The first time I ever landed in Las Vegas, a 50-something lady walked up to my group and said: “welcome to the hedonism capital of the world.”
In the city with gambling in the airport, nude dancing at the classiest hotels, no last call for alcohol and no open container laws, it’s not surprising to find that the 1990’s notion that Las Vegas was the perfect family vacation has been abandoned in favor of “what happens here stays here.”
Of course, the family vacation motif was an advertising campaign, and so is “what happens here stays here.”
But sexuality is everywhere in this city. Las Vegas is home to some of America’s best-designed clubs and bars with themed nights that are almost always sexually driven. Often, you’re not even looking for it and all of a sudden, it’s there. Not only is it there, sex is in the mainstream in Vegas. You can’t walk down a street without seeing an advertisement for a topless stage show—because the entire strip is hotels and casinos and almost all of the hotels and casinos have topless or risqué shows.
Perhaps the sexiest of these shows is Fantasy at the Luxor, with its ridiculously tempting advertisements featuring girls in lingerie striking a “come hither” pose. The show takes on all comers and role-plays situations like the sultry office rendezvous and mixes it up with singing and comedy, and grandparents are going to see it as well as 20-somethings and newly married couples. No kids.
In fact, I haven’t seen many families at all this week. Walking along the strip, through the hotels and in the restaurants, it’s all adults: groups of men, women, guys, girls and couples enjoying a 21+ version of Walt Disney World.
And that stands as a testament to the wholesale stripper culture. Strippers occupy 116 pages of the Las Vegas Yellow Pages. ONE HUNDRED SIXTEEN pages are dedicated to women and men who take their clothes off for money. The ads are entertaining if nothing else, and they range in everything from identical twin redheads to 60-year-olds.
One aspect of the Las Vegas sex culture that is both interesting to watch and utterly annoying is the “slappers,” groups of men and women on every block along the Vegas Strip that try to hand out cards and advertisements for strip clubs and out-call girls, slapping the cards together to attract attention and grabby hands.
One 30-something gentleman that I walked past took one of the cards and received a prompt whack in the arm from what appeared to be his wife.
“What are you taking those for?” she barked at him. “You’re just going to throw it out, right?”
I later observed a second couple face the “slappers.” This time the woman took a card and the man stopped dead in his tracks stunned.
Could Las Vegas be a sign of a changing American culture–one more open to sexuality—or is Vegas just a way for adults to indulge in things forbidden? That’s for you to decide, but one thing is for sure: sex sells in Vegas.
Sex may sell, it is not for sale in Las Vegas; at least not legally. The local CBS News affiliate, KLAS-TV reported a major crackdown on prostitution by the Metro Vice Unit, nabbing 185 people in one sweep dubbed “operation PIMP.” Prostitution is illegal within the city limits.
- Hooters Hotel/Casino: A run down dive joint with nothing original in one of the ugliest parts of the strip. The only casino I liked less was Tropicana, which was right next door.
- The Palms: Sexy nightclubs popular with the older college crowd. Their new tower has a huge playboy logo on it.
- Rio: Picture Harrah’s with a hyperactive kid brother.
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