Sunday, July 18, 2010

Meet Ali

Can't believe I haven't shared this portrait sooner. I love it! Not just because I think it's a great portrait, but also because this guy is such a character. It's Ali Pirouzkar. Look familiar? He had a role in "Casino," and he just exudes Vegas. One of the reasons he caught my eye, and one of the reasons I tracked him down.

I did a big write-up on Ali for the Pulse of Vegas Blog for Harrah's:

Awhile back, while roaming the storied halls of Caesars Palace, this Las Vegas blog spotted a distinctive-looking gent making his way among the shops of the Appian Way, destination unknown.

He looked so familiar. Immaculately dressed. Large, unmistakable glasses. Thick hair and pencil-thin mustache. He just had a presence, and honestly, carried himself like he owned the joint.

So, in the days that followed, we sought out this mysterious fellow. We asked longtime Caesars employees. We talked to P.R. We talked to marketing. But to no avail.

A week or two later, we received “Casino” from Netflix. As a Las Vegas blog, we are obligated to view a steady supply of Vegas-themed movies, and “Casino” is one of the classics about the town, the early culture of Vegas, and, yes, the unfortunate whacking that sometimes took place in Sin City’s formative years.

There’s a sequence in 1995′s “Casino” that we’d forgotten. Sharon Stone is cozying up to a high roller, and gets on a hot roll. She steals some chips from the “whale,” and they get into an argument resulting in her throwing his chips into the air (in slow motion, of course). And there, right there, we saw the very mystery man we’d spotted at Caesars Palace.
So, we quickly pursued our lead and learned the character’s name was, of all things, High Roller. The actor? Someone named Ali Pirouzkar. Now we were getting somewhere!

The Interwebs were fairly useless in our quest, but then we came across a mention in an article by one of our favorite local journalists, John Katsilometes. He wrote that Ali Pirouzkar was currently the “maitre d’ for the fun new supper show ‘Only You’ at Hennessey’s Tavern on Fremont Street.” The trail of clues had gone from warm to hot.

We ventured down to Fremont Street, and sure enough, we met Ali Pirouzkar, a man with a colorful personality and a one-of-a-kind style to match.

It doesn’t take much prodding to get Ali to talk about “Casino” and the history of Vegas.

The Iranian-born Pirouzkar was discovered by “Casino” talent scouts while strolling through the Fashion Show Mall (where he managed a men’s shop at the time). He hit it off with the film’s director, Martin Scorsese, and stars Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.

Here’s a little Pulse of Vegas Blog exclusive: On Ali’s first night of filming (at the Riviera), a man snuck into a secure area and offered Ali $10,000 to walk off the film (so the man could presumably snag Ali’s part). Ali, obviously, declined.

Ali’s sequence took 12 days to shoot. Nights, actually, since filming was done during the casino’s off-hours, midnight to 10:00 a.m.

The rest is cinematic and Las Vegas history!

These days, the animated and ever-eccentric Ali is still recognized wherever he goes, asked for his autograph dozens of times a day. The “Cult of Ali” is in full effect! In fact, his presence causes such a stir, security at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace has asked that he let them know when he’ll be visiting so they can better manage crowd control.

If you bump into Ali, trust us, you’ll always remember your encounter.

Tell him this Las Vegas blog says, “Hi!” In fact, he even said you can call him anytime at 702-612-3587 (especially if you’re a casting agent). Only in Vegas!

Update (7/17/10): We hear “Only You,” the show for which Ali was maitre d’, has closed. In Vegas, a lot can change in a week! We wish the cast, and Ali, the best in their future endeavors.

1 comment:

Jonderson said...

Being in Michigan, I suppose I will have to wait until he dies before he starts being seen over here.