Every Las Vegas casino is intended as a self-contained microcosm and is likely to feature among its amenities such things as a casual dining restaurant (aka, coffee shop), a fine dining restaurant (aka, gourmet room), an entertainment venue (aka, showroom), a pool area, and perhaps some retail. Why? So that guests have no reason to step outside of the property where they are staying, thereby increasing the probability that when a guest inevitably decides to hunker down and put $50 into a slot machine, it happens there.
And while all of this is great, for everyone; for me, it really appeals to my inherent laziness. If I’m going to see a show at a particular property, I’m far more inclined to enjoy dinner at that property, than to go somewhere else, valet, eat dinner, return to valet, retrieve my car, relocate to the property where the show is, valet, attend the show, etc. If nothing else, enjoying both experiences on the same property cuts roughly an hour out of the itinerary, that can be spent enjoying dessert and coffee and meandering to the show (instead of racing from valet to the showroom, hoping I haven’t missed the opening; or worse, having to arrive at the restaurant at some ungodly hour, and spend the meal glancing at my watch, hoping traffic on the Strip isn’t a mess).
Recently, knowing I was going to see RuPaul’s Drag Race Live!, at Flamingo Las Vegas, I figured it’d be the perfect time to try out the property’s signature gourmet room, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse. Named for the Flamingo’s long-ago founders, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and (his boss) Meyer Lansky, it’s a pretty massive space, with all sorts of nooks and crannies—here, a dry-aged meat cooler; there, a raw bar; an array of private dining rooms—so that even when full, the crowd is never overwhelming. The meal was tasty and was presented in a manner suitable for the prices (our server, Roberto, was great!). Some standouts for me included the Hand Cut Prime Beef Tartare (with Truffle Crème Fraiche and Pan-Toasted Country Bread) and the Crab Cake (with Jumbo Lump Crab, Mango Emulsion, and a MEYER Lemon Remoulade). Also, I’m not sure when Blistered Shishito Peppers became steakhouse fare, but I love ‘em and was certainly not mad about it.
After dinner, we traversed the casino, which was pretty packed for a Thursday night, and made our way to the Flamingo Showroom—among Las Vegas’s few remaining old-school showrooms (though it’s been fitted with all of the modern technological bells-and-whistles)—the home of RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE!. A Drag Race fan since the series debuted on Logo, back in 2009, the Las Vegas version is exactly what I hoped it would be.
This Las Vegas stage spectacular features some of the fiercest queens and greatest lip-sync assassins in the fourteen seasons (plus six seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars, with a highly anticipated Season 7 debuting on Paramount+, on May 20) of RuPaul’s Drag Race. These queens comprise a rotating roster of talent, which is kinda great because while the show remains essentially the same, it’s fun to see different queens take on these roles. So, while the line-up when I went on opening night, back in 2020 (which seems like a decade ago), the cast included Asia O’Hara (emcee), Derrick Barry, Evie Oddly, Kameron Michaels, Naomi Smalls, and Vanessa “Vanjie” Matteo; this time, Alexis Matteo and Kahana Montrese have assumed the roles originated by Miss Vanjie (Matteo’s drag daughter) and Evie Oddly, while Shanel ably stepped into Asia O’Hara’s towering heels, as the emcee. *
In between the opening and now, such notable Drag Racers as Eureka O’Hara, Jada Essence Hall (“Look! Over there!”), Plastique Tiara, and Trinity K Bonet (loves me some TKB!), have delighted audiences while gracing the RPDR LIVE! stage, in the Flamingo Showroom. And—this just in!—Season 14 ingenue, Jasmine Kennedie, will be appearing through May 23; while Season 7 runner-up, two-time Drag Race All-Star, and recording artist, Ginger Minj, will assume the mantle of emcee, through June 06. **
And while RuPaul’s Drag Race (the series) is a competition that highlights the DIY aspects of drag; RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! features a cavalcade of talented entertainers, performing professionally choreographed routines in bespoke costumes; which—while basically the antithesis of DIY—is exactly what I want from a well-crafted Las Vegas stage spectacular: A high energy, stunt-filled night of bedazzled glam, with the best hair-ography the Strip has seen since JLo was serving it up at PHo!
Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse | RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE!
Flamingo Las Vegas
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[Editor’s Note: * One of my favorite aspects of RuPaul’s Drag Race LIVE! is that many of the queens—including Alexis Matteo, Derrick Berry, Kahana Montrese, and Shanel (the first queen ever to step foot in the workroom, back on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race)—identify as Las Vegas locals. / ** Be on the lookout for an interview with the hilarious self-described "Glamour Toad," soon!]