Behind the Scenes at Drai’s Beachclub

A-Trak poses at Drai's Beachclub on April 7, 2017
A-Trak is camera ready

No other dayclub in Las Vegas can offer the panoramic Strip view you get at Drai’s Beachclub. The view’s not so bad from the headliner stage either, where the likes of A-Trak, GTA, and Claude VonStroke perform weekly to capacity crowds.

In one of my final pieces for Vegas Seven, I toured the club on the rooftop of The Cromwell, getting a taste of everything from the scenery to Executive Chef Phillip Soriano’s menu.

You can read that story at the Vegas Seven website, as well as my chat with A-Trak, in which the Canadian DJ and I touched on everything from new music to collaborations, and even his relationship with brother Dave 1 of Chromeo.


‘Halloween’ is coming

Hockey season ended too soon in Las Vegas on June 7, 2018. But it’s not all bad news, as I’m able to focus on the second-most important matter of the day: Halloween.

I will not lie, last week I woke up (unassisted) at 5 a.m. every morning, wondering if this would be the morning when the new Halloween trailer premiered. When I found out the trailer would premiere on Friday, June 8 I still woke up early every day, for no good reason.

At long last, it has arrived, and it’s glorious. For fans of the series, there are plenty of homages and Easter eggs within, and it raises some questions about how the film is wiping the slate of the tangled Halloween canon. I wrote about both for Now Playing Podcast, and you can find that article here.

In the meantime, enjoy the trailer. October 19 can’t come soon enough.

How Sin Bin broke through in Las Vegas’ golden NHL season

Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier - courtesy Vegas SevenWith the Vegas Golden Knights making the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season, I thought this the right time to highlight one of the standout stories in hockey-mad Las Vegas: Sin Bin.

Back in 2016, before the Golden Knights had announced their name and logo, I met two friends — Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier — who had started a podcast and website dedicated to following the franchise. In their own words, “If anyone said the word ‘Vegas’ and ‘hockey,’ that was a story for us,” and they committed to covering the team’s every move.

There are a lot of sports blogs, but the fact that both guys came from a radio background gave them some credibility. That, coupled with their likability and determination to be more than just a couple of “Hot Takes” guys gave them a chance to really do something different in Las Vegas.

Fast forward nearly two years now, and Sin Bin is its own sports media franchise. Ken and Jason are running their own business, reporting from the home and visitor clubhouses, attracting sponsors, selling merchandise — it’s a legit startup operation with a huge fan base. Even if the Knights weren’t ridiculously successful, I’m convinced they’re going to be working together for as long as they want to be.

I wanted to follow up by talking to the guys for Vegas Seven’s 2018 Intriguing People edition. You can read the conversation at the Vegas Seven website, in which we discuss how they got started, their breakthrough moment, building a business from the ground up, and what they’ve learned about being a startup among traditional media outlets.

Behind the scenes with Machine Dazzle

“Sometimes I get inspired just by garbage,” says Machine Dazzle, the artist/costume designer tapped to create the look of Las Vegas’ new Opium show.

Speaking during a break in the wardrobe shop he’s created behind the Opium stage at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Dazzle chats with me about jumpsuits, ear plugs, space theater, and what inspires his designs.

It’s my first piece for The Cosmopolitan’s “52 Stories” site, and you can read it here.

Below is a pic I snapped of the Opium cast when they arrived at The Cosmopolitan in February. That’s Dazzle on the far left, in the gown made of silverware, with the giant petals.

This’ll be an interesting show.

The cast of Opium arrives at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Playing With Fire

Everyone needs a gimmick. Mine is slicing off the top of a champagne bottle with a butter knife. For CliQue Bar & Lounge head mixologist Antony Sazerac, it’s setting fire to his bar cart while mixing drinks.

Sazerac showed off this particular trick recently while mixing me the “Circle of Doom” cocktail.

“It’s a mixture of Gosling’s Black Strip, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, to give it a little bit of a kick, and vanilla bean cordial.” — Antony Sazerac

CliQue, headed by nightlife vets Ryan Labbe and Jason “JRoc” Craig, celebrated its second anniversary at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in February. I thought I’d share a snippet of “Circle of Doom” video along with a link to the story at Vegas Seven.

Best of the Best, Vegas Magazine Edition

Vegas Magazine Best of the City 2018, written by Jason R. LathamA vending machine that serves only champagne. A high-rise gaming and social club for whales. A $30,000 wine decanter that serves no other purpose but to create Instagram-worthy moments during your meal.

These are just a few of the amenities that comprise Vegas Magazine’s most recent “Best of Las Vegas” list. In the current issue, I wrote about the aforementioned perks (and more) found inside some of the Strip’s most unique properties, including The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Wynn Las Vegas, and Mandarin Oriental.

My favorite from the list are the Boulevard Penthouses at The Cosmopolitan — 21 recently unveiled suites between the 71st and 75th floors of the resort’s Boulevard Tower. The views of the Strip are (as you would expect) unrivaled, and the suites are all feature perks such as “24-hour butler service, in-suite fitness studios, pool tables, private terraces, and $10,000 toilets.”

Also featured in this issue is my story on Chef Kaoru Azeuchi and Kaiseki Yuzu, a hidden gem on Las Vegas’southeast side. I did not know what Kaiseki was before I was assigned the story, and it was amazing speaking with the chef (through interpreter Martin Koleff) about its history, how it’s prepared and served, and why people love it.

“There are mushrooms that only grow in certain seasons, and fish that are caught in certain months,” says Koleff. “[For example], salmon and salmon rolls will be in season all winter. Every week new food comes in. The more time that [Azeuchi] has, he can prepare a better course. He needs at least three days so he can figure out what he can make.”

That three-day window is why it takes so long to get a reservation at Kaiseki Yuzu. The word it out, and people are demanding to experience it. You can read the full story online or on newsstands.Kaiseki Yuzu in Vegas Magazine by Jason R. Latham


Stay up for NGHTMRE

Hakkasan Group resident headliner NGHTMRE returns to Las Vegas this month, and I had the opportunity to speak with him for a few minutes about his to-do-list for 2018. In the interview — up now at Vegas Seven, we talk about NGHTMRE’s collaborations with A$ap Ferg and Dillon Francis, who he wants to work with, and what he’s going to do about the unfinished tracks piling up in his studio. You can also check out NGHTMRE’s schedule of upcoming Vegas gigs at the Hakkasan Group website.

Hakkasan Group resident headliner NGHTMRE talks with Jason Latham for Vegas Seven

An Oral History of Fergusons Motel

There was a time when Las Vegas was quick to demolish pieces of its history in favor of something shiny and new. I don’t think the city is completely past that, but it’s slowed considerably, especially in the downtown area.

In recent years, we’ve become more attached to older buildings and signage, preserving, enhancing, and in many cases, reimagining them for new businesses. One of today’s best examples is the Fergusons Motel on Fremont Street. Originally built for post-WWII families who were taking to the road, the property – known at the time as the Franklin Motel – eventually fell victim to the same economic misfortune and rising crime that plagued downtown from the 1970s to the early 2000s.

Now the motel has been given a new life by the Downtown Project. On Vegas Seven sister site,, I explored the history of the Fergusons and spoke with, among others, the surviving family of its original owners. Through these interviews, we explored Las Vegas’ days as a boomtown, what led to the downtown bust, and how committed people are to preserving the motel’s legacy.

An Oral History of Fergusons Motel on
An Oral History of Fergusons Motel

John Carpenter is Coming

John Carpenter is a Rock Star written by Jason R Latham for Vegas Seven
Vegas Seven

October saw the release of filmmaker John Carpenter’s latest studio album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, a collection of memorable scores from his career. To promote the album, Carpenter is going on tour with his band, and the first stop is The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 29.

I previewed Carpenter’s concert for Vegas Seven after sampling the album, using excerpts from an interview provided by his publicist. As a director, Carpenter has been out of sight since 2010’s The Ward (a film few people saw), but he’s gained a new following thanks to two successful electronic albums, Lost Themes and Lost Themes II. In fact, he’s seems to be enjoying this “second career” at an age in which most people have settled into retirement. At 69, not only is Carpenter embarking on a tour, but he’s also lined up to score the

next Halloween movie, due out in 2018, and he recently wrote the foreword for Now Playing Podcast’s Underrated Movies We Recommend.

I’ve been a fan of Carpenter’s films since I was a kid, getting hooked on The Fog, Halloween, and They Live. In the 90s I discovered The Thing and Christine, and I remember seeing Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A.,Vampires, and Ghosts of Mars in the theater. Shockingly, I didn’t see Escape from New YorkBig Trouble in Little China, or Prince of Darkness until I was an adult — for some reason, I just never stumbled upon the films when they were on cable, and I passed them over without much thought at the video store.

But now I’ve seen them all, and while I can’t say they’re all great, they’re all patently Carpenter, right down to his synth scores. In some cases, the scores are better than the movies themselves, and that’s what gets me so excited to see him live.


Reality of Mass Shooting Threatens Fantasy of Las Vegas

Las Vegas faces a dilemma moving forward in the wake of a mass shooting, writes Jason R. Latham for The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

How does Las Vegas put on a happy face in the wake of this week’s tragedy? It’s a dilemma I examine in my latest piece for The Hollywood Reporter.

As the Strip struggles to find normalcy — with an active crime scene at the Route 91 Harvest festival site and multiple memorials springing up along Las Vegas Boulevard – I went down to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, where Elvis is still putting on a show despite all that’s happened.

“We have to become normal again and start to do the things we normally do to make Vegas happen,” explains Elvis impersonator Mark Rumpler, who has been down at the sign all week in his white jumpsuit and sunglasses.

The city’s chief concern, in the meantime, is assuring the public that its casinos, hotels, and concerts are safe. But Steve Adelman of the Event Safety Alliance says there’s a risk of overreaction to a tragic scenario that no one could have predicted.

“We’re talking about Las Vegas, which already does more than just about every other American city to keep its guests safe and secure,” he says.

You can read the article now on The Hollywood Reporter website.