Monday April 12, 2021 | 2 a.m
When Clint Holmes was ready to return to the Las Vegas stage, it was easy for him to find the right stage. Many venues where the longtime local headliner has performed have yet to reopen due to COVID restrictions, but the downtown Neonopolis complex on Fremont Street has a perfect space: Notoriety Live.
Holmes has created and made two monthly installments of his Third Level âRegenerationâ series, a multi-room live entertainment hotspot, with a third scheduled for May 8. And he has known the owner and operator for a long time. A native of Las Vegas, Ken Henderson co-founded the Best Agency and represented Holmes for years.
âI was in the visits when he was explaining his plan to do it, when it was basically a shell,â says Holmes. âOne of the things I really respect in what he did was when so many sites were cold shut down Ken didn’t [complain], he just kept working and improving it. And then when he could really open it up to the public again, people walked in and said, oh my God, that’s a gem.
Notoriety Live quietly opened in December 2019 after Henderson worked with Neonopolis owner Rohit Joshi for more than a year to redevelop the old cinema space into a versatile entertainment venue. When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Notoriety closed along with all other exhibition halls, then struggled for a short time to find its place as a living room with ambient entertainment.
âWe spun the wheels, which was a challenge, jumping through the hoops of what the city said, what the governor said,â says Henderson. “And then we saw a lot of people go live streaming [performances] and I just didn’t buy into it. We had the capacity and we did a few with charity, but I wasn’t going to surrender and say that living was not going to happen anymore. So we stayed on that.
When the restrictions eased in the fall, Notoriety started booking more shows and more types of performances, including comedy, magic, musical tributes, and other standard Vegas genres. It quickly became a place of welcome for local artists whose strip shows remained closed.
In recent months, programming has exploded. There’s Holmes’ monthly residency as well as the regular Composers Showcase of Las Vegas concerts anchored by Keith Thompson, who courted at Myron’s Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center. “M is for Magic” with David Goldrake, the musical “Motown Extreme” and the mental reading show “Totally Mental” with Vinny Grosso took to the stage on the weekends, “Four Funny Comics” takes over with the stand-up on Saturdays, and âFaaabulous! The Show, âa drag cabaret created by and starring Christopher Kenney as Edie (formerly of Cirque du Soleil’sâ Zumanity â) is a Friday night staple.
âWe’re just getting out of the station and I’m hoping it’s going to be a success and we can get more people to sit down,â Kenney says. âWe had a large audience, we just need to get the word out to tourists. At the moment, it is mainly the locals who are coming and the energy is tremendous.
Although located at the east end of the Fremont Street Experience and exposed to the thousands of tourists staying and playing at the casinos along the downtown shopping street, Notoriety is designed for locals, artists. and spectators.
âEven before the pandemic, I never tried to compete with hotels,â says Henderson. âWe even had events with several Strip hotel presidents in the audience and they loved the place and told me I was in a unique situation. It’s about getting the talent out there and giving them a home to play.
With two different venues currently hosting shows and a third space soon to be online, Notoriety is growing. It will launch a new comedy show, âLaugh After Dark,â which will be filmed monthly and already has a TV deal with a major streaming platform, and Henderson is planning an ongoing songwriter series that will feature more. spotlight local talent in a style-format competition. He’s also keen to throw a real jazz night out, something that isn’t easy to find in town, and gets a lot of calls from more and more Strip artists looking for a place to play.
âThere is a lot of knocking on the door. It’s just about finding the right ones, âhe says.