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October 15, 2018

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1923 edges back toward Ivan Kane vibe; Gold Coast pulling apart showroom


Denise Truscello / WireImage /

Holly Madison, seated, backstage with other performers at the grand opening of 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque by Holly Madison at Mandalay Bay on Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Las Vegas.

'The Red Dress' at Baobab Stage

Wassa Coulibaly performs at Baobab Stage during dress rehearsals for her original work Launch slideshow »

The Kats Report Bureau at this writing is Yard House at Town Square, just a handspring from Baobab Stage Theater, where the venue’s proprietor, Wassa Coulibaly, is heading up another of her “Midnight Cabaret” burlesque shows.

We expect a healthy crowd, and a crowd of healthy people, coming out for this event. I routinely refer to Coulibaly as “my hero” for her fantastic journey from Dakar, Senegal, to the United States.

In a story she has told in her autobiographical show “Red Dress,” Coulibaly left that country for Hawaii after taking up with an American street musician performing in Dakar. The two married, but Coulibaly split that relationship, which had turned abusive to the point that her husband forced the young dancer to work as a stripper or risk being deported.

She wound up applying for dance and theater courses at Santa Monica College in Southern California and answered a casting call to perform in “Zumanity” at New York-New York. Coulibaly was an original member of the show’s cast, leaving in October 2013 to devote all of her time, energy and passion to Baobab.

And just across this very busy restaurant, Coulibaly is setting up her stage now. She also has some groovy apparel she designed herself hanging in a boutique across from the theater in the lobby. It’s a heroic effort, all of it.


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 »

• On the topic of burlesque-themed projects, 1923 Bourbon & Burlesque at Mandalay Bay reportedly enjoyed a slam-bang “relaunch” weekend, setting club records in fact, with its Prohibition-styled parties Friday and Saturday. The club operators and former partner Holly Madison are working out a settlement that will formally end their professional collaboration.

Madison was recruited to develop a live show with a full cast of musicians, dancers and the great Skye Dee Miles as the main vocalist. But the partnership began to unspool last spring, and this dispute is now in the hands of attorneys from both sides.

The programming in the club will tilt toward the more lively vibe of Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, which occupied the space before the opening of 1923 last March. Expect the speakeasy theme to remain intact, and don’t expect 1923 to be a hip-hop club. The rollicking DJ act HardNox, which performed at the venue Saturday night, is off to other projects, and their appearance was a one-off.

And I am feeling there might indeed be a return of Miles to the club, as she has performed corporate events there. Why not bring the band back, too? I wasn’t around in 1923, but I doubt the end-of-Prohibition parties back then were backed by tracks.

• Word is spilling across social media, and social circles, that Gold Coast Showroom is closing as of mid-March. Stagehands and entertainers who have performed in the room for years are reporting that they have been notified the room is going to be pulled apart. The best early information is it will be turned into a restaurant.

When asked if the room was indeed about to shut down, Boyd Gaming spokesman David Strow responded that there was no news to share at the moment, but that “we have a lot planned at our Las Vegas properties this year, and we'll be sharing more details in the near future.”

Gold Coast Showroom opened along with the hotel in 1986. It has been host to an assortment of productions and acts over the years, including a pair of shows starring Barrie Cunningham as Neil Diamond and Jimmy Buffett (separate nights) and Sharon Haynes backed by The Jordanaires in a Patsy Cline tribute production. The real Jordanaires, who backed Elvis, played Gold Coast Showroom.

The most recent proper production show at the 490-seat room was “Forever Plaid,” which ran from 2005-2007, its last hurrah in Las Vegas. The Sorta Dixie Jazz Band became a popular dance-it-up act for a time, playing to a house of locals who are known to bring snacks and set up shop.

The latest rotation of afternoon performers has been such longtime Las Vegas faves as Lisa Smith, Joe Darro and Michelle Johnson. But the murmurs of the Gold Coast Showroom closing have permeated the property for years, and the fact that it is finally being taken away is sad but not surprising.

2014 NBT Woman of the Year Florence Henderson

Barry Williams, Florence Henderson and Christopher Knight attend Nevada Ballet Theater’s 30th anniversary Black & White Ball honoring Henderson on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Aria. Launch slideshow »

• Nevada Ballet Theater is honoring Debbie Allen as its Woman of the Year in its annual Black & White gala Saturday night at Aria. The honorary chairwoman of the event is Allen’s sister, Phylicia Rashad, famous for her role as Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”

But Rashad is not expected to be in town for the event, according to NBT publicist Jenn Kratochwill, which would negate the chance to hear from her about the long list of rape allegations against her former TV husband Bill Cosby.

In an interview with ABC News, Rashad said of Cosby: “He’s a genius. He is generous. He’s kind. He’s inclusive.” She added, referring to media coverage of the allegations, “What has happened is declaration in the media of guilt without proof.”

• Sighting of the weekend: Felix Rappaport at Hakkasan in MGM Grand. He was there Saturday night, celebrating the 21st birthday of his daughter, Briana. The former exec at a number of Strip properties, including Mirage, Luxor and Excalibur, is now the president and CEO at Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut but maintains a residence in Las Vegas.

In an email, Rappaport said of his visit to the nightclub fortress at MGM Grand, “I’m such a clubber.” You know it, Daddy.

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