Compiled by Jack Houston, Nina King, Emma Trotter and Regina Arnold
CELEBRATING A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF THE LAS VEGAS STRIP
This time last year, the buzz around the Las Vegas Strip could be summed up in one word: CityCenter. What took four years and more than $11 billion to build (and two words to spell) arrived with a flourish in mid-December and set the tone for a year that saw the demise of a showgirl, the rise of a new nightlife juggernaut and the migration of poofy-haired, orange-colored women and the greasy-haired, orange-colored men who love them from that far-off land known as Jersey. So join us as we affectionately recall all that was in 2010 (and a few things that soon will be in 2011) on the Las Vegas Strip.
Jan. 16 White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi host at Pure
Targets of an ongoing federal investigation after gate-crashing a 2009 White House state dinner, the couple somehow found time to squeeze in an appearance at Pure. Because how else were they going to address all their admirers?
Jan. 22 Pauly D and The Situation appear at Jet, ushering in a whole year of Jersey Shore-related hosting events at clubsWhile the real Jersey Shore may be about 2,500 miles away, the cast of Jersey Shore and Vegas have become synonymous. The only difference between their actions on camera in Jersey and here? Fewer hot tubs!
Jan. 31 The Showgirl Must Go Off: Bette Midler ends her Caesars run
Soph, the world’s oldest living showgirl, finally made her last appearance in The Showgirl Must Go On at Caesars Palace, and incidentally, so did iconic singer Bette Midler.
Feb. 14 The Diceman weds makeup artist Valerie Vasquez in Las Vegas Sporting a tuxedo and red bow tie instead of his usual motorcycle attire, Hilton headliner Andrew Dice Clay hired a luxurious bachelor bus (stripper pole included!) to take family and friends to the wedding and reception.
Feb. 19 Viva ELVIS officially opens Priscilla Presley played a huge role in fine tuning Cirque du Soleil’s Elvis-themed extravaganza; clippings of home movies and videos of him performing help the audience to really understand Elvis and his blue suede shoes.
Feb. 28 Jimmie Johnson wins Shelby American NASCAR Sprint Cup at LVMS
Jeff Gordon may have led for the majority of the 267-lap race, but Johnson managed to outlast Gordon for his fourth career victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And hot driver Danica Patrick helped bring more prominence to the Sam’s Town 300.
March 6 DJ Skribble premieres Freak Show at Studio 54The legendary DJ brought a high-energy act as guests watched performance artists swallow swords, eat shards of glass and lift weights using their eye sockets while Skribble spun top 40, hip-hop and electro rock mixes.
March 6 Manilow hits the Strip, a day later than expectedHours before Barry Manilow was set to open at Paris Las Vegas, a power surge forced cancellation of the singer’s debut. In true show-must-go-on style, he performed two shows the next night to make it up to fans. “I’m ready to do a third show back-to-back,” he said afterward.
March 12 Matt brings Gossiness from Palms to Caesars Palace It was London-meets-Vegas
for smooth and shiny (or should we say “Gossy”) lounge singer Matt Goss, who exploded this year with a jump from Palms to Caesars. The sexy British singer nabbed producer Robin Antin, who threw in a handful of Pussycat Doll-esque backup dancers known as the Dirty Virgins. The sexiness only exploded from there.
April 11 High Society invents the dayclub at the Palms When High Society dayclub hit Nove on top of the Palms, nightclubbers were encouraged to party through the night and hit the luxe restaurant for a huge buffet spread with DJs spinning in the middle of the restaurant and girls dancing on tables—all just as the clock was striking 1 p.m.
April 12 Privé, Living Room close at Planet Hollywood, new venue to open in 2011
Even some of the best celebrity DJs,hosts and after-parties couldn’t keep the scandal-plagued club from closing due to bankruptcy and other violations. But all is not lost—in its place comes the 17,500-square-foot Gallery, whose spring opening will include a new home to the beloved Pussycat Dolls Lounge.
April 15 Gilley’s re-opens, bringing country back to the Strip
It’s no bull. The iconic restaurant and bar climbed back into the saddle with a huge venue in Treasure Island. The mechanical bovine inside Gilley’s Saloon makes sure everyone has a buckin’ good time.
April 30 Mayweather and Mosley duel at MGM Grand In one of the most anticipated matches of the year, undefeated Floyd Mayweather took on Shane Mosley. Mosley’s early power play was matched later by Mayweather’s steady rain of gloves. After 12 rounds, Mayweather had won.
May 4 Mac King celebrates 10 years at Harrah’s, re-ups through 2015
Other magicians rave about him and fans return again and again for Mac King’s tongue-in-cheek Comedy Magic Show. After a decade,Vegas must have some kind of magic for King, ’cause Harrah’s extended him for five more years.
May 7 Jabbawockeez begins MGM Grand run, setting stage for
Monte Carlo residency The America’s Best Dance Crew winners tested the waters in Vegas this spring, and its success proved there was an audience for a dance show focusing on elements of hip-hop music and breakdancing. Jabbawockeez went on to sign a resident deal for its own full-scale production dance show, MUS.I.C., at Monte Carlo. Who knew Michael Myers was such a skilled dancer?
May 16 Miss USA crowns Michigan’s Rima Fakih
The 25-year-old Lebanon-born beauty and former Miss Michigan USA placed first in one of the nation’s premier pageants, Miss USA.
June 9 Rick Moonen finishes a controversial second on Top Chef Masters Sustainability advocate Rick Moonen was seeing more red than green after food critic Jay Rayner took issue with the sea-freighted venison the chef used in his final dish. Rayner’s petty half-star deduction cost Moonen the title and Three Square food bank, his charity, $100,000. Even worse? The venison was actually sustainable. Oh, deer.
June 13 Holly’s World debuts, chronicling Peepshow star Madison’s life Sin City-based reality shows never seemed to survive until Holly Madison entered the picture with record-breaking numbers for her own show. Holly’s World documents the Peepshow star’s crazy Vegas adventures with friends as she adjusts to life outside the Playboy Mansion. Season two premieres Jan. 23 on E! Ubiquity never gets old!
June 28 Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club opens at the Tropicana The Everybody Loves Raymond star finally achieved his dream, financing a comedy club inside the new-look Tropicana, where he rotates performances with a roster of up-and-coming comics.
July 5 KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers opens Back to the USSR! You don’t know how lucky you are! Sin City got lucky itself as celebrity chef Kerry Simon opened his gourmet, Cold War-themed burger joint in Harrah’s.
Aug. 3 Max Brenner sweetens The Forum Shops Famed chocolatier Max Brenner introduced Las Vegas to a sweeter side of life when he opened his eponymous restaurant. Chocolate found its way into nearly every traditional food, from dessert pizza to egg rolls—and no, we’re not complaining.
Sept. 5 Lance Burton calls it quits at the Monte Carlo after 14 years
When longtime Vegas magician Lance Burton announced he was leaving Monte Carlo, a collective sigh went up from visitors and locals alike. Burton was known for his interactive shows and community involvement.
Sept. 13 Angel takes over for vacationing Holly in Peepshow Holly Madison sidekick and Holly’s World co-star Angel Porrino filled in for her bombshell BFF to rave reviews, and will fill in for Madison on vacation breaks throughout 2011.
Sept. 22 The Defenders premieres chronicling lives of two Vegas attorneys
Real-life law partners Michael Cristalli and Marc Saggese (pictured) took their downtown law firm to the small screen, where they OK nearly every line of dialogue that comes out of Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell’s mouths. Talk about objection!
Sept. 28 Angel Management Group takes over PMG In the biggest nightlife shake-up since Peter Lawford was kicked out of the Rat Pack, Angel Management Group acquired Pure Management Group and its megaclubs, Pure and LAX, raising its after-dark dominance level from “jumpin’” to “poppin’.”
Oct. 14 Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premieres, starring Adrienne Maloof-Nassif
Everyone knows the Maloof family runs the Palms, but sister Adrienne finally got her time in the spotlight with a spot on Bravo’s Real Housewives series, cliché Vegas episode included.
Oct. 17 Liberace Museum closes A piece of old Vegas history was lost when the famed Liberace Museum closed. It contained such gems as his famously outlandish costumes, glittering piano and cars, but with a touring exhibit planned, Liberace’s sparkling memory lives on.
Oct. 21 Claire Sinclair performs with Crazy Horse She may only be 19, but pinup style beauty Claire Sinclair took her Miss October 2010 fame and turned it into a guest-starring gig in MGM Grand’s Crazy Horse Paris. Sinclair recently moved to Vegas to further pursue career opportunities.
Nov. 6 Rod Stewart performs test run at Caesars for possible resident show When longtime Elton John crony Stewart headlined for eight nights at the home of his Red Piano-tickling pal, people got talking. Whether Rod the Bod goes through with it probably depends on whether he sees child No. 8 (due in February) as a culmination or a halfway point.
Nov. 9 Jonathan Duhamel wins $8.9 million in World Series of Poker This stellar poker player not only won the Main Event, he made history, becoming the first Canadian to ever take the title.
Nov. 14 Elton John announces comeback at Caesars He’s still standing? Better than he ever did. Looking like a true survivor? Feeling like a little kid. Welcome back, Elton.
Dec. 6 The first-ever American Country Awards debuts at MGM Grand Touted as the only all-fan-voted country awards show, the ACAs arrived just in time to coincide with the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Carrie Underwood was the big winner of the night, picking up six Fender Stratocaster trophies.
Dec. 29 Rita Rudner departs Harrah’s Lovely Rita. The very funny comedian ends her longtime gig at Harrah’s this month. But look for her to surface on gondolas all over Vegas in the very near future.
Things We’re Looking Forward to in 2011
By Emma Trotter
Celine Dion’s return to The Colosseum. She did it once and created an empire, grossing ticket sales of $400 million and setting the stage for rival divas like Bette Midler and Cher to headline the space with their own stage shows. She returns in March for a three-year run.
Michael Jackson The Immortal. While Elvis’ death may have occurred long before he got his own Cirque du Soleil tribute show, Michael Jackson fans will have a dream realized when Cirque debuts its own production built around the iconic persona, dance and music of the King of Pop. A homage to an entertainment powerhouse who both lived and worked in Las Vegas, The Immortal will also be the first Vegas-based Cirque production to tour the country before settling into a resident spot at Mandalay Bay.
Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Culture and entertainment move further north as the Smith Center opens downtown. It will house the Nevada Ballet Theatre and Las Vegas Philharmonic and feature world-renowned performing artists. The center has already booked the musical Wicked for an August 2012 run.
Nikki Beach. The famed South Beach pool party heads to the desert at the newly renovated Tropicana. Along with Cafe Nikki, which is already in operation, the complex will include a posh pool club with signature pool parties and a nightclub, all expected to open in spring.
The return of the Las Vegas Pussycat Dolls. Expect more of what Vegas entertainment was built on when Robin Antin opens a bigger (3,500 square feet) and better lounge for her Pussycat Dolls burlesque troupe inside Gallery, the new nightclub at Planet Hollywood Resort.