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October 30, 2014

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It’s celebration, then litigation, for Zowie Bowie

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Beverly Poppe

Chris Phillips, Marley Taylor and Monte Carlo President Anton Nikodemus.

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Zowie Bowie (Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor).

Zowie Bowie are used to jarring shifts afield in their stage act. One moment it’s dance and hip-hop. The next, Rat Pack-era standards. But today presented a U-turn that was radical even by their … well, standards.

In mid-afternoon at the Monte Carlo, Marley Taylor and Chris Phillips made official what has been reported (first by URL -- Ubiquitous Robin Leach) for more than a week: They will perform an extended engagement at The Pub and the Lance Burton Theatre. Dates at The Pub, formerly known as the Monte Carlo Brew Pub, begin Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 5-7. The show at the Lance Burton Theatre, which will be the duo’s earnest nod to Old Vegas called “Vintage Vegas,” begins Sept. 13. That engagement is set for three months.

It was, and is, good news for Zowie Bowie. The forever bronzed and buoyant duo had been seeking an extended engagement since opening Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort three years ago, and having played at non-Strip resorts Green Valley Ranch and the Palms in the interim. But in a change of tempo akin to shifting from “Bust a Move” to “My Way,” on the very day of the Monte Carlo announcement, Phillips and Taylor, whose real name is Christine (Chrissy) Gabell, along with their company Zowie Bowie Entertainment LLC, were sued in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas by an ex-boyfriend of Gabell's who won a $1.545 million judgment against Gabell in Nashville in 1997.

The ex-boyfriend, Dan B. Wilson Jr., had sued Gabell after their relationship soured and Gabell accused him of sexual harassment. At the time, Wilson was a music company executive and lost his job over Gabell's allegations -- allegations denied by Wilson.

In his lawsuit Wednesday, Wilson charged that with interest, Gabell now owes him $3.245 million and that she has paid just $1,200 of the judgment -- even though Zowie Bowie has performed in recent years at Red Rock Resort and the Palms for pay that Wilson says was $7,000 to $22,800 per week.

Wilson charges that Phillips and Gabell are hiding assets within Zowie Bowie Entertainment LLC and asks the court to order an accounting of all revenue received by Zowie Bowie Entertainment LLC and Gabell to determine how much is subject to garnishment for payment of the judgment.

The timing of the lawsuit is, at the very least, remarkably coincidental. It definitely caught the duo off-guard. In a phone conversation tonight, Zowie Bowie's spokesman Steve Honig said: “We are not aware of any lawsuit that has been filed and therefore cannot comment on it.”

Zowie Bowie and Monte Carlo President Anton Nikodemus were on hand at the hotel’s Brand Steakhouse earlier in the day for the formal announcement of the Monte Carlo engagement, as we were informed officially that Z.B. would help relaunch The Pub, which is being given a makeover and will reopen with the duo’s hip-hop set. On Sundays, beginning Sept. 23 and with a ticket price of $29.95, Z.B. will go with its “Vintage Vegas” collection of standards at the classically designed Lance Burton Theatre. This is a show that hearkens to the Rat Pack era that Z.B., especially the uniformly hep Phillips, is so fond of. And even if there’s nothing for you in Zowie Bowie’s act, at least it’s good to know they are employing 18 musicians for its orchestra in that Sunday production. Z.B. is planning a Valentine’s Day fundraiser at The Pub, a show to benefit Opportunity Village that will play out as a kind of all-star production of Vegas performers.

Musically, Zowie Bowie is on solid footing. Now we watch the legal drama unfold.

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