Sergio Portesan is the creator of the website, Viva Las Value - an awesome site crammed with tons of great tips & tricks on how to do your Las Vegas trip on a budget. Sergio is also my first ever "three-peat" guest on the podcast, with first 2 appearances being among my top 10 most-downloaded episodes of all-time.
I asked Sergio to hop back on the podcast for a couple of reasons...
First, with the Canada/US Border closed, I'm not able to travel down to Las Vegas but Sergio can, so I asked him if he'd be willing to join me for a "trip report by proxy" to share a few reviews from his most recent trek to Sin City.
Secondly, Sergio's trip coincided with the re-opening weekend of Las Vegas following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. As such, I wanted to get his thoughts & opinions on how he thought Vegas was doing in welcoming back visitors and - most importantly - whether or not he thought he'd be heading back down for another trip anytime soon.
If you've got Vegas-related questions for Sergio be sure to reach out and follow Viva Las Value on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
If you've found yourself strolling through The Linq on a recent Las Vegas trip, there's a very good chance you've seen my guest for this episode of the podcast performing.
Justin Michael Rodriguez is one of the performers in the show Extreme Live - a very cool, high energy, interactive show at the Linq.
Justin and I chatted about the time he spent growing up in Las Vegas, scoring a lead in the touring production of a major Broadway show, his brush with boy-band fame and his thoughts on the future of entertainment in Vegas.
If you want to keep up with what Justin is up to, you can follow him on Facebook and Instagram. Also, be sure to follow the Extreme Live Show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
One of my favourite things about Las Vegas is the vast array of entertainment options available. One of the most popular types of shows are the "celebrity impersonator" or "tribute shows" - and my special guest for this episode of the podcast is one of the best in the city!
Christina Shaw has been a professional celebrity impersonator for close to 20 years. As Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and a host of other celebs, she's had the opportunity to travel all over the US, Asia and the Caribbean. Christina has been performing in Las Vegas since 2010 and has had the opportunity to headline on The Strip numerous times, including as a part of the iconic Legends In Concert show.
During our conversation, Christina & I talked about growing up with a very entertainment-centered family, how she got started in the world of celebrity impersonation, some of her early gigs in Las Vegas and the process she follows when working on a new impersonation.
If you want to know more about Christina Shaw you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. Christina is also available for special greetings as Taylor Swift or Elsa & Anna from Frozen via her Cameo pages!
My guest for this episode of the podcast is someone I've been trying to connect with for awhile, but up until now our schedules just never clicked. I'm a HUGE fan of hers and anytime I have a chance to see her perform, I know I'm going to have an awesome time!
Sarah Hester Ross is an incredibly talented musical comedian & singer-songwriter. And if you've spent time in any of the duelling piano bars on the Vegas strip, there's a good chance you've seen her play.
Sarah & I talked about her musical background & how she made it to Vegas, some of the shows she's been involved with in her time in the city and how she's been building her online presence with the amazing material she's been posting on her various social media channels.
If you want to see what Sarah is working on make sure to follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Tik-Tok. Also, go subscribe to her YouTube channel and check out her website!
NOTE: I've been made aware of a claim against Sarah Hester Ross surrounding her recording, releasing & monetizing a musical work to which she allegedly did not receive permission or licensing to do so. The interview for this episode of the podcast was recorded approximately 2 weeks prior to release of this episode and any reference to the allegedly infringed upon musical work has been removed from this episode of the podcast.
Las Vegas is a city all about gambling & taking risks...but it's not just the tourists who go there to gamble.
Tens of BILLIONS of dollars have been shelled out over the last 30 years on the construction of mega-resorts, massive hotels and giant attractions all intended to keep the Vegas economy moving forward - and of course to make a tidy profit for the investors behind the scenes.
But in Las Vegas - as in life - not every gamble pays off.
That's what the debut episode of Sin City Stories is all about. I'm taking a deep dive into some Las Vegas history and exploring the stories behind the failures of The St. Regis Residences at the Venetian/Palazzo, the SkyVue Las Vegas Super Wheel, the Harmon Hotel at City Center and the Fontainebleau Las Vegas.
If you want to learn more about everything I've covered in this special episode of the podcast, visit the official Sin City Stories Volume 1 microsite! I've got photos & videos about all of these failed Las Vegas projects as well as extra info about their development & construction!
It was a little over a year ago that Vegas entertainer & actor, John Di Domenico - who's regarded as the world's best Donald Trump impersonator - invited me to his home to have a conversation for the podcast (check out that interview in Episode #18). During the course of our chat, John dropped into the conversation that at one time Donald Trump actually thought John had died. Apparently, I'm not the journalist I thought I was...because I just moved past that and didn't ask any follow-up questions.
Better late than never, I decided to ask John to come back on the show so I could find out the when, how and why the future President of the United States thought John had passed away.
We also got caught up on what John has been up to over the last year including the voiceover work he's been doing as Trump, his opportunity to meet Alec Baldwin, his dive into the world of Cameo and how he's been keeping busy during the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas.
If you want to keep up with what John has going on, follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And if you'd like one of John's many characters - including Donald Trump, Dr. Evil, Guy Fieri, Dr. Phil and many MANY others - to send a special message to a co-worker, friend or family member be sure to book him on Cameo!
I made my first visit to Ri Ra Irish Pub in the Shoppes At Mandalay Bay back in June 2019 and reviewed the experience on Episode #24 of the podcast. As I described it at the time, everything about Ri Ra was "authentically Irish". Sitting in this pub in a mall in Las Vegas felt exactly like sitting in the pub in Dublin - and a lot of things helped contribute to that...from the food, to the drinks, to the staff, to the music.
And that's where the people joining me for this episode of the podcast come into play.
My special guests are Dave Rooney and Dave Browne of The Black Donnellys. They're the resident house band at Ri Ra in Mandalay Bay.
I talked to the guys about growing up in Dublin & the band's origins in Ireland, how and why they made the move to Las Vegas, their various Guinness World Records and their brand new documentary film An Irish Story: This Is My Home.
Of course we also talked about the COVID-19 pandemic and how they've been keeping busy through the Vegas shut-down.
If you want to learn more about Dave & Dave and the Black Donnellys, visit their official website - which includes info on where you can watch An Irish Story: This Is My Home. Also make sure to follow the band on Instagram and Facebook - where they've been performing live shows.
And if you want to learn more about the tragic real-life story of The "Black" Donnellys - from which the band took their name - check out the website, Heaven & Hell on Earth - The Massacre of The "Black" Donnellys. On the site, you can read all about the family, the murders and the aftermath - including the TWO trials that followed - as well as look through archival evidence from the events.
In spite of its short history, the city of Las Vegas has some incredibly colourful characters in its past...and for this episode, I want to talk about one of those characters.
Howard Hughes was a billionaire, an inventor, an aviator, movie producer and philanthropist. He was also known to be a little "eccentric."
The stories about Howard Hughes are legendary - from the rumours of him urinating in mason jars & having foot-long fingernails to locking himself in a movie screening room for months on end & buying a Las Vegas hotel because he didn't want to leave. The stories have been around so long and spun in so many different directions, that it's sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction. And that's what my guest is here to do...
Geoff Schumacher is the Vice President of Exhibits and Programs at The Mob Museum in Downtown Las Vegas. Last time Geoff was here, we talked about Las Vegas's mob history...but another one of his favourite topics is Howard Hughes' time in spent in Vegas.
We talked about Hughes' aviation & filmmaking history, what prompted him to move to Nevada in the first place, the rumour that he bought the Silver Slipper Hotel & Casino because "the sign annoyed him", the bizarre reason behind his purchase of a Las Vegas TV station and much more.
Visit Amazon to purchase a copy of Geoff Schumacher's book "Howard Hughes: Power, Paranoia and Palace Intrigue". Also be sure to visit The Mob Museum's website for Virtual Tours and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
To say the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas caught people off guard would be a massive understatement. The complete closure of all non-essential businesses in the state of Nevada has been absolutely devastating to workers in Las Vegas.
One of the hardest-hit sectors is Vegas entertainers. This group saw their livelihood literally dry up to nothing. And in addition, a large portion of these workers are self-employed or working under contract, meaning that - until recently - they couldn't even collect unemployment.
Two Las Vegas showgirls saw the direction things were going and made the decision to jump into action.
Devon Alarid and Nina Kane launched The Socially Distant Show, an online show designed to give Vegas entertainers the opportunity to still perform for an audience, even if it meant a virtual one. They also added a charitable aspect to the show to allow viewers to make donations, which the ladies will distribute to performers who appear.
Devon & Nina joined me from their homes in Las Vegas (via Zoom) to chat about what they were doing before the shutdown, how they heard about the shutdown and what inspired them to launch this program.
To check out The Socially Distant Show, follow them on Instagram and Facebook and be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel!
One of the most divisive and controversial topics I've ever seen discussed online is the practice of tipping. If you want to see grown-ass adults lose their minds & resort to insults in just a few short posts, jump on a Vegas-related Facebook page and ask how much you should tip for a specific service.
I do understand the confusion though; Las Vegas gets 42 million visitors per year and not all of them come from countries where tipping is customary. And if you're not prepared for it & don't budget for it, tipping can drain your bankroll pretty quickly.
But the question still remains: Who should you be tipping and how much should you be tipping them?
My guest for this episode is international etiquette expert, Jacqueline Whitmore. Ms. Whitmore is considered one of the world's foremost experts on the subject of etiquette and has appeared on dozens of TV shows as well as in multiple newspapers & magazines.
Jacqueline and I took a deep dive into the world of tipping - including tipping at restaurants & hotels, limo/taxi/rideshare drivers and even a few Vegas-specific topics like casino dealers, slot attendants & cocktail servers.
NOTE: My conversation with Jacqueline was recorded before the COVID-19 shutdown in Las Vegas, so whether or not these bits of advice will still be applicable when Vegas re-opens remains to be seen.
If you want to learn more about Jacqueline or you're in need of etiquette advice, visit her official website or follow her on Twitter & Instagram.
A lot has changed in Las Vegas since I released my last regular episode; Hell, a lot has changed in the 3 weeks since I released the last SPECIAL episode.
As such, I thought it might be a good time to jump back on with a brand new episode to provide some news on what's happening in the city & share some of my predictions of what a re-opening of Las Vegas might look like. I also wanted to check in with everyone & let you know what's going on in my life, what's happening with my friends living in Vegas, what the future of the podcast looks like and - most importantly - reach out to everyone to find out how all of YOU are doing.
And don't forget: If you need someone to talk to during these difficult and - frankly - weird times, feel free to reach out and send me a direct message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I'm always here and willing to connect!
There's an old adage that says "Sex Sells"...and I don't think there's anywhere in the world where that's more prevalent than in Las Vegas.
From the moment you step off the plane, you're bombarded with sex - from almost-naked showgirls on the strip asking for photos, to cab-top advertisements for topless shows, to giant roadside billboards for strip clubs, to a very public escort industry...which is where we're headed this time around.
My guest for this episode of the podcast is Kate Layne, a Vegas-based escort who's been "officially" working in the industry for the last 4 years and has been involved in the industry in some form for approximately 6 years.
Kate and I talked about how she ended up living in Las Vegas, how and why she decided to start working as an escort, how she keeps her life as Kate separate from her "real life" and some of the common misconceptions surrounding people working in the escort industry.
And because this is a judgement-free podcast where I know people are grown-ass adults capable of making their own decisions on whether or not to partake in the industry, Kate also shared some etiquette tips for men who might wish to enjoy the company of an escort as well as some safety tips so you can avoid getting robbed, ending up in jail...or worse.
If you're anything like me, you've got your smartphone loaded up with apps to help you navigate your Las Vegas adventure...from rideshare apps to casino loyalty apps to gaming apps that help you earn freebies.
But if you're a table games player & you're headed to Vegas anytime soon you need to get your hands on a brand new app called Betmingo.
Betmingo provides crowd-sourced info about tables at casinos all across Las Vegas...in REAL TIME thanks to app users!
My guest for this episode is Gabe Punsalan, the co-founder and co-creator of Betmingo. Gabe and I chatted about the concept & development of the app, how the app works and the plans for the future of Betmingo.
For more information, visit Betmingo online and make sure to download the app for both Apple and Android devices! You can also follow Betmingo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest updates!
I recently had a request from a listener who wanted a few suggestions for planning a "girls vacation" to Las Vegas. Since I'm a 44 year-old married man who usually travels with Vegas either solo or with my wife, I felt I was drastically unqualified to assist - which is why I reached out to my guests for this episode of the podcast...
MJ & Bree are the hosts of the Keeping It Casual Podcast, a sex-positive dating & relationship advice podcast based in Las Vegas. Whenever I'd listen to their show, they'd talk about all the cool spots they were hitting in Vegas so I thought they'd be perfect to help me plan out the Ultimate Girls Trip!
We covered all the important stuff - including hotels, restaurants, clubs and spas - plus we covered how to avoid "drama" on a girls trip and how to keep yourself safe in Sin City.
The ladies also hit me with a few questions they like to ask the guests on their podcast, which was an absolute blast!
If you'd like to check out the Keeping It Casual Podcast you can get it wherever you find your favourite podcasts of visit their website - where you can also get info on live appearances & merchandise. And be sure to connect with both MJ & Bree on social media where you can "slide into their DM's" for Vegas hook-up's:
Follow @MJRadioDiva and @Breemixed on Twitter
Whether we like to admit it or not, we're all a little superstitious in our own little ways. And I don't think there's anywhere in the world where that superstitious nature is on display more than in Las Vegas.
Some people have lucky shirts they wear when playing Blackjack, others tap the side of the slot machine in between spins and some refuse to use $50 bills when they're gambling.
But is there any science to superstitions? My guest for this episode of the podcast is here to answer that question...
Stuart Vyse is a behavioural scientist, a teacher and a writer. He's also an expert on superstition and irrational behaviour who's been quoted in the New York Times & Washington Post and has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning & NPR's Science Friday.
We discussed some of the most common superstitions & their origins, whether or not certain cultures are more superstitious than others and famous superstitions in the world of sports, music & theater.
If you'd like to learn more about Stuart and the world of superstitions & irrational behaviour, be sure to visit his website.
Stuart's books, "Believing In Magic: The Science of Superstition" and "Superstition: A Very Short Introduction" are both available via his website or from your favourite book seller.
My guest for this episode of the podcast is Heather Ferris, the CEO & Founder of Vegas Aces, an online casino dealing and gaming school. Heather joined me once before back in episode #13 to help me get over my fear of table games and to teach me the basics of Blackjack.
This time around, she's here to chat about something infinitely more interesting: Cheating in casinos.
Heather & I connected at the gaming lab at UNLV to talk about the different types of cheating that people try to pull off, the legalities of counting cards & whether or not that's considered "cheating" and we discussed the point at which "skill" becomes "cheating".
You can find Heather online via the official Vegas Aces website. Also, be sure to follow Vegas Aces on Twitter & Facebook and check out the Vegas Aces YouTube Channel featuring weekly live streams (including this fun one where Heather taught me how to play Craps).
If you're of a certain generation, chances are that you spent a fair portion of your youth wasting time at the local arcade, hanging with your friends and dropping quarters into your favorite video games & pinball machines. And if you're planning on visiting Las Vegas anytime soon, you can re-live those memories at the Pinball Hall of Fame.
My guest for this episode of the podcast is Tim Arnold, the founder of the Pinball Hall of Fame - which is always ranked as one of Vegas's top attractions & is always at the top of my list of recommendations for folks headed to Las Vegas.
During one of my recent Vegas trips, I headed over to see Tim at the Pinball Hall of Fame where he took a break from working on a vintage machine to sit and chat with me. We talked about his start in the arcade business, the beginnings of the Pinball Hall of Fame and the future plans for the Hall of Fame - including a new building south of the strip, set to begin construction this year.
To learn more about the Pinball Hall of Fame - including location, hours and history - be sure to visit their official website.
My special guest for this episode of the podcast is Vin A. of The Bronx Wanderers...
The Bronx Wanderers have been headlining on the Las Vegas Strip for the last 3 years and at the end of 2019, they celebrated their 1000th Vegas show. Fronted by dad Vinny Adinolfi - a recording industry legend in his own right - the band features sons Nicky & Vin A. as well as several of Vin's high school friends.
Vin and I sat down for a conversation during one of my recent Las Vegas trips. We chatted about the history of the Bronx Wanderers, what it's like performing & touring with family and what life is like in Vegas. Vin also took us "behind the curtain" on the topic of producing a show in Las Vegas & also did a great job explaining the high turnover on shows on the Vegas strip.
For information, tickets and showtimes visit The Bronx Wanderers website. Also, be sure to check out Vin A's podcast "What The Cl#ck?!?". Check it out on Apple Podcasts OR check out the video version!
When people think of "Burlesque", they usually think of scantily clad - or perhaps even topless - women, titillating & teasing crowds with their seductive dance moves. But there's way more to it than that...as you're about to learn.
My guest for this episode of the podcast is Dustin Wax of The Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum in Las Vegas - which, by the way, is the ONLY burlesque museum in the world. Dustin and I chatted all about the history of the museum, their annual Miss Exotic World Pageant & Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend as well as the history, evolution and recent resurgence in the popularity of burlesque performances.
If you want information about The Burlesque Hall of Fame Museum, be sure to check out their official website and also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.