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Weekly Q&A: Sin City Trivia’s Gemini talks factoid love and the Trebek mystique

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Gemini looks so sly because she knows what “estuary” means. Learning random factoids is part of the fun of being a Sin City Trivia jockey.
Photo: Sam Morris

Alex Trebek may have all the answers, but we’d like to see him try multitasking as a DJ, stand-up comedian, tech troubleshooter and rule enforcer in a packed Vegas bar. That’s what a jockey like Gemini does for Sin City Trivia.

A “paper-pusher” by day, she relishes nights on the mic making jokes and stirring up camaraderie among the trivia regulars. Sin City has established events at Beach Hut Deli and Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub, and Gemini says plans are in motion to add up to six new venues where locals can test their wits on everything from the Latin word for “thief” (raptor) to the color of a bull’s-eye in Olympic archery (hint: not red).

What’s the story behind your name? On more than one occasion, I have been called my own evil twin. Apropos, I think. It is my stage name, my Burner name and just simply my name. I am a Gemini and, while I disagree with a lot of labels that come with astrology and the like, I have to admit that after (cough) years on this planet, some of it is dead on. It’s also special because it reflects a duality of things that people sometimes forget they have.

Duality is reflected in your job history, which ranges from paralegal work to dot-com development, even building buses for bands. But what makes you a good trivia jockey? I think the biggest thing that qualifies me for being a jockey is that I don’t know how to shut up. (laughs)

Do you write the questions? They generally come from corporate. Sin City Trivia is … part of Challenge Entertainment, and we have over 400 shows around the country.

So you could be a trivia jockey somewhere else. Why Vegas? My parents retired here from the San Francisco Bay Area, where I and three siblings were born and raised. My dad was an avid golfer and wanted a lot of dry heat and a lot of golf. When I was presented with some tough life decisions a few years later, it was, I thought, a worthy adventure to take. … I left Nashville, Tennessee, on a Friday afternoon and arrived in Vegas on the Sunday before Christmas. I have been here eight years and have loved—well, nearly—every minute of it.

What do you love about playing trivia? I went into it always thinking I would learn from it. And that’s my favorite part. I’ll learn something new, even if it’s only one little factoid.

Have you ever tried out for a TV game show? I usually tell people I have no head for trivia and facts; kind of the “If you can’t do, teach” sort of thing, you know? My mom had and my sister has the head for that stuff. My sister even tested with Jeopardy!. … I applied to Wheel of Fortune while I was living in Nashville. I was actually told I needed to be “less smart and more TV-excited.”

At Sin City events, it’s all about what you know. Or what you hope you know. Have you seen anyone throw down like Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings? There were a couple of older ladies that used to come in, and they were having martini night. They were like, “Oh, we’re not sure.” But damn, let me tell you, if they didn’t know all the answers before I did!

Do you think you could run circles around Alex Trebek given the scope of your jockeying duties? A gal named Gemini with ADHD will probably run a lot of circles around that man. And he’s a Canadian, so you know he’s hearty. But he’s also 73 years old, so I would guess I have some small advantage there, too. I tell you what, though, between the mustachioed years and his amazing and dramatic use of accents, I could learn a thing or two about stage presence, eh?

Sin City Trivia is much more colorful than Jeopardy!, especially with team names like Drinking Team With a Trivia Problem, Bath Salt Zombies and Quiz In My Pants. Quiz In My Pants is one of my favorites. One day they asked if I would use any team name. I said, “Whatever you guys are comfortable with, we’re in a bar, in Vegas, people need to get over it. If you guys want to do it, I’ll say it.” … So of course it turns out Gemini is standing there holding something phallic saying, I Wish This Microphone Was a Dick. (laughs) … Quiz In My Pants changes it up all the time. If we play at Beach Hut Deli, sometimes they’ll call themselves Quiz In My Board Shorts. If there’s holiday stuff, they’ll say Quiz In My Stocking or something like that. It never sounds nice, but you always know when it’s them. (laughs)

Do any oddball trivia questions stick out in your mind? I think the answers provided by the players are far more entertaining than the questions. Marriage proposals, recipes, dirty pictures and horrific spelling or word substitution make for a great time when tallying things up.

The music you play while teams are coming up with answers is part of the entertainment. How do you decide on a vibe? It depends on my mood. Last week I got on a ’60s kick. … It’s the songs that are obscure, in a way, that you don’t hear very often but that everybody grew up with and everybody knows. You find people singing along. … Somebody thought last week when I played “[Build Me Up] Buttercup” that it had to do with the yellow archery question. It had nothing to do with it at all; it was a complete accident!

Can you say anything about additional venues in the works? The plan is all over the Valley. … I’m talking to people from the Blue Diamond and I-15 area; I’ve got a few people I’m going to finish talking to in North Vegas. … It’s free for the player to play, so they’re spending all their money on food and drink and they’re having a good time, so it’s two birds with one stone; it’s like a free show in Vegas and you’re engaged and interacting, so even better.

Plus, you can win food and bar tabs worth $20-$50, and not just for first place. Do you think that’s the draw? There’s a lot of places to go in Vegas and eat and drink, and there’s a lot of places to go in Vegas and be entertained, whether it’s live music, or a show, or a cabaret, or watching the game on the big screen. All of those are great things, but the trivia crowds interact more with people around them. I have seen more friendships. … Our format, and the game itself, tends to bring people out of their shell.

Aside from factoids, what’s one important thing you’ve learned as a jockey? There’s a lot of people in Vegas that like to think they’re smart, and there’s a lot of people in Vegas who are smarter than they give themselves credit for.

Sin City Trivia 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Beach Hut Deli, 9500 S. Eastern Ave. #180; 7 p.m. Sundays, Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub, 790 Coronado Center Drive #130.

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