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October 25, 2014

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Black Adidas fashion statements, Carrot Top’s drag experience and odd Pearl Harbor references permeate Grand Slam

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble.

2011 Andre Agassi Grand Slam: Red Carpet and Show

The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble. Launch slideshow »
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The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble.

Click to enlarge photo

Smokey Robinson performs during the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble.

Click to enlarge photo

The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble.

Click to enlarge photo

The Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children red carpet and benefit gala at Wynn Las Vegas on Oct. 29, 2011. Performers included Jimmy Kimmel, Smokey Robinson, Martina McBride, Jeffrey Ross, Train, Signature and Michael Buble.

Now that Andre Agassi has raised about $118 million in 16 Grand Slam for Children charity galas, ensuring his College Preparatory Academy will be fully funded for the foreseeable future, you have to ask, “What’s next?”

Maybe Kirk Kerkorian donates $19 million next year?

Seems a lot to ask, doesn’t it? Especially when the school is so financially secure.

Of the future of the Grand Slam for Children, Agassi himself has said, repeatedly now, that he’s not going to make any firm decisions at least until after the tables and chairs at Lafite Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas (the decadently bedecked home of Saturday night’s event) have been effectively stowed away.

“It’s a big night, a milestone night, and getting to this night every year is tough,” Agassi said during Saturday’s red carpet walk before the dinner, auction and concert. “Finishing this night is so rewarding. What happens from here on in is something I’ll take stock in shortly after.”

Agassi didn’t guarantee there would be a Grand Slam next year, that’s for certain, and such a question has never been considered before he announced that the school didn’t require annual charity shows to stay afloat for, oh, a generation. Certainly, topping Saturday’s take of $26.1 million is something of a preposterous notion, given that the amount was far and away a record for the event and boosted by Kerkorian’s eye-popping donation of $18 million.

That inherently personal and selfless gift (Agassi’s middle name is for Kerkorian, a longtime family friend and supporter) seems a fitting way to cap the Grand Slam: $118 million and out, right? Not saying it’s so, and the event is such a highlight of the year that nobody roots for it to end, ever.

Until that issue is formally addressed, highlights from Saturday night's wingding:

Is this rock star attire? Agassi arrived wearing a black-on-black-on-black suit. The suit, tie and shirt were all black and looked as if it were pulled from Garanimals’ Johnny Cash line. When asked what designer he was wearing, he said, “Adidas (laugh)? I’ve had the same tuxedo for …” Then Stephanie Graf, Agassi’s wife and (as such) chief fashion consultant, added, “A couple of years. Men have it a little easier.”

Graf was beautifully dressed in a snug gown/dress from Roberto Cavalli and speaking for those assembled on the red carpet: Whoa.

During the session, responding to a question about which musical instrument, if any, he would want to master, Agassi said, “ I’m not very musically gifted, but I would probably go with guitar because you can take it anywhere. The piano would be the one you’d want to know how to play … I like the idea of just being able to pick up a guitar and making it happen.” The black suit would work in such an instance.

Anniversaries! Birthdays! Romance! Andre and Stephanie celebrated their 10th anniversary Oct. 2. Their children Jaden (age 10) and Jaz (8) celebrated birthdays this year.

During the event, former UCLA star and ATP Tour pro Justin Gimelstob proposed to his girlfriend, Cary Sinnott. The proposal was tendered amid great fanfare and lights and photographers and whatnot, and Cary did say “yes.” The two had been dating for two years; they met as neighbors in Santa Monica, Calif. Gimelstob actually worked the Grand Slam red carpet for Tennis Channel.

Gimelstob is a veritable quote factory, saying of Agassi, “His greatest charitable act was letting me beat him in 1997.”

Jimmy Kimmel of Las Vegas: Though Kimmel and Agassi are both from Las Vegas -- Agassi is a native and Kimmel a resident from ages 9 to 18 -- the two hadn’t met until Agassi appeared on Kimmel’s late-night talk show in September 2010.

“As a kid in Las Vegas, you had the Rebels and, a little later, Andre Agassi,” Kimmel said. “He was like the Rebels. A lot of people didn’t like him, thought he was too flashy, so your support of him became a lightning rod, and I became more of a fan because of that.”

Kimmel did know one athlete of note while growing up in Vegas. As a student at Clark High, he was a schoolmate of Nick Bell, who went on to play for three years at running back for the Raiders. “I was in marching band,” Kimmel said, “but we did share the same field.”

He doesn’t want to look too “hippy”: Carrot Top provided an update on his Halloween costume shopping experience. Top’s girlfriend, Amanda Hogan, is dressing as pop artist Michael Godard. Carrot Top is dressing as Godard’s girlfriend, Brittany Weber. Top says he found the shopping experience … oddly enjoyable.

“It’s definitely weird that I enjoyed it,” said the Topper, who picked the dress at The Attic vintage apparel and merchandise store on South Main Street. “I was like, ‘Should I be enjoying this?” They were saying, ‘That really looks good on you.’ Should I be hearing this?”

A guy who walks the room fairly unnoticed -- for now: State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who is running for Congress.

A watch that will live in infamy: Longines President Walter von Kanel walked along the carpet and danged if I had no idea who he was. I am not sure any of us could recognize the man with the fast grin and bushy eyebrows. Knowing this, von Kanel gestured to the long sign hanging over the carpet and said, “That’s my company!”

The Longines logo shared space on that sign with the Wynn and Agassi Foundation for Education.

“You own Wynn Las Vegas?” I asked. “Really?”

“Longines!” he said, and it made sense von Kanel would be there, as Longines was the event’s presenting sponsor.

“Don’t think ill of me,” I said. “I’m wearing a Seiko.” Then yanked my sleeve and showed him my watch.

“Seiko!” he said. “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

“Pearl Harbor?” I asked.

“You’re wearing a Japanese watch!” he said. “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

With my friend and rival, R-J columnist Doug Elfman, now involved in the conversation, we asked the company overlord for Longines “samples.”

“Customs are too strict, and you have to (declare) them,” von Kanel said. “They even have a dog checking to see if we had fruit in the bags!”

We chatted more about how gaming has exploded in Macau, and how Longines does 50 percent of its business in China, and how he doesn’t make it to Las Vegas very often because he lives in Switzerland, and how he has a runny nose because he is not used to artificial air pumped into Vegas resorts.

And as von Kanel walked away, he called out once more, “Remember Pearl Harbor!”

Maybe it’s time for a new timepiece.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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