While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue today with 98 Degrees hit-maker and singer Jeff Timmons, who became a Las Vegas resident after his Chippendales guest run at the Rio and is now headlining at Green Valley Ranch.
I am sitting in my rental house at my computer, which is smack dab in the middle of my kitchen on a table, sipping on a cheap glass of champagne very stressed and content. My new show has just started at Green Valley Ranch. I’m looking at a red mountain enjoying the dry, warm air.
Where am I? Is this Las Vegas? It might as well be anywhere. I might as well be a thousand miles away and not 20-something-plus miles away from Sin City. This is what I love about life.
Las Vegas represents a total metamorphosis for me personally and professionally. After experiencing the whirlwind of the behemoth known as 98 Degrees -- a group that had collaborated with Stevie Wonder for a Disney soundtrack and Mariah Carey and Joe for a #1 Billboard hit, sang for presidents, toured the world and had many Top Five hits -- everything came to a halt.
The media and public were over the pop explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. I went from having groupies hiding under room service carts, making fake press passes, sneaking into our tour bus when we were onstage, being ushered to the front of lines at clubs and getting meals comped to, well, nothing.
It was amazing, albeit depressing at the time, to see how things can change so quickly. There was never a time when I took anything that happened to 98 Degrees for granted. I loved and appreciated it with the utmost sincerity, which is probably why the shift seemed to sting even more.
On top of that, my personal life was a disaster. My young marriage was already failing; calling that experience tumultuous is an understatement. I went through a divorce, and I became obscure in the entertainment business. I lost everything personally, professionally, emotionally and spiritually. Make no mistake: I am not crying poor me by any stretch. I knew what I was getting into when I started pursuing this dream, but that didn’t stop it from hurting all the same.
After years of fighting to be a dad, and doing makeshift gigs to support my family and be a dad and never really dating, I met the woman of my dreams. She changed everything for me. She encouraged me to quit covering my 98 Degrees tattoo (a symbol of success, not embarrassment), rebuilt my confidence and advocated my jumping back into my career.
Enter Las Vegas. I was offered an emcee/hosting gig with Chippendales of all things. In my mind, there was no way in hell. My wife had a different idea; she insisted that I give it a shot. Plus, she is in the demographic of my fan base, which gave me some reassurance about doing the gig.
I had so much anxiety up until a week before the show’s opening night that I almost pulled out. Then I did the show, received great reviews and was given love from Las Vegas all around.
Everything rocks in Las Vegas. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it shimmers and gleams, it’s larger than life, and it’s still a small town. The people are amazing. The locals are incredible.
The folks who work in the casinos, run the clubs, the security and doormen at parties, the local press (of whom I know all by name) -- everyone looks out for one another. Hollywood doesn’t come close to doing that. New York is a bit more family-oriented than L.A., but it still doesn’t have the vibe Las Vegas does.
Because of my successful run with Chipps, I’ve been offered record deals, tours, TV shows, you name it; so far, I’m just happy being here in Las Vegas and working. Instead of me touring the country, the tour comes to me. If I want to get into trouble or host at a club or a bikini contest, I drive 20 minutes to the Strip.
Then I can go home and do homework with my kids, coach flag football and compose music in my temporary-turned-permanent home studio in my kitchen. I’ve got five kids; with my kids, my stepkids and my newborn, I’m happy with the balance that Las Vegas gives me.
For me, Las Vegas is a symbol of all that’s good. Quite the irony considering it’s Sin City. For me, Las Vegas is the best-kept secret in the entertainment business. That’s ironic, too, with it being an entertainment Mecca. I was supposed to be here for four weeks and ended up staying. They’re gonna have to run me outta this place!
BTW, check me out this summer in my new show “Wired” at Ovation Lounge in Green Valley Ranch. I gotta smokin’ band. Just sayin’. Oh, and thanks, Vegas. Sincerely.
Our congratulations to Jeff on becoming Las Vegas’ newest celebrity resident. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from chef Hubert Keller, who spins the wheels of steel and excels in the kitchen, and two amazing ladies from “Ka” who keep the trickiest of Cirque du Soleil’s shows in shape. Join us again Wednesday for Angela Stabile and her sexy, topless “X Burlesque” dancers, along with Tom Zaller, the man who brought the Venetian’s Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit to town.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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