Monthly Archives: August 2020

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 114: Kamu Karaoke, Pinball Hall of Fame and an Ass-Ton of Yammer

Podcasting is extremely difficult to do well, and this episode is a great example.

As usual, our incredible guests take up the slack.

In this installment, we chat with the owner of Kamu Ultra Karaoke Lounge at Venetian, Jeff Kim.

Kamu Ultra Karaoke is unlike any karaoke you’ve ever experienced in Las Vegas. We loved it, and we hate everything.

Kamu neon room

Our favorite room at Kamu Ultra Karaoke, unless we can have 40 favorites.

Also up is Tim Arnold, owner of the Pinball Hall of Fame.

We met up with Arnold on the site of a brand new Pinball Hall of Fame on the Las Vegas Strip to get all the skinny about this massive new attraction opening in January 2021, three times the size of the original Pinball Hall of Fame.

New Pinball Hall of Fame

The new home of the Pinball Hall of Fame is so sharp, it could put an eye out.

We also talk about recent visits to Heritage Steak at Mirage, Mon Ami Gabi at Paris, Marche Bacchus in Desert Shores and Carlos’n Charlie’s at Flamingo.

Heritage at Mirage

That time Heritage Steak missed a huge marketing opportunity by one dollar.

There’s the requisite Las Vegas news, of course, with a smattering of exclusive scoop you won’t find anywhere else.

You’ll also want to imbibe in our list of “10 Planes We’re Going When We Get Video Poker Bars Back.”

Podcasts can’t take the place of Las Vegas, of course, but they might help kill some time until your next visit.

Take a listen and apologies in advance.

Drew Las Vegas Renderings Tease What Might Have Been

Hopes were high Drew Las Vegas could be a thing.

The purchase of the abandoned Fontainebleau Las Vegas, a widely-ridiculed eyesore, held the promise of new money, new ideas and a shot at bringing a “new” resort to the Las Vegas Strip.

Yeah, not so much.

Still, the team at Drew Las Vegas has released a batch of renderings, so we can get a glimpse at what might have been. We love the optimism!

Drew Las Vegas rendering

Las Vegas was built on optimism. And denial. But mostly that first thing.

Fontainebleau was purchased in mid-2017 for $600 million by two investment companies, Witkoff and New Valley.

The Drew gets its name from the son of Witkoff’s CEO, bajillionaire Steve Witkoff. Drew Witkoff died of a drug overdose in 2011.

Drew Las Vegas renderings

Drew’s lobby seems to have about the same capacity as Allegiant Stadium. Shout-out to May-December romances.

We were fairly skeptical about the Drew project from the beginning, given the massive investment needed to complete and open the new resort. And that was before the COVID-19 crisis.

The owners and management continue to insist the project is viable, but mounting legal challenges say otherwise. Lawsuits by contractors and former employees (many who jumped ship at Resorts World for the promise of lucrative contracts only to find the project had stalled) continue to pile up.

But rather than all that drama, we’d rather gaze upon Drew Las Vegas renderings.

Renderings aren’t just renderings. They’re dreams waiting to be realized.

Drew Las Vegas rendering

Epic pool complex, complete with social distancing.

This particular batch of renderings was found on a Web site for meeting planners.

Big thanks to Twitter follower Jesus V. for pointing us toward this treasure trove of Drew renderings.

Drew Vegas meetings

Every brandable pre-function space should have a tightrope walker.

Should Drew Las Vegas ever move forward again, by some miracle, at least we have a better idea of what it will look like inside.

The hotel is massive. It’s 63 floors, and at 735 feet tall, it’s the second tallest building in Nevada. The Strat is first.

Drew is set to have 3,780 rooms. That’s a lot of new rooms, especially when Las Vegas visitation was flat for two years prior to the pandemic.

Also a big number: Drew Las Vegas would have 550,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.

Plus, apparently, a Hospitality Garden.

Drew hotel rendering

We’re defining “garden” a little loosely here.

As with so many Las Vegas projects, the situation at Drew Las Vegas is “fluid.”

We’re rooting for the place, but the completion and opening of the Drew (Steve Witkoff continues to insist it’ll happen in 2022, despite a $3.1 billion cost) is the longest of long shots.

Here’s a sexy night shot.

Drew Vegas rendering

It’s like somebody at the club before the lights are turned up.

Enjoy more renderings, including rooms, a Batcave-inspired porte cochere, meeting spaces and other goodies.

Carrot Top Featured in Unfortunately-Named Videogame, “Killing Carrot Top”

One of our Vegas heroes can now claim videogame immortality.

The unfortunately-named “Killing Carrot Top” is an old-school, text-based RPG-inspired (role-playing game) videogame available free online.

Killing Carrot Top

Dibs on the band name Malevolent Assemblage.

The game, created by Jay Winbrenner, is set “in a collapsed dystopian world ruled by ’80s character comedians hellbent on exterminating what little remains of the human race.” Sounds like a party.

Players are “the world’s last bastion of hope of stopping this vile scourge,” and the goal is to “traverse the nightmarish post-apocalyptic landscape and confront the Lord of Laughter himself, Carrot Top.”

Basically, you’re up against a slew of comedians (dubbed the “Illuminati of Laughter”) from the ’80s and ’90s, including Emo Philips, Tim Allen, Pauly Shore, Howie Mandel, Andrew Dice Clay, Victoria Jackson, Bobcat Goldthwait and Yakov Smirnoff.

Many of these folks have performed in Sin City, so we can legitimately claim this story is at least somewhat Vegas-related.

Killing Carrot Top

He’s tougher than you’d think, buddy.

Oh, and let’s not forget Gallagher, referred to in the game as “Archfiend of Magnanimous Wreckage.”

Gallagher

We caught Gallagher at Golden Nugget. Wreckage confirmed.

Players enter their name, then get hit points, weapons and armor, then make their way to “Ha Ha Tower” to do battle with some top-notch comedy talent.

There’s a fair amount of humor (or attempts at it) throughout the game, as well as pop culture trivia, so get ready to flex your “Home Improvement” and “Police Academy” knowledge.

Remember, using the Internet for answers is cheating, which we pretty much did for every question, but that’s beside the point.

The entire game leads the player to a final confrontation with Carrot Top, of course.

Carrot Top

We love us some Carrot Top.

The final battle begins, “You open your eyes and see Carrot Top himself, suspended in some extra-dimensional endlessness, wrapped in muscle, smeared in oil.”

Let’s just say Carrot Top isn’t going down without a fight.

Carrot Top videogame

Dibs on the band name Unfathomable Black.

Hopefully, Carrot Top sees this as an homage to his iconic status both in Las Vegas and the world of comedy. It’s hard to get too upset about being named the “Lord of Laughter.”

In our interactions with Mr. Top (real name: Scott Thompson), he clearly has a sense of humor about himself, so we figure this game isn’t going to cause him any sleepless nights.

Carrot Top’s comedy show at Luxor is consistently named one of the best in Las Vegas, and he was recently named the best Las Vegas comedian of all time by Las Vegas Weekly. We’re inclined to agree.

“Killing Carrot Top” is a throwback to a time when videogames were simpler and, frankly, much less entertaining.

Still, for those seeking a piddling distraction, “Killing Carrot Top” is an amusing (wait for it) time-killer.

Wayne Newton’s Casa De Shenandoah Estate is for Sale

The former home of Las Vegas icon Wayne Newton, Casa De Shenandoah, is up for sale.

The asking price: $30 million-ish.

Wayne Newton mansion

We visited back when the place had a lot more Wayne Newton in it.

The sprawling Casa De Shenandoah was built in 1957 and covers 39 acres.

The Newtons lived at the mansion, southeast of the Las Vegas Strip, for 40 years.

Casa de Shenandoah

Casa de Shenandoah has seen some things.

From the sound of it, the sale includes some of the estate’s signature features, including the main mansion, “seven additional homes,” a car museum, chandeliers, artesian wells and lakes, koi ponds, tennis courts, basketball courts, a heliport and other fancy features.

Here’s some sweet video of the estate the real estate agent refers to as “Sunset Springs Ranch.”

Wayne Newton is a well-known Arabian horse enthusiast, and the compound includes two horse-breeding stables, tack rooms, an equestrian pool, corrals and a horse hospital.

Wayne Newton Arabians

Sorry, horsies not included.

At one time, the compound was home to 120 Arabian horses and the surrounding grounds were well-fertilized.

Here’s some video we captured of a horse taking a dip in the equestrian pool.

Please make a quick list of all the other Las Vegas blogs that have video of a horse in an equestrian pool at Casa De Shenandoah. We’ll wait.

Sadly, Wayne Newton’s troublesome monkey will not be included in the sale. Newton was sued for a monkey bite in August 2019, despite the fact Newton didn’t own Casa De Shenandoah at the time.

The Newtons sold Casa De Shenandoah to investors in 2010, and for a time, the company opened the compound as a tourist attraction.

Beyond the monkey, the estate was once home to flamingos, penguins and a sloth, among other exotic animals.

Another fun feature of the estate for sale is a Fokker F28 Jet and terminal. Yes, we actually went inside that Fokker, and it was amazing. Imagine owning your own Fokker! How many people have Fokkers, much less Wayne Newton’s Fokker?

Wayne Newton jet

That is one famous Fokker.

During one visit to Casa De Shenandoah, we snagged some sweet video of a dancing fountain outside the mansion. You’re welcome.

We won’t delve into the drama around Wayne Newton’s career, singing voice or financial situation, partly because it’s sad, but mainly because it would involve “research” or possibly “effort.”

We also don’t want to taint your dream of owning Wayne Newton’s former palatial estate. Although many of Wayne Newton’s toys aren’t part of the sale (sorry, no Arabians or classic cars included), Casa De Shenandoah is truly a part of Las Vegas history.

The estimated payment is $136,728 per month, according to Zillow.

Wayne Newton estate

Dibs on the man cave.

We hope some developer doesn’t snag this estate as a land play, as Wayne Newton’s mojo is still all over the place, and it would be a shame to lose it.

Casa De Shenandoah (Spanish for “Cheesy House”) is a one-of-a-kind throwback to a simpler time in Las Vegas, when there were “shows” with “audiences” and colorful “performers” with one or two “hit songs” made “bank” and built extravagant mansions with “sloths.”

Those were the days.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 113: Virgin Update, Discopussy, Lucky Day and More

It’s been a minute since our last podcast episode, but we’re making it up to you with another action-packed installment we can’t really recommend because we have taste.

While we may be unlistenable, our guests are always awesome!

In this episode, we chat with Richard Bosworth, CEO of JC Hospitality and head honcho at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (formerly Hard Rock casino).

Bosworth and his team are in the throes of trying to open a new casino resort in the middle of a metric ass-ton of uncertainty. While Virgin’s renovation and rebrand are on schedule, questions remain about the timing of the new hotel’s debut.

Richard Bosworth

Richard Bosworth shares the inside scoop about Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Yes, there’s just one. Don’t get us started.

We’ve also got an illuminating chat with someone we’ve dubbed the Mayor of East Fremont, Ryan Doherty.

Doherty, the driving force behind the popular Commonwealth and Park on Fremont, gives us a tour of two new venues, Discopussy and Lucky Day.

Get all the inside scoop on these two new spots on Fremont East (in the spaces previously occupied by Red and Vanguard Lounge), as well as what’s in store across the street, including a new entertainment space, Cheap Shot, and bar-slash-ice-cream-shop, We All Scream.

Discopussy

We were going to show you Discopussy’s octopus, but we opted for the restroom because it’s awesome.

You can also catch Ryan Doherty on the Plaza’s podcast, “On the Corner of Main Street,” where he’s given the time and professionalism he so richly deserves.

As always, we’ve got a cavalcade of Las Vegas news, some of it not depressing.

Fill your earholes with the latest about Caesars Entertainment keeping the change, Cheetah’s strip club being stripped of its signage, the downtown welcome arch, reopening dates for Mirage, Trop and Cromwell, Circa’s bars, the Stardust app, MSG Sphere’s construction, the closure of Vickie’s Diner, LVCVA’s eyeballing of the monorail and a lucky bastard’s $3.9 million jackpot at Bellagio.

It’s all the Vegas you can handle, with an extra dose of awkward related to that thing we aren’t at liberty to talk about at the moment.

Take a listen!

Vegas-Set Zombie Flick “Army of the Dead” Coming to Netflix

This one’s flown under the radar, but a new Netflix movie, “Army of the Dead,” features at least three of our favorite things: Casino heists, Las Vegas and zombies.

“Army of the Dead” is written and directed by Zack Snyder and stars Dave Bautista.

Army of the Dead

Fun fact: Las Vegas casinos often offer discounts for members of the military.

Snyder directed “300” and “Justice League,” among others. Snyder’s zombie cred includes his first feature film, a remake of “Dawn of the Dead.”

Dave Bautista is best known for the hilarious “My Spy.” He may have also been in a couple of superhero movies.

The film features a number of other performers whose names we don’t recognize, including Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Garret Dillahunt, Raul Castillo, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro, Nora Arnezeder, Matthias Schweighofer, Samantha Win and Theo Rossi.

Army of the Dead Las Vegas

Our favorite zombie movie of all time is “Shawn of the Dead,” but being set in Las Vegas could give “Army of the Dead” an edge.

“Army of the Dead” cost $90 million, or about nine times the asking price for the Artisan hotel.

The story involves a group of mercenaries who plot a Las Vegas casino heist during a zombie outbreak. Oh, Hollywood.

The twist (beyond the fact there’s a zombie outbreak) is the heist is done on behalf of the casino owner. How that qualifies as a “heist,” we have no idea, but “heist” just makes everything sound more exciting.

Zack Snyder has described the film as “fun and epic and crazy and bonkers in the best possible way.”

Snyder says, “It will be the most kick-ass, self-aware—but not in a wink-to-the-camera way—balls-to-the-wall zombie freak show that anyone has ever seen.”

Army of the Dead

Vegas connection: Las Vegas had a zombie-themed “Fear the Walking Dead” attraction until it closed in April 2019.

While “Army of the Dead” seems to be set in Las Vegas, we couldn’t find any evidence of it being filmed here.

Principal photography took place in L.A. and Albuquerque. Parts of the film were shot in the now-closed Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. What the hell, Zack Snyder?

No release date for “Army of the Dead” has been announced. Signs point to a 2021 release, but we’re hoping for Halloween 2020.

Read more about “Army of the Dead” and we’re hoping the filmmakers didn’t squander an opportunity to make Las Vegas the star of the show rather than merely a backdrop.

Just as everything’s better with zombies, everything’s better with Vegas.

Update (10/2/20): Netflix has announced a spin-off prequel, “Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas.” Read more about this anime series.