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.  

Claire Voyant  

Note: This is a past column from October 12, 2007
You can find the current column HERE

Las Vegas - October 12, 2007

Siameze Floyd & Trent Carlini Hans Klok Pamela Anderson

It seems that Elvis has left the building...again. No, not THAT Elvis and not THAT building. The Elvis we are referring to is one Elvis Nargi, the former proprietor of an East Sahara restaurant and lounge bearing his name. (Prior to Elvis taking over, the establishment was known as Steven David's.) This "Daddy of all Elvis'," as Nargi calls himself, is a fake Elvis but a real scoundrel. The handwriting was on the wall early in his game. In February, Nargi hired The Godson of Rock & Soul, Siameze, and his band to perform in the lounge at the club. Siameze and his family (his parents are Eric Floyd and Wanda Dee), did almost all of the promotion and publicity themselves. Their efforts were rewarded by decent crowds during the initial part of the engagement. When payday came around, Nargi gave the group only one third of the agreed upon amount, telling them to "take it or leave it." When it was stated by the act that they had a contract, the response by Elvis was "sue me." Having no choice, they took the money, packed up and left. The Floyds wound up having to pay the band and dancers out of their own pockets. We have learned that this was not Nargi's first brush with questionable business tactics. The Internet reveals previous problems with him in the real estate field. In the advertising for his now closed restaurant, this Elvis claims that Billboard magazine named him "#1 Look & Sound Alike in the World." Cousin Claire would love to see that issue of Billboard. We bet that a REAL Elvis tribute artist, Trent Carlini (he was the big winner on TV's The Next Best Thing), would like to see it as well.

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It appears that the magic, or at least some of it, may be disappearing from Planet Hollywood. According to its Web site, tickets for Hans Klok and The Beauty of Magic are not being sold after December 7th (a day that shall go down in infamy). If, in fact, the show is ending, we won't be surprised. Even the newly married (for the umpteenth time) Pamela Anderson couldn't save this sinking ship. In our opinion, the $4 million blonde (that is supposedly what she was paid for her three months as a guest star in the show) was not an asset and did nothing to improve this production. Mrs. Salomon (Anderson married Paris Hilton's adult film co-star, Rick Salomon, last Saturday) doesn't even appear on stage until almost an hour into the show. Her participation is nothing impressive and her dialog, if you can call it that, is best described as banal. The blonde and beautiful (not Pamela) Mr. Klok had nothing new and original to contribute to the Las Vegas magic scene. For the most part, his illusions, no matter how fast they were done, had all been seen before on stages occupied by the likes of more wallet-friendly magicians like Rick Thomas, Kevin James, and others. And, in case you think we are being too hard on The Beauty of Magic, we were very impressed with the dancing segments. Good dancers and good choreography. Unfortunately, this wasn't a dance show. Hans Klok is a nice guy but very much out of his element on the Vegas Strip. We have no idea what will take the place of The Beauty of Magic after December. We will let you know when we find out.

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Jackie Brett, Director of Advertising and Public Relations at the Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino, informs us that due to scheduling conflicts, they have changed the date for the Dave Swan fundraiser to Saturday, November 3 at 2 p.m. Entertainers will get together and put on a show at the IP to raise money for the ailing Welsh performer. We will have more information about this event, and who will be donating their talent, as it gets closer to the date.

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Lisa Dawn Miller is excitedly preparing for her cabaret debut in New York City. She will perform her I Want To Come Back As A Song: Ron Miller, A Knight of Lyrics at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan, on both December 3rd and 5th. In a tribute to her late father, songwriter Ron Miller, Lisa will give Las Vegans a preview when she appears at the Suncoast, Thursday, October 18th at 2 pm. and at the Bootlegger, October 28th and November 16th. Lisa and her husband, Sandy Hackett, will also perform together at Siena Las Vegas in Summerlin, where she will do some of the songs that she will be doing in her Big Apple show. She has just finished 14 brand new arrangements of some never-before-heard pop and musical theater-style Ron Miller gems. In her upcoming Suncoast engagement, pianist Dave Richardson will accompany Lisa.

Lisa Dawn Miller Elisabeth Hasselbeck Wayne Newton

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In support of the CASA Volunteer Program for children in foster care, the foundation will hold their 17th Annual Child Advocacy Recognition Dinner at The Venetian on Sunday, October 20th. Senior Judge of the Eighth Judicial District, the Honorable John S. McGroarty, will be recognized and honored as Child Advocate of the Year. The Delfini Ballroom at The Venetian Hotel Casino will be the site of the cocktail party/dinner/silent auction, beginning at 5 p.m. Comic/ventriloquist Ronn Lucas will provide entertainment. There will also be readings by Las Vegas psychic Mystic Mona. One of the items to be auctioned will be an original work by internationally recognized artist, Martin Kreloff. Kreloff was mentioned in this column a couple of weeks ago as one of the Las Vegans that opened his residence for the upcoming picture book, America at Home. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates of Clark County) believes that all children have the right to safe, healthy, stable homes, free from abuse and neglect. CASA volunteers (ordinary men and women, students, executives, retirees and busy professionals) are court appointed trained advocates for abused and neglected children in the Clark County Family Court. The volunteers serve as advocates for the children, preventing the youngster from getting lost in the system. More than 2,000 Clark County children are victims of abuse and neglect and are living in foster care. Tickets for the gourmet dinner and evening's activities are $250 per person. Cocktail attire is requested. For reservations, and to learn about becoming a CASA volunteer, call (702) 455-4306.

Another organization Trying to Make a Difference is NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness). Southern Nevada will hold its annual NAMI Walk tomorrow (Saturday, October 13th) beginning at 9 a.m. The three-mile walk will take place, rain or shine, on the campus of UNLV. All walkers must register (there is no fee) and can do so starting at 7 a.m. Refreshments, music and fun will be part of the morning experience. NAMI is a non-profit grassroots organization founded more than 25 years ago by families affected by mental illness (bipolar disorder, post-partum, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, anorexia, Alzheimer's, panic disorders and more). NAMI provides support, education and advocacy to individuals affected by mental illness as well as their families. Get someone to sponsor you and bring the funds when you register for NAMI Walks for the Mind of America. Parking is available in the Thomas and Mack Center lot (enter off Tropicana or Swenson). For additional information, call the Walk Line at (702) 538-7426.

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TV or not TV? That is the question. In answering the question, regarding one current and one recent television personality, Cousin Claire says, "Not TV." In one corner, we have Elisabeth Hasselbeck, one of the hostesses on the ever-changing View. We think the all-girl gabfest needs to do a little more housecleaning. Former regulars, Star Jones and Rosie O'Donnell, are now just a fading memory. On Tuesday, MSN's home page asked, "Should Elisabeth stay on The View?" Personally, we hope the woman takes a very long maternity forever. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinions (no one believes that more than Cousin Claire does) but we find Ms. Hasselbeck more than a little annoying. In addition, she talks so damn fast, you can't understand what she's saying...even if you want to. The Gawker Web site refers to Elisabeth as "a loopy Christ-lover" (see for yourselves). That might be a little strong, although we can well understand why Hilton headliner Barry Manilow chose not to join the ladies of The View if Ms. Elisabeth was there.

In the other corner, we have (or had) Wayne Newton. On Tuesday night, the onetime Mr. Las Vegas was the third contestant to be eliminated on ABC's popular Dancing with the Stars. Monday evening, after viewing the show, our favorite Midwest correspondent (they see the program three hours earlier than we do) called with this report..."If Wayne‘s horses were in this much agony, he would take them out and shoot them." Newton's dancing partner, two-time champion Cheryl Burke, was robbed. We have to wonder if the professionals on Dancing with the Stars draw straws. If so, Ms. Burke definitely drew the short straw. At best, Newton was a long shot. At worst, what you saw is what you got. The only positive things we can say about Mr. Newton's efforts is, (1) we give him a high-five for having the guts to take on this kind of challenge, (2) we much prefer his slicked down hair (or whatever that is on the top of his head) to that awful looking pompadour, but think he should ditch the ponytail and (3), thank God he‘s out of the competition. It was really painful to watch. Even the mass e-blasts seeking votes for Wayne only worked for two weeks. Sorry, Wayniacs, we (and the clear thinking judges, viewers and voters) calls ‘em like we sees ‘em. And on the same subject, from FOX News' Anna David (October 10th) comes this item (edited for space and things that don't apply)...Reality Check: 'Dancing' Ending Written in the Stars. It took two episodes to get there, but it was somewhat obvious where Dancing With the Stars was headed this week. That's right. After three weeks, Wayne Newton danced his last tango. It truly was Wayne's time to go. Despite the fact that he showed his partner Cheryl his 75 Arabian horses (and I do love it when this show incorporates in those sorts of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous moments), despite the fact that he seems like a sweetheart, despite being at the top of his game for decades, the guy really was in over his head here. I guess, as Newton's Law proves, what goes up must come down. Danke Schoen for the memories, Wayne.

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Squeaky clean comic (you can take grandma or Father O'Reilly to see him) Mickey Manners is the headliner in the 350-seat Riviera Comedy Club this week. If you don‘t remember Mickey, he co-starred with Elinor Donahue (Betty Anderson in Father Knows Best) in the mid-1960s TV sitcom, Many Happy Returns. He was also a popular game show panelist, appearing on shows such as Stump the Stars/Pantomime Quiz, You Don‘t Say, Rhyme and Reason and It Takes Two. The singer/dancer/actor/stand-up comedian was also a frequent guest on many popular sitcoms and drama shows of the day, including Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Perry Mason, The Bob Newhart Show, Silk Stalkings, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Here's Lucy, Lost In Space, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He even appeared in a couple of Jerry Lewis films (don't hold that against him), The Errand Boy and Which Way to the Front. Manners has been entertaining audiences for almost half a century and, in recent years, has been a favorite of Princess Cruise Line travelers. Manners, along with fellow comics Jon Fisch and Johnny Pizzi, can be seen at the Riviera through this Sunday, October 14th. Show times are at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Call (702) 794-9433 for reservations.

Mickey Manners Pat Cooper Charo

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And speaking of funny men, next Friday (October 19th), longtime Las Vegan Pat Cooper will be the recipient of some slings and arrows dished out by his peers. The caustic comic will be honored with a roast at the famed New York Friars Club. Turnabout is fair play. Up until now, Cooper has been on the dishing-it-out end of the verbal assaults bestowed on other club members. Now let's see if he can take it. At 78, Cooper is still yelling (his act, and life, usually finds him angry and loud), mostly in places like New York (Patchogue, Elmsford and New York City), New Jersey (Englewood and Pitman), Connecticut (Angelo's in Bridgeport), and Florida (the Show Palace in Hudson and the Center for the Arts in Coral Springs). These days, Cooper, who has been a Las Vegas resident for many years, is spending more of his time on the East Coast than in the desert.

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"A bit of serendipity was at work - twice," says Barbara Nosek regarding the impetus for Celebrity Chef Connection, the new weekly audio/visual Internet show she now co-hosts with Debbie Hall. Nosek was in a doctor's waiting room where another patient was chucking while reading author Fanny Flagg's, Standing in the Rainbow. The book's main character broadcasts a home-based radio show that includes recipes and more. That inspired Nosek to envision an updated version that would tap into the phenomenal lineup of culinary talent that Las Vegas is blessed with. Chefs could star in the feature segment of a kind of "foodie variety show." As a longtime local food writer, Barbara already had many connections to the city's dining realm. The second bit of serendipity was born of the fact that Barbara's good friend Debbie Hall not only had extensive broadcast experience, but also had her own set of restaurant and public relations contacts. In addition, Debbie possessed the specialized technical knowledge to send it out to the world via the Internet. The planning began in early 2007. Celebrity Chef Connection first hit the cyber-waves on September 5. A new show is posted (airs) every subsequent Wednesday. Thus far, the celebrity chef spotlight has shined on Hubert Keller (Fleur de Lys in Mandalay Bay and Burger Bar in Mandalay Place. He also has the original Fleur de Lys in San Francisco), Gustav Mauler (Spiedini and Cigar Bar, both in J.W. Marriott in Summerlin), Rick Moonen (RM Seafood, upstairs and downstairs, at Mandalay Bay) and Jean-Philippe Maury (Executive pastry chef at Bellagio and proprietor of Jean-Philippe's Patisserie also at Bellagio). The show continues to evolve as new signature segments debut, live cooking demos join the schedule (as of October 3rd), and additional technological advances come into play. Not yet two months old, the show has drawn folks from around the U.S., Canada, England, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Greece, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand via its Web site ( and ( "I sure would like to thank that woman in the doctor's office," Nosek said, "but she was a complete stranger and I don't even know her name." We have no idea why but, all of a sudden, we have a craving for escargot...and we don't even like escargot.

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Producer Bill Moore tells us that Charo will be making a rare Las Vegas appearance at the Rampart Casino on November 25th. The Cuchi Cuchi girl will entertain invited guests (Rampart Rewards members, plus) in a special engagement at the Summerlin property. Charo recently completed a seven-week run in Branson, where she charmed audiences at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater. Miss Cuchi Cuchi will celebrate Christmas and New Years in Laughlin when she entertains the holiday crowd at the Riverside.

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Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is the upcoming presentation at the downtown Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts. The Las Vegas Academy, in case you are not familiar with it, has a 14-year history of excellence. The Academy is nationally recognized as a Blue Ribbon School as well as a New American High School, one of only 15 in the nation. LVA has been awarded the Grammy for Artistic Achievement six consecutive years. They have put on some amazing productions, including Ragtime, Little Women (the musical), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Miss Saigon and On This Island, to name a handful. The story of Sweeney Todd is unique in musical's a thriller! Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of murderous barbarism and culinary crime, tells the infamous tale of the unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The barber's thirst for blood soon expands to include his unfortunate customers. Meanwhile, Mrs. Lovett, the resourceful proprietress of the pie shop downstairs, soon has the people of London lining up in droves to sample her mysterious new meat pie recipe! This world premiere of the school edition is presented in conjunction with Music Theatre International, and is an entry into the Thespian Festival 2008 Mainstage Productions. The performance schedule is as follows - November 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th and 10th (two weeks of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), show times will be at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the 10th, there will be an added 1 p.m. matinee. Single show tickets go on-sale on October 15th at 8 a.m. (that's this Monday). Season tickets are available now by calling (800) 585-3737 or by visiting the Las Vegas Academy box office. Prices are $18 for evening performances, and $15 for the matinee performance. The Lowden Theater for the Performing Arts is located at 9th and Clark Street. Due to the nature of Sweeney Todd, this production is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

Sweeney Todd Kevin Burke

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Effective October 25th, Defending the Caveman, playing at the Golden Nugget, will change their performance schedule and ticket prices. The one-man show, starring Kevin Burke, will perform at 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, and at 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, with additional performances at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Defending the Caveman is a play dealing with the ways men and women do and don't relate to each other. It offers very funny opinions on contemporary feminism, masculine sensitivity and the erogenous zone. The longest running solo play in Broadway history, Defending the Caveman debuted in San Francisco in 1991 and moved to Broadway in 1995. The show has performed for sold-out crowds in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Evening ticket prices are from $39.95 to $54.95, with matinee prices from $34.95 to $49.95, plus applicable taxes and fees. For reservations, call the Golden Nugget Box Office at (702) 386-8100 or (866) 946-5336.

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Claire Voyant's portrait by Charlie Frye