Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Brew Dog


To summarise, although there were multiple service issues, it didn’t spoil our enjoyment. This place should do very well, having good beers, burgers and pizza right off the bat. The draw is going to be that roof terrace, the drawback is going to be the location. Price wise it’s in line with the rest of the strip with $11 beers and food at resort level pricing. Overall in our opinion, it’s worth a visit. It will be interesting to hear what other people think.

Saturday, April 29, 2023

SIX: The Musical

One of the great things about a Vegas trip is all the opportunity for surprises. Not bad surprises, like the bell desk lost your luggage or you just checked in and there’s a used prophylactic in your sheets.Good surprises, like a jackpot, or a delicious new drink, or finding out that random restaurant you decided to try has the best food ever.

On my most recent trip to Vegas, I got to experience one of those good surprises when we decided to check out SIX: The Musical during its limited residency at the Venetian. (An aside: I think that I’m a little more tapped into the theater scene than the average straight American male. This is due to a rather diverse resume that includes a non-zero amount of time working backstage in professional theater.  So I still hear stuff from friends in the entertainment industry.  But this show was not on my radar at all.)


Part of the reason for this is that SIX: The Musical is a relatively new show.  Conceived in 2017 for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, SIX quickly made its way stateside, where it had an unfortunately-timed Broadway debut in March of 2020.  Once it was able to actually open, it was a smash hit. In the 21/22 Broadway season, it received multiple awards, including the Tony Award for Best Original Score.The “SIX: Live on Opening Night” album also debuted at #1 on the Billboard cast album charts.  While the show plays on Broadway, there are also two touring productions traveling the US right now.

But didn’t know any of this when we sat down to see the show.

The premise is a sort of time-bending pop concert, where the six wives of Henry VIII are having a competition to see who was the most wronged by him, and who, therefore, should lead the “band.” The band is an all-woman four-piece rock/pop band who back up the six all-female cast members. Each queen gets a chance to say and sing her piece, arguing why each “she” was hurt the most by her marriage to Henry VIII.

To keep things interesting, the show creators gave each queen a “Queenspiration,” or a real pop star or two that their historical character and song style is modeled after.  For instance, Catherine of Aragon is styled after Beyonce and Shakira, while Jane Seymour is styled after Adele and Sia.  All of the music is modern styled, like Hamilton. You won’t find any lyres or harpsichords here. Unlike Hamilton, the costumes are also modern, but still manage to evoke Renaissance era England.

Damn, Jane! I want to see more!

The result is a unique and entertaining show that moves along on at a decent clip. The Broadway production is only 80 minutes long, so the Venetian production didn’t have to remove anything to accommodate Vegas audiences (or more accurately, casino bosses who would prefer show patrons be out of the theater and gambling.)

I found SIX: The Musical to be immensely entertaining. The performers are all extremely talented, and have gorgeous voices that compliment their “Queenspirations” and ensure that each of the songs have their own distinct sound. There were enough great tunes that we found ourselves streaming the soundtrack in the car next day. It’s also a funny show; especially Anne Boleyn repeatedly asking all the other wives how they could have possibly had it as bad as her when they have their necks intact.

During the remainder of its Vegas run, SIX: The Musical will be at the Palazzo Theater.  It’s a large, well kept theater. There is no drink service during the show, but there is a bar in the theater lobby.  Note that the exit for most patrons forces you through a single staircase, so it’s a little slow getting back out.

Things might get a little funky...

The Audience Fuckery Factor for SIX: The Musical is virtually zero. There’s some calls out to the audience for cheers or to get on your feet like you’re at an actual concert. No one in the audience is getting picked on or called onstage.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday, up until May 7, 2023.  Tickets start at $78.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


My heart just got all achey-breaky.

This next review is one that I’ve been hanging on to for some time.  Listeners with excellent memories might recall that back in spring of 2022, when I submitted my first review to be read on the show, we figured out that my wife and I were at a show the previous week that Mark was also at. I’m kind of in awe at how much has changed since then. I started as a regular contributor, then I attended my first Vegas Vacation, then we all started hanging out together on the many trips I’ve taken to Vegas since, and then Keren got tired of reading my reviews on the show, and so now here we are recording together. So today, let’s talk about the first time Mark and I hung out in the same room, even though we didn’t know it at the time. Let’s talk about X-Country.

Okay, so let’s get this out of the way. I like women. If women choose to be naked in front of me, I like that, too. As I type these words out onto the screen, it occurs to me that I probably cannot review this show without coming across like a dirty old man. But in the words of Popeye the Sailor, “I yam what I yam.”  So if you share or even merely tolerate my indulgences, then keep listening.

I'm rooting for your team, miss.

I’ve said before that for me, going to see shows in Vegas is more for my wife than me. However, since I’m the one who plans the trips, I’m often the one who chooses the shows. As a result we occasionally see a topless revue because I want to, damn it. My wife does not object to this.  There’s some tradition here. Vegas is where we let our freak flags fly.  Going back a few years to our first trip to Vegas as a couple, the first show we saw was “Fantasy” at the Luxor. (Note: It technically was “Brilliant!” at the Neon Museum earlier the same evening, but that kind of depends on how you define “show.”) So yeah, as a red-blooded straight male who loves Las Vegas, I’m kind of a connoisseur of these shows, or at least I’d love to be.  Since then, we’ve seen Fantasy three times, X Burlesque, BurlesQ (you have to pronounce the letter “Q” in their name because who the fuck knows?), Rouge, and now X Country.

Some words here about the change, the nature of Vegas, and regret: Like Mark, I consider myself a Vegas history buff. I never got to see any of the classic “showgirl” type shows; Mrs. Jaydubs and I kind of discovered Vegas as a couple just a little too late and Jubilee, the last true showgirl style show, had already closed.  Now Crazy Girls is gone (they say it will return with a new home, but that’s a song we’ve all heard before) along with X Rocks and Sexxy at Westgate. This has created a sense of urgency in me that has me treating topless shows like Pokemon: “Gotta See Em All!”

So if you’re still listening, and have never seen a topless show in Vegas and would like to, let me share more about the overall experience. First, just do it. I think most are reluctant to see a topless show because they’re worried about how they will be perceived. The audience is full of all kinds of people. Men, women, couples. Young people. Older people.  There’s more women and more couples in the audience than one might think at first, and the women cheer louder. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. Fantasy at the Luxor is probably my favorite. It has the nicest venue, the largest number of performers, and the most advanced choreography (which isn’t really that advanced, but hey, boobs!) I think it’s the longest running topless revue currently playing. We’ve seen it three times, and you can expect a review for Fantasy soon.

If it seems like I’m providing a lot of context and haven’t yet really reviewed X Country, you’re absolutely right. Because how much can you say about a show whose entire premise is young women dancing in nothing but boots and g-strings? And that is basically what you get with X-Country. It’s a fun, sexy show that got the Mrs and I warmed up for the evening. It served its purpose. We laughed, we cried, we got turned on, and we all learned a little something about ourselves along the way.

Just in case you’re starting to think I’m incapable of actually providing a critical review of this show:  There was a time that I thought there could be no such thing as a bad topless show, because hey boobs!  Check out episode 409, “Jennifer Grey Nose Job” formy review of BurlesQ (Why the FUCK do you pronounce the “Q” in their stupid ass name?!) to find out why that’s not necessarily true.

The good: I have to admit, I’m not a fan of country music. I know the lyrics to “Friends in Low Places” and I know that the Chattahoochie is a river in the south and not a nickname for my ex, but that’s about as far as my interest and knowledge of the country music scene goes. So I was a little worried that this show would be country-trashy, in a straw-chewing, cousin-fucking kind of way, rather than just Vegas-trashy in a paying-to-see-tits kind of way.  There are A LOT of different numbers in this show, and they quickly switch between the sub-genres of country songs to keep the energy going.  (What’s that line from The Blues Brothers? “We got both kinds, we got country and western.”)  I thought I might get bored after 80 minutes of country music, but the show managed to keep it fresh, and the boobs probably didn’t hurt either.  Still not a country music fan, though. The good news is that you don’t have to be one to enjoy the show.

Something for everyone: tits and ass!

There are five different performers, with a good mix between solo numbers, duos, and ensemble bits.  There was a variety of body-types between the performers, but zero variety in skin color, which I guess is consistent with the theme.  My wife is a dancer, (no, not that kind of dancer) and she informed me that at least three of the girls demonstrated that they have had some formal dance training. There’s an aerialist number that uses a silk web; it was pretty impressive how much she could do in such a small venue.

Comedian John Bizarre provides some laughs between numbers. We were seated right by the stage on stage right, and there was an occasional moment of terror when he looked our way as he was scanning for audience members to interact with.  Fortunately, he ended up picking on the four young guys opposite us who were legit farmers from Iowa. By the way, while our seats were close, I don’t recommend sitting to the side of the stage. There was a number in which I had a better view of the crew member holding up a set piece rather than the two girls writhing on the set piece.  Seats were decently comfortable, and ours had a small table between them for drinks.

X-Country performs nightly at Harrah’s at 10:00, and is dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Tickets start at $60, and you should click through the link on the website or the show notes to get your tickets.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

A Musical About Star Wars

Long, long ago, in the Miracle Mile Shops far, far, away…

All right, so if you and the listeners haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a big dork. In my youth, I enjoyed video games, Star Wars, and installing A/V equipment so much that it’s a wonder I ever got laid. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve shifted my dorky obsessions to things like bourbon and Vegas, but I’m still a dork. So when it was announced that the show “A Musical About Star Wars” was coming to the Miracle Mile Shops, I had to check it out.  Over the holidays I grabbed a pair of tickets and we went to see it.

Some background on the show: While I had never heard of the show before it was announced that it was coming to Vegas, it has been around for a few years. It premiered off-Broadway in New York back in 2019, and one of the stars of the Vegas version is a co-writer, and he was also part of the original cast.  

Let’s just get this out of the way: the comparisons to Potted Potter playing at the Horseshoe are inevitable.  Both shows are in relatively small venues, with small casts, and cover similarly expansive series with obsessed fan cultures. In A Musical About Star Wars, the cast is small, with only three performers; Potted Potter has two. Unfortunately, one of these shows works better than the other.

I think the biggest issue I had with A Musical About Star Wars is how accessible the humor is.  In Potted Potter, you didn’t have to be a big fan of the material to get most of the jokes.  Most of the humor in Potted Potter is in the execution, in the journey to try to tell all these stories in 80 minutes.  In A Musical About Star Wars, the humor is in the source material.  Most of the jokes are about the content of the films, and the result is that only big fans will find a lot of the jokes funny.

For example, there’s this recurring bit where the two guys in the show speak to each other mimicking some of the alien languages spoken in the movies. They’re repeating actual dialogue from the movies, and it’s supposed to be funny, but comes across as so cringy. Watching it, I just end up feeling embarrassed for my fellow Star Wars nerds.  Even the subtitle of the show is cringey. The full title of the show is “A Musical About Star Wars, or Why Star Wars Is The Greatest Thing To Ever Happen In The History Of The Galaxy And Is Much, Much, Better Than Star Trek.”  If you’re going to make a show that you need to be a huge fan to enjoy, why would you make the characters who are fans in your show so stunningly awkward?  They even get nervous about talking to the female character. It’s just riddled with simple, unfunny nerd cliches.

The other issue I had with the show might have more to do with me than the show.  So I am somewhat hard of hearing.  I watch TV with the subtitles on.  It’s not severe; I spend about half of my work day talking on the phone, and my hearing loss doesn’t really affect my ability to do my job.  You’ve heard enough of my reviews to know I don’t really have any issues with this when it comes to Vegas entertainment.  But I could not for the life of me hear about three quarters of the dialogue and singing in this show. I think this is probably due to a variety of factors, including my hearing trouble.  I think their sound system sucked.  You probably don’t get the best audio quality in the theater at the mall. Wait, actually, it’s the backup theater at the mall.  Through most of the show, you got 2-3 people singing at the same time.  They’re singing the same things, but they are going kind of fast and they aren’t perfectly in sync. Couple this with the bad sound system and my bad hearing, and I couldn’t really hear what they were saying.  I don’t think this was just me; I didn’t hear a lot of people laughing at lines that I was missing.

The premise of the show is also similar to Potted Potter.  There’s kind of a show within a show, with the two male cast members trying to get their Star Wars play shown at Comic-con Las Vegas. They need a real, actual, girl for the female roles, and that's where the other cast member comes in.  Except she doesn’t really want to be there, and thinks Star Wars is stupid and sexist.

It’s not all terrible, there’s a few parts that work really well.  When they cover the Star Wars prequels, they decide to tell the stories of episodes 1-3 “Hamilton style.”  They parody the rap style from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, which in itself is funny, but the spoken method also means more of the jokes can be heard.

The show is in the V Theater, at the back of the Miracle Mile Shops, next to Flights.  I haven’t seen any other shows here but I think this isn’t even the main “V” Theater, I think it’s their secondary theater. We had to wait in line on a flight of stairs to enter, while they tried to do that thing where every party has stop in front of a green screen to get their pictures taken. Super annoying. Oh, and when we exited and they were trying to sell everyone their finished pictures, they weren’t even related to the show. The green-screened background was the Vegas skyline.

If you do decide to see the show, I recommend center seats.  The venue is very wide, but only goes a few rows back. The stage is raised, so it’s better to be in the center back than on the front row but the far edge.

The Audience Fuckery Factor for this show is minimal. They can’t even talk to girls. They aren’t going to venture out into the audience and talk to you.

If you and everyone else in your party have excellent hearing and are Star Wars fans, maybe give it a shot.  The show plays daily at 4:30 at the “V” theater at the Miracle Mile Shops. Tickets start at $29.  We always appreciate it when you purchase your tickets from via the link on the blog or here in the show notes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Mad Apple

So this is actually the first Cirque show I’ve reviewed for the podcast. I’ve seen several Cirque shows; the wife is a big fan. Our first trip to Vegas together included The Beatles - Love, which I really need to revisit. Maybe Tony will go with me, since he really should see it. Since that first trip we took together, my wife and I have seen “O”, Mystere, as well as Zumanity. Confession time: I liked Zumanity. I think we saw it twice. I was definitely disappointed when I heard it was going away. But we really like Cirque, and we like New York- New York. We’ve never stayed there, but we always end up hanging out there. So I was very interested in what we were going to get when Mad Apple was announced. I heard a lot of buzz that it was “not your typical Cirque show,” which actually made me really nervous because that’s also what they were saying about “R.U.N.” and that show was apparently a giant belly flop… 

Not the best photo, but she was hanging by her hair. By her hair!
To me, it’s kind of funny that since I started doing these reviews, it’s pushed me to sort of have a greater sense of urgency to see new shows so I can review them for the podcast. We made an effort to see Rouge at the Strat, Miss Behave’s Mavericks, and Mad Apple all within a few months of their opening so that I could get the review content for the show. Anyway, I snagged tickets for a trip in July, and we really enjoyed the show. One of the things I like about Cirque shows is that since I’m a cheap bastard, it’s actually often better to sit back a ways so that you can take it all in. In fact, out of all the Cirque shows I’ve seen, none of them really benefit from front row seats. So there’s a frugal Vegas tip for you. 

If you ever saw Zumanity, Mad Apple is in the same theater. From the audience perspective, the theater doesn’t really look that different from the time that Zumanity was there. One cool thing is the bar at the end of the stage. So the stage looks like a regular stage, but it has this part that sticks out into the audience, which is actually called a “thrust stage.” Insert joke here about parts that stick out and thrusting. So at the end of the stage, there’s now this half circle bar, and you can go up to the bar and order drinks for yourself before the show starts. When the show begins, there’s a cover for the bar that’s lowered down so it just becomes part of the stage. 

I don't remember. I just remember laughing my ass off.
The show itself isn’t your typical Cirque show. I would describe it as “intro to Cirque.” It has the acrobatics, but it’s not all acrobatics, and it doesn't have the weird French-Canadian stuff that’s all over “O” and Mystere. What it does have is live singers and a live band. A few years back, word was that Cirque du Soleil was moving away from live musicians, so that was a pleasant surprise. It also features 3 different comedians throughout the show, which gives the show a chance to breathe. 

I think Mad Apple - while not a show for kids due to the humor - is a show for younger adults, or those who might be bored by the more traditional Cirque material. (Seriously, I think it was purely my confusion keeping me awake during “O”.) I try really hard to keep politics away from my Vegas discussions, because Vegas is my escape. However, it should be noted that this is a show that celebrates the bluest city in the bluest state. It’s not too in your face, but I’ve seen complaints online about some of the content. New York City’s population leans left on average, so the show, in that spirit, is going to lean left a little. This shouldn’t be shocking, but apparently some people were nonetheless clutching their pearls. Consider yourselves warned.

Feel the thrust of the stage.
The format of Mad Apple is more like a variety show than anything else. Between the aerialists, the
singers, and the comedians, it feels almost like Ka and Absinthe had a baby, but it’s a beautiful baby. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a short attention span; even more so when I’m in Vegas, and the way Mad Apple frequently switches up the content works for me, and is a great blend of funny, amazing, and musical talent.

I enjoyed all three of the comedians. There’s a Little Person comedian, an absolutely hilarious Jewish guy, and someone who is a virtuoso with shadow puppets. From what I’ve been reading, most of the people who are complaining about the show are complaining about being offended by the comedians, which to me is a pretty good indicator that they’re funny as shit. I’ve been told that the writers and producer of Mad Apple gave the comedians free reign, so their routines aren’t run through the corporate filter. If you’re easily offended by naughty words, you should find a different Cirque show (and maybe a different podcast). 

One of the things I liked about the variety show format is that the traditional Cirque acts seemed to stand out more. An aerialist couple who hang from straps were previously part of Absinthe, and their number flourishes in the bigger space. There is another aerialist who swings around the stage while hanging from her hair, which probably accelerated my male pattern baldness just by witnessing it. There’s a huge, impressive set piece called the “Wheel of Death” which is best seen live, rather than me attempting to describe it. 

Let’s discuss the A.F.F. or Audience Fuckery Factor for Mad Apple. Cirque shows are reasonably easy on the audience, and Mad Apple is similar. However, having the comedians involved means that if you’re sitting in the first few rows, you run the risk of being singled out, exactly like being at a comedy club. Of course, you're going to take my advice and save some money and get a better view of the whole production by sitting further back, so this won’t be an issue for you. 

If you are taking someone to their first Cirque show - especially someone who might roll their eyes at the idea of a Cirque show - Mad Apple is a great middle ground show, the mixes up the content but doesn’t compromise on the quality. Thinking about it later, I found a certain irony in a show about the city that is home to Broadway (New York) is in actuality structurally perfect for the city it calls home: Las Vegas. Mad Apple is performed twice nightly at New York New York at 7:00 and 9:30, but is dark Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets start at $69 (which is probably more appropriate for its predecessor, Zumanity) and can be purchased via the link to in the website or here in the show notes.

      You can find Josh on twitter @vegasjaydubs

Wednesday, January 11, 2023


Let’s talk about Rouge at the Strat. (And it’s Rouge as in “blush,” not Rogue as in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”)

So when Rouge was announced earlier this year, I was definitely interested. It’s probably no secret at this point that I’m a horn dog, and like my Vegas shows to be titillating. I also believe that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and out of a sense of fairness I once took my wife to a male review; something I probably won’t ever do again. It’s not so much watching the men dance that I have a problem with, it was all the screaming. Why do women feel the need to shriek like banshees during these shows? He’s not going to fuck the loudest one in the room! So for the sake of preserving what’s left of my already terrible hearing, I’m opting out of male reviews for the future.  That being said, I’m willing to bet that a decent looking dude could park himself at the bar outside the Thunder From Down Under Theater around 11:30 at night, and it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. This is just a theory, but if it happens to work out for a listener, you’re welcome. Just don’t be creepy.

Anyway, I digress. Rouge bills itself as a male and female topless show, and ‘The Sexiest Show in Vegas.’ We recently decided to check it out and see for ourselves. First, Rouge is at the Strat. This is not a place we’ve ever spent much time, because it’s the Strat. You kind of need a specific reason to go there.  Now that we had a reason, we ventured over to see it.

The Mad Max reboot is really weird.
Some words about the showroom.  It’s on the 2nd level, almost directly above where you line up to take the elevator up to the skypod. When we entered, an usher did the typical “let’s see your tickets so we can walk you to your seats” thing, but it was kind of weird because they had performers spread all through the audience; including right next to these ushers. The performers were dressed in these really extravagant costumes - probably the best costumes of the whole show - and they were kind of leering at us in a way that was probably meant to be sexy?  Honestly it kind of threw me off, because I’m trying to show the usher my ticketing information on my phone, but I’m also looking at this person in a leather corset who’s next to me licking their lips. I mean, normally that’s not a bad thing, but I felt like my attention was kind of pulled two different ways.

We found their showroom to be a decent space, with a big variety in seating, including the booth tables that seem to be a disappearing part of Vegas entertainment. I had a “preferred seating” table, which consisted of four chairs around a small half circle table. I was hoping that we would have the table to ourselves, because “Stranger Danger” but a couple that I’m pretty sure were a hooker and her John were seated next to us shortly after. She got paid for her time and treated to a show. Lucky gal…  (Side note: they did end up leaving before the show was over.  When that meter’s running, I guess you can’t waste too much time on passive entertainment when more active forms await.)

This fuckin' guy...
Let’s talk about the show itself.  There’s an emcee, who struck me as kind of a poor-man’s Gazillionaire (from Absinthe).  He seemed like he was trying to come across as this vaudeville showman but his jokes, phony French accent, and porn-stache made a lot of the humor land in more of a sleazy way rather than a naughty way. It’s a fine line, I know.

The show has several vignettes or sections. There’s a running bit they go back to a few times throughout the show with this married couple who are unsatisfied because they’re bored with their bedroom life and apparently aren’t communicating about it. So I guess the show can be viewed as a journey through their exploration of kinks, because by the end, everyone’s fucking and happy and fucking happy.

My biggest issue with the show is that for me, some of these vignettes work, and some of them don’t.  There’s a whole French Aristocracy section, where the women wear these big Marie Antionette style dresses with corset tops, and it’s funny because they turn around and the backs are open so you can see their asses. The men are wearing pantaloons from the same time period, and there’s cut-outs in the back so that each ass-cheek sticks out of its own cheek hole. I get that it’s trying to be balanced (Here’s woman-ass. Now here’s man-ass) but it ends up looking ridiculous. Maybe that’s my straight male privilege talking, but my wife thinks it looked pretty dumb too.

You've been on my mind for a while now
The other wierd-as-fuck bit was a whole horse vignette, where performers had on bridles and shoes that looked like hooves. I am not making this up. I was too busy WTF-ing through this whole portion to be the slightest bit aroused.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad.  There’s some sections that work really well, like a bondage section and a striptease portion in which performers in business suits watch while another performer pole dances.

Perhaps there’s some realism here, if we want to get serious for a minute. A couple exploring their sexuality together is probably going to find some things along the way that don’t work for either or both of them. Maybe the show’s recurring married couple tried French aristocracy horse porn, and it didn’t work for them, but found something else that did? I think that Rouge - by featuring a cast of both men and women, and by having all these different types of content - is trying to say, “hey, there’s something for everyone. Find your something.” And while that’s certainly true, and I’m never going to judge what consenting adults choose to enjoy together, I don’t necessarily want to be presented with every other kink as part of my entertainment. No offense, horse-people. You do you.
I am both frightened and aroused.

No discussion of an adult review show in Vegas is complete without talking about the eye-candy. I know
 there’s more discussion these days about what is and what isn’t acceptable in these types of discussions, but I think that when you’re paying to see a show in which you know people will be removing their clothes with intent to arouse, then objectification is an inescapable part of that transaction. (How’s that for a sentence!?)  So I’m going to objectify. I found all of the women pleasant to look at. There’s a variety of race and body types. Remember that all of these people are young professional dancers, so if you like them super-thicc, you won’t be finding any of that here.  Which brings me to another issue.  I asked the wife if she enjoyed the male eye-candy, and she was fairly indifferent. In fact, she says she found the women more attractive, and she doesn’t swing that way. Rouge also has professional dancer-types for the male roles who tend to be shorter and leaner. These men are not the same types that you would see in Thunder From Down Under or Magic Mike Live. Those tend to be bigger dudes.  Now again, not everyone likes the same thing, but in my opinion, Rouge might appeal to more women if the men were less dancer-type and more bodybuilder-type. Hell, even consider staying with the theme of the show and mix it up a little with some of both. I also recognize that I’m completely out of my element here and this is pure speculation.

Okay, on to the Audience Fuckery Factor, or A.F.F.  As a member of the audience how much do you have to worry about being fucked with by the performers?  Some people don’t mind a little audience participation, some people are mortified if a microphone is pointed in their general direction. Here's the Audience Fuckery Factor for Rouge in a nutshell: if you sit in the front half of the theater, there is a good chance you may be singled out. At one point, Emcee Sleazeball walked through the audience and asked audience members what their favorite position was. There was a guy in a cowboy hat in the front row who was repeatedly picked on throughout the show. Also, if you wear a cowboy hat and sit in the front row, you're kind of asking for it. He seemed like a good sport.

I was trying to best summarize how I felt about Rouge.  I think they’ve set an audacious goal by attempting an adult review show for just about everyone, even if they don’t quite succeed.  What it ultimately came down to for me was, would I see it again? I’d see Fantasy, X-Burlesque, and X-Country again. I don’t think I’d see Rouge again.  This isn’t because it had dudes in it, it’s because so much of it didn’t really land with me or my wife at all. There’s a lot of great entertainment in Las Vegas, so why waste time with entertainment that doesn’t do it for you?  Which I guess, in a way, is what Rouge is about.

If you decide to check it out, Rouge is dark on Mondays. Showtimes vary and some nights have 2 shows. Tickets start at $4 and we always appreciate it when you click the referral link here or on the website. 

      You can find Josh on twitter @vegasjaydubs

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Wayne Newton: Up Close & Personal

So before I get into this review, a few disclaimers: 

  1. If you told me a few years ago that I would actually make an effort and spend my own money to see Wayne Newton perform, I would have laughed at you. A lot.
  2. If you told me even a few months ago that I would not only see Wayne Newton perform, but also (spoiler alert!) enjoy it enough that I would recommend that others go see it, I would wonder what you were on. 

     Now, to be fair, I like crooners. But when I say that, I mean that I like the Rat Pack. To me, a pleasant evening is cooking dinner with Sinatra and Martin on the stereo and a glass of bourbon within reach. If I could see any concert ever in history, it would be Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack performing one of the Summit shows in the Copa Room at the Sands while they filmed the original Ocean's 11. But I have never considered myself a Wayne Newton fan.

What brought me to see Wayne Newton recently was what the kids call the FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. Like it or not, Vegas is synonymous with change, and like it or not, the legacy of Wayne Newton is inextricably woven into Vegas forever. So even if I did not consider myself a fan of Wayne Newton, I had to admit that he was a living Las Vegas legend, and someday (maybe sooner than we would like) the chance to see that legend perform in the flesh might be gone. As a fan of Vegas and a frequent patron of Vegas entertainment, I almost felt what can best be described as an obligation to see Wayne Newton perform.  

"To my left is where we keep the TV."

      If you’ve been living under a proverbial Las Vegas rock and don’t know who Wayne Newton is, he is also known as Mr. Las Vegas, and has been performing on Las Vegas stages and throughout the rest of the world for more that 60 years, beginning in the late 50s at the Fremont Hotel. He’s the guy that tried to woo Helen Griswold away from Clark in Vegas Vacation. When I first started making regular trips to Vegas, Newton was performing at the Cleopatra’s Barge theater at Caesars Palace. When El Dorado took over Caesars Entertainment, they closed several shows and moved Wayne over to Bugsy’s Cabaret at the Flamingo. As shows began to open up post-pandemic, Wayne Newton’s production was delayed; first due to back surgery last year, and again due to a positive COVID diagnosis later on. Since the man is now 80 years old, I was really beginning to feel like I needed to make an effort to see him as soon as possible. 

      As I mentioned before, Wayne Newton, Up Close and Personal is now performing at Bugsy’s Cabernet, which is a small venue located in the center of the Flamingo gaming floor. The venue is also used for X-Burlesque, but you enter the theater through different doors for the different productions, making it seem like they are different venues and that the tuxedo-wearing, living legend isn’t sharing a performance space with a titty show. The size of the theater was a plus for me, because the small room ensured that we could see him well. It truly was “Up Close and Personal.” 

      As we waited in line to get into the theater, we couldn’t help but wonder what we were getting into. We’re in our mid-forties, but we were by far the youngest people in line. Was everyone here for Wayne Newton, or had we accidentally stumbled across the Matlock Fan Convention? Ha ha! Old people… 

      When most of the audience was seated, a woman stood up in front and introduced herself as the hostess. She essentially instructed us to stand up and applaud when Wayne sang his final song of the evening. I’ve seen a lot of shows, but I’ve never been told that I need to give a standing ovation. This irritated me, but it was quickly forgotten. The curtains opened, the 3-piece band began to play, and the man himself stepped out and began to sing. 

      Okay, so I’m just going to cut to the chase here. His voice is not great right now. Don’t get me wrong; he sings better than I do. It’s not awful to hear, but we’re a long way from the gravel mixed with maple syrup sounds he had in the past (for example, in Vegas Vacation). I was actually fine with this, because he’s still an incredible showman. You can tell when you see him live that he has cultivated the art of interacting with the audience. He was pointing at people in the audience he recognized, smiling and waving hello between lines of his songs. This is what I wanted! This is what I paid to see: that old school, still a small town, anyone-can-show-up feeling of old Vegas lounge and dinner shows. At one point, he stops the show to acknowledge his friend in the audience, impressionist Rich Little, who currently performs at the Tropicana. Newton reminisces about their long friendship, and times performing together decades ago at the Frontier. It reminds me of Dean Martin saying hello to Lucille Ball in the crowd at the Copa Room. It’s not the same level of celebrity, but it's the same kind of warmth and familiarity that’s tough to find in live entertainment.  

      The show itself is structured like VH1 Storytellers. Newton sings a song, then tells a story. He plays a video of himself playing an instrument at age 15, then demonstrates that he can still deftly play the same instrument. Fun fact: Wayne Newton can play 13 different instruments, but cannot read music. He plays by sound.  

Wayne Newton: Original Blue Man Group member

      It’s pretty clear that the “questions from the audience” are pre-arranged, and that’s okay. It keeps the show on rails. Newton’s stories include a confrontation with Elvis when it turned out they were dating the same girl, a last-minute recording session with Glen Campbell of the legendary “Wrecking Crew” when they both happened to be in England, a prank played on Dean Martin, and the warmest memories of his friendship with Frank Sinatra. It seemed like Newton regarded Sinatra as not only a great friend, but also a mentor and father figure. I couldn’t help but think of the “you shook Sinatra’s hand” lines from Ocean’s 13. Here, standing in front of me on the stage, was a man who really had “shook Sinatra’s hand.” I began to see Wayne Newton not only as a living Vegas legend, but also as a link to these other Vegas legends that were so important to me and this town that we love. There is also a really cool semi-live duet with a Rat-Pack member that I won’t spoil here. As I said before, I entered the room under a sense of obligation, but I was now absolutely enthralled. 

      Speaking of enthralled, the number of elderly women collectively but only figuratively losing their shit because they were getting to see Wayne Newton was both hilarious and fascinating. If I should end up at a Justin Timberlake concert in my late 70’s, will there be women of my generation going insane and throwing their Depends at him on the stage? We can only hope… I honestly was not mentally prepared for the women who were going nuts because he sang a certain song. Picture all these geriatric groupies, eyes closed and hands waving slowly in the air like members of a mega-church, and this is all because Wayne Newton is singing “Red Roses for a Blue Lady.” 

      Something else I want to mention is the cool montage at the beginning of the show which showed all the Vegas marquees over the years with Wayne Newton’s name on them. Newton began his Vegas career at the age of 15, performing 5 shows a night at the Fremont. He had to leave the property between sets, because as a minor he wasn’t allowed to hang out there. Since then, he has headlined at the Stardust, the Desert Inn, both MGM Grands, the Frontier, the Sands, Caesars Palace, and was even an owner of the original Aladdin. Over the years, he has performed over 30,000 shows in Vegas and released more than 100 albums. 

      I’ve started including the A.F.F., or Audience Fuckery Factor in these reviews. That is where we discuss how much you need to worry about being accidentally included in the show. I think I can safely say that unless you know Wayne Newton personally, or unless you count being asked to take part in a standing ovation, the A.F.F. for Wayne Newton, Up Close and Personal is minimal. He’s not going to Ellen Griswold you, people. 

      To sum up our experience, I still don’t think of myself as a Wayne Newton fan per se, but I definitely have a much greater appreciation and respect for him. He shook Sinatra’s hand, he’s a Las Vegas treasure, and absolutely deserves a standing ovation; no prompting necessary. 

      At the time of this review, Wayne Newton, Up Close and Personal is live at Bugsy’s Cabaret at the Flamingo at 7:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Tickets start at $86, and we always appreciate it when you click the referral link here or on the website. 

      You can find Josh on twitter @vegasjaydubs