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Claude Monet, Grainstack (Sunset), 1891, Oil on canvas, 28 7/8 x 36 1/2 inches, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Juliana Cheney Edwards Collection, Photograph © 2012 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

ON vIew FebRuaRy 18, 2012 ThROugh JaNuaRy 6, 2013 This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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editor’s note

Too much is just enough

t Next Month in Desert Companion

Buy-curious? You’ll love our Shop Locally issue

4 | Desert

This looks like a magazine to you, sure, but to me, the September Fall Cultural Guide is a stylized Wes Anderson steamer trunk straining to hold shirts, pants, jackets and other pedestrian clothing metaphors for all the culture we’ve got going on. A good and classic problem to have: Too much stuff to do, not enough space. Thus, here I am, hijacking Editor’s Note as an overflow channel for my own enthusiasms. So before you’re cut loose to roam, browse, ooh and ahh in the pages ahead — whether it’s to peruse our chunkmonster fall guide (p. 55), read our profiles of Ones 2 Watch in the arts scene (p. 58), or even check in on the vivid plottings of one redheaded CSN theater prof (p. 24), here are a few things continually blipping on my faves radar. I feel they’re a cluster of best-kept secrets beloved by a coterie of hardcore fans. Time to blow the lid off. You should crash these parties this fall. The Tell. In our twitchy, restless, digital age, you wouldn’t think a storytelling festival could magnetize standing-room-only throngs to an old downtown casino showroom. But, yeah: that. And, actually, a quilted moniker like “storytelling festival” doesn’t do The Tell justice. Featuring local voices and national pros, this series shines with storytellers spinning true-life tales that are hilarious, bawdy, outrageous and poignant, but always polished

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

— which comes as no surprise, as it’s produced (or, more accurately, obsessed over) by longtime Nevada Public Radio commentator Dayvid Figler. For info, type “The Tell” into Facebook for a taste. The Composers Showcase. You’ve got to wonder what all those entertainers who make a living on the Strip singing, dancing, tooting, strumming and acrobatting do with all the bonus creativity juices thrumming through their veins. I worry about them suffering conniptions and aneurysms from the pressure. Do they have some cocktail-fueled secret underground church of artistic expression where they belt out the original songs knocking around their hearts? They do. It’s called The Composers Showcase, and it has found what looks to be a permanent home at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center. Mastermind Keith Thompson, musical director of “Jersey Boys,” somehow finds time to polish up this gem every month. The songs range from satirical, showtimey razzes to irrepressibly schmaltzy torchers that’ll make your neck hairs tingle as you discreetly use a cocktail napkin to dab at … are those tears? Info at Project Dinner Table. These days, the typical American dinner consists of vaguely nutritive goo microwaved in a box, spooned mouthward with limited success while you simultaneously check your Twitter feed, moni-

tor “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and keep your kids from stabbing each other. The rumor I’m hearing is that dinner used to be communal and soul-nourishing. That’s what Project Dinner Table aims for — except in this case, all Las Vegans are invited to join the family. A looong table, a novel location, local chefs dishing up locally sourced deliciosity, stellar people like you — oh, and a fat check donated to a worthy cause at the end of the night by Project visionary Gina Gavan. Info: Whatever your taste, I think you’ll enjoy this fall’s harvest. Andrew Kiraly Editor



September 6 – 9

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contents desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People Journalism 2.0: ha! By Andrew Kiraly



For Mindy’s next act ... By Heidi Kyser


Discomfort Zone The Gray T Chronicles By Scott Dickensheets



Feast for the senses By David McKee



From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture


History lesson Kitsch for a cause By Michael Green


FEATURES 48 Fall fashion

Classic evening elegance gets a bold update

6 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012


55 72 The fall Been gone culture guide so long Clear your calendar — because we’re filling it with this falls to-do list

Biniam Asefaw’s amazing journey has made him a figure of inspiration

st do, se e, g s yo u mus ev en ing 67 th in ea t • plu ld he ar an d a n ce go es bo el eg

on the cover Typography Christopher Smith

fa s h i o n p h oto : j e r r y M e t e l l u s . m o d e l a u t u m n w e a r s a m a x a z r i a “ s e r e n a” b a n d a g e g o w n a n d v i n c e c a m u to “ t e z e r ” h e e l s ; pa u l c a r r : CHRISTOPHER S M ITH ; i l l u s t r at i o n : h e r n a n va l e n c i a ; FOOD : c h r i s to p h e r s m i t h


Dr. John & The Blind Boys of Alabama Performing “Spirituals to Funk” - 10/16

John Tesh: Big Band LIVE! - 10/21

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra - 10/29

BRAZIL meets FUNK, featuring Sergio Mendes & Candy Dulfer - 11/9

ZOPPÉ - An Italian Family Circus - 11/1 - 11/4



ON Certain restrictions apply.




Steppin' Out with Ben Vereen - 11/10

Classical Mystery Tour - 11/30

9/28 - 9/30



The more you see, the more you save. Now when you purchase five or more shows together, you’ll save 10% on each ticket price and you won’t have to pay any single ticket fees. It’s like getting a show for free.

Certain restrictions apply.

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico - 11/4 & 11/5

Jim Brickman’s On A Winter's Night - 11/12


The Irish Tenors - Wright • Kearns • Tynan The Premiere Irish Holiday Celebration Tour - 11/27

11/30 - 12/2

A State of the Union Conversation: An Evening with Frank Rich & Fran Lebowitz - 10/17

Pilobolus Dance Theatre - 10/24

361 Symphony Park Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89106

Anita Baker - 11/29

Keyboard Conversations® with Jeffrey Siegel: Gershwin and Friends - 10/7

Award Winning Gardens!

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Mission Statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Editorial & Art

Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director


CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Account Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive Carol Skerlich Account Executive Markus Van’t Hul Senior Account Executive


e don’t set out to create Award Winning Landscapes. We build intimate and delightful garden spaces that grow ever more beautiful, year after year. We invite nature into our lives, help the environment, and celebrate life in Southern Nevada. “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”— Thomas Jefferson


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Catherine Kim Marketing Manager

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Chris Bitonti Subscription Manager


Danielle Branton Web Administrator

Senior Staff

Florence M.E. Rogers President / General Manager Melanie Cannon Director of Development Cynthia M. Dobek Director of Business, Finance & Human Resources Phil Burger Director of Broadcast Operations

Contributing Writers

Jim Begley, Cybele, Chantal Corcoran, Lynnette Curtis, Scott Dickensheets, Alan Gegax, Michael Green, JoAnna Haugen, Jarret Keene, Heidi Kyser, Liz Martinez, Danielle McCrea, David McKee, Christie Moeller, Helen Moore, Brock Radke, Mark Sedenquist

Contributing Artists

Tom Deja, Bill Hughes, Sabin Orr, Hernan Valencia

To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too.

Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813;

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Website: Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free of charge at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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starts in schools 4 color process

Caesars Foundation recognizes the value of education in improving the quality of life for our communities. That’s why we’ve joined Teach for America’s efforts to eliminate education inequity by enlisting our nation’s most promising future leaders to teach in high-poverty schools. Through our partnership with Teach For America, Caesars Foundation has adopted Walter V. Long Elementary School for the 2012®

Theand will tothe do wonders® 2013 school year with the goal of engaging parents, students surrounding

neighborhood in enhancing the education of children in Southern Nevada. Find out how you can support Teach for America’s mission at ® The will to do wonders®

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Mark ricciardi, esq. Chairman Fisher & Phillips, LLP

Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair City of Las Vegas Susan Brennan, vice chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC cynthia alexander, Treasurer Snell & Wilmer Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio


shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp Louis Castle, Director emeritus Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo sherri gilligan jan L. jones Caesars Entertainment Corporation John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus William mason Taylor International Corporation Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation kathe nylen PBTK Consulting MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming

David Cabral Business Finance Corporation DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group Richard I. Dreitzer Fox Rothschild LLP bob gerst Boyd Gaming Corporation BOB GLASER BNY Mellon Wealth Managment adriana gonorazky INNOVA Technologies Carolyn G. Goodman Meadows School Marilyn Gubler The Las Vegas Archive Kurtis Wade Johnson Absolute Auto Care Megan Jones MKJ Consulting max kuniansky NV Energy edmÉe s. marcek College of Southern Nevada JENNA MORTON Steve Parker UNLV Richard Plaster Signature Homes Kim Russell Smith Center for the Performing Arts CANDY SCHNEIDER Smith Center for the Performing Arts Stephanie Smith Bob Stoldal Sunbelt Communications Co. kate turner whiteley Kirvin Doak Communications Brent Wright Wright Engineers

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cul t u r e

The future of journalism? Cue laughter

Pa u l c a r r : c h r i s to p h e r s m i t h


The future of journalism is snarky, nimble, funny, restless — and its epicenter just might be an apartment in downtown Las Vegas. From there, writer Paul Carr recently launched the Not Safe For Work Corporation, which aims to be a new media powerhouse on the national scene — or maybe just a droll node on the web where the topics of the day are given a good snarking. Even Carr himself isn’t sure yet. What the author and journalist is sure about: The traditional model of free journalism on the Internet is unsustainable in its current form. His proposed alternative: Not Safe For Work (, a paywallprotected mosh pit of dispatches, features and commentary that launched Aug. 4. The selling point: not the information, but the attitude. “News has become a commodity,” says Carr, the organization’s editor in chief. “If we were just delivering facts, which you could find elsewhere, there’d be no reason to pay. Even if we wrote those facts in a reliable, trustworthy way, most people don’t value those things as much as journalists do. Otherwise, Fox News wouldn’t exist.” Not Safe For Work aims to set itself apart by its voice and sensibility. “It’s more about being part of a club than reading a thing,” he says. “Not Safe For Work is this kind of strange group of people you kind of want to hang out with.” Sure, you can get the latest election-season news blips at the New York Times, but you won’t get a cheerfully truculent deconstruction of the historical anecdotes dropped by Mitt Romney at a recent campaign stop. Why Vegas? “It’s cheap here to start a company,” Carr says. It also happens to be where one of his main investors, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, lives. (Others who bankrolled him to the tune of “mid-six figures” are CrunchFund and tech investor Judith Clegg.) Not Safe For Work’s 17 writers are dotted around the U.S. (with a few in London), currently filing pieces on everything from the Olympics to the Aurora shooting. Though his far-flung freelancers are just a Google Hangout away, Carr is keen on the old-fashioned value of herding smart people in one room. In addition to recently flying in the crew for a launch party, he hopes many of his writers eventually relocate to Vegas. “We were talking about creating something like


Stomp the presses: Paul Carr hopes to revive online journalism — with jokes.


A creative path Camille Duskin and her husband just wanted to clean up the neighborhood. The owners of an apartment building in Naked City — the area near the Stratosphere with a rep as a crimeridden neighborhood — Duskin and her husband were tired of that telltale eyesore of the inner city: graffiti. “The backs of the buildings were a constant problem with tagging and gang graffiti,” she says. She hired a muralist to cover the mess, but Duskin got so inspired that she ended up painting the town, so to speak. Soon, Duskin was leading an effort to beau-

the Manson compound. That’s the ultimate goal,” says NSFW contributor Mark Ames, an investigacontinued on pg. 14 tive reporter who’s written for Playboy and The Nation. With a mix of quick riffs, long features, podcasts, e-books and even live events, Keep up with Desert Carr hopes to grow NSFW into a new meCompanion events, news dia stalwart. He has no sacred cows, save and bonus features at one — the importance of paying talented writers for good work. Thus the $3 monthly subscription. The price is right: So far, with only word-of-web, he says they’ve scored 3,000 subscriptions. “Now, we just have to convince people to like our voice,” he says, “and be part of our weird world.” — Andrew Kiraly

Paul Carr discusses living as a nomad on the Strip on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at | 13

continued from pg. 13


tify the neighborhood with donated paint and paid local muralists. “We’ve always been proud to always hire Las Vegas muralists, but the program has become so popular, artists from out of town have even offered to paint.” But Duskin insists on using local talent. That 2007 program was the kernel of the Gateway Arts Foundation. Today, the Gateway Arts Foundation does so much more, awarding scholarships to young musicians, actors and painters across Southern Nevada. The foundation also has Hattie’s House. That’s Duskin’s late mother’s house in Peccole Ranch, which Duskin turned into a space where student musicians can perform recitals free of charge. “Camille is an angel,” says Norman Vito, a pianist and piano teacher who has performed benefit concerts for the foundation. “Art is one of the most important parts of a civilized society, and it’s especially important in bringing up our children.” Info: gatewayartsfoundation. org — Andrew Kiraly

ON THE TOWN Here’s fall culture with strings attached: a performance by jazz guitarist Emanuel Schmidt 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at the E-String Bar, 2031 W. Sunset Road. $10. Info: 485-2835


Q: What do ballet dancers eat?


A: I eat many small meals a day in order to keep in top shape for the eight hours I dance each day, six days a week. My typical day might go like this: A light breakfast of oatmeal or avocado, with coffee or tea. For a midmorning snack, I’ll have some sugar snap peas and hummus. At lunch, I usually have a salad with some type of protein in it — whether it’s chicken, tuna or black beans. To tide me over in the afternoon, I’ll snack on a banana, sometimes with peanut butter. And for dinner, I might have sushi, a salad, some sort of rice dish or even the occasional hamburger. It’s important that dancers eat in moderation — and in a very conscious and disciplined way. Our body is our tool in this art form, so it’s a delicate balance to maintain a healthy physique that’s very strong, yet with lean muscles. But just because we have good posture doesn’t mean we’re snobs. We like to have fun — and we love our desserts and fast food just like anyone else!

(I especially love ice cream and homemade cookies.) And yes, during the season, I like to have a glass of wine with my dinner, or grab a drink with a friend. Is this diet a chore? Not at all. Over time, it’s become more of a habit. Besides, eating unhealthy foods just does not give me the energy I need and doesn’t make my body feel as good as eating healthy food. I don’t deprive myself, but at the same time I don’t want to overdo it and then regret what I have eaten later on – especially when I’m trying to keep up with the physical demands of dancing full-time — a dream job I feel very fortunate to have. — Betsy Lucas Betsy Lucas is a Nevada Ballet Theatre company dancer. Nevada Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet West perform George Balanchine’s “Jewels” Oct. 13-14 at The Smith Center. Info:

Got a question? We’ve got the answer. Email it to 14 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

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Yoga for the people Cheryl Slader Instructor, Blue Sky Yoga

16 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Who takes Cheryl Slader’s yoga classes? A better question: Who doesn’t? In an age when Yoga Inc. has become corporate, packaged and accessorized, her yoga practice welcomes students of all skill levels and backgrounds. Indeed, on any given afternoon, her class hosts lawyers, professors and nurses on their lunch hour. “I don’t ask people what they do for a living,” says Slader. “We’re all the same on the mat here, where doctors and starving artists come for guidance.” Slader herself took a curious path to the mat. She moved to Vegas in 1990 and worked on the Strip as a showgirl-dancer in productions such as Jubilee! and Folies Bergère. She began studying yoga when she was pregnant with her daughter. She eventually became an instructor and founded Blue Sky Yoga in 2007 (107 E. Charleston Ave., But she can’t help but stretch herself to spread the yoga gospel to unlikely clients. She’s taught at the Las Vegas Recovery Center, which offers chronic pain treatment and addiction recovery services. At University Medical Center, she’s given free classes to senior citizens and for babies and toddlers. More recently, she helped boost kids’ test scores. Guidance counselors have enlisted her to come in before an exam to teach students to breathe and meditate before filling in those bubbles with a No. 2 pencil. “Statetesting scores were proven to be higher for students who took a moment to relax beforehand,” says Slader. “Who knew 15 minutes could do so much?” But her most rewarding students? Pregnant moms — and their future yoganauts. Once the kids come out, they recognize Slader’s voice. Now, many of these young ones take her classes. “To see them on the yoga path is rewarding. I love how yoga brings them obvious flexibility. It also keeps them healthy, calm and clear to make good decisions.” Another unique thing about her populist approach to yoga? She runs the only pay-what-you-can studio in town, a great way for someone to try out yoga without having to sign a contract. Slader also rents out the loft space to local artists, which means every month her studio showcases new work by Vegas artists. “My students and I love being surrounded by positive, creative energy.” — Jarret Keene



S t yl e T i p s

The right style for the big show You’ve got season tickets in hand, dinner plans locked in and aftershow cocktails planned — you’re all set for The Smith Center’s Broadway Series. Just one minor thing: what to wear. Tuxedo or jeans? Gown or maxi dress? Louboutins or flip-flops? Dressing for the theatre can be a bit daunting. “Just like all other major performing arts centers in North America, there is no dress code for attending events at The Smith Center. We want people to be comfortable, but appropriate for the time of the year and type of performance they are attending,” says Myron Martin, Smith Center CEO and president. Although The Smith Center has no “official” dress code, there’s definitely a certain level of chic expected when attending the theater. Here are some tips for achieving a look that’s truly Broadway-worthy. Opening night: Go for the glamour on an opening night performance. Think red carpet and black tie. This is the time to bring out your best. Run of the show and jazz performances: More people are going casual with their evening attire, but be warned: Casual does not mean cutoffs and flip-flops. The goal should be to exude a relaxed air of elegance. Simple and chic. Nothing too flashy. Remember, theater-goers come to see the show, not you. Matinee: This is a much more casual affair. Simple trousers and a stylish shirt for the gents, and clean, simple lines for the ladies. Think business casual. A few more things to consider: Although you may feel you’re known for your signature scent,

N e w a n d n o t a bl e

Bag this statement

Two Smith-worthy looks: TOPMAN black skinny suit; David Meister scoop-neck sequin gown

please remember you’ll be sitting in close proximity to strangers who don’t necessarily want to inhale your eau de parfum or cologne all night. A little goes a long way. Be comfortable. You’ll be sitting for about two hours, so you may not want to wear two layers of Spanx or trousers one size too small. Prevent hunger pangs. Make sure to have a bite to eat before the show. A grumbling tummy can be very distracting. The Smith Center is bringing the best of theater, music, ballet and culture to our fine city. Let’s show everyone Las Vegans have style. — Christie Moeller

This season’s must-have accessory is just within reach — literally. The statement handbag is the fashion piece everyone will be oohing and aahing over. Whether you choose a clutch, top-handle, crossbody, satchel or tote, go for bold! It’s all about texture, electric color, hardware and details. Insider tip: During Fall 2012 Fashion Week, runways were sprinkled with models carrying handbags by holding them at the base — not by the handles. Try it out; it’s effortlessly chic. — C.M.

Coach Legacy leather duffle available at Coach in the Forum Shops at Caesars and the Fashion Show Mall

18 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Ask the expert

Out of pocket This season, men’s fashion has embraced a more refined, gentlemanly look. Runways from New York to Milan showcased the well-dressed man. The suit is the “it” fashion statement, and knowing how to properly accessorize is key. Think of it like this: Adding a vest, tie, cufflinks or pocket square is like adding a garnish to your drink. It finishes the look and can add a punch of personality, color and refinement. You may have been a bit hesitant to try a pocket square. Not sure how or when to wear it? The rules are pretty simple this season: The only way you can go wrong with a pocket square is to not wear one. Frederik Willems, head designer at Thomas Pink, gave us a quick course in Pocket Square 101 with three common folds that are easy to create. The flat pocket square fold. “The flat pocket square fold is the most formal way of wearing a pocket square. It is mostly worn by gentlemen who love traditional and classic tailoring and accessories. A white cotton or linen pocket square is commonly used for this style.” The one-tip-up fold. “The one-tip-up fold has more of an Italian flair to it and is mostly for plain-colored pocket squares. The most common fabric here is linen or cotton.” The puff fold. “The puff fold is the most relaxed of the three styles. It is most suited to silk pocket squares with colorful prints. For the gentleman who is not afraid of using color to accessorize, this fold is ideal.”

Thomas Pink is located at The Forum Shops at Caesars and The Shoppes at Palazzo. — C.M.

Celebrate fashion. the stage is set for a night full of fashion, entertainment and live performances, special gift-with-purchase, product demonstrations, one-of-a-kind products, swag, parties, food, in-store events, drinks, las Vegas celebrities and entertainers, and lots more all at las Vegas’ premiere retail destination, the forum shops. register to win one of three $500 forum shops shopping sprees. Visit the check-in station at the fountain of the Gods from 6-9 p.m. Complete rules and regs available at the Concierge Centers.


L a s V e g a n s i n s t yl e

They’ve got the look

Local style icons on why they wear what they wear so well By Christie Moeller | Photography Christopher Smith

Nancy Houssels

Farid Matraki

Jessica Galindo

Personal style: simple, classic, timeless Favorite designers: Oscar de la Renta and Armani. Being of short stature, I rarely wear large prints, multi-colored outfits or bulky fabrics. I favor these two designers not only for their classic designs, but for their beautiful fabrics. My favorite fabrics are chiffon, silk and organza … fabrics I used in my costuming in my dancing days. These fabrics are lightweight and move with the body. Fall 2012 trend I’m anxiously awaiting: Not-so-high-heels as well as beautiful colors and fabrics. Color pick for Fall 2012: Purple, orange, bronze Can’t live without: my Cartier watch Fashion icon I’m most inspired by: Coco Chanel

Personal style: sophisticated, modern, unique and timeless Favorite designers: I love suits. You can’t find a more perfectly tailored suit than those at Ermenegildo Zegna and Tom Ford. Both offer an extensive made-to-measure program. It’s actually fun for me to pick the fabric, colors and then see the final result. Fall 2012 trend I’m anxiously awaiting: Usually fall colors tend to be darker — grays and blacks. This year, we’re seeing many more fun color combinations and prints, which will add a little life to the season. Color pick for Fall 2012: I like taking some risks with fashion, so I’m excited to see plum in a lot of designers’ work. I like the combination of plum with gray. Can’t live without: I am a collector of watches, and currently I’m switching between one from the Harry Winston Ocean collection and one from de Grisogono. Fashion icon I’m most inspired by: I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Ford last year when he visited his store here at Crystals. Mr. Ford is a visionary and perfectionist, and I admire how he changed Gucci and what he now creates in his own line. He is a polite and sophisticated gentleman — and, as expected, dresses immaculately.

Personal style: avant-garde with bohemian/organic flair, artful, patternful, sheer Favorite designers: I don’t have a favorite label. There are designers I am consistently awed by, but I enjoy variety. I like layering, eras, colors, patterns and silhouettes to create a balanced look. Fall 2012 trend I’m anxiously awaiting: I don’t actively study fashion. I love lots of everything, and its seems that’s where we are at right now in fashion, so I’m enjoying that. Color pick for Fall 2012: metallics, navy and neons Can’t live without: heels Fashion icon I’m most inspired by: Vivienne Westwood

retired dancer, full-time patron of the arts

Cartier Tank Anglaise Watch in white gold available at select Cartier Boutiques Cartier at Crystals at CityCenter

20 | Desert


senior vice president and general manager, Crystals at CityCenter

designer for Leather Couture by Jessica Galindo

Charlotte Olympia Moon Pump $895 available at Neiman Marcus Fashion Show


D e s t i n at i o n k n o w n

Turtlehead Peak

Among seasoned Red Rock hikers, a check mark next to Turtlehead Peak is so ubiquitous that it has become the standard against which other hikes are judged. Most of Turtlehead’s 2,000-foot climb is up a steep gully covered in broken limestone shards called “scree.” The hard-earned payoff is unobstructed views of Red Rock and Las Vegas. Slips and scrapes are common, but remember that outdoors maxim: “It’s not a hike until there’s blood.” Level: difficult. — Alan Gegax

A little too far for a day trip, but perfect for a weekend getaway, Pasadena, Calif. is often overlooked as a destination except on New Year’s Day. But there’s far more to this fair city than the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl. Pasadena City Hall is a good place to begin exploring. You might recognize its impressive Mediterranean façade — it’s been showcased in dozens of advertisements and feature films over the years. Photographers flock here at sunset to capture the raking light reflecting off the ornate iron stair rails, mission tiles and Japanese garden at the lush subtropical landscaping. Huntington Library Head west on Colorado Boulevard. This is also historic Route 66, so consider findit’s the much-photographed work of two local artists. ing a convertible and cruise the Mother Road in While you’re in the area, check out Arlington Garden, style through “Old Town,” a trendy district packed a little-known public park recently developed on the with excellent eateries, interesting shops and hip site of an old estate. Fragments from the old mansion night spots. At the corner of Colorado and Orange have been incorporated into walkways and terraces or Grove, best known for its role as the kickoff point turned into planters and rock gardens. Enjoy a beguilfor the Rose Parade, you’ll find the Norton Simon ing array of the native and exotic flowers, shrubs and Museum, home to what has been called one of the trees that thrive in Pasadena’s temperate climate. finest private collections of art ever assembled. The Drive east through one of Pasadena’s iconic resiart begins before you go inside: Rodin’s “Burghers of dential neighborhoods into the community of San Calais” are on hand to welcome you at the entrance. Marino. You’ll soon arrive at the world-renowned Inside, stroll past paintings and sculptures by all the Huntington Library, home of an incredible colhousehold names — Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Delection of manuscripts and rare books, including a gas, Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse — as well as works Gutenberg Bible and the Ellesmere Chaucer. The art from early periods and a large collection of Asian art. galleries house an impressive collection of European The sculpture garden has works by Henry Moore, and American art, including Lawrence’s “Pinkie” Rodin and others. You can take a break at the café and Gainsborough’s “The Blue Boy.” Autumn is a and watch the sun dance on the lily pads in the pond. lovely time for a walk through the Huntington’s legAs you head south, keep an eye peeled for a fork in endary botanical gardens, which include everything the road. We’re talking a real fork — silver and with four from cactus and succulents to roses and culinary tines — at the corner of Pasadena and St. John Avenues. herbs. (I-15 to I-210 and return) — Mark Sedenquist Touted as “the largest fork west of the Mississippi,”

A rock cathedral — and Old West flavor Three hours north of Las Vegas, just off Highway 93, is a hidden gem few Southern Nevadans ever see: Cathedral Gorge State Park. Nevada has no finer outdoor exploring than Cathedral Gorge, where a cliff of eroding bentonite clay has created a natural playground. Between a series of narrow slots are countless pillars and spires that give the gorge its gothic appearance. The most famous slot, called “Moon Caves,” has visitors crawl on their bellies through a natural tunnel to explore the depths beyond. To round out the adventure, take a side trip to the historic town of Pioche, where the hillsides are littered with antique remnants of major mining operations. Pioche still has an Old West feel, complete with Main Street saloons. Be sure to check out the “Million Dollar Courthouse,” a building that exemplifies the unchecked corruption and waste found all too often in government. Construction began in 1871 at a price of $26,000. Nearly a million dollars later, the courthouse was finally paid off in 1937 — four years after the building was condemned. — A.G.

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Bright light: Mindy Woodhead aims to fire up the theater scene.

For her next act …


Fiery-haired gypsy Mindy Woodhead is putting down roots in Las Vegas. This classically trained actor’s mission: to help train the next wave of actors and directors for the coming theater renaissance By Heidi Kyser | Portrait Sabin Orr

Mindy Woodhead describes herself as a gypsy. Yet, as the CSN theater teacher shows me around the nest she and wife Jeanette Farmer have made of the house Farmer bought in Northeast Las Vegas 20 years ago, when there was no surrounding neighborhood yet, the only thing even vaguely nomadlike that I can find about Woodhead is her loosish cargo pants and flouncy shirt. For our interview, she shows me to the kitchen table, where a spread of snacks awaits, and offers me a glass of fruit-infused sparkling water. At six months pregnant, her round belly softens her lean frame. Even her legendary bolts of auburn hair are banded at the nape of her neck, decidedly domestic.

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

How did you choose your sperm donor? Totally random. We thought about some close friends, and (Farmer) has a brother — we thought about all that. We just thought it would be too complicated, you know, to have an extra person that wasn’t part of the nuclear family be a part of the nuclear family. What was the process like? It was hard. It took us eight months to go through the California Cryobank’s website. It’s really funny; you can go by anything. You can look

for someone with freckles who was a business major. … She wanted musical and fun and athletic, so they’d be fun to go hiking and camping with. I wanted brilliant and ambitious and tall. … The person we ended up going with isn’t really any of those things. He just seemed like a good fit with us. With the pregnancy, are you still running CSN’s one-act play festival this semester? I am. Of course, with my maternity leave, I’m going to be more of a consultant or something we haven’t worked out exactly. I won’t be teaching, because my due date is only six weeks into the semester, but I’ll definitely still be at the helm of the one-acts, and I’ll have somebody else, probably, step in to run it, still going by my system.

FORWARD TOGETHER To make great bread, first you need some dough.

Tell me about the one-act festival. What is it? How did it start? When I was first hired, Doug Baker, the head of the theater department, presented me with the idea of having a play festival, some sort of one-acts. The idea was to provide opportunities for students who wouldn’t otherwise get to perform on the main stage. There are so few main-stage shows at CSN each year, and there is a very large student body taking acting classes. What do you do? I’m auditing rehearsals, guiding them, seeing how they’re working with the actors, being very hands-on if they have any issues, but really talking just to the directors, you know, letting them filter things down to the actors, giving them a lot of space as well on their own to experiment when I’m not there. Why the focus on directors? We have so many acting classes; we don’t have directing classes as of yet. My dream is to have directing classes in the fall, and then rehearsals and production in the spring. But as of now, we’re doing directing classes and the production process in the same semester, so, for me, it is a lot about the directing. At the same time, students who are in acting classes are a part of those productions and learning the tools. … The (theater) department has nine classes times 30 students, so that’s about 270 acting students in any given semester. Why do we need actors and directors, anyway? I imagine that Las Vegas is going to have a theatrical renaissance in the years to come, and

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I see it at a very nascent stage at this point. You have the people, you have the spaces, you have all the resources, and what I would love to see, and what I encourage my students to do, is to have some fundamentals that you are working off of, a foundation of training that makes it so you’re not out there reinventing the wheel. It sounds like you’ve left performance for education. No! I never will. It’s so deeply a part of me — I love seeing theater as much as I love doing it. … It fulfills me on such a deep, fundamental, tribal level. … In my future I want to continue to act and direct throughout the valley and be a part of the educational initiatives at the same time.

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As we talk, I sense that, beneath Woodhead’s tame veneer of an expectant mother living in the suburbs, a wild heart still pulses. It took her a while to settle in Las Vegas, but not long at all to know seemingly everyone who’s ever had anything to do with a staged show here. She has taught at Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts, acted and directed with Insurgo and Cockroach Theatre, and has a handful of private clients whom she coaches and advises in acting and directing. And I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few other theater-related things she mentioned, too. Now fully immersed in the local theater community, she’s got some pretty big ideas about how to help make it more active and cohesive. Trouble is, the community might not have the big bucks it takes to turn such ideas into reality. Tell me more about those people, spaces and resources you mentioned. There is a ton of energy, some really great producing bodies — Cockroach Theatre, the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada, the Las Vegas Shakespeare Theatre, the Las Vegas Little Theatre, UNLV and CSN. There’s a lot of really great people, and a ton of spaces — I mean, there’s stages in the back of music stores and theaters and libraries. So CSN will generate the actors and directors to fill those spaces? I love that CSN is an open campus. I think of it as the epicenter of the community of Las Vegas, where absolutely everybody from every walk of life, every milieu, is coming together and has access to receive that kind of training, to be as good as they can be.

“I find it especially stimulating and exciting to be in Las Vegas at this time, because it takes more than to just show up and do your work.” And your role is to give them that? I see my role as twofold. I see it as providing skills to the performers and directors who are seeking them to perform work inside the theater. … and also, providing a growth opportunity for anyone in the community who’s looking to access more of themselves or find an outlet of creativity. I initially went into it for the former cause, but I have found it incredibly rewarding to meet members of this community that I would otherwise never have an opportunity to. Have you felt the pinch of the budget cuts to higher education? I am aware of the department’s needing to provide as much opportunity as possible to the students while taxing the department’s funds as little as possible, so with the oneacts, I’ve really tried to make it cost not much of anything at all to the department. … The very first semester, it was just, “Bring whatever you have in your closet for costumes.” We were just black boxes and black space. And that was it. Is it depressing to work that way? No. This last semester, we got to dive into the costume department resources at the college a little bit more and have some set pieces, so it’ll continue to grow and develop, but I’m always very conscious to make it more about the educational opportunities for the students and less about the spectacle. We have

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theater plenty of spectacle in Las Vegas, and this is about the acting and the directing. Do you teach elsewhere? The Smith Center, maybe? I’m not right now, but in the years to come I really see being a part of all of those avenues — CSN, UNLV, the Las Vegas Acad-

emy and The Smith Center — to reach as many people in Las Vegas as possible. I want to share the amazing opportunities that I’ve had that not everybody has, what’s going on in the theater world outside of Las Vegas and Ivy League conservatory training — bring it all here and share it with everyone.



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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

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The “all” that Woodhead wants to share here is also the product of her wanderlust. She took the cake of a B.A. in acting from Cal State Fullerton and iced it with an MFA in acting and movement pedagogy from a joint Harvard University-Moscow Theater program. Then, she used these platinum-plated credentials to go on multi-month stints around the country, playing characters as diverse as Snow White and Lady Macbeth, mainly in theaters belonging to the Actors Equity Association (trade union). When that got old, she joined the Peace Corps, traveling to Africa, where she both helped groups of women build their crafts into sustainable businesses and taught theater at an English-language college. You’ve moved around a lot. Why is that? My mom is a gypsy and my dad is a hot air balloonist. They aren’t together, but I have the gypsy roots. My mom pretty much moved every year for spring cleaning. So, I took up on that myself and moved around a lot. And how did you end up in Las Vegas? I did theater professionally all over the states — resident shows in different places. When I was in Washington, D.C., I met some friends from the theater community out here. And after the Peace Corps, I was traveling around just visiting with family and friends and in October 2008 came through Las Vegas to see them. One of them is the CEO of an automation company for the entertainment industry. I just stopped in to see them, and the CEO asked me to stick around for a few weeks and come to some special events that they had, so I did. And I just fell in love with this town. I could really see myself here. It is a tough city, because of my training being in classic theater and post-modern physical theater and equity productions, and none of that existed in a strong way here. There’s enough stimulation to keep someone of your cultural and intellectual curiosity and ambition here? Yes. … I find it especially stimulating and exciting to be in Las Vegas at this time, because it takes more than to just show up and do your work. It takes commitment to conceptualize where we’re going, what the theater community is heading toward, how we can combine the resources … and tell the community that we’re here. That is a huge part of producing any show at this point, because there isn’t a steady flow of

community members going to see theater. You really have to reach out, tell people you’re here, beg them to come and see it. What are some other obstacles? Las Vegas has this very interesting paradigm that I haven’t seen anywhere else in the country. It has so many employed performers and technicians that it creates its own problems. It’s sometimes called the entertainment capital of the world, and it has a remarkable number of technicians and performers working on the Strip. In most cities, you have a lot of people starving to find work. Here, you have well-employed people who are starving for creative stimulation. So, theater is their outlet? They’ve created wonderful late-night showcases for music, choreography, dance, improv — all of this happening at 11 or 12 o’clock at night. And the theater community is really looking to support it. Everyone I know wants to provide them with resources. The problem, though, is there’s not a consistency in performances for mainstream audiences that want to see things at 7 or 8 o’clock at night, so, I really see that being the avenue of opportunity in this Las Vegas theater renaissance. Is there really a “theater community,” people collaborating and talking about how to foster the scene? Yeah, everyone I know in the theater community here knows that audience begets audience, and the more people go to see, the more they will continue to go and see, and I do feel a strong sense of community with everyone that I’ve encountered. Who are some of the key players, either individuals or organizations, who are doing that? Those that are the pinnacle in developing that sense of community are, I’d say, Troy Heard at the Onyx, Dan Decker of the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company, Erik Amblad with the Cockroach Theatre, the Las Vegas Little Theatre, of course, and CSN and UNLV — all of these people, I feel, are circling around and trying to generate a strong centrifuge for a theater scene that has momentum and sustainability. What will it take to reach the tipping point? Three things: I think the people who want to be a part of it have to continue to train. Everywhere I’ve worked, the professionals continue to train. It’s important to keep yourself charged and viable and keep your tool of your continued on page 78

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discomfort zone

This means wardrobe


I’ve always been known as the guy in the gray T-shirt. Then one evening, I decided to play dress-up By Scott Dickensheets | Illustration by Hernan Valencia

It was my amazing technicolor dream shirt: a crazy-hued patchwork of fabric remnants that my mom sewed into a longsleeved testament to one teenager’s desire for attention. As far as I’m aware, no pictures of it exist — Mom, if I’m wrong, hide the scrapbook — but I remember it as a freakshow of reds, yellows and oranges, several non-matching patterns, maybe a few panels of blue or white ... I loved it, of course. For a while there, in my late middle-school and early high-school years, I wore that shirt out into the real world with a frequency that makes me cringe for my younger self. Nooooo!, I want to shout across the years when I remember me at 14, slipping on the most effective girl-repellent a sly mother could have devised. But that didn’t bother me much then; it’s not like I was a chick magnet. Indeed, I wasn’t anything. I wasn’t jocky enough, or affluent enough, or poor enough, or stoner enough, or gawky enough to absorb into any existing social structure larger than my two or three goofy friends. Plus, I was shy. So what I wanted wasn’t strictly attention, which implies having to talk to people, but rather distinction, which allows for distance. I wanted to stand out from the dull blur of designer jeans and Angels Flight pants around me. (Although, sigh, I owned Angels Flights myself.) These days we’d say I was managing my brand. Trying to control my message: There’s something different about this kid. Because at some level I intuited then what I lost sight of later, which is that identity isn’t simply a natural projection of your innate character, it’s also something you construct, piece by piece, using all kinds of building blocks, including what you wear. Thirty-some years went by.   * * * Our closet is jam-packed, but not with my stuff. I need just a few feet of hanger

30 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

space, and my clothes fall into three very specific categories: jeans (four pairs, three that fit), plain gray T-shirts (13, three of them long-sleeved) and a third grouping I pretend doesn’t exist (two dress shirts and an old suit jacket). Been that way for a lot of years, though the T-shirts used to be black. Every day, and I mean every day — weekday or weekend, summer or winter — I dress myself from the first two categories. Gonna rain? Gray T-shirt. Vacation in Ireland? Gray T-shirt. Big meeting? Long-sleeved gray Tshirt. If people know anything about me, they know the shirt. You oughta get a tie, my wife occasionally suggests. “Having a tie inevitably results in wearing a tie,” I harrumph, and for years I’ve lived by that simple, profound wisdom.   As should anyone locked into a jeansand-one-shirt regimen, I have to acknowledge Steve Jobs. His shtick was brilliantly efficient: “the choice to deprive himself of choices,” as Esquire once put it. Genius! I don’t waste a single brain cell deciding what to wear in the morning — a savings of 365 cognitive functions every year. That’s huge for me. And I’ve happily opted out of the whole cool-hunting, color-matching, does-this-look-good-on-me process of building a wardrobe.  Also, it could be that I’m lazy or, more accurately, massively impatient with inessential tasks like selecting clothes.  However, unlike my ugly-shirted teen self, what I most assuredly have not been doing is making any kind of “statement” about “who I am.” I mean, that kid is gone. My irreducibly basic getup is definitely not about projecting an image of myself as more authentic or real than people trapped in suits. Nope. Indeed, had I thought about it, which I didn’t, I would have scoffed that projecting an image at all was itself an inauthentic act, violating my firm belief that my identity is a natural projection of my innate character. No, I’m just being pragmatic about my total, unyielding need for comfort. Some years ago, I got a job at a place that had a dress code — slacks, dress shirt. But I’m simply not comfortable straitjacketed like that; in those clothes, I become clumsy, spazzy, uncoordinated. My limbs felt constricted, struggling against the terrible material — wearing such duds, I became a dud. Productive? Not even. So every day I made an elaborate spectacle of showing up in jeans and T-shirt, work clothes slung over my shoulder. Sighing and grumbling, I changed

I don’t waste a single brain cell deciding what to wear in the morning — a savings of 365 cognitive functions every year. in the men’s room. Four months later, the boss relented. Jeans were okay. My wife shook her head: “You’ve lowered the dress code at every job you’ve ever had,” she marveled. Point being, it was purely an issue of comfort, not about insisting that my version of me — the authentic me — trump everyone else’s, including my employer’s. So when did it occur to me that I was full of it? Only a few months ago, sad to say. I read an interview with a writer named Mark Dery, who complained about the poor dress of younger writers, as if untucked shirts equal an aesthetic and moral realness, a virtuous absence of artifice. A way of messaging that they have so much going on upstairs they don’t have time to worry about ironing their flannel shirts. Citing Oscar Wilde’s habit of wearing a velvet suit in public, Dery argued, “Surface is depth, Wilde is saying ... the way a man wears his hat is a many-layered signifier, articulating his aesthetic philosophy. And aesthetics is profoundly political. Style is politics, Wilde argues; form can be its own content.” Which, loosely translated, means: Scott, you’re full of it. I won’t say that arrived as an epiphany — we are just talking clothes here — but it did prompt a bout of self-reflection. What was the content of my form? It occurred to me that comfort is as much psychological as physical. That perhaps much of my discomfort when I wear dressy clothes comes from perceiving myself as clumsy, dorky, uncoordinated … just like, oh, I dunno … say, the hapless corporate drones and cubicle schlubs whose shapeless slacks and button-downs symbolize the way they’ve abdicated their own version of

themselves to their employers’ … indeed, I began to wonder, did a large part of the comfort of jeans and T-shirts derive from the way they reassured my anxious subconscious that I wasn’t one of those guys? Aw, hell, I have been making a statement, an awfully judgmental one, at that; turns out my determined lack of style has been a style, as much a uniform as the clip-on tie the dude at the DMV wears. Scholar Anne Hollander, quoted by Virginia Postrel in “The Substance of Style”: “All choices of clothing, especially the quick and simple ones, involve allying oneself in the eyes of spectators with others who have made the same kind of choices, usually for the same reason.”   Style is politics, all right. And while I haven’t worn the freaky shirt for three decades, and in fact have done my shopping at the opposite end of the color chart, the identity politics behind my choices — being adamant about my individuality; not being the sort of person fussy about trivial matters — obviously hasn’t changed much since I was 14.   * * * Not long ago, waiting for the monorail in Seattle, I glimpsed a surprisingly different sartorial future. A guy in line had paired jeans and sneakers with a white, button-down Oxford shirt and blue blazer. Sure, I’d seen men wear similar outfits a thousand times, but I’d never made (or even tried to make) the imaginative leap of picturing myself in their place. Really, it’s amazing how an ironclad habit shrivels your ability to see options. This time, for some reason — the Dery interview; the expansive frame of mind you have on vacation; a jolt of late-onset maturity — it seemed possible. More than that, perhaps even … desirable?  “I could see me dressing like that,” I told my wife. [Insert open-mouthed emoticon here.]   So in mid-July, to attend a big evening of performance art at Henderson’s Pop Up Art House, I decided to bust out a new look. Venturing deep into that part of the closet I normally shun, I found a blue button-down and a black suit jacket with a very becoming layer of dust across the shoulders. Topping my jeans and sneakers with those items — no tie, because hell no — I approximated Seattle Guy’s look the best I could.  I’ll level with you, though: I was more than a bit apprehensive. “Butterflies?” my wife asked that night. I nodded. I know, I know, it’s only clothes. Normal people do this every day, fella. But not me. I go through this

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

discomfort zone

anxiety spiral every time some special occasion requires a fashion ramp-up on my part. No exaggeration: I sweat, I mutter, I growl at children and small animals. Years ago, I was offered a job at Esquire, a bible of men’s style, and while the requirement to dress up wasn’t the reason I turned it down, I have always wondered if it would’ve dramatically shortened my career there. For a fair number of the people who’d be at the art event, one of the primary things they knew about me was my unremitting gray. (Clearly, that’s a lot of what I know about me!) Its long-unchanging nature would only highlight the suddenness of the change. If, as Postrel postulates in “The Substance of Style,” “Identity is the meaning of surface,” I had no idea what my unfamiliar surface meant, except that I wished I’d read more Oscar Wilde. Arriving at the Pop Up Art House, I crossed the hot parking lot, wishing it were darker. Right away, I saw an artist I know. “Jesus, you’re not wearing a gray T-shirt!” he said, shaking his head. “What are we gonna do?” “It’s my form of performance art,” I joked. Another friend approached as I milled in a small crowd; when she realized it was my face emerging from the shirt and jacket, her features went through three distinct phases of incomprehension. “Are you going somewhere after this?” she asked. “It’s my form of performance art,” I joked. I ran into a co-worker, who asked, “You look nice?” And so on. It kinda did help to think of my getup as a variety of performance art. That was a pretty wild night; one guy drank his own urine, and another dressed up in a monkey suit — brother, I feel ya! — and perhaps the outsized nature of the event kept my fluster in check, but cell by cell, I relaxed. My limbs felt slightly less constricted. After a while, I was just another unself-conscious guy in the crowd, watching someone drink his own urine, no more awkward, dorky or uncoordinated than anyone else. It was a petite revelation, and the next morning, I went to the store and bought some fresh dress shirts — ha! Kidding. You’re a sucker for performance art, aren’t you? I did no such thing. Sometimes, sartorial advancement is a game of inches, except with me, when it’s a game of centimeters. But now I keep the blue button-down and black jacket in a part of the closet where I can see them. That’s huge for me.

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The dish

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Getting us some KJ Dim Sum


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Happy hour is burger hour

Opening oink: pork tenderloin at Mundo

PHOTOGRAPH BY Christopher Smith | 37


The Dish

Feast for the senses Off to a big show at The Smith Center? Grab a bite in the neighborhood


By David Mckee Photography Christopher SMith During the six months it’s been open, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has already lured much traffic — and many diners — downtown. But that was something of a test drive, as The Smith Center fine-tuned its performing spaces and its programming mix. Fall brings an air of greater formality, marked by season openings for the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet, not to mention the first order of business: Tony Awardwinning “Wicked.” September has been given over entirely to this tentpole attraction, which will provide downtown restaurants with many more mouths to feed.

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But, with the arguable exception of Mundo, there’s no place to eat within Smith Center walking distance. The $470 million performing-arts temple is literally on the “wrong” side of the tracks from downtown. Unlike other Symphony Park developers, the Smith brain trust got its job done — and thoughtfully provided a Starbucks just off the main lobby. But the dearth of dining means you’ll need to venture deeper into downtown or the Arts District — or even the fringes of the Strip — to sate that pre-curtain appetite or slake a postperformance thirst. First, let’s take that theoretical stroll over to

Mundo (495 S. Grand Central Parkway A-116, 270-4400,, which bills itself as Las Vegas’ only “chic” Latin eatery. The sconce-studded restaurant, entombed in the World Market Center, could have been a white elephant, but the arrival of The Smith Center and its amenity-starved crowds has given Mundo a new lease on life, increasing its weekend business tenfold. Reservations are all but mandatory. Chef Robert Solano is much praised for working creative twists on staples such as enchiladas and quesadillas, generously employing chiles and offbeat spices. Most of the exotica is to be found in the populous appetizer selection, while entrées run to relatively mainstream items such as wagyu skirt steak. Progressively minded, Mundo offers a liberal number of vegetarian dishes, too. Co-

owner George Harris’ own Alien Tequila is the restaurant’s signature beverage, although some find it insufficiently otherworldly. If you prefer something robust, Harris stocks an open-border repertory of beers. One can easily dine here for $20-$30 but dinner hours (3-10 p.m. weekdays) make this almost strictly a pre-curtain play. It’s also an option before Saturday matinees (5-10 p.m.) or before Sunday ones (brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Vegetarianism is all well and good, but Las Vegas are notoriously fond of their steakhouses. One of the most venerable and beloved is the former Roberta’s Steakhouse at the El Cortez, now redubbed The Flame (600 E. Fremont St., 385-5200, Open 4-10 p.m., weekround, its high-backed chairs and ochre-based color scheme are a time machine to Rat Pack-era Vegas. The menu also has a distinctly retro feel — oysters Rockefeller, iceberg-wedge salad, Steak Diane — classic steakhouse fare that’s withstood the decades. It’s a bit pricier than Mundo but has more of the old “night on the town” ambience and the check won’t feel as burdensome after you’ve sampled some of The Flame’s dozens of wines, heavy on California varietals. Should you be in the mood for poshness — but perhaps not a full dinner — happy hour at The Barrymore (99 Convention Center Dr., 407-5303, beckons. It’s just off the Strip, so best approach it from the Paradise Road side. It’s in the Royal House, formerly the half-forgotten Royal Resort, now reinventing itself as a hep hangout. Whether you take your libation by the al fresco fire pit or in the bar, you can enjoy both The Barrymore’s whimsical design scheme and its “50 under 50 (dollars)” wine list. For $9-$14, you can partake Clockwise from left: marinated chicken quesadilla at Mundo; wagyu skirt steak at Mundo; oysters Rockefeller at The Flame | 39

dining of many of those same vintages by the glass. For something stronger, try the alluring lineup of martinis or the “Dark & Stormy” (rum, ginger beer and lime), some of which are $5 during happy hour. And if you really want to get your Don Draper vibe on, preface those cocktails with lobster deviled eggs garnished with caviar, or oysters Rockefeller. The Barrymore closes early (11 p.m. on weekends), so indulge here before staggering to The Smith Center. After a few Barrymore belts, any performance will sound magnificent. If you don’t feel like putting on the dog, just want a solid (but piquant) meal, head back toward downtown and pull in at Florida Café Cuban Bar & Grill (1401 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 385-3013, As might be expected, there are a plethora of Cuban sandwiches on offer — 10, to be precise — as well as pages of mouth-watering delicacies, although the highly praised Cuban beef hash appears to have been put out to pasture. Entrées start around $8 and top out at $20 for a big bowl of mariscada, teeming with mussels, scallops, clams, shrimp, calamari and more. Not only is the atmosphere casual, you’re served with alacrity, so you needn’t worry either about missing curtain time Bar+Bistro’s paella or being out of pocket. For those whose affinities run more 202-6060, The 11 a.m. opentoward Cajun than Cuban, the obvious ing time makes this perfect for relaxed, prechoice is Lola’s (241 W. Charleston Blvd., 227matinée noshing, while the Friday-Saturday 11 5652, However, this beguilp.m. closing means you stand a good chance of ing nook on the northern fringe of the Arts Disgetting just under the wire after the curtain has trict is no longer the secret it used to be. Smith fallen. Chef Beni Velasquez’s myriad dishes emCenter patrons swelled business by 30 percent, phasize sustainable fishing practices (reflected but then Guy Fieri featured Lola’s on the Food in the Scottish salmon slider, for instance) as Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Now, well as a cosmopolitan variety of ingredients, says chef Lola “Beth” Pokorny, the DDD fandom as in the alcapurrias (heavily garnished Kobe is elbowing aside the Smith Center one. Again, beef ). Or perhaps long-stem artichoke hearts consider reservations mandatory. Not only is in curry are your fancy? The costillas, or little service speedy, the staff will make you feel like pork ribs, are commendable. For the truly hardfamily. You can choose from 10 iterations of core, Velasquez deploys an extensive vegan-onpoboy (including fried oyster), served on bread ly menu, too. B+B’s repertoire of whiskeys and flown from the Big Easy. Crab cakes, especially tequilas will make you reel just looking at it. spiced, are the ideal starter, perhaps en route to One can simplify matters by trying one of sevthe catfish with grits or red beans and rice. To eral whiskey flights (three to a flight, $14-$18) conclude, choose either the sweet potato-andand any evening ends well with the gin-based pecan pie or the bananas Foster bread pudding. cucumber lime swizzle on the rocks. Lola’s Saturday hours (noon-10 p.m.) are particuAfter-hours dining isn’t downtown’s forte, larly amenable to the Saturday-matinée crowd. although The Smith Center’s drawing power Informal dining and an outstanding tapas may change that for non-casino-based resmenu with a Mediterranean orientation are just taurants. Navigating the gauntlet of schlock across the street at the Arts Factory. Slide into a shops and weekend-tourist mishegas of Glitbooth at Bar + Bistro (107 W. Charleston Blvd.,

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ter Gulch is insanity before a performance and only slightly less stressful after one. For ease of ingress and egress, as well as a broad choice of dining options, the Golden Nugget is the prohibitive favorite. Casino owner Tilman Fertitta made his fortune in eateries and has installed several of his signature brands at the Pépite d’Or. The seafood fare at Chart House (129 E. Fremont St., 386-8364, goldennugget. com) is absolutely standard and unsurprising, but the restaurant is open until midnight most days and till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The finny inhabitants of Chart House’s 75,000-gallon aquarium add an offbeat touch to the dining experience. If you want something lighter and can make it by 11 p.m., Red Sushi ( has an endless menu of undersea critters for your delectation. Those who don’t mind being kept up by spicy food could head to Fremont East for the wallet-friendly Le Thai (523 E. Fremont St., 702-778-0888, Arguably the hottest new dining spot in town, it keeps hours for night owls, open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and to midnight the rest of


the week. Staples like pad Thai and ga pow can be had for less than $9 apiece, washed down with any of a septet of sakes. But the place that really does after-hours dining right is so inconspicuous you’d easily miss it in the dark. If possible, it’s even more penumbral in the vestibule of Herbs & Rye (3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036,, a fine-dining experience disguised as a grind joint. During happy hour (5-8 p.m.) and from midnight to closing, prices are halved on steaks and ribeyes, deliciously bathed in bleu cheese and fine sauces — as well as on selected appetizers (mussels and clams). Deals can also be had on well drinks, if not on the retro cocktails that are Herbs & Rye’s star attractions, such as “Remember the Maine” (rye, Italian vermouth, cherry brandy and absinthe). But they’re worth paying full freight. Bargains include a Bloody Mary ($5 during happy hour) that’s tart, tasty, garnished with a big, juicy olive and goes down fast. Given the laid-back service culture of Herbs & Rye, a preperformance dinner could well be your undoing. But for unwinding after a show and savoring the art of mixology, it’s perfect. Should you prefer to skip the meal and simply imbibe, both the Arts District and Fremont East offer several beguiling choices. One standout is Bar + Bistro neighbor Artifice (1025 First St. #A, 489-6339,, a lounge that doubles as a gallery: Every objet d’art on display is available for purchase. A 60-year-old warehouse has become a brick-and-knotty pine hangout for the artsy set. The designer-cocktail menu emphasizes “boutique wines” and is long on names like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Taming of the Shrew” (Hendrick’s Gin, plus cucumber and floral infusions). If it’s beer you seek, only a half-dozen are in stock at any one time. Artifice is not only a good jumping-off point for The Smith Center, it’s cheek-by-jowl with brand-new Art Square Theatre, lair of the durable Cockroach Theatre ensemble. Local movers and shakers also get their cocktails stirred at Downtown Cocktail Room (111 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 300-6268, thedowntownlv. com), where the atmosphere is dark, intimate, almost secretive. The ingredients of some of the blends are as exotic as their names, like “Orthodox Caveman,” composed of Zucca, Cachaca and scotch. To get in touch with your inner Ernest Hemingway, try his eponymous daiquiri. (Isn’t that kind of a girly drink, Papa?) Or, to feel like a true artiste, sample one of the six absinthes kept in store … although we don’t recommend showing up at The Smith Center feeling as bawdy as Baudelaire.

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Sum-thing for everyone: assorted bites at KJ Dim Sum

a n o m y m o u s : w e c o m e , w e e at, w e d i s h

KJ Dim Sum By Brock Radke | Photography Christopher smith The Rio is a funny place for us to eat. It’s got off-Strip accessibility, but lacks the culinary flash of its neighbor, the Palms. Rio’s most famous dining asset is the massive buffet, but near that mega-trough resides its tasty new secret weapon. If KJ Dim Sum & Seafood sounds familiar, perhaps you’ve noshed at its sister restaurant, KJ Kitchen, one of our best Chinese eateries on Spring Mountain Road. The original doesn’t do dim sum, but the new joint — an airy, open, red space with an undulating white ceiling — does it well enough to challenge Ping Pang Pong at the Gold Coast next door for Vegas dim sum supremacy. Even the service, typically terse at any dim sum cafeteria, is relatively friendly, though it seems difficult to hunt down some vegetables among the more than 50 different plates of dumplings, noodles and other slightly greasy goodies. Who do I gotta bribe to get some ong choy around here? The standard steam table offerings are stellar: tender, juicy shrimp har gow, fluffy char siu bao rolls, deep fried balls of shrimp forcemeat, and the luscious rice-and-meat packets wrapped in lotus leaves known as lo mai gai. Broad, pillowy rice noodles filled with soft, rich beef, cheung fan, was one bite that that had me going back for more. The size and speed of the whole operation is pretty impressive; remember, this space used to be nightclub with bowling lanes. Dinner might be better than lunch. Chinese seafood delicacies such as abalone and geoduck clam are available, but you can also order lobster or sweet crab and pick its method of preparation, like curry-braised or ginger-scallion wok’d or garlic black-beaned. Simple pleasures are hard for me avoid, so the fu kien seafood fried rice, full of shrimp and scallops, is impossible to resist. Also, how can you say no to lobster egg rolls?

KJ Dim Sum & Seafood Inside the Rio, 777-7777

Raise a fork

to end hunger. DISH Las Vegas returns for the fourth year as more than twenty area restaurants bring out their newest, greatest creations. Sample sensational food. Meet & mingle with the chefs. See Zowie Bowie perform live. All proceeds benefit Three Square Food Bank. September 20 I 6:30-9:30pm Palms Pool & Bungalows PalmS CaSIno ReSoRt $100 advanced I $150 Door Tickets are limited. Get them now at or call 702-644-3663 x332

Presented by


eat this now! Our favorite recent dishes that have us coming back for seconds

DIVORCED? SEPARATED? WIDOWED? BAD MARRIAGE? IRS may owe you! Richard A. Perlman, Enrolled Agent Licensed by Department of the Treasury 30-yeaR CaReeR WITh The IRS

702-589-7557 44 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Happy Hour Prime Burger at Fleming’s

Sure, Fleming’s is a chain steakhouse but, hidden in its menu of standard albeit wellexecuted steakhouse fare, is their Prime Burger — probably among the best in town. The patty’s a combination of trim from their main steak offerings, best ordered to medium-rare perfection, and topped with peppered bacon and cheddar. A steal at $12 during regular hours, it’s an absolute plunder during happy hour for $6. But be warned, as it’s only available in their tiny bar, which fills up quickly, so come early and go belly up. — Jim Begley

Fleming’s 8721 W. Charleston Blvd.,

Saba shio combination lunch at Kyara

One of the best deals in town is Kyara’s new combination lunch. Each includes miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, a variety of lightly fried tempura, steamed rice and your choice of meat. Seriously, for $9, it’s a lot of food. My preference is the saba shio, a perfectly grilled mackerel filet with the smokiness inherent to Kyara’s robata grill offerings, although the chicken katsu and teriyaki are also noteworthy options. Truthfully, there’s not an outlier in the bunch. — J.B.

Kyara 6555 S. Jones Blvd. #120,

P h oto c o u r t e s y o f F l e m i n g ’ s

Do you have an IRS TaX PRoBLeM?

Celebrating over 14 years in business





Mondays—1/2 price bottles of wine – Dine in only

Live Jazz night Thursday & Friday

Let us plan your next Party!

1/2 price appetizers • Buy one glass of wine or beer and get the second one free



$5 off a $25 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.


$10 off a $50 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday - Friday 3-6pm

$15 off a $75 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

$20 off a $100 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

7501 West Lake Mead Boulevard, at the corner of Buffalo, 228-9463,

An International Center for Creative Writers and Scholars at the university of nevada, las vegas

Fall 2012 Reading Emerging Writers Series: Melinda Moustakis Melinda Moustakis was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in Bakersfield, California. She received her MA from UC Davis and her PhD in English and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Bear Down Bear North, her first book published by University of Georgia Press in 2011, won the Flannery O’ Connor Award and the Maurice Prize and has been shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Tuesday, Sept 11, 7:00pm UNLV Greenspun Hall Auditorium

Open HOuse & panel Open House & Medical Ethics A Night in the Operating Room: A Cutting Edge Discussion on Medical Ethics Harriet Washington, David Ewing Duncan, & Jacob Appel Medical ethicist Harriet Washington, author of Deadly Monopolies, journalist David Ewing Duncan, chief correspondent to NPR’s Biotech Nation, and director of the Center for Life Science at U.C. Berkeley, and moderator Jacob Appel, bioethicist, social critic, short story writer, and a practicing physician in New York City,

will discuss ethics, politics, and morality, in present day American medicine. Wednesday, Sept 19 Open House at 6pm Medical Ethics Panel at 7pm UNLV Student Union Ballroom

Reading Modernist Studies Association BMI Poetry Reading James Longenbach James Longenbach is a poet, critic, and the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where he teaches courses on American poetry, British and American modernism, James Joyce, Shakespeare, and creative writing. His critical works include Modernist Poetics of History, Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats, and Modernism, Wallace Stevens: the Plain Sense of Things, and his most recent The Art of the Poetic Line, which explores the “function of line in metered, rhymed, syllabic, and free-verse poetry.” He will be introduced by UNLV’s own, Donald Revell. Thursday, Oct 18, 3:30pm Flamingo Hotel Conference Center, 2nd Floor Mesquite Room

Reading & Q&a Vegas Valley Book Festival Keynote Jennifer Egan Jennifer Egan is the author of The Invisible Circus, which was released as a feature film by Fine Line, Look at Me, a finalist for the

National Book Award in fiction, Emerald City and Other Stories, and The Keep, which was a national bestseller. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, Granta, McSweeney’s and other magazines. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her most recent novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Saturday, Nov 3, 3:30pm Fifth Street School

Reading Emerging Writers Series Peter Covino As a former professional social worker who has worked in the fields of foster care, AIDS services, and youth and family services, and as an Italian immigrant, poet, translator, and essayist Peter Covino’s creative writing and research interests continue to be strongly influenced by the interrelationship of ethnic culture, work in translation, and psychosocial identity. Covino is the author of Straight Boyfriend, winner of the 2001 Frank O’Hara Chapbook Prize. In 2007, Covino was awarded the PEN/Joyce Osterweil for Cut Off the Ears of Winter. Tuesday, Nov 27, 7:00pm UNLV Greenspun Hall Auditorium

all events are free, unticketed, and open to the public Presented with generous support from Nevada Public Radio, Las Vegas CityLife, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Caesars Foundation. Call (702) 895-5542 for more information about our events.

in celebration of

September 6-9

We welcome George Kotsiopoulos, fashion expert, celebrity stylist and co-host of e!’s Fashion Police, as our celebrity host.

nforgettable trends For those dedicated to Fashion. fendi michael kors 7 for all mankind christian louboutin cut by Wolfgang puck

barneys new yorK canali chloĂŠ sushisamba tory burch table 10 by emeril lagasse diane von furstenberg (partial listing)

shoes: jimmy choo

on the strip in the Palazzo - 2nd Level located adjacent to the venetian 702.414.4500

“No pain could be deeper. No life could be cheaper. No point anymore, if I can’t love her.”

— “Beauty and the Beast”

Show it off with this season’s “it” colors: oxblood red and navy blue.

Autumn CH Carolina Herrera blue velvet gown, $1,162 Available at CH Carolina Herrera in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Phillip Thomas Pink “Watson” belt, $150 Available at Thomas Pink in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Ben Sherman “Regent” tie, $49.50 Available at Macy’s in the Fashion Show mall Plectrum by Ben Sherman long-sleeved “Shoreditch” collar shirt, $110 Ben Sherman Formalwear burgundy mohair “Tonic” suit, $595 Both available at Ben Sherman retail stores

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| fashion

Let’s put on a SHOW

This season’s evening looks showcase classic elegance with bold touches — much like our city's new stunner, The Smith Center photography



christ ie moeller

The Smi t h C e nt e r For the Perform i n g a rts

hair & makeup



Kryst le Randall Stylist Assistant

Devin Howell

Au tumn & P h i l l ip


Be st age nc y | 49

“Define normal.” 

— The Addams Family - The Broadway Musical

It’s all in the details: texture, lace — tie it with a bow. Phillip Burberry tuxedo, price upon request Available at Burberry in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Tom Ford bow tie, $245 Available at Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show mall Angelo Galasso black leather shoes, $1,555 Available at Angelo Galasso in the Palazzo Shoppes Thomas Pink pleat evening shirt, $195 Thomas Pink “Optic Link” cufflinks, $105 Thomas Pink “Watson” belt, $150 All available at Thomas Pink in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

Autumn Etro fanned top silk gown, $3,496 Available at

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“I don’t want a childhood!  I want to be a ballet dancer!”

| fashion

— “Billy Elliot”

Give it a little leg. Sky-scraping slits add a touch of sexy to chic. Phillip Tom Ford blue tuxedo jacket, $4,180 Tom Ford blue velvet bow tie, $235 Both available at Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show mall Thomas Pink solid slim-fit shirt, $185 Available at Thomas Pink in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Paul Smith London black trousers, $300 Paul Smith Shoes “Gattopardo” loafers, $570 Both available at Paul Smith in Crystals at CityCenter Thomas Pink “Navigator” cufflinks, $105 Available at

Autumn Vince Camuto “Tezer” heels, $110 Available at Miriam Haskell Russian gold-plated multi-chain necklace with pearl and Swarovski pendant, $880 Available at Abi Ferrin fiore layering top, $163 Abi Ferrin “Felicity” skirt, $220 Available at Resultwear “Jane” bralette, $79 Available at Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show mall

Dancers Leigh Hartley and Demetria Schioldager appear courtesy of Nevada Ballet Theatre. | 51

“I’ll be your alibi, my baby. Fly, fly, fly away.  We didn’t get to say goodbye, goodbye.  No need to tell me why, my baby.” — “Catch Me If You Can”

Don’t be afraid to go retro. Clean lines and classic cuts never run out of style. Phillip CH Carolina Herrera navy suit, $700 CH Carolina Herrera cotton dress shirt, $205 CH Carolina Herrera CH logo hard case briefcase, $2,053.90 CH Carolina Herrera navy tie, $172.96 All available at CH Carolina Herrera in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Francis Flago black fedora, $125 Available at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show mall Paul Smith “Gattopardo” leather shoe, $570 Available at Paul Smith in Crystals at CityCenter Autumn CH Carolina Herrera blue cocktail dress, $913.45 Available at CH Carolina Herrera in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Vince Camuto “Tezer” heels, $110 Available at

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

| fashion

“She’s not famous;  she’s notorious.”  — Mrs. Harcourt in “Anything Goes”

Add a dash of color. The perfect way to make it pop is with a statement-making belt. Donna Karan New York white blazer, $1,995 Donna Karan New York navy scissor skirt, $995 Valentino red patent belt, $245 All available at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Fashion Show mall | 53

Wicked Has Landed in Las Vegas.

NOW ThRu OCTOBeR 7 ONly The SmiTh CeNTeR fOR The PeRfORmiNG ARTS GOOD SeATS STill AvAilABle The Smith Center Box Office or call 702-749-2000 • Grammy® Award-Winning Cast Recording available on Decca Broadway

fall fall the

c u lt u r e


Clear your calendar for the next few months — because we’re about to fill it with our top picks for the can’t-miss cultural events this season. Whether you love big musical theater, provocative art exhibits or festivals to thrill the whole family, you’ll find them here. ¶ Want a taste of locally grown talent? Read up on our “Ones 2 Watch” in the arts scene; they’re just a few of the people who make Southern Nevada a vibrant place well away from the lights of the Strip. ¶ Hold on to this issue as your trusty guide this fall — there’s a lot of culture out there. By Chantal Corcoran, Lynnette Curtis, JoAnna Haugen, Jarret Keene, Andrew Kiraly, Danielle L. McCrea, David McKee, Helen Moore | 55

Sep tem ber

home and heads to Mundo for skirt steak skewers. LC

2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., $42-$197, The Smith Center,

There’s no place like downtown

Da doo ron ron to this show


“Leader of the Pack”

Sept. 1-Oct. 7 Holy munchkin, Toto: I’ve got a feeling we’re not on Broadway anymore! It’s the much-anticipated Vegas unveiling of the megahit musical that offers a parallel take on “The Wizard of Oz” from the perspective of the witches. We hear in this version Dorothy abandons the idea of

Sept. 6-22

Brill Building songsmith Ellie Greenwich is the phenom who penned classics such as “River Deep, Mountain High” and “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).” “Leader of the Pack” takes us back to those halcyon Brill Building days of the '60s — and the

love/hate relationship of Greenwich and Jeff Barry, which birthed “And Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.” Check out this opera-sized tribute to the best songwriter you’ve never heard of. DM

whet the appetite of an erotic palate. Bursts of bright, bold colors are sectioned apart with smooth, black calligraphic strokes. The resulting images, while abstract, are often sensual — even sexual. DLM

Thurs.-Sat., 7 p.m., $12$20, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park,

Sin City Gallery, 107 E. Charleston #100,

Clean lines (that make dirty pictures) “The Beautiful Accident” exhibition Sept. 6-Oct. 20

French artist François Dubeau presents an exhibit that’s sure to

You yellow-bellied, lily-livhit ered … DRAW! the road Fastest Gun Alive World Championship, Oct. 4-7

If you’re the hesitant type, leave your ammo at home. The more than 200 folks who get together for this festival have a need for speed as they compete for the title of fastest gun alive. Much like poker tournaments, there are numerous shooting competitions during the day that require buy-ins, but at night, pull on those cowboy boots for talent shows, sing-alongs and other Old West-themed hijinks. — JH Free for spectators, Fallon,

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Downtown becomes LOUDTOWN! Neon Reverb Sept. 11-16

Here’s the best way to enjoy Neon Reverb, Las Vegas’ most eclectic and ambitious music festival: Pick from the schedule a band name that sounds crazy — and they all do — like maybe Superhumanoids or Moonface or Hunx & His Punx or Shannon and The Clams (I’m not making these up, I swear) — show up at the gig, and surrender to that delighted smile of wondrous surprise crawling over your face as the first waves of guitar slush around your thirsty ears. Happens to me every time. AK

Ticket prices vary, various venues downtown,

When you get this feeling, you need musical healing

jazz and R&B vocalists and musicians. Kicking things off will be Lalah Hathaway, daughter of legendary soul singer Donny Hathaway. Another highlight: Sunday night’s performance by Grammynominated neo-soul artist Will Downing, whose sexy slow-jam ballads make Barry White sound like Big Bird. JK

Noon daily, $45, JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa,

She just wants you to feel everything Fiona Apple Sept. 15

Apple is touring in support of her critically acclaimed new album, whose full title would fill this entire blurb. Suffice it to say the eccentric Grammy-winner’s new work — seven or so years in the making — is a jazzy, rock-y, lyrically penetrating and vaguely unsettling sojourn into her insomniac psyche. So just the right amount of weird. LC

8 p.m., $25.50-$91, The Joint, thejointlasvegas. com

Beware of puddles of blood when crossing the roller rink

Las Vegas Jazz Festival

Sin City Roller Girls: competitive roller derby

This inaugural event features 30 national

Vegas girls aren’t exactly known for

Sept. 14-16

Sept. 15 and Oct. 27

locally grown being demure or coy. You can find these Vegas girls at home in the roller rink — kicking butt on skates and being all-around bad babes. DLM

country music star Jerrod Niemann headlining. If this were any more American, they’d hand out free eagles. DLM

Hours and ticket prices vary, Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St.,

6 p.m., $15 ($10 presale), Riviera Royale Pavilion inside the Riviera hotel-casino,

A face only a jug could love

Pound some poi

Thomas Bumblauskas in “What Goes Bump in the Night”

Ho’olaule’a Pacific Islands Festival Sept. 15-16

Sept. 29-Oct. 31

An hour at this mellow outdoor party and you’ll forget your worries over how to pronounce it. The 22nd annual celebration — in honor of Prince Kuhio, known for his Hawaiian advocacy and handlebar mustache — features a cultural village, hula dancing, and music by Holunape. You’ll feel like “ohana.” That’s “family” to us mainlanders. LC

9 a.m.-6 p.m., free, Henderson Events Plaza,

Vaults and cartwheels and handstands and cartstands and handwheels Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions

She loves to go out and paint the town

The Vegas Vibe, Sept. 6-Oct. 9 Plein air painters are known for painting mountains, lakes and other things that apparently exist in this “nature” place everyone talks about, but Kathleen Strukoff takes her easel to the streets, deftly capturing old Vegas’ cheap motels, liquor stores and greasy spoons — the grit that lies beneath the glitz. AK Sept. 6-Oct. 9, La Chica Art & Music, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #220,

World Championships and 2012 Olympic teams, is so magical. They make the seemingly impossible appear effortless. We’re exhausted just from the effort of anticipating their arrival. LC

Free, Clay Arts Vegas, 1511 S. Main St.,

7:30 p.m., $30-$205, Thomas & Mack Center,

Aural delights to freak out your soul

Sept. 20

The only handsprings at which we personally excel involve springing this handful of Funyuns into our foodholes. That’s why this tour, featuring members of the 2011

Henderson? You mean HOT ROD CITY Super Run car show Sept. 20-23

Fast cars, pretty cars, kept-in-stunning-con-

Face jugs — jugs with nasty ol’ faces carved into them — originated from South Carolina slave potters. Since slaves were forbidden traditional graves, face jugs served as their headstones. Why the ugly faces? To scare the devil long enough for the deceased’s soul to high-tail it to heaven unscathed, of course. Thomas Bumblauskas, an instructor at Clay Arts Vegas, shows off his face jugs as part of its “What Goes Bump in the Night” exhibit. Don’t be scared (unless you’re the devil). AK

dition-but-older-thanyou-are cars. The 13th annual Super Run, the biggest car show in Southern Nevada, features more than

1,000 hot rods, muscle cars and a dazzling spectacle of vintage vehicles. There’ll also be car competitions and concerts with

Prelude to the Allegro International Guitar Competition Sept. 21

UNLV’s Classical Guitar Series brings together Latin Grammy-winner | 57

Come as you are (naked, hit clothed the road or costumed)

“Evil Jazz Guitar Clone Army” was taken Sergio Assad, French improv-isario Roland Dyens and American guitarist Christopher McGuire for a night of music destined to haunt your soul — and not in a scary clown kind of way. They’re also judging an upcoming guitar competition to be held at UNLV and in Fort Worth, Texas. LC

8 p.m., $35-$75, UNLV’s Ham Hall, 895-ARTS

Would you see it with a goat? “Seussical” Sept. 21-30

Whether you watch it in a box or with a fox, you will like RagTag Entertainment’s revival of “Seussical.” It’s a crazy, all-star mashup

Corey Catalano

This guitarist loves to play fast — but takes it slow when teaching young ones how to shred

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of the Theodore Geisel canon, hosted by The Cat in the Hat. At its heart is “Horton Hears a Who,” but don’t worry: The Grinch gets a look-in and the grand finale is — what else — “Green Eggs and Ham.” Sounds like fun, Sam I Am! DM

Fridays-Sundays, 8 p.m., $10, Henderson Pavilion,


Emanuel Schmidt Group

celebrates some of his favorite jazz guitarists. Join the army. AK

7 p.m. $10, E-String bar, 2031 W. Sunset Road, 485-2835

Sept. 24

“Emanuel Schmidt Group” makes it sound like Emanuel Schmidt cloned himself to create an evil jazz guitar zombie army. Never fear. This hard-grooving guitarist simply fronts a group of brilliant players who’ll back Schmidt as he interprets and

Swords, ray guns and nuclear powers Las Vegas Comic Expo Sept. 29

I always thought Vegas would be the perfect place for superheroes to party (we do have

orey Catalano started playing guitar in Brooklyn — and he

started young. When he was four years old, Corey’s first guitar was a Mickey Mouse model with a stem-wound, music-box action. “I wore that thing out,” he recalls. “I just wanted to play fast.” There were jam sessions with local musicians, during which Corey’s father, Anthony Maggi, played sax, and Corey and his brother Kim were encouraged to attack the bongos. Music was the air Catalano’s family breathed; grandfather Frank Signorelli, of the Original Memphis Five, composed standards such as “Stairway to the Stars,” and had Corey accompany him on guitar while grandfather Frank played Gershwin on the piano. In fifth grade, Corey did what 10-year-old would-be lead guitarists in the '60s did: He started his first band, Total Destruction. They eventually changed the name to Naked Grape. (“We thought it was more psychedelic.”). After brother Kim got drafted and sent to Thailand, Corey moved to Michigan to study music. Jobless on arrival, Catalano put an ad in a local paper. “Pro guitarist, any style.” Within a month he got his break, in cinematic fashion. He was in the house when the Contours, due onstage, got stuck in a snowstorm. A call came through: “Can anybody entertain?” Catalano took the stage, and in a few more weeks embarked on a career

B u r n i n g M a n : k e i t h p o m a k i s ; C o r e y C ata l a n o : C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h

Burning Man, Aug. 27-Sept. 3, 2012; Aug. 26-Sept. 2, 2013 Take an eccentric gathering of people, add communal art and energy, drop in radical self-reliance, sprinkle on a thick layer of alkaline dust and you’ll have an inkling of what awaits you at Burning Man. This festival of 50,000 is so robust it becomes one of Nevada’s biggest cities for one week out of the year. Open-mindedness, respect and creativity are a must; complete nudity is optional. — JH $300 (buy in advance), Black Rock City,

with the Motown greats, from Junior Walker and the All-Stars to the Temptations, and everyone in between. Motown would take him all over the world, including to Las Vegas — repeatedly. “We played Caesars a lot, and the town was so beautiful, that after David (Ruffin of The Temptations) died, I thought this is where I’d stay.” That’s what he’s done since 1995, performing for most of that time with his own band, Heels Over Head, and teaching, imparting the secrets of the guitar arts to acolytes who pilgrimage from the furthest reaches of the valley to the studio in Catalano’s home. Names you might know: Panic at the Disco, The Higher and The Dirty Panties — he’s taught them and many others. “Corey is an awesome person and an amazing musician and teacher. When I started with him, I hardly knew anything, but he made it so much fun I was glad to go to lessons,” says Dirty Panties guitarist Barbara Lenox. Demand for his method of instruction is fierce, and his students are loyal. He leads showcases for them at local nightspots such as Choices, a pub in northwest Las Vegas. That’s where his first CD, “The Hoodoo Project,” with new band Airy Otherness had its preview performance, with a release date in the fall. What’s in Catalano’s future? He shrugs and smiles. “I still just wanna play fast.” — Helen Moore | 59

Biscuit StReet Preacher

His vibrant, restless paintings will open your eyes — and teach them to listen

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

B i s c u i t: CHRISTOPHER S M ITH

the most fictionally fun skyline of all time) or, at the very least, for comic aficionados to nerd out. Sometimes, dreams do come true: Here comes Las Vegas’ first ever comic book expo. Look out Comic Con, we’re coming to get you — and we’re bringing our laser guns. DLM

10 a.m.-7 p.m., $20-$35, Alexis Park All Suite Resort,

You had us at moon cake Asian Harvest Moon Festival Sept. 29

Plenty of traditional Chinese delicacies called moon cakes await their launch into your face-crater at this lunar-lauding annual event that parallels the solar calendar’s autumnal equinox. It also offers a colorful feast for your ears and eyes with music, dancing, martial

arts demonstrations and an adorable children’s lantern parade. LC

Noon-6 p.m., $3-$5, Springs Preserve,

Shoot down that flying pig with a laser light and throw it on the barbie Australian Pink Floyd Show Sept. 29

WARNING: Laser lights might blow your mind into little bits, with music filling the extra space with brain-melting riffs. Nick Mason, Pink Floyd’s drummer, says these guys are better than the original. These Outback hunks have been charming the sanity off international crowds for two decades plus. DLM

Village, the picturesque, picnicky retail spot, offers lakeside entertainment beyond just angry honking geese. The sounds: classic rock tribute bands serving up tunes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. DLM

8 p.m., $34-$74, Palms hotel-casino,

Kerr-pow, indeed!

7 p.m., free, Montelago Village at Lake Las Vegas,

Batman Live Oct. 3-7


ou don’t so much look at a painting by Biscuit Street

Preacher as listen to it. There’s an unmistakable music — maybe a broken calliope or toy xylophone — coming off his big canvases that nudge and bumble lovingly into your visual field. Their subjects are water tanks, radio towers, ice cream trucks, sunglasses, midway games, chemicals — the pleasures and perks of the industrialized world. But their visual style is one of negotiated whimsy; Biscuit’s childish, blocky faces and double-image objects suggest an innocent mind making sense of a complex, messy world. And that process, oddly, creates its own world. Biscuit Street Preacher is a responsible, articulate, earthy fantasist. “My figures can do anything and go anywhere in a painting that they want to,” says Biscuit, aka Robby Martin. He’s gesturing at a painting in progress — a roller rink scene — in his living room-turned-painting studio. “I learned that from Marc Chagall. His figures float and they’re completely free. My style’s been called ‘figurative narrative,’ but to me it’s freedom, it’s living that fantasy, it’s no rules, you know?” That distinctive style was what convinced Marty Walsh, owner of Trifecta Gallery, to represent Biscuit (; today, she says, he’s one of her best-selling painters. “His narrative voice is so original,” she says. “I liken his paintings to when a kid is telling a story and makes it up as he goes along, getting more excited and embellishing based on stuff he’s seen, anything from TV to the street.” Or stuff he’s heard. Music instigated Biscuit’s artistic calling, and today it infuses his work. As a young man in York, Penn., he played in a rock band — and was also the guy conscripted to hand-draw posters and flyers for gigs. After the band split in the early '90s, he moved to Las Vegas and adopted the name Biscuit Street Preacher — a sort of capsule food-andculture nod to his family’s Southern roots. Here, Biscuit pored over art books, practiced and methodically reinvented himself as a painter. Then he begin inventing worlds. “Art should do that same thing that rock does. It should take you away for a while,” he says. “That’s my gripe about rock bands. I remember seeing KISS or Pink Floyd back in Philly, and it was like stepping into another world. Now you see a rock band, and they’re in sweat pants and a bummy T-shirt, like the same people you see in line at Walmart. There’s no fantasy there. Does that make sense?” We totally hear you. — Andrew Kiraly

Oc tOb ER Southern Utah’s a stage Utah Shakespeare Festival Through Oct. 20

What’s that thou sayest? Thine tears augment the morning dew because midsummer’s gone and thou missed the festival? No worries! There are a few more weeks to gobble up some Shakespeare. His festival, anyway, with a limited menu — including Les Misérables — in Cedar City. Be swift: it shan’t return for like twelve moonshines. LC

$28-$73, Southern Utah University in Cedar City,

Bring a bottle and a blanket Friday Night Rock Concert Series Through Nov. 16

Fridays, Montelago

The Caped Crusader relocates to Sin City for what may be the coolest crime-fighting arena show ever. It’s got acrobats, pyrotechnics, a 3-D Gotham City set and oh did we mention a 100-FOOT BAT-SHAPED LED VIDEO WALL? BAM! The original storyline isn’t nearly as dark as Batman movies you’ve seen lately. Think “The Dark Knight” after therapy. LC

Show times vary by date, $29.50-$79.50, Thomas & Mack Center,

We will/we will/rock kids Imagination Movers Oct. 5

At age 2, children start to display intermediate to advanced motor skills. At age 4, they begin to grasp abstract concepts such as time. At age 6, they’re ready for the XTREME TODDLER MOSH PIT inspired by the Imagination Movers’ humorous, infectiously upbeat tunes about | 61

cookie ninjas, healthy snacks and playing catch. Kidcore’s not dead! AK

7 p.m., $5, Henderson Pavilion,

The future was here a minute ago “Sci-fi in the Desert: The Life and Works of George R. Stewart” Oct. 11

Uncork some dinner Grapes & Hops Festival Oct. 6

Ah, the age-old dilemma: wine or beer? We say, why limit yourself? Admission to this boozy extravaganza for the 21-and-older crowd buys all you can drink of both, with proceeds benefitting an organization that raises funds for breast cancer research. Food from some fine restaurants is also included if you feel like saving room. LC

5-9 p.m., $35, Springs Preserve,

These guys make sure the kids are alright

Ecological science fiction novelist George R. Stewart (1895-1980) got a bit of a bum rap. Despite his many important contributions — for instance, his book, "Storm," is the reason we name our hurricanes — most of us (sci-fi buffs aside) have never heard of him. But Professor Donald M. Scott is a major fan. He'll discuss the literary legacy of this littleknown sci-fi author. By night’s end, you may be a major fan. CC

7:30 p.m., free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

They make the music, you bring the Stoli Henderson Symphony Orchestra

presents “From Russia with Love” Oct. 12

Before Russia turned into a corrupt secretive kleptocracy with a president who shoots and eats bears for breakfast, the country was a gentle, snow-dusted giant that produced some of the greatest musical composers

in history. Remember the Russia that was at this concert, featuring Mussorgsky’s “Dawn on the Moscow River,” Tchaikovsky’s “Rocco Variations,” Illya Finkelstein on cello and “Symphony #5” by Prokofiev. AK

8 p.m., free, Henderson Pavilion,

Shiny happy dancing people George Balanchine’s “Jewels” Oct. 13-14

Emerald, rubies, diamonds — famed choreographer George Balanchine loved him some jewels. Their only shortcoming:

CASA gala Oct. 6

locally grown

“Romancing the Stone”: sculpture by Sharon Gainsburg, Oct. 11. You usually don’t think of stone as huggable, but you may be tempted to give Sharon Gainsburg’s sculptures a loving squeeze: She transforms stone into work that is serene, spiritual, sensual and HEY HANDS OFF MAN. AK Oct. 11-Dec. 3, Jack Gallery in the Venetian hotel-casino, 866-6813,

5:30 p.m., $200-$1,800, Venetian hotel-casino,

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When it comes to rocks, she rocks

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

s a d d l e c at s p h oto : s c ot t wa l l

Placing foster kids in loving homes is great — but who represents them when they have to navigate the complexities of Crazy Scary Bewildering Adultland — i.e., the court system? To the rescue: Volunteers known as court-appointed special advocates (CASAs). At this gala, you'll be able to support the CASAs in an evening of dining and dancing, plus a silent auction. AK

They can’t dance. That’s why he used dancers for his celebrated ballet, “Jewels.” In this production, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet West join forces to celebrate the sparkly buried rocks that make our world more pretty and expensive. AK

good-cop/bad-cop treatment plus an apparent manifestation of Jesus, in the form of a little girl. You probably won’t sleep for a week. DM

Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 14, 1 p.m., The Smith Center,

Modern Matsuri

Bust out the beret

Oct. 20

Summerlin Art Festival Oct. 13-14

Remember when chalk was for blackboards and eating? You can now watch artists create serious masterpieces with it at this outdoor art explosion. Also enjoy live entertainment while browsing the work of scores of artists and crafters. Or create your own chalk artwork that we promise not to compare to that of the pros. LC

9 a.m.-5 p.m., free, Summerlin Centre Community Park,

Hide your kids and check under the bed The Pillowman Oct. 19-Nov. 4

Scotland Yard’s finest show up on the front door of Katurian, author of gory fiction, when his fictive crimes are re-enacted in the form of brutal child murders. In best “Law & Order” style, Katurian gets the

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m., $10-$15; Las Vegas Little Theatre,

fest pastime known as “stumbledancing.” AK

2-6 p.m., $32-$52, Clark County Amphitheater,

The child prodigy grows up Jonny Lang Oct. 26

Las Vegas Aki Matsuri Japanese Festival For thousands of years, Japanese villagers celebrated autumn harvests with music, dancing and food in the center of town. The tradition lives on locally with a few contemporary twists — including karaoke and a costume contest that draws plenty of anime characters. Note to wannabe participants: Pikachu’s played out. LC 11-9 p.m., $5, Las Vegas Chinatown Plaza,

The Grammy-winning blues singer/guitarist, who first grabbed everyone’s attention as a teenage wunderkind 15 years ago, is now in his 30s and certainly living up to his early promise. Lang has earned raves from and played onstage with rock icons from Buddy Guy to the Rolling Stones, and he’s the obvious torchbearer for American roots music. JK

8 p.m., $48-$70, Ovation at Green Valley Ranch,

They’re more graceful than this blurb Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater Anniversary Fall Concert Oct. 26-28

Frankly, the Las Vegas

Contemporary Dance Theater could put on a show called “We Fling Ourselves About the Stage Randomly,” and I’d be there — every production I’ve seen brims with this taut, electrified energy that comes only from crazy dedicated artists who eat, sleep and dream their craft. This concert features “Variations I & II” by Milton Myers and

Hear a poem / Where hit the buffalo roam the Cowboy Poetry road National Gathering, Jan. 28-Feb. 2

For 28 years, cowboys, ranchers, Old West aficionados and other curious folk have ridden into Elko, hung up their spurs and gathered ’round to read poetry, listen to music, watch Western films and swap stories. What was once a small group of folklorists and poets has now grown into an international get-together that includes workshops, readings, performances, demonstrations and social events. — JH $25 for a single-day pass/$60 for a 3-day deluxe pass, Elko,

Can you beer me now? The 2012 Downtown Brew Festival Oct. 20

Whether you love a simple lager or you’re a fan of organic, barrel-aged cream stout made by fauxhawked hipster monks squatting in an abandoned silo in Eugene, Ore., the Downtown Brew Festival will likely have it among the 125 suds on offer. Plenty of live music also guarantees lots of that curious beer- | 63

“Open All Night.” The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard opens. JK

Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 27, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 28, 1:30 p.m. Tickets TBA, UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre

9 p.m., $79, The Pearl at The Palms,

That art looks like child’s play! What? Oh. Children’s Art Exhibit

Through Oct. 27 Ever go to a museum and stare quizzically at paintings of colorful barf and whisper to your friend in a discerning voice while adjusting your monocle, “I do declare a child could have painted that!” Well, this time the art is created by children. Henderson schoolkids present oil, watercolor and pastel paintings. DLM

9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, Gallery at the Garden inside Hilton Garden Inn, 7830 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 453-7830

Look out! Eddie’s got a ukulele! Eddie Vedder Oct. 31 & Nov.1

The sometimes overwrought Pearl Jam rocker has always possessed a softer, acoustic side, and it’ll be on display at The Pearl. Armed with a stage full of ukuleles, acoustic guitars and loop pedals, Vedder dazzled audiences this summer and will likely treat us to his haunting, Halloween-appropriate version of Springsteen’s

64 | Desert

Nov Em Ber The chickenor-the-egg thing for the high-minded “Life Experiences and Experiences of Art: Which Come First?” Nov. 1

Professor Kendall Walton from the University of Michigan will discuss life mimicking art mimicking life mimicking art mimicking … well, you get the idea. Check this lecture out to learn what kind of art expert your tragic life makes you. CC

7:30 p.m., free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Bookworm bonanza Vegas Valley Book Festival Nov. 1-3

If we were to write a book about this book festival, not only would it be mindbendingly meta, its table of contents alone would be enough to make any bibliophile swoon. Panel discussions, workshops, book signings, art exhibits, spoken word performances and

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

keynote addresses by Charlaine Harris and Jennifer Egan — why, it’s a cover-to-cover cornucopia of mind candy! LC

Various times and locations, free,


A perfect pairing Las Vegas Philharmonic: Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights” Nov. 3

As the movie plays,

the Philharmonic will perform the original orchestral score Chaplin composed for this sweet 1931 rom-com. In the film, a tramp falls in love with a blind flowerseller and undergoes

f Sandy Runkle’s life were a Shakespeare play, the

curtain would be rising on Act V. The former Long Beach Civic Light Opera dancer, now 71, had been married twice, raised five sons and enjoyed a full career as a court reporter even before moving to Vegas in 1993. But she was no stranger to Sin City. After Runkle “started a normal, conservative life in ’59,” she would come here six times a year. Since 1989, she’d been buying and leasing real estate in the valley and decided to relocate after getting a golden handshake from the Los Angeles Superior Court. When the now-widowed Runkle found herself at loose ends, UNLV was her salvation. But the ex-trouper discovered something. “You had to be a student (to perform in college productions). They had to go to (find) my 1958 high school transcript in the basement in Long Beach.” As a member of UNLV Senior Jazz Dance, she could have pursued a B.A. in Dance Theatre. “But I didn’t want to go back to study algebra,” she says. So she opted to become certified in gerontology, which she calls “the study of successful aging.” Runkle’s been aging successfully ever since. From 2005 through the program’s demise by budget cuts in 2011, she participated in UNLV’s Senior Theatre Program. Led by Douglas Hill, its activities included weekly outreach performances and autobiographical monodramas termed “The Monologue Project.” “This was a reason to live,” says Runkle of the now-defunct company, “to study, to have social camaraderie. (Without it), those of us who don’t drive or are just lonely, we lose contact.” However, Runkle and the pink-slipped Hill didn’t mope around. In December 2011, The Speeding Theatre 55+ received its seal as a nonprofit corporation. Designed to provide performing and production opportunities for people age 55 and up, The Speeding Theatre 55+ was unveiled last February, and support quickly catalyzed, whether from young Turks such as producer/directors Lysander Abadia and Troy Heard, or from Senior Connections. Runkle found costumers, an accountant, a graphic designer and pro bono legal help. (“The 1023 tax form is a bear!”) She still scouts talent shows at Sun City Anthem and McDonald Ranch for prospects. “It’s going to be entertainment,” she promises of upcoming The Speeding Theatre 55+ presentations. “(But) there has to be some issue that connects with seniors.” Lest you peg her as retrograde, be it known that Runkle’s other local enthusiasms include Vegas Fringe, Las Vegas Little Theatre’s Black Box series and “Evil Dead The Musical.” The Speeding Theatre 55+ flexes its serious-drama muscles in February, when Runkle admirer Heard stages “Bread Crumbs.” It’s a conflict between an Alzheimer’s-afflicted author and her young caregiver. Heard describes the play’s take on dementia as “touching without being mawkish.” That jibes with The Speeding Theatre 55+’s guiding spirit. As Runkle puts it, “We have a lot to share, and I hope it’s optimism.” — David McKee

S a n dy R u n k l e : CHRISTOPHER S M ITH

“Solstice” by LVCDT’s body-flinger-in-chief Bernard Gaddis. AK


She believes in acting out — at any age. Her new nonprofit encourages seniors to do just that | 65


From her small downtown gallery, she inspires artists to take big risks

66 | Desert

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

a series of misadventures, leading to one of the most touching and tear-jerking endings in cinematic history. Maybe bring a tissue. LC

8 p.m., $46-$94, The Smith Center

You think you’re slick?

locally grown

Cozy up in the cabaret

Ashton Zyer: Takin’ Over Me, Sept. 22 Ashton Zyer is putting her great voice in service of a good cause — preventing violence against women. The singer and songwriter will belt out Hollywood standards, love songs and original tunes in the intimate 250-seat Cabaret Jazz club at The Smith Center. Pick up special $75 tickets to benefit the Rape Crisis Center. AK 8 p.m., $26-$75, The Smith Center,

“The BP Gulf Oil Spill: What Happened?”

J e n n i f e r K l e v e n : CHRISTOPHER S M ITH

Nov. 8

Meet UNLV Michael Pravica. The physics professor will spill on the spill, discussing what went down — rather, what came up — from a physicist’s perspective during the BP oil spill. Also on the agenda: How corporate spin and science are like oil and water. This lecture on the dangers of deep-well drilling is one science talk


not likely to bore you. Okay, I’m done now. CC

7:30 p.m., free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Embrace the season (but not the cactus) Ethel M’s Holiday Cactus Garden Nov. 14-Jan. 1

Once a year, the

lonely, prickly, spiky cacti of Ethel M’s xeriscaped garden get an extreme makeover with beautiful, twinkling, soft, inviting, happy Christmas lights that just make you want to throw your arms around one of these beautiful desert plaOOOUCH! AK

5-10 p.m. nightly, free, 2 Cactus Garden Drive,

he current incarnation of Kleven Contemporary

gallery is a spaceship command console — a crisp vision in sterile white streamlines and geometric vents, interrupted only by a tidy bank of computer readouts. It’s something right out of “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Alien,” an homage to the triumph of technophilic order. But look again: It’s made entirely of paper. On that crucial pivot point, the installation by artist Andreana Donahue, “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” turns into a commentary on false permanence and romantic illusions about technology. And it all happens in a gallery smaller than most walk-in closets. “Having such a small space is difficult, but it’s exciting, too,” says Jennifer Kleven, whose tiny gallery (520 E. Fremont St. #186, makes big waves in downtown’s Emergency Arts complex. “Because when you get an artist like Andreana who loves to work spatially, it can change the entire concept of what they want to do as an art show. The space definitely gets people thinking about making different types of artwork. It’s a great place to take risks.” Perhaps 27-year-old Kleven is giving too much credit to the 70-square-foot space — and not enough to her unerring eye for artists who excel at both concept and craft. Since she launched Kleven Con-

Nov. 15

stimulation. In this talk, University of California film and media scholar, feminist and defender of porn (high five!) Constance Penley will discuss why pornography isn’t just free speech, but a form of feminist art practice. We’re not sure what she’ll be wearing, but we hope it’s a cape. CC

Keep your clothes on — but come ready for some mental

7:30 p.m., free, UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

That’s obscene! (and you just might like it) “Defending Pornography as Art and Popular Culture: The Expert Witness in the Court Case United States v. John Stagliano”

temporary in December 2010, she’s consistently put on exhibits that are sometimes pointed, sometimes playful — but always rigorously intelligent. Kleven Contemporary has hosted everything from paintings of classically posed nudes in kitschy environs (“Life Room - Blue Screen” by Emily Scott) to an entire hands-on, jerry-rigged broadcasting operation (“Somebody Kill the Radio” by David Sanchez Burr). “Jen’s got an amazing eye,” says Jennifer Cornthwaite, director of Emergency Arts. Cornthwaite noticed that eye when she and Kleven took art history classes together at UNLV. She eventually nudged her to open a gallery. “She’s like a stylist when it comes to art. I tell people who are interested in buying art to find a gallerist who has consistently good taste — Jen’s one of those people.” “I love contemporary work that sparks good dialogue and asks pertinent questions,” says Kleven. “I want to show the kind of strong conceptual art you would hope to see in L.A. or New York.” Finding that strong art requires a gentle touch: She doesn’t have a heavy curatorial hand. Rather, Kleven instinctively chooses good artists — and then gets out of their way. “I have complete trust in the artist,” she says. “With Andreana, I turned over the keys — literally — and let her go to work.” Which makes Kleven the perfect pilot for this craft. — Andrew Kiraly | 67

Dressed for sex-cess (see what we did there?) “Vegas Style: Spectacle and Spectator” Nov. 15-May 15

Long before the Strip was hijacked by an army of untucked Ed Hardy shirts on Axe cologne-doused manclowns, Strip couture was sophisticated and sexy — whether it was tourists, cocktail servers or showgirls doing the wearing. Explore the

styles of the Strip at this in-depth exhibit that features more feathers, Spandex, chinchilla and polyester than you can shake a Guam sweatshop worker at. Plus, it’s a collaboration between UNLV and the Nevada State Museum, so [insert smart joke that ties it all in here]. AK

Nov. 15-May 15, Nevada State Museum at The Springs Preserve

It’s a woman’s world Betty Buckley’s “Ah, Men! The Boys

of Broadway” Nov. 15-18

Some of Tony Awardwinner Betty Buckley’s favorite Broadway tunes were written for men, but she makes them her own in this spirited show that’s also an album. She includes numbers from various Broadway classics, sprinkling bits of Broadway lore and personal anecdotes in between. LC

7 p.m. Nov. 15-17, 3 p.m. Nov. 18, $43-$76, The Smith Center,

locally grown

You just can’t kill the beast

Fester and plot

The Eagles

The Addams Family Musical

Nov. 17

Fresh from the heavenly garden, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt bring their “Long Road Out of Eden” tour to town. Expect the classics — “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” “Take it Easy” — and unexpectedly high volumes of energy from the chart-topping band with 30 years of experience rocking it like they’re God’s first creatures. DLM

8 p.m., $71.25-$213, MGM Grand Garden Arena,

Even comedians get the blues The Laughter Foundation Benefit Nov. 18

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

The Neon Museum grand opening, Oct. 26 Bright, brash neon signs were the original lure to get people to gamble in Vegas casinos. The only problem: Neon signs predated the invention of doors, which made for huge sweaty masses outside casinos just kind of robotically walking against impermeable walls. Awkward! Now finally open, the Neon Museum celebrates the gorgeous neon signs of yesteryear. And it’s got doors! Proceeds from this grand opening Halloweenthemed bash go to support the preservation of all that juicy neon history. Now with doors! AK 7 p.m., $75, 770 Las Vegas Blvd. N.,

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Laughter’s the best medicine, unless you’re constantly being laughed at for not having health insurance. Comedians get serious at this event when The Laughter Foundation (“Comedians helping comedians”) puts on a spectacle to raise awareness for Health Care for Comedians and raise bucks for the Heckler Fund, the foundation’s emergency grant program for comedians in trouble. Break a leg, guys. Too soon? DLM

Time TBA, ticket prices TBA, The Smith Center,

Nov. 20-25

Wednesday’s worst nightmare: her family randomly breaking out in song. Creators of “Jersey Boys” Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice step into the role of dry, dark and deadpan — with some upbeat singing. DLM

7 p.m., ticket prices TBA, The Smith Center

Call it chorus-core Andrea Bocelli and the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Chorus Nov. 24

In what’s becoming a happy annual tradition, famed tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Chorus team up to wring your heart and soul into a state of transcendent bliss so powerful they’ll have EMTs on hand to stuff people’s ecstatically heavenbound souls back into their bodies. AK

8 p.m., $78-$403, MGM Grand Garden Arena,

The Beatles, new and improved Classical Mystery Tour, Nov. 30

If only The Beatles had performed all along as a full symphony orchestra rather than four quirky, mop-topped Brits, Yoko Ono would

have had a tougher time breaking up the band. Zing! In this show, Beatles tribute band Classical Mystery Tour is backed by a symphonic band to give new power and dimension to everything from “Penny Lane” to “I Am the Walrus.” AK

7:30 p.m., ticket prices TBA, The Smith Center

Call it “the 180-Year Itch” “Arcadia,” Nevada Conservatory Theatre Nov. 30-Dec. 9

That’s what the New York Times dubbed Tom Stoppard’s twolevel comedy, in which the 19th-century conflict between the imperatives of groin vs. brain is replayed by contemporary boffins — who consistently misinterpret their findings as they research Sidley Park mansion. (Lord Byron slept there.) Both storylines are played out simul-

taneously, as Stoppard cleverly undermines the certainties known as “history.” “Arcadia” is both a treasure trove of ideas and a classic Stoppard mind game. DM

8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; $20-$25; Nevada Conservatory Theatre,

DEC Em Ber His souvenirs: The soul of a nation! Namaste: Faces of India and Nepal Oct. 20-Jan. 5

After Nevada Public Radio founder and General Manager Lamar Marchese retired from the organization in 2007, he didn’t drift off into a placid suburban purgatory of

Exit, pursued hit by a bear the Utah Shakespeare Festival, road through Oct. 20

golf courses and senior rec centers. He and his wife Pat traveled the world — and he took some amazing photos, too. This exhibit showcases the beautiful people he encountered on his trek through India and Nepal. AK

Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art, 450 Fremont St. #280,

Wreath of lunacy, holiday sneer A John Waters Christmas Dec. 5

John Waters, filmmaker of such cult classics as “Hairspray” and “A Dirty Shame,” delivers a show of strangeness — holiday style. Festivities include perverted gift-giving, Santa Claus-worshipping and the telling of Christmas-time true-crime and horror stories. DLM

$35-$100, House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay,

Whether you’re only familiar with “Romeo and Juliet” or you’re acquainted with the obscure stage direction noted above (it’s from Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”), you’ll likely find something worth watching at this months-long annual event better known as Bard Fest. All the world’s a stage here, but if Willy S. isn’t your kind of guy, there are several other theater classics performed throughout the season. JH Tickets start at $22, Cedar City, Utah,

the blue pill. CC

If you can tear yourself away from your screen, you might want to check this out

7:30 p.m., free, UNLV's Barrick Museum Auditorium

“Is the Internet Alive? And Why Does it Matter?”

Smokin’ for the Troops cook-off

Dec. 6

In this UNLV lecture, technology guy Michael J. Savoie of the University of Texas will explain why it’s important to know whether the internet is alive — in case “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “The Matrix” didn’t already convince you it is. Just make sure you take

Eat meat like an American Dec. 7

If there’s a zombie apocalypse on Dec. 7, then I have no doubt in my mind that Bass Pro Shops would be the safest place to be. It’ll be full of weapons, survival gear, trained soldiers, delicious barbecued meat — and assuredly zombiefree. Forty barbecue teams battle for glory and $10,000 in cash | 69

10 a.m., Bass Pro Shops, 8200 Dean Martin Drive,

Back to high school

man reading “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” holiday tunes belted out by the likes of Travis Cloer and Niki Scalera, and some roaring beats courtesy of the Foothill High School Drumline? Even better! AK


there’s no actor in Las Vegas quite like Shane Cullum. His performances are notable for a quality that makes his characters neither heroes nor villains, but simply human. Cullum’s quietly focused intensity wears many masks. In the past year, he’s played a mentally challenged man who’s having a child by his sister, in Lanford Wilson’s “Home Free!” At Vegas Fringe 2012, he gave a chillingly matter-of-fact characterization of a father rationalizing infanticide in Neil LaBute’s monodrama “Iphigenia in Orem,” a performance that won “Best of Fringe.” In between, he was uproarious as a sharp-tongued, profane skirt-chaser in Ernest Hemmings’ “Bro.” He plays the lead in Woody Allen’s “God” at Onyx Theatre, Sept. 28-Oct. 7. Gus Langley co-starred with Cullum in Las Vegas Little Theatre’s “Hellcab” and “When Mom Died on Saturn,” and directed him in both “Iphigenia” and “Home Free!” He admires his colleague’s fearlessness, work ethic and modesty. “Plus, he’s always down to grab a drink after rehearsal,” says Langley. “Shane has figured out something that takes actors a long time to discover: Put down the pencil. Just be yourself and live in the moment.” Yet acting — especially onstage — was an afterthought for the 33-yearold Long Beach native, who didn’t study the art until 11 years ago. “I always wanted to be a movie star as a kid,” Cullum recalls, but he had bad cases of both acne and shyness. “The idea of people looking (at me) scared the heck out of me,” says the man who has been the only person onstage in “Iphigenia” and LVLT Studio’s “Thom Pain” by Will Eno. “I’m definitely more of a drama guy. It pisses my girlfriends off because my whole DVD collection is really depressing war movies.” By day, Cullum designs poker chips and felts for Gaming Partners International. Prior to his stage debut, he appeared in short films and as a reenactor in PBS’ “Bataan Rescue,” part of its “American Experience” series. Having been advised to do stage work “to pad my résumé,” Cullum says he fell in love with theater. Today he’s more selective, looking for roles that push him. Feeling he’d been typecast as innocents, he welcomed playing a lecher in “Bro.” “In ‘Iphigenia,’ I’m talking about killing my daughter and want the audience to understand I had reasons … to almost make them like me.” That description would resonate with Langley, who describes the core of acting: “(It’s) listening and responding honestly, and that’s what Shane does. Not just onstage. Don’t ask Shane what he thinks about something unless you really want to know.” — David McKee

2 and 8 p.m., ticket prices TBA, The Smith Center

“Tape,” Las Vegas Little Theatre Dec. 7-23

We think we knew how cool we were and how well we dressed in high school. Then you open the old yearbook and there’s some geek in a polyester leisure suit — with your name. A similar disconnect happens at a school reunion, and not so amusingly, in Stephen Belber’s “Tape.” One might propose its central question as, “Is it real life or is it Memorex?” We’re taking Memorex for the win. Definitely not your usual Christmas pudding. DM

8 p.m., Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m., Sundays, $10-$15; Las Vegas Little Theatre,

The only thing missing is naughty stripper elves Las Vegas Philharmonic presents “A Very Vegas Holiday” Dec. 8

Vegas holiday? You mean the kind with stripper twins dressed as naughty Mrs. Santas and a pallet of stolen Ecstasy? Oh, you mean the kind with former Mayor Oscar Good-

70 | Desert

ith his tall, reedy physique and voice to match,

Baby, it’s cold-ish outside The Deana Martin Christmas Show Dec. 14-16

Martin channels her legendary Rat Pack father in this yuletide concert stuffed like a bulging Christmas stocking with classic holiday favorites. If your heart’s in the mood for warming, it’s time to pull on a sweater, brave the slight desert chill and point your toboggan toward downtown. LC

7 p.m. Dec. 14-15, 2 p.m. Dec. 16, $40-$65, The Smith Center

What are they, crazy? IN FACT, YES Meshugginah Klezmorim Dec. 16

How to describe the zany, frenetic, festive energy of klezmer? Well, if there were ever a style of music that captured the sound of people turning into rubbery dancing freaky cartoons, the sound often called “Jewish jazz” would be it. And the band called Meshugginah Klezmorim (“crazy

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

musicians”) promise to animate you. AK

2 p.m., $10-$12, Winchester Cultural Center Theater, 455-7340

classic Ballet — two ways! The Nutcracker Dec. 15-23

The Las Vegas Ballet

Company puts on an affordable version of this charm-fest with students from the Kwak Ballet Academy, Downtown, Nevada Ballet Theatre unveils its lavish new version at The Smith Center, featuring new costumes, sets and choreography. LC

Las Vegas Ballet Nutcracker: 7 p.m. Dec. 20, 2 p.m. Dec. 21-23, $20-$25, Summerlin Library, Nevada Ballet Theatre Nutcracker: 7:30 p.m., Dec. 15, 21, 22; 1 p.m. Dec. 16, 23; 2 p.m. Dec. 22. Tickets TBA, The Smith Center,


prizes amid the scenic confines of a gigantic outdoors store, all while supporting the troops. DLM


Beneath the multiple masks of this actor: a taut, quiet intensity | 71

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

been gone so long Biniam Asefaw had to flee his home in Eritrea to make a home in Las Vegas.

His story of travail — and triumph — has turned him into a figure of inspiration

By T.R. Witcher | Photography by Bill Hughes


here are many churches in Las Vegas, but there are only two serving the valley’s small community of Eritrean immigrants. And for the even smaller subset of evangelical Eritreans? Well,

there’s just one: the Bethel Church of Las Vegas. It’s run out of an old high school on Sahara Avenue that’s been converted into a social services campus by the Trinity Life Center. ¶ “I am here for the Eritrean community first, just to share with them what God did in my life, how he saved me and protected me,” says the church’s pastor, Biniam Asefaw. | 73

Biniam Afesaw credits Whether delivering a sermon his faith with enabling in front of his small but devoted him to survive his congregation, or having a cup of extraordinary journey that ultimately brought coffee at a Starbucks down the him to Las Vegas. street, Asefaw, 39, projects a gentle and good-natured optimism. Quick to laugh or smile, he has an easygoing demeanor that belies the incredible — and harrowing — journey that brought him from Eritrea to Las Vegas some six years ago. It’s a journey that begins with his religion. In Eritrea, the small country in the Horn of Africa that lies along the Red Sea, bordered by Sudan and Ethiopia, evangelicals have been persecuted for years. The crackdown on evangelicals in Eritrea, who make up but a small percentage of the country’s population, is part of a broader pattern of governmental abuse. The government has also made it very difficult for its citizens to leave the country. A New York Times article, for instance, relates an anecdote about an Eritrean student receiving a $200,000 scholarship to attend college in the United States. The Eritrean government, however, not only refused to let him go, they drafted him into military service. The result: a massive exodus of people out of the country. There are about 4,000 Eritreans in Las Vegas; added together with immigrants from neighboring Ethiopia (Eritrea was once part of Ethiopia), the number climbs to around 15,000. Eritreans know many stories of hardship — family members in prison, or facing the threat of prison, or worse. Asefaw’s journey to America is such a story of hardship, but it’s more than that. It’s a journey that not only transformed the man, but provided him the strength of character to inspire the people of Parishioners at Bethel Church the growing Las Vegas Eritrean community. call Asefaw their "social and “He’s our social and spiritual father,” says spiritual father." Amanuel Tesfaye, an engineer and member of the Bethel Church congregation. “He’s our Life Center, helped bring Asefaw to Las Vegas teacher. He counsels us. He’s been through a six years ago. In his first meeting he walked lot. It might be a personal problem or social away thinking Asefaw was “the finest Chrisproblem or spiritual problem, he’s the guy tian man I’ve ever met in my life. He’s a great you’d go to. He’s very important in our lives. human being. You sense something from the From time to time, when he’s preaching about inside of him.” a subject, sometimes he gives us a testament “I try my best to show them my heart is of his life and how he overcame persecution good for them,” says Asefaw. “Either they acand how he forgives.” cept it or not.” Pastor Randy Greer, who runs the Trinity

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012






Biniam Asefaw grew up in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. Asmara was a longtime colonial arm of Italy, which settled the region in 1885. The city historically was known as Little Rome for its profusion of Italianate architecture and art-deco Italian movie palaces. The Italians had used the country as a beachhead for its failed efforts to invade Ethiopia. Af-

The Eritrean community in Las Vegas is small but close-knit.

ter World War II, the British ran the territory — about the size of Ohio or Pennsylvania — until 1952, when the United Nations placed Eritrea into a federation with Ethiopia, a move Eritreans opposed. Eritreans fought for their independence from the 1960s to the 1980s. The country defeated Ethiopia in 1991 and was granted independence in 1993, but tensions between the two nations have continued to simmer. Asefaw was reared as an Orthodox Christian and went to church a few times a year, but the experience was distant for him. When he was 14, a friend took him to an evangelical church. The singing — that rich, powerful, beautiful singing — gripped him. “I didn’t quite understand what they were teaching, but when they were worshipping, I loved the song. I kept going.” That was the moment he says he was born again. In 1995, after what he calls a “long year” of training, he became a full-time minister. His church assigned him to Keren, the country’s second largest city, about 90 kilo-

meters northwest of Asmara. Christianity’s roots in the region date all the way back to the 4th century AD, and Ethiopia is thought by many to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. This belief is central to Christian orthodoxy in the region. Asefaw’s church began with 28 people. By 1999, it had grown to nearly 100. One of the new members of the church was a woman named Tsehaynesh, a young born-again Christian from Asmara who was fleeing persecution there. Her family wanted her to marry an Orthodox Christian, but she refused, and the evangelical church decided to hide her for three months in Keren. The two quickly fell in love. But hostility toward evangelicals was widespread throughout the country, which is split roughly between Muslims and Christians. Orthodox Christians wouldn’t rent homes to evangelicals or Pentecostals, leaving churchgoers to find homes from Muslims. Asefaw thinks that evangelicalism was viewed as the religion of white men, a perversion imported

from Germany or the United States. (The faith began in Great Britain in the 18th century.) For Christians, it was not their fathers’ religion, and they responded accordingly. Despite being seen as an outsider, Asefaw tried to turn the other cheek. “We loved them. We showed them kindness. If somebody is sick, we go to visit them. We tried to make peace with them. Some of them told us, ‘You are very nice people. You have just one problem. You follow the outside religion.’” In Keren, there was growing unease about the evangelical churches. The government had been cracking down on Jehovah’s Witnesses for years — that faith’s refusal of military service made them an easy target. But evangelical and Pentecostal faiths were growing, and this worried both the government and the Orthodox Church. Religious leaders of faiths outside the mainstream were harassed and arrested, sometimes tortured, sometimes disappeared. In November 1999, one of the church leaders called to warn Asefaw about trouble brewing in Keren. He told Asefaw to be careful. “I told him, ‘I don’t want to go from this city. If it’s calm, bad or good, I’m here.’” His steadfastness would cost him. The police came to the church a week later and arrested him and his congregation — with no official reason. They were detained at the local police station. Before long, the congregation was let go. But Asefaw wasn’t. Instead, police drove him to Asmara, where he was imprisoned someplace underground for 25 days. . From there, he was taken to a military prison at Ghela’elo, in the middle of the desert, near the Red Sea.






Though a notorious military prison among Eritreans, Ghela’elo is not a traditional building with tall, thick walls. Asefaw describes it more as a giant, open-air courtyard, sparsely guarded. There was the desert on three sides and the Red Sea on the other. “There is no houses. There is nothing.”

Eritreans know many stories of hardship — family members in prison, facing the threat of prison, or worse. Asefaw’s journey to America is such a story of hardship, but it’s more than that. It’s a journey that not only transformed the man, but provided him the strength to inspire the growing Las Vegas Eritrean community. | 75

Inmates fashioned thatch-like roofs out of grass to provide shelter from the rain. I asked him what was to stop him from simply fleeing along the coast. “From that to Yemen is very long,” he says with a laugh. “You couldn’t swim. It’s very tough. It’s a big ocean.” There were around, he guesses, 5,000 military prisoners. He didn’t know why he was there or how long he would be there. The men had no shoes and little food and water. Asefaw began to minister to the other prisoners, a risky proposition. Guards hog-tied prisoners (locals called this “the helicopter position”) and beat them for hours. During a Bible study, Asefaw himself was beaten with a stick — and warned about what would happen to him if he continued: solitary confinement. Ghela’elo’s version of solitary confinement is elementary but brutal. It is a hole in the ground, a small and narrow pit, into which prisoners are lowered. Temperatures there could reach up to 120 degrees. It would not be the last time Asefaw leaned on his faith. He was afraid, but he says the more he prayed, the more his outlook on his predicament began to change. If God uses me to his will, he thought, I am ready to pay the price. No matter what happens to me I need to be faithful to what God calls me to. He says his fear began to ebb, his strength to grow. All told, he was at Ghela’elo for six months, until he and dozens of other prisoners were shipped up the coast toward the border with Ethiopia, unwilling conscripts at the front line of an ongoing territory dispute between the two countries.






Between 1998 and 2000, the two nations engaged in a bitter border war that eventually cost, by some estimates, at least 70,000 lives. Asefaw and his fellow prisoners were assigned to a bomb unit. Asefaw had, years earlier, completed compulsory military service, but he had no training for this, and he said so. Over the next several weeks, he was given a crash course in bomb disposal work, all the while dreading the day when he and his fellow recruits would be sent into Ethiopia, ahead of Eritrean ground troops, to clear the battlefield. He prayed: “You called me to preach the Gospel, to save people, not to kill people. I don’t want to die in this place. I don’t want to kill anybody. I don’t want to hurt anybody.” But before he could be sent over the border, Ethiopian fighters broke through and claimed the area. Over the next several weeks, Asefaw and other would-be soldiers retreated from

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Today, Biniam Asefaw and his family are living something close to the American dream.

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

the advance of the Ethiopians. Eventually, he says, the battered Eritreans regrouped, and he was told by his superiors that he would undergo more specialized military training, as the Eritreans were not planning to surrender. At the same time, he learned that the government was stepping up its crackdown on evangelicals, planning to close evangelical churches, capture and kill some of the leaders. Returning home to Keren, or Asmara, was out of the question. Staying on a collapsed frontline was also untenable. So Asefaw escaped by foot to a town near the border with Sudan called Teseney. An evangelical woman hid him in her home for a week, before he joined a small group of travelers who walked for three days into Sudan. The trip was an anxious one, with the travelers walking at night. Asefaw didn’t know

them, didn’t know whom he could trust. He thought maybe their guide would betray them at the border. But when they reached Sudan, his fears lifted. Because so many Eritreans have left Eritrea, there are immigrant communities seemingly everywhere. In Kassala, another Eritrean woman harbored him for another week, and Asefaw met an Eritrean cab driver who smuggled him through to Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. (Usually an ID is needed to get into the capital from the border.) Even in big, loud, formless Khartoum, Asefaw found his way. Unexpectedly, though, he fell in not with an Eritrean church but with an Ethiopian one. Though the services were in Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia, the church was open to all comers — and for continued on page 79

For her next act...

growing a family. That’s a lot of roots for a wanderer.

continued from page 29

body, your voice at the height of its abilities, and your skills as a performer honed. Then, I think the community has to get out and see the theater on a consistent basis. Anyone who’s going to Utah to see Shakespeare every summer should definitely invest some time here. And the third part is the producers pursuing excellence, which is something that is a part of the mission statement of all these theaters I’ve talked about. All three are symbiotic and intertwined, so as the audience gains consistency, as the performers and directors gain consistency in quality, and the producers are requiring excellence, it grows. In the current chapter of Woodhead’s life, her wanderlust has brought her to a theatrical desert. Rather than play a part and move on, as she used to, she’s chosen to stay, make Las Vegas her home and help build an oasis of good theater in a city that, ironically, favors those passing through. Even more important than growing a community, she’s

How does a gypsy settle down? I’ve always wanted an artistic home, and I found that here in Las Vegas, and a very nurturing personal home, so now we take vacations. It used to be, when I wanted to go see someplace, I’d find a way to work there. I’d do shows in exotic locations or join the Peace Corps or find a valid way to connect with artists in Africa or Europe and go and stay there and work there. Now, I take vacations. You think you’ll be able to stay put? I do, and it’s funny, my partner has been here for her entire life, so I don’t think I could pull up her roots if I tried. It’s a fun adventure. Have you and Jeanette picked a name for your baby? She really likes Genoa. Like the city in Italy? Yes, and we have a sailboat on Lake Mead, so


Beaver tail Cactus, Pah


Learn more about what’s in your backyard at:

78 | Desert

Beatty Caliente Carver / Hadley Death Valley

What will being a mom change for you professionally? You know, I just don’t know what it will change. It’s uncharted territory, a brand new voyage. It might be harder to go to those 11 o’clock shows. I think that remains to be seen, but I really hope that our daughter and our children — we may have more — grow up in a house where they see their parents pursuing their passion and, through that, get inspired to never settle or find excuses not to do anything that inspires joy in their lives. CSN’s one-act performances are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26-27 and 2 p.m. Oct. 28 at CSN’s BackStage Theatre on the Cheyenne Campus. Tickets $5. Info: 651-5483. Auditions are Sept. 18. Info:

Wild flowers from these parts helped define Aromatherapy, and while the desert landscape may be a far cry from the luxury Spa life, that’s exactly the point. This is a whole other side of Nevada that’s rich in History, Breathtaking Scenery, Wildlife, Sand Dunes, Off-road Trails, Ghost Towns, Hiking trails, Small Town Diners and Friendly Folks. So drive out and explore. You’ll find there’s a story in every small town— and an adventure around every bend.


ranagat, NV

Alamo Amargosa Valley Ash Meadows Ash Springs

it’s a big decorative sail, “The Genoa.” But to anyone on the East Coast, evidently, it’s a sausage. We’re like, “No, no, like Genoa, the city.”

Delamar Gabbs / Berlin Gold Point Goldfield

Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Hawthorne Luning / Mina Manhattan / Belmont




Pahrump Panaca Pioche Rachel

Rhyolite Round Mountain Scotty’s Castle Shoshone

Silver Peak Tecopa Tonopah Yerington

Been gone so long continued from page 76

all the enmity between Ethiopia and Eritrea over the years, outside the countries, expats from both nations seem to get along well. “Most Eritreans were attracted to our church because we were non-denominational,” says its former pastor, Sewssew Berhane. “We treated them very well. We noticed they were a faithful, God-loving people.” Berhane opened his doors to Asefaw. “He was loved by people in Eritrea. He had a lot of compassion, he was very humble. He had a lot of integrity.” So much so that when Berhane left Sudan for the United States (he lives in Seattle now), he passed over more established pastors and selected Asefaw to take over his church. Not long thereafter, Tsehaynesh joined him. She and Asefaw’s sister had tried to find him at Ghela’elo, but he had already been transported to the front line. There was a period when she didn’t know where he was or what had happened to him. There were rumors he was in Australia or Canada; a passing missionary who had befriended Asefaw in Sudan found her in Keren, and told her where he was. “I decided when he went to Sudan,” she says now, “I would follow him.” “Oh my God,” Asefaw says with a characteristically youthful laugh. “I appreciate that.” As a minister, Asefaw was not allowed to live with Tsehaynesh until the couple was married; so she lived with a friend of his for four months until they were married in February 2002. Within months, though, they knew that they had to leave. Sudan was not safe. Police could come without warning and take their money, or worse. Asefaw had been thinking about going back home, but conditions in Eritrea were no better. Tsehaynesh’s sister and her aunt lived in Italy — they had actually invited her to come live in Italy before she moved to Sudan to join Asefaw. “I was scared first, but she decided. We have to do it.” “I pushed it on him,” she says with a laugh. They decided on Italy, where they could seek asylum. Standing between the couple and Europe was the Sahara Desert.






They left that July, five months after getting married. Tsehaynesh was already pregnant. They joined a group of other travelers who were fleeing Sudan through Egypt and into Libya. From there, they’d have to make | 79

their way through Libya to the coast, then secure transit to Italy. They traveled in a convoy of three trucks. Ordinarily, the passage would take about six days. But the trucks were old and broke down a lot. What’s more, the convoy took a circuitous route toward Libya, at one point passing through Egypt. Each truck was crammed with a few dozen people riding in the back, holding onto gas tanks. Tsehaynesh rode up front. After 14 days, two of the trucks broke down for good. The drivers said they had to take the third truck by themselves to Libya to send for help. Asefaw pleaded with them to take his wife with them. “I tried to tell him, if I die here, OK. Take my wife. She’s pregnant.” The drivers refused. They left in the one working truck, leaving the travelers stranded, quite literally, in the middle of the desert. The caravan was stalled in sight of a distant peak called the Mountain of Death. “That was the time our hope breaks,” he says.


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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

Asefaw’s account of those days in the desert is surreal. One person had already died on the trip before the trucks broke down. It was a painful and discouraging moment for everyone — and one ridden with guilt, too, as they were unable to perform a proper funeral service. Asefaw doesn’t remember how they dealt with the body.






One of the travelers screamed and yelled and convulsed, leading them to believe she was possessed by a demon. Asefaw remembers that a dark voice inside her, which he believes was demonic, told them all, “This is my place. I reign in this place.” He prayed for her, and he says he cast the demon out. Afterwards, the woman seemed to return to normal, asking where she was. One night a sandstorm nearly buried them. Tsehaynesh took the sight of a bird near her head as a sign from God they were going to live. But they didn’t know. They waited several days. They prayed. They

didn’t talk much. No one did. They tried to conserve their energy under the withering Saharan sun. They strung clothes over the truck trailers for shade. The silence was punctuated mostly by crying. Asefaw would overhear grim, practical conversations about what to do if someone died. If I die, Asefaw recalls hearing, take the money and give it to ... Mostly it was quiet. It was cold at night, and they slept uneasily. During the long, hot days, they stayed huddled in the shade. The food and water were running out. And so, incredibly, Asefaw was faced with one of those moments when propriety, dignity and the etiquette governing human interaction are stripped away and all that remains is the mandate to live. The challenge was staying hydrated. He gave the rest of their water to his wife, and he drank both her urine and his. Another man on the convoy had also consumed his own urine to try to stay hydrated. Tsehaynesh stayed strong. Asefaw was worried he was going to die and lose his wife

Khoury’s Mediterranean

Table 34

Khoury’s prides itself on excellence in the preparation of food, presentation and quality of service. Serving some of the finest Lebanese cuisine available in Las Vegas, Khoury’s restaurant will stimulate and delight your senses. Close your eyes as you savour this fantastic food and drink, and you’ll feel you’ve stepped into the heart of Beirut.

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in the desert. This possibility consumed his thoughts. But his wife was encouraging. “No matter, God is going to help us,” she told him. “We’re not going to die here.” She was right. Two days later, their smugglers came back with new trucks. Asefaw broke down in tears and gathered all the people and sang a song in the middle of the desert. It was 20 more hours to Libya; they pushed on to Koufra, a town in south-central Libya, well inside the border.






When they reached the city, they were taken to an abandoned building with a large courtyard. They were there only a few days before police arrested the lot of them. The survivors of the trip were taken to a detention center in Koufra. The men were placed in one part of the compound, the women in the other. Life in a Libyan prison came with the same uncertainty as in Ghela’elo. Sometimes guards gave them hope that they would be let go. Sometimes the guards told them they would be deported back to Eritrea. Sometimes they said nothing. There were no charges or judges or attorneys or timetables. There was no due process. There was nothing but the fact that they didn’t know when, or if, they were getting out. And yet even here there was a measure of hope. As Tsehaynesh neared the end of her pregnancy, guards placed her in her own room. They allowed Asefaw to leave the prison to find food or supplies for her. He quickly turned to the church community of other sub-Saharan Africans in town for help. Asefaw found help from a few new friends, a Nigerian man and a Sudanese woman. They helped them find food. When Tsehaynesh finally went into labor, she was transported to a hospital; the woman, a Muslim, helped her deliver her baby. Tsehaynesh gave birth to daughter Gloria, and they were released. Still, where do you go in a strange border town where you’re illegal, have virtually no money, don’t speak the language and are trying to care for your newborn daughter? Another friend had an extra room. “If you have some money, that’s good,” he told Asefaw. “If you don’t have some money, that’s OK.” Asefaw paid him 30 dinar a month. They moved into one room, with just a mattress. From there, they scraped money together until he could transport the family across Libya to the capital. They stayed in Tripoli for three months; Asefaw ministered to provide an income. They spent another three months in the port city of Zuwara. In 2003, the couple | 81



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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

made their final illegal journey, crossing the Mediterranean in a “big old boat.” They landed in Lampedusa, a flyspeck island in the Mediterranean that was a common port of entry into Italy for those seeking asylum.






They were granted asylum by the Italian government five months after applying. With a little money from the government, the couple moved to Rome to stay with her aunt and sister. They lived in the Eternal City for a year before moving onto Milan, where Asefaw found work — not surprisingly — at an Eritrean church. The time in Italy passed in a blur. His second daughter, Euodia, was born. Milan, that gray city, was fine enough — he recalls baptizing the wife of an Eritrean bank manager — but he had a sense that he could live there for 20 years and never really become Italian. At the same time, he knew he would never go to another country illegally again. I can survive in Italy, he told himself, even though it’s not my destiny. So he waited. And then the phone rang. It was an Eritrean woman from, of all places, Las Vegas. Her name was Lem Lem. She worked with the inner-city Trinity Life Center, off Sahara Avenue. A few years earlier she had heard about Asefaw from his days in Sudan, and she knew that Trinity’s director, Pastor Randy Greer, was looking for an Eritrean pastor to minister to a growing Eritrean community in Las Vegas. She contacted an Eritrean pastor in Dallas to see whether he knew anyone; by chance, an Eritrean woman from Milan had recently moved to Dallas and mentioned Asefaw. Asefaw says the phone call was a divine connection. He prayed over the prospect of coming to the United States, and eventually he and his wife and two kids arrived in Las Vegas in the summer of 2006. Since then, he has been living the American dream. He and Tseyhaynesh have had two more children, Mattania and Sophania, the latter born at the end of last year. He pastors at the City Impact Center, Trinity’s burgeoning campus of social service providers. He works as a janitor at the church.






Still, they dream of Eritrea. There are still between 4,000 and 5,000 Christians in prison there. The government is increasingly cracking down on religion. Even Ortho-

The food and water were running out. Biniam was faced with one of those moments when propriety is stripped away and all that remains is the mandate to live. dox Christians are being persecuted by the government. Earlier this year, Ethiopian forces attacked military targets inside Eritrea, a move that has provoked very little international reaction, perhaps due to Eritrea’s own repressive regime. At the same time, in Libya, sub-Saharan Africans generally — the same kinds of folks who helped Asefaw navigate the streets of Koufra with a pregnant wife in prison — are being persecuted as Gaddafi sympathizers. In other words, had Asefaw made the same journey now, it’s doubtful things would have turned out as they did. The world Asefaw has traveled through is one filled with fear and violence and corruption. In the face of it, his story seems only an exception, not the rule, to the fates of many. But Asefaw’s life — what he calls his testimony — reflects the twin optimism of American immigrants and people of faith. His kids switch merrily from Tigrinya to English, from talk of book reports on the history of Eritrea to the naming of the capitals of the 50 states. Asefaw has found a nice home and has earned the respect of the tightly knit Eritrean community. He even has a spiffy iPhone. He wears his faith proudly but lightly; it appears not in what he says but in the infectious smile, the easy laughter. For a man who’s been through a version of hell, Asefaw seems remarkably poised. “Sometimes in life you become discouraged, but whenever I get discouraged, I go back to that situation. What God did in my life. His mercy. His protection. When I think of that I get encouraged.” And he passes it on. This is what he tells his congregation: “I am a live example for you.”

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Speaking of awesome band names, this blurb will consist solely of actual band names of awesome bands performing at Neon Reverb: Superhumanoids, JJAMZ, Dusty Sunshine, Moonface, Foxygen, Psychostick, Hunx & His Punx, Shannon and The Clams. You can hear these awesomely band-named bands and so much more as part of Neon Reverb, which happens Sept. 11-16 at various venues downtown. Ticket prices vary. Info:

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t Fun fact: The conga is the official music sponsor of your wildly shaking booty. And who better to bring that booty sponsorship than the legendary Poncho Sanchez? Nobody. Unless I form a band called Booty Sponsorship, which I’m seriously considering doing. Poncho Sanchez and his Latin band perform 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Sept. 14-15 at The Smith Center. Tickets $39-$48. Info:

Person: “Hey, experimental artist friend. I’ve got a bunch of old, weathered doors I was gonna throw out. You want them?” Experimental artist friend: “Funny you should ask! I wanted to make a thoughtful installation that resonated with themes of passage, decay and transformation, and had no idea what to use! Thanks!” Artist Troy Gillett’s “Inner Sanctum” is on exhibit through Oct. 5 at the Clark Government Center Rotunda, with an artist talk 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the center’s Pueblo Room. Info: One day, mobster Joaquin “Jack” Garcia stood up at a back-room Gambino crime family meeting and went, “Psyyyyych! I’m with the FBI — and you’re all under arrest!” Ha ha! Then, to really drive it home, the secret agent also told them that dolphins don’t, in fact, wear fedoras and live in underwater castles. Garcia speaks 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Mob Museum, 300 E. Stewart Ave. Tickets $35. Info:

Want your event in our guide? Submit a brief description of it to

OMG sometimes don’t you wish Hamlet would just cut it out with all that mopey to-be-ornot-to-be philosophizing and start jacking up the jerks who killed his dad? So does director Troy Heard. His modernized version of Hamlet: less gabby, more stabby. Verily, punks shalt be jack’d in thine face! Hamlet is performed 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 23 at Onyx Theatre in Commercial Center. Tickets $15. Info: | 85


Also playing in Fall 2012 September 7 — October 20

Hamlet Stones in His Pockets

Through Oct. 5. Inspired by the Arte Povera movement’s preference for ordinary, everyday materials, Troy Gillett’s “Inner Sanctum” employs found doors in various states of decay to create a space that makes a commentary on passage, decay and time. Gillett speaks 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Pueblo Room. Clark County Government Center Rotunda

DA VINCI – THE GENIUS Through Oct. 15. This multi-dimensional, interactive exhibit realizes the creations of Leonardo da Vinci’s imaginations in their three-dimensional functionality. The collection has over 200 original da Vinci pieces, 75 to-scale machine inventions and 11 themed areas showcasing the many realms of his work. $18$27. The Imagine Exhibitions Gallery inside The Venetian

CHILDREN’S ART EXHIBITION Through Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. The City of Henderson welcomes a new art gallery and the first ever children’s off-site art exhibit. Henderson elementary and middle school kids present oil, watercolor and pastel paintings. Gallery at the Garden inside Hilton Garden Inn, 453-7830

CLAUDE MONET: IMPRESSIONS OF LIGHT Through Jan. 6, 2013. In partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art showcases artworks that reflect the height of Monet’s work with painting and light. The exhibit features 20 pieces by Monet and eight paintings by his predecessors and contemporaries. $8-$15. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

LONDON BIENNALE EXHIBITION Sept. 6-29. This 3rd annual satellite artist event, originally based in London, is now held in cities worldwide. The July 21 event, which featured performances and artistic competitions from seven local artists at the Pop Up Art House in Henderson, was captured in film, photographs, and original compositions now put out for display. This year’s theme is “7 artists, 7 colors. Contemporary Arts Center,

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Giovanni Morales Sept. 6-Oct. 27 Giovanni Morales’ pop artstyle paintings are rich with multiple layers and collage-like elements that invoke classic sign script and old-school comic strips — painstakingly created by adding and then removing layers of paint. Brett Wesley Gallery, 1112 S. Casino Center Blvd.,

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50 th ANNUAL ART IN THE PARK 9am to 5pm Hundreds of Fine Art, Fine Craft & Traditional Craft Artists FREE Admission! Benefiting Boulder City Hospital For more information, maps and directions, please visit: or call: 702-293-0214

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Sept. 6-Oct. 20. French artist Francois Dubeau’s new works are bursts of bold, bright colors confined in perfect lines with messages that are sensual and sexual. Sin City Gallery, 107 E. Charleston #100,

FIRST FRIDAY Sept. 7 and Oct. 5, 6 p.m.-midnight. Downtown’s monthly arts and culture event continues to grow bigger and better, featuring art exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, performances and more. Free. Arts District and Fremont East in the Get Back Alley 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

MUSIC CLINT HOLMES First Fridays and Saturdays monthly, 8:30 p.m. The acclaimed singer is back in Las Vegas for an exclusive engagement, never performing the same show twice, featuring a constantly evolving kaleidoscope of music ranging from contemporary to jazz to Broadway. $35-$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center

CHICAGO Sept. 7-8, 8:30 p.m. Rock legends Chicago have earned Top 40 charts in five decades and are second only to the Beach Boys in terms of Billboard singles. They are one of the most beloved and longest-running rock groups. $59-$99. The Las Vegas Hotel and Casino,

NEON REVERB Sept. 11-16. Locally grown and maintained, this not-for-profit, twice-yearly music and art festival is fueled by a desire to improve the community and promote relationships among Las Vegas artists, venues and promoters. Neon Reverb’s a gem of downtown and a local favorite. The kick-off party features Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Tijuana Panthers at the Bunkhouse. Various locations downtown,

PONCHO SANCHEZ AND HIS LATIN JAZZ BAND Sept. 14-15, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Grammy-winning master of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz Poncho Sanchez brings his signature conga style, backed by his renowned ensemble for an evening of spicy jazz. $39-$48. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center

Join us for conversation, culture, cocktails and more at our Desert Companion on Tour gatherings around town! To find ouT abouT our nexT evenT, visiT us online aT

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

SANTANA Sept. 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 8 p.m. Santana symphonizes the sounds of classic rock, Latin music, and jazz into a fusion that has delighted audiences for decades. Praised for his guitar-shredding, Santana has won 10 Grammies and three Latin Grammy Awards. This intimate residency celebrates his 45th musi-

cal anniversary. $99.50-$750. House of Blues

FIONA APPLE Sept. 15, 8 p.m. Fiona Apple tours her new album, seven years in the making. Critically acclaimed as one her best yet, the album steals your attention and emotion with enchanting vocals and stunning instrumentals. $25-$91. The Joint inside The Hard Rock

IHEARTRADIO MUSIC FESTIVAL Sept. 21-22. This two-day festival is rife with musical talent for all tastes. Scratch that, it’s a freaking paradisiacal market of musical madness: Rihanna, Usher, No Doubt, Swedish House Mafia, Enrique Iglesias, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi ... if we listed the entire line-up,

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People always say “There’s no they’re their,” and there right. Why do you think Odysseus didn’t stay? (You see what I did there, right?) Tell Clinton I’m still fuzzy on the meaning of is. Pop quiz: If a phone tree rings and no one answers did anyone really call? Yes.  It was another misdial from the Trojan whores. Now can I be the droid you’re looking for? Emit needless words! Emit   needless words! Excuse the outburst, but I’ve seen strunk that’ll turn you white. I had another Homer  reference, but left it in my big blue pants.  Now is ze time on Sprockets vhen ve dance. Here, have a Coke and a smile, as we quarantine the victims of AP Style. The right words still open doors, so  I’m always running into doors. At least my huevos are more ranchero than yours. — Scott Dickensheets

Celebrate Debussy’s 150th

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Thursday, September 20 • 7:30 p.m.

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ASHTON ZYER – TAKIN’ OVER ME Sept. 22, 8 p.m. Local artist and songwriter Ashton Zyer performs cabaret jazz, classic Hollywood and Las Vegas love songs. Local talent will guest-star in the showcase, and Zyer will also perform some of her original pop jazz songs. $26-$3. The Smith Center

EMANUEL SCHMIDT GROUP Sept. 24, 7 p.m. The jazzy sounds of the Emanuel Schmidt Group will have you scatting down the aisles. Swiss-born jazz guitarist Emanuel Schmidt has been a celebrated member of the Las Vegas jazz scene for years, playing in local acts including the Vegas Collective and the Las Vegas World Jazz Orchestra. $10. E-String, 2031 W. Sunset Road,

AUSTRALIAN PINK FLOYD SHOW Sept. 29, 8 p.m. Wizards of guitar-shredding and laser lights, the Australian Pink Floyd show will impress more than diehard fans. Touring for 20 years the world over, this acclaimed touring group has sold out shows in over thirty countries. $44-$74. The Pearl inside The Palms BMW Motorrad USA

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JUSTIN BIEBER Sept. 30. Ladies and gentlemen, bring your physicians because this show is rampant with fever: Bieber fever. This platinumselling, lady-killing pop sensation tours his fourth album, “Believe.” $39.50-$89.50. MGM Grand Arena

THEATER WICKED Through Oct. 7. This dark retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” brings you ‘round to the Witch’s perspective. Full of laughs and wonderfully scored, this revamped tale is a classic of its own. $42-$186. The Smith Center



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Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. through Sept. 23. Director Troy Heard unveils a decidedly “lo-fi” version of this Shakespeare classic, retold as a “gripping dysfunctional family horror story.” With an original score by Sandy Stein and fight choreography by Sean Critchfield. $15. Onyx Theatre in Commercial Center, 953 E. Sahara Ave. #16,

JOAN RIVERS LIVE Sept. 6-8, 9 p.m. Emmy Award-winning talk show host, internationally famous comedian, author, and matriarch Joan Rivers treats au-

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diences to laughter and heart-warming tales of celebrity. $56. The Venetian

LECTURES, SPEAKERS AND PANELS Contraception and the Constitution: Tensions in the Protection of Religious Liberty Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m UNLV political science professor Ted Jelen discusses the recent controversy over the requirement that employers in organizations affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church provide contraceptive services to their female employees and broader conflicts over the meaning of religious freedom in the U.S. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum auditorium

Inside Stories: Joaquin “Jack” Garcia Sept. 19, 6 p.m. Considered one of the most savvy and talented undercover agents in the history of the FBI, Joaquin “Jack” Garcia will talk about how he infiltrated the Gambino crime family in his undercover role as “Jack Falcone,” leading to the conviction of 39 mobsters. Pre-event reception includes complimentary cocktail and hors d’oeuvres. $35. Mob Museum, 300 E. Stewart Ave.,

This great city inspires us, and we have dedicated ourselves to returning the favor. From creating all-new, innovative productions right here in Las Vegas, to inviting the world’s most illustrious companies to share our stage, we work tirelessly to ensure that each and every one of our ballets will take your breath away.


Under The Castle’s Cannon: The Archaeology of Africa in the Atlantic World Sept. 25, 7:30 p.m. Syracuse University’s Christopher DeCorse discusses how Atlantic trade impacted West African societies, for good and ill. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum auditorium


the nutcracker

Photo by Herbert Migdoll

Photo by Jeff Speer

ANIMELAND MAKIBA Through Sept. 2. Step 1: Dress up in elementshattering apparel. Step 2: Don your best monster-sized doe eyes. Step 3: Challenge your mortal enemy, because it’s going down at Las Vegas’ most epic anime convention! Game rooms, cosplay contests, voice actors, serious competition. $25 includes a free mystery plush. Palace Station,

Through Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Wonderworks Exhibit Company’s “Envenomators” tells the story of four venomous snakes indigenous to North America: Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Coral and Rattlesnake. Explore the surprising secret lives of these venomous beauties, while dispelling misconceptions of these very beneficial animals whose reputations are based more on fear

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than fact. Free for members or included with paid general admission. Origen Museum at Springs Preserve

TODDLER TIME Thursdays, 11-11:30 a.m. Bring your little ones for kid-friendly activities and stories, with new themes each week. It’s a perfect time for family fun before or after shopping at the Farmers Market. Free for members or with paid general admission. Ages 5-under recommended. Activity Center at Springs Preserve

ORIGINAL ART & CRAFT SHOW Sept. 7-8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m Touring the Southwest for 40 years, the Harvest Festival is an all-day entertainment smorgasbord with hundreds of booths to peruse and 24,000 American made arts and crafts. Jewelry and food vendors, photographic exhibits and more will fill the ample space. $4-$9 for all three days, 12 and under free. Cashman Center,

competing in the roughest and toughest triathlon. Athletes face head-to-head with a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride through Lake Mead National Recreation Area (watch out for that giant hill!), and finish things off with a 13.1-mile run. Lake Las Vegas,

season celebrated on the autumnal equinox of each year. Lantern parades, traditional moon cakes, dance performances, live music, vendors and food. Adults $5, children $3. Springs Preserve

GRAPES & HOPS FESTIVAL SUPER RUN CAR SHOW Sept. 20-23. This 13th annual car show is the biggest in Southern Nevada. It features more than 1,000 hot rods, muscle cars and a dazzling spectacle of vintage vehicles. There will also be car competitions and concerts, with country music star Jerrod Niemann headlining. Free. The Henderson Events Plaza,

ROCK ’N BREW III Sept. 28, 6:30-10 p.m. Sample over 70 craft beers to spur enjoyment of live entertainment from Sin City Sinners, Love Vendetta and more. Proceeds benefit the UNLV Beverage Management Club. $30. Chateau Nightclub inside The Paris,

Oct. 6, 5-9 p.m. Sample fine wines, a unique selection of beers and food from some of Las Vegas’ finest restaurants - while helping to raise money for Par for The Cure, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research. Enjoy Afro-Cuban and salsa music by Rick Arroyo and the Latin Percussion Ensemble, as well as a silent auction. Admission includes a sampling glass and unlimited wine, beer and food samples for guests 21 and over. $35 in advance (after Sept. 10) for individuals or $60 per couple, with $5 off for members. Springs Amphitheater at Springs Preserve,




Sept. 9, 6:30 a.m. A truly international competition, with 1,700 athletes from more than 50 countries

Sept. 29, 12-6 p.m. A revered holiday throughout Asian culture, paying tribute to the fall harvest

Sept. 12, 5:30 p.m. Spread the Word Nevada is a children’s literacy project that works to bring books and literacy programs to at-risk and

LEARN EVERY DAY. EVERYWHERE. We offer a number of learning opportunities to explore—from working toward an online degree or enhancing your skills to learning a new language or traveling. Our focus is on you—whether you’re an adult or senior, in government or businesses, a military or part-time student, or someone unable to attend traditional campus-based credit courses and programs. LEARN ABOUT OUR: Online courses and degrees Accelerated credit courses Career enhancement/personal enrichment courses Customized training Study groups just for seniors Survey and research services

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

low-income families in Southern Nevada. This 11th annual event features dinner, a silent auction and a live auction hosted by News 3 Anchors Marie Mortera and Kendall Tenney. The Venetian

Kids enjoy last year’s Asian Moon Festival at the Springs Preserve.

DISH Sept. 20. Three Square Food Bank puts on its 4th annual interactive culinary event, continuing to fight hunger in Southern Nevada. Twenty of Las Vegas’ finest restaurants offer samplings of tasty dishes and specialty cocktails to the sounds and sights of live entertainment by Zowie Bowie. $100 in advance, $150 at the door. The Palms,

AKSHAYA PATRA FOOD FOR EDUCATION BENEFIT Sept. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Akshaya Patra is one of the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal programs and serves meals to over 1.3 million children daily in schools throughout India. Their mission is to provide children an opportunity for education, unhindered by hunger. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the keynote speaker. Four Seasons Hotel,

We have come for your moon cakes If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to nom on high-calorie baked goods under the guise of celebrating cultural diversity, the Asian Harvest Moon Festival is your cup of tea (with accompanying pastry). There are dances, music and lantern parades for kids and adults alike. Oh, and moon cakes. How could we forget about moon cakes? These delightfully dense flavor pucks are heavy with sweet, thick filling, and can pack enough calories to rival your typical fast-food cheeseburger. But fall is about storing up energy for the winter, remember? Go ahead. Have another. The Asian Harvest Moon Festival takes place noon-6 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Springs Preserve. Tickets $3$5. Info: | 95

Kitsch for a cause


If Las Vegas is eye-popping, luxurious and over the top, it learned from a master with long local ties. Liberace, here with his driver on stage, believed in constantly topping himself. And that wasn’t easy. Born in 1919, Wladziu Valentino Liberace began performing with the Chicago Symphony at age 20 and debuted in Las Vegas at age 25 at the Hotel Last Frontier. His show evolved as he emphasized popular tunes over classical pieces and his success grew and his stage persona became more flamboyant. The coat, sequined pants and car in this photo provide just one example; his red, white and blue sequined hot pants were another classic. He also collected pianos, art, antiques, customdesigned homes — and critics. They often sniped at his kitschiness and

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Companion | SEPTEMBER 2012

his sexuality, to which he said he cried all the way to the bank. He also decided to do something with that bank account and, in 1976, set up a foundation that at one point was run by Myron Martin, the guiding force behind programming The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Liberace’s foundation became better known for the museum that displayed his “Happy Happys,” as he called his collectibles, but its mission is to give talented local students a boost as they pursue careers in performing and creative arts.” The museum is now closed, but the foundation’s focus on education carries on — and thus a fundraiser on Oct. 11 hosted by the consuls of Poland and Monaco and featuring entertainers who, like Liberace, give back, with style. — Michael Green

l i b e r a c e p h oto : C o u r t e s y L a s V e g a s C o n v e n t i o n a n d V i s i to r s A u t h o r i t y

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Desert Companion - September 2012  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada