Jennifer Lopez says there's "just something different" about a Las Vegas residency

Jennifer Lopez

CBS News

The marquee lights on the iconic Las Vegas strip have not always been so bright. Decades ago, they glowed with the names of famous headliners like Tony Bennett and Wayne Newton, but the lights faded and the Strip came to be known as a place for performers to play their final shows. Now, music industry icons like Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga, who love to perform without the exhausting grind of touring, are taking up residence.

"There's just something different about Vegas. It's just a more intimate experience," Lopez told CBS News' Jamie Yuccas. "I love being able to kind of feel the whole audience. When you do an arena, you hear it and you feel an energy but you really don't get that kind of connection that I can have here with people….But this is the type of place where you have to be a great entertainer."  

The residency concept is almost as old as Sin City itself. Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack turned the dusty little town into an entertainment destination, but for decades residency showrooms were dominated by performers in the twilight of their careers. That all changed when Celine Dion's first Vegas run in 2003 at Caesars Palace became the most successful residency of all time, grossing nearly $400 million over five years. 

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Jennifer Lopez performs at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

"Now it's these top artists that are global phenomena…And instead of them having to travel to see their fans, the fans are coming here to experience these great shows," said Jason Gastwirth, president of entertainment for Caesars Entertainment.

In 2013, he took a gamble on Britney Spears. In four years, the show sold more than 930,000 tickets, generating more than $140 million. It made a Vegas residency seem cool and credible again. Gastwirth's also responsible for bringing the Backstreet Boys back.

"There are so many artists intrigued by this, that sky's the limit on who we might be able to book," Gastwirth said.

Lopez jumped into her residency at Planet Hollywood in 2016. Fans wowed by the 48-year-old continually post online the show-stopping moment when she comes out on stage and slides.

"They begged me to take it out. My people are like 'Take the slide out. You don't have to slide.' And I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' The slide is the whole thing," she said.  "It's like saying, 'no, don't shake your butt.'" 
 
Lopez packs 11 costume changes into her 90-minute show. Of course, attention-grabbing fashion is nothing new for her. Her most memorable gown, the green Versace from the 2000 Grammy's, is on display in the lobby. She is the force behind every creative decision.

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Jennifer Lopez's famous green Versace gown is on display in the lobby of the hotel where she performs CBS News

"When people ask what is your advice, I go, 'Nobody knows you like you'….You know when it feels right and you know when it damn feels wrong, too," she said. "And we don't always listen to that....But I know when I listen to my gut, everything goes really well."

The residency works well for headliners who are parents like J. Lo. They can perform at night and still have time for the kids.
She shares sweet moments of her twins, Max and Emme, on stage and on social media along with her boyfriend Alex Rodriguez and their blended family.
 
"I love his kids and he loves mine," she said. "Family comes first, and then everything else kind of falls in line after that. I love what I do and I give all I have to everything I do."

Headliners like Lopez are the reason nearly 25 percent of visitors come to Vegas. They're willing to pay anywhere from $60 to close to $1,000 for a VIP experience.

"So there's certain nights in a 4,600 capacity that we're able to gross over $1 million....for one show," Gastwirth said.

Lopez will end her residency in September to focus on other projects, leaving Lady Gaga with a million reasons to sign onto a residency herself later this year. Gwen Stefani announced she'll start in June, and with the odds in their favor, it's a safe bet that other big name entertainers will be looking for a piece of the action.