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September 21, 2014

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Oscar’s next topic: Legalized prostitution

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Leila Navidi

Oscar Goodman sits in a booth at Oscar’s Beef Booze & Broads inside the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas Monday, Dec. 19, 2011.

This week, we swing around the scene, in Las Vegas and even in Laughlin:

n The second round of “Oscar’s Dinner Series” at the Plaza on May 22 will feature a triumvirate of Oscar Goodman’s favorite passions: sipping martinis, fine cuisine and holding court. The first of these Goodman-hosted events was in March.

The scene: drinks at 6:30 or so, followed by dinner and a talk by Goodman on a pre-selected, Goodman-conjured topic. Next month’s subject: “Is Prostitution Legal in Las Vegas?”

No. What’s for dessert?

Goodman’s presentation, of course, will be more comprehensive than a one-syllable answer. Goodman has had a lot to say about the topic over the years, and it is the one area where he and his wife, current Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, have not agreed. At least, not in public. The current Mayor Goodman has said legalizing prostitution in Clark County is a bad idea. But her husband, when he was mayor, mused of legalizing prostitution downtown. In his book, “Being Oscar,” Goodman said if prostitution were legalized in Las Vegas, revenue raised by regulating and taxing that industry would provide the city the best-paid teachers in the U.S. and vastly improve the public education system.

This should be a spirited discussion. When he was mayor, Goodman once met with a prostitute in his office at City Hall. She was renowned brothel superstar Sunset Thomas, known for appearing on “Cathouse” on HBO and who still punches the clock at Bunny Ranch in Pahrump. She was interviewing Goodman for her freelance column on a boxing website, and she asked Goodman who would prevail in a fight between Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and Bugsy Siegel. Goodman’s response, “The Ant would have destroyed him.” This is the kind of insider info that will make these Goodman events singularly entertaining.

• If you live in Southern Nevada, it is highly likely your life has been touched by a Gael.

A pair of Bishop Gorman High School graduates is behind the new Laughlin Events Center, which Thursday night hosted a concert by Jason Aldean, who is not a Gael but who has won enough country music awards to fill a grain silo.

The LEC, as it is called, was built with $4.5 million from Marnell Gaming, operated by Tony Marnell III, who owns Colorado Belle and Edgewater on Laughlin’s Casino Drive. Mark Sterbens Jr., assistant general manager and vice president at the two properties, is helping launch the venue. The two have known each other since high school at Gorman, which boasts a long list of famous and influential alumni. Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III, Michael Gaughan, former Gov. Bob Miller and UFC President Dana White are also GOIs (Gaels of Influence). No Las Vegas high school has produced more power than Gorman.

• A few weeks ago, I mused in a column about the prospects of Andre Agassi running for public office — that he would be just as tough an opponent during a campaign as he was on the tennis court.

Shortly after that column was published, a person invited to the Governor’s Dinner in July in Carson City said Agassi would play a prominent role. Sure enough, Agassi will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

Agassi still maintains that he is not interested in running for an elected office. In a text the week after that column appeared, I asked him if he’d changed his mind. His response: “They only want me for my body.”

• The latest reports from Australia and elsewhere — that Kerry Packer’s Crown Resorts is interested in, or even in the process of, buying the Cosmopolitan — has sparked some speculation about how the resort would proceed with its investment in entertainment. The Cosmo has spent aggressively on such recent projects as the dinner-performance venue Rose. Rabbit. Lie., the production “Vegas Nocturne,” the new Chelsea music hall and such top-level acts as Bruno Mars. Entertainment officials around town have arched their eyebrows at the Cosmopolitan’s spending on live performers under the stewardship of current owner Deutsche Bank. One of the first indicators of how any new ownership plans to proceed is how it handles the projects, venues and individuals it inherits.

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