I LOVE LAS VEGAS! Over the course of a full lifetime, I’ve been to Sin City over 3 dozen times and every visit gives me renewed energy from the burning neon of The Strip. Here’s my many sordid and fabulous travel adventures to Las Vegas for you to read and enjoy!
As we reach the finale of January, Mother Nature nails Atlanta with Highway Snowpocalypse 2014 leaving stranded motorists in cars for hours upon hours sitting on icy impassible freeways. And since some departed their cars and began to walk to rescue, deserted cars now scatter the roads for messy clean-up. As winter provides the frigid temperatures creating chilly cold throughout the north and southeast, we lucky ones in California are hanging in with typically warm days. Today was cooler in the Valley but we’re in good shape compared to most.
When the new year comes around many things happen. I turn another year better and am reminded of childhood birthdays past when I would receive one gift for both Christmas and Birthday which completely royally sucked. I’ve told (and loving telling) the story about being the third baby born in 1968 in Nashville, TN. They forced labor on a woman who won the prizes for birthing the first of the year and at eighteen I graduated high school with her son. Music City U.S.A. is a small, small world.
I was hoping to take a hot minute or two off from it all upon my return from our Sin City Christmas but since everyone has chimed in about Britney Spears’ opening night of her 100-show residency at Planet Hollywood, it’s my turn. Granted my seat wasn’t as close as say Miley Cyrus’ 50-yard-line worshiping center of Britney’s universe but I could see just fine. That’s considering I was on my feet 95% of the show. Sorry for the ones behind me watching me shake my ass, wave my fists and film a majority of the show who were not joining in. It’s a concert performance. GET UP!
Unless you live under a rock then you are keenly aware that our Pop Princess Britney Spears is about to set up shop and begin residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas beginning December 12 and continuing for two years with approximately 50+ shows of greatest hits and material from her upcoming album including #1 track Work Bitch and guess who has a ticket for opening night?! Me, that’s who!
I recently received the press release I had been waiting desperately for. Last holiday season we found ourselves enjoying the Ice Rink at the Boulevard Pool above the Las Vegas Strip at The Cosmopolitan for my birthday with our girlfriend Amber, a showgirl from the Luxor show of bombshell beauties Fantasy. The weather was stunningly crisp and just perfect for exciting rounds of skating across the iced-over pool underneath the 2995-room mega resort that we have called home the last 4 times we’ve descended on Sin City. And we’ve just now booked our next holiday excursion for Xmas because as I swear there’s no place like The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas anywhere. And here’s why…
Thanks to my good friends at All Starr Management I was able to catch up and interview RuPaul’s Drag Race breakout star and Las Vegas celebrity headliner Coco Montrese for a few personal thoughts on her new level of superstardom, what filming reality television is really like and maybe a bit more insight about the brouhaha between her and fellow contender Alyssa Edwards. I’ve interviewed many of the most popular girls from the RDR here at iamstevenmichael.com and am grateful for each one for their time and trust in what I’m doing.
I know Coco on a personal level even though distance and scheduling is often not our friend. We’ve been to see her in Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas at The Quad Resort and Casino twice and had planned on connecting during Christmas but the weather was too chilly for a delicate showgirl like Coco. We quickly forgave and catch up via text every so often. I’m thrilled to see her on Logo TV and know this is just a hint of great things to come for Ms. Montrese! Look for her coming soon to a city near you for her amazing impersonations and lip-sync realness! For now, I present the diva of Las Vegas turned hot reality star Coco Montrese.
Steven Michael – Coco, this conversation has been a long time coming, my love. Let’s start our engines… I know you’re busting a move between Las Vegas, appearing as a Season 5 Doll on RuPaul’s Drag Race in various cities and we hope to find out where and what else. When you’re able, how do you relax and describe the moment.
Coco Montrese - “Sometimes home with my puppies and my husband just laying on the couch watching Netflix. (laughs) Or out with my friends at a movie or bowling, hitting the great lounges at the hotels on The Strip. I’m not really in clubs much because I work in them so I don’t visit them often when I’m off work.”
I always ask this but each response is different. What’s the biggest misconception about filming reality TV?
“That it’s scripted. I can truly say it’s not scripted. It’s real, in this case of RDR for sure.”
What did you find yourself doing in between filming? I understand you’re considerably sequestered alone away from life. How lonely did you become, if at all?
“Very lonely! You spend a lot of time alone and you have a lot of time to think about life and I think that makes your emotions heighten.”
I bet emotions do run high. Type-A personalities thrown together then separated to sort it all out alone. The back together. We are routing for a few of you Ladykins this season on RDR5. Who were you genuinely excited to see when you walked in?
“Roxxxy Andrews. We’ve been friends for years and had not seen each other in ages!”
Roxxxy is doing very well! Are you happy with how you’ve been portrayed on television? Girl, you are in your eyes!
“Yes!!! I am very happy so far. It’s me and I’m real. Some people aren’t going to like someone who is real and faces issues head on. I live my life by its motto, ‘Don’t do anything to someone you don’t want done to yourself.’ I have no problem with letting someone know if I have an issue with them. I will tell them before I go tell someone else about them. I just like to keep it honest and upfront.”
Girl, trust. Would love to get into the “Coco-Alyssa Brouhaha” but with it being earlier on in the season I assume you can’t allow much due to confidentiality clauses. But… Girl, tell us the Tea. Well, pour what you can.
“You’ll have to watch that all unfold on the show!”
And many of us caught that last episode! Girl, emotions. Can you share your experience becoming Miss Gay America? Had you entered a number of times paying dues beforehand or in other systems? And what advice could you give to queens wanting to become Miss Gay America?
“I entered Miss Gay America three times in a row before I was crowned. My advice to anyone who wants to become Miss Gay America is to make sure you know what it requires and be willing to complete those task given. It’s a great responsibility and just because you are a great competitor and can win the real question is, can you reign? To win feels so good but to reign successful is how you leave your mark on the pageant industry and the world.”
I love it! The question “Can you reign?” can be interpreted many ways. I appreciate that. It’s no secret that I worship Las Vegas. If we weren’t here in Palm Springs, we’d be there. Do you love truly Sin City and does it ever become too much? It’s such a late night scene there and there are always crowds! Can it be a tough environment to stay focused and on track?
“I absolutely love LAS VEGAS! I wish I had moved here much sooner but this worked out perfect in my career at this time. I love the night life here and the day life it’s all so exciting. There’s so many people from all over the world that you just can’t get enough of this town.”
What’s happening at the new Quad Resort and Casino, former home to Imperial Palace? Is it chaos with construction and are you getting a new showroom? I loved Imperial Palace as a child. The awe of the Oriental flair. Of course this was during the days of the fabulous Dunes, Caesar’s Palace blue illumination and you could walk from the corner of MGM Grand now Bally’s straight across the street to Caesar’s moving walkway. Pre-Mirage decade of grand facade.
“The Quad Resort is taking shape right before our very eyes and it is so cool to watch it happen. DIVAS is in the same showroom which is also going through many changes for the good and the show is going stronger than ever while performing to sold out audiences and presenting new characters nightly. You never know what celebrities you’re going to see at DIVAS on and off stage!”
Yes! Last trip we were there Manila Luzon almost ran me over coming out of the bathroom. It threw me because it was actually the men’s room. What is the biggest misconception about Frank Marino? And about being a showgirl on The Strip?
“Many don’t know that Frank Marino is a wonderful man to work for with a lot of history on the Las Vegas Strip celebrating 28 years on The Strip. Many don’t know that he is a down to earth person with just as many jokes backstage as he does on stage. Biggest misconception about being a showgirl on The Strip is that you are always a DIVA. I love my sweatpants, my baseball cap, the basketball court and gym. It’s not always feathers and boas and jewels!” (giggles)
Where on The Strip do you find yourself spending time off? Any secret hotspots or fabulous hangouts we should know about?
“The Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar, Grand Lux Palazzo and of course the Sugar Factory at Paris. My favorite spots! They know me by name at these establishments.”
Well, obviously Coco. You are a DIVA! We worship The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan. Missed ice skating there with you there at the resort last trip during Christmas. Do you have any advice to entertainers who want to submit their audition tape to RuPaul’s Drag Race? What did you do on your tape that caught the casting agents’ eyes?
“All I can say is be yourself. If you are trying to fit a mold of what someone else thinks you should be then you shouldn’t send in an audition tape. They are looking for YOU and if you can be just you then you got to find you first.”
Wisdom, gal. When are you the most comfortable, on stage in full drag under the spotlight with worshipers a’ plenty or out of gig around people who aren’t really affected by your superstardom?
“I’m kind of comfortable in both. I love life on stage and would probably die if I had to go without it. But I also enjoy my friends who don’t really even care to know the celebrity side of my life.”
I’ve tasted moments of the spotlight myself and continue to chase it in various capacities. I know where you come from. Describe the feeling when you see that Joel McHale has you featured on The Soup and strangers upload viral videos based on your time and performances on RuPaul’s Drag Race? It must be completely surreal…
“It was really weird, because I watch his show all the time and then to see yourself on it was one of those ‘fall out of your chair moments.’ Definitely created a smile from one end to the other for sure.”
How do you deal with the haters and have you come across many from being on the show? Always remember my love, “If there were no haters, there would be no lovers.”
“It’s national television and everyone isn’t gonna like you. So you’ll have haters and that’s totally OK. If you say my name anything you say after it is OK with me. You thought enough of me to say my name and that’s all I need in this wonderful world of social media!”
And finally, anything you want to say to your fans? Your precious “Marsh-Mellows.”
“Never give up on your dreams and know it’s OK to dream but it’s even better to work at making those dreams come true!”
I’m playing catch up and getting around to blogging about spending Christmas at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. It was spectacular. We arrived to a very busy Valet on Sunday the 23rd and got checked in rather quickly. We’ve always been welcomed in VIP but the lines were so swift we enjoyed the leisure of the open lobby and the people-watching Sin City always promises. After a fabulous upgrade, we arrived to our incredible suite facing the Bellagio Fountains and felt complete bliss. We were home.
I called down to the Bell Desk and asked for our bags while Jacques opened up the curtains and sliding doors. Man, I love this place. Deciding to wing it for dinner until we arrived, Jacques and I walked the resort and found our dinner plans for the weekend before having a glass of wine at the Chandelier Bar. Later that evening we had made plans to see my stunning girlfriend Amber in Fantasy at Luxor. She was fierce. Girl danced twirling circles around that grand stage. Lead singer Lorena Peril has quite the voice and carried the show like a true professional. We were so happy we attended. Afterwards we found ourselves at the neon masterpiece of Peppermill for a spot of late-night grub before turning in. Love the lights of The Strip in my distant view as I slide into slumber.
Monday we woke and hit it down towards Wynn/Encore and the Fashion Mall for a spot of shopping. We always stop at the General Store near the Sahara for souvenir buying. I got mom and myself some very fun stuff! Back at the resort we enjoyed our annual lunch at China Poblano. Taste Bud Explosion, down. We wanted to have a moment in the room with some of the showgirls and champagne because there was a delicious bottle delivered to the suite for birthday which was very generous. However, no one wanted to drink before their show so with the cool weather only Amber came over for a round of ice skating at the Ice Rink at BLVD Social Club. Translation: The swimming pool iced over for fun and frolic under the cold night’s air above the radiation of the neon bulbs of The Strip. We had a blast and it meant a lot to me that she came over and spent time with us.
Christmas Eve we had dinner at Milos inside The Cosmopolitan and it was culinary brilliance. I love seeing Jacques enjoying dinner that he finds really good. My man knows food and I’m lucky because he does. After dinner we walked The Strip before the chilly evening wind called us inside the casino for Wheel of Fortune slot machine realness. I won my money back and that was fine. The warm bed was calling my name even more than the sounds of the dropping coins.
We love Las Vegas and ALWAYS enjoy ourselves. The Cosmopolitan is the ONLY place we stay. I can’t wait to go back. #777
From my balcony view at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, I see The Strip beginning its new day of carrying hope-chasers and thrill-seekers to their next destination, translation: CASINO. As I type this quick blast of thought, I see early morning neon still burning down way at Treasure Island TI, the Bellagio Fountains have yet to begin their parade of shows and I realize I could honestly sit and look at The Strip for hours. A twinkle of chrome catches my eye or a hotel window from neighboring resorts calls my view while a low rumble of sound creates the soundtrack accented with a speeding taxi horn or the boots and hollers of party girls in heels or sexy studs out with their bros. There’s a definite winter chill in the air. Last evening I was able to wear this fabulous black velvet jacket and leather pants down to Luxor to see my dear sister Amber tear up the floor in the choreography-heavy Fantasy. Those girls are fierce and lead lady Lorena Peril has the pipes to sing many into the ground. We had a great evening ending at Peppermill for some quick late night grub then back into our warm bed while seeing The Strip wind down its day once again. A text came in from Amber saying she was heading this was to hit Marquee. It was 2 a.m. The city never sleeps… But we needed to. Off for a day of shopping, ice skating and a hot toddy or two. Mary Christmas.
And BIG THANKS to Renata in PR & The Cosmopolitan for the Birthday Champagne and hospitality. Always Fierce. X
The Husband and I always try to do something fabulous for the holidays. This year is no exception. Hello, Sin City! To know that Las Vegas is the place would be a surefire winning thought. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the ONLY place we find ourselves these days when traveling to The Strip. They always treat us very well and we continually have one fierce experience each and every time we arrive. We love that damn place!
We’re very excited about spinning around the Ice Rink at Blvd Social Club. I love ice skating. And above The Strip – PLEASE! I was wondering how will that work. I bet there will be platforms under the water and ice on top, or maybe even complete ice in the pool water. Looking forward to finding out! Our stunning showgirl girlfriend Amber from Fantasy at Luxor is meeting us on Christmas Eve for s’mores and hot toddies over the neon wave of The Strip with show friends while Coco Montrese from Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas will be bringing her husband. Iconic holiday classic White Christmas will be playing on the large digital marquee above our heads. How brilliant?! A time to make great memories.
I see that the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be there on New Years Eve. They are quite the iconic rock band. We love their music. Wish we could be there to see them since my birthday is the First of January. Nonetheless, Christmas at The Cosmo… Life doesn’t get much sweeter! Looking forward to seeing just how the resort will be decorated to the nines for the holidays. It seems booking just the right performer on NYE is crucial to a successful night. It’s quite the business there in Las Vegas. I see that being the trend. Last year we arrived on the First and the billboards paved the highways into Las Vegas exciting visitors and locals alike of New Year’s Eve celebrity headliners. No doubt it’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ timelessness that makes them such a great fit at The Cosmopolitan.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is such an original. Any fan of my blog or my magazine columns know that it’s THE place I stay over all others. There’s nothing that compares to it. There are other amazing resorts on The Strip and we’ve stayed at them all. But when you slide the balcony doors open to feel the warm radiation that all the neon love provides or have that view of the Bellagio fountain show exploding in front of your very eyes, there’s no place I’d rather be in the world.
I have to admit that after our initial visit to the resort when I covered it for the magazine and blog for the very first time, I’ve been obsessed with everything The Cosmopolitan is about. The staff treated us so well and with such respect that they’ve created a fan for life. The VIP treatment was impeccable and was like nothing I’d experienced before. I was overwhelmed and didn’t want to leave. We NEVER do. From culinary deliciousness of Scarpetta to the hidden gem pizza place on the 3rd floor, The Cosmopolitan provides that pure adult playground atmosphere with class and trendy refinement. I always thank them for the never-ending attention and generous courtesy always provided for Jacques and I.
When it comes to hot and scorching advert campaigns, few do it like Mandalay Bay Resort Casino in Las Vegas. I LOVE VEGAS! (There I said it!) Last time we took the monorail over and couldn’t help but notice the suggestive photo murals draping the elevators of 2 gorgeous women on one side inside a jacuzzi and 2 equally handsome men on the other. Makes you wonder who is in charge of this marketing and who they are catering to. Nonetheless they know what they’re doing. It is Sin City! I’m certain that you’ve seen the Bathhouse pictorial Mandalay Bay used a few years ago of the the younger Asian twink shooing his smooth glutes while daddy bear leaned in the forefront. Sexy Back, for reals!
If I saw the 5 stunners above walking towards me looking like they look I’d fall into the marble their delicious flip-flopped feet are walking across. It’s hard to decide what order I’d “introduce” myself to first. Ah, 5, 3, 2, 1, 4… But who’s counting? This picture is too damn hot! I wonder where they’re coming from. Visit Mandalay Bay Las Vegas during your next trip to Las Vegas!
THIS IS THE PLACE!
Find out what everyone is talking!
Now where in the world would people get the idea that this place is cruisy and rumored to be a considerably gay clientele? Not sure, but this is not only subjective but suggestive. I’m loving it! I believe it’s the advert that will never die.
Next visit to Sin City schedule and plan a relaxing trip to the Bathhouse at The Hotel in Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. You let me know how good of a time you have. Send me a postcard!
And remember, what happens in Vegas could end up here. So tell me EVERYTHING! I’ll be waiting…
I consider myself a true connoisseur of everything fierce happening in Gay Pop Culture News and LGBT Trends. Living in Palm Springs provides me generous exposure to what's happening in Hollywood and L.A. through trusted industry insiders. My opinions form here through my published works.
During travel adventures to Las Vegas and beyond I develop stories about what trends are hot and what celebrities are not in Entertainment, Travel, Fashion, Gay Dance Music and Reality TV.