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September 30, 2014

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Guest Columnist:

‘Defending the Caveman’ star Kevin Burke: My year away from Las Vegas

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Olivia Newton-John and Kevin Burke in Nassau, Bahamas.

Guest Columnist Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke with facial hair. Launch slideshow »

Circus Ringmaster Kevin Burke

Circus ringmaster Kevin Burke at The Orleans. Launch slideshow »
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Kevin Burke of "Defending the Caveman" at Harrah's arrives on the red carpet during the grand opening of Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.

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Kevin Burke and his Guinness World Record certificate.

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Kevin Burke, center, oversees the marriage of Julie Jones and Chris Jones at Fitzgeralds.

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Kevin Burke celebrates his 3,000th performance on June 8, 2011.

Robin Leach has finished his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, and many of our Strip personalities again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin revs up for his Strip coverage again, we continue today with our popular guest columns: restaurateur Elizabeth Blau, actor-comedian Kevin Burke and the king of car commercials Josh “The Chop” Towbin. Here’s Kevin.

It’s been a year since Las Vegas and I broke up and I said goodbye to your sweet sexy neon and scenic vistas in infinite shades of brown — 365 days and change since I left you and my role in “Defending the Caveman” at Harrah’s.

I had good reason. My kids needed some serious dad time, and I needed some serious family time with them in the Midwest. The kind of time that ends up with exhausted children asleep in the back of the minivan on the way home from an adventure.

During my vacation, I wrote a show about being a Las Vegas headliner, which I performed at various Fringe Festivals. I talked about the weird things that happen here, like the time I watched two newlyweds still in their wedding clothes blissfully drop the contents of their wedding envelopes into a slot machine, and my bizarre red-carpet encounter with the patriarch of a famous family of singers.

Don’t worry: I kept our strangest stories private. (Cast of “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s, I’m looking at some of you!)

I took an extended cruise of the Caribbean. I witnessed an incredible post-storm sunset in Jamaica.

I learned The Way of Tequila from sensei Chalo at Three Amigos Cantina in Cozumel. Hint: The tequila they export is nowhere near as good as the tequila Mexico keeps for itself.

In Nassau, Bahamas, I met two very different people. The first called himself “Money Anonymous.” He assured me that his leisure-enhancing products are Bahamas’ finest and most reasonably priced. I did not partake of his offerings, nor do I think it wise to publish a photo of a self-confessed Bahamian drug dealer.

I did meet in Nassau someone whose picture I can publish: Olivia Newton-John! I had to travel 2,500 miles to meet someone whose show is two doors down from mine on the Strip. We had a very nice chat, after which she invited me to attend her concert aboard the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship. It was a fantastic performance. And no matter what anyone says, I’m convinced that she’s hopelessly devoted to me.

Mostly, though, it’s been a John Lennon-like year of reconnecting with my family. I’ve been fixing school lunches, going to the kids’ orchestra and band concerts, attending Scout meetings and watching McKenna and Griffin grow into wonderful young adults. We’ve also been working on perfecting trampoline flips in the backyard. (The kids, not me.)

But Las Vegas? You know I couldn’t stay away forever. We mean too much to each other. Everywhere I go, people ask about you. They love the fact that you are the Entertainment Capital of the World. Even Money Anonymous dreams of visiting the Strip.

So here I am, back in “Defending the Caveman” at Harrah’s. I’ve been working with director Bill Mann to bring a new perspective to the show, and we’ve written new material to keep “Caveman” updated and fresh.

I’ll be sharing the role with John Venable, a terrific actor from Texas. Unlike a show such as “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas, in which the actors sharing the role of Frankie Valli have to fit into a specific, reliable template, “Caveman” allows for John and me to bring very different points-of-view to the role.

It’s the same one-man play, but from two perspectives. Sharing the role also will give me more time to periodically get back home to help with homework and work on trampoline flips.

Oh, and I grew a beard. What do you think?

Be sure to check out our other guest columnists today, restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and TV commercial king Josh “The Chop” Towbin from Towbin Automotive. On Monday, we’ll meet up with N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms chef to the stars Barry S. Dakake and rocker Ben Carey from Lifehouse.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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