Monday, July 13, 2009
I'm hitting the bottle again... The bleach bottle.
Isn't it strange how one can find solace in doing something they've done dozens of times before? I ask this to myself every time I'm sitting on a plane and heading to Las Vegas, wondering if the allure of Sin City will ever get old for me. In a city where the only thing constant is massive change, I'm thinking that day won't come too soon.
Finding the perfect excuse in seeing mi amiga Kathy Griffin perform at Mandalay Bay, as well as a well-timed comp offer at Encore, I decided to brave the 107 degree weather and take a mental health weekend in Nevada. Sure, it was Fourth of July weekend, but how bad could it really be I asked myself. Besides, Vegas is hurting, people are 'stay'cationing at home and there's a new hybrid drag-magic show that just opened at The Harmon Theater. With entertainment offerings like this, I thought why not, I've always wanted to see a drag queen cut in half only to be put back together with some duct tape and eyelash glue.
... Now that's entertainment
Encore sent a car. Nice touch. Vegas's airport is actually turning into something you can navigate without a stroke thanks to massive renovation at baggage claim. Lots of new entertainment in town: Beyonce's doing a series of shows at Wynn, Bill Maher's at The Orleans, Bette is finishing up her first year at Caesars (and I hear that Celine is coming back soon... Midler's not selling well) and Santana is semi-permanent at The Hard Rock. Lion King is packing them in at Mandalay, replacing the long-running musical Mamma Mia! That's not to mention Donny & Marie at The Flamingo, who, in all seriousness, put on the best show since Gladys Knight had that same showroom some years ago. Lots up at Tix4Tonight. For the first time ever, I saw every major Cirque show on the boards at 50% off. Nice.
Chriss Angel's 'Believe' show is in the crapper. Friends of mine with the show say it's only a matter of time before they pay him out of his contract ($15 million) and bring in a REAL magician. What they've got now is a megalomaniac who's a walking billboard for Ed Hardy clothing and lazily-applied mascara. Curb appeal for the show is zero, as it's been called 'too Cirque for Angel fans' and 'too Angel for Cirque fans.' Angel's ego is so bruised from the scathing reviews that Cirque has been having to quietly paper the audience to fill seats, keeping their star performer to think that someone still finds him relevant. Personally, I think they'd do better with the show if they handed out rohypnol at the front door. At least then you could more easily forget the last few hours of what you saw and perhaps even enjoy the experience.
Kathy's show at Mandalay was excellent. Full house. 80% gay (at least). She's always a bit seedier for her late show and the audience was eating it up. A little too much focus on every single reality show on Bravo TV, but I figure she's contractually obligated to plug the network as much as she can. Some genuine laughs, but in her mounting popularity, she's losing the thing that made her a standout stand-up to begin with: Griffin needs to be careful not to catch the same cold that Margaret Cho did and take herself too seriously. Cho's career dive-bombed due to her own obsession with trying (unsuccessfully) to mix comedy and her extremely liberal political views. What started out as a witty, unique comedienne, became a very angry, militant activist in short time. That's why Cho is relegated to a sinking Lifetime TV series and Griffin is a double-Emmy winner.
D-list my ass
Don't get me wrong: Kathy was funny. It's just that everyone now knows her formula and getting her audience to jaw-drop is a much tougher thing. When she had her Wednesday night gossip show on Sunset in Los Angeles, it felt like you were part of a small, but in-the-know crowd who showed up to watch. Now, with her reality show going wide, there's little surprise left in her act, knowing full well that she'll talk about the same things over and over again: Oprah, Gayle King, Star Jones, Barbara Walters, Housewives of (fill in the blank), Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.
I was actually shocked she didn't rip into Michael Jackson that night, but she made it clear from the beginning that after talking with Wayne Brady, she wasn't going there. I don't think controversial comics like Lenny Bruce or George Carlin would have given a shit, but Griffin blinked and ended up playing it totally safe. I was a little disappointed.
I bumped quietly into a couple of escorts/porn stars while in Vegas and it's always fascinating for me to see someone up close versus just seeing the always-airbrushed, Vaseline studio photos.
I'm $300 an hour with a multi-hour discount...
One escort, well-reviewed, has a great worked out body, looks fantastic in and out of clothing, but has the most extreme face I've ever seen. I appreciate good cheekbones as much as the next guy, but these were just freaky looking, as if they were implants that were much larger than they should have been. He sorta resembles the love-child that Joan Rivers was too coked-out in the '80s to know about. On top of that, he was treating the service people around him like shit and barking orders in rather broken English. There's just something inherently funny about someone half-yelling things in German-tinged English: I felt like a trapped passenger on a hijacked Lufthansa flight.
I also passed by Falcon porn guy Benjamin Bradley, not initially recognizing him for his good looks, but the ridiculous tan he was sporting. Now, I'm not one to usually judge people by their penchant for inviting skin cancer into their life, but if this wasn't a spray-on tan, I'm totally unsure of what to make of his motivations... He was nearly Oompa Loompa orange. The kind of long term damage that this amount of UV sun exposure does to skin is irreversible and for someone in a looks-based business, this is what I would call making unthoughtful marketing choices. He's already aging quickly around the eyes and has the skin quality of, well, someone who lives in Las Vegas and can't stay out of a tanning bed, the sun or both.
Just Say No...
I also had the extreme naked pleasure of bumping into this hot escort in the spa at Wynn, where he was lounging with another very astute looking young gent. After practically demanding an exclusive erotic pic from the hot tub for 15mm, he sends me this from his phone with an 'LOL' subject line. Damned tease. You can click on the pic below to find out who's modeling this newest pair of AussieBum's finest.
My main lesson learned from this last trip was to stay away from the city during a holiday weekend, now knowing full well that no matter how much Vegas is hurting for visitors, they all seem to show up when they've got Monday off work. More sad than that is the fact that my unblemished love affair with Wynn and Encore hotels are now over.
He had me at 'hell, that's expensive!'
It had to happen eventually: Steve Wynn has treated me like such a lady each and every visit, but this trip, no matter how fresh the flowers, how full the ice buckets, no matter how many times the door was held and pool cabana attended to, the hotel was just packed to the gills, making it nearly impossible to enjoy what makes the two resorts enjoyable in the first place. He's opened the doors to Hotwire, Priceline and Expedia, inviting in a contingent of folks who don't openly appreciate the surroundings and seem to find it acceptable to wear tank tops and flip flops everywhere they go. Steve Wynn went against his self-imposed rule of keeping up appearances by not overly discounting his rooms and it will be interesting to see what comes of it. When people want cheap rooms, loose slots and yard-long drinks, they go to the Luxor or Mandalay Bay. When you're wanting something more, even perhaps wanting to appreciate the small luxury details in a 5-star setting, there's Wynn/Encore, The Four Seasons, SkyLofts and The Mansion. With a bevvy of new luxury hotels opening with the creation of MGM's City Center (including a Mandarin Oriental), Wynn's got to figure out quickly where he wants to sit in that pack. Times might be tough for Vegas, but they aren't THAT tough.
I'm cranking out another posting of EYE CANDY now. Getting backed up and realizing that I've got nearly 300 images on file and ready to roll. Enjoy! Future updates are already in the works... Thanks, as always, for keeping up with what's cooking in my life and always feel free to email letting me know your thoughts on this and future editions. I'm also actively looking for chatroom software to hold a monthly (or more) real-time chat session, so if anyone can recommend a good prog, I'd be most appreciative. For the time being, enjoy the SHOUTBOX on the left menu for a minor, but acceptable amount of interactivity.