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Monti's Blog - August 2014

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MONTI-LICIOUS - August 25, 2014

The Sahara Hotel Casino was one of the great haunts for celebrities “back in the day.” Louis Prima, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Buddy Hackett, and George Burns were only a few to be seen there. PosterHowever it really was the original Rat Pack that that helped make this place what it was. The hotel, renamed the SLS has been refurbished to bring back the splendor of the Sahara and the north end of Las Vegas Blvd. Let’s hope this beautifully refurbished property will not make the mistakes made at the equally beautiful Cosmopolitan, which has yet to turn a profit. Some of us can remember when the Beatles checked into the old Sahara on Aug 19, 1964. The place was overflowing with almost out of control fans, mostly teenagers, who then followed the “Fab Four” to the Las Vegas Convention Center for their concert.Monti A fire broke out in the hotel destroying casino operations and damaging the showroom. Luckily the crowds had left the premises so that there were virtually no casualties.

Teller’s (Penn & Teller)The Tempest  opens in Los Angeles. This show was wonderful and I think it belongs on Broadway. I’m sure that William Shakespeare would have been proud of this version.

The Westgate timeshares are going like crazy. It sure looks like David Siegel may have something here.Monti This timeshare revenue will help refurbish the hotel which does need a facelift. I, for one, have always loved the Las Vegas Hilton, now known as the Westgate Las Vegas Resort.

Now what is happening with the Tropicana?   Currently appearing there are Murray Sawchuck’s comedy/magic show and The Laugh Factory, which features 3 comics weekly.  What they need at this point is a successful show to fill their beautiful theater, a new nightclub and a few good restaurants. Other than ”Dancing With the Stars Live” they haven’t had a real hit since refurbishing this once great showplace of “Old Las Vegas”.

Norbert Aleman is back from his Mexican retreat and is reportedly working on a major promotional campaign for his Crazy Girls, the longest running cabaret show in town. It was Norbert who gave us An Evening at La Cage, which ran for 20 years and introduced us to Frank Marino.

Robin Williams’ private family memorial service was what this man wanted. Running a marathon of his show at this time is not, in my opinion, what Robin would like. I think it's time for Robin Williams to rest in peace. The man wanted out, one could actually understand that this manic-depressive had worked very hard to overcome his demons. Think of Monti Rock’s career from award winning hairdresser to Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, and all the other top talk shows of the late 60’s and 70’s, selling 7 million records and iconic entertainer who went from millionaire to near penniless due to  creative booking. I know what depression is, but the support of my friends, and therapy in AA, gave me a whole new outlook, and will to go one. Robin Williams was a genius, and it is time for us to let him go, so he can rest in peace

What is happening with the Colosseum?  Who will bring in and try to fill the shoes of Celine Dion who needs to take care of herself and family. The other rotating stars along with the occasional weekend performances still leave a vast open space to fill in order to keep this showroom in the black. What they need is someone like Beyonce, who is one of the few current entertainers who could be successful on a nightly basis.

I'm beginning to like the show Rising Star on ABC Host/judge Josh Grobin, and judges Brad Paisley, Kesha, and Ludaciris keep this live singing competition fast moving and highly entertaining.

Al Pacino’s one night only show last week had a packed house full of many celebrities. His film clips, anecdotes, etc, had the audience clamoring for more. These one-nighters, with iconic celebrities, are a great way to fill showrooms on dark nights, etc.

The Rev. Monti wishes you only the best.



Celine Dion has not yet recovered from that chronic vocal cord problem, which has kept her from performing for the last two weeks Because of this problem, and caring for her husband after his cancer surgery, Celine has decided to cancel all performances until further notice.Hopefully she will have a complete recovery and return to fulfill her contract in the future. Hers is a voice that should not be kept silent. Matt Goss is still packing them in at his Matt Gossy room also at Caesars and he recently released a new CD 

Frankie Moreno is holding forth at the Stratosphere with a new show and new band members. He also has a new CD, but these CDs are just products unless they become hits. Otherwise, the performers could very easily remain talented lounge singers and although always working, never really become big stars.

Actress Cheryl Hines married Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass. on August 2.   Let’s hope this marriage is more successful than those of Jay Z and Beyonce or Mariah Carey and NIck Cannon. Both of these powerhouses of the entertainment world are reportedly headed for divorce. It seems that aggressive, competitive celebrities become jealous of each other and that's the beginning of the end for their marriages. There are some success stories, such as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who are reportedly expecting child number four.

Charlize Theron and Sean Penn have been virtually inseparable since they were at the Met Gala last May. She is sporting quite a ring these days and is currently working on her starring role in a film directed by Sean. Looks to me like this is a wedding in the making for these two Oscar winners.

Pia Zadora in New York performing at the Metropolitan Room had a run-in with some of the New York media. She allegedly would not give interviews and “ofted” some members of the press, stating that she would not grant some of the press an interview in this lifetime. Not a good thing to do!

“Sidney After Dark”, closed at the PH Showroom in Planet Hollywood on Aug 17th but  is not dead yet. Producer Adam Steck is working on moving the show to a smaller venue, possibly the Sin City Theater, also at Planet Hollywood. The show will undergo changes so as to accommodate this 300 seat room. Leave it to Adam to keep this show going as he succeeds with almost everything he touches.

Jay Sarno, the creator of Caesars Place and a man who was always thought of as having mob affiliations, is featured in the Mob Museum.  According to Oscar Goodman, Jay Sarno was not a member of the mob. However, much of the money for the building of Las Vegas DID come from questionable sources, but that was the only way to fund these ventures. Jay never would say anything good or bad about these people for fear of losing his life. His story is part of the public’s adoration of all these questionable "icons" of Las Vegas history.

When I came to Vegas in 1968 in a show at Caesars, things were quite different. I was a “star” who didn’t have an act and who was openly gay.  All the other performers on the Strip at that time came to see this highly controversial performer, but Caesars' management felt I was not a good choice for their venue.  And so I got FIRED!  As you all know, that never stopped me and now there is a movie being made about me; more of that story to follow soon.

Current Las Vegas resident P. J. Moriarty, a former Playboy bunny, has quite a few stories to tell. She went from bunny to showroom manager at the Denver Playboy Club. She was there when headliner Jackie Mason didn’t make it and they hired a last-minute replacement, who turned out to be a young Steve Martin. She also saw the beginning of a very talented Playboy Club circuit singer named Clint Holmes. From there he went on to open for Bill Cosby and the rest is history. I’m sure P.J. could write a book about her days at the club, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she did.

The impact of Robin Williams death at age 63 still hasn’t really hit me and many of his friends and fans. This tragic genius has touched just about everyone in his generation.  After his tremendous TV hit Mork and Mindy, he went from standup in comedy rooms to filling large arenas. He was an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Oscar winner, plus 44 other awards.  Robin gave us some of the funniest moments on record along with poignant pathos. Who could forget him in such films as Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Birdcage and so many more.  His dramatic guest shots on TV were nothing less than fantastic. During his career he did 10 USO tours and became the Bob Hope of his generation. Our military adored him almost as much as he adored them. In addition to his regular shows, he followed up by going to perform for those troops, and the wounded, who could not get to see him. His generosity is legendary, especially at Julliard, where he created a scholarship fund. He showed his loyalty and support to friends when Juilliard school-mate Christopher Reeve became completely paralyzed, and Robin stayed by his side at the hospital for weeks encouraging him to learn to live with his condition. There are no performers today who can come near his brilliance as a comedian. He was the heir apparent to his mentor, the late and also great Jonathan Winters. To see them working together was something never to be forgotten. They loved and respected each other and it showed in their performances.

Below is a photo of a dear friend, Paula Samonte, from my New York days. She performed for the Christopher Reeve's Foundaton at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she became friends with Robin Williams. The Beverly Hilton was where I appeared with Josephine Baker.

Robin Williams

On the heels of Robin’s death came the news of the passing of Lauren Bacall at the age of 89. The sultry screen legend, who made her film debut with husband-to-be Humphrey Bogart, had the sexy swagger and sultry voice that made her stand apart from other screen sirens of her day.  Four films with ‘Bogey’ and many others brought her Golden Globe Awards and an honorary Oscar.  She also wowed them on Broadway, winning the best actress in a musical Tony in 1970 for Applause and another in 1981 for Woman of the Year. Ms. Bacall also starred in 2 other Broadway plays, Cactus Flower and Good-bye Charlie. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of these two show business giants

The Rev. Monti wishes you only the best.



The iconic illusionist and illusion designer/director Johnny Thompson - The Great Tomsoni - was given a surprise party for his 80th birthday on Aug. 3.  Many magicians attended, including Lance Burton, Fields and West, Mike Michaels, and Jan Rouven. Criss Angel and Penn and Teller could not attend due to work schedules. Criss appeared on video and Penn & Teller,
David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy and others gifted Johnny with a new Cadillac earlier in the week during another surprise party at the Four Seasons. My partner and I were seated at a table with Linda November, Artie Schroeck, and Nelson Sardelli. Linda, accompanied by Artie, sang several numbers.Johnny, always a class act, made sure to get to each table, thanking the guests for attending. A delicious buffet dinner was prepared by the Italian American Club, where the party was held.

Lady Gaga did her shtick once again in a concert at The MGM Grand Arena. She had better come up with something new because her shows are not what they used to be. Gaga will soonbe heard on a new jazz album with the legendary Tony Bennett. He has performed duets before with many well-known artists, but this one is all Tony and Gaga. He believes she has a great feel for jazz and this may open a whole new avenue for her.

New owner Darin Feinstein finds himself dealing with his acquisition of The Beauty Bar at the Fremont East entertainment district. I was involved with the opening of the club several years ago when the rejuvenation of downtown had just begun. Darin is co-owner of the club with Corey Harrison of "Pawn Stars" fame. Father, Peter, is the mastermind of Sapphires Gentleman's Club, where they are opening a restaurant, and where brother Brett runs a comedy club. Darin reportedly had a run in with a hair stylist from a shop in the Arts District. Accusations were made, which led to Facebook stories and the lady at the center of the dispute is being sued for defamation of character, etc. Claims of damages running into thousands of dollars are alleged by Feinstein. Attorneys for both sides will probably end up as the big winners.

Another new hotel will soon be under construction and is scheduled to open in early 2018.  James Packer and his Crown Resorts Ltd have partnered with former Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal to build this brand-new resort on the site of the imploded New Frontier at the north end of the Strip. The Cromwell recently opened, SLS (formerly the Sahara) opens on Aug. 23, and now this new one scheduled to open in early 2018 will make for a new look on the Strip. Hey Riviera, it’s time for your facelift - don’t be left out in the cold!

  So why won't somebody buy the Fontainebleau on Las Vegas Blvd. and complete this once beautiful idea? The dormant hotel is becoming an eyesore. But even though not all is perfect in Las Vegas, our town keeps growing while Atlantic City is dying a not-so-slow and miserable death.

Las Vegas luxury homes will soon be seen on TV’s “Million Dollar Listing”. Zar Zanganeh, a controversial realtor, has signed a deal for the Las Vegas version of the show. He has recently worked with Britney Spears and Holly Madison, among others.

Gay night club Krave just closed at the Tommy Wind Theater and guess what, another gay club, Equalibrium, has taken over the spot. Gay clubs are springing up in several places along the Strip and hopefully they will not keep tourists out of the area. They do big business but is the Strip the right place for these clubs?

Olivia Newton John is another show business star to show her charitable side. Because of the commitment to better the community she will be honored along with 3 business women at the 2nd annual “Tea, Thyme, Women and Wine” affair on Aug 18th. For tickets to the Woman’s Tea for Easter Seals affair please contact:

Michael Monge, a long time lounge performer, has begun a 3-month engagement at Encore’s Eastside Lounge.  After seeing him perform in Palm Beach, Florida Steve Wynn booked him at his prestigious hotel/casino. Michael is a singing impressionist who covers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, Paul Anka and Billy Joel. He says that working in Las Vegas has been a long-time dream come true for him.

Spiegelworld is suing the Cosmopolitan Resort for allegedly “sabotaging” the now closed Vegas Nocturne show. They claim that the Cosmopolitan did not live up to its side of the agreement and the hotel is now trying to block the show from opening at a new venue. They also claim that show funds were misappropriated, and the hotel did not pay severance as agreed.  I wonder who will win this one!

The Rev. Monti wishes you only the best.


MONTI-LICIOUS – August 4, 2014

This week it has been either cloudy or rainy almost every day, causing flash floods in the low-lying areas as well as Kyle Canyon.Somehow it gave me time to think of all the things going on here now: The Link with the “High Roller,” the world’s tallest observation wheel, the shops and restaurants in the heart of the Strip. There are the new arenas in development, the new malls, the new hotels - namely the SLS (former Sahara site) and the Cromwell (formerly Bill’s Gamblin Hall). The Cromwell, a smaller boutique hotel, is the new home of Drai’s little empire with his day club, nightclub and late-night room.  Victor Drai, with his Hollywood experience, has the magic touch.The Cromwell is also the home of Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis’ very first restaurant. Then Westgate Resorts taking over, and renaming the LVH the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino, and converting approximately 300 suites into timeshares. They plan to have something to offer for everyone.

Summerlin has a new mall; almost completed near the Red Rock, West Sahara, and the 215, also, has a new shopping mall. This, along with Tivoli Village on W Alta and Rampart, will make Summerlin one of THE places to shop.

Unlike our booming city, things in Atlantic City are not going well.Two casinos have recently closed, and there are two more up for sale, including the magnificent Revel. With all of the nearby states casinos, and nicer surroundings, the neighboring blighted areas surrounding Atlantic City casinos have nothing to offer patrons other than gambling.  Las Vegas, on the other hand, is like the Land of Oz, with its sightseeing, sports, shopping, and restaurants. For the most part, our weather is conducive to all these activities and we have no harsh winters to keep us indoors.

Liberace lives on!  His mansion on Shirley St. will be converted into a tourist's delight filled with the fabulous entertainer's personal items.  Current resident Gerzain Valenzuela, and owner, Martyn Ravenhill, in collaboration with the Liberace Foundation, are turning the later performer's magnificent home into a non-profit organization. Final plans of how it will be run are currently in the works. They also plan to find somewhere on the Strip to show additional memorabilia and make it into the virtual showplace that Liberace deserves.

Too bad that Wayne Newton’s dream of turning his Shenandoah property into a Graceland type of tourist attraction has gone bust. Wayne, like Liberace, is an important contributor to the history of this town, but neighboring residents felt that too much traffic and noise would invade this area on E. Sunset and the council and zoning offices nixed the deal, so to speak.

The recently, revamped, Donn Arden spectacular “Jubilee” is still not quite up to par. They are now holding auditions for new showgirls again and they are really trying. Let’s hope they succeed since this is the only traditional Las Vegas showgirl extravaganza and is also a part of our entertainment history.

Caesars Colosseum still has the superstars Celine Dion, Elton John, and Rod Stewart in rotation, and it is now time to add new stars to this illustrious list. It’s not so easy for great headliners to keep filling the room. Neither Bette Midler nor Shania Twain could fill the house nightly and their contracts were not extended past the original two years.

Tara Palsha, the featured dancer in Vegas! The Show has left Las Vegas for the Big Apple. They gave her a farewell party after her last performance to show her how much she was loved. This girl not only can dance, but her vibrant personality shows through and that’s what makes her a standout.  It's hard to believe that she did not make it in Jubilee because she was 1/4” below the minimum height for Jubilee dancers. How foolish!

First there was Pawn Stars, then came Pawn Shop-Live and Pawnography. Now Rick Harrison plans to create a shopping center of sorts, using Xtreme Cubes System. These cubes will house restaurants and retail shops. It’s part of his plan to redevelop the 700 block of Las Vegas Blvd. South. He hopes to have people shop and/or eat after spending a lot of time waiting to get into the pawnshop. Rick really knows how to market his ideas. America’s Got Talent, NBC’s top rated summer show is coming to Planet Hollywood on Sept. 26th and 27th. The winner of season 9 as well as a group of top acts will be doing America’s Got Talent Live; tickets area currently on sale. For ticket information and sales please visit:

The first of a series of concerts, Live at Carnegie Hall, begins on Wed. Aug 6 at The Las Vegas Events Center. This week the music of Ella Fitzgerald will be performed by some of Las Vegas’ most talented performers doing their take on one the greatest jazz and standards vocalists of all time.  Tickets are $20.00 each or $50.00 for the series of 3 events, which will benefit Golden Rainbow.

Las Vegan Gregg Maddux was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last week, His speech, the first public speech of his life, was filled with wit and humility as he spoke of his years playing in Chicago and Atlanta. Maddux won 355 games during his 21-year career and received numerous Cy Young and Golden Glove awards.

The Rev. Monti wishes you only the best.





Murray Sawchuck and Chloe Crawford wed in Las Vegas on Friday, July 20, 2012. Monte Rock III officiated, Doug Leferovich served as best man, and Ashton Nicole was the bridesmaid.

When magician Murray Sawchuck and his beautiful stage assistant Chloe Louise Crawford tied the knot in a secret surprise wedding Friday night, it was truly a magical affair. The groom and bride have known each other for five years in traveling the world with his magic act and now as headliner at the new Tropicana.

“We finally decided to tie the knot,” the “America’s Got Talent” semifinalist told me exclusively. A small group of close friends, Las Vegas magicians and family, including her parents who flew over from England, witnessed the ceremony in the intimacy of the lush garden of hishome in the Lakes in Summerlin.

Monti Rock III, the 1970s icon, disco legend and licensed marriage minister, officiated the ceremony, which included the couple exchanging rings that had been selected by “Pawn Stars” stars at their Gold & Silver Pawn, where Murray serves as a regular expert on the top-rated History Channel show.



Also, a shout out to Mr. Criss Angel. You are a star and you made this columnist a fan! Your generosity and kindness will never be forgotten! Jersey Boys at Paris is wowing the crowds. Check out the Sugar Factory while you are there - a chocolate aroma world that's decadently divine.

The Rev. Monti once again wishes you only the best.


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A Meal With Monti
By Monti Rock III



Siena Deli



As a gossip columnist, committed foodie and theater critic, I spend the better part of my work week covering all the fabulous shows, clubs, restaurant openings and special events on The Strip—’tis good to be Monti Rock.

Come Saturday and Sunday, what I enjoy most is kicking back in my own neighborhood...Yes, Vegas does have neighborhoods.

One of my favorite haunts has been a Las Vegas fixture for over a quarter century, Siena Italian. Owners Antonio Accornero and Giancarlo Bomparola have created a truly authentic Italian Trattoria experience and recently relocated it to a new, urban-chic site, which includes not only a restaurant, bar and lounge with indoor and al fresco seating, but soon, an Italian Marketplace complete with a bakery, deli and coffee bar.

Trained in Milan, Italy, Chef Giancarlo works the kitchen while Antonio, with his infinite Italian charm, works the front of the house. For starters, you must have the Tortino di Riso—rice cakes, Parmesan cheese and mushrooms in truffle oil—to die for!

Going on to salad, my favorite is Mele E Noci—baby greens, roasted walnuts, apple and Gorgonzola tossed with champagne vinaigrette—heavenly!

The main event, new to the menu this month, Misto Pesce Griglia—fresh scampi, calamari, tuna, jumbo scallops and salmon simmered in lemon juice and olive oil and served with fresh seasonal vegetables—died and gone to heaven for!

And for the encore (I'm sure you’ve had this before, but not this good), Tiramisu—Chef Giancarlo’s family recipe—certain to assure Giancarlo sainthood!

Siena also features live entertainment in the bar and lounge Wed. and Sat. with Sinatra-style crooner Larry Liso. Siena Authentic Italian

Trattoria | Daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; half-price Happy Hour specials in the bar and lounge, daily, 3:30-7:30 p.m. | 9500 W. Sahara Ave. | 702-360-3358


Monti Rock III will be honored during entertainment consumers’ exchange inc’s spring 2012 awards luncheon

DATE OF EVENT: 1:00pm, March 31, 2012 Las Vegas, Nevada

Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange will enshrine Monti Rock III into the Fans Entertainment Hall of Fame during their Spring 2012 Awards Luncheon Event. He will also be honored with the Excellence in Entertainment Sweet Louie Living Legend Award. The event will take place staring 1:00 PM on March 31, 2012. at Double Play Restaurant, 9495 S Las Vegas Blvd, (Las Vegas Blvd & Richmar one/ block north of the South Point Resort Casino)

Several other outstanding entertainers will be honored with Excellence in Entertainment Awards. The Shades of Sinatra will be honored with the Tribute Show of the Year. Jim D’Arrigo will receive the Saxophonist of the Year Award and Pascale Elia is to be honored with the Horizon Award for new or emerging star of tomorrow. Jazzin’ Jeanne Brei will emcee the event.

About Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange Inc.

Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange Inc is a 501c7 non-profit association for fans and their favorites in entertainment. The recently celebrated their 10th anniversary as an organization.

About Fans’ Entertainment Hall of Fame:

Fans Entertainment Hall of Fame is about giving the Fans, Audience, consumers those who pay to support their favorites in entertainment a chance to participate in the selection process of selecting who will be in this Hall of Fame. Last year t heir had their first extended display during the month of November at Studio 810 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Zee Matulonis, President of Entertainment Consumers’ Exchange Inc.

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