Rio flirts with ‘royalty’

Oct 30, 2006 11:25 PM

To all my readers, thank you for all the emails, flowers, baskets and cards as I recuperate from surgery. I’m happy to say I’m on the mend. Thank you.

This last week was dramatic for my friend, Greg Thompson, the producer of Bare Back and Erotica. The Rio pulled the plug on Erotica and Bare Back is gone at Harrah’s. Greg had me as a special guest star with his wife Sonny Thompson in Show Girls.

The Rio is heating things up with Prince, who not only will be starring in shows, but will be producing and bringing in guest stars. I think the Rio will shine with a star headliner like Prince.

The legendary Stardust closes this week. The last performance will be Steve Lawrence and Edie Gormet, and the annual Las Vegas Fetish and Fantasy Halloween Ball. We’re losing a colorful slice of Las Vegas history.

The Stardust will fall by way of the wrecking ball, just like the Desert Inn, the Sands, the Dunes and other memorable joints. There’s only a few classics left, links to the city’s colorful past: the Riviera, once the home of Louis Armstrong and Barbara Streisand, and the Tropicana which has the Folies Bergere — reminders of the Las Vegas’ heyday.

Terry Jenkins, my wonderful friend, now oversees entertainment for all the Coast properties. He moves to the Orleans, where Jim Seagrave, the longtime Stardust marketing and advertising director, begins his new position this week.

As I watch a part of history disappear, I can’t help but feel like I am a part of something grander. I wasn’t more than a boy when I arrived in 1967 to open at Caesars Palace. Coming from New York I was totally amazed by the small town and the way I was embraced by the stars, including Totie Fields, Shecky Green, Don Rickles and Ann Margret. I was an Amateur Hour reject and my only talent was being amusing and terribly handsome, if I may so myself. Where did it all go?

Speaking of links to our colorful past, last week we had Liza Minelli in town. She had three sold out dates, which featured one standing ovation after the other. What a grand dame! The show itself was legendary with glimpses of her mother, Judy Garland. Liza Minelli and I go back to Lorna Lust and her mother when I was a New York cabaret performer.

Liza came back for Thanksgiving and she will also give a free show while here for the entertainers and gypsies. This used to be commonplace when big stars would get together and do a big show for all the other entertainers. That’s what Vegas was all about. Welcome back Liza, we still love you.

"Envy" magazine did a wonderful profile of me in the current issue. It is called Monti, Monti Monti. Frank Marino is on the next page. He is in color, but I am in black and white. I guess it would be too much to take if I were in four-color process.

What’s this, peace on earth in Las Vegas? It looks like a bunch of Dueling Divas are no longer dueling. We have Frank Marino and Kenny Kerr reconciling. We have Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie reconciling. We have Danny Gans and Gordie Brown exchanging trade secrets. What’s next, Siegfried and Roy revisted?

I caught Jeff Trachta at the Rio and he was great — good clean entertainment. If you are a soap opera fan, he starred for eight years as Thorne on "The Bold and the Beautiful." He sings, dances and does impressions. He even uses technology to "clone" himself on stage. (Where can I get a hold of one of those gadgets?) He does many impressions; my favorite is George Burns.

Last but not least, I have been watching Nathan Burton and he’s been great. He’s talented, funny and enjoyable.

Speaking of great magicians, when is Steve Wyrick opening his new theater? Also, when is Producers opening at Paris.

We’re all waiting. But for now, trick or treat everybody!