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Where Were They Then?

Danny Koker
Danny Koker, Counting Cars

Notable Las Vegans in 1989


“That was the year we started making Saturday Fright at the Movies on Channel 33! I was the host, Count Cool Rider, a vampire who loved Elvis and everything Las Vegas. What better place to live than a 24-hour town? That crazy late-night show ran for 10 years!”

Danny Koker, Counting Cars

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In 1989, Nicolas Cage starred in the cult-classic comedy Vampire’s Kiss, which The Washington Post panned as “incoherently bad.” Later, he was in Vegas-centric films such as Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) and Leaving Las Vegas (1995), which won him an Oscar for Best Actor.

1989 is the year George Knapp broke the story of Bob Lazar, the man who claimed to have worked at Area 51, where he saw alien spacecraft and other mysterious technology. “And thus I became the UFO guy,” Knapp says.

After leaving Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Las Vegas musician Mark Slaughter formed a new hard rock band, Slaughter. The band’s 1990 debut album, Stick It To Ya, went on to sell more than 2 million copies.

“I was 10 years old living in the Bay Area outside of San Francisco, and had never been to Las Vegas. The most notable thing that year was the big earthquake, which was quite scary.”
Alexandra Berzon, 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for a series on Strip construction deaths in the Sun

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Britney Spears was 8. A few years later, she’d appear on Star Search, and the ’90s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club alongside Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Timberlake.

Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, was 2 years old.

“1989 is the year I arrived in Las Vegas to begin what’s now a 30-year run on local radio and TV stations. I stayed my first couple weeks at the Gold Coast, wondering about my career choice. Returning each night to the hotel, I crossed the lounge, which featured a stand-up comic tossing rapid-fire jokes and insults at random passers-by. The performer? None other than Cork Proctor.”
Nate Tannenbaum, Anchor, KLAS Channel 8

Guy Fieri, The Mayor of Flavortown, was attending UNLV. In 1990, he graduated with a bachelor’s in hotel management, and went on to make his mark on the culinary world and bring what The New York Times called an “element of rowdy, mass-market culture to American food television.”

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Best known for her 1981 pop hit “Mickey,” Las Vegas High School alum Toni Basil continued her main career of film choreography through the ’80s, but also appeared in a few schlocky horror flicks, including Slaughterhouse Rock (1988) and Rockula (1990).


“I was home with husband #1, two kids, no real employment, movie or TV prospects, and had just been named ‘Worst Actress of the Decade.’ It was a wake-up call that I should focus on my real passion — singing. I then went on tour opening for Frank Sinatra, and that led to my cabaret show and opening of Pia’s Place at Piero’s.”

Pia Zadora, actress and singer


“I was 29, working at the Tropicana as a specialty act in The Folies Bergère. But I had dreams of my own show. My routine: I’d wake up and spend a few hours inthe garage sawing and hammering props — then jump in the shower and drive to work. After two shows, it was back to the garage to continue building new illusions. Eventually, I had enough to open my own show at the Hacienda in 1991.”

Lance Burton, magician