Bad girls. We talking about bad girls. Bad girls are going to save Las Vegas.
Perhaps you had not realized that Las Vegas needs to be saved. But, oh yes. Vegas changed man. And, then it all went bad. Real bad.
Good Old Days
In the good old days, Las Vegas was always showy and glitzy and intentionally cheap. Snobs called it tacky. Common men called it classy.
Benny Binion opened the Horseshoe in 1951, invented the World Series of Poker and made a few dollars in Vegas. And, Benny once said that the secret to his success was that he made “little people feel like big people.”
Jay Samo, who built Ceasars Palace with $10 million he happened to find just sitting there, in the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund, called his joint Caesars because he wanted every one of his guests to “feel like a Caesar.” That was the old Vegas, the Rat Pack Vegas.
Mistakes Were Made
Steve Wynn is generally credited, or blamed, for the “up scaling” of Vegas. Twenty years ago Wynn invented the Vegas of big suites, Dior, Gucci, Chanel, Tiffany, Emeril’s, spas and thousand dollar slots. Why rent a room for $40 if you could get somebody to pay $400 for the same room? Why sell peanuts? Why not sell caviar?
Wynn brought fine art to Vegas: Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse, Vermeer. A couple of years ago Wynn put his elbow through a $50 million Picasso. No thing. It was all good. He got it fixed.
The new, improved, classy Vegas was a very profitable idea while it lasted. If you owned a casino. Vegas was a magical place where you could put your elbow through your Picasso and still smile, smile, smile. Then President George W. Stupid wrecked Las Vegas along with every other damned thing.
Last year the Vegas economy began to be described with the same mind numbing statistics that are now being used to describe the rest of America. The average room rate in Vegas fell 14 percent. Gambling profits on the strip fell by 26 percent. There are about a thousand of these numbers but you get the idea.
Las Vegas is what you call a “mature market.” What that means is that if you are alive and you live on the planet Earth then you probably have already heard about and understand the concept of Las Vegas.
But, people who run businesses never believe that the markets for their product have actually “matured.” The people who manufactured personal computers in the 80s or cell phones in the 90s never believed that they might actually run out of new customers some day.
Right now Harley-Davidson, the manufacturer of the most macho of products, is trying to figure out how to sell motorcycles to soccer mommies. Because, you know, there must be just zillions of new customers out there somewhere. The marketing department just hasn’t found them yet.
Vegas has had the same reaction. Important people in Vegas are convinced that there must be just zillions of potential visitors out there who have not yet known the joys of big suites, celebrity chefs, big dollar slots and slightly damaged Picassos. There must be some people who have yet to discover that Vegas is all their hopes and dreams made true. Once these people learn of Vegas they will certainly want to travel there and drop a few thousand each and then the city will be saved.
The boss of Vegas these days is a very colorful and charming guy named Oscar Goodman. He is the mayor. He has a colorful past. He used to work in the challenging field of criminal defense. His former clients include Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, and both “Lefty” Rosenthal and “Tony the Ant” Spilotro.
As a rule of thumb, whether you are a juror or a slot player or a criminal defendant or whatever your problem is, when Oscar Goodman tells you something you believe him. Even if you think Oscar is lying to you, you still believe him. When Oscar says, “Relax. I’m the lawyer. I’ll fix it,” no matter what your problem may be, you breathe a deep sigh of relief.
So the thing Oscar came up with to fix Vegas was the Vegas Virgins advertising campaign. The premise of this brilliant marketing campaign is very much like the “Whopper Virgins” advertising campaign only better.
In the Whopper Virgins campaign the ad agency sent camera crews out to various Borat and Eskimo countries and introduced all these people in their colorful native costumes to the joys that could be theirs once they just tasted a Double Whopper With Cheese.
“Ooog glue nick Wooper much we bone,” some guy in a funny hat would exclaim.
And, a voice-over narrator would translate, “He likes the Whopper With Cheese.”
But the Vegas Virgins campaign was different. Way different.
In the Vegas Virgins campaign an ad agency went to a little town in Texas named Cranfills Gap and then flew a third of all the people who lived there out to Vegas for an all expenses paid frolic. The ad agency then filmed all these colorful Texans in their colorful, native Texan costumes enjoying Emeril’s and slot machines and the Donnie and Marie show at the Flamingo and all the sights.
“Merle? Can we get front row seats to see comedian of the year Rita Rudner at Harrahs?”
“Hush up! Just hush up now Lulu-Belle! Damnit! I put eight thousand dollars in this here slot so far and I know it is just about to pay off. I can feel it! I can feel it! I’m due! We’re gonna be rich Lulu-Belle! We’re gone be rich! Here goes!”
See how much better the Vegas campaign is than the Whopper campaign?
No? Well it didn’t work anyway. It hasn’t worked yet, at least.
Maybe Oscar should have just had George Bush whacked. But he didn’t. He tried the Vegas Virgins thing instead. Who are you to judge, anyway? Did you try to have George Bush whacked? Everybody has twenty-twenty hindsight.
Cue The Whores
On to Plan B. If virgins can’t do the trick for Vegas, pardon the expression, maybe whores can.
Prostitution is currently illegal in Las Vegas. Really. Vegas Metro makes about 100 “vice related” arrests on an average weekend.
All of Vegas and Nevada have grown from Mormon roots. So, prostitution is only legal in Nevada in counties that have populations of less than 400,000 people and that vote to allow it. And, the whores are only allowed to do their business in licensed and taxed brothels. Currently there are whorehouses in eight Nevada counties.
And right now, Clark County which surrounds Vegas could not legalize prostitution even if 99 percent of the people voted for it. It is not a “rural county.” It has more than 400,000 residents.
Which is a situation that Mayor Goodman thinks should be open for “discussion.” Oscar is not actually in favor of legalizing prostitution in Vegas, you understand. He just thinks the subject should be discussed.
And, Goodman has thought the notion should be discussed twice before, in 2004 and 2007. But now, with the financial crisis and all, legalized prostitution in Vegas may be an idea whose time has come. No pun intended.
For The Children
Oscar told the Las Vegas Sun on Thursday that some of his constituents might have “very legitimate” objections to whorehouses. “On the other hand,” Goodman mused aloud, “I’ve met with folks from that industry who make a very compelling argument that it could generate $200 million a year in tax dollars, and that would buy a lot of textbooks, pay for a lot of teachers.”
Yes of course! Whores won’t just save Goodman’s town! They will save the children, too!
If only George W. Bush had grown up in a town with legalized prostitution, he could have gotten a better education and he wouldn’t have grown up to be such a moron and Vegas wouldn’t be in the mess it is in now! Why can’t people ever just do the right thing for the children? They are our future!
And, legalized brothels in Vegas will be good for whores, too. They will save the ladies from “exploiters,” which is what Oscar calls the bad pimps. As opposed to the brothel owners who are the good pimps.
Mayor Goodman thinks the good pimps would provide whores with a “sort of an acculturation type of program…where they could get education, they could receive child care instead of leaving their kids in a latchkey situation, classes on self-esteem, those kinds of things.”
Oscar is just discussing, you understand. He wants his citizens to be informed.
Hey, Maybe Oscar Is On To Something
State Senator Bob Coffin has been listening to Oscar’s dispassionate and balanced examination of this issue and he has heard enough. Coffin has decided it is time to open whorehouses in Vegas. “It’s almost de facto legal,” Coffin told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s running unregulated.”
“When you’re talking about cutting funding for the mentally ill and increasing class sizes for little kids,” Coffin continued. “And someone tells me they don’t want to tax prostitution, I’m going to call them a hypocrite to their face.”
And since we are just discussing, you know. Since we are conversating this issue. wouldn’t putting brothels in Las Vegas also solve the problem of all that pesky competition Vegas has been getting from all those Indian casinos?
Why, now that you mention it!
Consider this. They don’t have safe, legal, regulated whorehouses in places like Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun or Biloxi now do they? Do they?
Well, if you were an adult entertainment consumer which place would you choose? Would you choose to spend your adult entertainment dollars in a place that cares enough about its children to build them whorehouses? Or would you go to some damn Indian reservation or some damn riverboat that is probably just a breeding ground for the next generation of morons like George W. Bush?
Well isn’t the answer obvious?!
And, so may Las Vegas and all its little children and its noble school teachers and its poor bedraggled whores yet be saved. And, live happily ever after.
Damn! Don’t you just love this country?