Month: April 2011 Page 2 of 3

The Strip Diary, Day Thirteen: Strip Club Fun With the Stars of Vegas’ Most Stupidly Dangerous Show

— well — terrifying…”

“Yeah,” I said.

“I mean, I assume it’s pretty safe,” he continued, “but they make it look really, stupidly dangerous.”

Yeah, about that..

(Absinthe plays at Caesars Palace every night except Monday. Tickets are available here. If you only see one show in you’re entire life, make it that. Cheetah’s is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Don’t ever go there.)

The Strip Diary, Day Eleven: In Which I’m Too Relaxed to Write About My Spa Day

Day Eleven: Caesars Palace ($75)

I’m going to have to keep this brief. I’m roughly 12 hours late filing today’s installment of the diary but, you know what, I’m relaxed about that fact. Actually, right now, I’m relaxed about pretty much everything.

The fact that yesterday I did an interview at Cheetah’s strip club (more on that tomorrow) and they pre-authorized $150 to my card for a $25 bar tab?


The fact that they then proceeded to tell our little group to leave because we didn’t want a lap dance?


That an hour ago I finally checked in to the Excalibur and they gave me a room with someone already in it?


You see, today I had my first day at a spa and — seriously — why did no one tell me about these things before? Specifically, why didn’t I know about them while I was drinking? Those hangovers would have flown by.

The fact that I have never been to a spa before obviously has much to do with the fact that I do not have a uterus. That said, I gather it has become popular for couples to spa together, to celebrate anniversaries or other special occasions where men hope to get laid.…


The Strip Diary, Day Twelve: More Vegas Hotel Reviews, in Haiku Form

As I demonstrated yesterday — when my trip to a spa rendered me incapable of writing proper sentences — Vegas and daily deadlines don’t always mix.

In the past few days I’ve had some remarkable experiences. On Wednesday, I interviewed “Gazillionaire” and “Penny” about what it takes to put on a show like Absinthe at Caesars Palace and what on earth Caesars is thinking in allowing them to do so. (Spoiler alert: on that latter question, they have no idea.) During the interview, we got kicked out of a strip club.

On Thursday I visited Cirque Du Soleil’s show ““ at the MGM Grand, and was given a backstage tour by the technical director while the second performance played out above, below and beside us. (Spoiler alert: holy shit.)

Yesterday, after my spa treatment, I sat down over bar food with the Vegas Courtesan (NSFW — duh) who gave me some insight into what it’s like to be an escort in this town. (Spoiler alert: it involves fewer old, fat people than you’d think.) I’ve also made a couple of new friends who are certainly worth writing about — and of course I’ve crossed three new hotels off my list.…


The Strip Diary, Day Ten: I Don’t Understand Why the Whole World Doesn’t Live in Hotels

Day Ten: PH Towers ($239)

Day ten of my Vegas adventure and I’m not yet drunk, mad or dead. As anyone who knew me during my drinking days will tell you, this is an amazing achievement.

Even sober, the Vegas strip is an exhausting, battering place to stay; particularly when you’re staying in 33 hotels in 33 days. 33 check-ins, 33 episodes of trying to find the right elevator and trudging down corridors looking for out-of-the-way room numbers, 33 days of packing and unpacking…

For an adventure like this one, it really helps to travel light. Earlier this week, I dropped by the studios of KNPR: Nevada Public Radio to answer a few questions about my trip and to talk about the world’s continuing fascination with Vegas. When I arrived, the host looked at my two bags — a laptop back and a larger leather carry-on sized duffel bag — and raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“That’s all you have for a whole month?”

“No, actually, that’s all I have for my entire life.”

You see, one of the reasons why the past ten days spent constantly moving from hotel to hotel (and 10 days of hotel air conditioning, or 10 days of restaurant food and hotel drink prices) hasn’t killed me is because it’s simply a more concentrated variation on how I live my normal life.…


The Strip Diary, Day Nine: When Will Matt Goss Be Famous? When He Stops Trying So Hard

Day Nine: The Stratosphere (Comped)

Interviewing cab drivers — unless one is actually writing a story about cab drivers — is the last refuge of a hack. I fully admit that. And yet, I have to relate a conversation I had yesterday. With a cab driver.

The cab driver and I had been having a friendly chat after he realized that I was British, and I gathered he was Polish. Brits and Poles have a special relationship: similar to that between Americans and Mexicans. Every year, armies of Polish people move to the UK and eagerly snap up a whole host of jobs — cleaners, plumbers and factory workers — that British people are too snobbish and lazy to do. By way of thanks, British people bitch and moan about how — hypothetically — if we wanted to do the kinds of jobs that Polish people do for us, we’d be unable to do so because the Poles have “stolen” them. It’s a bit like blaming the nanny for the fact that you don’t spend enough time with your kids.

So anyway, yes — me and the Polish cab driver were chatting about the state of the world when, without meaning to, I accidentally did some journalism.…


The Strip Diary, Day Eight: I’d Rather Be Abused at the Riviera Than Set Foot in Donald Trump’s Hotel

Day Eight: The Riviera ($109 a night)

I am, dear reader, a man of my word. When I say I’ll do something, I will — barring hell or high-water — do it.

This month the thing that I have said I will do is to stay a single night in every hotel on the Las Vegas strip, starting with the cheapest and working my way to the most expensive. And true to my word, I’m writing these words from room 2627 of the Riviera Hotel Casino.

Frankly, I’d prefer hell or high-water.

Before I get going, let me be clear that my room is delightful; a one-bedroom suite, complete with its own (fortunately unstocked) bar, and a balcony looking out over some aspect of Las Vegas. I mean, yes, I did book a nonsmoking room, as opposed to this one which smells more pungent than Philip Morris’ tongue. And, yes, the furnishings — including, I fear, the bedding — haven’t been updated in the past 40 years; but I just keep telling myself that I’ve been upgraded to the status of a 1970s millionaire. A phone next to the toilet! Such opulence!

No, the problem with the Riviera is not the rooms, but rather the service.…


The Strip Diary, Weekend Round-Up: Las Vegas Hotel Reviews in 5-7-5 Syllables

I was planning to take a break at the weekends; at least from writing this diary. The deadline for my TechCrunch column falls on a Sunday, you see, and I wanted to have at least one day away from the snapping dog of a deadline.

I realize now, that’s a false economy of time. In the four days since I arrived in Vegas, my email and Twitter inboxes have filled to their respective brims with messages from folks following my ridiculous adventure.

Many of those messages have, naturally enough, covered the same topics: hotel recommendations, questions about logistics and — overwhelmingly — complaints that I haven’t adequately reviewed the various hotels in which I’ve stayed. If I tried to reply to each of them personally, it would take all weekend — and still the same questions would likely arise next week.

Instead, I’ve decided that each Saturday afternoon I’ll throw together a quick weekly round-up column, summing up some of the practical aspects of the previous week and answering a few of the more interesting pieces of correspondence I’ve received.



(For those who have contacted me via Twitter, I’ll include a username. I’ll keep email correspondents anonymous unless I have explicit permission to the contrary.)…


The Strip Diary, Day Four: An Expert Video Guide to Gentlemen’s Club Etiquette

Day Four: Bally’s ($44 a night)

During my drinking days back in London, I spent a lot of time in strip clubs. But please understand I say that without a hint of swagger.

British men have no business being around strippers. At best, we’re too awkward to enjoy ourselves — and, at worst, we’re too drunk to do anything but stumble and drool. Sometimes, as was frequently the case with me, we manage to occupy both of those states at the same time.

Still, my spending hours on end in places with names like “Secrets” and “Sophisticats” had little to do with strippers — and much to do with the fact that those clubs were only places I could get a beer after 2am.

Since I stopped drinking, my desire to ever set foot in a “gentlemen’s club” has completely evaporated, along with my urge to sing karaoke or to visit Boston. Booze is a very effective embarrassment suppressant but, even when wasted, there are few things more soul-destroying than catching a glimpse of oneself in a mirror, receiving a lapdance from a 19-year-old Ukrainian trying to pay her way through college. Sober, I think I’d have to commit seppuku-by-stiletto-heel.

That said, my sober avoidance of strip clubs mainly stems from the fact that I have absolutely no idea how to behave in them.…


The Strip Diary, Day Three: Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Day Three: Circus Circus ($29 a night)

“I read the Vegas article and I think it’s great. I run a site called [name of casino site] and if you link to the site in your next article (you can always mention how people can now play online casino games online instead of traveling to vegas). I would be happy to pay you for your time writing the article.”Email

The poor old Sahara. In a little over a month, the icon of old Vegas (opened in 1952) will welcome its last guest. But the hotel is already brain-dead, barely clinging on to life with the help of strong drugs and a machine that goes ‘beep’. The roller-coaster has stopped running, the elevators have been stripped of their mirrored paneling and the casino halls are all but deserted.

Gone are the hotel’s glory days as a rat-pack hangout, where famously Abbott and Costello played their last gig. According to Wikipedia, the hotel has also played host to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, George Carlin, Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, Bill Cosby and Bobby Darin.

Today’s last straggling guests can enjoy Striptease: The Show, starring Aspen Reign who — the poster proudly reminds us — is the only “four times winner of Miss Nude World”.…


The Strip Diary, Day Two: Spending a Sober Month on the Vegas Strip? Don’t Forget to Bring Your Own Stripper

This morning, I checked out of my suite at the London Hotel in LA and threw my bag in the back of my friend Ruth‘s Ford Thunderbird, ready for our five hour drive across the desert.
Like me, Ruth is an ex-drinker. Unlike me, Ruth is also an ex-stripper. If Vegas will be strange for me, I can only imagine what a head-fuck it will be for her. And that’s precisely why I invited her along for the start of the trip: head-fuckery is a dish best served with two spoons.

This is actually the second time I’ve been to Vegas sober. The first was late last year, while on assignment for the Guardian newspaper in London. Like the swaggering ass that I am, I decided it would be a lark to spend two days on my own revisiting all my old Vegas haunts and facing down my demons. Just remembering the trip now has made my palms sweat and the back of my neck itch…

It started well enough. As the cab pulled up outside the Palms hotel, the giant Playboy bunny on the side of the main building assured me I’d chosen my accommodation wisely, at least from a demon-facing standpoint.…


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