Halloween is basically the High Holy Days of Vegas — when everything that is loved/hated about the city comes gushing to the surface like a hotel bidet lapping at the bleached anus of a high-class whore. During Halloween, the city is awash even more than usual with spiritually bankrupt parties, nightclubs, booze…and billions of girls running around in the sluttiest costumes imaginable.
Alas, I was in Death Valley for most of Halloween week this year, so I missed the bulk of the parties. But I mean, really — Fetish & Fantasy Ball? YAWN. I’ve seen freakier shit in the back room at Showgirl Video on a Sunday morning!! It’s all marketing hype, designed to entice Midwestern squares into shelling out their hard-earned cash in the hopes that they’ll catch a glimpse of a naughty nun pretending to spank a sexy schoolgirl…or any number of other tired-ass tropes that can’t possibly seriously titillate anyone anymore. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT. (Sorry, it’s my new favorite saying.)
The one Halloween party I did want to attend was the annual Las Vegas Halloween Parade, which wends its way thru downtown Vegas like a mix of Mardi Gras, Burning Man and Your Typical Vegas Saturday Night — in other words, a totally free and unpretentious amazing time. Last year, you may recall I went as Pink Elvis riding a unicorn (my friend Fabian), and this year Fabian and I had an even more amazing two-person costume planned…but at the last minute, he had a family emergency and had to go to Chile. So I went with my Plan B, which was Vegas Bride of Frankenstein (sort of a Goth version of all those drunk, idiot bachelorettes you see on the Strip on any given night).
Also this year, I had been invited to sit in as one of the judges…meaning I would be joining distinguished members of the downtown Las Vegas community like Dayvid Figler (attorney, writer and man-about-town), Michael Cornthwaite (owner/co-owner of several hipster downtown establishments that I have bashed on Yelp and elsewhere) and none other than Tony Hsieh himself (CEO of Zappos.com and chief investor in/hipster überlord of The Downtown Renaissance™, who I have also bashed in print). Ruh-roh!!!!
I figured those fuckers wouldn’t really know who I was anyway, though, so I didn’t worry too much about it. And besides, I was sucking on a cannabis lollipop some random hippie chick had given me on the set of a TV show last summer…so I was feeling no angst whatsoever, just a sense of wonderment at the creepy antics taking place around me.
Now, the main thing for which people bash Tony Hsieh & co. is their being “hipsters,” which is basically a catch-all term for everything young, trendy, expensive and annoying. Some would say the entire eastern half of Fremont Street has been overtaken by this hipster cancer…and that all of downtown Vegas is in danger of the same. Whatever the case, I’m here to report that certain of my co-judges appear to be wallowing in the hipster sea like swingers in a hot tub — enthusiastically, and with a total lack of irony. No sooner had we taken our seats at the judging table than an iPhone was produced, tuned to Pandora.com’s “Hipster Halloween” station…followed immediately by the appearance of a nubile young minion bearing a tray of Fernet Branca shots (Fernet already being well-established as the hipster booze of choice) which everyone downed with relish (or feigned relish, as the taste can only be compared to nonagenarian ass, with notes of Ben-Gay and bedsores). Bah!!
Even worse, in the massively hypocritical spirit of fitting in with the cool kids (just like high school), I raised my glass alongside everyone else’s and downed the foul, astringent brew. I was secretly freaking out, wondering if I had now drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid…but I think the THC in my system protected me, cuz I woke up the next morning just as big a hater as ever 🙂 Yay!! I was even able to make a disparaging Facebook post about my favorite moment in the parade, which was when one of the poor gross old homeless wino-types who used to populate downtown Vegas (and are being swept out by the hipster tide) crashed the judging area, stumbling up toward the stage in an incoherent mess of drunken blathering — a stark reminder of yesterday, like the Ghost of Vegas Past come to haunt Tony Hsieh with a sort of incoherent Wino’s Lament: “Remember me, remember me….but ah, forget my fate!!” Fantastic!!!
Anyhoo, the parade really was fabulous this year, with a number of astonishingly elaborate floats and art cars direct from Burning Man. The Best Car award went to the Dancetronauts (a crew of flight-suit-wearing DJs, scantily clad go-go dancers and e-tards cruising on a giant scissorlifted spaceship with a 100,00-watt soundsystem, baked out of their minds) who then parked their spaceshift/mobile dance club right in the middle of Fremont Street for a big old-fashioned outdoor dance party. Many of my friends were there, including C. and his Soul Train (the art car I helped put together at Burning Man the last couple of years), and I was just settling in for a raging good time when all of a sudden, shit got REAL!
Out of nowhere, who should appear on the scene but the lovely Royal Empress, Miss Tarah Lee! I’ve mentioned this fabulously over-the-top party girl before — I met her when I used to work at the Act nightclub, and she would come in, dressed to the nines in a glittering evening gown with mounds of paste jewelry, fur stole, and ultralong, ultraswanky cigarette holder clutched in one gloved hand. This woman is glamour personified, and she lives it to the max, every day, 24/7/365!! I bet she even goes to the gym in full makeup!!
Anyhoo, we became friends and had been meaning to get together and hang out ever since, but our busy schedules never seemed to mesh — until now! There she was, slumming on Fremont St. in the most fabulous Marie Antoinette costume I’ve ever seen — so I of course joined up with her and her man for an evening of Halloween-style carousing. The only thing about the Empress is, that bitch can party — I mean, like no other!!! Her liver must be made of asbestos or something, because I’m here to tell you, I can’t keep up with that. We hit up a few bars downtown, having a drink or three at each, and then headed down to the Strip, to one of the douchier nightclubs, where more booze was ordered. Damn! I had to dip out around 2am, fully owning my amateur status as the Empress continued to dance into the wee hours, laughing merrily in her fabulous wig, waving her cigarette holder and sloshing a martini on all the assholes gathered around. She sort of reminds me of the Baroness from The Sound of Music…if the Baroness was a boozy Vegas party girl.
Now, in between shots of booze, we had discussed the dire need for us to do a photo shoot together — between her fabulous costumes and my fabulous creativity, we’d be sure to do something amazing. I pretty much figured it to be nothing more than drunk-talk, so imagine my astonishment when later that week, we actually did end up getting together with another model, Miss Unique Styles, and one of my favorite photographers, the inimitable Billy Ward, for a totally over-the-top Marie-Antoinette-style photo orgy at the Empress’s fabulous high rise condo overlooking the Strip. It was totally fucking incroyable!!!!
My idea was that we three models should be fabulous cake whores — like coke whores, only snorting lines of frosting off of gilded mirrors, etc. Thanks to the Empress’s astonishing collection of gilded furnishings and knick-knacks, the set design was amazing, and we all three outfitted ourselves in lacy, ruffly extravagance par excellence. The Empress has a side business making mini top hats, fascinators and corsets, so we had plenty of accessories with which to costume ourselves. In fact, in the photos I am wearing the corset she made me for Christmas last year — I barely knew her back then, and was totally flabbergasted when she waltzed into the Act and presented me with this fabulous gift. She’s just a really generous person like that!
Anyway, our photo shoot was cut short by a gig I set up for us — this local Italian restaurant called Casa Di Amore needed three babes for this commercial they were filming, so I roped the Empress and Miss Styles into coming down there with me, where we filmed a sort of take-off of the Dos Equis “World’s Most Interesting Man” commercial, with one of my awesome neighbors standing in as the Most Interesting Man. Let me tell you, these Italian guys didn’t know what to make of us — the Empress in her fur stole, as always, swilling wine and martinis and whipping out her long cigarette lighter in the middle of the shoot. But they loved it, and invited us back for dinner any time we want…so we’re planning a fabulous girls’ night out sometime.
I’m not sure when, though — as mentioned, I can’t keep up with this woman!! After the commercial shoot, we went back to her condo to clean up the mess, and then she cajoled us into accompanying her to the Double Down, this amazing grungy punk rock bar over by the Hard Rock, where they were having their awesome Tuesday night jazz jam session. Now, normally I love nothing more than a jazz jam session with cheap drinks, but I’ve been so busy lately that I really couldn’t stay out as late as the others, and ended up dipping out around 2am again. My last glimpse of the Empress, she was laughing and gesturing with her cigarette holder like the conductor of a mad symphony, sloshing yet another martini on yet another gaggle of admirers, climbing on the bar and living the nightlife to the fullest. YIKES!!
In reality though, despite her party-girl image and crazy lifestyle, I really like the Empress and find her oddly touching. Her boyfriend has to travel a lot for work, so most of the time she’s cooped up alone in her fabulously appointed high-rise luxury condo, with its floor-to-ceiling views of the Vegas Strip, like a lonely princess in a glass castle, only venturing out at night via the in-house limo service (she doesn’t drive herself). What a strange existence…and so different from my own, with me always rushing around town in my pickup truck to fart on people and kick them in the nuts (when I’m not engaged in hard labor like fixing my garage door and my back gate and shit like that, which I have been lately). Interesting contrast!
Anyway, speaking of photo shoots, I’ve done a lot lately. Most were the regular cheesecake nudies — downtown at the Plaza, mid-strip at Harrahs (with the fabulous Angel Paris as my co-model) and then out in the desert, once (at sunrise, no less!) with an Aussie and once with a Frenchman. Then I did a few shoots with a really sweet local retired Veteran I met who’s just getting into photography, and who needed a patient model to help him learn the ropes. I’m nothing if not patient — I don’t mind shooting with photographers of any skillset — so he hired me three different times for shoots all over town!
I also hit up another one of my all-time favorite photographers, Randy Fosth/Shutterbug Studios, when I had the idea to shoot my Halloween costume as a XXX pinup — I made a little Frankenmerkin to match my Bride of Frankenstein wig, and the photos came out fantastic!! I even shaved my beloved bush for another part of that photo shoot…something I am ordinarily extremely loath to do.
But the most exceptional photo shoot I did lately was out at this creepy abandoned water park, in the desert between Vegas and Barstow. I’d long seen this place by the side of the highway when driving past on my way to California, and had always wanted to stop…but I never had the time to stop, and the one time I did have time, I couldn’t find the exit! Lucky for me, my friend Kelly Garni figured it out, and invited me out there one day with his girlfriend Sheri, for an extremely cool post-apocalyptic photo shoot and road trip.
Now, I’ve mentioned my friend Kelly before — I met him on the set of this local TV discussion group, and we hit it off and he gave me a copy of his autobiography, which I read all summer long while sunbathing in the nude in my backyard (he’s had an extremely wild life, having been in some crazy rock bands with a bunch of famous rockers). Well, nowadays he’s into photography, which is why we hit it off…and which is why he invited me out to the water park.
That place was amazing!!! I guess it operated as a campground and water park from like the 1960s to the 1990s, finally closing down in 2004 when someone was paralyzed in an accident on one of the slides, and has just sat there rotting in the baking desert sun ever since. The water slides themselves were sold off, so all that’s left is some spindly support poles, abandoned buildings and empty pools…covered in the most amazing graffiti you’ve ever seen. Not the usual halfwitted cholo scribblings — I’m talking pro-status graffiti, with social messages and shit. It’s incredible!! I’ve included some photos from the trip, but to see more (and read more witty commentary), check out my Facebook album. You can also read my City Life column about it (which, inconceivably, has gotten me a ton of positive feedback…inconceivable because I totally forgot I had to write the damn thing until 1am the night before it was due, and I was rushed and sleepy and half-drunk).
While we were out that way, Kelly and Sheri and I decided to cruise across the highway to nearby Newberry Springs…a little ramshackledy desert town that just happens to be home to none other than the Bagdad Cafe!!! I’d heard about the place ages ago — back in the ’80s or ’90s, some crazy Germans made a little art-house film about this nutty restaurant out in the desert on Route 66, and ever since I saw it I’ve been wanting to go there. Don’t ask me why it took me so long — it’s not that far from Vegas, and it’s fantastic! We got there just before closing time and enjoyed some delicious burgers — only I couldn’t eat too much, because I had that damn sunrise photo shoot with the Aussie guy the next morning, and had to have a flat stomach :-/
So anyway, Newberry Springs is my new favorite place on Earth. Although, sometimes Vegas can be pretty fucking interesting, too…especially when you’re on mushrooms, as was the case last Sunday! My friend J.R. was in town, and one thing he had always wanted to do was go see Rod Stewart’s show at Caesars Palace. Back when I was slaving away as a souvenir photo hack in that same damn theater, I’d watched part of the show and found it to be astonishingly excellent — I’d always hated Rod Stewart, so imagine my surprise when I sneaked in one night and saw how amazing it was! Rod is like 70 years old or something, but FULL of vim and vigor (probably from banging all those young blondes or whatever…his wife is like 19). He is an excellent performer, so when J.R. invited me to go, I was all over it!
To make extra sure we had a good time, we ate some magic mushrooms about an hour before the show….and boy howdy, was it ever great!! The lighting and staging in that show is fantastic enough on its own, but under the influence of shrooms, it’s even better. I can’t remember when I’ve had that much fun! Listen people, I HIGHLY recommend seeing this show in this fashion — you won’t regret it!
After the show, we went over to the fabulous Galleria Bar near the lobby at Caesars for a few drinks served by J.R.’s favorite bartender, this cool guy named David. The mushrooms were still raging away, and we had the best time just sitting at that bar, surrounded by the most amazingly bizarre Vegas caricatures: to the left, a Botoxed old society-matron-type flirting with a dapper young rent-boy over martinis. To the right, an airline pilot hitting on another Botoxed old hag (they don’t call Caesars “Menopause Manor” for nothing), while security grilled a skanky young hooker who was trying to put the moves on a Latin American businessman. I mean, fabulous!! THIS is why I love Vegas, and Caesars Palace in particular — it’s people-watching par excellence. Mushrooms only make it better!
But then the shrooms started to wear off, and the Botox hag and the rent boy left, and some drunken Marines stumbled in, fresh from the annual Marine Corps ball — always a tragic affair of white trash up-dos and cheap tacky evening gowns showing way too much regrettably tattooed flesh. J.R. is a true American Patriot, though, so he got up and thanked the guys for all they do — and the one kid, displaying refreshing candor, replied that he only signed up for the health benefits anyway. After that the magic was definitely over, so we finished our drinks, said good night, and that was that.
After that, the rest of my time lately was spent doing lame shit like home repairs and working an endless succession of gigs to pay for said repairs. Yesterday (Saturday) was a particular doozy. First, I had to get up at 5:45am (!!!) to dress as a giant stuffed tiger for a kids’ event at the local PBS affiliate — I didn’t mind the early call time so much because I was in a mascot suit, and didn’t have to wear makeup or anything. But lemme tell you, that was the WORST costume I’ve ever worn — the head must have weighed 50 pounds, and it was really uncomfortable to wear, let alone try and be animated whilst maneuvering thru a mass of shrieking children, while hungover. Yikes!
Then no sooner did that gig end, then I had to rush home to spackle on some makeup for my next assignment, as a promo model for a popular corn snack at the big UFC fight at the MGM Grand. It was actually a pretty fun gig, and well-paying, too — all we had to do was hand out free samples and pose for photos with people in front of a branded backdrop. But what was astonishing to me was, I hardly ever get booked for gigs like that — it was through an agency, and 99 times out of 100, when I apply for an agency gig I never get hired. I figured I must not be good-enough-looking, but (not to be a bitch or anything) the other “models” on this gig with me were hardly Gisele Bundchen!! I don’t know how these other girls get all these gigs — the only thing I can think of is my lack of tits may be holding me
back. But seriously — I worked harder than most of the other chicks at that gig, and was ten times as personable, so….get over it!!!!! Tits aren’t everything…or are they?!
Anyway, after that exhausting day (15 hours) I came home to find another emergency room bill (I already coughed up $1300…but apparently that’s not enough; they want to stick me for an extra $250 now) and then I dropped my phone, rendering it completely useless, so that I had to order a new one 🙁 So, basically….I worked all day for nothing. #@$@%^$#&*!!!!
One other thing: my medical marijuana card expired the other day! I hadn’t planned on renewing it anyway, because I find the whole stupid system corrupt; WHY should I have to go thru this rigamarole every year, and shell out $250+, just to be able to take my LEGAL MEDICINE?! We the voters of the State of Nevada passed a fucking bill declaring it LEGAL MEDICINE! They don’t charge any OTHER patients $250 a year just for the right to take their meds! Blah blah blah, I could go on for hours, but I won’t bore you.
Anyway, I was all set to let my card expire when I remembered the big Weedmaps Halloweed contest!! Weedmaps.com (an online resource where medical MJ patients can find local dispensaries) was giving away a $420 prize to the best weed-themed Halloween costume, and I had submitted a photo of myself in my Mary Jane costume. I was fairly sure I had a good chance of winning (I saw the other entries on their Facebook page, and they mostly sucked), but the $420 prize has a catch: if you’re a legal MJ patient, you win $420 worth of product at your favorite dispensary…but if you’re not a patient, all you win is a “decorative glass piece” (bong) worth $420. W……….T………F!!!! I’ve never seen a bong worth $420; I want the weed, dammit!!!! So I had to rush over to the doctor’s and shell out $100 for a new prescription, just in case I win this damn contest. (They still haven’t announced the winners….grrrrr!!!!)
Well anyway, I’d better stop my grousing now because I have a big day ahead of me. First I have to get up at an ungodly hour to do another NPR appearance (don’t ask me why those fools keep asking me back) (and incidentally, I’ve been doing a ton of radio shows lately, but mostly podcasts and local shtick, nothing exciting) and then as soon as the radio thing is over I’m headed out into the desert to eat mushrooms (again) and soak in some hot
springs with a friend. My phone is still on the fritz, so what the fuck…..I might as well truly tune in, turn on and DROP THE FUCK OUT!