Notes compiled, and now imparted, from around VegasVille:
• The Strip’s busiest national anthem singer has again been called upon to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” before a big sporting event. “Fantasy” vocalist Lorena Peril is singing one of the three national anthems (the United States’) prior to Saturday night’s Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. It is her first boxing main-event anthem rendition, but Peril is well known and hotly pursued for her anthem performance at Vegas events. She has sung for the 51s and UNLV hoops and at Oscar Goodman’s final mayoral State of the City address, among other patriotic bookings in Vegas.
Peril has also appeared at Los Angeles Kings and L.A. Clippers games at the Staples Center, and belted out a great version prior to the San Francisco 49ers’ home opener against the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park. The Niner game was especially special because Peril grew up in the Bay Area and is a huge 49ers fan who owns a replica (at least, it seems to be a replica) Frank Gore jersey.
Last week, Peril ran into an unlikely individual (Shania Twain) at an unlikely location (backstage at Atrium Showroom after Carrot Top’s show). Peril and the “Fantasy” cast were prepping for their performance, which follows the Topper’s at the Luxor theater. Peril cut a corner and found Twain looking for the restroom. “We saw her and it was like, ‘Oh my God, Shania Twain is back here!’ ” Peril said in a phone interview. “I never though I’d show her where to find the bathroom at our theater, but now I have.”
• The idea for Sunday’s “Start Spreadin’ The News” benefit at New York-New York’s Brooklyn Bridge to benefit those victimized by Hurricane Sandy is the result of Las Vegas’s triangular link to New Orleans and New York. The event runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with food stations from some of the city’s finest chefs will set up food stations with wine, beers and cocktails will be provided by Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada. All of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, targeted to those affected by the hurricane that tore through New Jersey and New York.
How the event shook out: Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada chief and Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health founder Larry Ruvo attended star chef Emeril Lagasse’s “Carnival” fundraiser for Lagasse’s charitable foundation last month in New Orleans. Talk around the event swiftly turned to the recent devastation unleashed by the storm along the eastern seaboard, with Ruvo, Lagasse and such celeb chefs as Mario Batali and Scott Conant began brainstorming a fundraiser in Vegas.
It made sense. Vegas is widely known as a place where visitors lose money, but it is a terrific locale to raise funds for charity. It doesn’t get enough credit or recognition for that quality, but in this context Lagasse was reminded of the city’s capacity for raising money. In 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina crashed upon New Orleans, he held his annual fundraiser at the Venetian.
“Mario, Emeril and Larry had a conversation and started to realize that a bunch of our friends were affected by Hurricane Sandy,” Southern Wine & Spirits exec and event organizer Michael Severino said. “It’s really a conversation between a bunch of friends and that’s how it all started. We have a bunch of restaurants here that are affiliated with New York.”
Tickets are on sale for $100 apiece and can be purchased by calling the New York-New York box office at 1-866-606-7111. Chef and restaurants are taking part include, Batali, Conant, Tom Colicchio, Todd English, Bobby Flay, Charlie Palmer, Nobu, Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller, Palm Restaurant, Smith & Wollensky, Rao's, Stage Deli, Nathan's, Carnegie Deli, Old Homestead and many others.
Also, commemorative poker chips will be given out as part of the fundraiser. On one side is the artist Romero Britto’s painting of the Statue of Liberty. The other is a message appropriately reading, “When chips were down, Las Vegas helped those who were in need after Hurricane Sandy.”
• ZZ Top knocked it out of the park Thursday night in the first of two shows at House of Blues (the second is Saturday night; bracketing a show by Megadeth tonight). There were high times, indeed -- what more can you say about a band whose 60-something lead singer produces what appears to be a marijuana cigarette from the breast pocket of a jacket he said he bought earlier in the day at a flea market and originally had “FFA Hollywood” stitched across the back? No, Billy Gibbons didn’t smoke the prop, but it was worth a laugh anyway.
The band played just about every hit in its catalogue. “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Tube Snake Boogie” (which I would love to hear as a ballad one day) were all rolled out. Gibbons and bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill were in finely simplified choreographic symmetry, and broke out the purple guitars and the furry guitars and donned (but did not play) the cheap sunglasses. I wish they’d dusted off “Viva Las Vegas” for the experience, but they were smokin’, nonetheless.
• One of the best-known nightclub executives is making a move — a few hundred feet to the east. Richard Wilk, most recently part of the nightlife team at Tropicana that managed RPM (the club that moved in after Club Nikki left and moved out when Bagatelle moved in) at the Trop is now the director of business development and communications at Hooters. Wilk was summoned to the Trop in October 2011 to run RPM. Before that, he was the senior director of customer development at the Hard Rock Hotel.
Long known as one of the city’s best-connected club officials, Wilk sent an e-mail announcing his move saying: “I get to create some great synergies with big brands along with using my network of celebrity clientele and athletes. I also get to handle PR and social media. A little hint of something new, I am spearheading a new beach club concept that will definitely be an exciting and fun place to check out but not kill your wallet.”
At Hooters, it should be an idea that takes … wings.