- Kats with the Dish
It is Michael Boychuck’s business to make people look great. It is his life’s passion to enhance the beauty of the customers who file into his business, Color Salon at Caesars Palace.
During a visit to Color on Friday afternoon, Boychuck is almost uniformly silent as the discussion around his angelically white-hued salon is centered on reality TV.
He is finally asked what he thinks about these shows.
The master of hair artistry thinks for a moment and says: “I don’t like these shows. They put people in a bad light.”
The customer seated in the chair at Boychuck’s side is a close friend, and she happens to be a cast member in one of these shows. She’s Alicia Jacobs, for the moment basking in the brilliant light of the salon but prepping to be depicted in the harsh light of “Sin City Rules.” The reality series about five uniquely appealing Las Vegas women of varied achievements debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday on the cable channel TLC.
The show’s central quintet is Jacobs, the former full-time entertainment reporter at KSNV Channel 3 in Las Vegas who still covers entertainment for the NBC affiliate as a freelancer; Lana Fuchs, the owner of Billionaire Mafia Enterprises, which is primarily a clothing line, a recording label and a concierge service; Rain Cosmetics owner Lori Montoya; Amy Hanley, daughter of the late Mafia hitman Tom Hanley; and poker pro Jennifer Harman.
TLC is the cable outfit that brought the world Honey Boo Boo. Whether Jacobs committed a boo-boo for the ages by agreeing to be on this show is worth examining. The show quickly becomes an unnerving experience if you happen to know one of the cast members personally and have been friends with that person for years.
Jacobs is skewered in this first episode, with most of the lancing executed by Fuchs, who accuses the longtime Vegas TV personality of sleeping with married men and, at the very least, exaggerating her professional position in her own hometown. Jacobs also is derided as a woman who has undergone a fair amount of plastic surgery (Fuchs talks of her “scaly” skin and repeatedly refers to her as “the lizard”) and chides Jacobs about her age, something Jacobs flatly refuses to discuss.
Jacobs takes on these issues individually. Presented as a home wrecker on national TV, she fires back: “That is not true, has never been true, never will never be true. I would never do that.”
Her professional career path is well-documented. A Las Vegas entertainment reporter for 18 years, Jacobs has not worked in a full-time capacity for KSNV since the two sides mutually parted ways in the spring of 2011. But she and the station continue to work together on stories reported by Jacobs.
Earlier this year, KSNV aired a five-part interview Jacobs conducted with Wayne Newton in the wake of the lawsuit centering on the proposed Casa de Shenandoah museum and public tour (Jacobs is a close friend of the Newtons, and our mutual friend and my radio co-host, Tricia McCrone, is the person closest to Jacobs and also part of the “Sin City Rules” series). During the filming of the series, KSNV also has aired a report by Jacobs from the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Regardless, during filming of "Sin City Rules," an anonymous caller contacted Channel 3 asking about Jacobs’ role at the station and was told of her contribution to the station. This call was filmed for the series, too, and might make one of episodes in the first season.
For those interested in the cosmetic surgery decisions made by a reality-TV cast member, Jacobs has owed to Botox and Juvederm treatments, as well as breast augmentation. Never has she opted for surgery on her face, saying, “As far as my face, nothing. Zero.”
But how is it that a person so aware of her personal and professional reputation is enacting damage control even before the series in which she is featured airs its premiere? Jacobs says she entered this project under the expectations that it would not be so tawdry.
“I thought, ‘We are going to showcase powerful women who have earned that power on their own, not because of a man in their lives,’ ” she says. “That was very appealing to me.”
But conveying inspirational, up-by-your-bootstraps vignettes is not what “Sin City Rules” is about. The show is not a celebration of Las Vegas power players as much as it is a Circus Circus of drama and theatricality. The women attend a “gun party” in the desert, hosted by Fuchs, who has arranged for air-conditioned tents and catering by Four Seasons as her fellow cast members blast away with sidearms and automatic weapons (those interested in gun safety will be alarmed at how Fuchs freely brandishes a pair of bedazzled 9 mm handguns in her kitchen as if they are common spatulas). Jacobs shows up to this in high heels, walking unsteadily across the hardened dirt, and is summarily made fun of, while one of the instructors is shown bleeding from the face after being nicked by shrapnel.
A session at Firefly — which Jacobs fortuitously avoids — deteriorates into a brawl reminiscent of the more infantile moments of Jerry Springer or the old “Morton Downey Jr. Show.” Cutaways are not used for cast members to elaborate on their against-the-odds paths to success. Instead, we are treated to sniping and insults and whispers from Fuchs at the AFAN Black and White Party that she understands Jacobs is still married (actually she has been legally separated for seven years from Dr. Loring Jacobs, who also will be featured in the series) and also dated Vince Neil (that is true, trust me).
Las Vegas is used as a mere backdrop for these effectively staged segments, in the same manner an octagon-shaped cage is required for a UFC bout. In the trailer previewing the series, producers claim these five are Las Vegas’ “most powerful” women, but they are not that. More accurately, they are the five most dramatic, fascinating and diverse personalities the team at Evolution Media (which has dealt the world “The Real Housewives” series) could recruit for this project.
Jacobs takes a measured view of the show’s “powerful” premise.
“Do I consider myself a powerful woman in Las Vegas? No. Not particularly,” Jacobs says. “But I think that because of my job, I have had opportunities to help other people in their careers. To put somebody on television and do a great package about them on the air will help their career, and helping somebody’s career gives you a kind of power.”
Still, viewers across the country are likely to view the acrimony and conflict in “Sin City Rules” and think, “Wow, these are the most powerful women in Las Vegas? What the heck is going on in Las Vegas?”
“That is a huge concern of mine,” Jacobs says. “That’s not my hometown. They are not the people I choose to spend time with. I spent my time with people who lift me up, who I respect and love me. I don’t want to be around that.”
But she is around it because of her decision to sign on for the show. Jacobs is assured she will be fully vindicated as the planned eight-show series plays out. Sometime before Episode 4 airs, Evolution will decide whether to order a second season of “Sin City Rules.” Jacobs hopes the exposure on the show will lead to an opportunity to return to a prominent broadcast position full-time — TLC has many shows in its empire she finds appealing, saying, “Animal Planet, who are we kidding? That’s part of the Discovery Channel, which is TLC. It would be my dream to have a show on the Animal Planet, Sparkle and I.”
Sparkle is Jacobs’ ever-present pet pooch.
Jacobs weighs the options, verbalizing the choice she’ll make if the show returns for a second season.
“I have worked my (butt) off, as have many other people. Sacrificed a lot personally and financially. To have invested enormously in this, just for it to be for naught, would bother me a lot,” she says. “But my other thought is, am I glutton for punishment? I went in blind the first time, but I would be prepared for what I am dealing with. Do I go for a Round 2 and do it on my terms? That is the dialogue that is going through my head at all times.”
What if she absorbs the punishment, gets a little dirty and comes out of “Sin City Rules” with a great opportunity as a result of being on the show?
“Then, it wouldn’t be for naught,” she says. “Then, I win.”