Who is the greatest Las Vegas stage performer of all time?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons Tom Jones performs at the Hollywood Theatre inside MGM Grand in 2009.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Tom Jones performs at the Hollywood Theatre inside MGM Grand in 2009.

Nothing like a subjective question to piss off the Tom Jones Fan Club! I grew up after the Golden Age of the Vegas stage (roughly 1955-1965), but through the magic of YouTube and the memories of old timers, anyone can relive the Strip’s glory days. I’ve seen an uncountable number of live performances, and my criteria for a quality stage show is simple: emotive, authentic talent (no Auto-tune or teleprompters, please). And while my tastes run toward raw and reckless authenticity (think pre-success Jane’s Addiction, circa 1987), it’s possible to translate that to Vegas performers.

Who? Yes, the admittedly excellent Tom Jones is a contender. And of course, there’s always the Rat Pack, particularly the magic moments when they crashed each other’s stages. Still, I’m sticking with Vegas legend Louis Prima, particularly when performing with Sam Butera and the Wildest. His combination of talent, energy and enthusiasm made the Sahara’s Casbar Lounge the place to be. While few modern Strip performers can touch the energy and authenticity of those guys, a name-check is due for Santa Fe & the Fat City Horns. Definitely worth a watch.

A recent UNR study showed that roughly a quarter of Nevada drivers use handheld cellphones despite the new law. Why?

Because the other 75 percent lied. I was at an intersection last week and every driver around me was on a handheld, probably because the law is nearly impossible to enforce, especially where window tinting is both legal and prevalent. Given the variety of in-car distractions covered by the “driving while distracted” law, Metro has enough on its plate.

Do you think casinos will ever permit strip clubs, pawnshops or banks under their roofs?

Not likely. Not that they wouldn’t want them. Casino operators want anything that makes money, and clearly those businesses can. But it is unlikely that the Gaming Control Board would permit them, given the “moral turpitude clause” (Gaming Control Regulation 5.011). Yes, some strip clubs have slots, but that is hardly the same as planting bare boobs next to Bouchon; even the pasty-laden Forty Deuce burlesque club was well-hidden under a Mandalay Bay escalator. As for banks and pawnshops, I suspect those, too, would be frowned upon. We have our manageable moral transgressions; nobody wants to send the message we are gaming the system to that extent.