Temptation week continues with a stop in Las Vegas, where Gentedimontagna founder Pavia Rosati found lust, envy, and gluttony at Rose. Rabbit. Lie., the new performance at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS – It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your kinky burlesque show is?
I do. It's 10 p.m., and Vegas Nocturne is about to begin the second of three nightly shows at Rose. Rabbit. Lie., the new bar/restaurant/performance/dance party (they call it "a grand social experiment") at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Tap-dancing twins, elegant contortionists, a mind-blowing human beat box, and a snippy magician are just a few of the performers waiting their turns for a show that is dynamic, sexy, saucy, indulgent, and great fun. I watch most of the 8 p.m. show, all of the 10 p.m. and midnight shows, and the following night, I head back to see as much of it again as I can. If I didn't live in New York City, I'd go tomorrow night, too.
I'm in Las Vegas over Valentine's Day weekend with a few friends as a guest of the Cosmopolitan, the hotel that transformed my relationship with Las Vegas from "ugh, really?" to "hell yes!" for what will prove to be two days of total excess and awesomeness. Friday lunch at China Poblano, José Andrés's Chinese-Mexican restaurant. Friday night at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Saturday afternoon in the swank suite at Sahra Spa and Hammam, where, when I'm not being massaged into oblivion, I'm sitting in a bubble bath as a sweet boy named Robert pours me another glass of Champagne. Saturday night dinner at STK, followed by a Bruno Mars concert, followed by more Rose. Rabbit. Lie., followed by dancing on a table at Marquee, followed by getting lost trying to leave the club and doing cartwheels on the pool deck overlooking the dancing fountains of the Bellagio Hotel next door, followed by ordering four pizzas from room service at 4:30 in the morning.
It's a movie version of a weekend in Vegas, starring me.
But I'm not the main event. Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is. It unfolds in a vast space that's been divided into intimate rooms that often connect through doors hidden in the wood paneling. (The always impressive AvroKO did the design.) The decor is very ornate, lots of dark corners and tall banquettes. There's a backlit version of Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights on the wall. The silverware is embossed with a floral pattern.
We begin in the library, in a nook lined in black velvet. A pre-show begins: That human beat box, a small woman wearing a long floral jacquard blazer and baggy tuxedo pants (her name is Butterscotch, and she's got a Janelle Monáe vibe) begins to make noises that can't possibly be coming out of a human, and two guys, Sean and Jean Scott, get onto the bar and start tap dancing. Fifteen impressive minutes later, the crowd is crazy, and the guys leave the room. I follow them into a dining room, where I see a man with slicked hair playing a row of crystal glasses. It looks and sounds mesmerizing, and I just stare. It's a real instrument, and it's called an armonica. Three girls climb onto a grand piano and begin shimmying. One is wearing a stern, Dietrich-y Teutonic gold ensemble that covers every inch of her. A few hours later, I will watch her strip down to her merkin.
But first, it's time for dinner. Coastal Luxury Management — and specifically, I was delighted to learn, my pals David Alan Bernahl and Rob Weakley, the team behind the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival — collaborated with former Daniel Boulud Brasserie chef Wesley Holton and mixologist Marshall Altier on a, well, on a totally Vegas menu. Classic cocktails on tap, custom ice cubes, Champagne by the Jeroboam. Beef Wellington for $275. whole roasted giant Alaskan red king crab for $1200. Duck confit pasta. Steak tartare. Russian, Siberian, Californian, and hackleback caviar — by the kilo and in the taco.
Dinner is interrupted by performances, or rather, we interrupt our dinner to catch the performances. Two girls with perfect asses cavorting into a swimming pool that's wheeled in. A trapeze artist flying above a table on the other side of the room. More singing, more beat boxing. The bartenders are getting into it and singing along. You get the feeling they can't help themselves. Everyone in the show looks like they're having such a great time that you can't help but envy the fact that they get paid to do this. Spiegelworld, the entertainment producer, must be a very special world indeed.
The main performance is on a stage that juts out the club space on the other side of a dining room. It's lined with a semicircle of seats and a ring of private booths. I go in to watch a man doing a high-rings act in a bathtub, splashing the very titillated ladies in the first row, who have been given a sheet of plastic to protect their too-short dresses and bare thighs. I stay for the acrobat who does a handstand on narrow bars, folds her legs overhead, and shoots a bullseye with a bow and arrow. Using her feet.
The night continues like this; every show a different series of performances. Fire eaters and vaudeville sketches. The tap dancers, the tap dancers, the tap dancers. Those guys are amazing. As is the woman who does a balancing act inside a glass orb. A charming Englishman called Piff the Magic Dragon does a hilarious comedy routine with a long-haired Chihuahua named Mr. Piffles, who later spends a few excessively cute minutes lying in my lap. Piff and Piffles wear matching green dragon costumes. Of course they do.
The last act of the evening is a woman we've seen throughout the night wearing a kerchief and a housecoat, sweeping the stage between acts, being conspicuously unassuming. She takes the stage, and off come the kerchief and the coat. She's wearing a spangly bustier and a bra, and she does a bump-and-grind striptease down to her pasties. All normal for Vegas right? Only she's 66 years old. Dusty Summers has been working her act in this town for decades, and she brings the house down.
The show ends with a ping-pong ball fight — performers, audience, everyone. It's goofy, it's juvenile, it's totally fun. A DJ comes out, and I dance until I collapse at around 7 a.m. New York time. Why doesn't every day end like this?
NOW GO DO IT
The bar and dining room are open from Thursday through Sunday. You can make restaurant reservations and get tickets for the 8 p.m., 10 p.m., and midnight performances of Vegas Nocturne.