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 August 01, 2014
You can find the current column HERE


Las Vegas - August 1, 2014


Maren Wade

Philip Fortenberry

Can you believe 2014 is more than half over? How time flies when you're having fun...and even when you're not.

PK Music and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts present The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas, Wednesday, August 6th in the Cabaret Jazz on The Boman Pavilion at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 361 Symphony Park Avenue. Show starts at 10:30 p.m. (after theater). Doors open at 9:30. The Composers Showcase is an entertainment forum that allows local composers and songwriters the opportunity to present original musical material to a supportive audience in an informal cabaret-style setting. Founded and hosted by Keith Thompson (Jersey Boys) and Michael Brennan (Le Reve), the showcase focuses on uniting the Theatre community of Las Vegas, giving creative spirits an outlet for artistic expression, laughing a lot and having a great time. The Composers Showcase is not "open mic." Each presentation is carefully planned. Composers and material are screened in order to provide the best and highest quality of entertainment. This month's edition features the songs of local composers and songwriters: Roopak Ahuja, Jason Andino, Michael Brennan, Paige DiPietro, Ari Hest, Kent M. Lewis, Mariano Longo, Chrissi Poland, Danny Roque, Christian Tamburr, Keith Thompson, Geoffrey Tozer and Maren Wade. The Performers include: Mary Callanan, Jennifer Cantorna, Kris Coleman, Aaron DeJesus, Bruce Ewing, Ben Hale, Kristen Hertzenberg, Paul Johnson, Jason Kappus, Noah Rivera, Chris Roque, Lauren Tartaglia, Andre Ward and Natalie Wisdom. The Players are: Joe Bergeron, Gary Cordell, Brian Czach, Christopher R. Davis, Tish Diaz, Larry Esparza, Mark Ferratt, Philip Fortenberry, Jennifer Grim, Roger Hall, Michael Hepner, Dave Inamine, Ronnie Johnson, Walter Jones, Jim McIntosh, Keith Nelson, Pete O'Donnell, Kirk Rustman, Eric Sande, Kevin Stout, John Summers, Matt Taylor, Moonlight Tran, Nate Wingfield and more. Sound is handled by Kevin Harvey, and Lights by Steven Mack. A cash bar and Late Night Menu are available. Reservations are suggested (the show may be sold out already), but call and see). Assigned seating tickets are $20, and available at the Smith Center box office. Phone (702) 749-2000, or go Online at www.thesmithcenter.com.

It's so nice to see Philip Fortenberry's name back on the Composers Showcase players list. Philip, who is the Assistant Music Director with Jersey Boys, has been in New York since early in the year, where he was serving as Associate Conductor for Rocky the Musical. Rocky, which opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in February, closes on August 17th.

* * * * * * * *


Deana Martin & Regis Philbin

Deana Martin returns to the Annual Enfield Italian Festival, tomorrow, August 2nd, in Enfield, Connecticut. This is the 89th consecutive year for the festival of food, fun and great times; it's the oldest festival in America. In addition to Deana, Joe Piscopo will also be a guest performer. Ms. Martin always looks forward to this annual visit to Enfield. It's hard to believe, but this August marks the fifth anniversary of the release of Deana's second studio album, Volare. The album features 15 great songs, including "Mack the Knife," "Return to Me" and, of course, the album's title track. Deana, who celebrates her birthday later this month, returns to Las Vegas and the South Point for performances on September 13th and 14th. If you haven't seen Dean's daughter at work, do yourself a favor...

* * * * * * * *

OOOPS! We misspelled (yes, we admit it) the first name of songstress Patty Ascher Lewis in last week's article on the F.I.O.R.E. 10th Anniversary bash. We apologize, Patty, but, because of our mistake, you get another mention from Claire Voyant. Lucky you.


Patty Ascher Lewis

Michelle Johnson

* * * * * * * *

Songstress Michelle Johnson joins Clint Holmes this weekend in his Duets show at The Smith Center. Also appearing in the shows (there are three performances over the weekend) with Clint and Michelle are musician Joel Ferguson and singers, Elisa Fiorillo and Ronnie Rose. This is happening in Cabaret Jazz on Friday, August 1st and Saturday August 2nd at 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 3rd at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, August 6th at 8 p.m., Michelle will be hosting and singing in a recreation of Ella Fitzgerald's 1973 Newport Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall performance at the Viva Las Vegas Events Center, 1201 S. Las Vegas Blvd. There are a number of other singers in the line up, including Francesca Camus, Tommy Ward, Pascale Elia, Jerry Jones, and Jassen Allen Cropp. This is the first in a series of shows at the Events Center called Live at Carnegie. Bill Fayne is the musical director and Andrew Wright from RagTag Entertainment is the producer. Proceeds from the concerts go to Golden Rainbow. As if that isn't enough, Michelle is also reworking her show based on Carole King's Tapestry album and getting ready to perform it again, "once she finds the right venue." She will be adding multimedia and other features to the successful show she did at the Tuscany in May. Being the trouper and pro that she is, Michelle doesn't intend to let a little thing like an automobile accident on Tuesday stop her from sticking to her schedule. She obviously takes that old adage, "the show must go on" very seriously.

* * * * * * * *

From Lisa Gioia-Acres, who keeps us informed about meetings and members of the Las Vegas Media Group, comes this sad news...
Last Saturday night, July 26th, Dina Remeta informed that our dear friend, Murray Westgate, had died that evening. His wife, daughter and family friends surrounded him with love as he passed on from this life. After his long battle with seizures and strokes, Murray's last moments were peaceful and free of pain. As we put together a memorial, we welcome stories, photos, videos, and help in the planning stages. Our time frame at this point is between August 7th and 14th, and we are looking for an appropriate venue where we can gather that will house approximately 100 or more guests. All who wish to speak on Murray's behalf, will be welcome.
We need help in planning the memorial to honor this amazing man's life. Please be so kind as to send condolence letters to Dina Remeta, 2649 Golden Sands Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89128, and they will be forwarded to Murray's wife and daughter. If you have any ideas, or anything to contribute, you may call Dina at (702) 838-4872.


Murray Westgate RIP

Tara Palsha by Mistinguett

* * * * * * * *

On July 25th, her emotional last night in Vegas! The Show, departing star, Tara Palsha, was presented with a mixed media illustration of herself, done by Mistinguett. (Is there no end to Mistinguett's talent?) Ms. Palsha is heading to New York to seek her fame and fortune there. If she makes half the impact on that part of the country, as she did in Southern Nevada, expect to hear big things about this talented performer. And, if the name Mistinguett sounds familiar, it is probably because, in addition to being a fine artist, she is also a very busy producer. As a matter of fact, on August 23rd, Mistinguett has a show coming up at the Starbright in Sun City Summerlin called Country Legends - A Rip Roaring Good Time! It will feature guest stars, the above mentioned Bethany Owen, and comic, James Lee Reeves. We will have more details on these two headliners, and the rest of the cast members, in upcoming columns.

And speaking of Bethany Owen, last Friday, July 25th, The Woman of 1001 Voices & Faces, returned to Virginia City, Nevada, to perform at Piper's Opera House. The above mentioned entertainer, James Lee Reeves, and his wife, Amber, were in the audience. On Wednesday, Bethany entertained at the Old World German Village in Huntington Beach, California, with her One Voice Lunch and Show Package. She returns to the Old World German Village for One Voice again, next Wednesday the 6th, and on Thursday, the 7th, it's Bethany's Country Queens Lunch and Show Package. The Old World German Village is located at 7561 Center Ave. in Huntington Beach. For ticket prices, reservations (required), or additional information, call June at (714) 475-9678.


Bethany Owen & James Lee Reeves

Tim Conway

* * * * * * * *

On Monday, Rich Natole will have another great lineup of guests on his radio show, The Voices of a Generation, including comedian Tim Conway, best known for his years on the Carol Burnett Show, Ron DeCar, owner of the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and Event Center, and actress Sheree J. Wilson, from the nighttime soap, Dallas, and the series, Walker Texas Ranger. Rich's special co-host will be, singer Joelle Righetti. Tune in to KDWN 720AM, Mondays at 1 p.m., to spend an hour with Rich and his interesting guests.

And speaking of Rich Natole, the comic impressionist will create some of the celebrity voices (Bill Clinton and Sylvester Stallone among them) in Voices of Rudy: The Journey to the Movie, featuring Rudy Ruettiger, on whom the inspirational 1993 film, Rudy, was based, playing inside the Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center on August 9th. Ruettiger will include voices of people who influenced his life...which is where clever Mr. Natole comes in.
Incidentally, the role of Rudy in the movie was played by actor Sean Astin, the son of award-winning actress, Patty Duke, and longtime Las Vegas businessman, Michael Tell.

* * * * * * * *


Joey Melotti

Jerome Kern

Nik Mastrangelo, known as Nik at Nite on Sundays, wants to thank all of you who came out to the Tuscany last Sunday to hear he and The Trio celebrate the music of Tony Bennett. They had a full house and a nice vibe going all night long, with a mixture of locals and visitors from all over the country. The band, consisting of Chad Michaels on keys, Bob Sachs on bass, and Mike Mechem on drums, was on fire. Special guests, including Mary Callanan and Yolanda Quandt on vocals, together with good friend, Joey Singer, who sat in on keys, added to the fun. This Sunday, August 3rd, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m., Nik at Nite and The Trio will celebrate the music of Jerome Kern in the Piazza Lounge at the Tuscany. The trio will consist of Joey Melotti on keys, Brace Phillips on bass, and Jess Gopen who returns on drums, as the group revisits the music of Jerome Kern who wrote such classics as "The Way You Look Tonight," "Old Man River," "I'm Old Fashioned," "All the Things You Are," and "The Song Is You." As a musical director, Joey Melotti's impressive credits include accompanying Barry Manilow, Eartha Kitt, Michael Bolton, Liza Minnelli and Julio Iglesias, on their world tours. Nik is excited to announce that, because of the closing of Mamma Mia! at the Tropicana on August 3rd, Joey Singer will be back with The Trio, starting August 10th! Joey, of course, helped get the Sunday nights at the Piazza Lounge off the ground some six months ago, and it will be great to have him back at the piano. You are invited to join in the fun in the coolest lounge in town. There is no cover charge. The Piazza Lounge is located in the Tuscany Hotel (on the hotel side), just off the Strip at 255 E. Flamingo. Spread the word.

* * * * * * * *


Shades of Sinatra

For one night only, Shades of Sinatra, winner of the 2014 Excellence in Entertainment Award for Tribute Show of the Year, for the second time, will play at the Starbright Theatre in Sun City Summerlin, 2225 Thomas W Ryan Blvd., Saturday, August 9th, at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30).

Relive the music of the legendary Frank Sinatra, with Shades of Sinatra, an original musical production celebrating the extensive music and career of The Chairman of the Board. Shades features more than 30 of the legendary singer's biggest hits, paying tribute to most of the signature Sinatra tunes one would expect, as well as several that may be new to casual fans. Shades of Sinatra cast members - Carmine Mandia, Ryan Baker, Lisa Smith and Ron Smith - create unique characters that celebrate the icon in their own ways, often drawing on experiences from their own lives. In between songs and poignant stories, there is plenty of zany humor and good-natured ribbing among the cast, creating the vintage, off-the-cuff Vegas-show atmosphere that is associated with Ol' Blue Eyes himself. Tickets for Sun City residents are $15. Non-residents pay $17 (prices includes LET). They are on sale seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and can be purchased at Desert Vista, Mountain Shadows and Pinnacle community centers in Sun City Summerlin. Tickets can also be purchased the day of show, if not sold out. All ticket sales are check or cash (exact change required). Credit cards are not accepted. For additional information, call the Starbright Theatre at (702) 240-1301.

And speaking of Carmine Mandia, music fan and supporter of live entertainment, Maxine Gaines, informs us that Carmine will be celebrating the music of Bobby Darin in a new show at the Italian American Club on Wednesday, September 17th at 8 p.m. Carmine, with special guest Mark Giovi, will be backed by a very much alive big band. For reservations, call (702) 457-3866. We will have reminders about this event during the next few weeks.

* * * * * * * *

Elvis Presley will be honored and remembered around this city (and probably around the world) on the 37th anniversary of his untimely death, at the age of 42, on August 16th, 1977.

Among the events taking place...
Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino will offer Elvis fans ways to remember him, including with displays of Presley memorabilia for the public to view. At the Westgate on Paradise, where Elvis performed 837 consecutive sold-out shows, is a collection of authentic Elvis Presley memorabilia for guests to visit and admire, including clothing, jewelry, costumes and the last car he owned. Presley performed thousands of shows at the Westgate property, originally The International Hotel, later the Las Vegas Hilton, and most recently the LVH - Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, after it first opened in 1969. Throughout his epic seven-year stint, more people saw Presley perform at the property than anywhere else in the world. Among the many artifacts on display throughout the property from The King's Ransom Museum, are:
· The Last Car Elvis Presley Purchased – 1976 Lincoln Mark IV
· Elvis Presley's 1973 Aloha from Hawaii Full Stage Cape
· "E.P." Coveralls from 1972 documentary Elvis On Tour
· 1954 Elvis' earliest known concert poster
· Elvis Presley's 1953 Martin 00-21 Stage Guitar
· Elvis Presley's From Elvis in Memphis Leather Jacket
· Elvis Presley's two-piece "Indian Suit"
· Elvis Presley Show Tour Trunk
· Elvis In Concert Tour member's jacket
· Elvis Presley's custom paisley stage costume shirt
· Elvis Presley's "On Tour" gold Nautic prescription sunglasses
· Elvis Presley's personal trademark "EP" Aviator prescription sunglasses
· Elvis Presley's Aloha from Hawaii squash blossom necklace
· Elvis Presley's 14kt gold star ruby & diamond ring
· Elvis Presley's custom-made two-piece Indian suit
· Elvis Presley's mermaid stage costume
· Elvis Presley's personal Walther PPK Semi-Automatic Pistol
· Elvis Presley's emerald tourmaline and diamond cross necklace
· Elvis Presley's zodiac stage belt
· James Burton's (Presley's favorite guitar player) personal Fender Malibu Studio Guitar

The property also houses the legendary 5,000-square-foot penthouse "Elvis suite" located on the 30th floor. Fans are welcome to pay tribute to Presley at the life-size bronze statue located in the lobby of the Westgate. For more information, or to book accommodations at the new Westgate, call toll free at (800) 732-7117, or log on to www.westgatelasvegasresort.com.
Note: Elvis and Elvis Presley are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. The King's Ransom Museum is not affiliated with Elvis Presley Enterprises in any way.

Get 'All Shook Up' at Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, August 15th, 16th and 17th, as the property celebrate the life and legacy of 'The King of Rock n' Roll,' with live entertainment, food specials, contests, movies, music and gaming promotions. All weekend, Elvis' most popular songs, including "Hound Dog," "Love Me Tender" and "Jailhouse Rock," will play throughout the casino, while several of his hit movies are aired in Roxy's, during scheduled times. Guests dressed as Elvis can dine for free at Firelight Buffet. Elvis's favorite dishes will appear at several of the food and beverage venues throughout the property. The Sports Deli will feature a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich; and Billy Bob's Steak House & Saloon, and Willy and Jose's Cantina, will offer a "King Creole" dinner special – blackened Orange Roughy and Shrimp Creole with tobacco onions. B Connected members have a variety of promotions available during the three days, including, 20X points on all "Grease, Pink Lady" slot machines, slot and video poker tournaments on Friday and Saturday, three randomly selected $100 hot seats every 20 minutes from 1 to 4 p.m. daily, one randomly selected $1,000 hot seat at 5 p.m. daily, and players earning 200 points can receive a TY® Elvis Beanie Bear on Sunday, an Elvis-themed license plate on Saturday, and $20 in free slot play per day (with valid identification) for guests named Elvis. See B Connected Club for complete rules and details. Renowned Elvis tribute artist, Brandon Bennett, performs at Sam's Town Live!, August 15th at 8 p.m. Bennett's show takes the audience on a journey through Elvis' career, symbolized by powerful vocals, high-energy stage performances and the legendary jumpsuits. Tickets are available starting from $15, plus tax and convenience fees, and can be purchased at any Boyd Gaming Box Office, by calling (702) 284-7777, or visiting www.samstownlv.com. An Elvis Karaoke Contest will be held in Roxy's on August 17th from 2 to 4 p.m. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top five contestants, with the first place contestant receiving $1,000. Registration for the contest will take place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. See B Connected Club for complete rules and details. Beginning today, August 1st, visit www.samstownlv.com for complete details about Elvis Weekend at Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall, located at 5111 Boulder Highway.

There will probably be more Elvis events taking place around here over the next couple of weeks. As we learn of them, we will share the information with interested readers.


Elvis Presley

Douglas Lee May

* * * * * * * *

When award winning artists meet award winning scripts, you get Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, presented by Poor Richard's Players and directed by Artistic Director, Benjamin Loewy. After winning the Fringe Festival for the third year in a row, this Las Vegas-based theatre company continues its mission to provide high-quality theatre with a tried-and-true classic American play. This Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , chronicles the events of a single evening in George and Martha's home, when they receive an unwitting younger couple as guests. Throughout the night, relationships unravel as the hosts play their twisted games and blur the lines between truth and illusion. This script is truly an examination of interpersonal relationships, the need to meet cultural expectations, and the unwavering strength of love and family. Starring Valerie Bernstein as Martha, and Taylor Hanes as George, this production is sure to electrify audiences as they experience this emotional roller coaster and leave the theatre examining their own lives and relationships. Founded on May 1st, 2011, Poor Richard's Players is comprised of award-winning artists who have come together with a unique vision to take theater to the next level. Their mission – "Challenge the artist. Challenge the audience." – helps to provide a voice not only for the artists who produce theatre but also for the audiences who receive it. PRP strives to create theatre that inspires conversation and provides a shared experience. For three years running, Poor Richard's Players has been honored as Best of Fringe at the LVLT Fringe Festival. Performances of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are at The Onyx Theatre on August 8th, 9th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd at 8 p.m., with a matinee performance on Sunday, August 17th, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased at www.onyxtheatre.com. The Onyx Theatre is at 953 E. Sahara, 16B, in Commercial Center. For reservations, call (702) 732- 7225. For additional information about Poor Richard's Players, or Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, contact Mr. Loewy at [email protected].

* * * * * * * *

Founded in 1984, Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) is the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the state of Nevada. More than four thousand men, women and children infected with HIV are registered as clients with AFAN. The agency provides direct client service programs, food programs, prevention and education programs, and community outreach. It is the mission of the client service programs to enhance the physical health and psychosocial wellness of the individuals they serve, while promoting their dignity and improving the quality of their lives. As AFAN commemorates their 30th year, member on the Board of Trustees for AFAN, Douglas Lee May, is seeking stories, photos, videos, interviews and anything else related to the history of the non-profit organization. When the project is completed, it will document the three decades of work done by AFAN in this community. The AFAN offices are located at 1120 Almond Tree Lane. Call (702) 383-2326, or e-mail to [email protected]. As for Mr. May, outside of AFAN, he is the founder of DLM Perspectives. A dynamic speaker and trainer, Douglas uses humor and stories based on his life experiences in his work, He weaves his message of being yourself and finding your path into everything he does, whether it's a speech, essay or training class. He is dedicated to sharing his life's journey, including the highs and lows, as an example of how to learn from both your triumphs and your mistakes. Prior to DLM Perspectives, Douglas spent thirteen years working for MGM Resorts, where he held Director of Training positions at Primm Valley Casino Resorts, Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur. He also spent many years working in Training and Development for several banks in New Jersey. Throughout his career, he has been an integral part of designing and implementing programs that develop people and create the culture of the organization. A great supporter of the community, in addition to his work with AFAN, Douglas serves as a Board Member for the Nevada Chapter of the National Hemophilia Foundation. He also volunteers each year for the United Way where he prepares and files free income tax returns for low-income individuals. Originally from Iowa, Douglas has lived in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Settling in Las Vegas 17 years ago, he lives with his partner, Chris, and their enormous cat, Billy Bob Thornton. To get in touch with Douglas Lee May at DLM Perspectives, call (702) 277-6575, or e-mail to [email protected]. Doug welcomes anything you can add to the history of AFAN.

* * * * * * * *


The NiteKings

The dog days of summer are upon us, with triple digits each day the norm. Here's an idea to beat the heat! Go see The NiteKings, where the atmosphere is hot, but the temperature is cool! The group can be seen and heard during August at Sam's Town and The Orleans, where you can get out of the heat, dance the night away, or just sing along with The NiteKings. Here's part of the lineup for this month: Sundays, August 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st in Roxy's Lounge at Sam's Town, from 7 to 11 p.m.; and Wednesdays, August 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th in the Bourbon Street Cabaret at The Orleans from 4 to 8 p.m. Here's a little info on the NiteKing musicians. John Falbo (guitar and vocals) is from the Bronx, New York. He is the former Musical Director for Dion & The Belmonts. John worked all the major casinos in Atlantic City, for more than 10 years. He was in the orchestra of the Las Vegas production of the musical, Chicago. Chris Jacobs (drums and vocals) is from San Jose, California, where he earned a BA in music from San Jose State. Chris performed in Reno and Lake Tahoe before coming to Las Vegas. He toured with Big Tiny Little of The Lawrence Welk Show fame. Red Michaels (bass and vocals), from Buffalo, New York, performed with Stan Getz, Karen Carpenter, Les Brown and His Band of Renown, and was part of Bob Hope's USO tour. He also toured with The Classics IV. Tony Cedola (keyboards and vocals) is from Bloomfield, New Jersey. He opened for The Duprees, Shangri-Las, Kenny Rogers, and Every Mother's Son. He also performed with The Delmonicos and Pearl McKenna of The Teenagers. Next month, we will provide some background on The NiteKings front line. For those who want to hear more from the band, The Fabulous NiteKings CD was released a week ago. Get it at www.nitekings.com.

* * * * * * * *

Denise Wadsworth Rios, a native of Nevada and long-time Las Vegas resident, passed away on July 24th at Summerlin Hospital after battling cancer. She was born May 17, 1952, in Las Vegas, to Leonard and Melba Wadsworth. She spent her early years living in Alamo, playing with friends and siblings in the ranches, fields and natural hot springs of the Pahranagat Valley. The family relocated permanently to Las Vegas in 1959. She found her partner for life when she married George Rios, February 3, 1973. They lived in the historic Huntridge neighborhood for 32 years, where they raised two daughters, Ginger Rios and Daniella Rios. George and Denise were married for 41 years. Denise graduated from Valley High School in 1970. Although she worked in cabin services at a charter airline for several years, her true calling in life was as a passionate mother, homemaker and caretaker. Her home was always a favorite of children, her own as well as those of friends and relatives, who gravitated towards her natural kindness and compassion. She also cared for her ailing brother and parents before their passing. She was a gentle soul, and the person you could most count on during times of illness or grief. Denise was an avid and accomplished tennis player, who won many trophies and awards in local tournaments. She also enjoyed taking trips to the beach, eating good food and tending to her plants. She was know for her green thumb, and her roses were legendary. But most of all she enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her husband George Rios, her daughter Daniella Rios, her sister Andrea Vaden, and her two granddaughters. As heartbreaking and unimaginable as this loss is, we know that she is now reunited with her elder daughter, Ginger Rios, who died tragically in 1997. For details regarding the service, please visit www.palmmortuary.com.

For those who lived in Las Vegas in 1997, they probably remember the tragic story of Ginger Rios. For those who don't, here is an article that Cousin Claire printed in January, 2011...
She was a beautiful brunette. She was Hispanic. She was a Las Vegas entertainer. And she was missing. No, we are not referring to Debora Flores Narvaez, whose mutilated body was found on January 7th, 26 days after she was last seen alive. We are talking about an earlier, and eerily similar, case that occurred 13 years ago. On April 4th of 1997, 20-year-old Ginger Lee Rios, a singer and dancer in the local band, Salsa Machine, went into the eastside Spy Craft store to make a purchase. Ginger, a native Las Vegan, left her husband of five months, Mark Hollinger, waiting in their car outside the shop. She also left her purse, taking only her wallet inside the Maryland Parkway store with her. Hollinger never saw his wife come out of the store. After about 15 minutes, Hollinger walked into the store to look for his wife. When he didn't see her, he asked the clerk where she was. Hollinger was told she had left, so he walked around the shopping center looking for her. When he didn't find her, he returned to Spy Craft a few minutes later. He asked the store clerk and owner again if they remembered seeing his wife. They repeated what they had said earlier. Hollinger left and returned a third time. That's when the store owner, Craig Jacobsen (who also went by the name of John Flowers) "got irritated with me" and locked the door to the store, he said. Mark left and called his in- laws, George and Denise Rios. On the chance that Ginger had disappeared of her own free will, a local publication, geared to entertainers around the country, published her photo and the story on their front page. If she had left on her own, perhaps a producer or musical group in another city might recognize her. Sadly, that was not to be. Four months after she went missing, Ginger's parents were notified that the body of a woman found in a shallow grave in Arizona was that of their daughter. The wife of Craig Jacobsen, led police to the grave, where the owner of Spy Craft had buried Ginger after killing her in the backroom of his store. On May 10th, three months before the discovery of Ginger Rios' remains, Pinal County Sheriff's Department deputies found the body of another female, estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old. Flowers, who told his wife that Ginger Rios "got in his face and he snapped," was tried and sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility beginning after 20 years on the Rios murder charge.

After a tip from a citizen, the body of Debora Flores Narvaez, the 31-year-old Las Vegas dancer who seemed to disappear into thin air on December 12th, was found in an abandoned house near downtown Las Vegas. The dancer from the Luxor's Fantasy show had been dismembered and placed in concrete in plastic tubs. It was determined that she died of asphyxiation due to neck compression. A tip led police to discover her remains at an apartment near Bonanza Road and Las Vegas Boulevard. Her ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Jason "Blu" Griffith, who danced in both the Toni Braxton show at the Flamingo, and Cirque du Soleil's Love at The Mirage, was charged in connection with her murder. A private memorial service for Debbie was held yesterday at St. Viator Catholic Church, while a memorial service took place at 11 a.m. this morning in the Luxor's Atrium Showroom where Fantasy, produced by Anita Mann and choreographed by Cris Judd, plays at 10:30 nightly.

A follow-up to the Ginger Rios horror story. It wasn't until last June that the "Jane Doe" found in the grave near Ginger, was identified. Thirteen years after the discovery of her body, the unidentified female finally had a name. She was 15-year-old Christina Marie Martinez, who disappeared from Phoenix while on her way to a Laundromat. Jacobsen/Flowers is also a suspect in that murder.


Ginger Rios

Lou De Meis

* * * * * * * *

Reminder...
This is the last weekend to see Cabaret at The Onyx Theatre. Directed by Off Strip Productions' Brandon Burk, this musical was made for the intimacy and ambiance of The Onyx Theatre. This version of the John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff's Tony-winning musical has Karalyn Clark as Musical Director, and Olivia Hernando as Choreographer. Mike Olsen and David Sankuer provide the sets, and Isaias Hiram Urrabazo created the costumes. Cast members include Kirstin Maki, Cory Goble, Brian Scott, Autumn Grace Johnson, Joy Demain, Lou De Meis, John Dorsey and Joshua Smithline. Hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including "Cabaret," "Willkommen" and "Maybe This Time." Right this way, your table's waiting. Remaining performance times for Cabaret are Saturday, August 2nd at 8 p.m., and Sunday the 3rd at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $24, and for seniors, military and students, the ticket price is $19. Call (702) 732-7225 for reservations. The Onyx Theatre is located at 953 E. Sahara, 16B, in the Commercial Center.

* * * * * * * *



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