Monday, May 19, 2014 | 12:56 p.m.
The Kats Report Bureau has been ping ponging across the city the past few days, as it should be. Let’s stop, smell the roses, rake and repeat:
• Frank Marino is celebrating his 25,000th show on the Strip on May 31. He is the longest-running continual headliner on the Strip, ever, and has had a street named for him and two stars on the Las Vegas Walk of Fame placed in his honor.
But you know what he lacks aside from the ballroom he keeps joking about at the Quad? A wax figure at Madame Tussauds in the Venetian. Over the weekend, Tiesto, the DJ, was honored with a wax figure. Marino has tried for years to be similarly honored, as have members of The Rat Pack, Wayne Newton and Siegfried & Roy, among Las Vegas icons. That would seem the last achievement for one of the true enduring stars of the Strip. Maybe a movement is in order.
• We’ll have a bit more on this in a few hours, or days, but Frankie Moreno’s barn burner of a performance in February at the Stratosphere — the one that was no admission, and a series of cameras wrung the stage and cut through the crowd — is set for a May 31 broadcast on PBS. This is to coincide with the cable net’s spring pledge drive and is significant exposure for Moreno, who is to celebrate his 500th performance at the Strat and a relaunch of the updated version of his show in mid-June. He is on his regular Wednesdays-through-Saturdays schedule.
Moreno also has been busy making appearances across the country for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and (as always) writing and recording for an upcoming album. This show at the Strat looks and sounds great with studio master Pat Thrall overseeing the sound mix, and the crew at PBS is thrilled with the results.
• Few have packed more activity into a period of eight years than Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie. His stage show has taken more twists and turns than the Manhattan Express at New York-New York, but he continues to produce one of the most energetic acts in the city. His eighth anniversary is Friday night, where it all started at Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort. A cocktail party is set for 10:30, with the show at 11:30. Or, if we are in the ZBTZ (Zowie Bowie Time Zone), count on it at 12:15 a.m. or so.
• On the topic of events of this week, Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns are finally releasing their new album, titled “The Answer,” on Thursday. Band leader and founder Jerry Lopez talked of the project, more than three years in the making, on Friday’s episode of “Kats With the Dish” on KUNV 91.5-FM.
In the interview, Lopez talks of his prostate cancer diagnosis last year, which prompted a series of visits to San Francisco for treatments and threw the band off its Monday-night schedule at the Palms. The Sunday shows lasted about two months as Lopez addressed his health concerns. The band, and Lopez, is back in fine form and has never performed better than they have in recent shows. These days, “The Healing” takes on a deeper meaning for Lopez, who started referring to Santa Fe shows as such after a gig long ago at Palace Station. These days it happens at 10:30 p.m. at Lounge at the Palms.
• No formal confirmation of this yet, but I am reliably informed that the new “show doctor” at “Jubilee” is Gene Lubas, once of “Viva Elvis!” and late of 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison at Mandalay Bay. The partnership between Lubas and Madison cratered just as 1923 was opening. The partnership between former “Jubilee” artistic director Frank Gatson Jr. and Caesars Entertainment officials cratered just as that show was relaunched in March. This is a critical period for “Jubilee,” as the creative team attempts to finish, or fix, or reimagine what Gatson has left behind.
• We knew the sighting of Hugh Hefner at Rush Lounge in Golden Nugget on Friday was too good — or too goofy — to be true. So I hit that scene late the following night and met up with a guy who had emailed me months ago: George Kane, a professional celebrity impersonator who looks remarkably similar to Hugh Hefner. This is especially true when Kane wears a burgundy robe with the Playboy logo stitched on the back. He caused quite a scene; it took the band 10 minutes to convince singer Rachel Swindler that the person was an impersonator.
More curious was the scene around the room. Rush Lounge famously lures the buskers from Fremont Street Experience to its late-night sets. So we had Mr. Spock from the “Wrath of Khan” period; Kenny Chesney and Luke Bryan; Elvis (that was Harry Shahoian, frontman of house band Rock This Town, who is a great Elvis impressionist but does not perform as Elvis at the Nugget); Rod Stewart (John Anthony from “Legends in Concert,” who sat in with the band); and a woman who looked a lot like Pia Zadora (and that was likely a coincidence).
Everywhere you looked, someone was asking to pose with one of these people for photos. One woman about passed out upon seeing the Chesney and Bryan duet. This was not so out of the ordinary, as the real Luke Bryan stopped in to see the real Pia Zadora perform at Piero’s on Friday night. At one point, Mr. Spock pulled out a blackjack players’ card, one of those what-to-hit charts, and showed a group of onlookers the best way to beat the house.
It was just daffy. Around 2 a.m., Shahoian surveyed the scene and said, “You know it’s crazy when you have Mr. Spock and Hugh Hefner in the room — and they’re the normal ones.”
It is virtually impossible to be anywhere in Las Vegas and miss the Stratosphere. It towers 1,149 feet above Las Vegas and is the tallest observation tower in the United States. The casino itself is 55,784 square feet and contains 950 slot machines, 120 game tables and 2,427 hotel rooms.
Of the hotel's 2,427 rooms, 909 were recently remodeled into Stratosphere Select rooms.
The Stratosphere is mostly known for its rides at the top of the tower. The Big Shot, located at the 113th floor, torpedoes riders up 160 feet using compressed air. X-Scream is a teeter-totter perched at the top of the observation deck — if that wasn't scary enough, the coaster arm flings the riders out 27 feet over the edge of the tower. Guests looking for something more sedate can just hang around the 107th floor and simply look at the scenery.