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October 25, 2014

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John Katsilometes saunters into a famous, sometimes infamous, one-of-a-kind gentlemen’s establishment enjoying a renaissance

The license that allows the Palomino Club to operate as the valley's only alcoholic beverage club to allow nude dancing (and crawling, and writhing, and hanging upside down from metal poles) expires in December 2019.

If the club's history is an indication, it should be an eventful 13 years.

Under the new ownership of Adam Gentile, the son of prominent Las Vegas attorney Dominic Gentile, the club held a grand opening party Friday and Saturday night to signal the businesses change in philosophy (but not attire). The Gentiles' plan is to restore the Palomino's reputation as racy but respected - and financially stable - gentlemen's club.

"This place has been abused for 10 years," Adam Gentile said during a break in a performance by the club's new spokesmodel, Sunset Thomas (the well-practiced star of HBO's brothel-set series "Cathouse"). "I am working a lot of long hours to try to get it back where it belongs. But it's a lot of fun, too. I have always been interested in running a club like this." (The younger Gentile was also producer of "Men the Show" during its run at the Riviera and, later, Club Seven.)

Friday night's crowd was brimming with excited men (and couples) eager to investigate the new digs. Having never ventured into the Palomino before Friday night, I had no way to gauge just what Gentiles the have done to spruce up the place, but the club, which sits across from Jerry's Nugget at 1848 Las Vegas Boulevard North in North Las Vegas, is not seedy or uncomfortable. Still, there is a lot of recovery work to be done at its peak, the business, which opened under original owner Paul Perry in 1969, pulled in more than $13 million annually. Last year, said Dominc Gentile, it made just $1 million while struggling to compete with Las Vegas' newer, larger and more dazzling topless clubs.

"We're just three minutes from downtown here," Dominic Gentile said. "One thing we need to do is get people thinking north of downtown, rather than west or south. That will take time."

The Palomino's latest ownership shift took place when Dominic Gentile assumed ownership of the club back in March, as payment for defending previous owner Luis Hidalgo Jr., who was accused of being a co-conspirator in the murder of Timothy Hay Hadland (Adam Gentile leases the business from his father and is the club's point man). The 4.9-acre parcel property includes the club Lacy's (which is in the same building as the Palomino) and the Satin Saddle just north of the main building.

The Gentiles are actually celebrating the building's 50th anniversary from 1956 to 1969 it was called the Gay '90s. Part of the celebration is a seasonlong NFL pick 'em contest, with the winner claiming a 1956 Buick convertible.

Adam Gentile said he is going to be running the show(s) for the foreseeable future. There are 40 adult clubs in the Las Vegas Valley; some are topless and allow alcoholic beverages to be served, others are fully nude but required to be alcohol-free. The Palomino stands alone, and who knows the Gentiles might one day build a hotel-casino offering nude dancing and a fully stocked bar on the site. Fittingly, that business would also be one of a kind.

NoteMart

Today we begin a new feature in Fab LV: Great Moments in Valet. Recently I spotted LV Hilton Entertainment Director Eric D'Richards while waiting for the FabMobile at Wynn Las Vegas. A couple of weeks before that, I chatted up Rudy Ruetteger at New York-New York's valet (not a big fan of roller coasters, is Rudy). And even earlier it was former Supreme Mary Wilson at the Hilton, George Maloof (naturally) entering a limo at the Palms. the list seems endless. Saturday night it was Rep. Shelley Berkley, making her way out of the 20th AFAN Black & White Party, which was again a smash at the Palms' pool. Berkley said she'd just returned from a trip to Israel and was quite fatigued, but she hasn't missed a single Black & White Party since the first in 1987. "It's a great cause for a great need," she said as valet attendants scrambled to fetch her vehicle. "I just wish everyone there (at the party) voted." Maybe a voter registration drive at next year's party would be a good idea, eh?

Boundary-pressing comic/entrepreneur Jeff Beacher says bringing his act into the Harrah's Entertainment corporate universe has not been a problem the company has literally opened its doors to Beacher. "I'm living at the hotel now in the same suite that was Alotta Fagina's in the 'Austin Powers' movie," Beacher said. "The hotel has been amazingly supportive." Beacher opens the Rockhouse Bar a venue that brings his "Madhouse" production into a club atmosphere, at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday night.

The Killers' show Wednesday night at Celebrity on Third and Ogden streets in downtown Las Vegas, as part of MySpace.com's "Secret Concert" series, threw a charge into the 500 or so lucky enough to gain entry. As usual, the Killers' crowd tilted to the young, and one reason Celebrity was chosen as the site for the show (aside from its availability and superior acoustics) was that it could host an all-ages show on short notice. But that is the final all-ages show Celebrity has planned the club does well to keep the under-21 group away from the bar (and to keep those with drinks sequestered in the bar area, away from the teens) but something about mixing teens and alcohol under one roof seems not a good idea.

Gail Marie, author of "The Las Vegas Puzzle Book" (which can be found at MGM Mirage properties and Borders locations in Southern Nevada) checks in with a vanity plate on a Jeep Cherokee: IDSFA. Stumped? It Doesn't Stand For Anything.

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