Category Archives: Las Vegas

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 100: Oscar Goodman, Piff and More

It’s the 100th episode of the trainwreck we call the Vital Vegas Podcast. What could possibly go wrong?

In this final episode of the first season of the podcast, we review one of the best comedy-magic shows in Las Vegas, Piff the Magic Dragon at Flamingo.

Piff the Magic Dragon is performed by inspired comedian and “America’s Got Talent” alum John van der Put. The show features his Chihuahua, Mr. Piffles, and exuberant partner-in-hijinks, Jade Simone.

Piff’s show is a non-stop cavalcade of clever illusions and masterful audience interaction, all wrapped up in a family-friendly package, a Las Vegas must-see if you like comedy, magic or an irresistible mash-up of both.

Piff

A trifecta of comedy perfecta. They’re totally stealing that for their advertising.

To make our 100th episode truly memorable, we badgered former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman into an in-depth interview just in time for his 80th birthday.

Oscar Goodman was the mayor of Las Vegas for 12 years, and prior to that was a mob lawyer, defending some of the most infamous organized crime figures in the history of Las Vegas.

Fun fact from the interview: Goodman says mobster Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal always referred to himself in the third person. Here’s more about Lefty!

During his time of mayor, Oscar Goodman not only raised awareness about Las Vegas as a tourist destination, he also raised eyebrows with his sometimes controversial positions on issues like graffiti (he facetiously suggested offenders have their thumbs cut off), prostitution (he wanted it legalized) and drugs (ditto).

Oscar Goodman

The unstoppable, unreticent, undeniably unapologetic Oscar Goodman.

On the episode, we also dive headlong into a controversy swirling around comedian Doug Stanhope.

Stanhope shared a letter from Caesars Entertainment saying he’s banned from all their casinos, asserting he was “trespassed” because he posted negative reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. There’s always more to the story, and we call bull!

We also serve up your recommended allowance of exclusive Las Vegas scoop, so take a listen and see what all the meh’s about!

Caveat Emptor: Your Tape Face May Not Be THE Tape Face

We enjoyed the “Tape Face” show at Harrah’s Las Vegas a lot.

Tape Face came to prominence on “America’s Got Talent,” and his Las Vegas show is inventive, funny and highly recommended.

That’s not an unconditional recommendation given recent revelations, though.

Tape Face

The Tape Face show is a little mime, a little clown, a little audience interaction, a little oven mitt and a lot of offbeat.

We recently learned the Tape Face you’re seeing onstage at Harrah’s may not be the actual Tape Face.

See, the Tape Face who made a splash on “America’s Got Talent” is named Sam Wills.

Now, we hear there’s another Tape Face, referred to by the production as “T2.” An understudy, you might say. Although, that may not be quite the right word for it. Not a “back-up.” Double, maybe? Stand-in?

No matter what you call it, it’s another Tape Face.

When we first heard about this “Face swap” from reviewer Alex Belfield, we thought it sounded very shady. You don’t just get to replace a performer with a similar performer without letting your audience know.

Tape Face, however, or someone Tweeting on behalf of Tape Face (who knows at this point?), had a different take on what it all means and why it’s not shady.

Tape Face asserts Tape Face isn’t a performer, per se. It’s a character. He Tweets, “You do know that Tape Face is a character, yeah? I am sure if Seinfeld was a character who wore a costume with the right training and direction you could absolutely present his comedy. That’s called
acting.”

We sort of get what he’s going for. He wants Tape Face to be Blue Man Group. Lots of people play the blue man in Blue Man Group, and cast members are often swapped out without the show suffering and nobody feels deceived.

“There is no such thing as a true Tape Face as I believe that we all have a version of Tape Face in us. We are all weird,” Tape Face Tweets.

Tape Face

Not all weird is created equal.

We’re still pretty firmly in the camp that Tape Face isn’t considered a generic character, it’s the guy who was on “America’s Got Talent,” and it’s the guy we saw crush it at Harrah’s. Not another guy with tape on his mouth who knows the routines.

Tape Face respectfully disagrees. “I will have to disagree with you. As a brand, the choice was made to go on ‘AGT’ to advertise the show. Whilst an audience ‘discovers’ the show on a platform, in reality it’s been developed over 15 years to be exactly what it is. A show performed by a character.”

Tape Face goes on to say, “If the performance was bad the audience wouldn’t be happy. It’s one of the reasons we keep the show to my standards and our other Tape Face continues to receive standing ovations from Vegas crowds.”

We totally get that the T2 performance could be as good as the original. Our issue is really with transparency. While Tape Face says the show makes it known the performer onstage might not be Sam Wills, we couldn’t find a mention of that fact on any of the ticket sites we researched. Not even once, anywhere.

The official Harrah’s site is careful to say “Tape Face is the creation of New Zealand comedian Sam Wills,” without specifying he’s the Tape Face in the show.

Tape Face did confirm some performances where a substitution (our word, not his) would occur at Harrah’s.

Tape Face

Pretty sure every Vegas headliner would love to have a clone.

It’s also worth noting Tape Face and his people haven’t exactly hidden the fact there’s a T2. Here’s a Tweet from March 2019.

Tape Face Tweet

Question: How does someone who doesn’t follow Tape Face on Twitter know all this?

Given what we know, we aren’t entirely sure what to think about all this.

We can’t really get onboard with Tape Face’s assertion people just magically know this “character” is a brand and not an individual performer.

If the show’s good, the show’s good, but even if that’s the case, we feel like it’s the responsibility of the performer, the production and the venue to clearly communicate to customers who’s going to be onstage.

A “Tape Face, starring…” credit would work. Or maybe the show should be called “Tape Faces.”

As a practical matter, when we recommend a show, we really need to know which show we’re recommending.

The bottom line: Know before you go, and before you buy, verify. Yes, we just made that up.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Bait-and-switch or non-issue?

“Avengers” Attraction Set for Revamp, “Transformers” and “Jurassic World” in the Works 

Here’s a quick item about some Las Vegas attractions. Quick, because we need to get back to drinking. All due respect to superheroes and robots and dinosaurs.

None of this scoop has been officially announced, by the way. That’s what we do. We drink and we know Vegas things.

First, we’re hearing the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. attraction at Treasure Island will close temporarily in January 2020 for a major overhaul.

Avengers STATION

Three years in, this guy could use a little buffing.

Fun fact: S.T.A.T.I.O.N. stands for Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network. Yes, we’re using the term “fun” very loosely here, but the nerds will appreciate it.

You know who you are.

The Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit opened in July 2016. Here’s the official site.

It’s expected the “Avengers” renovation project will take several months, so the exhibit should be back online in May 2020.

Next, while the “Avengers” attraction is being retooled, a new “Transformers” attraction will be coming to the same building at T.I. This time, on the first floor.

The “Transformers” exhibit is expected to debut in March 2020, according to our sources.

After upwards of a dozen minutes of sleuthing, we found out both the “Avengers” and “Transformers” attractions are produced by a company called Victory Hill Exhibitions.

Given that the company has previously done an exhibit called “Transformers Autobots Alliance,” that’s our guess for what the new attraction at T.I. will be called. Read more.

Transformers Autobots Alliance

Don’t be sad, robot. You’re in an alliance of some sort.

Finally, we’re also hearing about a new “Jurassic World” attraction planned for Las Vegas.

The aforementioned Victory Hill has previously created “Jurassic World” exhibitions in Paris and Madrid. You can see a teaser on the official Victory Hill Web site.

The most likely place the “Jurassic World: The Exhibition Las Vegas” will land is Venetian, from what we’re told.

Jurassic World

None of that “don’t move and you’re invisible” stuff with this bad boy, sorry.

Victory Hill Exhibitions recently launched a “Hunger Games” exhibition at MGM Grand. That attraction boasts what’s touted as the world’s biggest digital touchscreen. Learn more.

All these attractions are an opportunity for fans to connect to their favorite movies and characters in a way that’s “engaging, educational and interactive,” according to Victory Hill Exhibitions.

We love the diversity of these offerings, and there’s something for everyone in this mix of exhibits. If “Avengers” aren’t your thing, there’s always “Jurassic World.” We aren’t entirely sure who’s thing “Transformers” is, but there are probably Shia LaBeouf people somewhere.

It’s worth noting these exhibits are all inspired by movies with worldwide appeal, a key requirement for such attractions to succeed financially. Las Vegas has a lot of foreign visitors.

And these licensing fees ain’t cheap.

Look forward to official announcements of all our exclusive scoops soon. Until then, cheers.

Sprinkles Cupcakes to Close at Linq Promenade

The flagship location of Sprinkles Cupcakes is set to close at Linq promenade on July 5, 2019.

Sprinkles has been a fixture at the Linq shopping district since it opened in 2014. To its credit, Sprinkles lasted longer than many of the mall’s original tenants.

Sprinkles cupcakes

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because frosting.

According to a notice posted at Sprinkles, the store will expand to “two new locations on The Strip this fall.”

Sprinkles closed

Always look on the bright side of life. Thanks to James T. for the pic.

Sprinkles made headlines for its cupcake ATM. The Sprinkles cupcake ATM was touted as the world’s first.

Cupcake ATM

Cupcakes, direct to your face.

Sprinkles opened its original location in Beverly Hills in 2005. The company has more than 30 locations across the country.

The company was founded by Candace Nelson, who we took a photo of in 2014, because we’ve taken a photo of virtually everything.

Candace Nelson

We’re a big fan of scoop.

Yes, they served ice cream, too. And cookies. But it was really about the cupcakes.

While we didn’t visit Sprinkles too often, we’re a little sad to see it go. Because whenever a cupcake store closes, an angel loses its moobs. Or something.

Speaking of moobs.

Oh, sure. Now, you’re drooling. If you’d visited more, there would still be a Sprinkles at Linq!

It seems the Linq promenade has already found a replacement for Sprinkles, Icebar. Icebar opens in November 2019. Visit the official site.

Icebar

It’s hard to be broken up about liquor replacing baked goods, sorry.

Sprinkles is being tight-lipped about the two new Vegas locations, but we trust we’ll see the return of these master bakers soon.

Oh, like we were going to get through an entire story without a single “master baker” reference. Do you know this blog at all?

Update (7/7/19): Word on the street is Sprinkles has struck deals with MGM Resorts, and the most likely candidates for future Sprinkles locations are Aria and MGM Grand (Park MGM is also a contender). For the record, Sprinkles has officially said “no comment.” Cupcake scoop for the win.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 99: Stop, Inebriate and Listen

It’s time for another installment of the supremely skippable Vital Vegas Podcast.

We cover the whole gamut of Las Vegas news, several gamuts if we’re being completely honest.

We talk about the Caesars and Eldorado merger, of course, including the wild speculation and poorly researched opinions for which we have become so well known among residents of correctional centers.

Caesars Palace fountains

By the time you listen to this podcast, Caesars Entertainment could be a very different thing.

There’s also talk about Vic & Anthony’s at Golden Nugget, tons of news at SLS (soon to be renamed Sahara), Apex and Kaos at Palms and an upcoming partnership between Virgin Hotel and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment. See more.

Our listicle of the week floats “10 Great Gifts for People Who Love Las Vegas.” Fair warning: At least one of the gifts can be used as a murder weapon.

Ready to get pumped full of Las Vegas in a fully consensual context? We’ve got this!

Hard Rock/Virgin Las Vegas to Partner With Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment

There are lots of rumors swirling about an increased tribal presence in Las Vegas at the moment. We know, because we’re the one who’s been swirling them.

Tribey

Just because a word doesn’t exist doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

From casino purchases to other high-profile investments (give it a couple of weeks and we’ll be sharing more huge tribe-related scoop), it’s clear sovereign tribal nations have their eye on Las Vegas in a big way.

The first big move by a tribe in the Las Vegas market looks to be a partnership between Hard Rock Las Vegas, which is transitioning into Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

Mohegan Tribe Virgin Las Vegas

Vegas is full of surprises.

We’re told reliably the Mohegan tribe will be managing the casino at Virgin Hotel Las Vegas (technically, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, but there’s only one planned at the moment, so we’re keeping it singular).

No official announcement has been made about this partnership, but when has that ever stopped us from spilling some tea?

As this news hasn’t been made public yet, there’s no concrete timeline. We do know Hard Rock will close after the Super Bowl (about April 1, 2020) for about four months (through July 2020) as the resort completes its changeover to Virgin Hotel. We trust Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment will be in place managing Virgin’s casino operations by that time (August 2020).

This is a huge partnership both for the Mohegan tribe and the owners of Hard Rock resort, JC Hospitality and Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

Adios, Hard Rock. Hello, Virgin.

This gives the tribe a foothold in Vegas, and gives Virgin Hotel a whole new pool of potential customers who have played at the popular Mohegan Sun resort in Connecticut. Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment manages Mohegan Sun. Read more.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) owns and manages resorts throughout the U.S., including in Connecticut, Atlantic City, Washington and Louisiana. Oh, and in South Korea. See more.

Interestingly, MGE owns the Connecticut Sun, a WNBA team, and the New England Black Wolves, a professional lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League. In case you haven’t heard, sports is sort of thing in Las Vegas at the moment, despite our best efforts.

Join us in getting a crash course on Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment.

Expect official confirmation of this scoop in the next few weeks, and look forward to an influx of tribe-related headlines in the months to come.