Midsummer is (this week’s) greatest party ever

Girl Next Door Bridget Marquardt as the queen of the ball in a dress from Trashy Lingerie.
Photo: Sarah Feldberg

This is the greatest party ever.

That’s not me, speaking in platitudes. Those are the words of Gavin Maloof.

“This is the greatest party ever,” Maloof, an older brother of Palms owner George and member of the magnate-ized Maloof clan, says after he’s coerced from a cabana at the Palms Pool during the Midsummer Night’s Dream costume fete. The show is in full flourish, and Maloof, who has extracted himself from a group of lovelies and buddies to play temporary spokesman, is reminded that he said the same thing three years ago at his own birthday party at Rain Nightclub at the same hotel.

“Oh. That was was a great party,” Maloof recalls. “We had a party at my house the other night, too, that was pretty great. But this one is so over the top, so much ‘wow’ factor. There is a big ‘wow’ factor here. That’s what people are telling me.”

Wow. Yes. The outdoor event is an offshoot of the famed Playboy Mansion Midsummer Night’s Dream costume party, and is bubbling over with hundreds of guests dressed in 16th- and 17-century attire. But many are dressed in 21st-century Vegas, and if the event could be described in one word, it would be “lace.” There are many masks, too, and tightly wound fishnet. Priests follow pimps around the perimeter; a shirtless gentleman built like the Hulk but in skin-tone white is posing for a photo with one of the many women in lacy negligee fastened with butterfly wings.

Little sleep or clothing for A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream Party @ The Palms

Asked if he’s ever been to the original party at the Mansion, Maloof says, “Oh yeah, it’s incredible. But this is … different.” Maloof is careful not to specifically compare the two. To say something like, “This party blows doors on the Mansion party,” would ruffle some feathers (and maybe butterfly wings) at Playboy, the Maloofs’ and the N9NE Group’s important business partner in such Palms clubs as the Playboy Club and Moon. Maloof, he loves ’em both. “It’s different. It’s great. Enjoy yourself.”

Got it.

There are two Elvises, a skinny guy whose outfit wears loosely and lacks the heavy beading and capework of the costumes Elvis wore during his days at the International/LV Hilton. But Scott Patrick of Sioux City, Iowa, celebrating (or mourning, if you will) the 31st anniversary of the King’s death, looks the part in a white-and-burgundy, sequin-and-rhinestone inlaid jumpsuit. “I can’t walk through the casino for even two feet without people asking for photos,” he says. “It’s insane.” He’s responsible for that insanity, as a big Elvis fan (the son of a son of an Elvis fan, whose father before him was also the son of an Elvis fan) and two hours later tells me he has posed for more than 100 photos. With all that work, it’s a wonder he has time to party. “I am busy,” he says. “I’m disappointed there are not more Elvises here.” That makes one of us …

“Dude! You are so dope! Can we get a picture?" a woman wrapped in lace, representing four other women wrapped in lace, says to a man dressed as the famous painting The Son of Man, Rene Magritte's self-portrait of the artist in a black suit and red tie, with a green apple hanging in front of his face. Keith White, who just moved to Vegas from Overland Park, Kan., reluctantly agrees. “I don’t like to have pictures taken, because they get out on the Internet and everyone wants to use this costume.” But the secret is out as White poses and smiles. At least, I think he smiles. It’s hard to tell because of the foam-rubber apple in front of his mug. I ask if he can see OK with the fruit in his face, he says, “As long as it’s below my eyes, I’m fine. Sometimes I forget I’m even wearing it until people start going, 'Oh! Oh! Look at that guy!' And I'm like, 'What? Oh! I have an apple in my face. It's kind of hard to dance with, but if you keep it at eye level, it's not uncomfortable at all?” And tonight, Keith can see it all …

I was just blessed by a Roman Catholic Cardinal, but he’s not really a Cardinal. He’s Greg Isaacs, one of the strolling models hired by event organizers to … well, walk around the pool blessing people. It takes us several minutes to find a quiet spot to talk, because revelers are so eager to be blessed and pose for photos with the red-and-gold costumed hired gun. “I can’t spend too long here,” Isaac says. “I have to get back to work.” But he’s been with Red Agency for three years and among his characters is an “Indulgent Salesman.” What’s an indulgent salesman? “Use your imagination,” he says with a laugh. As yet another partier requests a photo, Isaacs apologizes and says, “Most people are pretty nice. They just want a photo.” And eternal life ...

The evil shrubbery makes nice.

I am accosted by a shrubbery. It came from a far wall and “boo!” It’s another Red Agency rep, calling himself only “Nicholas,” dressed in dark-green camo and a few loose limbs whose job it is tonight to hunch against a wall and startled guests. He’s good. He knows to pick a distracted guest, particularly women traveling in droves. “Eeeek!” Fun stuff. There are maybe a dozen shrubs ringing the party. I ask this “Nicholas” – Nicholas Shrubbery, I’ll call him – what he makes for his four-hour assignment. “Usually $500 is the starting point,” he says. “A shrubbery doesn’t even get out of the tree for less than $500.” …

So many pimps, so little time, and I find that they have all traveled to Vegas together, packing their red and purple velvet and fake leopard skin and flying in from Toronto. There are a dozen, total, and the head pimp is Sarosh Nanavati, a short-term bachelor whose means of employ is something of a secret among his entourage. He’s not a pimp, but a highly successful “investor” of some sort. Whatever, he and his group are in town for the weekend, staying at the Palms and garnering as much pre-marriage fun as possible. “I’m getting married in two weeks, and I’m here now,” Sarosh says, gripping his decorative cane. “Other than that, I don’t know. I’m just along for the ride …”

The Midsummer Night’s Dream queen, Girls Next Door co-star Bridget Marquardt, is summoned to the pool’s temporary outdoor stage. She is saying a few words: “Let’s party!” OK, a couple of words. She is an ideal figurehead for the event …

The knights need a boost, as a security official near the stage realizes. A crush of guests partying royally are pushing toward the royal party, and guys dressed as knights – not guests, but also security guys – are nearly overrun. The non-knight security detail shouts into his radio, “Tell those knights not to let anyone up on stage! Keep them away from Bridget!” The knights stand their ground, and by midnight the night has cooled. The guests (and their costumes) are getting a little loose, but the Maloofs, N9NE group and Playboy have pulled it off. It’s the latest, greatest party ever … until the next one.

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