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Sin City rediscovers its libido!

Apr 29, 2003 2:51 AM

The Mirage’s volcano, the MGM’s theme park and the Excalibur’s castle set the tone for a new, family-friendly Las Vegas in the 1990s. The chamber of commerce was thrilled. Magazine writers flocked here with their kids.

Could the tag Sin City no longer apply? Maybe. At least for a while.

But saner heads prevailed, and Sin City is back! Hail to thee, Sin City. Weekly rags are filled with adult ads: men’s clubs, massage parlors, come-to-your-room entertainers ”” something for every body!

Moreover, hotels have rediscovered the topless revue, and they’re opening nightclubs faster than convenience stores.

Treasure Island, for instance, has scrapped its arcade and put in Kahunaville, an interactive nightclub/restaurant. And they have plans to rework the pirate battle that would feature sexy Sirens in a Battle of the Sexes. Ooh la la!

MGM MIRAGE has put on the gloves to challenge the gentlemen’s clubs. Its going beyond the long-running classic topless shows such as the "Folies Bergere" and "Jubilee," with a very different Cirque de Soleil entitled "Zumanity" at New York-New York.

"Zumanity," as a quick video showed, will be titillating, tantalizing, sensual and stimulating. Wow, all that in 90 minutes. I hope the hotel is keeping rooms available for show patrons. I’d like to have the raincoat concession.

I also saw some old friends from New York, some of whom will be among the production’s 40 dancers and 10 musicians: Joey Arias, the king, or is it queen, of the New York cabaret scene will be the show’s narrator, similar to what Joel Grey was in "Cabaret."

Speaking of the 1990s, it’s been a long time since Las Vegas has had a surge in growth. The Cannery and Tuscany Suites were nice additions, but everyone is sitting around waiting and hoping that Steve Wynn’s Le Reve will jumpstart the slow period.

Rumor has it that other high profile properties are in the works. The first involves Michael Flately, the Lord of the Riverdance, who is supposed to be planning an Irish-themed resort. Let’s hope the IRA doesn’t blow it up.

Another possibility is Cirque du Soleil creating a French-Canadian circus-theme hotel. The possibilities there are endless. Especially double-joined guest room attendants who can vacuum the floors while contorted like a pretzel.

What’s a column without mentioning Celine? As promised, I went to see her again. There are changes in the show, but the stage is still too big; the LED screen too dominant and the mezzanine and balcony seats too far away. If you’re a Celine fan, she won’t disappoint you despite the high price tag.

If you want to see a show that’s worth the money, it’s "Mamma Mia" at Mandalay Bay. It’s great Abba music and a hoot of a sing-a-long.

Television has its eye on Las Vegas: James Caan starred in a drama pilot that’s being scrutinized by network honchos; there’s rumor ”” haven’t we heard this for years ”” that a network variety show is being shopped around; and Mr. Good Life, Robin Leach, has a weekly late-night soirée in the works.

I lost a dear friend when Nina Simone passed a week ago. Thoughts and prayers for her and her family and loved ones.