A&E

An excerpt from Weekly writer Rick Lax’s new book

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Like a Tale of Two Cities, only with fewer cities.

I hadn’t seen Kiana the escort since we’d met at LAX, but one Thursday night I gave her a call. She wanted to go to Tao. “That’s all right with me,” I said. “But can we even get in? It’s Tao’s Industry Night.”

“I always get in,” Kiana said.

“Yes, but can you get me in, too?”

“We’ll find out.”

In other cities, “Industry Night” (the night that bartenders and servers visit other bars and clubs) usually falls on Sunday. On the Las Vegas Strip, temporal constructs such as “Sunday” or “weekend” are virtually meaningless; in Las Vegas it’s always the weekend for the tourists, never the weekend for the workers.

And unlike Industry Night in other cities, Industry Night in Las Vegas wasn’t set up for the benefit of the people in the industry; it was set up as a tourist trap. Vegas tourists always want to hit up the popular, busy clubs. During the week, there aren’t enough tourists to pack every venue, so the major clubs cased into a tacit agreement whereby they consolidate their extra bodies (club workers who’ve got the night off) in particular clubs on particular nights. That way, no matter the night, tourists always have at least one packed venue to patronize.

The line at Tao made the line at Jet look like the line of Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes’ upper floor was packed with hundreds of 20- and 30-somethings readjusting dresses, fixing heels, slapping hands, waving club passes, waving money and doing everything else they could to attract the bouncers’ attention. The main line wove all the way around the escalator bank. A separate mob of about 200 stood by the door, hoping to bypass the line. There were at least a dozen bouncers keeping both groups in check.

Details

Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas
Available at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com

For a lot of people, this is what Vegas nightlife is all about.

And somehow we’re going to get in?

“We’re going to walk to the front,” Kiana said, “and you tell them you work at Tao in New York.”

“They’ll ask for a pay stub.”

“We’ll tell them that we’re visiting LA and we weren’t planning on stopping by Vegas, so you didn’t bring one.”

Kiana and I pushed through the mass of people, as if we had the right. When we got to the ropes, we had a stroke of luck: The bouncer was ushering in a group of about ten, half guys and half girls. We tagged onto the end of that group past the ropes. It all happened so fast.

Success! We’re through!

Then I caught a dirty look from one of the guys in the group. “Those two aren’t with us!” he called to the bouncer, who had by then moved on to another group. Kiana grabbed the tattler’s forearm and pleaded, but he was determined. The rest of the guy’s group had entered the club and they were calling for him, but apparently he was less interested in having fun with his friends than he was in ruining our night. He tapped the bouncer on the shoulder and kept tapping him until the guy finally turned around.

“What is it?”

“Those two”—he pointed at us—“the Asian girl and the white guy. They’re not with us.”

We smiled. “He works at Tao New York,” Kiana said. “And I’m Hawaiian.”

Presumably Kiana was correcting the guy who called her Asian, not banking on Tao having some sort of Hawaiian girl quota.

“If you worked at Tao you wouldn’t be sneaking in behind these guys,” the bouncer said. “Now get to the back of the line with everybody else.”

We looked to the line, then we looked to the hotel entrance, and there wasn’t much question as to which way we should walk.

From Fool Me Once by Rick Lax. Copyright © 2011 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
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