Jon Gray, GM, Linq
The vice president and general manager of the Linq would be equally at home on this year’s list of movers and shakers to keep your eyes on, as the Caesars Entertainment project on the Strip will be bearing much more fruit in 2014. Last year, Gray—a native of Tonopah who was mentored by George Maloof at the Palms—supervised the construction of the Linq and its High Roller observation wheel and finalized a colorful array of restaurants, bars, retail shops and tenants for the pedestrian-friendly alley now partially open between the Quad and Flamingo casinos. When he wasn’t Instragramming pics of the High Roller’s passenger pods being added to the wheel, Gray was cheering his wife, Ruth, to victory as 2013’s Mrs. Nevada America.
Amy Finchem, COLAB Founder
After a brief hiatus, Finchem and the COLAB team are back in action. The architecture and design nonprofit recently picked up a commission from the City of Las Vegas for a public art project located at the Ogden railroad underpass west of Main Street, which Finchem describes as “a gateway of sorts to Symphony Park.” Other projects include a redesign of 2012’s Neon Gateway Public Art Project, a proposed public art project for Seattle’s Waterfront neighborhood and a small-scale mixed-used development in Las Vegas focused on community and sustainability. “We are staying committed to ... broadening our reach into being more about the promotion of art and having a much broader definition of design dialogue,” Finchem says. “We want to step outside our city and provide local artists with a more national presence.”
Coco Austin, Social Media Starlet
Mrs. Ice-T was definitely one to watch in 2013. Not only did the blonde bombshell take the reins from Holly Madison in Peepshow, but she also attracted national attention for a cheating scandal exposed by photos on Twitter.
Well, the Ice Loves Coco couple is still together, and just celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary on New Year’s Eve. As for Peepshow, the much-adored Strip production went dark September 1, sending Coco back across the country to New Jersey. Here’s hoping she returns when bikini season hits, as there are mucho pool parties for the buxom blonde to host. We took to Twitter to see what else Coco was up to in 2013:
“I had my butt X-rayed on The Doctors n front of a live studio audience & on national TV to confirm my butt is real. Haters get over yourselfs” –April 9
“My Celebrity Ghost Story is on tonight June 22nd on A&E Bio. Finally you’ll get to hear about the perverted ghost that haunted me for awhile” –June 22
“Today I’m gonna be on the @Bethenny show at 11am EST on Fox5. We get fanny facials!U got to watch this i’ve never even heard of such thing” –September 25
Ice & I vocally simulated a sex scene on his song, “Voodoo Sex.” Its gonna be on his new BodyCount album.I acted like a psycho b*tch.So fun!” –December 8
Kayli Barker, Racer
Plenty has happened in the last year for Barker, who, at 15, became the youngest female to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race. Barker, who turns 17 this year, in 2013 became both the youngest person—and the first female—to both win a NASCAR championship in Las Vegas (in the Super Stock division) and compete in the premier Super Late Model division, finishing sixth out of 31 and winning “rookie of the year” honors.
Martin Koleff, Restaurant Stylist
The “restaurant stylist” responsible for so much of our great local Japanese food helped bring two more deliciously unique dining experiences to a tiny Chinatown strip mall in 2013, the multi-course dessert fest Sweets Raku and the simple, satisfying Curry Zen. (Zen is set to expand with a second location soon.) Through the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Nevada he helped found, Koleff also helped expand the traditional Aki Matsuri fall culture and food festival in its fourth year, attracting more than 8,000 people to the Rio in October.
Eric Rickey, Record Producer
Local producer Eric Rickey actually spent much of 2013 playing music—performing with his band Most Thieves at Life Is Beautiful, in New York (for CMJ) and in Europe (opening for The Killers) and with A Crowd of Small Adventures, filling in for that group’s injured guitarist. Rickey also co-wrote the score to upcoming Thompson brothers’ film Popovich and the Voice of the American West (with Jackson Wilcox), and produced an EP and LP, respectively, for A Crowd of Small Adventures and Candy Warpop in his Electric Animal studio.
Michael Barrett, Performance Artist
Performance artist Michael Barrett and Trifecta Gallery severed ties early last year, putting an end to his Standing Room Only series at the gallery. But Barrett continues to work with Momas and Dadas New Genres Project House of which he is a participant and is preparing for a performance/installation at the Clark County Government Center March 31-May
Rehan Choudhry, Life Is Beautiful
No Las Vegan delivered on bold plans more spectacularly in 2013 than Rehan Choudhry. The man behind Life Is Beautiful promised to bring a large-scale music, food and art festival to the heart of Downtown and did exactly that last October, to near-universal acclaim. For area bands, chefs and artists—and locals who appreciate well-run events in their hometown—the countdown to Year 2 has already begun.
Anthony Bennett, Cleveland Cavalier
With some help from a weak draft class, Anthony Bennett parlayed one year at UNLV into the top overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers made him an instant millionaire and the second No. 1 pick in Rebels history, joining Larry Johnson (1991). That was the high point. After that, it was mostly lows. Bennett showed up to camp overweight following offseason shoulder surgery, and the first half of his rookie season was a flop. Bennett had a hard time even getting on the court and shot less than 30 percent from the field once he was there.
Zach Ware, Downtown All-Star
When Carolyn Goodman cut the ceremonial ribbon at the new Zappos building in Downtown Las Vegas on September 9, 2013, Zach Ware was right there behind her onstage, looking out at the crowd of employees that would fill the campus he’d helped to create. Ware’s next act? Transforming Downtown transportation as founder and CEO of Project 100, a Downtown Project-affiliated initiative focused on “changing the way people move in a city by combining shared vehicles, drivers, bikes and buses all under a single membership.” 2013 was about laying the foundation, hiring staff and purchasing 100 Tesla Model S cars that will be part of the Project 100 fleet, expected to hit the streets as part of a beta launch in 2014.
Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Nevada Assembly Speaker
2013 got off to an eventful start for Nevada Assembly speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, who was the subject of alleged threats by fellow Democrat Steven Brooks early in the year. Brooks was expelled from the Assembly in March, and Kirkpatrick forged ahead with her legislative agenda, including efforts to clean up the Nevada tax code with a so-called “fun tax” that stalled in the Legislature during the summer despite her revisions. Writing in the Las Vegas Sun after the close of the 77th legislative session, Kirkpatrick said: “Although we accomplished much this session, our work is not yet done. Our state continues to face economic challenges and must decide how to fully fund education. I strongly believe that we need to look at long-term solutions rather than short-term fixes to these challenges.”
Kelly Murphy, Gay Nightlife Mogul
2013 was a whirlwind year for gay nightlife in Las Vegas, and it’s not without thanks to Kelly Murphy, who set out to open what would have been billed as the largest gay nightclub on the planet.
Krave Massive, an offshoot of longtime Strip staple Krave, moved Downtown, taking up the space previously used by the Galaxy Cineplex at Neonopolis. After several setbacks due to construction and permitting issues, Murphy’s grand vision for gay nightlife finally came to fruition in June—well, at least two rooms of it did. The rest of Murphy’s 80,000-square-foot, multi-room megaclub never saw the light of the disco ball, as the Nevada Taxation Department closed the club due to a lack of a sales permit, which was promptly followed by the Las Vegas City Council denying the venue a tavern license just weeks later.
If that wasn’t enough, the denial was two-fold: Murphy’s beloved nightspot Drink & Drag, a drag queen-staffed bowling alley that quickly became a favorite among locals gay and straight, was also forced to close its doors due to the same denial that shuttered Krave Massive.
Murphy also made our 13 to Watch list for his plans to open Boy’s Lounge, which would have been a non-smoking venue in the city’s Fruit Loop neighborhood, complete with a vegetarian food menu. (It didn’t open.)
The silver lining? Former Krave co-owner Sia Amiri repurchased the Krave—not Krave Massive—name and guest databases, and reopened the club in November at the TW Theater and Nightclub, the space formerly used by Club Utopia and Empire Ballroom.
‘Big Daddy’ Carlos Adley, Nightlife Impresario
It wasn’t enough to launch two venues designed to up Downtown’s live-music game. “Big Daddy” Carlos Adley shared a vision with his partners in 601 Fremont that also included a radio station, TV and recording studios and a record label, all working as a backdrop for an original docudrama about life at the complex. “You won’t be big if you don’t think big,” Adley said.
A year later, the vision is even bigger, and some of the original components are still in the works. Following the successful opening of Backstage Bar & Billiards in 601’s anchor spot, Fremont Country Club debuted next door in March with a performance by Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses. The mayor showed up for the ribbon cutting, and locals crowded the dancefloor for a first taste of what founders hoped would bring major talent from the Strip to the old neighborhood. Sellout shows by the likes of Alkaline Trio and P.O.D., Sick Puppies and Hanson got the momentum going, but the number of shows and spectrum of bands will be greater in 2014, Adley says, provided F.C.C. can attain new licensing that would allow a broader demographic of ticket buyers. He won’t go into more detail until the issue is formally brought before the City Council, though he says if it’s successful, F.C.C. will host shows at least once a month if not every week.
And that’s just one tiny slice of Adley’s “ultimate sauce” for Downtown’s colorful pasta. Read more about his plans, his dreams of a digital network and his very own docudrama here.