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The most beautiful people in Las Vegas

Our wholly subjective, entirely authoritative annual list

We’re back with the third annual list of the Most Beautiful People in Las Vegas, and once again we searched far and wide to find the 20 most striking, breathtaking, distinctive and just plain hot men and women in Sin City.

This year, we even looked online, where two of our winners were voted on by visitors to LasVegasWeekly.com. The rest were picked by our secret cabal of beauty experts, representing a cross-section of athletes, musicians, artists and even a sword-swallower. Their beauty is varied, ineffable and uniquely Vegas.

Mike Thompson, filmmaker/actor

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

Along with his older brother Jerry, Mike     Thompson has been making movies since 1999, when he was a senior in high school. The pair share writing and directing duties on each of the 12 short films they’ve made, and are now hard at work writing a full-length feature that they hope to shoot this summer. The photogenic and versatile Thompson, 25, who works a day job shooting and editing corporate videos, is also a charismatic actor. “He’s found a nice gray area between dorky and cool,” says Thompson’s girlfriend, A Crowd of Small Adventures violinist Megan Wingerter. “It’s an effortless, natural cool.”

                                 

Courtney Carroll, drummer, Love Pentagon/The Clydesdale

Photography by Jacob Kepler

“We call Courtney the hot one in the band,” Judi Brown, bassist for Las Vegas all-female five-piece Love Pentagon, says of drummer Courtney Carroll. “Like, if we’re on tour and we need to get paid by a promoter, we’ll send Courtney [to collect] because she’s the hot one.”

The 27-year-old Carroll, one of the most recognizable figures on the local music scene, also drums for alt-country faves The Clydesdale, and is preparing to launch a duo with her boyfriend, Brett Bolton, called Kid Meets Cougar. A UNLV grad with an art degree, Carroll designs all of her bands’ artwork, conceptualizing the superhero motif that adorns Love Pentagon’s debut EP—and directed her to her current hair style. “She wasn’t blond ’til she joined the band,” Brown explains. “She called from the fabric store when she was making our first dresses and said, ‘We’re all going to have a color. Do you want to be yellow or red?’ I chose red.”

Elena Gantcheva, UNLV tennis player

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

Elena Gantcheva’s personal coach isn’t afraid to talk about his prized pupil’s good looks. That’s because in addition to being a mentor to UNLV’s No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player, Henner Nehles also happens to be Gantcheva’s fiancé. “She looks more like somebody who should be on a magazine cover than a tennis court,” Nehles, a former No. 1 for the school’s men’s team, assesses. “She has a model’s body—very attractive with long, skinny legs—but that’s not what we’re aiming for. It’s just a gift from her parents … not that it’s such a bad thing.”

Since arriving from her hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria, Gantcheva has seized control of the Rebels record book in her sport. The 22-year-old senior was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year in 2006 and ’07 and earned UNLV SportsWoman of the Year honors in 2007. She is currently ranked 31st nationally among collegiate women. “Elena looks very feminine on the court, so other girls probably want to beat her even more because of her looks,” Nehles says. “But she’s a very competitive person who never quits.”

 

David Itkin, music director, Las Vegas Philharmonic

Photograph by Beverly Poppe

People often approach David Itkin, the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s new music director, and tell him they love watching him conduct, which makes him feel torn. “In my heart what I want to say is, ‘That concert is not about watching me.’ But I say, ‘Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the concert.’” The real beauty of Itkin and his musicians is their spirit-filled music. “What we do should have an effect on people, that their lives are substantially in a better place than they were two hours ago.”

Stephanie Marshall Middleton, Stomp Out Loud star

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

There’s nothing so beautiful as a performer in motion, reveling in their shamanistic talents to coax form from their body, or music from their environment. Take Stephanie Marshall Middleton, the native New Yorker with the luscious locks who’s been throwing down beats with Stomp for a dozen years, and last year joined its Vegas offshoot, Stomp Out Loud. She finds beauty in those “who are completely comfortable with who they are, and celebrate who they are.” She could be describing herself, as she nears 40, and her show. “It’s about embracing who you are. There’s no mold to fit into.”

                                  

Mikey Arnett, bassist, The Novelty Act

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

Not only is his band immensely talented, but Arnett is also a big believer in living a balanced life. He’s loyal (best friends with bandmate Bryan Todd since fifth grade). Has a sense of humor and finds beauty in the offbeat (loves Mr. T and the giant blow-up rhino he recently found in a Dumpster). Mechanical and successful (his Silver State Motorsports, the oldest chassis dyno shop in Vegas, unleashed the World’s Fastest Street Focus last year). Respects his family (Silver State is a partnership with his father). The big question, then: How on Earth is this guy currently single?

Gina Carano, MMA fighter/American Gladiator

Courtesy photo

God’s best. With Gina Carano His work in the female form has hit its apex; and while national television audiences have the opportunity to enjoy Carano on American Gladiators, and mixed martial arts fans across the world can admire her on Showtime’s Elite XC, it is we locals in Las Vegas who maintain the good fortune of calling her our own. Thank God.

J. Reid, comedian

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

Only 24 and already six years into the comedy game, the snazzily dressed and impeccably groomed Reid has appeared on BET’s Coming to the Stage and at clubs around the country. And not only does his material reflect his love of God and family (check out his fittingly-named Grown and Sexy Comedy Show Saturdays at Tom Peter’s Lounge), but he also possesses a great singing voice, with which he’s been known to reimagine Prince Christmas covers. Strange how that works out—he’s got the perfect smile, yet it’s audiences who end up doing all the laughing.

Heather Murren, Nevada Cancer Institute CEO

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

An enviable (dare we say incomparable) combination of runway-worthy beauty and Wall Street-honed brains, Nevada Cancer Institute CEO Heather Murren carries the banner for cancer research in the state, an important job considering the disease is the top killer of Nevadans. One half (dare we say the better half) of a powerhouse couple—her husband Jim is MGM Mirage’s president and chief operating officer—Murren has quarterbacked a fundraising effort that’s raised more than $90 million for the 3-year-old institute and has helped recruit some of the nation’s top cancer researchers to little Nevada.

As evidenced by photos of high-society events around town, Murren takes near-perfect pictures. As evidenced by a 2007 interview with political pundit/TV host Jon Ralston, she’s got a beautiful mind, too. The state donated $20 million to the institute; Ralston asked if she felt she was taking money from other private charities: “Nevada is starting to hit its stride in philanthropy and the creation and execution of public-private partnerships. Ultimately it takes moving the bar for all of us, and continually moving it up, so that those other efforts are able to attract increased funding, because people say, ‘Hey, look at what happened in cancer, and I care about another issue to the same tune and the same extent.” Beautiful.

Kyle Knight, illusionist/creator of Knight Magic (LasVegasWeekly.com winner)

Photograph by Beverly Poppe

Letting someone saw you in half takes a pretty big leap of faith, but for Kyle Knight we’d climb into the box any day. Maybe it’s those sculpted sideburns, the chiseled jaw or that retro-sexy charm that makes this professional illusionist one of Las Vegas’ most beautiful people. Either way, our hand’s waving when he asks, “Can I have a volunteer?” Want to know more? Watch Kyle's video!

Vanessa Raia, Model/real estate agent

Photograph by Beverly Poppe

If looks could kill, Vanessa Raia would be an AK-47. A full-time model since August, Vanessa arrived in Vegas eight years ago as a military police officer stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. “My motto is: You can run but you’re going to die tired,” she says. Lucky for us these days Vanessa spends more time in a bikini than a uniform. With tawny skin, centerfold curves and an easygoing sense of humor, the 26-year-old is a natural in front of the camera and surprisingly candid about how she feels stripping down for photo shoots. “The funnier I think I look, the better it looks on camera,” she says. Watch Vanessa's video now!

Bree Delano, aka DJ 88

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

With a background of Italian, Greek and Cherokee roots, Delano is an unconventional beauty, a union of old-world and new-world attributes that prompts many to compliment her unique look. But don’t let her delicate frame fool you—this Hollywood native is a fierce female turntablist, one who spends countless hours traveling to LA to spin at the Standard and El Carmen, then back to Vegas where she holds a summer residency at the Hard Rock’s Friday Night Live poolside concert series. Vibrant, optimistic Delano’s love for her own three rescued pit bulls has inspired the beauty to volunteer her services for animal rescue fundraisers.

Jon Gray, assistant to George Maloof

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

Even more striking than his sparkling green eyes is the power this young man carries as assistant to Palms Las Vegas President George Maloof. At just 24 years of age, Gray presides over all goings-on in the Fantasy Suites, from celebrity visits to media events to paying guests in the Kingpin or Hardwood suites or the Hefner Sky Villas, the Palms’ answer to the Playboy Mansion. A fresh media face for the hotel since he was a 21-year-old assistant hotel manager, Gray is a permanent fixture in the Palms Place condotel think-tank, rocking a suit as business demands, but always with his signature wildly colored tennis shoes.

Cesar Garcia, artist

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

After starting out down on the streets of First Friday hawking his graffiti art, Garcia hit the fast track in the local art scene, becoming the Gallery Director for the local extension of the Palm Springs-based M Modern gallery, then the curator and gallery director for the Arts Factory in early 2007. Garcia in his short tenure brought the energy, not to mention some of the money, back into the Downtown art scene’s oldest gallery.

And while he may not necessarily look like your average, everyday artist, the slender 30-year-old seems to have no problems confronting the dating circuit—that is when he’s not working on his art or holding down shop with his girlfriend of three months. “When girls find out I’m an artist, it definitely raises their eyebrows,” Garcia says.

Not content with his position at the Arts Factory, Garcia left last month and has started working on his own art, as well as opening shows in San Francisco and San Diego, and plans on opening a gallery somewhere in Vegas.

“I think I’m going to spend some time on my career,” Garcia says. “The art world is a lot bigger than just Downtown Vegas.”

Rory Reid, Clark County Commissioner

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

Sure, he may look a little stiff, but this salt n’ pepper-haired local politico and attorney is the future of the Nevada Democratic party. And for a guy who cleaned house in the post G-Sting era of the County Commission when nobody thought it could be done, stood up to Gov. Gibbons’ tax-hacking blade and donates tons of time and money to groups like the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth all while sporting some rockin’ black horn-rimmed glasses, Reid proves one thing: Even nerdy-looking guys can still kick some major ass in Nevada

Alexandra “Lady Diabla” Kaminski, sideshow performer

Photograph by Beverly Poppe

Beauty is a 1.5-inch-thick sword laying inside her esophagus for Lady Diabla. The 21-year-old longtime Vegas resident and beauty of the sideshow circuit has already in her young career performed all over the country. But rather than just being a pretty face amid man-animals and human pin cushions, Diabla, a former A-Tech student, has the talent and the guts to boot. Starting off alongside sideshow mainstay Ward Hall when she was 18, Diabla has blazed the circuit performing next to the likes of sideshow legends like the Enigma and Katchen the Cat Lady, eventually becoming one of eight female sword-swallowers in the world, and shows no signs of giving up any time soon.

“I love doing it,” she says with a girl-next-door tone to her voice. “It’s something I’m planning on doing as long as I can. Or at least until I can’t perform anymore.”

Anthony Amoroso, executive chef, Michael Mina

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

As executive chef of Bellagio’s Michael Mina restaurant, Amoroso wears a number of hats, in addition to his chefly toque. “He’s an artist with regard to food and presentation,” lauds General Manager Jorge Pagani, a close friend and colleague. “He’s a guy who’s in command.” In the kitchen, Amoroso regularly churns out upward of 300 covers on a busy night, but still managers to effuse charm throughout the dining room. To stay in peak shape, Amoroso and Pagani bike 40+ miles together at Red Rock three times a week—before coming to work! Pagani says their friendship is not unlike a marriage, in that they back one another up through calm seas and rough weather: “And then after the storm, the next morning, you have espresso together!”

Richard Candido, VIP host, Tao

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

This former Lutece sous chef and native of El Salvador was poised to accept a position on Bravo’s Top Chef when—ironically—one of 2006’s LVW Most Beautiful People, Jack Lafleur, plucked Candido out of the crowd at Tabu and offered him a new challenge in the realm of nightlife. As a Tao VIP host and Latin/international marketing specialist, Candido, 26, attracts ample attention, both for his customary ringlets and his fashion sense, which can only be described as adventurous: “If I have four different patterns on—for me, that works,” says the fashion plate, whom friends would call polite and outgoing while at the same time private and judicious. Candido’s next challenge—wine!

Melissa Duran, reporter, KLAS-TV

Photograph by Iris Dumuk

She’s got the type of looks that can make bad news seem, well, not so bad. Could it be the flowing brunette hair? Could it the curvaceous, half-moon smile that could (warning: sappy descriptor ahead) melt polar ice caps? Could it be the all-American dimples? Could it be those ocean-blue eyes? Could it be that she’s no slouch on the journalistic front, covering stories about Fort Bliss, Texas, soldiers who died after being taken captive in Iraq and winning a Texas Associated Press award for Best Investigative Report for a story on the reunion between a man and an abandoned child he found in a box 25 years ago? Could it simply be that we’re smitten and would love to be the on the opposite side of the microphone getting interrogated by her? Yes!

Alevtyna Titarenko, Love performer

Photograph by Jacob Kepler

“I am a mother, and I appreciate different things now,” says Alevtyna Titarenko, 30, who plays Julia Lennon in Cirque du Soleil’s Love. “I don’t see myself as beautiful. I have large shoulders. I am pretty muscular. But I am very comfortable with my body. I love the way I feel.” Titarenko grew up in Ukraine, where she was a championship athlete, and for the past decade she has been in a variety of Cirque shows. In February the country saw her aerial skills featured in Love’s presentation at the Grammy Awards. Titarenko is a latecomer to the music: “I was not a Beatles fan at all. Back then it was the USSR, and the music was not really allowed.”

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