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July 29, 2014

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A spin around the room with B.B. King; Drew Lachey’s spin at Bally’s

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Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

B.B. King performs at B.B. King’s Blues Club at The Mirage on Aug. 17, 2010.

You can script these once-in-a-lifetime meetings repeatedly in your head and still not expect that in that meeting B.B. King will whiz by while driving a cherry-red motor scooter.

But that's how he was Tuesday night about an hour before performing at his B.B. Blues Club at Mirage. Members of his band were warming up in a ballroom just behind the club. Huge space. This went on for a few minutes, as horn notes bounced off the big room's ceiling.

Then the doors were pulled open, and there he was: smiling and piloting a mobility scooter, which helps take pressure of his bad leg. For no practical reason he circled the room, then came to a rest a few feet from his band mates. Then he waved over a couple of guests.

So this is how you meet B.B. King.

You ask about the quick trip around the room and he laughs, pointing at the dial that modulates the electric scooter's rate of speed. "I am in total control with this," he says, spinning the little knob. "It keeps me movin.'"

The conversation is itself a fast spin around the room. He says the Hollywood Bowl show he played Friday night was, "Really great — we sold out!" I ask how he feels about taking the stage at his own club — this is the second of two rare performances for him there — and he says, "I feel great. This might be a two-hour show."

It was about that long. A Las Vegas resident for 30 years, B.B. King obviously was in a good mood, his frequent orations from the stage mischievous and lively:

"I am from Mississippi, so I carry a knife," he says, directing the comment to overzealous drummer Tony Coleman. "But I have not cut a drummer since the night before last!"

And, speaking of the women in the jammed nightclub, "The older you get, the prettier they are!"

And, "When I say that, the guys won't fight ya, because you're too old to do most of what you're thinking of doing!"

And, "When I first started going to movies, they cost 11 cents. Eleven cents! Can you believe it? If you haven't seen 'Casablanca,' then see it. It is still one of the champeeeens!"

And, near the end, "I'm gonna do this until the day I die, folks!"

Soon he dialed up, "The Thrill is Gone," but it isn't. Not yet. What an experience. All I can say is, keep the throttle open, Mr. King.

Plinko! The Musical

Someone has a plan for Drew Lachey. He might not know who, or what that plan is, exactly, but there has to be a point to his stint as host of "The Price is Right" at Bally's. He started Aug. 10 and finishes Sunday. One theory is FreemantleMedia, which produces the show, is testing Lachey for one of its major productions (the company owns "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent").

As a "Dancing With the Stars" champ and former member of the boy band 98 Degrees, Lachey is pretty swift afoot. During Wednesday's show, one of the prizes up for bid was a pearl necklace. Looking at the strand from contestants' row, one of the guests asked, "Are they real?"

"That's a pretty common question here in Vegas," noted Lachey, who did well to resist quoting from ZZ Top.

Later, a young woman who said she was a college student struggled over a price and actually pretended to take the mic into her mouth. It was a quick and subtle move, but it was pretty naughty if you caught it. Lachey did. The look on his face as he stifled a laugh was price-is-rightless. He also introduced the greatest game in game-show history, Plinko, with an apology: "I get a little emotional about this game."

He is not alone.

We'll see where this goes. It's a pretty intriguing gig. And also, a nod to announcer Dave Ruprecht, famous as the host of "Supermarket Sweep" and one of the really good and under-appreciated guys in Vegas entertainment. It's a pretty cool little time at Jubilee Theater — even when the Plinko disk gets stuck.

Reality bites

Austin "Chumlee" Russell's life is as charmed as any bauble turned in for pawn or sale at Gold & Silver Pawn. Wednesday night he had a guitar signed by Bob Dylan on the night Dylan played a sold-out show with John Mellencamp at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Next week, the affable and astonishingly fortunate Chumlee is to be serenaded with "Love Me Tender" by the ghost of Elvis.

Meanwhile, those working on the reality project starring "Pawn Stars" regular Rick Dale are seeking items to restore from such famous Las Vegans as Mayor Oscar Goodman and Wayne Newton. Maybe the mayor should hand over Neonopolis.

Killian's Angels back at Brendan's

The return of Killian's Angels at Brendan's Irish Pub at Orleans happens Friday night. The band takes the stage (not literally, but after a few ales these women are capable of anything) at 9 p.m. and plays 'til 1 a.m. They also perform Saturday, and are back Sept. 3-4 and Sept. 17-18.

Chico! The Musical

Over the weekend I was talking to Lorena Peril for a Las Vegas Magazine cover story about her move to the adult revue "Fantasy" at Luxor. I'll post that story after it hits the stands, but I'll say that Peril doubtlessly has earned her way to a Strip production show. When she moved to the city five years ago, Peril lived for a time at the Motel 6 just east of Las Vegas Boulevard on Tropicana Avenue.

These digs will remind nobody of Turnberry Place.

But Peril's drive led her to a stint as Christina Aguilera at Stratosphere's "American Superstars" and as the vocalist for Sin City Bad Girls at the Hilton. So she's telling me about all of this, and about how she once worked as an office clerk in San Francisco before she ever considered a career as an entertainer. At that point I told her I spent a lot of time visiting S.F. when I lived in Chico, Calif., my hometown.

"Oh, my boyfriend is from Chico!" Peril said, rather excitedly. What-hey! As it turns out, Peril's boyfriend is Ray Narbaitz III — he goes by Ray Jon these days — and we both are graduates of Pleasant Valley High School (so is Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, incidentally). Different years, yep, but I knew that name well because Ray's father, Ray Narbaitz Jr., is something of a legend in Chico as the longtime sports director for that city's CBS affiliate, KHSL Channel 12. I used to sit next to the elder Narbaitz in the press box at Chico State University basketball games. He's a really funny guy, and it's all just a crazy coincidence.

More craziness

Well, this was bound to happen: "Crazy Girls" producer Norbert Aleman is disputing the version of the "No If Ands Or ..." photo shoot that led to the famous backsides-to-the-camera pose. The version I used in my Las Vegas Weekly piece about the famous portrait was from former "Crazy Girls" Shellee Renee and Angela Stabile. For years they both have contended that they were struck by the idea for that particular pose as the women in the cast were being photographed.

But Aleman — through veteran publicist Wayne Bernath, who was with the show at the time of the shoot — claims the idea actually came from a famous postcard bearing a version of that pose. This cheeky dispute underscores a simmering feud between Aleman and Stabile, who, along with her husband, Matt Stabile, produces her own adult empire, which includes, "Men of X" at Hooters and "X Burlesque" at Flamingo Las Vegas.

In any case...

Back in March, Renee and Stabile reprised their back-to-the-camera pose at the Plaza hotel valet. That's the photo of the two women accompanying this column, and I can say that, in this instance, they thought of it themselves.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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