Monday, June 4, 2012 | 5:55 p.m.
During Clint Holmes’ appearance Saturday night at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, he spoke longingly of Bobby Short’s long career at Cafe Carlyle in New York.
As Holmes said, presidents, dignitaries, contemporaries, all made the pilgrimage to this storied Manhattan haven of cool hangs to see Short perform.
As Holmes talked of Short, for whom he paid tribute this weekend, a woman shouted, as if goosed by her date, “The Carlyle!”
Like a boxer deftly slipping a jab, Holmes chuckled said, “Yes, the Carlyle, as I mentioned earlier ...”
Hey, sometimes a great frontman and seven-piece band is not enough to carry the show. Thanks to the volunteer sidekick!
Holmes performed thrice over the weekend, on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. It was the first time a paying audience in Las Vegas had seen his tribute to Short, which he has previously performed at “The Carlyle!” and also at a showcase at the now-defunct Stirling Club at Turnberry Place.
Holmes is back at the Carlyle again this month. On June 13, his tribute to the music of Cole Porter and Paul Simon will be filmed, with the idea that it will be pitched as a theater piece.
Coincidentally, or not, Larry Moss was in the audience when Holmes debuted the Porter-Simon performance at Cabaret Jazz in April. Moss, who coached Helen Hunt to an Academy Award for Best Actress for “As Good As it Gets,” has worked as the director of Holmes’ autobiographical play, “Just Another Man.” He is the director of the Porter-Simon show who envisioned the fanciful barroom conversation that drives Holmes’ performance.
It’s all connected, you see, with all roads leading through Cabaret Jazz. And, of course, “The Carlyle!”
• The Playboy Club closing was lot like the final episode of “M*A*S*H”:
It was a bittersweet bug-out.
The blackjack tables had been yanked from their moors, and I cannot verify that the air conditioning was operating (it was a bit sticky in there), but there was some ancillary fun happening as The Playboy Club at the Palms closed Saturday night. No rabbit’s foot for this place, right? About a year after a sweeping out of blackjack dealers as the first sign that changes might be in store, the club partied once more before hitting the lights.
Of what remained, two gleaming-red Playboy bunny logos beamed across the dance floor. There was a bachelor party for a real-estate magnate, a well-heeled and buoyant gent who is friends with Fox 5’s Jason Feinberg, who helped pour champagne for the dozen or so guys in the party. Many wore temporary face tattoos, the same design as favored (in a permanent way) by Mike Tyson. They also partied with a monkey in their Fantasy Suite abode before hitting the club.
The Playboy Club was managed by 9 Group, which also operates N9NE Steakhouse, Nove Italiano, Moon, Ghostbar, Rain and the Palms Pool at the hotel. Palms President Joe Magliarditi is forging changes all across the hotel. One is finished, as a partnership with Cantor Gaming has led to a renovated, crimson-and-chrome-appointed sports book. Also in development is a planned closing of Gardunos Mexican restaurant in favor of the sports-themed restaurant and tavern Heraea, a partnership between the Palms and The One Group, which is chiseling its way into various Las Vegas resorts on and off the Strip (it will run the Bagatelle nightclub and pool at the Trop, and there is serious chatter about One Group’s interest in the "Crazy Horse Paris" space at MGM Grand).
If you look around the Palms at venues that could be renovated or swapped out entirely, many of them are 9 Group holdings. Magliarditi says this is not to signify that 9 Group, as a whole, is bugging out of the Palms. He notes that One Group overlord Jonathan Segal is friendly with 9 Group officials and the two can co-exist.
But there won’t be any co-existence with the Playboy brand, as the only Playboy Club in the United States is now closed. As I made a final lap around the club, I was asked by a group of five imbibers, all in their 20s, if I would snap a picture. Two women were from Erie, Pa., and didn’t know the club was closing until Saturday afternoon.
The three guys were all from Wales. It didn’t seem to matter where they were from.
“We’ve never been here before,” one said, referring to The Playboy Club specifically. “It’s too bad it’s closing, but we’re heading to Moon in a few minutes anyway.”
• Readers who also happen to be avid Elvis fans have asked how it is that the Ultimate Elvis Contest is open to those performing in “Legends in Concert” productions, yet one of the grand prizes is … a contract with “Legends in Concert.”
Good question. Let us rewind, shall we?
Victor Trevino Jr. won the Las Vegas competition last month at Fremont Street Experience’s 3rd Street Stage. In winning this leg of the competition, Trevino beat 22 other Elvis Tribute Artists (ETAs, for short … and tall, and thin and fat).
It turns out that Trevino already performs as Elvis in “Legends in Concert,” adding more “Legends” heft to a competition that is co-sponsored by “Legends” (along with Elvis Presley Enterprises), featured one “Legends” performer who joined me on his year’s judging panel (Adele tribute artist J.C. Brando) and included stage performances by “Legends” artists, including the Las Vegas “Legends” Elvis Tribute Artist, the ever-magnanimous Matt Lewis.
That’s a lotta “Legends.”
How Trevino is dealt with is, yes, he is part of the “Legends” lineup, and as such is available to play Elvis anywhere “Legends” is staged. He has advanced to the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest finals Aug. 10-18. As “Legends” marketing ace Mark Mercer explained, those who are already members of “Legends” shows who win the national Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest are offered a “Legends” contract extension, along with a $20,000 grand prize and the universally priceless “street cred” associated with the championship.
Check back in August to see if the Las Vegas contestant it indeed Victor-ious.
• Richard Dawson, who died Saturday of esophageal cancer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, had a connection to Las Vegas: His former daughter-in-law, Cathy Hughart Dawson, is producer of “The Price Is Right Live!” at Bally’s.