There are so many great thinkers in Vegas producing so many great ideas. More than in any place else I’ve lived or traveled, the ingenuity and experimentation never ceases. But every once or twice in a while, you see something that makes you go “WTF?” or, at least, “Enough already!” It’s been nearly two years since I’ve done this, so it’s time to take to task the folks behind the worst ideas gripping our fair city.
1. Hetero-homosexuality for fun
Years ago, when I came out to a particularly straight male friend of mine, his first reaction was to ask whether I knew any lesbians who might want to get it on with him. And certainly, to an awful lot of hetero guys, that’s what lesbianism is good for, their own peculiar entertainment. So I shouldn’t have been surprised—and yet somehow I was—when about six months ago a certain breed of Vegas nightclub promotions started proliferating: the girl-on-girl kissing contests.
You can almost hear Beavis and Butt-Head in the meeting when they came up with this idea. “We’ll get some hot babes together, huh-huh, and get ’em to go all lesbolicious on each other, and then we’ll pick the best one, huh-huh, and give ’em a prize. It’ll be, like, awesome, huh-huh!”
Nice. Vegas clubs are now in the business of baiting their prey with live gay-for-pay action. And before all you frat boys out there ask “So what?” be advised that you’re not immune to such exploitation anymore, either. The only gay club on the Strip, Krave, last month held its first guy-on-guy kissing contest involving pairings of a straight man with a gay one, one of which earned $1,500 for his lip and—to win, one must assume—tongue-locking.
God only knows how anyone can be sure the allegedly straight contestants were really vaginally inclined, and it certainly does matter. Unlike the girl-on-girl kissing events where the crowd cares not what lurks in the hearts of bimbos, the draw at Krave is the chance to witness genuine cross-sexuality engagements. Any which way, though, it’s not a proud moment for the gays; Krave’s marketing department is exploiting the damaging notion that all we predators really want is to get into the pants of straight boys. That is, after all, the gay agenda, right? Recruitment?
The whole straight-as-gay gig must work, since these promotions are spreading, but I do wonder how, exactly, this is different from holding a contest in which white people are asked to act black and how well that would go over. What ever happened to the good ol’ wholesome days when they lured in customers with cheap drinks and strippers?
2. Everyone’s obsession with all-glass resorts.
Hey, I know everyone wants to be cutting-edge, sleek and modern. But with the exception of the Palazzo, every single new Strip resort—sorry, M Resort, you don’t count as being on the Strip despite the Boulevard address—since Wynn Las Vegas has been skinned with glass. CityCenter is the primary example, but there’s also Panorama Towers, Signature, the Trump, the gargantuan and bankrupt Fontainebleau and the hideous blue-and-red timeshare at Planet Hollywood. You know how the kids today think they’re so individualistic and self-expressive by getting all those tattoos and piercings when, in fact, everyone else knows they’re just conformists of a different ilk? Same here. What’s worse is that all that glass must require all sorts of energy-sucking mitigation efforts to keep the interiors from becoming hothouses. Not very green or economical, is it?
Mark my words: On really sunny days in the future, blinded tourists on the Strip will be bumping into each other.
3. Bargain-basement luxury at Wynncore.
Many in the travel media and elsewhere have cheered the return of inexpensive accommodations in Las Vegas, viewing it as a sign that Vegas hoteliers have been brought back down to earth and their hubris squelched by the horrible economy. And, sure, after the decade-long run-up in prices and such absurdities as the proliferation of expensive bottle service at nightclubs and $100-plus show tickets, it’s not a bad thing that there’s been a correction of sorts.
But there’s a danger in the ongoing fire sale, too, especially to the future of the highest end of the market. On a recent weekend at the posh Wynn Las Vegas, the pool area was crammed by huge crowds of party-hearty 20-somethings guzzling Bud Light and reveling in the $150-ish rooms they got at what is supposed to be the fanciest joint in town.
A frustrated Steve Wynn recently told Jon Ralston that the people staying at his resort are not the folks he built it for. It sounds like a terribly arrogant, inhospitable remark, but it’s true. There were plenty of places for middle-class party animals to spend their time before Wynn and Encore, aka Wynncore, fell to within their reach. Wynn built his places for the folks who also go on holiday in (the real) Paris, Napa, (the real) New York and La Jolla. You know, people like Wynn himself.
Those people aren’t going to come back to the Wynn or Encore—or Bellagio or Palazzo for that matter—if they must rub elbows with uncouth riff-raff in the inner sanctums of the properties. These low prices may seem necessary given the circumstances—and for the bankruptcy-teetering corporate owners of Palazzo and Bellagio that is clearly the case—but they threaten to undermine the raison d’être of Wynn’s digs. When the Ladies Who Lunch compare notes and report to their friends that the Wynn pool scene resembles spring break Fort Lauderdale rather than St. Tropez and they could barely get through their Nora Roberts without being sprayed by cannonball wakes, that’s a reputation that no number of luscious full-page ads in Conde Nast Traveler are going to reverse.