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BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES – “The Queen of Twitter” and “Little Nicky” Face The Heat

Part 2 of our coverage of Criss Angel’s AMYSTIKA and Dionne Warwick holds a torch to the pair of trouble-making entertainers.

Click HERE to read part one of this series. 

UPDATE 4/7/22 – The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes is reporting this evening that Dionne Warwick has canceled her eight-month residency at The Stirling Club after only two weeks and six shows. It’ll be interesting to discover if any of this is related to the fall that the singer sustained shortly before opening night. If the accident occurred on the Turnberry Place property, it would be easy to envision her litigation-happy manager Joey Battig as having an ulterior motive for the abrupt departure. We’ll keep you updated with any further developments.

This weekend saw the debut of Dionne Warwick’s long-term residency at The Stirling Club, an exclusive venue situated within a luxury living complex. In recent years, the once-shuttered venue has been revitalized and reborn, offering decadent amenities and entertainment opportunities to the wealthy. It also has opened its doors to the public, yielding a mixed response from those who pay lofty prices for privacy. 

Stirling Club’s intimate lounge

Within the walls of the upscale Stirling Club are fine dining establishments, tennis and pickleball courts, a cigar lounge, wellness spa, med spa, pool, salon, bars, and numerous event spaces. A voiceover on the official website boasts that everyone from the concierge and valet to the bartenders will know your name and favorite cocktail at this VERY expensive destination. They claim that it’s a private getaway…an oasis if you will…from the rest of society. That is unless you spend $89 for “An Intimate Evening with Ms. Dionne Warwick”.

While you might not be concerned about the plight of the rich and powerful, there is something to be said for the right to privacy. If you’ve purchased a home within a gated luxury complex and the doors are suddenly opened to the public, wouldn’t that feel a little invasive? Perhaps the current residents should have joined in for a performance of “Don’t Make Me Over” before The Stirling Club opened its gates. Nevertheless, the establishment seems to be prospering, with everyone from country sexpot Chase Brown to classy ladies Sandy Knights and Kelly Vohnn raising their voices.

Vegas 411 has been receiving regular reports from an insider with connections to Turnberry Place, where The Stirling Club is located. This informant was particularly surprised that the Club has offered nothing to offset inconveniences that Dionne Warwick’s new residency might create. The insider was able to obtain a copy of the letter that was sent to everyone set to be affected by the changes:

Photo courtesy of Melissa Redford

The statement suggests that a large number of Warwick show attendees will be residents of the property. However, they aren’t being offered complimentary admission in exchange for opening their private gates to the world. My source had this take:

“The room she is playing in only holds about 200. Don’t know how it can be like rush hour. If there IS a traffic jam, the Master Board will shut it down. A lot of influential people live there. FYI, no offer of free tickets to residents for the inconvenience. Not even a free coffee.”

Photo courtesy of Melissa Redford

As it turns out, the debut performance on Thursday, March 24th was hardly a chaotic situation. Most of the attendees, including media members, were given free tickets. This writer was not amongst them. A few weeks ago, I reached out to Warwick’s manager Joey Battig, introducing myself as the Deputy Editor and writer for Vegas411.com. I requested to meet with him and Ms. Warwick and also to attend the show for the purpose of an article. Battig’s response was curt and bizarre:

“I never agreed to a piece with her you need to let me know what you actually want and what your company your service actually does”. That was the response…one run-on sentence in a most offensive manner. As you might imagine, the interview didn’t happen.

Warwick chats with “herself” on Saturday Night Live

It would seem that Mr. Battig’s involvement in Ms. Warwick’s career plays a large part in her being relegated to ever-smaller venues. He has a very bristling history with show business professionals and has brought lawsuits against just about everyone within spitting distance. Those entities have even been as large as Boyd Gaming (The Orleans, Gold Coast, Fremont Hotel) and Caesars Entertainment. The longtime Sin City producer has also been involved in tumultuous matters involving Johnny Carson, Sheena Easton, Wayne Newton, Whitney Houston, and even a Jai-Alai team from Dania Beach, Florida.

It’s understandable that with Mr. Battig’s confrontational nature and history of sour business deals, venues would be reluctant to welcome his client into their fold. I’m aware of at least one insider who refused to promote the new residency on their Vegas site. They foresee it as an inevitable disaster:

“This Dionne Warwick thing is gonna awesomely bomb. Supposedly she fell the day before the (first) show and spent the entire show last night on a bench and didn’t walk around or move. Her voice was shot. She’s got a whopping thirty tickets sold for Saturday (March 26th).”

While Joey Battig is currently listed as Ms. Warwick’s manager, he was the producer of her 2019 residency at Caesars Palace. When it was decided to shutter the “Cleopatra’s Barge” showroom in 2020, Warwick and her team were shown the door. The Grammy winner had shared the space with legendary Wayne Newton, who ultimately landed on his feet with a new residency at Flamingo Hotel Casino (also owned by Caesars Entertainment). Perhaps Battig’s 2011 lawsuit against the corporation was the lynchpin in leaving Warwick out in the cold.

Battig’s client didn’t necessarily win over the hearts of Caesars employees during her run, either. One insider shared their recollections with me:

“First of all, Dionne Warwick allowed her band and another female artist that she affectionately calls her “goddaughter’ to start the show ten minutes prior to her appearance. She chain-smoked Newport cigarettes before going onstage. She did NOT sing a majority of her songs, but talked throughout and had memory lapses.”

“She was always joined onstage by her “goddaughter.” It was a duet show. She needed assistance singing as she has no range and has lost her voice…it is low and raspy. She screamed for a hot tea after her lackluster performance and forbade beverage service during her show. The poor servers/staff had only twenty minutes to take orders, deliver, and close out checks. She didn’t allow bartenders to shake drinks, either, as she says it messes up the acoustics.”

Cocktail service is just as important, if not more so than ticket sales for the bottom line, but Ms. Warwick’s behavior didn’t just hamper profits. Employees reportedly didn’t even want to deal with her diva-like behavior during their shifts. The Caesars insider continued:

“Staffers pulled straws to get her show…they hated it. She was nasty and rude when addressing people, and even made a cocktail waitress cry. Her staff/team all take a page out of her book. They were rude, many times “demanding” vs. “requesting”. She would talk shit to an audience member in a heartbeat. They couldn’t say anything back because they were parched from no beverage service.”

Although the last statement was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, there clearly was a palpable tension between the showroom staff and the entertainment team.

Dionne refers to Billie Eilish as “William Eyelash”.

In recent years, Warwick’s peculiar antics have raised a few eyebrows in the Twitter-verse. She has taken on the likes of Jake Gyllenhaall, Wendy Williams, Chance the Rapper, Kraft mayonnaise, and Oreo cookies. The eighty-one-year-old also refers to herself as “cool”, “diva”, “queen”, and “Auntie”. Alarming to some, endearing to many, Warwick’s “twoting” (as she calls it) and quirky reputation have landed her an ongoing spoof on Saturday Night Live. However, it’s unlikely that this newfound notoriety will translate into additional ticket sales for “An Intimate Evening With Ms. Dionne Warwick”.

Dionne’s self-titled 1979 album

My own personal experience with the hitmaker dates back to the end of the disco era. Warwick was riding a career high and about to collaborate with the Bee Gees on the chart-topper HEARTBREAKER. On tour to promote her 1979 self-titled album, she was scheduled for a Labor Day appearance at a Pittsburgh city park. Families had been there all afternoon enjoying picnic meals, playing Frisbee, and laughing with friends.

Warwick took to the stage near dusk and was quickly bothered that the crowd wasn’t giving her undivided attention. After numerous scoldings, including “You all need to shut up and listen to me sing”, she departed the stage in a huff, never to return. Her antics were rewarded with a round of applause, and everyone went back to their beer and Doritos, quickly forgetting the tantrum-tossing star.

In the realm of social media, nobody sets their own image aflame more than Criss Angel. Clueless to the plight of the everyday person, the Mindfreak Live star flaunts his wealth on Instagram, posting pics of his vacations in a private jet and schmoozing with the Kardashian clan. Born Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, the cocky magician has blatantly played the sympathy card over his son’s illness and in recent weeks, his own alleged injury (see part one for details on that bizarre tale). Less a human being than a caricature, Angel seems intent on channeling Adam Sandler’s halfwit son-of-Satan character in Little Nicky.

You also may want to revisit part one to catch up on the chaotic misfire that is AMYSTIKA. The show has been yanked by Ticketmaster twice so far and continues to flounder in advance sales. It’s now slated to debut on April 2nd, yet only a few dozen seats in total have been purchased for the first four performances.

Repeating last month’s attempt to put butts in the Planet Hollywood mezzanine theater, the PR machine has once again offered up to four free tickets to anyone who requests them. And earlier this week, Alex Belfield (aka “The Voice of Reason) of Celebrity Radio claimed that a fiery accident took place during rehearsals. According to a colleague, Belfield later stated that the mishap was staged for the purpose of free publicity.

Blue dots represent unsold seats as of this writing.

How low does one have to go in order to get attention? For Little Nicky, even the nine rings of Hell aren’t deep enough. Has this egomaniac forgotten the onstage death of Sarah Guyard-Guillot during a performance of KA at MGM Grand? How about the crippling fall of Olga Vershinina during a practice run of ZUMANITY? Former Le Reve artist Yann Arnaud fell to his death inside a packed theater, and countless other dancers, acrobats, and stunt people risk their lives every day. Injuries are no joke. Is that unclear to you, Little Nicky?

A Vegas industry professional wrote to me with his take on the supposed PR stunt:

“Watch him say ‘we are doing things never seen before in any kind of live show and that the risks are real’. Then he’ll say the guy is doing well and recovering. He needs to rev up the publicity.”

“Every single Mindfreak TV show, there would always be some technical problem or someone getting hurt right before the big stunt at the end. It was almost comical how every stunt was ‘the most insane’. Every week there was some ‘never been done before, most dangerous ever’, risking his life (yet again).”

It’s unlikely that this troublesome twosome and their teams of yes-men will ever reign in the antics. What is most likely to impact their behavior is the big F – “failure”. There’s no doubt that Dionne Warwick is a legend, and Criss Angel continues to enjoy a legion of followers. But in the post-pandemic world of pain and suffering, nobody has time for their bullshit. You might be popular, but you aren’t flame-proof. Let the bonfire begin.

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