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April 18, 2014

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Final Act: Risque Palazzo nightclub closes after run-ins with parent company

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The Act Nightclub at Palazzo.

Katie Morgan Hosts Benefit at The Act

Katie Morgan, with “Rock of Ages” star Mark Shunock, hosts “Pussy Galore,” a benefit for the no-kill animal shelter Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, at The Act in Palazzo on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013. Launch slideshow »

The meteoric run of the Act nightclub at Palazzo has lasted a year.

The ultra-risqué club on the second level of the Shoppes at the Palazzo retail and entertainment promenade closed abruptly Saturday night. The staff was informed late Saturday, and word spread across social media as the club celebrated a final night of partying before the doors were closed. The initial reports online were posted online Saturday night by Joe Vargas of the King of Nightclubs website. A spokeswoman for the club confirmed this morning that the club had announced its immediate closure.

No official reason has been given for the ceasing of operations at the Act, which opened in October 2012 as a much-hyped outpost of the Box in New York and Box Soho in London, both of which remain open. The Box empire is operated by nightclub overlord Simon Hammerstein, the grandson of legendary lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. The Act was envisioned as a scaled-back (at least in terms of the nature of the live acts showcased at the club) version of the more raunchy Box clubs in New York and London.

Nonetheless, the club ran afoul of Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of Palazzo and the Venetian, for staging acts the hotel argued were in violation of the state’s obscenity laws. In August, the Palazzo took action in Las Vegas District Court to evict the club, which fended off immediate closure by issuing a restraining order against the very hotel in which it operated. Club officials argued that the hotel was well aware of its brand, vision and entertainment sensibilities when partnering with Hammerstein in the first place.

Acts performed at the club were aggressively adult in nature, including simulated sex acts, semi-nude burlesque dance numbers and, in its early stages, a scene in which a man with deformed arms acted out a bloody attack with a butcher knife against an unseen woman in a bathtub. Many of the edgier acts were toned town in the face of the Palazzo legal action, though a nude, gold-painted statue of the icon of the Act and the Box, transgender performer Buck Angel, remained in the club’s entrance.

The Act’s staff was reportedly caught flat-footed when word of closing was issued about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, but the club had been struggling financially and, according to court records, had lost its original $15 million startup operating investment. The club continued to trudge along anyway, hosting popular End of the World Parties and Rebel Bingo late-night events.

As recently as last week, new showcases were being announced for the Act. “Rock of Ages” star Mark Shunock had arranged for his monthly “Mondays Dark” charity variety shows to be staged in the Act beginning Oct. 21. Now he is looking for a new venue for these performances.

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

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