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Richard Abowitz writes on www.thedailybedast.com – Mixing fine dining and porn stars sounds like a health-code violation waiting to happen. But in Las Vegas, things roll a bit differently.
And so it was on Sunday that Chef Sam DeMarco not only welcomed industry performers and fans to Rattlecan, his new restaurant in the swanky Venetian resort on the Las Vegas strip, he even created special menu items.
The threesome sampler included Jessie’s Magic Mushroom Melt (forest mushrooms, melted brie, and truffle aioli) named after porn star Jessie Lee; Kleio’s BBQ Pork Donut (chipotle drizzle) inspired by single-named porn star Kleio; and Joanna’s Mini Flap Jacks (crème fraiche, smoked salmon) coined in honor of the boss, Burning Angel impresario and porn actress Joanna Angel.
Taking place the day after the Adult Entertainment Expo convention and AVN Awards (billed as porn’s Oscars), Porn Star Brunch, now in its second year, is the creation of Al Mancini, Las Vegas’s most distinctive food critic.
A law school graduate and former bartender at CBGB, Mancini started out reviewing strip clubs in Vegas before moving from naked women to fine dining. The co-author of Eating Las Vegas 2013, Mancini is accurately described in the introduction as “the only mohawked and tattooed head you are likely to see in a Michelin-starred restaurant.”
As for the inspiration behind Porn Star Brunch, Mancini is blunt: “Everybody eats and everybody fucks.”
The true star of the morning is Angel, a tireless promoter of her company and brand—she mingles so much that most everyone has finished feeding long before she settles down. Angel did manage a small amount of snacking and drinking amidst the schmoozing. “I had a lot of fried pickles and then some whisky and some more pickles,” she says, an hour into the event.
For the 40 fans who snapped up all of the tickets, paying $50 each, Angel’s efforts are appreciated. Las Vegas residents Rhonda and Jeff Wyatt have attended Porn Star Brunch each year; this time they brought along friends, including two investment bankers.
“The porn stars are more normal than any of us, even the bankers,” Jeff Wyatt offers. The Wyatts credit Angel’s approachableness as the chief reason for the event being special.
“Last year we sat next to Joanna, and we had such a great conversation with her,” Rhonda Wyatt recalls, “She was talking about her business and the challenges. She was so focused.” Her husband adds, “I enjoy getting to know them in a relaxed setting.”
The night before the event, Burning Angel won three AVN Awards, including one for JoannaAngel.com. So while McCarran Airport is crowded with peers who are nursing hangovers trying to make it back home, the Burning Angel talent celebrates at Rattlecan.
For them, the brunch has become a final obligation, albeit an enjoyable one. Angel says, “This is the eating, drinking and sleeping day for us. Everyone woke up wanting to eat a good meal and hang out.” Even Angel managed to relax. “I am so busy during the convention doing press and I have meetings and signings, I don’t have time to hang out with the girls. I hope this event shows I appreciate everything they do for the website.”
Rattlecan specializes in burgers, for which, Chef DeMarco notes, the pickle is crucial. The pickle is also a key ingredient of the restaurant’s signature drink. This concoction, Mancini explains, is the legacy of last year’s Porn Star Brunch at a different DeMarco restaurant, FIRST.
“This is astounding to me. Last year all the ladies collaborated with the chef on all the dishes. Kleio’s cocktail that she wanted was a pickle back shot: a shot of Jameson chased with a shot of pickle juice. Chef Sammy knew he was going to open this new restaurant when he was sitting around with girls getting drunk on these pickle back shots. It is now the signature drink of this new restaurant.”
This explains why instead of a mechanical bronco the restaurant offers a mechanical pickle. Anyone who orders the Jameson and pickle juice gets a token to ride for free. And, of course, it does not take long for three Burning Angel performers (Kleio, Jessie Lee, and Veruca James) to simultaneously ride the pickle, snuggling and groping each other a bit, all to the delight of fans.
Mancini has big dreams for expanding Porn Star Bruch next year: “If I had my way, I would love to do an entire food festival around AVN.” Now doesn’t that sound yummy.