So hot it’s Smokin’! A Weekly exclusive interview

Vacant for nearly four years, the space that formerly housed Venus and Vivid is at last to re-open as Smokin’ Hot Aces. Or so we hope.

A rendering of what Smokin’ Hot Aces should look like when it opens on Dec. 28.
Courtesy Photo

You’d think by now we would have learned not to count our nightclubs before they’re hatched. Testing the limits of Vegas’ tolerance for caprice is the location once known as Venus, and later Vivid, hidden in plain sight on the façade of the Venetian, overlooking the Strip.

Following Vivid’s 2006 closure, the bar lay fallow for years, leased but never opened as the would-be Fine Theater with interactive bachelor/bachelorette shows by Jeff Beacher. Now, after nearly three years of reports on the coming of Automatic Slim’s, well, that too is gone, baby, gone, due seemingly to a last minute change in principle ownership.

“It’s gone through a series of reincarnations,” said Automatic Slim’s development manager George Panarites almost prophetically in October; that venue was slated to open … right now.


But never mind all that.

In its place, the new, original concept Smokin’ Hot Aces will (we pray) open to the public on December 28 with a grand opening slated for New Year’s Eve.

Aces’ owner, Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Leonard Roudner, was initially a minor investor in this space’s future but the doctor has since become its principle. Dr. Roudner has appointed Las Vegan Marty Helfand as GM running the venue’s day-to-day. A nightclub, restaurant, and bar operator in Vegas for five years Helfand’s pedigree includes time with both Light Group and Pure Management Group. Automatic Slim’s Dean Ronson is staying on with the venue as assistant manager.

“The best way to put it is that it’s the Las Vegas Strip’s only true rock ‘n roll bar,” says Helfand, and by true he means that “we’re gonna stay true to the rock ‘n roll.” While there are other clubs on the Strip with the word rock (or “rok”) in their names, the music tends to be anything but rock. But at Smokin’ Hot Aces, live rock ‘n roll will go off throughout the week, balanced out by rock ‘n roll DJs and a real jukebox. When not functioning as a stage, the raised performance space will be used for additional seating, with the roughly $20 cover change being waived on non-live music nights.

Open nightly from 5 p.m. till whenever, guests arriving early will do so through a door leading right to the bar, and later on through the historical main entrance which takes them through the formal entrance hallway. Inside, a full bar, gunmetal leather booths and a pool table await. The richly red walls, black granite bar and slate floor evoke an industrial feel but, adds Helfand, with “warm overtones.” A center platform bar features go-go dancers and shot girls. The “casual, crowd-participation entertainment” venue will have organized events, game nights, karaoke, and when the second room opens up the remainder of the 9,700 total square foot space in a later phase of construction, beer pong, darts, and even more fun ways to kill an evening.

Helfand is working with Wirtz Beverage to develop the beverage program, which will include all the usual offerings plus some unique, creative cocktails. The signature Smokin’ Hot Ace is a hulking 48-ounce cocktail glass for two that smokes with a little help from some dry ice. Screens over the bar display ambient videos and major sporting events plus a new-fangled photo booth brings green screen technology into a bar environment for high-tech souvenir pics.

So what about Automatic Slim’s then? Word on the street is that Slim’s is back up in the air where it’s been these three years, looking for a new place to land. In the mean time, and after all the iterations this space has gone through, it is Smokin’ Hot Aces that is sliding into home this December, currently moving into the final stages of booking New Year’s Eve entertainment, and not to mention, hiring a smokin’ hot staff.


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