Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2019

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John Katsilometes on the happy convergence of Smoothies, a teen journalist, a mom, and the immortal Steven Tyler at a Harley dealership

We start with a list of the players and a flurry of disclosures.

Chiara Velotta is the daughter of Rick Velotta, who is a business writer for the Las Vegas Sun. Chiara is also a reporter for the Review-Journal's RJeneration page. Christine Velotta is the wife of Rick, mother of Chiara, and band director at Lamb of God Lutheran Church and First Good Shepherd Lutheran Church schools.

And I played tambourine for Aerosmith in the late-1980s. Of course, I joke.

But what remains to be reported is true. A little more than a month ago Chiara, a 17-year-old senior at Valley High School, and a group of friends were slurping Smoothies at a Coffee Bella stand inside the Harley Davidson dealership on South Eastern Avenue.

Not surprisingly, up walks Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler.

Why Tyler was roaming through a Harley Davidson shop on South Eastern Avenue could be explained in any number of ways, but he was there. Eventually he made his way toward the girls, who happen to be musicians (Chiara plays clarinet in the Valley High band).

A few of the Valley students started firing photos of Tyler on their cell phones, so he stopped to say hello and said he was in town for a corporate gig at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Aerosmith would return in February, he added, to play at the MGM Grand Garden Arena - that show is Saturday night - and Chiara seized the moment: "Can I interview you for RJeneration?" Tyler was skeptical that she was an actual journalist and made her pinkie-swear on her role with the paper (I am not kidding).

Nonplussed, Chiara called her folks - that's the aforementioned Rick and Christine. As she started to tell her mother the story, Tyler returned and asked for the phone. "Mom, Steven Tyler wants to talk to you," Chiara said, handing her phone to Tyler while nervously twirling her hair.

The two had quite a confab - Christine spoke of teaching students to play hand bells; Tyler noted that he is a rock star but actually older than Christine (he's 57, she is not).

Tyler finished the chat, shook hands with Chiara and said "thank you." Chiara is looking forward to her exclusive - a five-minute interview with Tyler on Saturday night.

Five minutes, unless Mom calls, of course.

Salty Lake: On hand for Wednesday's opening night of "Hairspray" at the Luxor was a slim Rikki Lake, who starred as Tracy Turnblad in John Waters' film version. The 37-year-old Lake took in the show with her father, Barry (who has lived in Las Vegas for 13 years) and praised Katrina Rose Dideriksen, who plays Tracy in Vegas.

"She has big shoes to fill, a tough act to follow," Lake said, laughing. "But I thought she did great. I'm hard to please, but this was great. I really enjoyed the energy. I think the show will do really well." As for possibly returning to the role of Tracy, she said, "No, no. There has been a lot of time, 19 years, since I did that. I'll leave it to others." ...

Clooney update: On "Larry King Live" on Wednesday, George Clooney told King a bit about Las Ramblas, the $3 billion development he's backing on Harmon Avenue. "It's the type of place where you dress up to see a show," Clooney said. "The kind of casino that doesn't exist anymore." Clooney also said he would donate 25 percent of his profits from the project to African relief ...

Another fundraiser: Keep Memory Alive's "Power of Love" fundraiser at the MGM Grand received the lion's share of coverage, but also held over the weekend was Golden Rainbow's inaugural "Naked Hearts" event at Krave Nightclub on Saturday. Boosted by live (and adult) performances by "Folies Bergere," "Jubilee'' and "Splash'', more than $15,000 was raised for Golden Rainbow's AIDS awareness and prevention programs, and for housing and direct financial assistance ...

My bad: Apologies to Wolfgang Puck Catering Corporate Chef David Robins for adding an extra "B" to his name on Monday; this is the ideal time to note the California vanity plate I spotted over the weekend: MAI BAD.

Fabulous Las Vegas runs Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the Las Vegas Sun. John Katsilometes can be reached at 259-2327 or 812-9812, or at [email protected]