October, 2007

Joyner brings his robots, donuts and more to Trifecta

October 31st, 2007

You have to appreciate an artist who is not afraid to paint things he just loves. Like donuts. Or robots. Or, even better, donuts and robots together on the same canvas. Such is the life of San Francisco artist Eric Joyner, whose first Las Vegas exhibit, “A Twist of Fate,” debuts at Trifecta Gallery inside the Arts Factory (103 E. Charleston Blvd. #108) with a reception Thursday from 5 – 8 p.m.

Joyner’s photo-realistic paintings depict classic tin robots, fluffy glazed donuts and … other figures such as Godzilla, Las Vegas neon signs and lollipops, juxtaposing the seemingly unrelated subjects into subtle commentaries on conflict and peace.

Visitors to Trifecta during the duration of the show–which runs through November 30–can also pre-order a signed copy of Joyner’s forthcoming Dark Horse book, “Robots & Donuts.”

Las Vegas talks race at UNLV

October 29th, 2007

As mentioned a few weeks ago, a town hall discussion is being held at UNLV Tuesday evening, hosted by UNLV Students for Hip Hop, entitled “Is Race Still a Factor? Michael Vick and the Jena Six.” Running from 7 – 9 p.m. in room 207 of the Student Union, the forum is being held in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal and the questionable prosecution of the Jena Six, specifically related to the question of racial bias in the media coverage of these stories.

According to a press release sent this morning, these are the general discussion topics expected for tomorrow’s town hall meeting:

Is the Michael Vick dog fighting case a big deal because the defendant is African American?

Are the charges put on the six black students from Jena, Louisiana excessive?

Are media outlets such as Fox News really “fair and balanced” in their coverage of minorities and issues of race?


Even though the event is being held on UNLV’s campus and organized by a student group, this discussion is open to all members of the community. It might be a good idea to drop by and get in on this regardless of your stance. We’re sure going to try.

If you throw a fund-raiser for First Friday, will they come?

October 25th, 2007

Tonight is the fifth anniversary fund-raiser for Whirlygig, Inc., otherwise known as the non-profit organization that runs First Friday, everyone’s favorite monthly arts festival (sorry, Henderson). It’s being held at the rooftop penthouse atop SoHo Lofts (900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) from 7 – 11 p.m.

I guess I’m writing about this now because I received ANOTHER reminder e-mail this morning from Amy Schmidt of VURB magazine. The e-mail noted that tickets at the door tonight would be only $50. Originally, advance tickets were $50, jumping to $75 at the door.

Were I given to speculation–oh, who are we kidding, I always speculate–I might venture a guess that ticket sales for the event were sluggish, so the First Friday folk dropped the door price in a last-ditch attempt to raise some more funds and get a few more people through the door. Kind of like when the House of Blues offers its tickets “2-for-1” on Tuesdays in a thinly-veiled effort to pump up poorly-selling concerts.

I am going to the fund-raiser, of course. I paid $50 for my ticket. And I guess we’ll see tonight how many other people did as well (not counting, I’m sure, the number of folks who are intimately involved with the production of the event, which is probably half of the arts-supporting community who would have been primary ticket buyers in the first place). But here’s the worry: This is Las Vegas. The large numbers of people who appear in the Arts District once a month for First Friday do so because it’s free. And many of them are kids who couldn’t attend the fund-raiser even if they wanted to. So when you remove the moochers and the emo kids, you’re left with the core people who always support the arts scene–people like me, the Vurb crew, gallery owners, artists and a small base of patrons.

In New York or maybe L.A., finding people willing to spend $50 or $75 to support an organization such as Whirlygig would probably be easy as pie. But here in Vegas, everyone else is spending their cash on Halloween parties, Vegoose, probably anything but a fund-raiser, even one as swanky as the First Friday shindig.

My hope: That I’m wrong, and that the turnout is wonderful, and that a bunch of money is raised to help keep FF going and make it a dozen times better. I watched two years ago as people bid ridiculous amounts of money on bachelorettes at another fund-raiser for FF, and event with a $25 cover–and Whirlygig raised $25,000 that night (on paper … not sure how much they actually recovered from those drunken sods bidding on Mehrey Ellis). So hope exists. I guess we’ll find out in about 9 hours.

Oh, and in case anyone needs more incentive than just being a good-hearted patron of the arts to attend, here are a few of the features of tonight’s event, courtesy of Vurb’s e-mail blasts:

Free Booze (beer from Dino’s, wine from Bomas, specialty cocktails from Downtown Cocktail Room)

Great Entertainment (live music, live painting, live theatre)

Amazing raffle prizes (gift certificates to Epic Shoos, LV Paper Doll, The Funk House;

tickets to Le Reve, Spamalot, Blue Man; bar tabs at Beauty Bar, The Griffin and Downtown Cocktail Room; and the GRAND PRIZE, a two-night stay at the MONTAGE RESORT in LAGUNA BEACH and many more)

Silent Art Auction (works by Michael Wardle, Jerry Misko, Curtis Fairman, Steven Spann, Leslie Rowland, Caesar Garcia, Brian and Jennifer Henry, Marty Walsh, Casey Weldon and many more)

Vegoose cometh … art thou ready?

October 23rd, 2007

Presumably, most of the free world–OK, fine, most of the Las Vegas Valley–OK, fine, most of the music-loving, under-40 folks in the Las Vegas Valley–knows the third annual Vegoose festival is coming to the Sam Boyd Stadium in Henderson this weekend. So we don’t need to tell you–the music loving, under-40 folks–about how you attendance is mandatory, unless you really want to miss the (temporarily?) reunited Rage Against the Machine, Daft Punk, Muse, Public Enemy, Queens of the Stone Age, moe., Atmosphere, or a dozen other hip-hop, rock, jam and electronic bands.

Daft PunkWhat you might not know about are the official/unofficial Vegoose after-parties. Now, I’m not talking about the Vegoose at Night concert series, where bands such as the Shins, STS9 and Thievery Corporation perform midnight concerts at the House of Blues and Joint after the festival proper ends each day. No, there are a few more options, and both should satisfy you whether you’re a Red Bull-and-vodka-drinking clubgoer or a Pabst Blue Ribbon-swilling hipster.

Let’s get the mainstream stuff out of the way: Saturday night (Oct. 27), Daft Punk hosts an after-party at LAX inside the Luxor, with DJs AM and Steve Aoki (Kid Millionaire) spinning. Were Daft Punk actually PERFORMING, this might be the only time LAX at the Luxor is worth dealing with. But if just hanging out in relative proximity to the French duo is enough for you, Steve Aoki is a DJ worth shaking your ass to. AM … um, well, whatever.

A less obnoxious and more fun (and FREE) option might be the Las Vegas Weekly’s After-Goose party at Beauty Bar (517 Fremont St.) at 9 p.m., also Saturday. Eugene Hutz and Pedro Erazo of Gogol Bordello will spin the tunes while A Crowd of Small Adventures, The Skooners and Sparkler Dims play live music. And did I mention it’s free? Yeah, you know where I’ll be after Vegoose Saturday night.

Banksy gets wanked in show at Las Vegas’ Art Bar

October 21st, 2007


Whatever you may think of graffiti mysterioso Banksy–innovative, guerrilla artist or over-hyped aesthetic opportunist–there is little doubt that the stencil king has had a serious impact on the contemporary art world with his legendary street art and obsessive identity obfuscation.

Las Vegas artists Brian and Jennifer Henry certainly have their own opinions about the Bristol, U.K.-based artist, and soon the Vegas art world will gain some insight into those when their latest original show, “Wanksy,” debuts at Art Bar (1511 S. Main St.) on Nov. 2.

“Unlike Banksy’s exploits—which we would argue are exclusively about the artist and not about the subject matter he claims to be addressing—‘Wanksy’ is not about Banksy,” says Jennifer Henry. “It’s about his fans and their reverence for him, the art world and their celebration of him. It’s about the hypocrisy of his popular culture criticisms, the lack of critical reflection on the part of his admirers and about deconstructing the mythology that he/his fans/the art world has built up around him.”

According to a press release issued by the couple, the Banksy-inspired location will explore a number of the stenciler’s themes by aping his own style, to the point of manipulating his most recognizable works. Their pieces will include works inside and outside the Art Bar, which has hosted a different artist’s work on a rotating basis since its opening a few years ago. And unlike the legendary artist at which “Wanksy” takes a shot, visitors can actually meet and talk to these creators.

“We’ll be there, because for us, the show is about the art, not some sort of ‘Where’s Waldo?’,” Jennifer Henry says. “It’s an art show, we made the art, we’re okay with people knowing it was us because really, that’s the least important aspect and we don’t want to waste people’s time and energy trying to figure that out. They’ll need all their time and energy to think about the art—or not—it’s their choice.”

Brian Henry was named “Best Artist” in Las Vegas Life magazine’s “100 Best of the City” in 2005. Jennifer Henry is a local arts and entertainment journalist and editor of the First Friday Newsletter. The couple previously owned and ran capital h gallery in downtown Las Vegas’ Arts Factory. More information about the exhibit and the artists can be found at www.capitalh.org.

Las Vegas raves on for Halloween

October 20th, 2007

The Crystal Method

Despite his best efforts, AWOL Productions‘ Chad Craig is being forced to relocate Friday’s 10th annual Devil’s Night Halloween-themed rave from Alexis Park Resort to Empire Ballroom.

“Well, our hands are tied,” Craig wrote in an e-mail sent Saturday morning. “Moving … to Empire Ballroom is the logical and safest guarantee we will have a packed event.”

The party—featuring a headlining DJ set by the Crystal Method—was originally going to be an 18-over affair, spread out across Alexis Park’s pool, convention center, bars and more. At Empire Ballroom, however, Devil’s Night will be limited to those 21 and over.

“We are VERY SORRY to the thousands of under 21 who made plans to attend this year,” Craig wrote. “We will try and come up with something in the next few months. These circumstances are completely out of our control and there just was not enough time to find and permit a [sic] 18 and over venue.”

Unlike past events that faced location, permitting and noise pollution dilemmas, the 2007 edition looked as though it would be safely located at Alexis Park, which has been hosting a number of parties and special events lately, including a rooftop and poolside National Coming Out Day festival.

But as seems to be the continuing plague and curse of rave promoters (indeed, of all-ages club promoters as well) in Las Vegas, the Alexis Park location fell through due to a dizzying maze of permitting problems and miscommunication between the promoter, venue and county officials.

Last year’s Devils Night, held at the Fort Cheyenne Casino in North Las Vegas, was shut down by police due to noise complaints. There is no chance of that happening at Empire Ballroom. As well, Craig says the powers-that-be at Empire acquiesced to a list of 49 conditions he requested for successful execution of the event, including keeping the dance floor free of seating, discounting drink prices, reducing valet fees and amending the venue’s sound with AWOL’s own equipment.

“We promise there will be more room and more heart, love and soul being put into this event than anything you are used too [sic] in the day to day club market,” Craig wrote.

If Neon Crushes in a Forest, Does it Scream?

October 18th, 2007

Las Vegas poet, journalist and comic book enthusiast Jarret Keene is hosting “Neon Crush: A Celebration of Las Vegas Poetry” tonight at the Clark County Library’s Jewel Box Theater (1401 E. Flamingo Road) at 7 p.m.

The event will feature original, unpublished spoken word pieces by area poets, and a limited-edition “Neon Crush” chapbook will be distributed free at the reading.

Yeah, I know it’s late notice. We here at Bleeding Neon were just informed about a half hour ago. So there you go.

Oh, and if you don’t read the Rebel Yell, UNLV’s student-run newspaper, maybe you should. Its political coverage and commentary of late has been interesting, especially the recent furor the paper received over a recent Ron Paul editorial. Click here to read the follow-up and about three dozen comments from zealous Paul-ites.

This Fire is Out of Control

October 17th, 2007

Troy Nkrumah of the Las Vegas chapter of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention replied to a post (click here to read it) I’d written about the national college walk-out organized by the organization to increase awareness of and inform students about the Jena 6 case. You can read his response at the above link as well, but basically, he agreed that the UNLV campus in general is apathetic as all get-out (“in my opinion the turn out was worth being ashamed of for UNLV students,” wrote Nkrumah), while reinforcing the reasons why it takes the hip-hop community to spearhead action in situations such as the Jena 6.

Well, the Las Vegas Local Organizing Committee of the NHHPC and UNLV Students for Hip Hop are presenting a town hall discussion at UNLV on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 7 – 9 p.m. in room 207 of the student union. Titled “Is Race Still a Factor?,” the discussion will be based around questions of racial bias in the media, with specific examples such as the Jena 6 case, the Michael Vick scandal and more.

It’s open to the public and should be enlightening — assuming more than “the same few non apathetic UNLV students” show up, as Nkrumah joked in his blog comment.

Showgirls of Yesterday: ‘Peeping Todd’ pays tribute to the visual splendor of burlesque’s history

October 17th, 2007

Peeping Todd

It seems as though burlesque has experienced a resurgence of popularity in the last half-decade or so, albeit in different forms. Modern-day outfits such as the Pussycat Dolls and Suicide Girls have taken progressive twists on the classic art of choreographed strip tease, applying, respectfully, pop and punk music styles. Other parties, such as the multi-city Babes in Sin troupes, produce shows that hem closer to the glamorous origins of the art form.

Here in Las Vegas, all of the above approaches to the rebirth of burlesque have made Sin City into its unofficial home. From mainstream nightclubs featuring their own take on burlesque dancing–such as Forty Deuce and Tangerine–to the retro stylings of groups such as the aforementioned Babes in Sin to the modern moves of groups such as the Vegas Vixens, there is no denying burlesque’s prominence in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Dixie Evans and friendHowever, this past year, the relocation of the Burlesque Hall of Fame to Las Vegas cemented that standing. The organization behind the Burlesque Hall produced the Miss Exotic World convention and contest in Vegas for the last few years, so its nesting here only made perfect sense.

One of the Burlesque Hall’s biggest supporters has been Todd VonBastiaans, an art patron and enthusiast who first made his splash on the local art scene by co-creating, with First Friday organizers Whirlygig, Inc., the Obstacle Art Course, an interactive miniature golf course designed by a number of local artists. He recently opened a curated retail space called Atomic Todd, located at 1541 S. Commerce St., adjacent to the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas.

VonBastiaans featured “In Bed with Liz Renay” at Atomic Todd early this summer, which featured the paintings, books and furnishings of legendary burlesque performer, model and actor Liz Renay, who died in Las Vegas this January.

His love affair with the classic era of burlesque did not end there, however. On Oct. 3, VonBastiaans opened “Peeping Todd: Select Treasures from the Burlesque Hall of Fame,” an exhibit featuring the costumes, posters, headdresses and other paraphernalia of performers from the golden age of burlesque. At the opening reception, performers Kalani Kokonuts and Jami Deadly were on hand to entertain the gallery’s guests, as well as retired burlesque legend Dixie Evans, looking as radiant as ever.

According to Atomic Todd’s website, many of the costumes on display have not been shown publicly for years, and quite possibly not since these classic performers originally wore them.

“Peeping Todd” shows throughout the month of October at Atomic Todd. For more information, call 702-386-8633 or visit www.atomictodd.com.

This Night Has Opened My Eyes

October 16th, 2007

It sounded like a good idea at the time:

Freakling Brothers Horror Shows, the Show Bus of the Stars and Pampas Brazilian Grille invite you and one guest to enjoy a TERRIFYING NIGHT of HORROR and FUN on October 14th!

We’ll be taking a real English open-top double-decker bus around town to experience all three of the Freakling Brothers Haunted Attractions! This event is free and for our invited guests only, so please do not forward this exclusive invitation.

Sounds like fun, right? An evening drive around the Las Vegas Valley, visiting haunted houses, riding atop an open-air bus in the early autumn air–what could go wrong?

To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about the idea. The tour started with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at Pampas Brazilian Grill inside the Miracle Mile shops at 6 p.m. and was projected to return there at 10:30 p.m., after visiting the aforementioned attractions, scattered at three corners of the valley. No kidding. So, basically, for four hours or so, I’d be trapped with a bunch of strangers (mostly) on a bus, or in a haunted set of trailers. Or maybe in line at a fast food restaurant bathroom.

But I went. I made the short trek to Planet Hollywood’s still-under-remodeling Miracle Mile shops and joined the already-sodden party at Pampas’ bar. I recognized a few other folks I knew from the media and hospitality industries; otherwise, it was a combo of costumed characters, tour organizers and … um … whoever. A little after 7 p.m., we all lined up outside to board the Show Bus of the Stars, the as-promised double decker vehicle … upon which Little Richard (OK, a reasonably facsimile thereof) acted as host, in-drive entertainment and party ringleader. At that time, the air was already getting chilly. I hadn’t worn a jacket or a hat, a decision I would later regret.

Showbus of the Stars! Riding in such a supremely touristy attraction on the Strip makes sense, and feels right. When we turned off to head toward the Northwest, things got … weird. Especially when our driver decided to turn onto I-15 North, defying any safety or logic, considering 90 percent of the passengers were on the top of a top-heavy, high-profile vehicle, not strapped in, and mostly drunk. That freeway jaunt lasted from Sahara Avenue to Charleston Boulevard.

A few illegal U-turns and run red lights later (apparently, driving a double-decker tour bus enables you to defy traffic law. COOL!), we were motoring past UMC blasting party music, waving at passersby and dancing dangerously close to the edge of the bus. OK, I wasn’t dancing, but you get the idea.

The organizers must have severely underestimated the distances between stopovers. The first attraction, Castle Vampyre, was at Rainbow Boulevard and Smoke Ranch Road. Yes, almost North Las Vegas. The second? The Mortuary, at Charleston and Lamb Boulevards. Yes, almost Sunrise Mountain. The third? Circus of Horrors at Sunset Road and Stephanie Drive. Yes, Henderson. Are you following?

Suffice it to say, we did not make it to Henderson. We left the second stop, the Mortuary, about 10 p.m., and headed back to Miracle Mile. People were cold. People were drunk. (Is it illegal to drink alcohol while riding on the top of an open-top double decker bus? Shh, don’t tell anyone!) I picked up some hot chocolate and a cheese danish at a (very smart) 7-Eleven stop, which helped offset my crankiness as the night wore on. Heck, by the time we got back on the Strip, I was singing the chorus to “My Girl” and waving at tourists.

So was it terrible? Nah … it ended up being kinda (gasp) fun, despite the inherent cheesiness. Actually, it was kinda degenerate by the end of the night (click here for photos)–the couple of kids on board (children of one of the organizers) headed to the lower level, leaving the costumed and non-costumed adults to smoke, drink, dance and fondle each other. I think I was molested a few times myself. Well, it is Vegas. There’s no escaping that.

And the Freakling Brothers’ haunted attractions? While still not quite scary, they are a thousand times better than the crap inside the Frightdome. So there.