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August 27, 2008 - Vegas Happenings Celebrates Launch with Party at Sushi Samba at The Palazzo
Jeff McBride’s “Magic At the Edge” Opens at Palace Station
Renowned Chef Josette (Josette Leblond) Opens Normandie Country Bakery

Judy Thorburn - Vegas HappeningsBy Judy Thorburn
Entertainment Reporter/Film Critic
Las Vegas Tribune
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer Celebrates Launch with Party at Sushi Samba at The Palazzo

If you are going to throw a party to celebrate the launch of a website titled  it seems only fitting to have it hosted by a couple of young rich and famous hotties who are known to spend some time partying it up in the entertainment capital of the world. That said, on Tuesday evening, August 19 socialite/fashion entrepreneur Nicky Hilton and Kourtney Kardasian of TV’s reality show The Kardashians, were the celebrity hosts for the coming out party at the SugarCane nightclub inside Sushi Samba at The Palazzo Resort Casino. But they weren’t the only celebs who were in the house in support of the easy to use travel site that specializes in Las Vegas and offers the best prices on hotels, nightclubs, tours and attractions, VIP specials and more. Among the invited guests and VIPs who shared in the evening’s festivities that featured delicious hors devours, an open bar, go go dancers, music spun by a live DJ, and exciting club atmosphere, were Miss U.S.A. 2007 Rachel Smith, Rashida Ali (Mohammed Ali’s daughter), female impersonator Frank Marino, and Jon Kelley, host of TV’s The Mole.

Nicky Hilton (center) with Sushi Samba owners Matthew and Tricia Johnson
Nicky Hilton (center) with Sushi Samba owners Matthew and Tricia Johnson
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Judy Thorburn with Courtney Mills of
Judy Thorburn with Courtney Mills of
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Nicky Hilton at Sushi Samba
Nicky Hilton at Sushi Samba
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Jon Kelley with Judy Thorburn
Jon Kelley with Judy Thorburn
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

 Jeff McBride’s “Magic At the Edge” Opens at Palace Station

Magician Jeff McBride is not presently the star of his own extravagant strip production nor has a showroom named after him, but that doesn’t lesson the fact that he is one of the best magicians in the world and a first class performer with his own masterful spin on the art of magic. It is a craft he has fined tuned over the years and that has brought him respect, recognition and acclaim from all over the world.

McBride was named Magician of the Year by the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, is the holder of three Guinness World Records, and was featured on TV shows such as the NBC special Champions of Magic, the Learning Channel’s Mystery of Magic and in a role written especially for him, as a guest star on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Most recently, McBride was one of the judges on the VH-1 reality series Celebracadabra. His vast resume also includes performing as headliner or opening act on the Las Vegas strip over the past two decades. Now, following a successful international tour, McBride brings his up close and personal show, “Magic At the Edge”, to the intimate 150 seat Sound Trax Showroom inside Palace Station.

Magician Jeff McBride
Magician Jeff McBride
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

As a big fan of magic, I must say that Jeff McBride delivers on every level. Fascinated by the multi cultural history of magic and the knowledge he has gathered as a world traveler and performer, McBride’s show dramatically incorporates so many wonderful elements: Japanese kabuki theatre, costumes, martial arts, dance, mime, music, slight of hand card tricks, the clever use of masks and fans, as well as fun interactions with the audience and a young volunteer. Combined, they create an utterly different and mesmerizing experience.

Although always the center of attention McBride is joined on stage by two assistant’s; fellow magician Jordan Wright, who first appears as the warm up act performing a few tried and true, well done tricks, and dancer Melanie Kramer, because, well, every magician needs a curvy, female assistant, especially when an illusion requires a woman seemingly being pierced with not one, but several swords. Usually the lady is put inside a box, but McBride adds his own spin by having his lovely assistant stand upright on the stage with a sparkly black sheet strewn over her head and body. A rope is then tied around her neck and waist before the swords stab her body and come out the other side as the audience watches in awe.

Magician Jeff McBride
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

This is only an example of his unique twists on illusions that are woven throughout his show. One of my favorite illusions has McBride holding a copper bowl in each hand that consistently fill up with water, and adding to the mystery is watching his reactions to the musical bell-like sound of the invisible drops as they fall from up out of nowhere. Every time he drinks the contents, the bowls miraculously continue to fill up. Another segment involves the world of shadow and light that McBride says was inspired by the Burning Man Art Festival. Titled, “Illumination”, it involves small balls of light that McBride manipulates, plays with, eats, and also pops up on audience member’s heads and on the tips of ornamental Japanese fans.

But, why say any more when you need to discover McBride’s amazing display of magic for yourself. If you love magic, do not miss his show at Palace Station. The charismatic and talented magician is bound to surprise you with his distinctive style, delivery and content, a rarity that is hard to match. If there was only one thing I would change, that would be to make Jeff McBride’s fast paced, totally entertaining “Magic at the Edge” longer. Having such a “magical” time, I wanted more.

Magician Jeff McBride
Photo credit: Judy Thorburn

Magic at the Edge is scheduled for a three month engagement at Palace Station. Performances are nightly at 7:30 p.m. dark on Tuesdays. Tickets are $49. Call (702) 574-5300.

 Renowned Chef Josette (Josette Leblond) Opens Normandie Country Bakery

Josette Leblond aka Chef Josette, owner of Josette’s Bistro, recently opened her new Normandie Country Bakery at 3701 Sirius located between Desert Inn and Sahara east of Valley View, offering a large selection of breads, pastries and croissants to the retail public.

Normandie Country Bakery is staffed with trained bread bakers that make bread the old fashion way – baked fresh with no additives, and by hand, one at a time. There are also two veteran pastry chefs, who specialize in wedding cakes and cakes for all occasions.

The grand opening celebration took place the week of July 14 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in which the public was invited for a complimentary tasting of her French pastries, croissants, éclairs, napoleons and breads. Then on Thursday evening August 12, the media was invited to celebrate the opening, tour the bakery, and sample some of the bakery’s mouth watering baked goods along with champagne and wine. To contact the Normandie Country Bakery, call 364-8559.

 Additional recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

Saturday, August 16, one of the biggest party events of the year, A Midsummer Night's Dream, took place poolside at the Palms Casino Resort. The theme for the year was "A Masquerade in the King's Court" and while guests showed up dressed to impress in sexy Shakespearean outfits and masks, various bars throughout offered complimentary cocktails including the Billionaire Mafiatini on behalf of the sponsor and lifestyle brand, Billionaire Mafia which offers the latest hip apparel and accessories for men and women. The Billionaire Mafia team celebrated the evening at their own VIP table and cabana situated across the 'royal bridge' where guests crossed to enter the party.

Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel has unveiled a new version of their $1 Million Display that, over the last five decades, has brought millions of visitors for a chance to pose with $1 million. The new $1 Million Display holds exactly one million dollars and is structured in a pyramid design of acrylic glass boxes filled with cash denominations ranging from ones to one hundred dollar bills. Reintroduced with a modern look, the display is set up on a poker table, evoking the nostalgia of the Binion’s poker heritage and the days when Benny Binion would present stacks of cash to poker tournament winners. The $1 Million Display is located in the casino near the Club Binion’s Booth. Guests who join Club Binion’s receive $25 in slot play or table game non-negotiable chips for just $20 plus a free photo with the $1 million. The $1 Million Display is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Photo subjects must be 21 or older.

Tim Lager General Manager of Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel
with the New Million Dollar display


It is official! Guinness World Records has certified that Jean Philippe Pâtisserie’s glass-enclosed, floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain at Bellagio is the largest chocolate fountain in the world. The first-of-its-kind, freestanding attraction was a realized dream for award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury. Designed by Maury along with Norwood and Antonia Oliver Design Associates, Inc., the fountain took a year and a half in planning and design. The result is a genius work of kinetic sculpture and a daring feat of engineering. The fountain’s official record-breaking height is 26 feet, 3 and 3/16 inches and circulates nearly two tons of melted dark, milk and white chocolate at a rate of 120 quarts per minute.

VOX Wine Lounge recently announced the close of its Redemption Thursday season and the start of its new Thursday night event, Grapevine. Every Thursday beginning at 9 p.m., the restaurant turns into an acoustic lounge where musicians perform stripped-down versions of their tunes. In addition to live music, VOX is offering half-off its selection of more than 20 wines-by-the-glass.

Beginning August 25, from 8 – 10 p.m. miX in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay, presents Girls on Top hosted by the beautiful showgirls of FANTASY at the Luxor. Along with music and ambiance, the event will feature champagne bottle specials starting at just $60 that come complete with a tray of complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries. Call (702) 632-9500 for more information.

On Tuesday, August 26, R & B singer and fashion trend setter Macy Gray will make a special appearance at Christian Audigier The Nightclub at Treasure Island. For more information and table reservations please call (702) 466-9723 or visit

On Wednesday evening, August 27 fashion entrepreneur Nicky Hilton celebrates the success of her famed clothing lines Chick and Nicholai inside LAX Nightclub at Luxor.

Cafe Rio Mexican Grill is holding a fundraiser from Tuesday, Aug. 26 through Tuesday, Sept. 2 to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas. A ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration of their third restaurant located at 6575 N. Decatur (Decatur and I-215 at Shadow Mountain) will begin at 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 and will include a special check presentation to Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas for $2,500 from Cafe Rio Mexican Grill. Additionally all of the $1 proceeds garnered from the sales of every “Angielada” dish guests ordered on Friday August 15, will also be presented as well. At Cafe Rio Mexican Grill it is our goal to give back in the communities we serve,” said Tera Sunder of Cafe Rio Mexican Grill. “This organization does so much for the children in Southern Nevada. It is an honor to be able to help such a great organization meet their goals.”

Wednesday, August 27, The Beatles Revolution Lounge at the Mirage will host ROCKET industry starting at 10 p.m. featuring a Rowdy Clothing line and Arch Angel Jewelry fashion show. Grammy Award winning producer and songwriter Dallas Austin will showcase Rowdy—Austin’s new street couture menswear line—along with Arch Angel sterling silver accessories designed by Taylor Mosher and Jared Najjar—and co-owned by super-socialite Brody Jenner. Pink Enemy will perform after the fashion show. During the event, from 10 p.m. to midnight, complimentary Pravda Vodka will be offered to all guests.

Iliza Shlesinger, recent winner of “Last Comic Standing,” will perform in the Las Vegas Strip’s legendary stage spectacular Donn Arden’s Jubilee! starting Sunday, August 24 through Wednesday, August 27. Shlesinger became the first female comic to win NBC’s summer hit during the competition’s final episode of the sixth season which filmed live at Paris Las Vegas. Shlesinger’s $250,000 prize package includes an exclusive talent deal with NBC, a brand new Honda Pilot and the highly-anticipated starring appearance in Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas.

August 27, 28, 39 and 30, McFadden’s at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will be pulling out all the stops with cash prizes, live performances, shot and drink specials,, Games, Carrot Top and more.

During the Labor Day weekend, August 30 and 31, Maybelline New York will be in Las Vegas to present its Great Lash Mascara Bar. The two day event will take place at The Brooklyn Bridge at the New York-New York Hotel & Resort from 7 pm. – midnight each day and include eye makeovers and mascara touchups by premier makeup artist Chuck Hezekiah, giveaways of t-shirts and thousands of Great Lash Mascara and Maybelline New York Slot machine beauty prizes.

On Saturday, August 30, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Club inside The Cannery Casino & Hotel says goodbye to summer with the End of Summer Bash featuring musical acts and loads of food, drinks and fun. The musical line-up includes Gary U.S. Bonds, Booker T of Booker T and the MG’s, Chris Montez and Bryan Highland. Tickets to the End of Summer Bash are free and are available to the public at the Cannery Casino & Hotel’s ticket sales counter located at the front desk.

Paul Rodriguez, referred to as the “Richard Pryor and George Carlin of original comedy” within the Hispanic community, will perform with the “Latin Kings of Comedy” inside the Treasure Island Theatre for a one night engagement, September 12 at 9 p.m. Tickets are priced at $60 and $45 plus tax and handling fees.

Throughout September, Las Vegas locals and visiting tourists age 21 and older are invited to Mandalay Bay Beach to enjoy a free movie while floating in Mandalay Bay’s wave pool, lounging beachside on real sand or playing volleyball and ping pong. The movie schedule is as follows: Friday, Sept. 5 – Old School; Friday, Sept. 12 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Friday, Sept. 19 – Pulp Fiction; Friday, Sept. 26 – American Pie. Gates open at 8 p.m. Showtime is 9 p.m. All the movies are rated R for adult material.

Country music star David Allan Coe is scheduled to perform at The Club inside Cannery Casino & Hotel Friday, September 5. Tickets start at $14.95 plus tax and fees and go on sale Friday, July 4 at the Cannery Casino & Hotel’s ticket sales counter located at the front desk. Tickets will also be available for purchase by calling (702) 617-5585 or (866) 287-4643 (toll free), or by visiting

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino executives recently announced that the legendary downtown property has signed an agreement with the producers of NBC’s Poker After Dark to host the 2009 season of the popular television series. The first 60 episodes of the nightly hour-long show, now hosted by popular model Leeann Tweeden, will be filmed in the property’s newest events center, The Grand, Oct. 26 through Nov. 5.

 Celebrity Sightings:

Saturday night August 16, some of professional sports' top athletes including hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, with his wife and kids, as well as Los Angeles Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar and his family were spotted dining at FIX Restaurant & Bar inside the Bellagio.

Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, actor Danny Glover was spotted enjoying dinner at Strip House inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

The next evening supermodel and actress Elle MacPherson visited with the cast of Stomp Out Loud at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Elle MacPherson with cast of Stomp Out Loud
Elle MacPherson with cast of Stomp Out Loud

I will be back next week with more of what’s “happening” in and around Las Vegas.




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