There is about 40 years spread between my first and my most recent visit to Las Vegas, peppered with about a dozen visits in between these, and many toilet paper tubes stuffed with dryer sheets.
I’ve learned over these many visits never stay more than 48 hours. One overnight is usually enough, two is a risk. The energy in vegas is fun in short, sharp shocks, and then the image begins to flicker and the sickness behind it slithers out.
The Fear. The Loathing.
I don’t enjoy Vegas gaming or most of the usual gambling. I’ll play a few rounds of blackjack just as a ritual, but I don’t enjoy it enough to get caught up in any of the games. I’ve long said if they just would have more complicated games and bets, it might catch me. But obviously they don’t need to, and they don’t need me.
I do enjoy a good wager here and there, but I’ve never done so in Vegas.
My first adult visit to Las Vegas is all about the weed. It’s also back in the days that Nevada was a zero tolerance state. Hard to explain that to the kiddies walking down the strip with a blunt or using oil vapes on the casino floor….
Back then, we had to hide in the bathroom of the hotel, standing on the toilet, exhaling through a toilet paper tube stuffed with dryer sheets.
These kids and their freedom will never know the simple engineering of a toiler paper tube stuffed with dryer sheets. Alas.
This is the classic amateur trip to Vegas, where we do not realize that it is not a walking city, and end up spending most of our time between properties, trying to get from one casino to another, but confused because of being super stoned, and because it is not made easy.
Things have changed. The city has put walkways in over and around the strip. There are entertaining things to observe along the way. There are lots of arrows now, no way to get lost. But at this point in the late 1990’s, none of this exists, and we are walking endlessly in the hot desert sun.
Often four of the most gigantic blocks in the world only to realize that we should have crossed the road by going back in the other direction a block and then crossed and been on the other side, so it’s walking five superblocks back the direction we came only to walk seven back again to get to the next destination.
My second adult trip to Vegas – I get married by Elvis to the sounds of jailhouse rock.
I note that it’s easy to get a quick marriage in Las Vegas, but it is not easy to get a quick marriage license in Las Vegas. We stand in line for six hours, because there is only one courthouse, and it is the bottleneck for all Vegas marriages. You need to get the permit before you can legally marry, you can’t just show up at the chapel and do it.
I spend most of my time other than the actual wedding and standing in line for permission hiding in the bathroom of the suite shared by myself and the groom and both of our wedding guests, smoking weed near the fan and, yet still, exhaling through a toilet paper tube stuffed with dryer sheets. They are unaware that I am doing so.
The most fun trip I’ve had to Vegas, however, is when I got to see a glimpse of its generous hosting to the adult industry. I stayed with a friend of mine and his wife-to-be. His fiancee is the curator of the sex museum in Vegas, which is the largest sex museum in the world. She is also many years sober, and in the program.
My buddy Reverend Phil has spent much of his time running a traveling erotic film festival called Bike Smut.
I meet them at the sex museum, where he has running at the time an interactive exhibit about Bike Smut. I ride the bicycles that power video and a fucking machine, but no one is there to be fucked by it. The museum is interesting, but just because it’s the biggest in physical space doesn’t make it the best sex museum I have ever encountered.
It is, however, expertly curated and not very Vegas. The curator has multiple PhD’s (human sexuality, psychology) and an MBA. The material goes deep, from every angle (aww yeah). I am impressed by an exhibit on the treatment of older women in positions of power, usually teachers, who are caught with younger men, and the way that the press treats that subject. The exhibit is shown by magnified posters of the first page of tabloids about a series of incidents. I see all our twisted, crazy, binary double standards in this, and how the women are sexualized and shamed at the same time.
Meeting my friend’s partner for the first time is brief, she is busy because there is an astronaut there who is designing a study on sex and space, and the museum has some archives of information that he is seeking, and as well he is seeking publicity for his work. This is the only astronaut I have shaken hands with. The sex astronaut.
My friend’s partner is brilliant, tall, and has huge tits. I smile at that, not sure what to make of the strange familiarity of the adult industry. It’s not my first rodeo.
I stare at the stuff that’s for sale in the front room. Postcards. Keychains. Posters. Next to an exhibit on mastectomies. None of it makes much sense. Why do we need museums for sex?
When we get back to their place, my buddy proudly shows me his latest creation for the adult film business that he and his partner own. This is where I learn that the business specializes in choke porn. And that he is starring in the films. You’d think a week at Burning Man would have been enough to know these things about him.
Now I sit down for my friend to proudly showcase a choke porn movie starring my host. Not his partner, she does all finance and distribution, none of the creative work. It’s a poorly made film with a plot based on Back to the Future, which ends in some kind of moral retribution through time travel for the main character, played by Reverend Phil, for choking a woman death while fucking her.
I ask polite questions and learn things like:
“The actress was very professional.”
Later that afternoon my friend and his brilliant, ambitious, and curvaceous partner and I sit around playing board games. We drink iced tea and eat an almond flour quiche that I prepare, and talk about Vegas and Burning Man and what it’s like to be entrepreneurs.
I’m struck by how good a match they are, and how I didn’t know he had matches because, of course, I met him flitting around at Burning Man. And there was respect, we all respect each other. I feel welcome, and at home. I’m grateful for a bed to sleep in, in this weird town.
We talk until she has to go complete some more work, she is a businesswoman. The sex trade doesn’t sleep. She has mouths to feed.
Outside, in the state of Nevada in a private residence’s backyard, me n’ Phil hide our legal smoking of a joint from his clean and sober wife-to-be who owns 85% share in the choke porn business …. by exhaling through a toilet paper tube stuffed with dryer sheets.
Read about another gritty city: Bangkok