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.
Live music, especially outdoor concert festivals, mean so much to the Las Vegas economy. In the wake of the Oct. 1 shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a city that exists purely as an entertainment destination is faced with the dual tasks of healing its wounds while reassuring the visiting public that they are safe in its casinos, arenas, and outdoor venues.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, a number of Las Vegas shows canceled their Oct. 2 performances, and the band Cake, which had been scheduled to perform Oct. 5 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, postponed their show to February in response to the tragedy. The Strip is attempting a return to normalcy, although nothing will feel normal here for a long time.
Fortunately, Las Vegas blood banks continue to see unprecedented turnout, and a GoFundMe account titled the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund had raised more than $9 million as of Wednesday night.
On a personal note, I wish my first article for The Hollywood Reporter had been published under better circumstances, but I’m proud to have gotten the opportunity to write for a publication that I respect more than any other in the industry.
I attended Angel’s show in July, we spoke backstage, and later in length over the phone, discussing everything from acting advice to his magic merchandise, and side projects. But much of our conversation was spent discussing how Angel took creative control of his show (formerly titled Believe and now Mindfreak Live!) and what he plans to do after his deal is up in 2018.
“All my options are open. If my show wasn’t so successful, then I probably would be in a different situation, but because it has really been incredible and I’ve been very blessed to have the type of success that I’ve been bestowed, I’m in a good position to be a free agent.” — Criss Angel
Unlike some who have come before him, Angel isn’t entirely dependent on Las Vegas. Here’s a guy who has a magic empire of television specials, touring shows, and the aforementioned merchandise – maybe we need him more than he needs us?
I’m not going to wager on a scenario, but after seeing his show I hope he decides to stick around. I was in the audience on a Thursday night and the theater was packed, and, as I describe in the article, there are some really die hard fans out there. Additionally, Angel enjoys a lot of local support for his chartable efforts, HELP (Heal Every Life Possible), and the Johnny Chrisstopher Children’s Charitable Foundation, an organization named after his son and dedicated to research and treatment for pediatric cancer.
Our conversation lasted much longer than was necessary for the article, so I have a lot of excerpts leftover, and I wanted to share one in this post. At one point I asked Angel when Las Vegas started to feel like home, and this was his response:
“When I moved out of a hotel, because I lived in Planet Hollywood for a couple of years, and I lived at the Luxor for a few years. It was very difficult, because you couldn’t just go downstairs. It was very challenging. But at that point, I was a completely different person than I am today. I was a very, very different person. And with age comes wisdom and change, and I’m just a different human being, and I prefer a much more quiet life. So for me, when I moved away from that I kind of felt a creative sense of balance, because where I live you don’t hear Vegas. You see it, but you don’t hear it. It’s very tranquil, it’s much more soothing, and it’s just a different life.” — Criss Angel
“The Transitional Shelter program allows single women and families additional time (up to 1 year) to access programs and to achieve goals. Each resident is assigned a case manager who assists her in establishing a case plan that will help her move toward self-sufficiency. Program goals are designed to aide residents in finding employment that pays a living wage, securing stable housing, saving money and accessing needed services. Each working resident in the Transitional Housing Program is required to save at least 30% of her income each month. 164 beds are also available in this program consisting of 84 beds for families and 80 beds for single women.”
“Feast of Friends 2” will bring together chefs and mixologists from trendy spots such as Sparrow + Wolf, The Venetian’s Yardbird, Delmonico Steakhouse, and Herbs & Rye, among others. Tickets to the September 19 dinner go on sale August 31.
“When the Pros Hit the Residential Scene” is a look at southern Nevada’s housing market, why it’s healthier than in years past, and what that means for the professional athletes looking for the right neighborhood to settle down. In conversations with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices president and COO Gordon Miles, and Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors President Dave Tina, I learned which parts of town – and more specifically, which master-planned neighborhoods – would appeal to athletes earning the NHL minimum wage ($650,000 for the 2017-2018 season), as well as those pulling in multi-million dollars salaries. In both interviews, we also talked about the incoming Raiders players, when that team relocates from Oakland to Las Vegas.
“Vegas Golden Knights Finds Its Home Team Spots” is a quick roundup of seven places where fans can watch the new hockey team outside of T-Mobile Arena. I didn’t say “outside of their homes” because southern Nevada’s only cable provider doesn’t currently carry the network on which the Golden Knights games will air. That’s a contentious issue right now for fans, and discussions are ongoing. With the puck dropping October 10 at T-Mobile Arena, people are starting to get anxious, but if you feel like watching the team in a fan-friendly atmosphere, this story will give you some options.
The August 24 issue of Vegas Seven is online and on newsstands now.
While so many are enthralled with tonight’s Powerball jackpot and dreaming about what they’d do with their riches, I wrote an article for Vegas Seven magazine about a man who’s already living out others’ fantasies.
If you aren’t yet familiar Gianluca Vacchi’s name or reputation, you’ll likely hear of both following his DJ set at Wynn Las Vegas’ Intrigue Nightclub on Saturday, September 26. Yes, the same night as the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Vacchi, the eccentric multimillionaire known for showcasing his excessive lifestyle – yachts, dancing, fashion, and even stunts – to his massive social media following (11.2 million on Instagram), scored a coveted post-fight slot in one of the city’s most popular nightclubs. At first glance this might appear to be a case of a rich guy getting what he wants: the chance to “play” DJ in Las Vegas. But Vacchi’s DJ skills and just released single, “Viento,” are pretty impressive, as I wrote in the article.
In “The View from Here” you’ll see the latest renovations to luxury suites and penthouses at Caesars Palace and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and the ridiculous perks that you’ll get during your stay. Perks such as your own master sushi chef, in-suite sauna, and a private gaming salon with a Strip-wide view. The article points to the games of one-upmanship that are necessary in order to attract high rollers to luxury hotels.
“Botler Service” is a quick read about the newest technology that could take the place of human workers on the Strip. The Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino turned heads this summer with the opening of Tipsy Robot bar inside its Miracle Mile Shops. The bar doesn’t rely on humans to take orders, instead you give your order to a machine and watch as a robot mixes your drink.
And my final contribution is just a quick comment on fall fashion, and the trend I’m looking forward to when the weather finally cools in southern Nevada. You can read the latest issue of Vegas Magazine by clicking on the cover below.