98 Degrees creator Jeff Timmons gives us the skinny on new residency/nightclub concept for “Men of the Strip.”
It’s been a VERY long time coming. I can attest to this as I’ve been covering the development of Jeff Timmons’ testosterone-fueled pet project since my early days at VegasChatter. Perhaps that’s why the former 98 Degrees “boy-bander” and his associates have selected me (and VegasBright, of course) to officially announce his new entertainment venture at Tropicana.
Axe-wielding Jeff Timmons hopes to chop away at the competition…
Starting this May, Tropicana’s Havana Room will play host to Men Of The Strip, the long-gestating male revue which premiered at Mandalay Bay in early 2014. The elaborate show, which was documented in an E! telefilm, was seeking a permanent venue in Las Vegas before a number of factors (one of them quite tragic) put it on an extended hold.
Earlier this year, MOTS’s Facebook page came alive with promises that things were cooking again (#TheMenAreBack). Prior to renewed rumblings, actor Channing Tatum had announced his celeb-backed Magic Mike Live, which premieres at Hard Rock Hotel/Casino in three weeks.
You may remember my previous VegasBright article, wherein Timmons was rumored to have a hand in securing Magic Mike‘s Hard Rock residency. That piece also covered a rivalry between Tatum and mentor London Steele as his new Men of Steele production was about to bow in Vegas (it sizzled then fizzled rather quickly). Steele sprang back and is currently spearheading Kings Of Hustler at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.
Now Jeff Timmons has stepped up to the ever-growing male-revue arena as Tatum’s latest challenger (mainstay Chippendales, the gold standard of this type of production, recently upped their game with show revamps and the impending return of their most popular guest host). Yes, it’s all very complicated in the world of Vegas male revues, with lots of testosterone, celebrity reputations and stacks of dollar bills at stake.
While Magic Mike Live promises a custom venue with nightclub flourishes, a completely shirtless male wait/bar staff and lots of heavy breathing (not to mention hefty ticket prices), Men Of The Strip takes the concept one step further with Sky Beach Club, an outdoor venue adjacent to the main performance space. The combined Sky Beach Club/Havana Room was once home to Nikki Club/Beach and Bagatelle Beach/Nightclub.
Trop’s multi-purpose party spot also hosted a number of popular LGBTQ events, like Evolve NY Eve celebrations and Xposed! Saturday pool parties. It’s an excellent location with easy in/out access from the Strip by both car and foot. That should come as great news to ladies in heels who have tired of the super-lengthy walk to Hakkasan Nightclub (at MGM Grand across the street).
Although Sky Beach carries a troubled history, it really has just about everything one could hope for to entertain. Outdoors, waterfalls, dual swimming pools, and a sand volleyball court are surrounded by multiple levels of cabanas, loungers and a full bar with dining area.
Inside, a towering ceiling is rigged for aerial performances. Several levels of booths encircle a lush hardwood dance floor/performance space, all topped by an enormous crystal chandelier.
As great as the Havana Room is, it hasn’t been utilized for a residency production, at least not to my recollection. All that is about to change with Men of the Strip. The Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s John Katsilometes confirmed recently via Red Mercury Entertainment (the company which took over Tropicana’s entertainment operations in February) that a new magic show was officially signed for Trop’s main showroom.
“Kats” went on to say that Timmons’ team was also about to acquire the Havana Room. However, Men of the Strip financier Mike Foland (aka “Money Mike”) contacted me the following morning to say that Kat’s report was “leaked information” and that VegasBright would have the exclusive announcement when the time was right to do so.
In a phone interview with me for this article, Timmons confirmed that details and arrangements were still being hashed out. He told me that the show would most likely launch the third or fourth weekend of May, initially with a Thursday through Sunday schedule. The nightclub and pool party would most likely start out with one event per week and expand outward. Final contracts are expected to be signed this week.
Jeff Timmons (center) and the cast of Men Of The Strip in 2014
Jeff said he has lots of friends in the music industry who he’d like to bring in as guest hosts. Men of the Strip will have much more live singing that the typical male revue. So perhaps we’ll see members of N’Sync and 98 Degrees belting out boyband-era hits, spinning current favorites as celeb DJs and shucking their shirts with the dance troupe (many of them, like Jeff, have maintained their heartthrob physiques).
As for the show itself, MOTS promises to be cutting-edge mixed with nostalgia appeal (a section of the MB performance was dedicated to boyband-era hits, and Timmons belted out numerous 98 Degrees chart-toppers between production numbers).
Aside from fan favorite Joel Sajiun, expect an entirely new cast of hard bodies and vocalists. Yes, these strippers will sing, too. Original choreographer (and Emmy nominee) Glenn Douglas Packard will once again provide the moves and grooves.
During our conversation, I asked Timmons how he felt about actress Vivica A. Fox’s recent controversy over banning gays from her Black Magic male revue. “I was really shocked that she would say that. Men of the Strip always has and always will welcome men”. Mike Foland echoed that sentiment: “You know us, bro. We love everyone…and anyone is welcome.”
Tropicana could use some fire under their entertainment offerings, and Men of the Strip may just be the ticket to turn up the heat. With Jeff Timmons and crew back in Las Vegas, this summer promises to be very hot.
Performers who would like to audition can get details via Men of the Strip Las Vegas Facebook page. I’ll be covering auditions and rehearsals right here at VegasBright.
[Photos and video by Sammasseur, “Firemen” pic via Men of the Strip]