The newest draw in Las Vegas revelry is a risqué cabaret where Strip-style entertainment meets intimate New York nightlife and everyone leaves a little breathless.
There’s a bloody freak-show massacre set to an operatic soundtrack, an acrobatic simulated-sex scene on (and above) a silky bed, sequined paper-mâché oral sex, an unadulterated all-white ballet with house music backing and a ninja break dancing.
“The shows explode into the club, and everyone gets caught in the Act,” partner/producer Simon Hammerstein says of his new nightclub, which opened at the Palazzo on October 27.
- The Act
- Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 10:30 p.m., $40 men, $20 women, locals free Wed.
- Palazzo, 607-0222.
The acts that are the Act’s main draw are outrageous fare. Visual juxtapositions make the entertainment exceptionally provocative, simultaneously sordid, artistic, gruesome, beautiful, raunchy and somehow elegant. Guiding guests through the evening is master of ceremonies Raven O, a tattooed hard-body who sings, dances and greets partiers: “Welcome to our house; get the f*ck off my stage.” Between performances, partiers dance onstage alongside entertainers.
The 9,000-square-foot multi-level space includes five bars, balcony boxes and a private backstage VIP area. Clubgoers wind through narrow, haunted house-like hallways to reach the main room, where tables and booths look onto a small stage instead of a dancefloor. Hammerstein describes the ambiance as a “mix between an opera house, a dreamscape and a New York saloon, meets a Las Vegas Wild West kind of concert hall.” As ridiculous as that sounds, he’s actually kinda right.
The Act is not Hammerstein’s opening act. He’s the grandson of musical theater great Oscar Hammerstein II, and his first theatrical nightclub was the Box on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which has sustained a remarkable—and controversial—run as one of New York’s hottest spots. But the Box is known for a boundary-less big-city mentality that’s all about shock and smut. Can that translate to the Palazzo’s corporate casino environment?
“It forces us to be much cleverer and smarter about how we manipulate the audience,” Hammerstein says. The Vegas version seems slightly toned-down: The Box’s sexuality is explicit and frequently nude; the Act’s is suggestive and nearly naked.
And the petit Palazzo club represents a new trend in Vegas nightlife in which partygoers demand more than a celebrity, DJ or celebrity DJ. This growing nightlife-entertainment hybrid category—the show-club—emphasizes partier-performer interaction. Early visionaries included Jeff Beacher and Kevin Kelley, who brought Beacher’s Madhouse to the Hard Rock nearly a decade ago (the Madhouse is rumored to be returning to Vegas), and upcoming show-clubs will include the Cirque du Soleil/Light Group collaboration at Mandalay Bay and SBE’s Shelter Nightclub at SLS. Sounds like everyone wants to get in on the act.