Eyes light up as cigar fans watch masters’ hands on a roll

As Edga Ramaz worked in front of them, Paul Shubert passionately talked to Knance Phelps about marrying, about finding a love naked, about strippers.

So goes the conversation when an esteemed master cigar roller shows her stuff in Las Vegas.

Shubert, who was puffing cigars with Phelps on Saturday, really got into discussing the best way of blending, or marrying, traits and characteristics between cigar tobaccos. He wasn’t bashful, either, about pontificating on how some cigars get packed into a box naked, or without cellophane wrappers.

And he wondered aloud how challenging it must be to live the life of strippers: cigar factory workers who strip leaves from the stems of tobacco plants.

For the 30 people on hand at the cigar rolling event at Hemingway’s Fine Cigars near Cheyenne and U.S. Highway 95, it quickly became apparent that the English language as they knew it was going up in smoke. They also learned that cigar smokers have a distinct culture of their own.

“Some of my customers keep their own bottles of cognac here so when they buy new a cigar they can dip it in it and taste the cognac while they’re smoking it,” said Shubert, Hemingway’s owner, who emphasized that the unlit end of the cigar is dipped in the cognac. “Cigar shops kind of take the place of the old barbershops. You can just relax and talk.”

But it was more than conversation that drew aficionados on Saturday.

To Coy Jett, a 32-year-old electrician, watching Ramaz roll cigars was akin to watching Babe Ruth take his cuts at the plate.

“I’m in awe,” said the man who took up cigar smoking because it mellows him out. “This is history in the making. Can you believe how she puts those leaves together? Look at those different kind of tobacco leaves. This is something that is done by hand, not by machine.”

Some observers were so in awe of the work of Ramaz, 30, that they put $10 bills in a tip basket. And many, like Jett, paid $10 or more for a cigar rolled by Ramaz.

Ramaz is admired for her skill at blending tobaccos and her ability to make three turns with the tobacco leaf that will become the cigar’s wrapper, without tearing it or leaving soft spots in the cigar.

When guests weren’t smoking, they were eating fruit or drinking cocktails.

Ramaz, who moved to Las Vegas last year with her husband — their Lovo cigar store sits at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard — has been rolling cigars since she was 2 years old.

“My family took me to their factory, and I learned how,” Ramaz said in halting English as she touched a damp tobacco leaf. Many of the cigars sold at her Las Vegas store are made at her family’s factory in Nicaragua; others are rolled by Ramaz.

Her skill and notoriety has led to a long list of celebrity clients, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Sylvester Stallone.

The Ramaz family — 4-year-old Kielly also rolls stogies — now splits its time between California and Nevada.

Shubert beamed as Ramaz deftly rolled a cigar from leaves grown in Nicaragua out of seeds from Cuba, home to tobacco so revered that cigar aficionados hold the tiny communist country in the same high regard as Christians hold Bethlehem.

Yet since 1961, Americans haven’t been able to buy Cuban cigars legally. That year, President John F. Kennedy signed a law prohibiting trade with Cuba in retaliation for Cuban nationalization of U.S. businesses.

“Someday this tragedy will be over,” said Shubert, his evident sadness magnified by the way he hung his head, which was covered by a white Panama hat. “But what is made from the Cuban seeds I believe is just as good. Mrs. Ramaz makes a great cigar because she rolls it so tight. It is so clean.”

Women on hand, all cigar smokers, were impressed particularly with the work of Ramaz.

“It seems like she makes something so difficult look so easy,” said Phelps, a 47-year-old hotel manager of the Gold Spike casino.

Jett’s wife, Kellie, said she took up smoking cigars after watching her husband smoke for 12 years.

“It’s just something we can do together,” she said. “It’s something we can talk about. I like the kind that taste like chocolate truffles.”

Phelps, 47, believes more women will start smoking cigars. “It was easy for me because my mother always smoked a pipe,” she said. “But I think more women will start because men find women smoking cigars sexy.”

See Hollywood Memorabilia for Free This Week
Looking for something free to do this week? Julien's Auctions viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. Hundreds of iconic movie and television items are on display, including designs and props from Star Wars, Marilyn Monroe's undergarments, costumes from "Superman III," "The Nutty Professor" (1963), "Roseanne" and more. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like