Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column



Displaying keen perception and great insight.  
She's a little bit naughty. She’s a little bit nice.  
She calls ‘em like she sees (and hears) ‘em.  
She’s...

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from December 15, 2006
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - December 15, 2006

Cousin Claire got her wires crossed in the December 8th column. We had Roy Horn (of Siegfried and Roy fame) participating in the wrong marathon race last weekend. He was NOT involved in the New Las Vegas Marathon on Sunday, but was, instead, in the Kris Kringle Jingle Run on Saturday. Donned in a Santa suit like the rest of the competitors, Horn succeeded in covering the distance by walking, not running the course. An absolutely amazing accomplishment for a man who, only three years ago, seemed down for the count following a near-fatal tiger attack. Apparently, once a magician, always a magician. Good going, Roy.

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Ventriloquist Ronn Lucas, on too long a break between his closing at the Rio and his anticipated opening at Steve Wyrick's new theater in the Aladdin's Desert Passage (will that place EVER open?), is making some good use of his extended vacation. On December 5, he made a guest appearance on TV's popular nip/tuck. In the episode, Lucas played a ventriloquist whose puppet believes a full facelift for his manipulator is crucial to their success as a performing team. This is not Lucas' first television experience. He recently appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman during Ventriloquists Week, as well as L.A. Law, America's Funniest Home Videos and the Disney Channel's Who's In Charge Here. Ronn Lucas' astonishing vocal gymnastics has earned him the title of World's Best Ventriloquist by The New York Times and London Times. He has also been honored as Entertainer of the Year by Gold Cabaret Awards, and Ventriloquist of the Year by the American Society of Ventriloquists. Watch for him, appearing in the Desert Passage Mall at the Aladdin…one of these days.

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When Howard Jochsberger retired from Boyd Gaming a little more than two years ago, he planned to live a quiet life of leisure and travel. Hard to believe that one could become bored with this kind of schedule after only a couple of years. Although he had been with the corporation for decades, mostly at the Stardust and Fremont properties, the New York-native was only in his mid-50s when he decided to give retirement a shot. He's back at work, this time at the Suncoast as Director of Player Development. It's a sure bet that when word of this reaches the Big Island (his Hawaiian customers from downtown love Howard), the genial gentleman will be getting “lei-d” at the Suncoast. Jochsberger is a "people person," so this pairing should be a win-win situation for all concerned.

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And speaking of impersonator/tribute artists, Liberace look-alike Will Collins is feeling pretty darn good these days. He is now the proud and legal owner of the title, "Mr. Showmanship.” If you know anything about Liberace, you know that Mr. Showmanship was a name used to describe the International entertainer. Now it's Will's turn. He will now be able to use the name for himself and his act or authorize its use for others. By the way, Will Collins was the first (and, we think best) performer to portray Liberace in Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace. He has also been featured as the ghost of the pianist in cable travel specials. Those shows are so popular, they have been airing them for years. Congratulations to the NEW Mr. Showmanship.

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As coincidence would have it, onetime lovers, Tanya Tucker and Glen Campbell, wound up working in Las Vegas at the same time during rodeo week. If these two had run into each other at the mall or in a buffet line, there might have been enough fireworks to rival anything seen around these parts during early July, New Year's Eve, or the opening of a new mega-resort. While Glen and his daughter Debby Campbell were serenading audiences in the showroom at the Suncoast (NOT at The Orleans as reported by that guy with the eye patch in his Las Vegas Review-Journal column on Tuesday), Tanya was performing at the Golden Nugget (the fact that Tucker was working at the Nugget was omitted from that same R-J column). If you are a reader of tabloid news or a viewer of any of the Entertainment Tonight-style TV shows, you will be aware that these two country singers had a tempestuous (i.e., often violent) relationship that lasted (on and off) for about a year. At the time, Tucker was in her early 20s and Campbell in his late 40s (perhaps adoption would have been a better option for these two). As the story goes, substance abuse played a big part in their union and it didn't end peacefully. Fast forward to December 2006 in Las Vegas. There were some concerns that Ms. Tucker was planning a "surprise" trip to the Suncoast with the intent of "apologizing" to the Rhinestone Cowboy for the years of verbal abuse she heaped on him, both in the media and in her book, Nickel Dreams: My Life. It was felt that IF she had made the journey to the Suncoast, it would have been to disrupt the show and cause a scene. Whatever was anticipated, didn't happen. Although Tanya DID show up at the now Boyd owned northwest, all was calm and the twosome did not make contact in any way. Whew!

And speaking of the R-J's so-called journalist, we have to wonder, not only how he GOT his job but, how he KEEPS his job. Not a week goes by where this great pretender doesn't have multiple mistakes in his columns. Whether it's misspelled celebrity names or inaccurate facts (is that an oxymoron?), you can count on plenty of mistakes on page 3A. Most of these gaffes are not acknowledged by either the writer himself or in the Corrections section of the paper. We can almost understand why the columnist doesn't apologize in print (embarrassment, maybe?), but the only reasons we can figure for the R-J not stepping in is (1) the Corrections box would take up too much space, and (2) readers would begin to wonder why they kept an employee that can't get it right. This is not a sour grapes thing on Cousin Claire‘s part. She actually prefers the sweet Red Flames or Thompson Seedless variety.

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Las Vegas has a couple of mighty proud show business parents these days. Singer/ impressionist Bill Acosta, one of the best in his field, and his personal manager wife, Jeanne Bavaro, are beaming. Their beautiful 17-year-old daughter, Angela Acosta, competed in the Holiday Dance Classic held at the Luxor and, in her first time out, came away with seven first place and three second place wins in the bronze category. Angela has been studying with teacher/studio owner Tony Delgado since the studio opened this summer. Delgado stated that Angela has something special and it's something you can't teach. Although this was a new experience for Miss Acosta, we doubt it was beginners luck. Cousin Claire attributes her quick success to hard work and good genes.

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There seemed to be some doubting Thomas's (and Thomasina's) when it came to The Producers anticipated opening at Paris Las Vegas. For those who felt it may never happen (maybe because of the relatively short run of the Broadway musicals Avenue Q and Hairspray), in addition to the announcement of David Hasselhoff in the role of the flamboyant Roger DeBris, the hotel has mailed its Total Rewards members information about preview performances for early February. Those lucky members (of which Cousin Claire is one) will be able to purchase tickets for $50, as opposed to the regular price of $140, for shows scheduled February 1 and 2, and 5 and 7. Things look much better for The Producers opening than they do for the Steve Wyrick theater at the Aladdin's Desert Passage. Despite many extended start dates, from as early as September, three months later, the big event still has not occurred.

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And speaking of the Aladdin, soon to become Planet Hollywood, Shag With a Twist has abandoned the Krave Nightclub, or Harmon Theater as they are confusingly calling it these days, to set up shop at the downtown Plaza Hotel.

Funny Business, the comedy club headed up by the Queen of Tease, Pudgy! (don't forget that exclamation mark!), is also gone from Krave after headquartering there for a number of months. Exactly how many months, Cousin Claire isn't sure of, and since no one at the club seems to know and Pudgy! must be off Christmas shopping or something, we're just going with "a number of months."

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Sonny Turner, onetime member of the internationally famous Platters, has a new Christmas CD out. An Inspirational Christmas is the first holiday album released by a member of The Platters in many years. The new recording is comprised of a number traditional Christmas songs including White Christmas, I'll Be Home For Christmas and Silent Night, along with I Believe (written by Cousin Claire‘s friend, Ervin Drake, and recorded decades ago by Frankie Laine), Chapel Bells and a Platters favorite, Twilight Time. Turner, a longtime Las Vegan, joined the Platters in 1959, replacing the group's original lead singer, Tony Williams. After 12 years with The Platters, Turner left to pursue a solo career. He, along with Herb Reed. who founded the group in 1953, and the original female singer Zola Taylor, are the only remaining "real" Platters today. Sonny continues to perform around the world, and was recently featured as part of Tony Sacca's annual Merry Christmas Las Vegas TV show. We attended the taping for this holiday show and can vouch for Turner's popularity with the audience. He wowed them with White Christmas and The Platters 1955 hit, Only You. If you are in the area, you can see the television show and hear Sonny for yourself. Air dates start tomorrow (December 16) on local channel 25 (cable 14) at 4:30 p.m., with repeats on that channel next Saturday (December 23) at 12:30 a.m., and on local channel 21 (cable 12) at 2 in the morning, also on Saturday the 23rd.

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If you are a collector of all things Las Vegas, the Riviera and Imperial Palace both offer new and interesting gaming chips fairly frequently. The IP's latest are three Limited Edition $5 chips to commemorative the 25th Anniversary of the hotel's famous Auto Collection. The first chip design features a 1936 tri-tone blue Delahaye 135 Competition Court Figoni et Falaschi coupe that was once owned by '30s film star Delores Del Rio, with the IP's signature pagoda on the reverse side. The front of the second chip shows a 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Darrin Sedanca Deville. The flip side shows a daytime exterior of the hotel from the Las Vegas Strip. The third design is of a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, with a close-up of the IP at night on the back.
When the Auto Collection opened its doors as a museum in 1981, there were 85 vehicles on display. Since then, about 3,000 cars with a total value today of nearly $1 billion have passed through its doors.

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Ahmet Ertegun, the man who founded Atlantic Records in 1947, died yesterday (December 14). A record collector from the time he was a very young man, Ertegun parlayed his love of music into a career when, in 1947, he founded Atlantic with partner Herb Abramson using a $10,000 loan. When the label first started, it made its name with blues-edged recordings by acts such as Ruth Brown. Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin were also signed to the company in its infancy. Over the years, artists such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Bobby Darin, Roberta Flack, Led Zeppelin, Bette Midler, The Rolling Stones and Sonny & Cher, were also part of the Atlantic stable. On October 29, while attending a Rolling Stones concert in New York, Ertegun fell, suffering a serious head injury. He slipped into a coma that he never emerged from. He was 83 years old.

A reminder: As mentioned previously in this column, a local memorial service for Ruth Brown will take place at 2 p.m. this Sunday at the First Church of Religious Science, located on Harmon one block east of UNLV. The public is invited to attend.



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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye