Act your wage, part 2Written by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not listed in the Las Vegas MGM Grand Hotel’s list of amenities, but Club Tabu is a time machine; when I stepped through its doors, I immediately felt 20 years older.
At 3 a.m., the club, which advertises itself as an “ultra lounge,” featured a DJ spinning his way through the latest urban and rap tracks, starting each one about two minutes into the preceding record. The effect was a short-circuiting of the attention span that jerked the rug out from under dancers as soon as they caught a groove. The dancers were uniformly young. They dressed in elegant, trashy-casual clothes that covered young, fit bodies engaged in swaying, grinding, anything-goes moves. Several of those young, fit bodies were passed out in the side booths of Tabu, sleeping in contorted positions that would paralyze me if I endured them for more than 30 seconds.
If one is seated at a casino gaming table, one receives constant rounds of drinks for free, with just a tip to the waitress expected. Three feet into Tabu, a single bottle of beer costs $12.
One way or another, Las Vegas is going to get your money.
One of Sin City’s greatest tricks is the way it mutes the effects of time;
3 a.m. and 3 p.m. aren’t that different in terms of activity and entertainment options. There are places to eat, listen to music, dance, tour and even — shocking, I know — gamble pretty much 24 hours a day.
My wife and I are not gamblers, but it was fun to hit some of the slot machines, which are designed more like video games that eat time and money. The slot machines are based on themes from movies (“Star Wars,” “Jaws”), television shows (“Sex and the City,” “Happy Days”) and musicians (Elvis, of course, but also such lesser lights as Village People and Kenny Rogers). Our favorite was a slot machine based on the rock group Queen. The object, for as little as a nickle a spin, was to match band members’ faces, musical instruments or musical notes instead of cherries, bars or 7s. On one run, with a $5 start, I hit a match that offered 20 free spins. During that run, I hit a match with “Bicycle Race,” triggering a video game in which players choose either vocalist Freddie Mercury or one of two bikini-clad fat-bottomed girls, who proceed to race on their ten-speeds. My redhead racer won the round, which garnered 20 more free spins. During that run, I hit another “Bicycle Race,” in which I chose Mercury, who won, which triggered another 20 free spins. By the end of the run, my $5 was turned into nearly $50. That is extremely small change for many Vegas players, but any time I can turn $5 into $50, I’m a happy player.
Instead of coins or cash, the slot machines give players a paper ticket to redeem. It doesn’t look or feel like cash, so it’s easy to feed that ticket into another machine and play as it melts away.
During one break, while my wife visited the restroom, a lovely woman with platinum blonde hair, a halter top held up by two ice cream scoop-shaped silicone-filled globes and a skirt short enough to reveal the tops of her stockings sat beside me and smiled as she watched me turn my $50 winnings ticket back into $5.
“Having fun, Honey?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” I said, with the verses of Hall & Oates’ “Family Man” starting to run through my head.
“Looking for a lot more fun?” she asked, which I understood to be an offer for a spin of the Wheel of Herpes.
“I’m waiting for my wife,” I answered honestly, working overtime to keep my eyes on hers.
“Well, is your wife open minded?” my white-blonde-haired friend asked.
“About a great many things, yes,” I said. “About the three of us spending time together, not so much.”
She smiled and excused herself. I went back to worrying about the Gulf oil spill and its socioeconomic impact as my wife rejoined me.
Our tour of Las Vegas included a Renoir/Picasso exhibit at the Bellagio, a living room SONY studio exhibition of home 3-D television (my wife loved the paintings. I loved the loop of sports, concert and nature footage on the crystal clear 3-D screen; we each define “fine art” in our own way).
We also took in a Cirque Du Soleil show, “Viva Elvis,” which seemed like a fitting Las Vegas thing to do. The show, a spectacle beyond anything I have seen on any national stage, featured some surreal touches, including an acrobatic depiction of Elvis’ twin brother dying at birth, several 4-story statues of Elvis as a cowboy and, at one point, nearly 4-dozen Elvis impersonators. Its only problem was that nothing on stage, as amazing as it was, could compete with the film footage of Presley himself, one of the most charismatic and engaging performers America has ever produced.
Another surreal Las Vegas touch is the gauntlet of men and women who stand on the streets trying to get you to take what look like baseball or football cards. But these cards to do not feature catchers, tight ends or wide receivers; they feature call girls, which is a carnal opportunity beyond my courage level but not beyond my interest in sophomoric sports references.
We ended one 4 a.m. session at a Fatburger on the Strip, surrounded not by filet mignon and cabernet, but by fries and Coke.
We also ended up with temporary tattoos, but that story … well, some things that happen in Vegas really do need to stay in Vegas.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.