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, DTLV.com, 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.
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
“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.
It’s never too late in the season to put out another dayclub review. In this week’s issue of Vegas Seven magazine, I tour The Venetian’s TAO Beach, one of the original pool parties on the Las Vegas Strip. If you think all pools are the same — a DJ blasting EDM, champagne sprays, assorted beefcakes and bikini models — you’ll see that TAO Beach has found ways to mix it up.
“When you’re together this long, you’ve got to do what you can to keep the relationship fresh. Tao Beach relies on a strategy that’s done well for many couples: role-playing.”
Like other pools I’ve toured this summer (read my stories on Marquee Dayclub, Flamingo’s GO Pool, Daylight Beach Club, and Rehab) I try to highlight the most interesting items on the menu, and the music programming. TAO’s lineup is among the more unique offerings on the Strip, with up-and-comers and local favorites such as Eric D-Lux and CLA on tap alongside vets such as Jermaine Dupri.
Check out the TAO Beach tour in this week’s Vegas Seven online or on newsstands.