asteroid, Gorgon’s Revenge, Sputnik Cage and the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

The specialty cocktails are $18, which seems like a lot until you realize a Captain and diet at Vesper, served in a thimble, is $12. Live a little.

Opium Las Vegas

The Kiss My Asteroid cocktail. We do not recommend using Pop Rocks during your post-show intimate encounters unless you have excellent insurance. We are not kidding.

Ticket prices for “Opium” vary widely at the moment. The best deal we’ve found is a $35 ticket if you book using the promo code “MOON.” That discount should work for tickets through May 21, 2018.

Regular ticket prices are $79, with upgrades available at $99 (ringside), $119 (terrace) and $129 (Banana Zone, which isn’t really a thing, but you don’t know that).

Visit the official Cosmopolitan site to find out more.

Overall, “Opium” is a worthy genetic mutation of the highly-regarded “Absinthe” and a vast improvement over the previous Spiegelworld show at Cosmo, “Vegas Nocture.”

Opium Las Vegas

Shout-out to our favorite celestial phenomenon, the areola borealis.

“Opium” at Cosmopolitan checks most, if not all, the boxes to make for a successful Las Vegas show. Music, check. Levity, check. Visual acts you don’t have to understand English to enjoy, check.

Oh, and the occasional boob. Check. (Or boob check. See photo above.)

It’s time to gird your warp core, because “Opium” is a little bit “Galaxy Quest” and “Spaceballs,” a little bit “Absinthe,” a little bit drug trip and a whole lot of “When can we see it again?”

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Gwen Stefani Confirms Las Vegas Residency at Planet Hollywood

A rumored residency for Gwen Stefani at Planet Hollywood has been confirmed.

The singer officially announced “Gwen Stefani – I’m Just a Girl,” a 25-date residency at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, kicks off in June 2018.

Gwen Stefani

Fun fact: Gwen Stefani was named after a stewardess in the 1968 novel, “Airplane.” You remember books, those things people read before smartphones.

The 7,000-seat Zappos Theater was recently renamed. It was formerly Axis. The theater features 60 ultra high-definition projectors and LED walls.

Other regulars in the venue include Jennifer Lopez, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull and Lionel Richie.

Tickets for Gwen Stefani’s shows are set at $59. No word yet on whether there will be VIP meet-and-greet tickets for Stefani, but Britney Spears offered a three-second photo op for $2,500 during her run at Axis.

Here’s where to go for tickets.

Here are the dates for Gwen Stefani’s Las Vegas residency, with the option to extend, we assume, should the show break the bank as it did for Britney Spears.

googie June 2018: 27, 29, 30
googie July 2018: 3, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21
googie December 2018: 27, 29, 30, 31
googie February 2019: 27
googie March 2019: 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16

Everything’s more exciting with Googie stars!

A refreshing element of Gwen Stefani’s residency is she’ll donate a buck from each ticket sold to the Nevada-based Cure 4 the Kids Foundation. The organization provides medical treatment to children with life-threatening conditions.

Just another reason to like Gwen Stefani, beyond the great music and the fact she once told a mutual friend we were cute. We are not making this up, and yes we’re going to keep telling that story until someone believes us.

All due respect, Blake Shelton.

Thanks to all the tipsters who kept us in the loop leading up to Gwen Stefani’s official residency announcement, and we can’t wait to not be invited to previews for the show because we once had the audacity to Tweet that Britney Spears lip-syncs. No, really.

All due respect, lip-syncing.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 75: “Opium” at Cosmo, Hard Rock, SLS and Copious Ire

It’s the podcast The Man doesn’t want you to hear!

Get ready to take part in intimate relations with the most exciting city on Earth, San Bernardino. Just kidding, it’s Vegas. Seriously, it’s right there in the name of the podcast.

Take a listen to our humble podcast for all the Vegas scoop we can squeeze into your ear holes.

We talk “Opium” at Cosmopolitan, sales of the Hard Rock and SLS, a rumored Strip location for Chick-fil-A as well as a playoff berth for our Las Vegas puckball team.


This is a photo related to the “Opium” thing, not the hockey thing. Please try and keep up.

Thanks to our pal, Erik Kabik, for the “Opium” photo.

This episode also features copious ire. Learn more about CNF charges (boo), nightclub venue fees (hiss) and triple zero roulette (WTF).

It should be noted Copious Ire would make a great band name.

While we’re at it, learn which casino company decided you can’t get a garnish in your comped cocktail anymore. Deep breaths.

We’ve got a metric ass-ton of scoop you simply won’t hear anywhere else. Unless somebody’s reading our blog posts or Tweets and repeating what they see. But, what are the odds of that happening?

The theme of this episode is, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” Because, hey, Las Vegas could use a new slogan.

Push play, already.

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