The Rock Report: Dionne Warwick, the real ‘W’ gets Las Vegas residency


By Monti Rock III

This past month, grand openings ̶ spectacular announcements ̶ and as I am in the middle of brouhaha chaos, I’m thinking what to share with my readers ̶ yes, you! The first thing that came to mind is that the SAHARA IS BACK!! I never thought this landmark name and hotel ever left! It has gone from SLS ̶ which I was at the grand (VIP) opening with spectacular stars from film TV, the stage, recording artists ̶ and the celebrities.

A few years back , I was at the opening of the W Hotel that became part of the SLS property ̶ complete with the Starck statue ̶ caricature of Sam Nazarian, in the front. I remember seeing the late Robin Leach in one of the cabanas. It was cold outside by the pool ̶ but the idea of getting a W Hotel on the Strip was inspiring. Alas, it did not become “W”onderful and ended up closing. The Sahara still remains as one of the original five hotels in Las Vegas on the Strip.

I told you in my last column about Dionne Warwick getting a residency here ̶ well, it is now in granite ̶ she will be performing at Caesars Palace in the Cleopatra Barge venue which has a history with me, personally! It was originally called Nero’s Nook ̶ and when the C.P. opened in 1968, guess who was the star of Nero’s Nook ̶ MOI ̶ Monti Rock II ̶ with The Checkmates and Woody Woodbury.

Alas! It did not pan out for me. I was too overwhelmed by feathers, marabou, make-up, and two Russian wolfhounds ̶ that itself is a circus! Remember that was 51 years ago ̶ prior to corporate ̶ and the men who owned and operated the casino properties out here did not understand me. Oh Lord! I was floating on the stage (in my mind!) and the dogs were howling. It was a scene out of a Fellini film ̶ they just did not get it.

I ended up with a one-way ticket back to New York City ̶ and then ̶ tada! The Johnny Carson show brought me back again and again and again for 84 times on the Tonight Show! It was an era of anything goes ̶ and Mr. Anything Goes (moi) went!!!

I had the most bizarre and interesting Father’s Day! I was able to go to Hamburger Mary’s for a gospel brunch ̶ as I got there ̶ everyone that I ever knew in my life and career was there!! But the greatest one, was the fabulous jazz singer, Laura Taylor. I worked with her in Florida and she has graced the stage at the Smith Center a few times. She a consummate jazz singer and pianist. It brought back memories of my friendships with the late Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan and Morgana King from the 1960’s NYC scene.

I had a fantastic time at a birthday co-celebration with Michelle Russo (divine lady) as together we shared the spotlight of this special extra b-day party! Ira Sternberg was present and Ira and I go way back to the beginning of my Vegas ‘residency.’

By the way, please catch the documentary by Ron Howard (multiple Oscars for direction) titled simply, Pavarotti. It is an example of the best parts of this opera tenor singer’s life ̶ and how he became a rock star by his manager and his zest for life and luxury. He was a gourmet cook and never stopped loving the culinary arts. He would make pastas and other dishes while on the road so he could have his palette fulfilled to the max with his own touches of seasonings and preparations.

The man was three times married, had multiple mistresses and was larger than life in all senses. He was the driving force of Jose Carrera and Placido Domingo as the Three Tenors who gave world-wide concerts. When I saw them performing, I was simply transported to a new realm. Please, catch this doc before it leaves our city. It is worthwhile, informative and a heavenly presentation! I am becoming interested in opera again!!!

For most of my readers, I have been very blessed to have been in the company of the greats in the entertainment world. Case in point ̶ as a touring performer, I had the great honor of opening for Tina Turner, way before she had a hit record ̶ this was after she left Ike and before she had her own cult following. Now, her life story is going to be on Broadway.

By the way, Cher: The Musical ̶ the life story in song and costume of Cher, is about to close on Broadway. It will be touring across the country. Another Broadway show is our own Criss Angel ̶ has done a residency show at the Lunt Fontanne theater on Broadway to sold out houses. It is called Raw: Unplugged with Criss Angel.

I am off to New York this month! I am going to be resurrecting my Disco Tex and The Sex-o-Lettes show ̶ Get Dancin’ at three different venues. Contracts have been signed, sealed and delivered! Now, you know that Monti Rock III and shopping cannot be separated ̶ so, I will be in the market looking for a new ‘frock’ A tip o’ the hat to my friend Jay Garcia. Mama Jay has been called out of retirement to style the wigs for the lovely Mary Wilson. I snapped an unauthorized pic of one of the wigs, lol. Don’t tell Jay or he’ll probably get me in trouble with Mary! Did you know she lives in Henderson?

And so, off to the Big Apple, and my East coast entourage and I will be back with lots of gossip to share with all of you!

Have a great August and before you know it, Labor Day will be peeking up on the calendar. We’ll be asking, “where has summer gone?