Monthly Archives: April 2015

Las Vegas Drag Queens Attempt World Record for Largest Drag Stage Show

Ah, Las Vegas, you never fail to “What just happened?”

On April 12, 2015, 61 drag queens and kings (women dressed as men, in case that wasn’t obvious) took to a stage at the Hard Rock Cafe to break the world record for “Largest Drag Stage Show.”

Yes, there’s a record for that. There’s a record for everything.

drag show world record

Let’s get the not-judging party started!

Las Vegas headliner Josh Strickland served as master of ceremonies for the event. Strickland was the former star of “Peepshow,” and currently appears in “Vegas! The Show.” Before the record attempt, Strickland spotted someone in the crowd having a birthday and belted out an impressive version of “Happy Birthday,” a reminder of just how talented this guy is.

When it appeared the record attempt would fall a little short of participants, Strickland donned a dress and joined in the fun.

Josh Strickland in drag

If we’re ever adopted, we want Josh Strickland to be our mom-dad.

The gathering of Las Vegas drag queens presumably broke the standing record of 55 participants. Participants who arrived in full drag got a complementary mimosa.

Drag show world record

While there was a lot of drag, the term “show” was used pretty loosely.

It’s murky whether or not the new record will be validated by a record-officiating organization, but the organizers went to great lengths to document the event and ensure the head count was accurate.

The record attempt took place during the Hard Rock Cafe’s monthly drag brunch, which we’ve never personally attended, but trust us, you can never not have a blast in the company of drag queens.

Drag show world record

Shake Weights and drag queens join forces for some comedy fierceness.

A great time was had by all, and proceeds of the event went to charity, The Center, an organization serving the LGBTQ community of Nevada.

More photos in the gallery below, because that’s how this blog rolls.

Largest Drag Stage Show Record Attempt

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The Latest From Rock in Rio USA’s City of Rock in Las Vegas

The Rock in Rio USA music festival is just around the corner. One of the biggest music festivals in Vegas history happens May 8-9 (rock weekend) and May 15-16, 2015 (pop weekend).

There’s been a flurry of activity at the event’s City of Rock site, and we got all up inside Rock in Rio’s business for some fresh pics.

First up, the festival’s zip line tower has been built. It’s an impressive, free-standing structure with several launch platforms (only one is likely to be used for the May event). We’re calling the tower five stories up, accessible via a spiral staircase.

Rock in Rio zip line

Guests will fly over the crowd in front of the festival’s main stage.

Another striking new feature at the Rock in Rio USA site is a spiderlike EDM stage.

Rock in Rio USA

It would be more accurate to say the EDM stage is “insectlike.” Insects have six legs. Spiders have eight. You know it’s a bad sign when our photo captions are even boring to us.

We’ve shared some shots of the festival’s massive VIP tent, but that doesn’t preclude us from sharing another.

Rock in Rio

The tent will serve as a command center for the event, catering to VIPs, and it will also have a medical facility and media center.

The VIP tent, like many of the fixtures at the City of Rock, was shipped from Brazil. It won’t be making the trip back, though. Festival organizers are selling the tent to an undisclosed buyer for a cool half million dollars after the festival. Rock in Rio owns about a half dozen of these tents, so they’ll ship another one in for the next Rock in Rio installment in 2017. (If all goes well, the festival will expand to six days in 2017.)

Here’s a look inside one small portion of the VIP tent. Overall, the VIP tent is in the neighborhood of 40,000-square-feet.

Rock in Rio

The Rock in Rio USA VIP tent is quite an architectural wonder. This is the lower level, a series of spaces for a variety of uses, many of which we could specify were it not for the fact we forgot to ask for specifics.

Those with the bucks to be in the VIP area are in for a treat. Along with the live performances, they’ll have an open bar and catering by none other than Wolfgang Puck.

Rock in Rio’s main stage is a sight to behold. Which is generally what people do with sights, we get that.

The main stage is flanked by giant metallic sheets which, if positioned correctly, will act as reflectors, turning anyone in their wake into ash. Or something.

Rock in Rio USA

We totally weren’t kidding about the reflective quality of those metal pieces. Oh, the stories we’ll tell.

Several smaller stages dot the festival site. Should be an interesting feat of audio technology balancing the “bleed” from one stage to another. We have no idea if that’s an actual term, but if not, it should be.

Rock in Rio

Here’s another Rock in Rio stage. We’re pretty sure this is the Sunset stage.

One of the more visually appealing elements of the Rock in Rio USA site is the collection of facades making up three themed streets, Rock Street USA, Rock Street UK and Rock Street Brazil.

Rock Street UK

We’re going with Rock Street UK on this one.

The themed streets will be where all the retail happens at Rock in Rio USA. An interesting aspect of the retail concessions (bars, restaurants and merchandise) is they’ll be completely cashless. Festival-goers will use their RFID bracelets not only to gain entry to the event, but they’ll also be part of the cashless payment system, being referred to as “Rock Cash.” Get details.

Cashless payment devices help avoid headaches of cash transactions at a busy event, and it’s a dream for event organizers, including the fact people spend 15-30% more when they use cashless devices. Read more.

Rock in Rio

All the facades were shipped in, and from the great shape they’re in, we’re guessing Rock in Rio organizers spend a metric ass-ton on packing peanuts.

The sense you get at the Rock in Rio USA site is these people know what they’re doing, and they’ve thought of everything.

Rock in Rio USA

How awesome is it that City of Rock has a building with an ironic hipster mustache?

Among the things we never would have thought of are “delay towers.” Delay towers ensure sound coming from a particular stage can be heard throughout the venue at a high sound quality. Rock in Rio USA is all over it.

Rock in Rio USA

Delay towers must be placed in exactly the right spot based upon the speed of sound, or C = 331.45 + 0.597t. Yes, we knew that off the top of our head.

Yet to appear on the site is the massive Ferris wheel. It’s the same portable Ferris wheel being used at another music festival, Coachella.

Rock in Rio USA has the makings of a music festival unlike anything fans have experienced in Las Vegas.

Here’s the full Rock in Rio USA line-up, and enjoy more photos from the City of Rock site on the Las Vegas Strip.

Rock in Rio USA's City of Rock

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Bellagio Conservatory’s Spring Display Goes to the Far East for Inspiration

The Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have, for the first time, drawn inspiration from Japan for its spring display.

Bellagio Conservatory Japan

The oil-paper umbrella originated in China. Which is pretty much the same as Japan if you look at a map, from a distance, while squinting.

The Bellagio’s new spring display showcases many aspects of Asian culture, including the fact Asian visitors drop a metric ass-ton of cash at Las Vegas casinos. Wait, sorry, that wasn’t in the news release.

This is from the release, “Pairing the soothing aesthetics of Japan’s traditional gardens with Bellagio’s striking grandeur; the new display boasts a vibrant collection of more than 82,000 flowers and larger-than-life floral creations.” Back to more pretty photos!


Some of the 82,000 flowers. We’d tell you which ones, but that would involve “remembering” or “note-taking,” not our favorite things.

Flowers at the Conservatory include tulips, daffodils and snapdragons. Thank you, news release!

Live musicians (our favorite kind) perform songs on a floating platform from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each day.

Bellagio musicians

No dancing, please. You might crush a snapdragon.

In a pond, there are 75 live Koi fish (again, our favorite kind).

Bellagio koi

“Koi” is a Japanese word that means “carp.” Koi makes them sound more exotic, so just go with it.

Also on-hand is a 12-foot tall traditional Japanese-inspired tea house.

Bellagio tea house

The ideal floor size of a tea room is 4.5 tatami mats, whatever those might actually be. We are a Las Vegas blog, not a foreign exchange student.

Other cultural icons at the Bellagio Conservatory include the turtle, below. In Japanese culture, turtles represent longevity and good luck. Or soup. But mostly those other two things.

Bellagio turtle

The turtle on display at Bellagio is similar to Gamera, the building-crushing mutant that got its ass whipped by Godzilla. But with flowers.

There are a few elements of this year’s display that are head-scratchers. While the hotel may claim they were inspired by Japanese culture, they seem to have been inspired by, “What can we throw up there on the cheap?”

Bellagio Conservatory

Did we mention the Bellagio Conservatory is still free? All is forgiven.

While the spring display may not necessarily be the Conservatory’s most memorable, we have to keep things in perspective. It’s free, and it could be a CVS. ‘Nuff said.

Besides, flowers!


These are the rare, delicate “flowers we also didn’t bother to write down the name of.”

One of the highlights of the display is an 18-foot-tall cherry blossom tree with 300 acrylic blossoms and leaves.


Whatever happened to the Acrylic Blossoms? Loved their music.

A six-foot-tall crane stands nearby, wings outstretched as if to say, “Please, can we wrap up this blog post? I have to get busy sharing some of these amazing photos on Pinterest.” Or something.

Bellagio Japanese crane

The red-crowned crane, or Japanese crane, is among the rarest in the world and symbolizes fidelity. And in Las Vegas, it’s about the only thing that does.

Before you leave the Conservatory, make sure to check out the giant Fabergé egg fashioned from (wait for it) flowers. The egg is a clever cross-promotion for an exhibit in the Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art, “Fabergé Revealed.” The gallery features more than 200 objects made by a dead Russian. Although that’s probably not the description Bellagio uses in its marketing materials. They’re fancy like that. Learn more.

Faberge egg

Despite the fact this has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese culture, it’s still a great photo op, not to mention it could make 4,800 omelets.

Even after years of Bellagio displays, we still enjoy seeing what the Bellagio’s approximately 140 horticulturists have up their sod-soiled sleeves. And like we said, it remains one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.

Please enjoy more photos in our exclusive gallery of the Japanese and dead Russian-inspired spring display at Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

Bellagio Conservatory Spring 2015

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Anonymous Riviera Manager Shares Candid Insider Answers to Random Questions

An anonymous manager at Riviera Las Vegas is taking on all questions about the casino’s impending closure on a popular Las Vegas message board.

The “ask me anything” (or AMA) thread touches upon a bunch of things we’re all wondering about the Riviera, so either check out the full thread on the endlessly entertaining and useful Vegas Message Board, or see some of the more enlightening questions and answers, below.

Q. Is there any kind of plan in place to take care of the employees and get some of them positions elsewhere?

A. They are having on-site job fairs with most of the major casinos in town present. The unionized people may have some kind of direct placement kind of thing but not sure.

Riviera Las Vegas

Please grab this sign, Neon Museum. Or we will.

Q. How is morale there?

A. Big difference in morale since the new management team took over about 1.5 years ago. Most everyone is taking things in stride since the announcement has been made. You see a few people who are now clearly just showing up to get a pay check but not as many as I would have thought.

Q. Were there internal rumblings about a possible sale or closure or did this all come as a complete shock to most employees? Have you enjoyed working there? In this day and age, are there still customers/players who are loyal to The Riv?

A. I think the sale aspect wasn’t a huge shock because there have been lots of rumors and transitions throughout the years but the closure was a complete shock. I definitely have enjoyed working there. Much more like a family than other, more corporate, places I’ve worked. Of course we know other customers spend time other places but yes, there are many, many loyal customers who have been coming regularly for decades.

Riviera door handle

The Riviera’s door handle, clearly in need of dermabrasion.

Q. Do you have any insight on the timing of the closure, why didn’t they stay open for the Rock in Rio [music festival] events?

A. No idea how they chose that chose the 4th as the last day. It doesn’t seem to me that the LVCVA is particularly interested in maximizing dollars from the things we are seeing. Seems like they just want to get their hands on the building and get construction started ASAP.

Q. Will “Crazy Girls” be relocated to another casino or will it just be shutting down?

A. The owner of the show (it’s outsourced) said he is moving the show, but no other details.

Q. Any idea what will happen to the “Crazy Girls” butts statue?

A. Not sure. I heard that there were some disputes about who the actual owner is (show owner vs. casino).

Crazy Girls statue

The fate of these famous rears is up in the air at the moment.

Q. I’m considering getting a shave and haircut at the barber shop there. Any information about the barber and the shop would be appreciated.

A. Neil the barber is a really nice guy with lots of stories (he gives employees cuts for $15), but everyone knows he’s upset about the closure. He just gave an interview discussing it. (Google it, don’t have the link.)

Q. I booked one of your suites. Are they nice?

A. The suites are all over the place in terms of quality and, of course, it’s all relative. Our best suite is probably dogshit compared to a middling suite at Encore.

Q. Headed to Vegas this week and I’d like to pick up a few souvenirs from The Riv. Any cool items you could recommend?

A. The gift shop was shut down awhile back so there really isn’t anything with The Riv logo on it that’s for sale, except chips. We get asked this a lot.

Riviera Las Vegas

They don’t make ’em like they used to.

Q. Are they changing the table limits at all now that they’re closing?

A. I haven’t heard or seen anything about raising limits or altering pay tables.

Q. Anyone know the exact hour to hour schedule for sure?

A. May 4 at noon.

Q. Any word on if they are planning on auctioning off everything inside?

A. They are auctioning off the entire contents to a liquidator. They already started doing inventory of literally everything like pictures hanging on the walls, desks, etc.

Q. We would always stop every trip whether we were staying there or elsewhere so my hubby could play the old pinball machines. Do you know if they’ll be sold or moved?

A. We outsource that to the Pinball Hall of Fame over on Tropicana so I’m sure they’ll be taking them back.

Riviera pinball machines

The Pinball Hall of Fame “annex” at Riviera has about 30 machines. Think slot machines, but with balls and even more obscenities.

Q. Can you please tell me if the Pinball Hall of Fame arcade next to the food court is still open?

A. Definitely still open. No one has said it is closing early.

Q. Is the Riviera Comedy Club shutting down earlier than the May 4 closing?

A. The entertainment calendar they have posted shows all of the shows being open as regularly scheduled until May 3.

Riviera Las Vegas

We’ve never understood what this thing is, but we are pretty sure we’ll miss it.

Q. Any idea if they’ve cut access to the pool?

A. Pool is still open.

Q. Any word on special events, chips, etc. for the 60th [anniversary]?

A. There are daily drawings to give away the $500K in progressives that are being taken off of the floor (per Gaming Control Board), but besides that no other events, per se. (See details.)

Kudos to the anonymous Riviera staffer for giving us a glimpse inside a fascinating part of a casino life cycle.  More Riviera news to come.

Towering Las Vegas Arena Materializes Virtually Overnight

It seems like only yesterday MGM and AEG broke ground on their new Las Vegas arena, but the impressive structure has quickly become a stunning addition to The Strip.

Here’s a look at the most recent progress on the $350 million, 20,000-seat Las Vegas arena located just behind the New York-New York casino.


Officials say the arena will open in April of 2016, but with the building exterior already going up, we think that’s a conservative estimate.

A closer look at the arena shows the scale and complexity of the structure and also serves to illustrate what awesome photos this blog takes. But mostly the scale and complexity thing.

Las Vegas arena

Populous, a sports architectural firm, designed the arena. It was estimated construction would take 22 months, but the company’s Pepsi Center in Denver took just 19 months.

The new arena is expected to host not only big-time concerts but also a professional hockey team.

A top secret meeting recently took place at the Mandarin hotel with the ownership team of Bill Foley and the Maloof brothers (who formerly owned the Sacramento Kings) and NHL officials. As if we all needed further confirmation that plans for a National Hockey League team in Las Vegas are coming to fruition.

If all goes well, the new Las Vegas NHL team will begin play in October of 2016.

For now, we’ll just watch as a modern marvel of engineering appears before our eyes.

MGM AEG arena Las Vegas

Here’s the view from the Monte Carlo. An outdoor district called The Park will connect the arena to The Strip.

The official Las Vegas arena site says the new venue will “redefine and reshape how the monolithic events of our time are experienced and remembered.” It appears the new arena will be equipped with a state-of-the-art hyperbole machine. We’re excited to see it happen, anyway.

Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas Gets a New Neon Sign Courtesy of PBR

We are a huge fan of neon, so it was exciting to see a new neon sign going up in downtown Las Vegas.

The 30-foot-tall sign, an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon, has been installed in the parking lot next to Park on Fremont restaurant, at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.

PBR neon sign

Pabst Blue Ribbon was originally named Best and Company.

At first, we were a tad annoyed by the fact a neon ad was being erected in a spot we frequent. Then we realized pretty much every neon sign in Las Vegas is an ad for something (neon signs are often “ads” for casinos, for example) so we got over it.

The new neon sign was built by Yesco (Young Electric Sign Company, a popular Vegas sign-making company) and is the first freestanding neon sign added to Fremont Street in recent memory.

The sign was lit, as so many of us are on Fremont Street, on March 31, 2015.

PBR neon sign

Fascinating fact: This blog has never had a beer. Well, at least we find it fascinating.

The sign appears to be a permanent addition to Fremont Street. Well, as permanent as anything is in Las Vegas.

Nearby are other colorful signs, including the original, restored sign from the Hacienda Hotel (featuring a caballero on horseback) and other retro-looking signs like a red slipper, a showgirl and a martini glass.

Neon martini

Not to play favorites, but.

Downtown now has some new neon, PBR fans have a new photo op in Vegas and Pabst Blue Ribbon just got a free ad on this Las Vegas blog. We feel so used.

Update (3/23/20): The Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign has been removed and will be put on display at the Neon Museum.