Claire Voyant's Las Vegas Gossip Column

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

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from October 06, 2006
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - October 6, 2006

Las Vegas has played host to a number of famous entertaining duos - Steve & Eydie, Penn & Teller, the Brothers Righteous and Smothers, and Ronn Lucas and Scorch, to name a few. There is no question about which showbiz twosome is most associated with this city. Their names are Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn. Better known as Siegfried and Roy, the German-born magicians had been a mainstay on the Strip for 30-years. Their reign came to an end on October 3, 2003, when Roy (who, for David Letterman's information, is the dark-haired one) was nearly killed during an attack on stage at The Mirage by Montecore, one of the beautiful white tigers used in their act. October 3 is a date that neither of these two men will ever forget. Not only is it the date of the near fatal attack, it is also the birthday of Roy Horn. This year, on that fateful date, along with celebrating Roy's 62nd birthday, S & R were honored with a ceremony and having their names permanently embedded on the Las Vegas Strip's Walk of Stars. The spot chosen for the permanent memorial is in front of the large statue of the two men at the entrance to The Mirage. Although Siegfried and Roy are no longer the headliners at the property, their presence is still felt at the White Tiger Habitat and Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden, both located inside the hotel.

Roy's recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. He walked, unassisted, during part of the ceremony. Three years ago, many people felt that Horn would not survive his devastating injuries, let alone walk again. When they christened these two "Masters of the Impossible," the gods certainly must have been listening.

Among the folks in the crowd outside of The Mirage, we spotted entertainer Larry Edwards. Whether you know him as Proud Larry, Hot Chocolate or a show-stopping Tina Turner or Patti LaBelle impersonator, one thing you have to know about Larry is that he is busy, busy, busy. When he isn't plying his trade in a Las Vegas revue such as Kenny Kerr's Boy-lesque, An Evening at La Cage starring Frank Marino, or the late Howard "Little Lil" Benway's production of Guys Will Be Dolls, Edwards can be found working at one of his other jobs - Host/emcee for Monday Karaoke Nights at Lucky Cheng's on the Strip, office assistant/runner/field staff member at USA Hosts, and VIP Door Diva at Krave Nightclub. Larry Edwards might be the hardest working man in show business (eat your heart out, James Brown), in this city anyway. If you would like to learn more about Larry, check out his Web site at

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Can't believe that October is here already. You know what that means. Halloween in Las Vegas is looming on the horizon. Not only is this city the Entertainment Capital of the World, it's also the Party Capital of the World. Every year, the Halloween happenings around here get more bizarre than the year before. Probably the oldest ongoing party in this city is the Beaux Arts Ball. Founded almost 40 years ago by journalist Mark Tan, the annual event was THE place to be to celebrate All Hallows Eve. "Outrageous" doesn't begin to describe this Las Vegas tradition. Very well attended by Strip entertainers, the costumes (and sometimes, lack of costumes), to put it mildly, were over the top. Why not. The most creative people on the planet were involved. Every headliner in the city would be at the Beaux Arts Ball, many as judges for the costume contests. With categories ranging from Best Drag to Best Celebrity Look-alike, the VIPs would be faced with the dilemma of determining the big prizewinners of the night. Not an easy task, we can assure you.

Thirty years ago, only days after becoming Las Vegas residents and reading about it in the newspaper, Cousin Claire and her teenage daughter (yes, your columnist was allowed to breed in captivity), attended the Beaux Arts Ball. In 1976, the party was held in an upstairs ballroom at the Sahara. Tourists stood with their mouths hanging open as the parade of costumed characters and stars made their way through the casino. Over the almost four decades, just about every hotel/casino headliner, including Lola Falana, Liberace, Wayland Flowers (with Madame), Debbie Reynolds, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Mackie, Rip Taylor, Ann-Margret, Charo, Tom Jones, Juliet Prowse and Engelbert Humperdinck, showed up at the Beaux Arts, either as a spectator, a judge, or both.

After Mark Tan's death, in April of 1997, the ball became an AIDS fundraiser, first for AFAN and today for Golden Rainbow. Last year's gathering netted $37,000 for Golden Rainbow. We have a feeling that Mark would have been pleased. This year, the Beaux Arts festivities will take place on Tuesday, October 31, at Studio 54 in the MGM Grand.

In more recent years, other "newcomers" have joined in on the local tradition, among them the 11th Annual Las Vegas Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball to be held at the Stardust on Saturday, October 28. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. for a night that runs from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. For additional info, call (702) 348-6399.

Then there is Grant Philipo's Hallow Erotic Ball. Now in its fourth year, this party, held in a private residence, really gets wild. The October 21st activities begin at 10 p.m. with a Nude Model parade. At midnight, Caligula's Follies takes place, followed at 1 a.m. by heaven knows what kind of entertainment. Entertainer Kenny Kerr (have we mentioned him before?) is hosting the Costumed/Un-Costumed Ball. Among those expected to attend, La Cage's Frank Marino (who will serve as judge), magician Dallas Fueston, Rudalenska, and (hopefully) Liz Renay. Ghosties, ghoulies, drag queens, and anyone else willing to check their inhibitions at the door, can e-mail [email protected] for more information. Halloween - it's not just for kids anymore...especially in Las Vegas!

Who is Grant Philipo? Well, among other things, he's a singer/dancer/model/makeup artist/costume designer/writer/producer/director, who, in 1992, became the youngest producer of a large-scale, multi-million dollar Las Vegas spectacular. The Dunes (now Bellagio) was home to Philipo's 90 Degrees and Rising, a music and dance production featuring a cast of more than 35 entertainers. During his career, Grant served as artistic director for the Hollywood Wax Museum and was also associated with Fong's Wax Museum in the City by the Bay, as well as Buena Park's Movieland Wax Museum.

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Yesterday (October 5), Associated Press columnist David Bauder wrote, "After two weeks atop the evening-news rating race and one week in second, Katie Couric experienced her first week in last. The CBS Evening News had 7.5 million viewers, while NBC's Nightly News had 8.2 million and ABC's World News had 7.6 million." If you recall, Ms. Couric gave up her longtime NBC Today show gig to become evening anchor for CBS. We have a question, "Hey, Meredith Vieira, how's The View from where you're sitting?"

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For the reader who asked what's going on, entertainment-wise, at the Golden Nugget, here's what we know. The brand new 600-seat showroom opens tomorrow (October 7th). A revue called Simply Ballroom is scheduled for the 7 p.m. spot, with an adult production, Cover Girl, at 9:30. Name headliners, including Don Rickles, Randy Travis and Tanya Tucker will also appear in the theater. Gordie Brown, who was one of the last acts to play the old Nugget showroom, opens in his own theater at The Venetian, with previews starting October 11th. Cousin Claire predicts big things for this talented comic/singer/ impressionist. Another former act at the downtown property, singer Martin Nievera, will open in the state-of-the-art Steve Wyrick Theater (Desert Passage at the Aladdin) sometime next month. If people can deal with the confusing parking situation, and find the new theater, we predict a rosy future for the talented Nievera as well. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

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According to Norm Clarke, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's occasionally accurate gossip columnist, we may soon have royalty in our midst in the form of a prince. Maybe, if Norm! with an exclamation mark has got it right this time, the esteemed fellow from the kingdom of Minneapolis, will take up residence in a theater at the Rio. The prince that Norm! with an exclamation mark is referring to, is The Artist Formally Known as Some Kind of Weird Symbol. As in Mr. Purple Rain himself, Prince with a capital "P." Hey, it could happen...maybe When Doves Cry. Remember, you read it here second.

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Now for a commercial interruption. It isn't often that Cousin Claire looks forward to a particular TV pitch, except of course the one for Head On, Head On and on and on and on. We're joking about that since it is the cause of many headaches. The spot that we really like is The Gap's terrific ad for The Skinny Black Pant (they're back, you know), featuring the wonderful and adorable Audrey Hepburn dancing in and out of a scene from the 1975 film, Funny Face. It's creative and memorable. What more can one ask for from their ad agency?

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Last Friday's accident involving one of the members of the famed Flying Elvi (or Flying Elvises, depending when you tuned in) skydiving team, is not the first for this group. A number of years ago, one of the members was seriously injured when he crashed into a car in the parking lot at Bally's. In 1996, two jumpers were hurt while performing in Quincy, Massachusetts. The latest incident occurred during the grand opening of a casino in Montana. Paul Moran, a member of the 10-man group, broke his pelvis when his landing in the parking lot of the Glacier Peaks Casino went awry. The high-flying, white jumpsuit-wearing ensemble, first gained fame as a result of their appearance in the 1992 movie, Honeymoon In Vegas.

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Cousin Claire has it on good authority that, among the VIPs that read her column, funny lady Roseanne Barr takes an occasional peek...after the kiddies have gone off to bed and no one is looking. And speaking of Roseanne and kiddies, Cousin Claire would like to recommend her DVD, Rockin' with Roseanne - Calling All Kids! This is a very clever and entertaining singing and dancing piece of business, with a dozen message songs for young people...of all ages. A number of these tunes - Peanut Butter and Jelly Fish, Let the Kids Boogie, Down on the Doughnut Farm and the title track, Calling All Kids, among them - were written by the talented John Argent, onetime singer/musician in a terrific show band called My Generation that played Vegas in the '80s. On Sunday (October 8th), Roseanne, who once again is doing standup comedy, will share a Baltimore stage with The King's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Ms. Barr (yes, she's back to Barr again) has a guest spot coming up on My Name Is Earl, followed by a Halloween eve appearance (in appropriate for the occasion garb) on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Watch for an all-new Roseanne HBO Special in early November.

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If you are seeking clean comedy that won't embarrass you, your mother-in-law, or your minister, Mickey Manners could be your man. Manners makes a return appearance at the award-winning Riviera Comedy Club, beginning Monday, October 16. It was comedy legend Milton Berle who encouraged the New York-born comic/actor to develop his variety act. Manners listened and has worked steadily ever since. Over the years, he has amassed an impressive list of movie and television credits, among them on classics like Get Smart, Lost In Space, Hogan's Heroes, The Lucy Show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Murphy Brown, and Silk Stalkings. Manners also starred in the CBS sitcom, Many Happy Returns, and appeared on The Tonight Show with both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. He was also a frequent guest on shows hosted by Steve Allen, Merv Griffin and Joey Bishop. Film credits include two Jerry Lewis pictures, The Nutty Professor and Which Way To The Front? With all the acting credits, it was Manners' spots on TV game shows, like his 16-year run on CBSs Stump The Stars that got him recognized most often. He became a "professional panelist" on the original Hollywood Squares, PDQ, Celebrity Sweepstakes and Rhyme And Reason. These days, Manners, who makes his home in Palm Desert, California, does most of his performing on cruise ships. Appearing with Mickey Manners will be comics John Bizarre and Mike Schmidt.

This trio appears through the 22nd, with show times at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

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Frankie (Lisbona) Randall, with residences in both Las Vegas and Palm Springs, presents his revue, That's Italian, at Trump's Marina Casino & Hotel in Atlantic City tonight and tomorrow (October 6th and 7th). That's Italian stars singer Julius La Rosa, accordionist Dick Contino, comic Pete Barbutti and singer/pianist Randall, with Vincent Falcone (another familiar name) conducting a real Big Band. That's Italian made its initial debut last March to a sell out audience at The McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California. Mitch Gershenfeld, Director of Presentations and Theater Operations at The McCallum, was quoted as saying, "Thanks for bringing That's Italian to the McCallum Theatre. The show sold beyond our expectations and the audience response has been outstanding. The audience left the auditorium thoroughly entertained." Can a Las Vegas booking be on the horizon?

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye