Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 | 6 p.m.
On Thursday night, after a performance by Courtney Love at Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel in which the headliner performed for a little more than an hour and was equal measures loud and interesting, I took a text informing of the band Dollface playing in the Lounge at Excalibur.
Having no information about Dollface and not much about the Lounge at ExCal, I cut in to catch the final 45 minutes of this four-member, all-female pop/rock ensemble. They started their 4-hour set at 9 p.m., but the band’s singer and power source, Tiffany Martin, was still dancing to great effect onstage and even across the dance floor. Fueled by a 5-Hour Energy Drink she knocks back before each show, Martin closed out with a kinetic version of “Gangnam Style,” a song that hardly matters but had the lounge crowd groovin’ up until 1 a.m.
Originally from Orlando, Fla., Dollface has been performing Thursdays through Sundays in that grueling 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot. They carpool to the gig together because they live together, pursuing their live-entertainment dream on the Strip. The band has been in town since January and has a two-year contract with MGM Resorts to infuse some energy (if not energy drinks) into the old ExCal. In this Thursday-night doubleheader, there was no doubt who was the more famous artist. There also was no doubt about who worked harder and, yes, put on a more entertaining show.
Now pass me that rake, mon frère:
• Claire Sinclair’s appearance at Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, Calif., on Thursday to record scenes for the new reality TV show “Stable Wars: Del Mar” makes sense because she is Claire Sinclair, and if you’re producing a reality TV show, you find Claire Sinclair. But there is a more tangible link between Sinclair and the Stratosphere, where she stars in “Pin Up,” than just her name recognition and reliable prettiness: The Stratosphere is a title sponsor of the six-week regional reality TV series, which premiered Aug. 15 on Fox Sports San Diego and airs regionally in the southwest. The San Diego area is one of the Stratosphere’s more fertile feeder markets, and officials have purchased cut-away time during the broadcasts to promote the hotel.
As Strat General Manager Paul Hobson said this week, the introduction of Sinclair to the show’s producers happened through that business partnership. But Sinclair’s appeal spans far beyond that handy relationship. “Part of Del Mar’s image is its glitz and glamour, and we saw the potential to have Claire represent the hotel in that image.” Sinclair is expected to air on the series' fifth and second-to-last show in October.
• A total of $1,500 was raised last Saturday in the first Sasoun Athletic Challenge at Fit Labs, raising money for young acrobats in the memory of the late “Ka” artist and Fit Labs instructor Sarah Guillot-Guyard. Guillot-Guyard taught children the art of circus-styled gymnastics in Fit Labs’ Cirque Fit program. The money is for an account to be used for promising young acrobats who are learning the craft at Fit Labs, said studio owner and event organizer James Wong. The goal is to present the competition, during which donations are taken for each repetition (a somersault or cartwheel, for instance) performed by the kids, every year. This year’s event was just a start, and next year Wong hopes to double the amount raised.
There has been one fundraiser for the two young children of Guillot-Guyard and her ex-husband, fellow “Ka” artist Mathieu Guyard, held at Baobab Stage at Town Square on July 18. About $3,800 was raised that night. The family is to be further compensated by workers' compensation insurance. Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman Renee Claude-Menard also said that the company will be discussing additional financial assistance with the family “soon.”
• Last weekend, LVH welcomed a collection of boxing greats, among them Sugar Ray Leonard, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Michael Weaver, James “Quick” Tillis and — most remarkably — Jake LaMotta, to a birthday tribute to Leon Spinks at “Raiding the Rock Vault.” Maybe it seems an unusual convergence of personalities, fistic greats and classic-rock artists, but Spinks is actually a huge fan of the show who has seen it at least 10 times. He was invited onstage to dance during the band’s rip through Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” joined by his brother, Michael (who was a late arrival because he reportedly showed up at Hilton Grand Escapes’ Elara on the Strip). He loved the show, and the attention, during a party to mark his 60th birthday, which was in July, but there was cake anyway, and Spinks cut through it with an 18-inch sword.
One observation about the fighters assembled: Ernie Shavers, who Muhammad Ali said was the hardest puncher he ever fought, still looks like he can rock the house. One great moment: LaMotta approaching Robert De Niro impressionist Robert Nash (of “Raack N Roll” at the D Las Vegas) and saying, “You look like him!” De Niro won an Oscar for his portrayal of LaMotta in “Raging Bull” more than 30 years ago. At age 92, LaMotta still has a firm handshake and also is engaged to be married. No date set, but we had a bunch of potential groomsmen in town who’d love to take part.
• This week's 20th anniversary of Adventuredome at Circus Circus brought to mind a pretty entertaining (to me, anyway) story I wrote a few years ago for Las Vegas Weekly. I rode every thrill ride in the city in a single afternoon, starting with the high-rising trio of Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity the Stratosphere and ending at the Desperado at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm. Vertigo set in while at Adventuredome after riding the dizzying Canyon Blaster roller coaster. I walked off that ride veering hard to the right and felt I might not finish the assignment, which ended with me being rattled for 2 1/2 minutes on the Desperado. But ever since that story, I’ve said the Adventuredome has the most underrated thrill rides in the city.
• Luxor headliners Jabbawockeez are among the performers scheduled to appear on the MDA “Show of Strength” charity telecast set for 9 p.m. Sept. 1 on ABC. The crew has already recorded their number. The Jabbas are the only announced link between Las Vegas to the MDA Telethon, which for a long, long time originated from Vegas and was hosted by Jerry Lewis.
• One of the really talented and focused entertainers on the Strip, Jeff Civillico, is moving his juggling-and-unicycle spectacular at the Quad to 4 p.m., from 2 p.m., beginning Sept. 14 (dark Tuesdays and Fridays). The show is dazzling on many levels (including that high-up level when Civillico climbs atop what seems a 10-foot unicycle), featuring an inflatable set and all sorts of wild acrobatics and banter from Civillico, once a specialty act for Nathan Burton who has generated strong word-of-mouth praise around town.
• Railroad Pass, billed as the longest-running hotel-casino in the country (established in 1931), has just opened its new sports book. It’s a small-but-clean way to wager, and now it’s a must for anyone looking to make at least one sports bet in every Las Vegas-area resort. Something that Norm Johnson said about Railroad Pass perked my ears this week: He says the Steakhouse at Railroad Pass serves the best steak dinner in the entire Las Vegas Valley. Of course, my man Norm works PR for the resort, so he is expected to praise the restaurant. But the best in town? From a man who has lived here since 1962? Sounds like a challenge, and I am on the case.
Vinyl, which opened in August 2012, is the intimate live entertainment venue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, featuring a diversity of genres, including rock 'n' roll, jazz, blues, pop and even country.
The multifunctional room provides an intimate setting that puts the audience within an arm's reach of the performers.
The space, which is just under 7,000 square feet, can accommodate 650 guests. With a speakeasy atmosphere, Vinyl has an industrial look from its Chicago-common brick and cinderblock, distressed wood floors and an exposed, sky-high ceiling.
An elevated VIP section houses leather banquette seating and offers guests their own wait staff and an exclusive bar. The perimeter features a bar where guests can watch all the action. A state-of-the-art entertainment system offers high-definition screens on both sides of the main stage.
It is virtually impossible to be anywhere in Las Vegas and miss the Stratosphere. It towers 1,149 feet above Las Vegas and is the tallest observation tower in the United States. The casino itself is 55,784 square feet and contains 950 slot machines, 120 game tables and 2,427 hotel rooms.
Of the hotel's 2,427 rooms, 909 were recently remodeled into Stratosphere Select rooms.
The Stratosphere is mostly known for its rides at the top of the tower. The Big Shot, located at the 113th floor, torpedoes riders up 160 feet using compressed air. X-Scream is a teeter-totter perched at the top of the observation deck — if that wasn't scary enough, the coaster arm flings the riders out 27 feet over the edge of the tower. Guests looking for something more sedate can just hang around the 107th floor and simply look at the scenery.