1:43 PM PST, March 5, 2013
Simon Hammerstein knows how to show people a good time. At The Box, his spectacularly popular Manhattan- and London-based nightlife-cabaret concept, celebrities are about as common as the corks being popped by comely cocktail waitresses (or “libation mistresses,” as they’re known there).
For his next venture, Hammerstein looked west. He wanted to create a venue that was bigger, more elaborate and more provocative than anything he’d done before. He wanted to take his party to the Las Vegas Strip.
So that’s just what he did.
In October, Hammerstein unveiled The ACT, a live theater and nightlife hybrid that’s part variety show and part circus (with a bit of drinking and dancing thrown in for good measure). It’s vaudeville gone mad … and it’s electrifying.
Secreted inside The Shoppes at The Palazzo, The ACT is an avant-garde masterpiece, with 9,000 square feet of clandestine chambers and meandering hallways. Numerous performance platforms located throughout the club are devoted to artistic drama and over-the-top decadence.
It’s a heady cocktail of high-octane theater, classically trained ballerinas (the Hammerstein Beauties) and what-stays-in-Vegas-fueled nightlife. The ACT features up to 40 performers a night, each led with intoxicating enthusiasm by ringmaster/emcee Raven O. Performances are at once elegant and sordid, set to an EDM soundtrack that brings the venue’s authentic turn-of-the-century décor to life.
Hammerstein spent millions on an eccentric variety of antiquities in order to make The ACT unlike anything else in Vegas. Among this collection of offbeat objects is a medieval confessional, 1940s-era post office ticket booths from New York’s Grand Central Station and a life-sized bronze statue of transsexual icon Buck Angel. They’re strategically placed throughout The ACT’s labyrinthine interior.
“I’ve always been fascinated by Vegas,” said Hammerstein, who has relocated here from New York. “My father used to tell me stories of directing shows here in the 1960s, and I wanted to experience it for myself. It’s also a family tradition — when you’re 21 in my family, you’re taken to Las Vegas for a weekend of fun. My trip, suffice it to say, turned out to be very costly, and I vowed to return to Vegas one day and make that money back.”
Hammerstein is on course to win back the gambling losses from his youth — and then some. The ACT’s first few months have been, by any measure, a profound success. So what’s next? Rumor has it that Hammerstein has his sights set on Dubai.
Custom Publishing Writer