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 February 23, 2007
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - February 23, 2007

Mary Kaye 1950s Mary Kaye Trio Mary Kaye 2003

When tracing the history of the Las Vegas lounge scene, one of the names that comes up in conversation or writing is the Mary Kaye Trio. Sadly, last Saturday, the world lost Mary Kaye, the fine singer/musician that led this well-known group. Mary died here at the age of 83 following a series of health issues. Leading the parade of Las Vegas lounge pioneers, Mary, her brother Norman Kaye and friend Frank Ross, became one of the most popular late night acts in Las Vegas. Beginning in 1950, the trio was responsible for the advent of all-night casino entertainment, thanks to their initial stint at the Last Frontier. The Mary Kaye Trio started a trend that lasted for decades. Mary, the guitarist and singer who headed the trio, was born Mary Ka'aihue, the daughter of musician Johnny "Ukulele" Ka'aihue. "She was the first person to ever have a guitar named after her, which is a Fender Mary Kaye Stratocaster," said her nephew, John Kaye, administrator of Mary Kaye Trio Enterprises and a musician and entrepreneur in his own right. John's father, Norman Kaye, 84, is the only surviving member of the trio.

Luminaries such as Louis Prima and Keely Smith, the Treniers, Freddie Bell, Fay McKay, Peter Anthony, Sonny King, and Babe Pier, along with Mary, Norman and Frankie, are among the pioneers recognized by Tim Onosko and Beth Abrohams in their documentary film, Lost Vegas: The Lounge Era. Services for Mary Kaye will be held tomorrow (Saturday, February 24) at Palm Mortuary, 6701 N. Jones in Las Vegas, with viewing beginning at 11 a.m. and services at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions in Mary's name be made to Palm Mortuary to help defray funeral costs.

* * * * * *

On April 14th, comic Marty Allen and his straight woman/musician wife, Karon Kate (Blackwell), will take over the showroom at the Gold Coast where Forever Plaid has been entertaining audiences for the past two years. Allen, best known for his time spent with Steve Rossi when they were known as Allen & Rossi, turns 85 on March 23rd. Being eligible for AARP hasn't kept Allen and his current partner (and mate of 22 years) at home tending their garden and clipping coupons. On the contrary. Marty and Karon are cruise ship favorites, ranking No. 1 with passengers on the Royal Caribbean line and No. 2 on Holland America. Their two New Year's Eve performances in the Gold Coast ballroom were sellouts. More information to follow. FYI...Forever Plaid closes on April 1 (no fooling) but don't count the popular musical out as far as Las Vegas goes. After all, the revue ran for almost six years at the Flamingo before moving to the Gold Coast in February 2005.

* * * * * *

On Friday, March 2nd, UNLV will host the Las Vegas premiere of The Ultimate Gift in the new 300-seat state-of-the-art theater in the Moyer Student Union building. Featuring Brian Dennehy, James Garner, Lee Meriwether, and Oscar-nominated Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin, the film is based on the best-selling book by Jim Stovall. Last year, The Ultimate Gift was voted Best Dramatic Film winner of the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival. When his wealthy grandfather dies, trust fund baby Jason Stevens anticipates a big inheritance. Instead, his grandfather has devised a crash course on life with twelve tasks - or "gifts" - designed to challenge Jason in improbable ways, sending him on a journey of self-discovery and forcing him to determine what is most important in life: money or happiness. Described as "heartwarming," "inspiring" and "remarkable," the message is "The only way you can truly get more out of life for yourself is to give part of yourself away." Watch the trailer at www.theultimategift.com. There will be two show times, the early one at 5:30 p.m. and the second at 8:00 p.m. Ms. Meriwether, 1955's Miss America and one of the film's stars, will speak prior to each showing. Although they can't charge admission to a university event and still get the venue for free, if anyone would like to help sponsor the evening, they will gladly be recognized (or not) at the screenings, and signage and flyers that include their name or company logo will be provided (or not). Free parking is available across the street at University Methodist Church, 4412 S. Maryland Parkway. For more information, call Dale Davidson at (702) 480-3989.

* * * * * *

If you are of a certain age and/or a certain mindset, you can check out the Street Punk group, Infested, at the newly opened all-age club, University Theater tomorrow (Saturday, February 24th). Located just south of UNLV at 4737 S. Maryland Parkway, Infested describes their music (almost entirely original) as politically motivated punk rock. With song titles such as Drop Bush, Not Bombs, Death Toll Rising, and F-ck the System, we believe them. The band is made up of Brian on vocals, Cody on guitar and vocals, Adam on guitar, Stacy on bass and Gilbert on drums (no last names, please). We have a feeling this might be pure chaos. Infested will join DI, Amerikan Made, Six Shooters to the Sky and Give Em Hell. Doors open at noon and tickets are $12.

* * * * * *

Cousin Claire has no interest in sports, unless it's sports coats, sports cars, sports books or sportsmanship, primarily GOOD sportsmanship and fair play. Therefore, she feels it necessary to comment on the recent rant against gays by former Miami Heat guard, Tim Hardaway. This man, who says "I hate gay people. It (they) shouldn't be in the world or in the United States (Guess this genius doesn't know that the U.S. is part of the world.)," is as dangerous to sports as the enraged father who beats up on a Little League umpire or fans/fanatics who throw objects onto a playing field after their team loses. Is this the kind of example we want to set for our children? Is an athlete like Hardaway the kind of person young people should look up to? Is this what sports are all about? We think not.

Marty Allen & Karon Kate Lee Meriwether Steve Tyrell

* * * * * *

We usually leave these kind of topics to the National Enquirer (or the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s Norm! Clark) but this is so disturbing, we can't ignore it. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Pop Princess Britney Spears is in deep trouble. Is she really a POT Princess? Is the Grammy-winner under the influence of some other substance or is her bizarre behavior a very loud cry for help? In January 2004, right here in Las Vegas, Britney married her childhood friend, Jason Alexander. The union lasted about 55 hours. Her recent stints in rehab didn't last even that long. In less than one week, the 25-year-old former Mickey Mouse Club cast member has been in rehab at least three times (and, as we approach our Friday deadline, fled twice). In recent days, she shaved off all her hair and got herself a new tattoo (or two). Is Britney on her way to the same fate as the late Anna Nicole Smith? During a June interview with Matt Lauer, Britney claimed that she wanted the paparazzi to leave her alone. Why, then, does she keep doing outrageous things to call attention to herself? Risking harm to her toddler by driving with him in her lap, wearing very little clothing and no panties (and making sure that fact was visible to others), partying with a fine example of ladylike behavior, Paris Hilton, have all been fodder for the tabloids. What gives with this troubled young woman? Who is looking out for her? Who is looking out for her two very little boys? In the case of Ms. Spears, this seems like a perfect/ imperfect example of too much, too soon.

* * * * * *

Cousin Claire received this High Priority e-mail last Friday (after we went to press). It states...In regard to Case No. A536361 filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court on
February 16, 2007 a temporary restraining order has been placed on an event
at Club Ice on February 17, 2007. The order was filed in conjunction with the unauthorized use of name and likeness of Jay Z. The announcement goes on to say, "Jay Z is often misrepresented. False representation of a party at ICE is particularly egregious as his name, likeness, and both of his companies, Rockafella Records and Rocawear, are being used to sell tickets when he has no association with that event. Jay Z is actually hosting his own party at another location Saturday night in Las Vegas. We will successfully shut down the event at ICE and want to warn innocent attendees of falsely promoted parties." The notice is signed Robert Reynolds, attorney for the firm of Callister & Reynolds in Las Vegas. ICE is a popular downtown Las Vegas nightclub. Jay-Z (real name Shawn Corey Carter) is the longtime boyfriend of singer/actress (Dreamgirls) Beyonce.

* * * * * *

The Golden Nugget has been through many changes in the last couple of years. In September of 2005, young dot.com millionaires Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, sold the downtown hotel/casino to Landry's Inc., best known as restaurant operators. Landry's actually took over a year ago January. Lots of physical changes have occurred since the new owners moved in, including the closing of the old upstairs showroom to make way for an expanded 600-seat theater. Two new shows, both imports, were brought in to, hopefully, attract visitors from other properties as well as keep their own guests from going elsewhere for their entertainment fix. Simply Ballroom is still playing, but Cover Girls lasted only a few weeks. Joe Leone, a 12-year Golden Nugget employee who last held the title of Vice President of Entertainment, is also gone from the place. To fill in the open dates in the theater, acts such as Don Rickles, Mary Wilson and Steve Tyrell are booked during March and April. We doubt that there is anyone who has spent time in Vegas during the last half century that doesn't know who Rickles is. Last a regular at the Stardust, the 80-year-old comic has a number of dates on the books at the Nugget, the next ones being March 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Look for former Supreme member, Mary Wilson, on April 20th and 21st (more about that in mid-April). Cousin Claire has to admit that she is most excited about the booking of producer, composer and singer Steve Tyrell on April 12th, 13th and 14th.

Texas-born Tyrell, got his musical start with some local Rhythm & Blues bands. He moved to New York when he was just 18, soon after landing a position with Scepter Records. After becoming the label's head of A&R and promotion, Tyrell championed the classic Burt Bacharach/Hal David-composed recordings of Dionne Warwick and recruited singer B.J. Thomas, producing his hits Hooked on a Feeling and Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. In the years to follow, Tyrell made his mark as a producer and hit songwriter, co-writing the gold-selling No. 1 hit How Do You Talk to an Angel for The Heights and the Jamie Walters smash Hold On. He also worked on music for the films Mystic Pizza, Midnight Crossing, and The Brady Bunch Movie, as well as a number of television shows. Cousin Claire, a music-lover, "discovered" the Dr. John-sounding Tyrell in 1991 after seeing the Steve Martin-starring Father of the Bride film. In 1995, he followed that with some more songs on the soundtrack of Father of the Bride, Part II. In 1998, Tyrell won a Grammy for producing a gospel album for Andy Griffith, and a year later, Atlantic released Tyrell's first solo album, A New Standard. It became a top hit on the Billboard jazz charts, peaking at No. 3, and was still listed on the charts two years after its release. That was followed by Standard Time (also the name of a favorite Sam Harris album) in 2001. The holiday themed This Time of the Year arrived in 2002, followed in 2003 by another album of pop standards, This Guy's in Love. In 2005, Tyrell released The Songs of Sinatra on the Hollywood label. His most recent album is The Disney Standards. In addition to creating music, Steve Tyrell has a line of furniture that bears his name. We have a feeling that this won't be well-kept-secret Tyrell's last time in Las Vegas.

* * * * * *

As long as David Letterman keeps having Ventriloquist and Impressionist Weeks on his late night television show, Las Vegas will continue to get free plugs for its current and past acts. Late last year, Ronn Lucas, Rich Little and Gordie Brown were all showcased on Letterman. The ratings must have been good for those segments as, a week ago, a second round of Ventriloquists Week featured Brad Cummings and Rex. Cummings was one of the specialty acts in the Flamingo's Great Radio City Music Hall Spectacular in 1999. And speaking of Gordie Brown, The Venetian's headliner was a guest on Craig Ferguson's CBS late night show on Wednesday. We believe that Ronn Lucas has finally opened his afternoon show in the long-delayed Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex (in addition to a theater, there's a lounge and gift shop) at the Aladdin. Look for the above mentioned talk show host/comic/author Craig Ferguson to return to The Orleans showroom, April 20th through 22nd.

Brad Cummings & Rex Mel Brooks Rebecca Spencer

* * * * * *

If you are a fan of Mel Brooks, and more specifically The Producers (musical), and if you have seen the film or the stage version (or haven‘t) here or in New York, and liked or loved it, Cousin Claire would like to recommend the DVD of Recording The Producers. Described as A Musical Romp with Mel Brooks, this fun behind-the-scenes look inside the studio with Mel, director Susan Stroman, and stars Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Roger Bart, Gary Beach, Cady Huffman and Brad Oscar, as they record the cast album, is a real joy. With comments and even a little singing from Brooks, it is a hoot to watch him see all of his words and music come together with the full orchestra. People magazine called it "Irresistibly entertaining." We concur. By the way, Brad Oscar, who had a small role (as a cab driver) in the film, and played Franz Liebkind before taking over as Bialystock on Broadway (playing the role for 1,000 performances), stars as Max Bialystock in the Paris Las Vegas version. Here's another bit of Producers trivia (although not to him), Phantom -The Las Vegas Spectacular star, Brent Barrett also had a role in the film. One never knows when this information might come in handy.

* * * * * *

And speaking of Phantom, Rebecca Spencer, who currently stars as Madame Giry in The Venetian's outstanding production, will debut her full length concert program as part of the Performing Arts Society of Nevada's Brown Bag Concert Series. She will be joined by her Musical Director and pianist Philip Fortenberry, as well as cellist Moonlight Tran, in a program built around her two recordings and performed live in an intimate 400 seat theatre. Her program ranges from the American Songbook to lesser known Pop, Jazz, Broadway and Opera material. The date for the concert is February 25, the time is 2 p.m., the place is the Clark County Library at 1401 E. Flamingo, and tickets are priced at $15. Call (702) 658-6741 for more information.

* * * * * *

What happens in Las Vegas, happens in Las Vegas. This is one of those stories. (Names will be withheld to protect the guilty.) On a recent Friday night at the Hilton, a friend of Cousin Claire's was playing Keno slots. It was around 2 a.m. when a young lady came up behind her and handed her a $100 bill. Two other players next to her were also handed $100 bills. Our friend turned to her benefactor who said, "HE wants you to have this," pointing to a middle-age gentleman. The player called the fellow over and told him, "In all the years I've lived here, no one's ever handed me money." He said, "I've been here a year and 'they're killin' me'." She assumed he meant the casinos. He was holding a huge WAD of money. The gambler thanked him, took the money and ran! A few nights later, she and a friend returned to The Hilton to play a free slot tournament (55+). Around 10 p.m., she spotted the kind stranger again, pointing him out to her friend. The lucky recipient of the mystery man's generosity went over and thanked him again for the $100. He asked, "Did you win?" and she replied, "No, I actually had my hair done" (true), at which point he gave her a bear hug and told his entourage, "I gave her money to play and she had her hair done," and then handed her another $100. As Mr. Moneybags was cashing out about $35,000 (three zeros) at the cage, there was a little group sing-a-long. Who knows who he really was but to some folks hanging out at the Hilton on those nights, he was the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Michael Anthony (the personal secretary to 1955‘s TV Millionaire, John Beresford Tipton) all rolled into one. That's ONE way to win in the casinos!



Have a question about Las Vegas? Want to make a comment (be nice, now)?
If so, drop an e-mail and ask. Click Here
Cousin Claire will do her best to find the answer for you.
You can find Past Columns HERE


     Like to be notified when Claire Voyant's next column is available?
Then join Claire Voyant's announcement mailing list!
Enter your email address below, then click the 'Join List' button:
   

Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye