Updated June 16, 2021 - 9:26 am
The Kats! Bureau at this writing is the counter at Hollywood Cafe at Planet Hollywood. This position carries ample nostalgia as it is where I stopped about midnight on March 17, 2020, after watching “Zombie Burlesque” at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops, the night before the entire city shut down.
Unlike that somber night, the place is abuzz now, with a line of folks awaiting tables snaking out to the casino. That’s why we take the counter.
We seem to learn something every day on the pandemic reopening scene. We’ve discovered, for instance, that moving “Crazy Girls” from Planet Hollywood is a heavy lift.
About 4,500 pounds, specifically.
The topless show’s famous bronze statue was effectively evicted Tuesday morning from its position near Planet Hollywood’s Strip-facing entrance. This historic civic project required a heavy-duty fork lift, brought in after the original fork lift didn’t have enough “lift” to carry the ladies off the casino carpet.
We’d earlier been informed the statue was just 2,000 pounds. So had the work crew, apparently.
The piece was unceremoniously rolled through the glass doors, hauled along the sidewalk to Planet Hollywood’s service alley, placed on a flatbed and carefully driven along the Strip. The statue is taking some extended R&R at an undisclosed warehouse and is to be unveiled at the show’s next home if and when it returns.
“Crazy Girls” was shut down a month ago when Caesars Entertainment closed several low-capacity venues and shows. “CG” had performed at Sin City Theater on the PH mezzanine level, across from Criss Angel Theater.
The topless show and “Tenors of Rock” were the shows cast aside when the venue shut down.
“Crazy Girls” opened at the Riviera in September 1987, moving to Planet Hollywood in 2015. The statue made its debut in 1997, three years after the then-scandalous “No If Ands Or …” billboards debuted in Las Vegas.
The sculpture has since moved along with the show. A popular tourist attraction, producer Norbert Aleman’s prized visage would draw millions of visitors over the years. More than 1 million casino guests rubbed the statues’ rear ends at the Riv — Aleman had a counter set up to keep track — for “good luck.”
Those rear ends have been rubbed to a shine, further adding to the statue’s provenance.
The show’s producer says he is unsure of the statue’s monetary worth today (though the amount of bronze on the piece alone is likely worth $100K). But the original cost $325,000 in ‘97.
Aleman is poking around town, on and off the Strip, for a new home. He wants the right type of stage (especially a curtain), prefers a venue with a topless license (he’s not interested in taking his legendary topless show to pasties) and is determined to maintain the show’s historic integrity.
If Aleman feels the show is taking a step down after 34 years on the Strip, he’ll close it permanently. He’ll know by the end of July if he can find a home for the show, or merely retire.
“I have heard a lot of talk, but talk is easy,” Aleman said as the forklift moved in to remove the “Crazy Girls” from the hotel. “It’s sad to see it, you know, such beautiful statue being removed for another place. But hopefully, soon, we will have a better place.”
We had the chance to chat with ex-New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel back in April, during a chance meeting at Italian American Club. Fassel, who died June 7 in Las Vegas at age 71, was close to the Righteous Brothers, having gone to Anaheim High School with the late Bobby Hatfield.
Fassel also maintained a friendship with Bill Medley over the years, and had seen the Righteous Brothers many times at Harrah’s after Bucky Heard joined Medley in the act.
Fassel was up front at Heard’s show at IAC on April 14, when Heard was joined by guitarist John Wedemeyer and keyboardist Joey Melotti. Heard introduced Fassel from the audience, to great reception. Afterward, in a conversation with yours truly and IAC manager Benny Spano, Fassel joked, “Guys, I didn’t get the memo about the suits! I’m dressed like a coach!”
Sweet guy. Heard tells a story about boarding the same flight as Fassel. The captain recognized the famous coach and said hello. Fassel said that Heard was also on the flight, and encouraged the captain to introduce Heard. He did, and when the flight reached cruising altitude, he summoned Heard to sing “Unchained Melody” over the intercom.
“I sang it at the top of my lungs,” said Heard, who is back with Wedemeyer at IAC at 6:30 p.m. June 24. “Jim was the first one to stand and give me a standing ovation. That’s who Jim Fassel was, a true gentleman and a friend.”
Cool Hang(s) Alert
Staying with IAC, former “America’s Got Talent” champ Michael Grimm is in the showroom Wednesday. Talented, new-t0-Vegas vocalist Chris Ruggiero is in Thursday. Zowie Bowie’s Father’s Day extravaganza is Sunday. Dinner for all shows is at 6:30 p.m., with live entertainment commencing at 8 p.m. The dinner-show package is $65 (by my calculation, this is about a $127 value). The IAC Showroom helped keep us entertained through COVID, and is thriving after. Hit IACVegas.com for details.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.