Monthly Archives: March 2016

Vegas Trivia: The Most-Painted Object(s) at Caesars Palace

Everyone’s looking for some extra good luck during a Las Vegas visit, and good luck charms don’t come any luckier than the Cleopatra statue at Caesars Palace.

Take a look at the most-painted object(s) in the entire resort, and possibly in all of Las Vegas.

Cleopatra Caesars Palace

Somebody get Cleopatra some salve.

That’s right. It’s become a Las Vegas tradition to rub Cleopatra’s assets before gambling, no small feat given most people have to jump to reach her.

Because of the number of people who rub the statue, the maintenance staff at Caesars have to repaint Cleopatra’s breasts on a regular basis.

You can find Cleopatra at Cleopatra’s barge, currently home to singer Matt Goss.

As you might suspect, Cleopatra’s frontage isn’t the only thing you can rub for good luck at Caesars Palace.

There’s also the Caesar Augustus statue that greets guests when they enter the casino (rub his hand, see below), as well as a statue of Joe Lewis outside Mesa Grill (rub his glove) and a statue of David (rub the toe, otherwise it gets awkward).

Caesars Palace Caesar statue

Augustus was born born Gaius Octavius but later took the name Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus, a fine reminder that one shouldn’t name oneself while drinking.

Check out our list of things in Las Vegas you can rub for good luck.

If you haven’t had your fill of mojo after rubbing all those objects, you may also want to stop by the Brahma Shrine outside Caesars. It’s near Serendipity 3 restaurant, and it’s the only one of its kind in the Western world.

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“Mystere” Invites Guests to Attend Open Rehearsals at Treasure Island

Cirque du Soleil is opening its doors and inviting guests to view rehearsals of “Mystere” at Treasure Island.

Guests can take a peek behind-the-scenes of the longest-running Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas for free.

Mystere Las Vegas

This is where Cirque’s long love affair with Las Vegas began. Hey, at the time, they didn’t have Tinder.

Rehearsals open to the public take place every Monday from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Attending a rehearsal is a fascinating look at some of the magic that has made Cirque du Soleil so successful in Las Vegas. (Hint: Minimal words, maximum movement.)

Mystere

Yes, you will feel uncoordinated and oafish by comparison. Just deal with it.

The talent and athleticism of the performers is truly impressive, and the show’s Artistic Director Tim Smith even spends some time patiently (very patiently) answering questions from those in attendance.

Here are some examples of the things we learned on the day we attended.

googie “Mystere” is the first Cirque du Soleil show to make a permanent home on the Las Vegas Strip, and it’s been here 23 years. It opened at Treasure Island in 1993.

googie Three acts were rehearsing at once the day of our visit—teeterboard (like a seesaw), “fast track” (a long track for tumbling, pictured above) and trampolines (below).

Mystere

This is the closest you can get to flying without stapling wings to your back.

googie The troupe rehearsing had 23 people in it. “Mystere” has 69 artists total, from 11 countries.

googie Unlike most theatrical productions, Cirque du Soleil shows are constantly changed, even daily. For example, “Mystere” will debut a completely new sequence on July 2, 2016.

googie How long do performers stay in the show? Some have been in “Mystere” from the beginning. The average length of time in the show is about six years.

googie It takes two to three months to transition a new artist into the show and get them “show-ready,” to train them and teach them the make-up and “styling” unique to Cirque productions. Each artist’s make-up is specifically designed for them, and they each apply their own.

googie Can artists move to other Cirque shows? Yes, but most of the time their discipline is so specific, it’s difficult to cross over to another show.

Mystere

Teeterboard acts include flyers, catchers, spotters and pushers. We could never be in a Cirque show. No snarkers.

googie If a trick is missed once during the show, the performers try it again. If they miss it a second time, they move on.

Recently, Cirque du Soleil has taken some creative steps in its marketing efforts. In addition to the public being invited to rehearsals at “Mystere,” another Cirque show, “Ka” at MGM Grand, offers a free open house.

A refreshing development in these marketing strategies is the shows not only don’t prohibit photography, but actually encourage it in an effort to facilitate sharing in social media.

Mystere

Bias against professional camera equipment aside, every other Las Vegas show needs to take this cue and get a clue.

The open rehearsals of “Mystere” and open house sessions at “Ka” are a great way to get a taste of these shows, and discounted tickets are even made available to those in attendance at the “Mystere” rehearsals (from $49.50).

On a somewhat related note: The original director of “Mystere,” Franco Dragone, is said to be working on a new Las Vegas show, possibly to replace “Jubilee.”

If you’re into free things to do in Las Vegas, we’ve got you covered.

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SLS Las Vegas Confirms Ku Noodle Will Close, More Changes on the Way

SLS Las Vegas has confirmed it will close its Ku Noodle restaurant as this blog reported first late last year. Ku Noodle will shutter April 1, 2016.

SLS confirmed the Ku Noodle closure to our pal Norm Clarke of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who says the decision was mutual between the hotel and the company run by chef Jose Andres, ThinkFoodGroup.

Ku Noodle SLS Las Vegas

Ku Noodle is one of many course adjustments expected at SLS Las Vegas in 2016.

Jose Andres has another restaurant at SLS Las Vegas, Bazaar Meat, which appears to be doing well, even given the challenges of the resort’s north Strip location.

We’ve learned exclusively that beyond Ku Noodle, the hotel’s Umami Burger restaurant is also set to close.

Ku Noodle and Umami Burger are the weakest in the hotel’s collection of restaurants, so the closing makes sense as the resort tries to become profitable and shed its association with SBE Entertainment Group and its CEO Sam Nazarian.

Nazarian sold his 10 percent minority stake in SLS Las Vegas to majority owners Stockbridge Capital Partners after an embarrassing gaming license investigation led to revelations about Nazarian’s drug and alcohol abuse.

SLS casino chip

The statue outside SLS is called Sam, after Sam Nazarian. We suspect its days are numbered.

When Nazarian sold his stake in SLS, a new arrangement was put into place so the SLS name and other SBE brands could continue operating at SLS Las Vegas. Rather than continue to pay the licensing fees to SBE for use of its brands, Stockbridge and SLS management are now intent upon bringing more of the resort’s restaurant options in-house.

SLS Las Vegas is expected to widen its dining options, offering more value-oriented fare, to draw locals and value-seekers to the resort. Specifically, a food court along the lines of the Palms is in the planning stages.

Another SBE restaurant brand, Cleo, remains one of our favorite restaurants, and there’s no indication it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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Guy Arrested for High Roller Wheel Sexcapade Shot Dead

In a bizarre, shocking and ultimately utterly predictable turn of events, the man who made international news for being arrested for performing sex acts on the High Roller Ferris wheel in Las Vegas was shot dead in Houston, Texas. We are not making this up.

It’s being reported 27-year-old Philip Panzica was killed March 19, 2016. Two men have been arrested in connection with the murder.

Philip Panzica mugshot

After his Las Vegas arrest for sex on the High Roller, Philip Panzica was clearly overcome with remorse. Sorry, glee, he was overcome with glee.

Who’s Philip Panzica? Great question. In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a quick recap.

In mid-February 2016, Chloe Scordianos of Hicksville, New York and Philip Panzica III of Houston, Texas were arrested for taking part in indecent acts, including oral sex, on the world’s largest observation wheel, the High Roller.

The story became a viral sensation, which we’re thankful for, because this very blog was often mentioned in stories related to the arrest because of our 11 Vital Tips for Having Sex on the High Roller.

High Roller Ferris wheel

The High Roller, also known as the Wheel o’ Shenanigans.

Almost immediately after the couple’s arrest, the story took on a life of its own, including more than a little WTF.

It turns out Scordianos and Panzica weren’t a couple after all. Panzica was in Las Vegas to get married. To another woman, Mistie Bozant. The woman who ultimately bailed him out of jail. Oh, yeah, it was an incredible story.

Now, though, karma appears to have caught up with Philip Panzica.

Reports are that Panzica and his fiancee got into a car with two men, Bryant Watts and Arron Jones, after leaving Vivid, a strip club where she works.

The men reportedly told Panzica to “come clean” before shooting him. After the men shot Panzica, they fled the scene and were arrested a few hours later. Here’s more on the chase, which ended with the men crashing into a BBQ restaurant.

Watts has admitted to the shooting and robbery. Jones was seen in the company of Panzica inside the strip club earlier in the evening and apparently worked at Vivid giving shoe shines. (Another weird fact: Aaron Jones is known as “Shoe Shine Mike,” despite his name being, you know, Aaron.)

The men were found to be in possession of a large amount of cash when they were apprehended.

High Roller break-up

Panzica and his fiancee. Panzica argued with his fiancee on the day of the High Roller arrest, believing she was pregnant by another man, hence, his dalliance. Because, of course he did.

Expect more layers of WTF to be peeled back as the investigation into the death of Philip Panzica continues.

Update: It’s being reported the two men implicated in the murder of Panzica decided to rob him after hearing about the money he’d made from interviews with tabloid TV programs. More details here, including the fact Panzica was showing off the $4,000 he made from an appearance on “Inside Edition” earlier in the evening.

Perhaps the saddest part of the story is Panzica leaves behind a three-year-old son. Panzica’s Facebook page gives a glimpse into his life.

In retrospect, we have to think this story might have ended less tragically if Philip Panzica had simply heeded our High Roller sex tips, thus avoiding his felony arrest and the chain of events circuitously leading to his untimely death. This blog has no choice but to plead guilty to being an accessory to Philip Panzica achieving Sin City immortality.

In any event, this whole saga is sure to go down as one of the strangest in the history of Las Vegas. Pardon the expression.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 7: The One Superstitious Gamblers Won’t Be Listening To Because Seven

It’s time for another forgettable installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast, brought to you by the Seven Deadly Sins, excluding Greed, because the demands in Greed’s rider were utterly ridiculous.

Vital Vegas Podcast

Of all the podcasts you’re not listening to, this is the one that most warrants that distinction.

In this week’s Vital Vegas Podcast, we speak to Ralph Cautela of 34th Floor Hospitality about Citrus, the new pool concept at Downtown Grand.

We also hear from the creator of Life Cube, an art project where people write and paint their wishes onto a two-story wooden cube, then the cube is set on fire.

Life Cube

The Life Cube. They were going to call it “The Shirtless Artist Cube,” but that didn’t have the same ring to it.

In case podcasts aren’t your thing, here are our list of Las Vegas wishes we’re going to add to the Life Cube before it goes up in flames.

Our List Las Vegas Wishes for the Life Cube

We wish people would stop tilting their chairs to save slot machines while the go to the restroom.

googie We wish casinos would give you the brand of liquor you order when you’re on the casino floor. Because they don’t.

googie We wish Tony Gemignani (Owner of Pizza Rock) and Carla Pellegrino (Italian chef and hottie) would have a daughter so we could date her in 21-23 years.

googie We wish people would stop using DTLV as an abbreviation for “downtown Las Vegas.”

googie We wish casinos would have designated cigar areas, specifically, in Nebraska.

googie We wish Las Vegas drivers would learn to, you know, drive. It’s called the passing lane, not the driving lane.

googie We wish people wouldn’t sit at a full bar with video poker and not play video poker.

googie We wish people would stop bringing their children to Las Vegas. Sorry, but that’s not what Las Vegas is for.

googie We wish they’d figure out a way to avoid the turbulence when you fly into Las Vegas during the summer.

googie Not every business needs music blaring from speakers, inside and out. We wish there were more quiet places. Like Downtown Grand.

Also on the show, we’ve got a metric ass-ton of Las Vegas news, including the shocking arrest of Tropicana magician Jan Rouven for possessing child pornography. Yikes.

In this action-packed episode, we answer a listener question and give our top 10 places in Las Vegas for ice cream, gelato and frozen custard (five downtown, five on The Strip).

Lappert's Ice Cream Las Vegas

When you’re in Las Vegas, they’re not “calories,” they’re party fuel.

Here’s our list, because here at Vital Vegas, we give until it hurts, or at least causes some minor discomfort.

Our Top 10 Favorite Las Vegas Places for Ice Cream, Gelato and Frozen Custard

Downtown:
1. Lappert’s at the California (also the best shaved ice in Vegas)
2. Luv-It Frozen Custard
3. Flippin’ Good Burgers & Shakes
4. Rita’s Custard at Pawn Plaza
5. Art of Flavors (near Viva Arepas and Goodwich)

The Strip:
6. Ice Pan at Harrah’s
7. Blvd Creamery at Monte Carlo
8. Gelato stand outside Trevi Restaurant in the Forum Shops
9. Gelato at M Resort Buffet, Wynn Buffet or Bacchanal Buffet
10. Cafe Gelato at Bellagio

Now, if you’re serious about your ice cream and frozen custard, our two favorite off-Strip places are Tutti Gelati at the Lake Las Vegas marina and Neilson’s Frozen Custard in Henderson.

All this and more can be found in the latest installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

Thanks for listening. Or reading. We love you no matter how you choose to ingest our blathering.

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Magician Jan Rouven Arrested on Kiddie Porn Charges, Tropicana Closes Show

The Las Vegas entertainment community has been rocked by news of the arrest of Tropicana magician Jan Rouven on federal child pornography charges.

When it comes to allegations of child pornography, of course, there’s no “innocent until proven guilty.” The German magician’s show has been closed permanently, and the Tropicana has taken immediate action to sever any ties with Rouven.

It’s unlikely Jan Rouven will ever perform in Las Vegas again.

Jan Rouven child pornography arrest

After Jan Rouven’s arrest, the Tropicana immediately distanced itself, describing him as “an outside contractor.” Smooth.

Rouven’s show, “New Illusions,” opened at Tropicana in November 2014. Before that, he performed at the now-closed Riviera.

While the bombshell about Jan Rouven (real name, Jan Rouven Fuechtener) seemed sudden, the FBI’s investigation into his activities has apparently been going on for some time, since August 2015.

Authorities seized Rouven’s computer in January 2016, and it was found to contain 3,235 videos and 105 images of child pornography.

Rouven’s husband, Frank Alfter, has said he was upset because Rouven was “on the Internet looking at porn all of the time.”

Rouven’s attorney denies the allegations, mainly because what in the hell else are you supposed to do when you have kiddie porn on your computer?

Rouven is being held without bail, as he’s considered a flight risk.

It’s unclear what show might replace “New Illusions” at the Tropicana. It most certainly won’t be a magic show because of the inevitable, creepy connection to Rouven’s downfall. Read more.

Tropicana theater

Some suggest the Tropicana’s theater may be cursed. Actually, we’re the “some” that suggested it. “Mamma Mia!” ran six years at Mandalay Bay and closed after three months at the Trop. ‘Nuff said.

The Jan Rouven ordeal is the second headline-making scandal in the last couple of weeks, the first being the arrest of “Pawn Stars” cast member Austin “Chumlee” Russell for gun and drug charges. A sexual assault claim is still under investigation.

We enjoy the entertainment value of a good Las Vegas scandal as much as the next blog, but Rouven’s arrest is anything but entertaining, it’s disturbing and sad.

The world of Las Vegas entertainment is filled with so many stories of offbeat behavior, and many of those stories never come to light.

Here’s hoping Jan Rouven gets the help he seems to need, and we’ve got our fingers crossed it won’t take Criss Angel too long to find another magician from whom to steal his illusions.

Update (11/18/16): While it appeared Jan Rouven was going to fight to the finish on these allegations, once the trial began, he pled guilty. Rouven faces a minimum of five years in prison (he’s already served one year awaiting trial), and could owe $450,000 in restitution to the victims ($5,000 for each of the 85 people identified). Rouven pled guilty because there was an avalanche of evidence (including 9,000 videos found on various computers in his home) and could’ve faced 80 years in prison. Rouven is a German citizen, so it likely to be deported once his time is served.

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