Tag Archives: Great Travel Tips

It’s Snowing at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Ice Rink Cosmopolitan Las VegasSleigh bells ring, are you listening? On The Strip, snow will be glistening. A beautiful sight, happiness at night. Ice skating in a winter wonderland.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, our home away from home when tearing through Sin City, will be turning its Boulevard Pool into a beautiful big sheet of ice to home Ice Rink starting today 11/21 through 01/04. To follow me here online is to also know that my husband Jacques and I head to Las Vegas every holiday season settling into a stunning suite at The Cosmopolitan. And this year is no exception. What happens in Vegas is usually spilled here so let’s get going!

THE STORY CONTINUES HERE…

It’s A Man’s World – Competing for Mr. Gay USofA

Steven MichaelIt’s been almost a week since we have all returned from Texas. Well, of course I’m speaking of my fellow contestants from the Mr. Gay USofA contest this past week in San Antonio. 24 amazing men, proud and strong, stood among their peers and gave it their all in categories of Interview, Talent and the wide wild world of Clubwear. I was among these hungry men coming to claim what was ours always giving it one hell of a shot in the process! In the end there were 23 winners and 1 Ultimate Grand Supreme. Here’s the entire tale…

THE STORY CONTINUES HERE…

CRANBERRY CLOUDS ACROSS MUSIC CITY

I’m sitting here in my room at the Radisson Airport overlooking a sky of clouds in hues of cranberry, charcoal and periwinkle contemplating the last night of my fabulous trip home to Nashville. I’ve had an amazing time seeing very good friends, eating good southern food and venturing to old haunts of days past. I wish I could have seen everyone I had wanted to but there will be other trips. Now it’s time to get back and focus on Mr. All American Gent 2013 with workouts, dance training and blinging the house down. Sondra Celli watch your back and glue gun, Gal!

Here in Nashville, after arriving on Friday afternoon, I’ve seen Aurora Sexton turn out some Fergie Ferg, Miss Fergalicious. I’ve been confused between Katy Perry and Sara Andrews trying to figure out which one was onstage at Play Saturday night. I braved shopping at Cool Springs Galleria with Mom and found myself picking out angel ornaments in a Christian Bookstore. Somehow the word “gay” slipped out of my mouth a few times. Blaspheme. I loved those stores as a teenager! I’ve worshiped a soulful woman of color over some soul food realness she provided me and my best friend Kristy at At The Table on 12 Ave. South. I found the final touches on my formal wear at Macy’s at a cute discount on “Friends and Family” day.

I Ki-Ki’d with a dear friend Fred Scott at Tribe with our legs crossed reliving days behind cocktails. It meant SO much he came out and made the true effort to see me. He used to whoop my wigs into an Ivana Trump for your nerves during my competitive drag days. Worship him. I enjoyed giggles of high-kicks past with my dance girls and teacher Mrs. Cathy from our company days over margaritas. Opryland Christmas lights twinkled above Mom and I as we ventured out for a nice evening drive. Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme battled it to their sugary death. But when the sign flashed Hot. Donughnuts. Now. and they sure did I tell you, the glazed delights pulled ahead. However, the still fresh munchkins in the box next to me are calling my name so let’s call it an even draw. I’ve made it to all my favorites so it’s been a win-win for my appetite.

My trips home are always great and I return to Palm Springs so vitalized and appreciative of what I’ve become and where I’ve been. It’s exactly what I needed before the contest to give me a chance to step back and see it all from a different perspective. I’ve had the chance to talk even more about what’s happening and it’s helpful hearing it aloud and described getting people’s reactions who are, for the most part, detached from the scene and circuit. BIG THANKS to Bobby who hooked an old friend up as always with my room. Indoor pool, weight room and onsite food. Can’t best it! Don’t let the Radisson “Airport” location scare anyone. I don’t hear one plane. I hear more at my Mom’s and the hotel is only 3 minutes from BNA.

My flight heads out tomorrow at 1:30 with a layover in Dallas just long enough to watch my downloaded rented movie Step Up 4: Revolution having a cocktail and fried mozzarella sticks at a Chili’s, Too. Maybe a spot of bird watching if the mood strikes me. After the cocktail, I’m sure it will!

Good Night and Safe Travels! And the final picture is of Nikki. It was only after dinner did we notice what she had done. I squealed with my camera in hand!

BEST BIRTHDAY GIFTS FOR GAY MEN

I’ve been sending birthday gifts to faraway friends lately since I can’t be there. Unfortunately time and distance separates us. Fortunately there’s trusty Amazon.com Gift Cards with E-mail Delivery to help me when I can’t arrive in person. When it comes to the best birthday gifts for gay men the ideas and lists run the gamut from leather to lace depending on exactly what man we’re speaking of. It’s all good. No Tea, No Shade. I love them all. Well, most.

Every man, gay or straight, needs a trendy and classy carrying case for their Apple MacBook Pro or Samsung Galaxy Tablet 2 for when they travel or simply hit the local coffeehouse. The smell of leather may attract one friend while a sturdy canvas style may suit others. Check out the look of this one… LOVE IT.

COMFORTABLE STRAP!

IDEAL FOR TRAVEL

There’s been a big brouhaha lately from the likes of Anderson Cooper on Kathy Griffin’s talk show Kathy and drag superstar Chad Michaels on Twitter about travelers wearing flip-flops on airplanes and airports.  I enjoy dressing very well for flights, too. But guess what, girls. That’s never going to change unless the airlines start charging fees to wear them. Plus, during the TSA ordeal at Security, less hassle is more ease and breeze. And also, what’s the difference between women in sandals or someone in flip-flops? Just saying. So why not give your man a new pair so if he’s going to get eyes his feet look good. And a gift certificate for a pedicure would be smart! This is a wicked pair of flip-flops for the sexy man in your world…

HAVAIANAS ROCK!

THESE ARE HOT!

I wear cotton boxers shorts underneath my trousers. Not that you needed to know that but it gives me room to grow on really hot days. <wink-wink> I’ve tried wearing jockey style and have before but always grab a loose pair of boxers or boxer briefs for an after-the-pool lounging or nap time apparel. Nothing says I care like giving a man a pair of new fresh underwear. Crisp white or a nice subtle print will be aces when deciding. Classic and clean… (Couldn’t help but show this picture!)

NEED I SAY MORE?

YOUR MAN WILL LOOK SEXY!

Since I live in the brutal climate of the desert of Palm Springs Oasis, my skin is something I try my best to keep looking good. Any man needs help with the diminishing of a few lines of experience on his face and DDF Glycolic 5% Exfoliating Wash works wonders! Trust me. I discovered this years ago and love a dab on my fingers to really smooth out imperfections. For my skin since I have many tattoos I use Lubriderm Lotion SPF 15 . Never leave home without it. And for the eyes, this gel is amazing…

THIS IS AMAZING

YOUR MAN’S LITTLE SECRET!

With rumors swirling of a new iPhone coming out in the fall your man may not need this but it is super helpful for those battery-eating apps. I have one and it really makes a difference. Especially when I travel or go the beach and am away from a power source. Check this out…

JUICE ME, BABY!

MOPHIE PACKS RULE

And finally, if you’ve never seen the Apple TV in action, you must! I’ve been curling up on the couch and scrolling through YouTube videos of drag pageants, music videos and even watching myself dancing on the big screen. With the availability of Netflix streaming through, Airplay on iTunes and more this is a special gift for that very special man you share life with. Plus, you can pick it up and take it into another room for endless enjoyment! We LOVE ours!

Happy Birthday to the MEN in our lives. They fulfill us, make us whole and we are better for loving them! Treat them the best way you know how! They deserve it! And buy yourself a little something along the way!

ALL AMERICAN GODDESS AT LARGE 2012 IS CROWNED! AND THE WINNER IS…

It was in the conservative and quiet city of Dayton last week where front-runner Whitney Paige from Texas ripped up the stage and tore it down with her Whitney Houston production including four fine dancers clearing the way for her to snatch the coveted punchbowl crown of All American Goddess at Large 2012. But that’s the finale. This is the story as seen from my eyes.

It was Thanksgiving, I believe, when I first was in contact with promoter Scott Gonyaw about judging for him. I reached out because I was interested and he responded gratefully. We decided to play it by ear with high hopes of making it happen. Fast forward to mid-February when he sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was still interested in judging. Of course I was. Just love waking up and finding fun invitations in my inbox. I’m always ready to judge a drag pageant and one of such a grand scale as a national with 29 (!!!!!!) contestants, how could I say no?! You’re right… I couldn’t.

I really didn’t know what to expect with AAG but since judging other systems I figured I’d be just great. I’m honest and fair. I try not to get too tossed by emotions or persuaded by reputation. I really don’t know many of the girls since competitive drag isn’t really thriving on the West Coast. I’m there to find the best candidate for the position of said title and with that comes responsibly to do so. Bottom line is that is you can’t sell me a preliminary to the system you’re running for then you need to go back and do some more homework. It’s my place to tell you to do so. That’s why I’m there and I take it seriously. But I have fun, too! And I sure did in Gayton, err, gay Dayton, Ohio.

I arrived on Thursday where Scott and cutie Justin picked me up at United’s baggage claim with bells on. I was excited to finally meet after a slew of texts and emails planning the reservations, etc. and so were they. We grabbed some food and pressed it to the Dayton Grand Hotel. I was already checked in and handed my keys on the way in which I thought was quite fierce. I unpacked and unwound for a bit, made some “I’m here” texts and phone calls and decided to walk the streets and get a lay of the land.

Sorry to say that downtown Dayton was quite dismal and closed early but once I figured that out, I maneuvered the days and nights away. Luckily Club Masqué is close for convenience so it made sense we were housed in the area. Once back in my room, I was fooling around on my Macbook with the free internet and doing some networking on various sites when I met a local who offered to show me the town. I thought Why Not? and we made plans for him to swing by and pick me up.

As soon as I opened the door to his SUV it was as if we had known each other for years. It was the oddest most wonderful thing to have that immediate connection. John drove me around and showed me the few sights Dayton has to offer. We stopped in for drinks at Side Bar in the Oregon District Neighborhood as he explained that he designed the restaurant and bar. It was truly fierce. The staff knew and respected him well and I was just having fun soaking it all in.

After a delicious cocktail we pranced down to a fun place called Smokin BBQ on the corner where two good ole boys provided some much-needed grub to two new Besties. After feeding our faces we headed back and John dropped me back off at my door. Just Kei-Kei’ing – No Ki-Ki’ing. I had happily and surprisingly made a new friend. And a great contact in Dayton! I found my way back to Side Bar for brunch on Sunday.  The chicken and waffles were TO DIE!

I turned in early later that night and woke up to start judging the next morning. Of course, when traveling I’m always thrown a bit off my balance and kilter without the making of comfortable surroundings (i.e. espresso machine, loving dogs, doting husband, familiar peace.) It comes with the territory and I’ve traveled for so many years that I’ve got this. I actually love it but still face slight anxiety when I’m away.

Justin and I had some breakfast next door to the hotel and began judging interviews around 2:30 with groups 1 and 2, as groups 3 and 4 would be taking the chair on Saturday. I was actually very relaxed the entire time I was in Dayton taking the moments away from everything I know to appreciate it more which I needed to do. The contestants came in one by one and while some faltered by not being prepared with concise and smart answers, others knocked we judges’ socks off.

When it comes to the category of Interview, queens, here’s what’s the Tea… Walk in, shake hands down the line, genuine eye-contact and name introductions, be asked to sit down, sit like a lady if in drag and a man in not. Posture is key. Answer the questions to the point and on point, be prepared for anything to be asked and know why you are there. You are there to sell the system and represent it, carrying on the grand legacy laid forth before your humble arrival.

Back to the show! I met some wonderful people, saw some amazing friends that I haven’t visited with in many years, and watched season professionals duke it out on stage while newcomers to the art of female impersonation showed passion and aspirations to be greater than they were, becoming part of something that was continually described as “a family” – the All American Goddess Pageantry System.

During the two evenings of preliminary onstage competition, the groups of contestants performed a Talent and presented themselves in Creative Costume and Evening Gown categories. It’s hard to go into many details without favoring one girl and not the other (I wanna be asked back! – TeeHee) but I will say that I was forever impressed with many and can’t wait to see others grow into their true capacity of superstardom. Contact Versage for DVDs of the pageant for your very own!

I blessedly saw dear friends throughout the weekend from the “old school” days and made connections with others that were genuine and real. In the house serving pageant realness: Former AAG Goddesses Candi Stratton, Lawren LaMoore, Latoya Bacall, Kelexis Davenport, India Ferrah, the reigning AAG Alana Steele, the reigning AAGAL Dena Cass; Miss Gay Untied States Icon 2012 Jennifer Warner; the sexy man that is Scott Johnson; Shae Shae LaReese (who is a threat to show up somewhere!); Florida’s very own doll Brittany Moore and the fabulous Khori Ross; dear sister Miss Continental 2011 Chelsea Pearl; promoter and Nina West confidant Michael Bishop and many, many more!

I really had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back! (Hint – Hint, Mr. Gonyaw!) So many details and memories, so little time to tell them all. The final 5 fell like this: 4th Runner-Up Envy Van Michaels had a “Big Time” with her dancers during talent doing a superb job; 3rd Runner-Up Delores T. Van Cartier brought Patti LaBelle to life and was my nominee for Most Beautiful dressed in stunning baby blue beads and feathers; 2nd Runner-Up Tonna Demore brought the judges to tears during interview also having a “Big Time” on stage; 1st Runner-Up Mercedes proved she is a qualified, smart force to be believed and respected; and winner Whitney Paige who came in admittedly nervous and walked out quite victorious as the new All American Goddess at Large 2012!

STEVEN TAKES SIN CITY

STEVEN SPILLS © 109

ONE NIGHT IN HEAVEN

As we all know by now that what happens in Vegas during one of my fabulous trips is told here with every gruesome detail of debauchery. Quick recap if you’re just joining in… I love Las Vegas! Always have, always will. OK, with that said, let’s dig into the ultimate sin of having your cake and eating it, too! This is how I celebrated my birthday — my way, in Sin City during the New Years’ holiday.

I turned forty-something on 01/01 or as many call it “thirty-nine for another year.” The husband and I aren’t into big parties so we always discuss how to spend our special days respectively and that’s how we do it. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and I have a very nice relationship with one another. The place is sick! I couldn’t think of a better location for our one night getaway. This stunning resort offers everything I need for comfort and joy. Unique surroundings celebrating individuality of the guest delivering immediate results for every person’s whim or desire. And those magnificent open-air balconies are decadent.

The anticipation grew within me as flashy billboards that dress the sides of I-15 heading into Las Vegas increased in volume and intensity. Since laying low on New Year’s Eve and saving our mojo for Sin City, we lived vicariously through the bright marquees that told of The Dutchess Fergie strutting her “Fergaliciousness” at Mirage, Mary J. Blige bringing her diva style to RPM Nightclub at Tropicana and Kim Kardashian collecting her $600,000 paycheck at TAO at The Venetian for ringing in NYE.

Once we checked into The Cosmopolitan, we discovered that our upgraded suite faced the fabulous fountains of Bellagio. I was in heaven. That’s what I personally call The Cosmopolitan, “Heaven,” because it is. I immediately opened the sliding doors and caught the first of many fountain shows we would witness during our stay. We called down for the bags and within a blink they were delivered to our room and unpacked. Soon after, we headed over to Bally’s to pick up our tickets for Jubilee! and run the Strip for a few minutes before dinner.

The energy downstairs in the casino at The Cosmopolitan was still rowdy and right on target for ringing in the New Year from the night before. Wheel of Fortune slot machines shamelessly gobbled up the twenties we fed them as we strutted through. It didn’t ruin our good moods. However, it was when we entered Bally’s that there was some concern. Talk about Hunger Games.

We took the moving walkway up to Bally’s and entered. It was quite surreal being there considering the property was once MGM Grand where I would visit as an impressionable child with my parents. The hotel hasn’t changed much since then. As soon as we entered, this aggressive sales chick basically jumped on us sinking her teeth into us seeming concerned about our travel needs. I immediately replied, “Get to the pitch. We have to go.” She laughed and pushed us off on an anxious sales guy. We declined their offer and continued on to pick up the show tickets.

Downstairs I strolled through memory lane as we walked past shops where I once spent my trip allowance on Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. Although, I don’t recall desperate sales dudes standing at kiosks offering what appeared to be counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Chanel iPhone cases at special deals “because it was a slow night.” The Strip called us back outside and we were off to enjoy a birthday ritual of shameless plunges into sushi and sake oblivion back at The Cosmopolitan.

With a few minutes to spare I slid into the sunken Japanese tub back in the room for a soak and got lost in the burning neon bulbs of the Strip that radiated before me. Ah, bliss. Once arriving downstairs to Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill we ordered a ton of delicious sushi displayed extravagantly on long boards and even had a generous round of sake complements of the resort. Luckily the walk over to Bally’s afterwards for the show would help walk off our amazing cuisine.

Jubilee! celebrates its 30th anniversary and is quite spectacular still today. Topless showgirls in stunning costumes of beads and rhinestones, grand sets that rise and fall throughout, and familiar songbook classics performed with heart and experience is what any theatre addict will find nightly inside the ballroom at Bally’s. It greatly satisfied the repressed showgirl deep inside me. It’s a must-see for any true Vegas junkie. You can bet on it!

2011 © PULP

“THE HELP” HITS HOME

We are all into Redbox (even though I believe it’s with a lower-case “r” in the logo) right now. Easy movie rentals for $1 and there is a kiosk almost everywhere. Reserve the film online or take your chances at the actual machine, then pick it up for the night returning it by 9 p.m. the next evening at ANY Redbox kiosk. I always wondered how you could rent a movie at the airport via Redbox with the transient ways of a traveler. Where would you return it? Now I know. Sorry it took me so long to get to one and rent movies. Only the latest and hottest flicks are available. Rarely do I see a former box office smash or the like but those are on cable so no big deal. If you’re weary of sliding your credit card, use one that you have a good report with like American Express and trust it will all be fine. And grab some popcorn!

Last evening we picked up The Help and it was magnificent! Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer played the hell out of their characters. Emma Stone was solid in her role. Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain were brilliant, too. It was hard to watch at times because of the reality that during these day of the film’s period bigotry reigned, blacks were not treated as equal to whites and what we take for granted now was once just a dream to many. Freedom and equality. Timely piece for us LGBT since we continually fight for our place among everyone equally.

In the film, the sight of confederate flags brought the feeling home to me personally since the mascot at my high school in Nashville, TN was a confederate soldier, a rebel, holding the flag. Years passed and I believe the school changed the mascot to panthers or cougars or something along those non-discriminatory lines. We would spray paint a HUGE rebel flag across the lawn during Homecoming Week every year. This was the south in the eighties, remember.

Enjoy the film and when the award shows are televised you’ll be in the know about what wins the awards. And again, grab the damn popcorn!

SIN CITY AND STEVEN MICHAEL

I just returned from a fabulous visit to Las Vegas and as always, we had a fierce time. Sin City and Steven Michael always get along. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which I call pure heaven because it is, treated us very well with an upgraded suite and a round of drinks on the house. It gives me everything I love in a hotel room. Immaculate furnishings, an open air balcony and a spectacular view of my favorite place on earth (yes, strong words!) The Las Vegas Strip. The Husband and I found ourselves in a sushi and sake serenade at Blue Ribbon Sushi and Grill on Sunday for my birthday dinner. Delicious! Oh, yeah! I became another year more experienced on Sunday. More mature?! Better like fine wine? Yes, older. It’s all good. Like I say that my mom now says that my Husband also says, “It is what it is.” Cause it is…

Our balcony view of the Bellagio fountains was spectacular and I honestly could sit watching the twinkling neon bulb wattage of The Strip all day and all night. I’ve seen the view plenty of times but I never grow tired of it. There’s always something to catch my attention, my eye, my homage. After dinner, we caught Jubilee! at Bally’s which is now celebrating their 30th anniversary. It was surreal walking in the place considering it was formally the MGM Grand that I would stay in as a child, rather young tween, with my parents. I tell the story of my father tossing me a few hundred dollars and sending loose on The Strip to shop, cruise and get cruised even though I wasn’t sure what was going on at the time.

Jubilee! is chock full of original showgirls with the glitz and gorgeousness of what Las Vegas is all about with grand sets that amazingly raised and lowered during huge production numbers, topless divas who owned the stage with legs to there and sexy thong-wearing male dancers with bare chests blazing. However, a few who could have left pants on. Just saying. We actually sat in the same cushioned booths that I would sit in as child watching shows with my parents. Things haven’t changed very much on the property except the very aggressive people who work there. This one woman nailed us as soon as we walked in about two nights for $99 and WOW! She was too damn much. I told her to get to the point and give the pitch. She did. We immediately declined, picked up my gracious media tickets, walked quickly around and hit The Strip. But not after having a desperate guy standing downstairs at a kiosk try and “make me a deal because it was slow” by selling me counterfeit Vuitton and Chanel iPhone 4 cases with bling. We were slightly in shock that the resort would allow that to go on.

More details will drop in my “Steven Spills” installment next issue of PULP so that’s all for now… What happens in Vegas, will end up here. Stay tuned.

ARIA ON MY MIND

I’m looking forward to my birthday getaway to Las Vegas in two weeks. We’re staying at The Cosmopolitan and our view will be of City Center including Vdara and ARIA. Last round we stayed at The Cosmopolitan our view was of the fountains of Bellagio and the stunning water show. This time to save a few duckies I decided that the $60/night view charge to see the fountains would pay for lunch and some slots. Yes, the room price at The Cosmopolitan was approximately sixty bucks more for the view of Bellagio, Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas compared to our view this trip of MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Luxor Hotel & Casino and Aria. Now, the view is worth it, trust. No Tea. However, I’ve seen it and we are there 24 hours so as long as I have an open-air balcony, I’m so good. Happy Birthday Me! Details shall follow of our dinner, time together and evening out on The Strip. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for ’12.