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October 1, 2014

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Zen and the art of spotting faux celebrities

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So far I am three for three. I’ve been volunteering and working at the CineVegas Film Festival for the past three years and each year I have had a celebrity sighting psych out.

When I first moved to Las Vegas, I thought every skeevy-looking, scraggly haired, mustachioed man I saw was Ron Jeremy. Given his affinity for Vegas and its adult film stars, it’s highly likely that I was right at least once or twice. Still, I was sick of crying wolf, I mean, Ron Jeremy.

At one of my first CineVegas parties in 2007, high atop the Stratosphere, I noticed a gentleman of the aforementioned description. I almost poked my boyfriend’s side to tell him to look at Ron Jeremy, but I stopped and realized I was probably just wrong again. The next day when I read the coverage of the party, I discovered that it was indeed the famous adult film actor. He had actually been the host of the party.

The following year, while covering the Vegas Magazine Anniversary Party/CineVegas Closing Party at the Palms Pool, I was on celebrity patrol again. I had seen Rosario Dawson and singer Delta Goodrem, as well as CineVegas regulars like Dennis Hopper. While taking photos on the pool deck, I saw a familiar spiky-haired man. The bleach blonde could only be UNLV alum and Food Network star Guy Fieri.

The Guy Fieri look-a-like from last year's CineVegas closing party.

The Guy Fieri look-a-like from last year's CineVegas closing party.

“Hey, Guy, can I get a photo please?” He paused, apparently mulling over my request then responded, “Oh, ok, I guess so.”

I understand that “Hey guy” is a standard greeting in Canada, but we were in Las Vegas, and this man was clearly Guy Fieri. Or so I thought.

Back at the office the next day, a co-worker said he thought the man was an imposter and posted an inquiry on a forum regarding Fieri’s presence at the party. Fieri’s own mother took the time to reply, explaining that it couldn’t have been Guy, who as he was at a charity event in another state that night.

I thought I could redeem myself this year when I spotted a man who I took to be Jack Nicholson outside Lavo at CineVegas’ Jackpot Premieres party.

Not the Oscar winner, the lookalike turned out to be actor Norman Deesing from the Cinevegas Pioneer Documentary Youth Knows No Pain. He had even adopted Nicholson’s elongated syllables when he chatted with a co-worker and me about his CineVegas experience. Craftily concealing his festival badge to hide his real name and keep up the charade, Deesing hung out all night at Lavo taking pictures with unsuspecting “fans” and chatting it up with the crowd.

At the end of the night, an acquaintance from last year’s festival told me his night had been made –- he had just met Jack Nicholson. I hesitated about whether or not to burst his bubble, remembering my own elation at faux-celebrity sightings of festivals past. But I felt the truth needed to be told.

Perhaps a new saying is in order for these confusing times: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, it must be CineVegas.

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