Le Reve's Benoit Beaufils' Dream



Le Reve Performer Fulfills his Own Dream

Le Rêve—The Dream has been playing in Las Vegas for 10 years, and has been named the No. 1 show in the city. It’s no wonder that this aquatic masterpiece at the Wynn Las Vegas is such a success. The remarkably talented cast performs synchronized swimming routines, dances in the water while aerialists fly through the air, and divers leap from up to 80 feet above the pool. They put on an absolutely breathtaking performance. During the 10 years Le Rêve has run, more than 5.2 million people from all over the world have seen it. 

Le Rêve’s multi-talented cast member, Benoit Beaufils, took a brief leave of absence last month to fulfill his own dream. He left for Kazan, Russia, to compete for his home country of France in the FINA World Championship for synchronized swimming. This is the first time that FINA, the international governing authority for aquatic sports, has added a mixed duet to the 2015 world championships, and a first for men, who can now compete.

Performing in Le Rêve nightly for 10 years as a swimmer and acrobat, Benoit Beaufils hasn’t competed nationally for 17 years. After performing on France’s national championship swimming team, and then realizing he could accomplish nothing further, because men were not allowed to compete with women in the Olympics, at the age of 18, he decided to move to the United States. Since he left France, no one has surpassed his skills, and he is still considered to be one of the top accomplished male synchronized swimmers in the world. When the mixed duet was added, Beaufils was contacted by France’s national team coach and asked if he’d be willing to represent France and compete with Virginie Dedieu. “I didn’t hesitate for a minute,” said Beaufils. Dedieu is France’s best and most decorated swimmer, plus she won the bronze medal in the women’s duet at the 2000 Summer Olympics. “It was 100 percent a dream come true.”

STRIPLV: How long have you been swimming?
BEAUFILS: I’ve been swimming since I was 7 years old. I competed for France until I was about 20 years old and I’ve been in Vegas since then. 
STRIPLV: With you working nightly at Le Rêve, and Virginie living and working in France, how do you train?
BEAUFILS: We have trained separately for nine months. We recorded our training sessions on video and sent them to each other via the Internet. We’ve had about five or six training sessions together. Getting into shape for the last nine months was a lot of work. I said yes without any hesitation, but a week after the workouts and doing the show at night, I realized what I had gotten myself into. Besides, when I said yes, my daughter was only a week old and I didn’t realize how complicated and demanding life would become.

“ Now I’m in better shape than ever. I have stamina, endurance, and strength like I used to when I was younger.”

STRIPLV: At 37, you are older than some of your challengers. Do you see that as a problem?
BEAUFILS: The youngest teams from Russia, Italy and Spain are in their late teens or early twenties. I remember my stamina when I was 18 and I was unstoppable. Now, we have to be a lot smarter in the way we choreograph the routine, so we’ll be able to run it all the way through. I think the difference with the older performers is that we have more experience as far as performing goes. Personally, in the last 17 years, I feel I’ve developed quite a good acting skill. That’s what we really tried to put in our number, basing the choreography about the relationship between a man and a woman, more than just applying just technique and same arm movements. Instead, we went for more of a “pas de deux” (dance for two) that you would see in dance. The younger teams will put a lot of emphasis on technique. I think our strong point is definitely our artistry. Virginie has always been known for how beautiful an actress she was in the water. I think that’s what also attracted our coach to me. Virginie has a unique form, and every time the coach came to see me in the show, she saw what a chameleon I was, because Le Rêve requires a lot of versatility in the acting. In some acts you’re a very strong warrior, then you’re a lover, the next you’re a jealous man. You have to put your acting skills to work. That’s why I’m very thankful for Le Rêve. The show has given me a lot of versatility in this aspect. 
STRIPLV: Nightly, when you swim in Le Rêve, what is the temperature of the pool and does that differ from the pool in which you will swim in Russia?
BEAUFILS: The pool here at Wynn is kept at 89 degrees. Some of us have to be in the water for the entire show, so it would be quite challenging if the pool was 82 or 81, the way they are in a municipal pool. In Russia, it will be about 80-81 degrees. 
STRIPLV: How tall are you and Virginie, and does the height present an advantage or disadvantage?
BEAUFILS: I’m 5’8” and I think she’s 5’6”. An advantage? Yes and no. If she was shorter, she would also be lighter, and with all the lifting that we do in the routine, it would be easier. She’s also so skinny. She’s very, very thin, even though she’s had two children; she came back in amazing shape. It’s easy to lift her, because she’s less than 100 pounds, so it’s not that difficult for me. 
STRIPLV: Who picked the music for your routine?
BEAUFILS: The song choice was a very important decision. The three of us: the coach, Virginie and I had a lot of input and decided on the music. Then it became very inspirational to our whole choreograph, in general. 
STRIPLV: What acrobatic things do you do in Le Rêve?
BEAUFILS: I don’t do the high diving; I do a lot of the high flying. I’m an aerialist, so I do the rope number, which comes from 80 feet up in the air. I do most of my routine at about 40-50 feet above the pool. Being a synchronized swimmer was great, and the next step was moving to an aerial job, and my favorite part of Le Rêve has been able to fly every night. Because of some of the high-flying acrobatics I do, I have to train at least once a week. 
STRIPLV: Do you have a special diet while you’re training? 
BEAUFILS: Getting older, your metabolism slows down, so I was trying to be very careful. The good thing now, swimming 4 hours a day, I’m constantly hungry. Now I can eat pretty much whatever I want and stay very fit. It’s probably going to be a big adjustment when I’m done with the competition. It’s going to be really hard to watch what I eat again. 

Beaufils and his partner, who performs in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere at Treasure Island, have a 10-month-old daughter together named Siella. They will both be going to Russia to cheer him on. 

Benoit Beaufils says he hopes these championships open the door to mixed duet eventually becoming an Olympic event. “I don’t think it’s going to happen in time for Brazil. That’s only a year away,” he says. “But I think there’s a very decent chance for Tokyo (in 2020).”

Arnold Schwarzenegger - Unyielding Force


Unyielding Force

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been larger than life.

First, he was the Austrian stud who intimidated and muscled his way into winning five Mr. Universe bodybuilding championships. Then, he used his good looks and natural guile to make his mark in Hollywood and ultimately become one of the biggest box-office stars in the film business. Films like Conan the Barbarian, Twins, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, and True Lies are all part of the Schwarzenegger legend. But it was James Cameron’s seminal 1984 film, The Terminator, which truly established Schwarzenegger as a major international movie star, whose classic line: “I’ll be back!” became part of modern culture.

Schwarzenegger became a symbol for action heroes and a rough-hewn brand of macho swagger. When he began to tire of Hollywood, he shifted his attention and relentless ambition to politics and successfully ran for Governor of California, having already become part of political royalty by marrying Maria Shriver of the fabled Kennedy family dynasty. 

Though his marriage ended after he admitted to having fathered a child with the family housekeeper, Schwarzenegger is not a man to admit defeat. He has resurrected his film career of late and is now about to see whether his name still carries weight in Terminator: Genisys, the fourth installment in the Terminator franchise. Having wisely skipped T3 (the Christian Bale film that was widely panned), Arnold decided to return to the role that turned him into a major movie star.

“I always said that I would do another Terminator if the story is great,” Schwarzenegger says. “I think I really enjoyed this story when I read it. I wanted another chance to get into the character, because I’ve always been very passionate about it. It’s a great and interesting character. I think it’s a great story and I feel like I’ve been playing him my whole life. It’s part of me.”

In Terminator: Genisys, Arnold returns to the role of the seemingly indestructible android who, this time out, has been programmed to protect Sarah Conner from the machine invasion that is in the process of destroying earth. The stunningly beautiful Emilia Clarke (Daenerys of Game of Thrones) takes over the Sarah Connor role and she and Schwarzenegger may well return the Terminator franchise to its former glory days.

STRIPLV: Arnold, are you excited about returning to the Terminator franchise that catapulted you into one of the biggest movie stars in the history of Hollywood?
SCHWARZENEGGER: It’s been a very rewarding experience to get back into the role. It was kind of like riding a bicycle—that you never really lose it—now I’m back again. James Cameron created a great concept about machines taking over the world, and in our present day, this is more true than ever. So I think a new generation of audiences is going to be anxious to see our Terminator movie and be part of this new journey. There are incredibly talented people who are part of this movie and it’s a very visionary story. It’s a big and exciting world that we’ve created.
STRIPLV: Were you worried about coming back to the role, in case the film wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of action that the first two films were so famous for?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I never would have become involved if the story and the visual effects were not bigger and better than ever. We all knew that we had to raise the game and go way beyond what we did in Terminator and T2. We were ahead of our time with the visual effects on those films, and we want to be even further ahead with what we’ve done with this movie. We want audiences all over the world to feel that they’re witnessing a very powerful and entertaining movie. We want to deliver on every level possible.
STRIPLV: Has the film industry changed a great deal since you were the top box-office star in the ‘80s and ‘90s?
SCHWARZENEGGER: To me, the important thing is that my movies can play anywhere, and people will understand the drama, the action, or whatever, and get entertained. Whether it’s a Conan script or a Terminator movie, the movie has to play the same way on all the different continents. That’s very important. From the beginning when I was getting started, I always looked at everything in a global way, whether it was bodybuilding or fitness promotion. Even though I passed environmental laws in California, I was thinking about how to make it effective all over the world. It’s always about the world. With movies, even though I had big fights in the beginning, I remember that, with Universal Studios we were going to do promotion for Conan the Barbarian, and I said, “Let’s go to 10 countries.” They said, “No, no. That’s not how we do it. We visit three countries: England, France, and the Cannes Film Festival.” I wanted to go to Italy, Germany, Japan. I kept at it and eventually they sent me to 10 countries, but they thought it was a little out there. They said: “This guy just likes to travel around.” But it had nothing to do with traveling around. I thought that the world was the marketplace, not just America.
STRIPLV: Obviously, big new markets, like Asia and particularly China, are very important to Hollywood studio productions…
SCHWARZENEGGER: Look what happened: I was totally on-the-money. I’m so happy today, because I was so right and way ahead of the curve. Now, in China, The Fast and the Furious made like $400 million and will end up making more over there than in America. China’s right behind America. So the world is very important for box office and making big movies. You need to go to China, Japan, African nations. You need to go to these places and make sure they’re building theaters all over the world. It’s a world economy. 
STRIPLV: With a massive film like this, actors like yourself are forced to imagine the background and work with the green screen in the background. Do you ever worry about the final product itself and whether it’s going to match your own vision?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that when you are shooting the movie, you really are not aware of any of that. It is sometimes challenging when you film and you only see a green background and then you have to kind of imagine that this is inside some huge factory or this is the future world and all of those things, so that will be then put in later on when you’re not there. And what is really surprising is then when you watch it, because I was not there when a lot of this stuff was done visual effects-wise, and all of a sudden to see the size of the movie and to see it then with the music and to see it all when it’s totally finished. Like, I’ve just watched it literally a few days ago, before I went to Brazil, and then came over here to Australia—I was blown away by it. 
STRIPLV: You’ve played in many different kinds of movies, including the recent horror film, Maggie. What’s your favorite role of your career?
SCHWARZENEGGER: It’s hard to say. I enjoyed playing with Danny DeVito, the twin brother, as much as I enjoyed being the Terminator, the cyborg machine, or being Conan, or being Jamie Lee Curtis’ husband in True Lies. These are all very fun characters. I know the people enjoy me playing the tough characters or the funny characters. I also enjoyed being in the jungle with those guys and fighting the Predator. These are all fun characters to play. But, I also have the joy of playing my real-life character. That’s a much more challenging character to play. Being someone who’s on a fitness crusade, always out there promoting health and fitness, and being on an environmental crusade, protecting the environment.
STRIPLV: You are a man of enormous ambition and you have accomplished virtually everything you have ever set your mind toward achieving—from bodybuilding to movies to politics. Did you surpass your own expectations?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I never thought that I would be able to do all of those things to the extent that I did it. I would say that I always was very motivated; I always had big visions. I’m very serious about my visions. I see them very clearly. Unlike most people, I really see them clearly, and therefore I see that you can go after them, if you work hard and if you know how to get there. That’s number two. And number three, I think it is because of America. America is… it’s always known to be the land of opportunity, but I have experienced it firsthand. It’s not just a slogan or a saying. It is really the land of opportunity, because only in America, you can do something like that.
STRIPLV: Did you ever find yourself getting caught up in your own image when it seemed like you were on top of the world?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I never took myself too seriously. What I did take seriously and very serious were the issues that I tackle—that if you talk about promotion of health and fitness and you become the chairman of the President’s Council on Fitness and you go through all 50 states and you go into the schools and you promote the idea of hiring more physical education teachers. Or if you go out and try to get an extra $500 million for after-school programs. Or if you go out and try to convince the people to get off fossil fuels and to go into more renewable energy, since we have an abundant amount of that. So those issues I take very seriously. But I don’t take myself that seriously, because I’m… to me, life is all about, you know, hard work, and my father always said to me, “Be useful.” To be useful, it’s very important to do something that is bigger than you are, causes that are bigger than you are, but have a good time at the same time. Smile, have a good time, have a positive attitude and see always everything “the glass is half-full,” rather than half-empty.
STRIPLV: You’ve had personal ups and downs in your life. How do you move forward?
SCHWARZENEGGER: By not dwelling on your mistakes. 

“ I refuse to dwell on the negative, because there’s no point. It won’t change anything. You need to move forward, become a better man, do greater things. You can’t stop. It’s ridiculous and counterproductive to indulge in suffering and guilt. It won’t make things better or help you deal with it. I will never do that. I will always go forward in life.”

Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul


Better Call Saul

When rumors of a Breaking Bad spin-off began doing the rounds, Saul Goodman wasn’t the character most expected him to be—least of all his off-screen alter ago, Bob Odenkirk. 

“I just assumed it was a sick joke, then kept going,” he wholeheartedly, yet humbly laughed. “And the joke had legs. Even when the rumors became actual conversation with [show creator] Vince Gilligan, I still thought: ‘C’mon, you’re not going to get me on this! I’m not falling for that one.’”

But the 52 year-old former comedy writer, who previously scripted Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, was, for the many millions of fans of Bad, the breakout star. So examining the early years of the sleazy criminal lawyer, with more than a dabbling in underhand tactics, seemed like a no-brainer for all involved.

Cut to the U.S. series premiere in the States which broke the record for a cable TV show—over 6-million viewers tuned into see Saul as his prior guise: Jimmy McGill, and how he morphed from hapless defense attorney struggling to get by, to the criminal mastermind favorite in Breaking Bad.

The journey itself has been astonishing for the man in the middle of the action. And as he sits down to discuss his newfound status as one of the more powerful stars on the small screen, Odenkirk, married to manager/wife Naomi, mother of their two teens, Nathan and Erin, is still aghast at his newfound celebrity status.

But one imagines he’ll accustom quickly. In a structured pale blue/grey suit, he chats about his relationship with Bad stars, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul; why he doesn’t want an Oscar; and the memories of the Benny Hill Show.

STRIPLV: Congratulations, sir—highest ratings for a cable series premiere! What was it, 4.5 million?
ODENKIRK: That’s in the demographic. We got six million altogether.
STRIPLV: Well, is that in itself, daunting or satisfying?
ODENKIRK: I didn’t even think about that. Obviously, I wanted it to do well, but record-breaking or what that would mean... it’s intimidating afterwards. It’s wonderful to experience and people are so eager to see it because Breaking Bad was so liked, and when things are liked that strongly, they become precious to them. So I’m thankful that people are responding well to Better Call Saul and responding to that. I’m thankful for that.
STRIPLV: “Breaking Bad” fans were elated that there was going to be something to help fill their void, but it turned into much more than that, didn’t it?
ODENKIRK: There’s a lot of fun in the show and I hope that will keep them. He’s often getting his ass kicked round the block and I hope that’s something fun for them to watch.
STRIPLV: Were you concerned the show was going to less Frasier and more Joey?
ODENKIRK: Yes. (laughs) Definitely.
STRIPLV: How did you allay those fears?
ODENKIRK: I’ll tell you one way. My daughter said to me, and she hadn’t seen Breaking Bad, and we were talking about the show and she said: “Well, Dad, if it’s not good, how bad can it be?” And I said, “It’s going to be written by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, so that’s all you need to know.” Like, it’s going to be good, it’s going to have integrity. It’s going to have quality, and complexity. Will it win as many hearts as Breaking Bad? It was a world-class show of its era. But can you shoot for that every time? Can’t you just shoot for a really good show? Vince could do anything after Breaking Bad. Anything! But he’s not going to re-tread something because it’s easy, or because he can soak people for money—because he could do that.
STRIPLV: What’s it like then, delving into the character of Jimmy McGill and moving away from Saul? They’re like two different characters in a way.
ODENKIRK: We actually worried we were going so far from this character that we were presenting a different person. But we only see Saul Goodman in his office or doing his job. You never see the person behind that. Until that last scene in that basement cellar room with Walter White, remember when he said, “It was over!” That was the only time you saw when he wasn’t working. We’re all different when we’re away from our job. He’s very different away in his private life, away from his job, but he’s still Saul Goodman.
STRIPLV: What about Walt or Jesse possibly making an appearance? Everyone wants to know...
ODENKIRK: There’s no Walter White or Jesse in the first season of Better Call Saul. But I’ve been told by the writers that there’s quite a chance as the seasons go. They really wanted to establish the show on its own and create its own world—not because we dangle Walter White in front of them.
STRIPLV: So it’s nice to have the focus off them and on yourself?
ODENKIRK: It’s all about me. (laughs) It’s the Bob Show now. I don’t want those guys coming back!! (laughter)
STRIPLV: Are you close to either Aaron or Bryan?
ODENKIRK: They’re really great, great guys, but because I was never on set too long during Breaking Bad, like in and out in the same day most times, I never had the chance to bond with them like that. So obviously when I see them, it’s great. They’re so incredibly busy, you could never catch them for a free minute, I’m sure.
STRIPLV: You’re relatively new to all this attention from the press now? How does that make you feel?
ODENKIRK: Weird. Very weird. It gives me anxiety. Like this, or appearing on a chat show myself, I feel like: ‘Why are you aiming the camera at me? That’s enough of me talking, I don’t want that weight.’ This feels very intimidating to me.
STRIPLV: You don’t appear that intimidated.
ODENKIRK: (laughs) It’s all internalized.
STRIPLV: So are you a star now? Are the movie offers coming through?
ODENKIRK: I wouldn’t know. My wife is my manager and she has a partner endeavor and I guess they would know if I am.
STRIPLV: Are they not telling you?
ODENKIRK: Probably not. Why aren’t they telling me? (laughs) Right now, I’m doing my own show, aptly called Mr. Show, and more Saul.
STRIPLV: Isn’t that kind of restricting?
ODENKIRK: Not at all. You want to know why? So many actors, you talk to them and their whole career is about positioning. ‘I want to do this, and I want to do here. I want to do comedy and then I want to do a musical to show everyone I can sing. And hopefully it’s leading to somewhere.’ For me, everything I’ve done has been leading to Saul. This is it for me. People ask me, do I want to win an Oscar and I say: “I don’t know.”
STRIPLV: Would the role be better than this?
ODENKIRK: I can’t think of a role in the last year, even in movies, that’s as good as Better Call Saul.
STRIPLV: That means you’ve peaked.
ODENKIRK: That’s all good with me. If I can maintain this, I’m more than happy with that. I’m happier to work on Saul than win an Oscar. I’m serious.
STRIPLV: But were you happy to come back to New Mexico to shoot on a much more time consuming script?
ODENKIRK: That was one thing I wasn’t so happy about. I have a wife and teenagers in L.A. and I didn’t want to leave it all to her. I didn’t want to give her the whole responsibility. And they’re good kids, never get into much trouble, but you know, there’s a lot going on. When I did Breaking Bad, I would fly in and fly out on the same day. I never got to know the community. That’s not the case now. I’m out there for days, weeks at a time, which is an adjustment, but we’re working on it. It’s taking some tweaks and conversations, but ultimately, everyone involved knows it’s worth it.
STRIPLV: Where did you grow up?
ODENKIRK: Outside Chicago in a town called Naperville. It’s a very old town, maybe 138 years old (laughs) in the Midwest.
STRIPLV: When did you first get the bug for acting?
ODENKIRK: It was probably for comedy and stand-up and writing, which is where my background lies, instead of acting as such. And I don’t know, I’d say my dad probably. He was one of these guys who made up jokes all the time; cynical ones. He was a really funny guy.
STRIPLV: Didn’t he like Benny Hill, I read somewhere?
ODENKIRK: Yeah, where’d you read that? Yeah, he liked that fast motion comedy, I guess. I wasn’t as into it, but he liked it.
STRIPLV: And you started writing comedy sketches when you were ten?
ODENKIRK: You’ve done your research. (laughs) Ten, eleven maybe. And then I got to Second City [Chicago comedy club and school] and honed my craft, as it were, with guys like Andy Dick and Chris Farley.
STRIPLV: And then you embarked on a career in stand-up? Not easy.
ODENKIRK: It’s actually easier than you’d imagine. With acting, you’re waiting for the part to come to you. You’re waiting for that call. But with stand-up, you’re writing your own material. It’s all down to you, no matter what.
STRIPLV: So does it feel weird to have no hand in Saul, then? Or is that what you’re working towards?
ODENKIRK: I could never dare to tinker with the genius of Vince Gilligan. That would be incredibly foolish of me.
STRIPLV: How does it feel doing a Benjamin Button on this show? You’re getting the chance to look younger?
ODENKIRK: You know what? They’re going to use CGI. Isn’t that cool? When you see me as Jimmy, I’m just me. I’m just trying to pull that off with the performance. But then you’re going to see him young. With CGI, they’re going to clean that all up. I hope it makes me look younger, and looks real, more importantly. And if it does, I implore everyone to try it.




The Men of "Chaos & Confetti" - More than Talent and Good Looks
by Marla Santos

Many articles have been written about the Recycled Percussion show, describing how much fun it is to watch and even participate in, but you’ll have to read that elsewhere.  

Recently I sat with all four of the multitalented men of Recycled Percussion, whose talents are truly extensive, as “extreme percussionists” (band founder, Justin, is considered the “world’s fastest drummer”), also body percussion, songwriting, guitar, DJ, gymnastics, stunting, and with an overall incredible athletic ability that requires strength and tremendous stamina as they perform (especially when the two lead percussionists, Justin and his cousin Ryan, climb to the top of two 18-foot ladders, drumming on each wrung all the way to the top, only to jump off, all the way back down to the floor, backwards, perfectly in sync.) Yes, extreme talent.

But this feature interview is not about their incredible talents and showmanship—it’s about the men behind-the-curtain—paying it forward—not just to their beloved Vegas community, or their East Coast hometowns in New Hampshire and Ohio—but to the world.  

Vegas is bountiful with performers who give back through charity, but Justin Spencer dedicates his very being. He is hands-on, in the community giving 110 percent of his heart and much of his free time when he’s not onstage. Justin is the real deal—not just financing, but offering his own, blistered hand… to the homeless, the vets and their families, as a motivational speaker, campaigning for anti-bullying, outreaching to schools, for the needy, those in hard times… So driven to help others help themselves, Justin poured his mission into a book titled: “One Life, One Legacy – X”. Over the last five years, Justin has developed the Legacy X program, using the approach of anti-substance, pro fitness, branding-based and goal-setting lifestyle, in order to help others reach their dreams and achieve their goals. Legacy X is driven by Justin’s passion to educate and lead people to live their life to the fullest while creating their own legacy.

Recycled Percussion arrived in Las Vegas in 2010 and things haven’t been the same since. Justin Spencer, the show’s founder and high speed drummer, along with cousin Ryan Vezina, extreme drummer and body percussion expert, Matt Bowman, guitarist and percussionist, and Jason Davies, acrobat, DJ and percussionist, use everything they can get their hands on to create their junk-based rhythmic music. Watching these four talented and charismatic men own the stage during their “Chaos and Confetti” show is truly awesome. And with stunts like the “ladder jump,” only a daredevil or an extremely fit and agile athlete would try something so risky, especially when they have no backup performers to fill in, if and when they get hurt—which has occurred. They’ve broken bones, ankles, fingers and noses—and continued on through their performance enduring their injuries, not missing a beat, for an amazing 5,000 shows worldwide.

That kind of dedication can definitely be seen on stage—but it’s branded in the heart of the band’s founder, Justin Spencer—and his generous nature, and his cousin Ryan’s love to give back—like the times he has given free drum lessons to children in need, all of which has created a domino effect within the band—and it has been reverberating throughout Las Vegas and across the world ever since they collaborated.

So who are these talented men of Recycled Percussion, and what is the driving force of giving for the good of all mankind? —something in their childhood? —an inspiring mentor?

JUSTIN: I’ve been playing drums since I was two. I remember being a kid and making concert tickets on pieces of paper and selling them to my family upstairs in the kitchen, to come downstairs and watch my concerts. They gave me all the affirmation I needed to keep going. I remember very vividly, at age four, when my mom and dad took me to see the Ramones. I was in the front row and the band gave me a guitar pick. I remember wanting to be in a “Rock-n-Roll” band really bad at that time, and that confirmed everything for me. I’ve always had this desire to be on stage and to perform. Seeing the Ramones and bands like that, I was so fortunate and so inspired by that. My dad was a drummer in a band that used to play locally around the Boston area. The band was nothing special, but to a little kid, my dad was a superhero.  
RYAN: My dad was a drummer and he would leave drumsticks around the house, and I would pick them up when I was really young…three or four years old. My dad was a rock guy.  
JUSTIN: I grew up poor with substance abuse prevalent in my house and family. Ryan’s life was very similar to mine. I’m probably a little more hard-core about it than Ryan was. During a good chunk of Ryan’s childhood he didn’t have a father around.
RYAN: My father was also a hard-core alcoholic, did drugs, and was homeless for a long time. I never even knew my dad existed for a long time. Justin and I had a similar upbringing, so stuff really hit home with us. Neither of us drink alcohol; we’ve never had a beer. We’ve never smoked. My parents got divorced when I was two or three, and Justin’s parents got divorced around that same time, too.
JUSTIN: I had an uncle who was ten years older than I was and he was a positive role model for me. He gave me the opportunity to see the other side of things. He gave me the opportunity to see what it was that life could be if you stayed away from drugs and alcohol. That was a big thing for me! Growing up with alcoholics, I decided at a very young age that I would never drink, and to this day, I never have. Those are pivotal years between five and twelve where you’re really a sponge, and learning that your surroundings are playing a key role in your future. My uncle was a big part of things. Growing up in that environment, that atmosphere, you can either follow that path that the ones around you have set as an example, or you can look outside your immediate household to try to find inspiration, and that’s what my Uncle Matt was to me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be. His mother was also an alcoholic, but he was sober and never had a drink in his whole life, just like myself. I saw what my mom was doing in life and I saw what my uncle was doing in life and it was an easy choice for me when I compared the two.  
JASON: Justin wasn’t an abused child, but he grew up in a trailer park and his family didn’t have a lot and were sometimes on food stamps. Both Justin and Ryan are very anti-substance because of the way their families were.  
MATT: Justin is very straight-edge. He’s never had a beer in his life. Never tried alcohol, never even tried coffee. He’s very hyper…almost an ADHD thing going on. We drink the coffee. Jason is literally a caffeine addict.
JASON: If I’m by the gym by 9:00 a.m., I’ll have a Red Bull and 2 cups of coffee, a shot of Pre-Workout. I’m movin’ in the morning!  
MATT: He will wake up in the morning…it’s pitch black…crack open a Red Bull...and chug it.  
JASON: Matt does regular gym, and Justin, Ryan and myself drank the Kool-Aid on cross fit training.  
JUSTIN: People’s perception is: “Here’s this guy on stage, covered with tattoos and looking like a rocker that must love to party.” I’m up early, at the gym early, always trying to come up with new ideas for the show. My passions are not to be stuck in bars. I am married and have two daughters. Blake is six and a 6-month-old named Bonham named after John Bonham from Led Zeppelin. I have a three-band tattoo, where the middle band is my wife, and the two on the outside are my two girls, and each one has their names on those bands.
RYAN: The first band I saw was Tool. I grew up listening to Neil Peart and Buddy Rich, all the old jazz stuff, and Gene Krupa. I also went through a funk phase where I liked Travis Barker. I grew up with punk and grunge, but I also liked Aerosmith. Justin’s grandmother and my grandmother are sisters, so I think that makes us second cousins. Here’s the crazy story of us meeting: Justin formed the band in 1995 and I had no idea who he was, even though we were related. I was ten years younger than him. He grew up with my older sister. I was in 5th grade in elementary school. The principal came on the intercom and said there was going to be a band that played drums on recycled objects. I was so interested because I was a drummer, so I asked if I could announce whoever this was and said: “I’ll write a script,” and the principal said: “Of course.” I ended up going on stage that night. I met Justin for the first time and told him: “Your show is so inspirational, and you’re an amazing drummer.” He didn’t know who I was either. I ended up going to three more of their shows in town, and when I told my mom about it, describing how good these guys were, she told me: “Justin Spencer is your cousin.” I said: “Get the hell out of here!” So we ended up hooking up, and he invited me to dinner one day and to jam out at the studio. Then we started unraveling all the inner workings of this thing. His dad and my dad actually grew up playing drums together like we are now. 

Matt grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, close to where Justin and Ryan grew up, while Jason comes from Youngstown, Ohio. Matt confessed that he started playing guitar when he was young because he wanted to be Slash from Guns N’ Roses. Jason said he was on the path to become a gymnast with hopes of trying for the Olympics.  

MATT: I have played guitar for 23 years. I met Justin in 1996, a year after he started the band. I was teaching guitar, playing in three different bands, and had just gotten divorced when Justin reached out to me to be in the band. Justin is the only original member from 1995. Ryan joined about 10 years ago. We met Jason during the America’s Got Talent live show. 
JASON: Being a gymnast is one of the toughest things in the world. Being an Olympian is always the goal, but it’s incredibly hard to get to that level. I had a really bad gymnastics injury, so at around thirteen I decided that I would take up dance at the studio my mom owned. Being at the studio was a good idea. There were a lot of girls there, and I thought there might even be a career in it. Right out of high school I went to New York and lived there for about twelve years. I was on Broadway, performing in Wicked. My mom moved out to Las Vegas, so I always knew I wanted to retire out here. I love it out here! I am coming up on my third year with the band.  
RYAN: When I got out of school, I was working as a host at a restaurant, and Justin called and said: “Yo, dude—what are you doing today?” He said he was in Florida and one of his guys had to go back home. He asked if I could fly there—so I quit my job and flew there the same day. I remember listening to this tape on my Sony Walkman and hearing three drummers. I asked Justin which one I was supposed to be and he said: “You are the one that goes like this,” (proceeding to make the drum sounds). He threw me in the show and I didn’t realize how hard the physical aspect of it was. I thought I was dying! I guess I came out of the gate swinging too hard. It took weeks to adjust! The four of us in Recycled get along pretty well, and it’s a good balance. Justin is off the wall 24/7: “Let’s go sky diving, let’s go do this…” Jason and Matt are super chill and I’m somewhere in the middle. I do all the video editing for the show, and I write a lot of the music. That is what’s cool about the band. We all get to do our own thing.  
MATT: People are always asking us if we’re having fun during the show. We are!
JASON: ...And when we hand out toys on Christmas before our show.
MATT: Then every New Year’s we go back to perform in New Hampshire, which is great for me, because my family’s there. 
RYAN: In New Hampshire, our fans are crazier, so it’s a lot of fun. I’m a tapper, and if I didn’t have drumsticks, I’d tap. I remember doing it in the shower when I was very young. I was doing the body percussion backstage one day and I remember a stagehand going: “That’s cool, man!” Five years later, I’m doing it in the show. The show is a very physical show and when the show’s done, your arms are just throbbing. Justin and I are always in constant pain. Your muscles are tight and your lactic acid is at its height. Lactic acid levels get higher with strenuous exercise. The show is really dangerous. We underplay it. The ladders are probably the most dangerous part of the show. We don’t take enough precautions, because it doesn’t seem that bad. But, that’s when you start rolling ankles and chipping skin out of your legs. You have a certain muscle memory just for the show. I could be in the best shape of my life, but not play a show for a year, then go back and try to do the show. Even though I’m in amazing shape, I couldn’t play the show. Drumming is a whole different set of muscles. I can be an amazingly fast drummer, but not be able to lift anything in the gym. So they’re completely separate things. Justin and I go to the gym every day and he’s probably in the best shape he’s ever been in. He just won a cross fit competition. He had never tried running in his life and he ran and won 1st place. He’s like a freak of nature!

“I am hoping to get to Antarctica someday. I’ve traveled the world and it’s one place I haven’t been. I can’t be greedy. I’ve already bought nice cars in my life, and had the nice houses. I’ve done those things that everyone aspires to have and do and it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. I think it scores high, worrying about what other people think of you, rather than what’s important. Am I buying the car for me or am I buying it so that when I pull into the Valet they go: ‘Wow look at his car!’ When you live life like that, trying to impress the Valet guy, you’re living in an empty hole. My aspirations of a bucket list are more about rewarding myself than anybody else.” —Justin Spencer/Recycled Percussion  

One Life, One Legacy
The book, “One Life, One Legacy - X”, written by Recycled Percussion’s founder Justin Spencer, is the operating manual that lets you live life, so that when you are on your deathbed, you can look back and say: “I kicked ass.” 

MATT: The day-to-day operations of Legacy X are all Justin.
JASON: I think he always vowed that if he ever got some level of success that he would give a lot back to people that are growing up in similar situations.
RYAN: Justin is not just an energetic drummer—he doesn’t believe in failure, and he’s really smart. I live with Justin, so Legacy X is so intertwined with our personal lives that I see it everyday and all that he’s doing. Justin just does everything on such a massive scale that no one can keep up with us.  
JUSTIN: I’m certainly the train conductor, but the guys are always there for me. If I need something or support, they are always there to help out. I grew up in a small town with little hope of making the kind of life I desired for myself. We need to take control of what we can control, and that is ourselves. I hope to accomplish two things with Legacy X: 1) I feel like I have an internal mission to open the eyes of as many individuals as I can, and shed a little light that they may not see in their own lives—to remind them that there are grand reasons to live. I don’t get into religion or into personal beliefs. I just try to reinforce to every individual that life can be beautiful, if you choose to paint the picture that way. Legacy X really came from the idea that: “Holy Cow, look what I got from a New Hampshire small town, from no money to build and do, and we’ve truly done it the hard way. We’re not a billion dollar company like Cirque du Soleil where we can just cookie-cutter our way to the Strip. We did this for 20 years to get to this point, and we did it the right way. We’ve done 5,000 shows.” So I kinda take those lessons and reinforce them to other people. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a rock band, if you’re a landscaper, a schoolteacher, a housewife, whatever, the same principals apply that we all have to find something in our lives that really gives us value—something that makes us wake up in the morning and have that butterfly feeling in our stomach. For me, that’s where Legacy X’s seed was planted. The second part is that it’s imperative that we as humanity give back. It doesn’t have to be done monetarily. It just means that we have to be conscious that we share this earth together, that we are all in some way brothers and sisters and that just because you have money does not make you better. Just because your skin is white does not make you better. Everybody has their own problems, and I find when you give back, you self-empower yourself as an individual. That’s what Legacy X is for me. On Christmas Day this year, we gave gifts to over 1,000 kids. I spent my Christmas driving around, going house-to-house, to homes that were given to me by the school district that notified me that they didn’t have any Christmas presents. I made it my mission to make sure those kids had toys. That’s so self-empowering to me, that I would imagine I get more out of that experience than the kids receiving the toy. This was the third year I’ve done this. Legacy X started six years ago with a book. When I was writing the book, I realized it wasn’t just a book, but a belief system that I was creating—basically a template, as to how one should conduct their life to get the most out of it. Let me be very clear! There are books that make us laugh, make us cry, take us on adventures and scare us. Then the occasional book comes along that literally is designed to change your life!! Legacy X is designed to create progress for all of us. The time is now… ONE LIFE, ONE LEGACY.

Recycled Percussion performs at the Saxe Theater inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. •

Eddie Redmayne - All About The Art


Eddie Redmayne
All About the Art

Edward John David Redmayne was born and raised in London, England, the son of Patricia (Burke) and Richard Charles Tunstall Redmayne, a businessman. His great-grandfather was Sir Richard Augustine Studdert Redmayne, a noted civil and mining engineer. He has English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh ancestry. Redmayne is the only member of his family to follow a career in acting, and also modeled during his teen years. He was educated at Eton College before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied History of Art. Encouraged by his parents, Redmayne took drama lessons from a young age. His first stage appearance was in the Sam Mendes production of “Oliver!” in London’s West End. He played a workhouse boy. Acting continued through school and university, including performing with the National Youth Music Theatre.

Redmayne’s first professional stage performance came in 2002 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where he played Viola in ‘Twelfth Night’. In 2004, he won the prestigious Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award for his working in Edward Albee’s play, ‘The Goat’. Further stage successes followed and in 2009 he starred in John Logan’s ‘Red’ at the Donmar Warehouse in London. He won huge critical acclaim for his role, winning an Oliver Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The play transferred to Broadway in 2010, and Redmayne went on to win a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play.

Alongside his stage career, Redmayne has worked steadily in television and film. Notable projects include Robert De Niro’s, The Good Shepherd (2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), The Pillars of the Earth (2010) and My Week with Marilyn (2011). In 2012, he co-starred in the musical Les Misérables (2012), as Marius Pontmercy.

Then in 2014, Redmayne played scientist Stephen Hawking in the biographical film drama, The Theory of Everything, opposite Felicity Jones – as Stephen’s wife, Jane Hawking. For his performance, Redmayne won multiple awards – including the Academy Award for Best Actor. As such, he became the first man born in the 1980’s to win an acting Oscar.

Flash forward to 2016 and Redmayne finds himself in similar company for the Oscar for his outstanding performance in The Danish Girl, with best supporting actress nominee, Alicia Vikander. The two actors put forth an incredibly captivating and moving performance, pushing each other’s limits and exploring sexuality and emotion in this powerful film about the life of Lili Elbe, the first woman to transition from man to woman in the early nineteen-hundred’s. We sat with Eddie and found a smart, intuitive man, who was very in touch with his emotions and his skillful acting.

STRIPLV: Who was Lili Elbe?
REDMAYNE: Lili was an extraordinary woman who lived in the early 20th century and she was born Einar Wegener and she became perhaps the first woman to transition and undergo gender confirmation surgery.  
STRIPLV: Why is she considered a pioneer and what is so extraordinary about her?
REDMAYNE: What’s extraordinary about Lili is that, in an age in which there were no predecessors, there were no transgender women that she was aware of, she had the bravery and the courage to pursue living a life authentic. I find it very interesting that we hear people go: “Just go be yourself,” and it sounds like the easiest thing in the world to just be yourself, and yet it’s not, and particularly for her. It was a huge, huge battle that she undertook with great courage and she won. She became herself.  
STRIPLV: Did she do it alone? Tell me more about Gerda and what her role was in this life-altering event for Lili.
REDMAYNE: Gerda was a formidable woman, again living the early 20th century. She was an artist. She worked independently. She had ambition and she had drive in a time when those things were perhaps frowned upon for women, and she had great love for Lili, who was then living as Einar Wegener. One of the extraordinary things about this story for me is the profundity of love. What an extraordinary thing it can be, and how it is not defined by gender, by sexuality, by race, by religion, by anything. It’s something other. It’s about the soul. At its core, The Danish Girl is an incredibly unique and beautiful love story.
STRIPLV: In the film, what’s the catalyst for Lili to start to explore her feminine side or Lili and Gerda to start exploring that together ?  
REDMAYNE: It’s interesting, because when I was preparing to play Lili, many of the transwomen I met, in fact all the transwomen I met, described how they were a different gender to that than what they were assigned at birth, from the first moment they could remember, from when they were three or four years old. One of the interesting things to me is that there’s this extraordinary drawing of Lili when she was living as Einar with this long, starched collar and this tight, tailored male suit, and its almost as if she and society have constructed this sort of male exoskeleton, which she had to unravel. The catalyst for Lili’s emergence was a moment in which Gerda, who was painting portraits, painting Ulla, some famed ballerina, and Ulla couldn’t turn up for her sitting. So she asked Lili, who was then living as Einar, to put on stockings and shoes in order that she could paint the detail, for someone who had repressed themselves for many years, who had concocted this exoskeleton, a sort of guise under which to survive.
STRIPLV: So this was Lili’s first emergence…
REDMAYNE: So I suppose, for me, I related that to this scene. The scene in the ballroom is Lili for the first time coming out in public. She has a certain safety in the sense that she has framed it as playing this game with her wife. There has been a sort of playfulness and a caprice in it. But actually the stakes are higher for her, and within the furor of watching women of that extraordinary adrenalin-fueled wonder that comes from blending, from being approached by men, to eventually being kissed by a man. But that fear and danger is sort of underneath all the equal excitement and joy, I suppose.  
STRIPLV: What did you and Tom discuss when it came to the delicateness, or the beats that you wanted to hit with the character throughout the scene.
REDMAYNE: Throughout the scene, I suppose for me, because the scene was one in which… because it was a game—she had framed within that way… and she is just emerging. And so she has been living as a man for a long time. She has been wearing these high starched collars. She’s been in this sort of exoskeleton of maleness. She is beginning to have the environment which she can relearn her femininity, so she’s watching other women. She is copying. She is finding out how she can discover her own femininity. But also under these incredibly high stakes, you’ve got to remember, at that time, this notion of… it was unheard of, absolutely unheard of, so there was a fear around the scene, as well.
STRIPLV: Tell me about working with Alicia, and if you had a favorite scene or favorite moment?
REDMAYNE: Alicia Vikander is just the most phenomenal actress. She has this amazing mixture of formidable technique. She trained as a dancer and people often cite that performance in Ex Machina—they say, “What incredible poise.” But what blew my mind was that she has this incredible, deep visceral relationship with her emotions, and she has a boldness that is on another level, and she challenged me and raised my game continuously. It was one of the huge joys of this film was getting to work with her.
STRIPLV: There is an audience that will relate to Lili’s story specifically. What are some of the themes that a wider audience you hope will relate to within this film?
REDMAYNE: I suppose what I… Lili’s story is a very unique story. One of the things that I learned while I was prepping the film is that there is no one, trans story. Everyone’s story is different. Of course it is. Everyone is different. But I suppose one of the things that really touched me is this notion of being yourself, and it sounds like the simplest of things, to be yourself, and yet I think it’s one of the hardest. Now Lili’s story and Lili’s specific life, the courage that she needed to be herself was dumbfounding. I suppose that within all of us there’s a finding of authenticity. To find what it takes to live a life of authenticity is a complicated question.  
STRIPLV: How do you hope the audiences are affected by the film?
REDMAYNE: I hope the audiences are as moved by the love story that is the ground rock of The Danish Girl as I was when I read the script. I hope that they fall for these two wonderful women who challenged each other, who challenged society, who were pioneers in many ways almost a hundred years ago. I hope through their story and through their love, they can galvanize us to aspire to live an authentic life.

Alicia Vikander - Rising Star

Right now you might ask: “Who?” when you hear the name, Alicia Vikander. But by the end of February, when the Oscars air, we predict that everyone in the world will know about this fascinating and very talented actress.

With an astonishing eight, count them—eight films released in 2015—it’s frankly going to be impossible to avoid the stunning 26-year-old Swede who, in the flesh, is like a cross between Natalie Portman and a young Julie Christie.

Vikander has been based in North London for the last four years, and by the end of 2015 she starred in [deep breath]: Seventh Son alongside Jeff Bridges and Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harington; the artificial intelligence thriller, Ex Machina with Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken); Tulip Fever alongside Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne and Unbroken’s lead Jack O’Connell; The Man from U.N.C.L.E with Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant; The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz; and her stunning performance as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne, for which she is up for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

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