Whatever happened to that butt? … and other burning questions from recent history
Thu, Aug 12, 2010 (midnight)
Where are the Crazy Girls now?
(From left to right)
Karen Rader, now married to salon maven Michael Boychuck (owner of Color — A Salon at Caesars Palace), is the current company manager of Crazy Girls.
Debra Sill, the singer in the show at the time of the shoot, is attending massage school today.
Pam Noble left the show soon after the shoot to attend to her ill mother. She is no longer active in the entertainment industry.
Stacey Peterutti is an instructor and choreographer at Summerlin Dance Academy and also works as a real estate agent for Realty One in Summerlin.
Shellee Renee, today a marketing and PR rep with Charlie Palmer Group, also did stints with R&R Advertising and MGM Mirage.
Angela Stabile married Matt Stabile, owner of Stabile Productions, which produces Men of X at Hooters and X Burlesque at Flamingo Las Vegas.
LeAnne Wagstaff is a police officer in Arizona.
The Crazy Girls photo
Naturally, the history of the Crazy Girls photo shoot has a backstory.
The original plan was brilliant in its simplicity: Assemble the dancers appearing in the Riviera adult revue for a shoot. The best images would then be used for a billboard promoting the show.
But during the shoot with photographer Greg Rider, dancers Shellee Renee and Angela Stabile suggested the seven women turn their barren backsides to the camera and drape their arms around one another.
That was it. Advertising executives can spend days mulling ideas not nearly as effective as the impromptu session that led to: "No Ifs Ands Or ..."
"It was done on the fly," says Renee, who is positioned third from the right on the version of the photo that graces the cover of this magazine. On the "flopped" version, which in fact shows the lineup as intended, she's third from the left. "They were taking some shots of my legs and we said, 'Let's get a group shot,' and we all got together." Renee is today a PR rep for Charlie Palmer Group.
The pose has become one of the more famous images on and off the Strip since that shoot 16 years ago. It was the inspiration for the bronze relief at the hotel, which includes longtime cast member Michelle Sandoval — who was not present during the original photo shoot because she was on vacation at the time. The person who stood in for her? Renee.
The photo also sparked controversy at the time, as elected officials fought to have the risqué images removed from taxicabs and billboards. But then-Mayor Jan Laverty Jones, citing First Amendment rights, helped fight to keep the Crazy Girls images in place, and they have been part of Vegas culture ever since.
"We actually had a lot of controversy with our butts," show producer Norbert Aleman recalled this week. "We had people picketing the hotel because they did not like the butts, they wanted to cover them with skirts! But it was a great gimmick. You go to Japan, everybody knows about the butts!" — JOHN KATSILOMETES
The Harmon Hotel & Spa
It's been over a year since major structural flaws in the rebar in the first 15 floors of CityCenter's The Harmon Hotel & Spa brought construction to a halt and contributed to a decision to lop the tower from its originally planned 47 floors down to 26. Since then, blame has been kicked around between general contractor Perini Building Co., subcontractor Pacific Coast Steel and inspectors onsite employed by Converse Consultants. The building, meanwhile, has gained a bit of glass, lost its construction crew and sat empty, essentially becoming one giant, shiny, extremely expensive billboard for Viva Elvis.
Originally slated to open in November 2009, The Harmon's debut was pushed to 2010, and now is firmly pinpointed to exactly ... someday. According to MGM Resorts Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Alan Feldman, the issues with the rebar placement and the concrete poured over it have not yet been corrected, and the parties involved are still evaluating the "full extent of the defective work in the Harmon." Projected date for resuming construction? None. Potential advertising space for other MGM projects? Plenty. — SARAH FELDBERG
The Las Vegas Art Museum art collection
The last we heard from LVAM, its board was looking to collaborate with UNLV to house its permanent collection, which has been in storage since the museum shut its doors in February 2009 due to financial problems. The collection includes works by Larry Bell, John Clem Clarke, Bradley Corman and others.
The possible partnership received some harsh criticism from the community because of UNLV's track record with large-scale art on its campus — damaged works, missing works and other preservation issues. But LVAM board President Patrick Duffy says talks are still continuing, and he'll meet with the university later this summer.
Duffy adds that LVAM will continue to own and oversee the works, and emphasizes the educational value of having the collection on campus, particularly for students studying conservation, curating and cataloguing. — KRISTEN PETERSON
The author's first novel, Beautiful Children — a best-selling literary tale of runaway kids in Las Vegas — put him through a wild spin cycle, from acclaim to backlash. And that was just here, in his hometown media (including these pages). So he was understandably wary of our motives when we asked what he's been up to lately. But Bock was game; he believes in helping media, helping other writers, especially in Vegas. So what are you working on, Mr. Bock?
A second novel. "I'm still fairly early in it, but it's about sick people. It doesn't take place in Las Vegas."
He doesn't get back here often, but he's followed the changes the city has undergone. The downturn, the foreclosures, the tracts of empty-homed suburbia — there's a darkness there, an underbelly sensibility not unlike what he tapped into with Beautiful Children. "It's not runaway teens," he said, "but you could draw a dotted line connecting them and build toward a tipping point ..." On the other hand, Luv-It Frozen Custard endures. So not everything is different. And Bock himself? Maybe a slight change since the book was written: "Now I experience different colors of the same emotions I felt back then." — SCOTT DICKENSHEETS
On the night of December 23, 2005, I piled into a van with Frank DeFrancesco, a couple of his buddies and many crates of used vinyl, bound for a storage locker near the Liberace Museum on East Tropicana. The album lockdown marked the final chapter for Balcony Lights, DeFrancesco's cozy — and toward the end, financially strapped — record store that dotted the Maryland Parkway corridor for five years. (Before that, the same shop was home to Benway Bop! and Sound Barrier).
DeFrancesco lives in Portland — a four-year residency he very much considers temporary. "It's a nice town, someplace I'd like to visit, but Vegas is my home," Frank, now 34, says. "I'd like to get back there soon." DeFrancesco has a year(ish) left in his pursuit of a Portland State degree (concentration: history), then he plans to put that to use where he was born and raised. "I'm a big Vegas history nerd, and I'm working on a book about Vegas," he says. "It's such an enigma, a town that should never have been built, and it's still kicking. Plus, there's nowhere else in the United States where you can get a cheap steak and eggs at 3 in the morning with a free drink."
And those vintage LPs? Put down the lock-pick set and stop Googling storage lockers on Trop. Balcony Lights' remaining inventory is long gone. "After I closed the store, the Zia folks came by to check the stuff out — and passed," DeFrancesco says. "So instead I brought it into Zia, box by box. And eventually, I walked out with double what I was originally asking them to pay." — SPENCER PATTERSON
The Jessica Williams trial reportedly cost $15,000 a day, and lasted 15 days. That was in 2000, when Williams' car careened into six teenagers, killing them all.
Williams was 21 at the time. She confessed to taking Ecstasy about 10 hours before the crash, and smoking pot about two hours before the crash, which occurred, Williams said, when she fell asleep at the wheel.
Blood tests indicated Williams had a marijuana metabolite in her blood. Her attorney argued that while Williams had taken drugs, she wasn't intoxicated at the time of the crash, and the jury agreed. They found her not guilty of being under the influence of drugs. And yet — drug impaired or not — the jury still noted Williams had marijuana in her system at the time of the crash. She was sentenced to 18-46 years behind bars. It was a controversial ruling, and one Williams' attorneys fought all the way to the Supreme Court, without success.
Of course, in the years since Williams' crash, Clark County has seen a number of cars mow people down. And so Williams case, once covered endlessly in local and national media, has faded out of the spotlight. Court filings indicate her attorneys were still fighting the charges last year. Williams, now 31, waits in custody. — ABIGAIL GOLDMAN
Women of Magic
Melinda "First Lady of Magic" Saxe performed at The Landmark in the '90s. She had great stage presence and giant illusions, including a snake-filled tank and a Drill of Death. She was married to Lance Burton (for a brief period of time).
Scarlett: The Princess of Magic (aka Rachel Jessee) performed at The V Theatre with her macaw, her parakeet, her rabbit, her dachshund and her German shepherd. She performed the linking rings, the floating table, and she passed herself through a giant spinning fan.
What's their status now?
Melinda moved from Vegas to Arizona. She married a managing partner of P.F. Chang's. They have two children and, one can only assume, the foursome eats their fair share of Dynamite Shrimp and Orange Peel Chicken.
This just in! A few days ago, Robin Leach blogged this: "Melinda, the first lady of magic, is returning to the stage. I've confirmed that she'll be back next month on brother David Saxe's stage at his Planet Hollywood Miracle Mile theater, but not in his new production Vegas The Show."
After a brief stint at the Henderson Detention Center—Scarlett was arrested for, allegedly, hitting her 67-year-old boyfriend in the eye—the Princess of Magic has moved on. She now performs locally under her real name. She does fire juggling and fire eating, and she's spoken with producers about starting a touring magic show. — RICK LAX
After his starring role in Maxson vs. Tark, the mid-'90s rumble between academic supporters and athletic boosters that shook the UNLV campus down to its foundations, Maxson left for the presidency of California State University, Long Beach. After that, most of us kind of lost track.
Turns out he's back in Nevada—Incline Village, to be precise, as president of the Sierra Nevada College, a liberal arts school near Lake Tahoe.
Asked if he ever wonders what might've been had he not been chased away from UNLV, Maxson proves too cagey to be dragged down memory lane.
"I loved working at UNLV. I have family, including grandchildren, living in Las Vegas and I visit often. I love the city." — SCOTT DICKENSHEETS
The proposed nuclear waste depository is on life support as Democrats and Republicans continue to debate its merits. President Obama left the controversial project off his budget, and as of this week, the site, on the edge of the Nevada Test Site, is shut down completely. Its staff, and the staff of the Las Vegas offices, has been all but eliminated, a total of nearly 2,500 jobs, according to Darrell Lacy, head of the Nye County Nuclear Waste Depository Office. However, the project's ultimate fate remains a question mark after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July said Obama's administration can't halt repository licensing without a new law from Congress. The Department of Energy is appealing that ruling. But assuming the dump is, in fact, dead, the only issue left is what to do with the 5-mile tunnel, which cost $10 billion. "What happens with the hole is subject to negotiation with the Bureau of Land Management," Lacy says. "There's been some discussion by [Sen. Harry] Reid and others about other types of activities that can be done there, but no real decision has been made." — KEN MILLER
It's been more than five hellish months since we've been able to nuzzle up to our iconic neon history and meander the sculpted fonts of the Neon Museum's Boneyard.
That season of deprivation ends in September, when the nonprofit group resumes its appointment-only tours that place you in the shadow of the grandfatherly and gold-spewing Coin Castle King and leads you through the maze of emblematic vintage signage.
The museum halted the tours in February to prepare its grounds for its open-to-the-public-daily future by grading the land, erecting walls and installing underground utility services.
The more than 150 signs that were removed from the property are being returned and the Neon Museum will resume booking tours at the end of August. It's slated to open to the public for daily operations by the end of summer 2011, when La Concha is completed. — KRISTEN PETERSON
Civic misbehavior roundup!
Crazy Horse Too The U.S. Marshals assumed ownership of the Crazy Horse Too in 2007, and the government has been trying to get rid of the strip club ever since. But it's hard to sell a strip club that's tainted with a federal corruption case, owned by the government, mired in a liquor license problem and, like all Clark County properties, suffering from some serious devaluation problems. In 2008, buyers came forward offering $32 million for the club—a deal that fell through. Fast forward two years, to this April, and a new potential buyer came forward with a price of the times: $10.5 million.
But it won't be that easy. The City of Las Vegas fined the club more than $2 million in 2006, after former owner Rick Rizzolo pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges. Until that fine is paid, Mayor Goodman says the city won't reissue the licenses a place like the Crazy Horse Too needs to operate. (And until the club is sold, Rizzolo claims he will not be able to pay off the tens of millions he owes to a various parties.) And so the players involved—the government, the city, a felon and hopeful strip club owners—continue to duke it out in court.
There was a time the Crazy Horse Too was one of Clark County's most successful strip clubs. Looking at the place today, a shuttered building on Industrial Road, you'd never know it. — ABIGAIL GOLDMAN
Michael McDonald Michael McDonald cannot give up politics. The former Las Vegas city councilman—dinged for ethics violations and probed for his dealings with Operation G-Sting players Mike Galardi and Rick Rizzolo—is now a lobbyist, developer and president of his homeowners association.
"I'm still fighting for the community," McDonald said, "just doing it without the title of councilman."
McDonald, a former Metro police officer, was never charged or convicted of a crime in connection with G-Sting. It's a fact that Las Vegas city officials were quick to emphasize in 2008 when explaining why they were considering giving McDonald's company, Alpha Omega Strategies, millions in grant money to develop senior housing. Last year, the city sold McDonald a parcel of land for $1.3 million, which he turned and sold for $3.1 million—the profit, he explained, would help fund a much larger project he is working on.
"What happened, happened. I had nothing to hide, I stayed in politics and I've continued to stay in politics," he said, adding. "I was born and raised here. I'm never leaving." — ABIGAIL GOLDMAN
Dario Herrera Five days after leaving prison, former County Commissioner Dario Herrera started working as a senior account executive at Wendoh Media in Vegas—that was in June 2009. By July of this year, the Review-Journal reported Herrera left that job for two new ones: one, as a director of community outreach and development for a business training dental assistants; the other, as executive director for a local nonprofit, Project Sunshine of Nevada.
Since his prison release, Herrera has granted very few interviews, and the Weekly couldn't reach him by press time. Herrera, often described as a once rising star of the Democratic party, was deeply embroiled in Operation G-Sting, and was ultimately convicted of taking bribes from former strip club owner Michael Galardi. Still, it's easy to follow Herrera through his Twitter account (@Dario_Herrera), where the former commissioner describes himself as "On the mend ... inside and out" and uses his 140 characters to talk about golf games, work, family, Cuban food and more golf. — ABIGAIL GOLDMAN
Mary Kincaid-Chauncey Of all the G-Sting players, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey is the hardest to track down today. The grandmother was convicted of taking several thousand dollars worth of bribes from former strip club owner Michael Galardi while she held a position on the County Commission and sentenced to 30 months in federal custody.
In January last year, the Las Vegas Sun reported Kincaid-Chauncey was spending the last two months of her sentence on house arrest in her North Las Vegas home. That February, the Sun reported the 9th Circuit Court had rejected Kincaid-Chauncey's appeals to overturn the bribery charges. — ABIGAIL GOLDMAN
Erin Kenny The former Clark County Commissioner resides in Las Vegas, where she reportedly works for her husband, John, a chiropractor. Kenny served a 30-month sentence on political corruption and bribery charges in connection with Operation G Sting, and received a lesser sentence for testifying against others in the case. She was released in 2009. A call to John Kenny's office led to this response from a receptionist: "I'm very uncomfortable discussing the doctor's personal life. We hate journalists here, and wish you'd stay out of our lives. Have a great day." — KEN MILLER
Frances Deane The former Clark County recorder resides in Las Vegas, serving the terms of her five-year probation from a case that had been ongoing since 2006. Deane pleaded guilty last year to charges involving using her office for personal gain. Her probation states she must complete 16 hours of community service each month unless she has a doctor's excuse or is employed full-time. She's also paying $54,000 in restitution to the county. — KEN MILLER