Monday, August 20, 2007

Was I the only one who found Neil on last week's 'SYTYCD' hot in that Michael Jackson, 15-year-old sort of way?

Why is it in life that whenever you seem to find something good, if not great, the second-time-around always seems so... Lackluster.

Maybe it’s the amount of pressure you put onto yourself to make it as special as it initially was. Perhaps the circumstance and time was just right, putting everything into alignment and giving you the best possible experience. Whatever it might have been, it’s rare these days to find consistency in product and that thought, especially for the inflated price we pay for things, is mighty depressing.

Take for instance a recent trip of mine to THEhotel, a boutique hotel property located within the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. In the past... In this very blog... I’ve sung the praises of this relatively new all-suite hotel as one of Vegas’s best. After a couple of years of wear & tear, along with it being pimped out to every online travel discounter known to man, this hotel has really turned into THE property needing THE remodel.

Shacking up in one of their V-Suites for a long weekend (in town to see Kathy Griffin), it was obvious from the first few steps that this room hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint or new sheets in quite awhile. The only real difference in their regular rooms (780 sq ft) and V-Suites (900 sq ft) is that the V is always located on a corner, has nearly 180-degree views from the bedroom and is about $50/night more expensive. If you’re staying there, spring for the upgrade. It’s worth it.

Yeah, so the bathrooms needed new water stripping on the shower door, the quality of sinkside bath products had gone down, the LCD panel across from the tub was non-functional and the doors were literally falling off the closet. This isn’t even to mention how tough it was getting extra toilet paper from housekeeping. It would have been easier to find microdermabrasion in Buchenwald.

One of the coolest features of THEhotel was that their in-room halogen lighting was subdued, yet functional enough to work by. It was recessed into the walls and ceiling, creating really interesting shadows and enhancing the rich gold color scheme the rooms had. Fast-forward two years and now thanks to Al Gore (who would NEVER needlessly waste fossil fuels in his PRIVATE JET), the halogen lights have been replaced with florescents, all under the guise of creating a more ‘green’ hotel experience.

Listen: If I had wanted a more environmentally sensitive hotel stay, I would have swiped an old wig from one of Carrot Top’s transsexual hookers and combined it with the over-inflated performance of Celine Dion, fashioning a makeshift bed. For a city built on the sick excess of the human psyche, I find it pretty fucking lame that they’re cheapening out all in the name of being ‘environmentally sound.’ B

I was pretty psyched about renting the new 2007 G35 sedan from Hertz for the trip. I asked the reservations agent if there was anything that wasted more gas (like, perhaps, a G5 or a souped-up riding lawnmower), but she said that I’d be perfectly happy with the Infiniti.

Other than Kathy’s show at Mandalay, I hit three others: The Producers (just terrible), Cirque’s LOVE (at The Mirage, was fantastic) and Mamma Mia (my guilty pleasure). David Hasslehoff had just left Producers, so I had thought that it might re-invigorate the cast with some verve, but unfortunately it didn’t. Butchered to just under 90 minutes, the show loses some great songs, emotional connections, choreography and personality, all for the sake of antsy blackjack players who just can’t seem to return to their seats after an intermission.

The only Broadway musical to ever return investment in Vegas has been Mamma Mia. In the 6 years it’s been running, it’s returned to investors several times over, leading most of the same production team to bankroll the Fall 2007 mounting of Jersey Boys in The Venetian’s new tower wing. The past 10 years have seen Chicago, Hairspray, Notre Dame De Paris, We Will Rock You and a score of other shows bomb with the good intentions of simply bringing some East coast entertainment to the Vegas masses.

In a city where a shameless shlep like Danny Gans can make a decent living selling out 10 shows a week, it’s a damn shame that a Tony-award winning musical can’t survive for more than a year.

Eating in Vegas is always an adventure. Sure, you can go all out, spending literally thousands of dollars on Joel Robechon, Mario Batali (who’s now going on THREE restaurants at Venetian), Todd English or snag a great set of meatballs at Raos in Caesars, but one of my favorite spots for a meal just about anytime has always been The Peppermill. If you’re a longtime reader of 15mm, I’ve gabbed about this joint before.

While chatters on one of the most popular Las Vegas-based message centers (LVA) online might disagree with me, The Peppermill is a Vegas institution. Where else can you go at 3am and find a 8 page breakfast menu? They’ve got the best fresh-baked bagels in Vegas, along with a decorative color-scheme that can only be described as technicolor. The waitresses call you ‘hun’ and the sugar on the table looks slightly radioactive, but it’s all part of the overall charm at The Pep.

And FYI, try Munch’s Special Plate. It’s got enough calories to count as breakfast and lunch, but it’s absolutely fantastic.

I took a semi-spa day at THEhotel’s Bathhouse Spa. Kinky name, but an intimate and really well-designed place to drop some cash. They’ve also got a great gym (although it’s not well lit and the cardio machines need replacement).

Before I get into Kathy’s show wrap-up, let me just stress how surprised I was to see what direction THEhotel has gone in. Once catering to a sophisticated, upscale and quiet audience, the property now is overflowing with brides-to-be, sophisticates, bachelor parties and those who think that using half-a-bottle of cologne makes you *that* much classier. In a city where the only thing constant is change, it looks like Mandalay Bay has left THEhotel to the sharks.

Okay. Kathy Griffin. Funny dame.

Got a pair of house seats from her team. The show had been sold out for weeks, with a pretty large contingent of angry looking gay men standing by for any returns or no-shows. The Mandalay Theatre was lit beautifully, had some rockin’ dance music playing (for ‘her gays’ no doubt) and the crowd was just on-edge for her appearance.

You would have thought that Elvis himself had risen from the grave and made a one-night-only appearance. Holy shit. It was unreal.

Wearing her trademark black-on-black, Griffin stormed the stage with a fierce energy that carried through the entire evening. Spilling inside gossip on everything from Larry King to secretly wanting Heather Mills’s fake leg to fall off during her reality-show run, it was welcome sugary overdose for the pop-culture whore in all of us. Some of her real zingers revolved around Lohan’s recent arrest and Nicole Ritchie’s bun-in-the-oven.

In watching Kathy, I think the thing that amazes me most is that she rarely works the stage, but is still an incredibly well-rounded performer. She just stands still, right behind the mic, only reaching over to get a sip of water or momentarily make fun of Kate Moss’s robotic walk.

Another thing that Griffin exudes is pure Irish ballsy, bawdy humor. Her doesn’t-give-a-fuck attitude that’s letting in, one audience at a time, the inner workings of the Hollywood machine, all while thumbing her nose at it in the most sincere way possible. She reminds me of my father’s side of the family: All Irish. Most of what they say is pure bullshit, but it’s entertaining bullshit and a fun way to spend an evening.

I dented my credit cards at Fashion Show Mall. For those readers who aren’t quite sure where that is on the strip, it’s the mall across from Wynn that closely resembles a set piece from Madonna’s 1989 world tour. It’s an all-stainless steel, cold-looking building (which, coincidentally, could also describe Madonna). Thanks to the ladies at Diesel for hooking me up with some swagtastic deals.

Before I forget... It’s been emailed to me that gay-porn gossip god Damon Kruezer has taken a liking to 15mm and our brand of haughty humor. After exchanging some kind emails and Damon graciously featuring the blog on his daily dossier, it seems a friendship has been foraged. A big thanks to KRUEZER AT NIGHT for the thumb’s up, as well as his tireless efforts to keep the placid sheen of the gay adult industry to a bare minimum. His site is seemingly the one-stop-shop for those looking to keep up with the more-entertaining-than-OJ ‘Harlow’ murder scandal.

And speaking of a little gossip... It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

It’s been told to 15mm that a certain West coast working-boy is currently being eyed by three very important letters: I, R and S. It looks as if his lifestyle doesn’t quite match up with his earning power. That, combined with a few years of not actually filing his paperwork, sounds like a crap cocktail that no one would like to sip. I’d recommend a good lawyer and settling for pennies on the dollar... Anything to avoid spending an extended vacation at the ever-illustrious CLUB FED.

This A-lister escort, currently skimming the skin in sin city, is so freaked out by doing threeways with other courtesans that he routinely ‘falls ill’ when clients ask for multiples. His clients are now complaining openly that they’d like to see his muscular frame get freaked, but that he’s got more excuses to the contrary than the Bush Administration.

Thanks to his Broadway show closing, it’s been mentioned that this leading man is also taking his mouse-approved escort with him. Once paid for weekly by his employer, this escort has fallen head-over-heels in love with the actor and the two look to be a happy couple, making recent appearances at Joe Allen in NYC. Looks like fairy tales do sometimes come true. These two make Pretty Woman look like Lady and the Tramp.

Getting back onto Patti LuPone’s GYPSY performance from last edition, I got a whole mess of emails from Patti-fans who asked if by ‘mugging,’ I meant it as an insult.

I didn’t. I enjoyed LuPone immensely. I just found her characterization of Rose to be one that continually broke the 4th wall.

From her entrance through the audience during ‘Let Me Entertain You,’ she winked her way through the show. It probably didn’t help that 90% of the crowd were gay men who ate every word of it up, egging her on. But when it came to selling the tune, she hit em’ out of the ballpark, shaping every note well with easy understanding on even the most speedy patter song (something that Bernadette Peters never really did).

Laura Benatti (Into The Woods, The Wedding Singer) was Louise. Having seen her before in other musicals, I knew she had the vocal firepower to keep up with LuPone, but in perfect character she underplayed it: By the time she transformed into Gypsy Rose Lee, she had blossomed into a totally different person. It was a thrilling moment. It was a performance like Benatti’s that drives young people into the profession, suffering through years of waiting tables and folding laundry just for their one shot at that perfect show.

At the moment, I’m sitting in the Crow’s Nest of the Holland America’s Westerdam with one more day left on RSVP’s all-gay-all-the-time cruise. It’s one of the few quiet places for some reflection on the ship (where it seems that anything by Gloria Gaynor is banned), so here I sit putting my thoughts down about the last couple of weeks. I don’t plan on trip reporting on this cruise until the next edition, as I’m going to need some time to edit down pics, jot down additional thoughts and figure out why RSVP chose ports of call where NOT ONE DAMN THING WAS OPEN FOR BUSINESS...

But I’m not bitter.

Keep an eye out for another round of Eye Candy posting. I appreciate the compliments on the last edition, but can’t take credit for ANY of it. My EC is lovingly supplied by the Mouse Association in Key West, along with my pal Skrubber in Philly. Thanks to you two for always making sure the drool (and other bodily fluids) flows freely, ruining keyboards across the world.

Still haven’t been keeping TWITTER tabs on me? Check it out.

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I uploaded some new pics on the Google Gallery of both Vegas and the RSVP cruise. Mostly half-naked, jockstrap-laden self-shots, but they turned out pretty well considering. The RSVP party pics will be posted in-whole on 15mm in the next wrapup edition.

Take a look at my spiffy new phone from Rome: It's LG's co-op with Prada and it's not out in the states for another 6 months or so. Fuck iPhone. There, I said it.

... and one more shot of Neil because he's trying oh-so hard on the show. If I had to dance against Danny every week, I'd soil myself.


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