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Strip performers join in 'Jersey Boys' star's fundraiser


Solidarity in the entertainment community is expressed in many ways. In Las Vegas, it can even answer the question “boxers or briefs.”

Jeff Leibow laughs when he says Sunday’s “NF Hope Concert” — the third he has organized to battle neurofibromatosis — will have his performer friends “dressed in significantly more clothing” than when many of them last gathered to roast drag star Frank Marino.

That late-night roast included Leibow and his three “Jersey Boys” co-stars dropping trou as they sang “Lady is a Tramp.” The point is, “When any of my performer friends asks for help, I do anything I can to be a part of it,” Leibow says.

“I think they’re all sort of the same mind with me. This is a great community and we’re honored as performers to be in a place to really help.”

This collective attitude has allowed Leibow to grow the benefit he started in 2011, when he and his wife, Melody, learned their daughter Emma had the condition that can cause tumors to grow on nerve tissue.

“The first year I really was elbowing my way in and trying to get the attention of people who had other things to do,” he says. “Now, this is that other thing to do. They’re already onboard.”

Sunday’s show is at 1 p.m. in The Venetian’s Sands Showroom, home to one of the guest stars, vocal group Human Nature. Tickets are $45, $65 and $125, available through The Venetian or nfhope.org.

Other guest stars include Clint Holmes and singing spouse Kelly Clinton, Stratosphere headliner Frankie Moreno, “Absinthe” burlesque star Melody Sweets (yes, she’s keeping her clothes on, too) and cast members from “Million Dollar Quartet” and “Rock of Ages” as well as Leibow’s fellow “Jersey Boys.”

The annual benefit for the nonprofit NF Network also dedicates some of this year’s proceeds to Nevada Childhood Cancer. Leibow says the larger effort is getting more structured thanks to an organizational committee helmed by CineVegas film festival founder Paul Bodner.

Leibow says the biggest star, at least in terms of fundraising at the underwriting level of support beyond ticket sales, has been 4-year-old Emma herself.

“People need it to be personal,” he says. “That’s the personal reason we’re doing this. They meet Emma and just want to help.” …

If you still need a laugh anywhere in the vicinity of Planet Hollywood Resort, you’re not looking hard enough.

A new comedy club enters the mix as part of a domino reaction stemming from a third theater space in the works at the V Theater, part of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. David Saxe, who operates the complex and produces some of its shows, is converting seldom-used restaurant space into a 200-seat theater.

That will give him room to open a new show called “Zombie Burlesque,” which taps both the current zombie craze as well as retro burlesque and B-movie nostalgia. He had hoped to have it open by Halloween, but says that target date now looks dubious.

The burlesque show will have a like-minded roommate when “Evil Dead The Musical” from producer Sirc Michaels moves into the new space, allowing it to expand from two nights per week to four.

“Country Superstars” also will move over, freeing room in the current space upstairs — which is better for stand-up than musical productions — to add the Las Vegas Live Comedy Club.

That one is helmed by “Superstars” producer Leonard Quenneville and Joaquin Trujillo, who operates the LA Comedy Club at nearby Bally’s. The two comedy rooms are separate business operations, but share Matt Chavez as booking agent.

But don’t forget about Sin City Comedy, which once occupied that V Theater space but built its own venue near Planet Hollywood’s convention area. On top of two stand-up shows per night, producer John Padon is opening late evenings to bands, and charging no cover.

First onboard was the ever-popular Prince tribute Purple Reign, which moved over from Hooters Hotel. Arriving this week were Franky Perez at 10:30 p.m. Mondays, and the Swingin’ Pedestrians at 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays.

Padon says that come December, he will pull one of the stand-up shows to make room for “Divorce Party,” a musical revue in the vein of “Menopause the Musical,” but not to be confused with the recently departed “The D*Word” about similar subject matter. …

You know what October in Las Vegas means: “Fantasy” calendar time. The Luxor topless revue on Tuesday reveals the 2014 edition of the calendar that’s helped make the show and its dancers more of a name brand for the past eight years.

You’d think the calendar would have spawned all kinds of copycats by now. But producer Anita Mann jokes that other producers are “probably a lot smarter than I am.”

It’s an expensive endeavor. The new calendar was a three-day photo shoot by photographer Oscar Picazo with the models body-painted to fulfill the animal theme (the $20 calendar benefits the Heaven Can Wait animal shelter).

“I think we probably make our money back,” Mann says of the souvenirs, “but we certainly don’t do it for that reason. We’re very proud of it.”

Tuesday also marks the formal debut of a new edition of “Fantasy,” reworked to incorporate singer Jaime Lynch. She’s been onboard two months, but it takes time to work changes into a show that never takes a day off.

“I thought I was going to revamp it completely because Jaime is a full-out dancer,” Mann says. While the new edition does have “more movement to each number,” the songs didn’t change as much. It turns out Lynch liked so many of the tunes sung by predecessor Lorena Peril, she asked to keep doing them. …

Finally, I kept looking for the words “dubious honor” in this press release by magician Murray SawChuck, but could only find them between the lines. The Tropicana Las Vegas seems to be closing in on an attraction for its handsomely remodeled main theater, but SawChuck has done his comedy magic show upstairs in the Laugh Factory club for a year and a half now.

That gives him braggin’ rights to call himself the Trop’s “longest-running headliner” since the venerable “Folies Bergere” closed. “They have gone through Wayne Newton, Gladys Knight, Recycled Percussion, Roseanne (Barr),” he points out, not to mention restaurants, nightclubs and soon, the Mob Attraction closing Nov. 3.

Hang in there, buddy.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.