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January 28, 2023

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Holly Madison takes after former business partners at 1923; Cosmopolitan seizes control of Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

1923 Bourbon & Burlesque


1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison at Mandalay Bay.

1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison

Holly Madison arrives at the grand opening of 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison at Mandalay Bay on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

The scene has been pockmarked by a pair of busted relationships involving high-profile individuals and institutions. All please rise …

• Over the course of several months, the fracture between Holly Madison and her former partners at 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque at Mandalay Bay seemed to be of a purely contractual nature.

Well, that seems not to be the case. To put it mildly.

What is happening this week strays from a pure business dispute, delving into unsettling allegations of surreptitious videotaping of disrobing dancers and terse denials by the accused.

In a lawsuit that was made public Monday, Madison is claiming that her former partners in the burlesque-themed 1923 speakeasy covertly video recorded dancers who performed at the club as they changed costumes.

Named in the suit were 1923 GM Avi Kopelman and club execs Robert W. Sabes, Noel Bowman and Robert Fry. Three companies also are named in the action, which is covered in two separate complaints.

The 1923 nightspot was a partnership among Mandalay Bay, along with the company that owns and operates Minus 5 Ice Bars and Madison, who helped produce the club’s live entertainment and also was the business’s chief marketing draw.

At issue in the complaint issued by Madison’s Las Vegas attorney, Eva Garcia Mendoza, is alleged video recording of dancers backstage at the club. The 1923 concept, originally, was for a series of choreographed numbers to be performed by dancers in burlesque-fashioned costumes.

Madison, who has declined comment for months as she has distanced herself from the club, claims the performers were recorded on video backstage inside the venue and that officials sent several hours of footage to computers being used at the business. Performers reportedly learned of this practice in August, which led to a mass defection of dancers.

By then, Madison had made herself scarce at 1923 and had not appeared onstage at the club since the spring.

Late last year, an effort to mediate the disintegration of the business partnership at 1923 fell apart. As recently as last month, word from inside the club was that there was hope a settlement could be reached without the two sides winding up in litigation.

The statement issued by Las Vegas attorney Jared Kahn, representing the nightclub, was that Madison is using the lawsuit as a “publicity stunt” to promote an upcoming book (Madison has expressed plans to focus on family, post-1923, as her husband, Pasquale Rotella, and she try for “Baby No. 2.”)

Kahn also stated that as soon as the club learned that video cameras were capturing dancers as they changed costumes, “The issue was rectified to everyone’s satisfaction.” He added that there is no evidence that the dancers’ images were “captured or republished.”

Kahn said in a phone conversation today that 1923 execs are strongly considering inviting the media to observe exactly where the video cameras in the club are positioned, which is reportedly in a hallway near a club exit as part of the venue’s security setup.

It is now evident, in this once-tantalizing club partnership, that both sides are prepped for a fight in court. Based on the acrimonious history at 1923, a countersuit from the club is a strong possibility. In fact, it seems unavoidable.

• The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has taken over its nightclub and restaurant speakeasy Rose. Rabbit. Lie., having vanquished the company with which it formerly partnered in the project, Coastal Luxury Management of Monterey, Calif.

This is yet another instance where a partnership brimming with innovative concepts and great potential has cratered like a soufflé. The co-founders of Coastal Luxury, Rob Weekley and David Bernahl, split last summer, with Weekley leaving the company in July in a reported buyout. The two have been mired in ping-ponging lawsuits in Northern California, litigation between Weekley and the company he helped launch.

Coastal Luxury operates the Pebble Beach and Los Angeles Food & Wine Festivals, and Cannery Row Brewing Co., Restaurant 1833 and Harvest Farm-to-Table in Monterey.

Coastal Luxury was name-checked for its alleged lavish expenditures in the original lawsuit filed by Spiegelworld against Cosmopolitan in the aftermath of the closing of the show “Vegas Nocturne” in the RRL showroom. That litigation, which prompted a fiery countersuit from the hotel, has yet to be resolved. The hotel continues to book one-off performances in the theater and stages live entertainment in its lounge.

In a statement issued today, the hotel bid farewell to its former hospitality partner. In full, it reads: “The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas assumed management of Rose. Rabbit. Lie. as of February 1, 2015. We would like to thank Coastal Luxury Management for their partnership and look forward to continuing to offer an outstanding culinary and entertainment experience.”

And for anyone interested in reservations at RRL, call (877) 667-0585, as the place is still in full flourish.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at

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