Las Vegas entertainers share stories about their new normal
While they’re usually up on the stage entertaining both visitors and locals alike, Las Vegas entertainers are now at home and hunkering down during the quarantine. Until they can get back to the shows that are a part of this city’s lifeblood, we’ve checked in with some of the entertainers. What’s their new norm? What’s it like not taking the stage every week? What are some of their hobbies and interests they’re indulging in while sheltering in place? Many responded, and many have offered words of encouragement, advice, and even some funny anecdotes back to their fans, hoping to bring a smile or a laugh while we all get through these uncertain times.
The Gazillionaire (Absinthe at Caesars Palace)
“I am currently anti-socializing myself from people, especially Wanda Widdles, in my billion-dollar doomsday mansion deep below the Absinthe Electric Oak. Until the show resumes, I am laying low (literally, it’s a subterranean bunker) and drinking my way through Napoleon’s 200-year-old port cask that I bought off Antiques Roadshow.
“I’ve been catching up on The Circle on Netflix. They were ahead of their time with that show. If you haven’t already, I suggest you head to your own bunkers and do the same. See you on the surface in a little while.”
Silvia Silvia (WOW—The Vegas Spectacular at Rio)
“We are taking good care of ourselves by staying at home, keeping a regular exercise routine and staying in touch daily with the rest of the family worldwide.
“It's very sad because I love my job, and the stage is where I feel the most alive. Also, my act always gives me such an adrenaline rush, which now I'm missing very much.
“I've always loved sewing. In fact, the majority of the costumes, dresses, capes, jackets, boots and shoes I use on stage I've made myself. So these days I'm also making new costumes as well as repairing some older ones.
“To everybody I just want to say that: United we are stronger than this virus, and that together we will overcome it. Please keep safe, stay at home the most you can so that we don't help spread the disease, and never lose faith or hope because life will come back to normal soon. God bless us all!”
Mat Franco (Magic Reinvented Nightly at The Linq Hotel)
“Isolation has become our new norm, but for the greater good. I’m thankful it’s allowed me more time with loved ones, and time and space to embrace creativity. While performing in the traditional manner isn’t possible right now, I’ve taken my magic online, free of charge. I’ve been live-streaming new shows weekly on Facebook in an effort to bring joy and human connection to all who need it. It’s been a healthy way to stay close with friends and fans during this difficult time.”
Ryan Worley (Chippendales the Show at Rio)
“My new norm is a lot different since the quarantine. I’m a very schedule-oriented person and lazy isn’t in my vocabulary. So it’s been important for me to establish a new routine and be productive. I try to wake up relatively early still and after breakfast is when I train. I usually go to a park to train but I make sure I’m away from other people. It’s important to get fresh air and sunlight to help fight depression. After my workout I’ve been spending time learning something new.
“It’s a little weird not performing every night. I heard ‘Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy’ on the radio today, which is a song in our show, and I immediately started doing the choreography to make sure I still got it.
“I think it’s important to spend this time productively. Time is a valuable asset and that’s what we have right now, so it is so important that we spend this time learning something new. I’ve been working on a new online side business and trying to grow that. Learning about website design and marketing/advertising is very fascinating to me.
“My advice is to stay positive and help others in any way we can. Donate our time or other resources to those that need it more. We will get through this and come back stronger than ever. We know we are capable of this. We saw how amazing our community is after the Vegas shooting. We are Vegas Strong.”
LaShonda Reese and Savannah Cross (The Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio)
The Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio is a seamless blend of modern touches with a classic supper club experience. In addition to a great meal, patrons get to enjoy a combination of a choreographed live, three-piece band, singers and dancers popping up onstage and throughout the dining room at various times throughout the evening. And while the Mayfair Supper Club is on hiatus, performers LaShonda Reese and Savannah Cross wanted to give everyone at home some comfort in a very difficult time.
Jen Kramer (The Magic of Jen Kramer at Westgate Las Vegas)
"I can't wait to get back to the stage with my show at Westgate, and in the meantime, I'm focusing on making the most of the extra time at home by staying productive, creating and rehearsing new magic.
“I was honored to help kick off Greenspun Media Group's Vegas at Home video series, sharing magic that centered around activities we can all do at home. Our Las Vegas community is so strong, and we will get through this difficult and surreal time together. Stay safe and healthy, everybody!”
CJ Jefferson (Soul of Motown at Westgate Las Vegas)
“These times are like we are in a sci-fi movie. My new norm is staying home. I’m used to traveling and commuting from New York to Vegas and other cities that I have performances.
“Not being able to hit the stage every week is still a little unreal—but it also has become the new normal for me. I spend my time recording and writing new songs, learning new things and engineering tricks in my studio here in New York.
“My advice to everyone, even in this social distancing, is to love your family and friends like you’ve never done before and to use this time to learn new things and hobbies. Be safe and stay safe!”
Melissa James (Extravaganza--The Vegas Spectacular at Bally's)
"As performing artists it is not unlikely that you go through periods of unemployment in your life between contracts where you have to (what we call in the business) "hustle." This is when you take the time to work out, take dance classes, singing lessons, train your acrobatic/aerial skills, work on your self-promotion material. We know how to survive in these situations and get by because it is a reality in this industry. So for me, this is a time about self-improvement both as an artist and as a person. I start my days sitting in the glorious Vegas sunshine with a cup of tea and writing my daily gratitude, followed by a yoga practice. I spend the rest of my days in the small studio in my home working on my lollipop lyra (freestanding aerial apparatus), my dance pole or choreographing and conditioning to keep up my strength and creativity. I have set myself a very ambitious set of goals to achieve during this time not knowing exactly how long we will be in this situation, but it sets up a strong ambition and determination to my training sessions each day.
"I am also grateful for this precious time to spend with my fiancé and tackle some household chores together that we have been putting off due to our usually busy schedules. He is an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil, so our similar situations have developed parallel goals that we can support each other to achieve during this time together.
"To be honest, I miss the stage every day I am not on it. I actually took several months break since leaving my last show in October, as I needed the time for training and act creation. Now that I have just graced the stage after such a long hiatus, it has been hard to let go of it again. But, it has only given me much more drive and determination to use this time to come out the other side as an even better artist, so when my return to the stage has arrived, I will only have so much more to offer my audience.
"Since I am so fortunate to have the ability to train on my ground-based apparatus (lollipop lyra and dance pole) in my home studio, I am developing new acts on them during this time, which I am truly enjoying dedicating the time to. I also have a few new choreographies I'm working on I'm really excited to share. When our first show closed down and I knew I had some time up my sleeve, I immediately bought myself a keyboard piano so I could start playing and singing again. This is something I have always done but rarely get the time to dedicate to. So it has been wonderful to touch base with my musical self again!
"I know this is a stressful time for the entire population right now. But what we mustn't forget is 'Why are we taking these measures?' It is for the health and safety of us all. So if I have to take a break from the stage, a halt in income, a pause from life to save a life … then it is truly worth it. My advice would be, don't resist the situation, because there is nothing you can do to change it, but keep yourself healthy. So use this rare opportunity to be with those you love, do the things you love, knock off that chores list you never have time to get to do, whatever makes you happy! Most importantly, be grateful for everything you do have, because if this has taught us anything, it's that you never know when the things you love can be taken away from you. So we must enjoy each moment with our utmost gratitude and remember one thing is certain: Vegas will be back and stronger than ever. And I will be ready."
Nicholas Charles (Potted Potter, the Harry Potter parody at Bally's)
"I've been trying to keep a routine, which has proven difficult. It's been hard not being out and about because I'm usually at home. Aside from acting I've been writing, so it's given me some time to work on projects which have been on the back burner I cannot wait to see the caliber of what gets produced after this is all over, as I'm sure some amazing plays and films are being written as we speak. I've been exploring some of Vegas' hikes and trails and finally got up to Mount Charleston. And most importantly hosting virtual happy hour bingo games with friends, which I will continue to do when this is all over regardless of it we're allowed out or not!
"It's devastating (to not take the stage every week), because it's such a fun job! First off, I need to go back to the gym. I was burning a bajillion calories doing the show and was able to be a little less careful about what I was eating and drinking because I was getting a 70-minute cardio workout nine times a week. I would hit 15 different character changes in a minute-and-a-half at one point in the show, so you can imagine the sweat and stamina I had built up. I need to keep fit; otherwise it's going to be tough to dive straight back into my track.
"The one silver lining for me is the chance to revisit this part after some time away. I'd often finish a show and then have ideas of things I wish I'd tried differently or lines I wishes I'd delivered in a different way. With a show like Potted Potter, it's always evolving and adapting, so it's going to be fun to come back and try some new things. I'm also going to force myself to run my lines at least once a week until we get back on stage.
"I'm a very keen cook, so I've been spending a ton of time in the kitchen. When you're on a show schedule you're eating at such strange times because you're on stage when most people are usually having dinner. I wouldn't normally have the energy after a show to cook something time-consuming, I'd generally be grabbing something after the show or a late-night bite at a restaurant, so it's been amazing to have some nice home-cooked meals. My girlfriend and I nearly bought Target out of board games and we've recently discovered Monopoly Deal, which has been life-changing.
"To my fellow Las Vegans: Stay home, stay safe and we'll get through this together. I haven't been in Las Vegas that long, but I've fallen in love with the city and it already feels like a home away from home. I can't wait to see the lights turn back on."
Brandon Godfrey (Soul of Motown at Westgate Las Vegas)
“The biggest change has been finding new ways to work out since I can't go to the gym like normal. So it's home workouts in the morning. If I eat another egg for breakfast I may start birthing chickens. I've always watched HGTV, but I've seen more episodes of Love It or List It than I've ever seen. Trying not to snack has been a daily struggle. I try to make sure I sing something daily to keep my voice awake and ready for the big day that we are on stage again.
“It’s like torture not performing onstage every week. Since a kid all I've known is performing. (It) feels like a piece of my heart has been ripped out. I look at old performances of shows I've done just to get an inkling of the feeling of being onstage.
“I'm trying my hardest not to join the Tik Tok fad, but I'm itching, lol. I've taken a lot of interest in stocks since it's so cheap right now—invested in a few things.
“This too shall pass. If we don't know anything else about entertainment, we know that people need it. They need an escape. Work on your own craft, but also use this time to be compassionate to people who need you. The world needs love right now.”
Sean Stewart (Soul of Motown at Westgate Las Vegas)
“My new norm is staying inside, social distancing and using wisdom and finding ways to be creative outside of the stage, including songwriting.
“Now that I’m not taking the stage every week, it's a like a piece of me is missing!
“Although the gyms are closed I’m still quarantine-exercising physically, mentally and vocally.
“There's never been a hit we've not recovered from. We weren't built to stay down. We'll rise again stronger than before!”
Morris “Mo” Crosby (Soul of Motown at Westgate Las Vegas)
“My new norm is living in my hometown. And it definitely feels foreign to not take the stage every week. I’m missing it!
“Some of my hobbies I’m indulging in are sewing and making masks for the nurses in my family and their co-workers. And lots of walking.
“Words for my fellow Las Vegans: stay safe, wash your hands, stay positive and we'll all be back together soon!”
Tyce Nielsen and Mary Nielsen, Duo Transcend (Celestia at The STRAT)
“Now that shows have been postponed for a while our new morning protocol is as follows: We wake up each morning now and eat three cheeseburgers and three milkshakes each. Then we move on to seeing how many marshmallows we can fit in our mouths before our faces erupt into marshmallow volcanos! OK, OK, I’m just kidding, that’s only what we wish we could do every morning.
“Really we get up and spend the first hour or two playing with our 4-year-old son Jaxx. Then we will usually do a home workout that gets us warmed up for the day. We have been going on an afternoon hike in the Red Rock mountains every day, it so beautiful there. Evenings for us are just family time and any other computer/work stuff we are able to get done.
“It’s depressing not taking the stage every week. We love performing each night and were so sad to hear that it needs to be postponed. We absolutely love being able to perform at The STRAT and share our show with the world, but we also want everyone to be safe and we fully support postponing shows for the time that is needed. We are keeping our heads high and are very excited for the return of Celestia.
“Our family loves hiking! Mary and I both grew up in the mountains and have always loved being in nature. So we are social distancing in nature. Also we have been able to catch up on some of our favorite Netflix shows as well. Mary and I have always wanted to be fitness trainers—so we have been working on putting together an online fitness training program that we are excited about.
“This city has made it through really tough times in the past, we are a strong, passion-filled city and we will make it through this together. It’s important that at this time we think of those that are immune-comprised and our elderly, we love them and want them to be safe. Soon we will be able to do what Vegas does best—bring joy and entertainment to all those that visit our incredible city.”
Jennifer Romas (Sexxy: The Show at Westgate Las Vegas)
“My new ‘norm’? well let’s see, finding toilet paper! But seriously, I am really focused on keeping my body, mind and spirit healthy during this time. This isn’t normal for anyone, and I think it’s OK to feel a bit unsure and a bit lost in any expectations we have right now for ourselves and for the unknown. I do however think it’s most important to keep our lights shining brightly and try to be a positive force for all right now.
“Living alone I find myself going in circles a bit, to be honest. I am an anxious person, and that is what fuels me. I have not taken a break since Sexxy opened in 2015 or the last time I had surgery! I am used to being on the go 24/7 with deadlines, responsibilities, schedules, keeping businesses running and keeping in shape and performing nightly—so now I am not sure I know what I am supposed to be doing. I am trying to keep on a schedule with good balance: getting up early as usual, getting ready for day, doing morning meditation, reading, working out in whatever interesting ways I can find each day, dancing in my home studio, giving extra love to my fur babies (they love this time), food prepping healthy food so I keep my weight controlled. I am also working on some home projects: closets, cupboards and paperwork piles in the house that could use a little love. I’m checking in on my parents and spending some real quality family time, basically only leaving the house to visit them and run out for a few essentials. I am however taking advantage of the ‘downtime’ to try to heal and rest some injuries too.
“I am really honoring our STAYHOME4NV policy as much as possible. I myself have autoimmune issues and my parents have respiratory issues, so my main goal is to stay healthy so we can all beat this thing. I think we are all going to find a lot about ourselves during this time, maybe reevaluate and do some self-reflection on what's really important and how valuable the simple things in life really are!
“A little break every now and again is OK, which I am starting to come to terms with the older I get. But this was quite an unexpected hurdle in which our jobs and passion, in which most of us have worked and trained our whole lives, has taken a turn completely out of our control. I relate this best to an injury where you are forced to take a break—you need to recalculate things during this time. The stage and performing is a release for us all—our drug of choice, if you will; it's an addiction for me, I know! So not performing, no matter the reason, is the hardest part for any performer emotionally, mentally and physically. For dancers our bodies are our tool and for all of us performers it's an outlet for us to express ourselves. Although we are all working out, and trying to keep our chops up in our crafts at home, it is not quite the same. I do miss my team and cast members and our family at Westgate most of all. All the little smiles, hugs and jokes, the family and routine we’ve come so accustomed to, and of course performing for our live audiences.
“However, I do know we will all get through this. This is a short time in the grand scheme of life and we will rise. Music and dance heal the body, mind and spirit—it has helped us get through the best of times and also the most challenging. This is no different and we, as an entertainment community, will come out of this and rise together with compassion, love and strength, supporting each other all the way. The world is going to need entertainment to lift its soul and we will be ready.
“My hobbies—dance! I think just dancing and experiencing movement for no reason, no agenda, just ‘cuz it feels good to get whatever emotion is inside of me out. I am really trying to read more, mostly positive self-help books to keep my mind sharp and healthy and filled with positivity. I am taking advantage of the outdoors: bike riding, walking. (I’m doing) some home organizing as well and spending quality time with my parents. Still working on business and Sexxy The Show things for our return and hope to have our sexxystore.com shop live next week for your Sexxy stay-at-home quarantined life.
“If anything, this has taught us that we are one—the entire world and all the people in it no matter your race, color, religion, belief system, or economic status. Check on your friends and your loved ones and offer help to those in need whenever you can, however you can. We are all in this together. We will rise together. Life is 10 percent what happens and 90 percent how we handle it. So choose to be a part of the solution, not the problem. This is a challenging time for all, but seeing people come together is perhaps the greatest gift and I am so proud to call Las Vegas my home, and, even more proud of the amazing people within our community—a city of true heroes. We are Vegas Strong. Some days we might have to look a little harder, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is love and beauty all around us.
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning how to dance in the rain.”
Phil Burton (Human Nature at The Venetian)
“I thought I would be taking this opportunity to get a whole bunch of things done around the house, but instead I find I’m doing a lot more home schooling than I expected! Wow, who knew our kids did so much work? My heart (and gratitude) goes out to all the teachers—they are doing such a great job of keeping our kids occupied.
“This is the longest break we’ve had between shows for almost 12 years, so being totally honest there are some days where it’s actually really lovely, but this is of course tempered by the other days where you feel a little lost not having the routine of preparing for a show. The hardest of all though is not being able to physically interact with your workmates—that feeling of lost familiarity is a very difficult thing to come to terms with.
“I’ve got a good-sized jigsaw puzzle going right now! I’m doing the first one while looking at the picture on the box, but the next one is going to be hint-free. Wish me luck!
“Words, of encouragement—just hang in there, everyone. This city has gone through so many moments of difficulty, but has always come out the other side better than before. It’s no different now. At this moment we’re all in this struggle together, but we will also all be together to celebrate the amazing times that are coming just down the road.”
Boozy Skunkton (Atomic Saloon Show at The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian)
“Well, howdy! Since I had to temporarily close the saloon doors to customers, I’ve had to be real inventive to pass the time. It’s only been two weeks and I’ve already watched every old episode of Bonanza twice, and eaten all my quarantine snacks.
“So I’ve invented a little drinking game that y’all can play on your own at home. Watch Tiger King and drink a shot of whiskey every time you see a bullet-hole tattoo or Netflix asks, ‘Are you still watching?' Oh, and in case you’re worrying about my singing cowboy Blue Jackson—pay him no nevermind. He’s kissed so many stupid cows he's already got herd immunity.”
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