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October 30, 2014

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Holly Madison’s speakeasy 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque sets April 11 opening at Mandalay Bay

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Steve Marcus

Holly Madison poses after a guest performance in “The Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. Madison performed “The Lady Loves Me” with Elvis (Justin Shandor).

The revue is in, or is about to be, as Holly Madison’s new venture at Mandalay Bay, 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque, has an announced grand opening date of April 17, with a soft opening planned for April 11.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this new project,” Madison said today in a statement. “We look forward to introducing Las Vegas to glamorous burlesque set inside an intimate 1920s-style speakeasy.”

The venue is at the base of the set of escalators leading from the Shoppes at Mandalay Place to Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room, facing the Starbucks just off the casino floor at Mandalay Bay. Most recently, the spot was the locale of Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, also a burlesque-inspired hovel that was open from 2002-2009. The 1923 is to be a partnership among Madison, Mandalay Bay and Robert Habes’ Fat Hat LLC, which operates a pair of Minus 5 Ice Bars in Las Vegas, including the nearby outlet at Mandalay Bay.

With onetime “Viva Elvis” director Gene Lubas onboard as creative director, Madison is to present a burlesque review titled “Bourbon Burlesque” with a set of dancers working the room and a four-piece band playing behind what is billed as a jazz vocalist. Madison and her team have recruited Skye Dee Miles of Tropicana Lounge, and Madison herself is expected to appear to sing in the revue, specifically at the April 17 opening, but her schedule is not yet set. This is not a fully topless revue, with dancers performing striptease numbers down to pasties.

Given all the themed components and the cozy size of the space (4,600 square feet with a capacity of about 270), 1923 is very much a vignette-driven, atmospheric operation and not the type of full-scale musical production Madison first mused about when she left “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood in October 2012. Madison has said she reviewed “multiple offers” before settling on the 1923 concept and Mandalay Bay venue. For several weeks, Lubas and she have been busy crisscrossing Las Vegas to check out productions of all variety.

Said Chuck Bowling, Mandalay Bay’s president and COO: “The last year has been a transformative one for Mandalay Bay. We have introduced new entertainment, nightlife, daylife and new restaurants and bars, and 1923 will fill a much-needed niche within our resort for an intimate, engaging destination where guests can enjoy a cocktail, conversation and entertainment all in one spot.”

Trumpeted as a “social lounge,” 1923 offers 23 custom, barrel-aged whiskeys and that same number of custom cigars. Burlesque numbers will be interspersed throughout the evening (hours have not yet been set, nor has a performance schedule).

With the venue itself somewhat tucked away, “seductively” as the release specifies, the VIP room also is a hidden spot with cocktail servers dressed in 1920s-era attire. The motif is authentic brickwork and bourbon barrels with a vintage 1920s vehicle at the center.

The 1923 club is being positioned as an ideal spot for private parties. What is not on the table is a full food menu, although a catering partner will be lined up for private events.

With its opening fast approaching, all that’s left is to hire staff, finish construction and rehearse the show.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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