Sunday, July 17, 2011

Notes from Las Vegas, Part One: Cat Carnage, Tanning While Irish, Burlesque Bamboozle, and Hag Happiness

The Nature of the Beast

I just returned from four days in hot, bright, Las Vegas to wet, clammy Seattle skies, and a kitchen strewn with half-eaten guppy corpses and cookbooks wavy and dripping with fish water. The weather was an act of God, and the dead guppies were an act of our angelic little cat, Yoshie. In spite of our best attempts to lock down the tank and weight the glass cover with two 5-pound hard-back books, at some point between daily check-ins by the neighbors, he managed to topple the books, remove the locked lid, knock it on the floor, drag the tank onto the counter, and enjoy his own personal seafood buffet. The carnage was a deeply dismaying sight at 1:30 in the morning after a long night of travel, but what can one do? It is the nature of a cat to eat fish, and eat fish he did.

Tanning While Irish

Being a very pale-skinned redhead with the deeply-ingrained genetic memory of sun-deprived, depressed, Irish-Swedish farm stock, I usually find the idea of “sitting out” in the sun poolside or on a beach horrifying. All of those summer-vacation-porn ads on TV with people in sunglasses and tanning oil, lying under palm trees, does nothing for me. But when I got to Vegas, something in me just snapped. Suddenly, I was convinced that I could go out sans 896,000 SPF sunblock like some swarthy Mediterranean, and be perfectly fine. I craved the dry heat, but mostly I think I craved the feeling of being normal; of being a regular person who loves nothing more than sitting out at a resort pool in the middle of July, soaking up “the rays”. The Rio has a lovely pool area with gorgeous fake rocks and waterfalls and little secluded “hot springs” everywhere, and I just wanted to be there, to lie there and stare at the neon-blue sky, revel in the aggressive heat of the noonday sun blaring down on my fish-belly white skin, and attempt to feel like a person who isn’t pathologically sun-avoidant. So I put on my best Seattle hippie-dress (a bright blue East-Indian number with a lace-up bodice and Stevie Nicks-style jagged cuts in the skirt), popped the top on Coors Light, and plopped down on one of the remaining lounge chairs.

Ahhh….the sun! The heat! The imported palm trees! The waitresses in with their coffee-tanned skin and sparkly pink bikinis! And…good god, after ten minutes, the top of my red-haired head started to feel like it was set on fire, I became panicky-paranoid that my sunscreen wasn’t working, I was sweating profusely under my hippie-dress bodice and actually sticking to the plastic chair slats. I looked around at the other revelers, who didn’t seem the least concerned and were all easy-breezy in their tans and bikinis and trendy sunglasses. Determined not to give up, I marched over to the nearest gift shop and dropped twenty-five bucks on a giant sunhat and sunglasses, then came back out to the now even hotter poolside. I got a few funny looks, but the hell with them. What, they’ve never seen a sheet-white redhead complete with giant hat, insect-eye sunglasses, long dress, and 18 layers of sunscreen before? Well, fuck ‘em. I was going to feel like a normal, sun-worshiping, heat-reveler for once, damn be the consequences, and I didn’t care what anyone thought.

I lasted another 20 minutes, and then it just became too much, and I left my Coors Light and staggered into the sweet, smoky, blessed darkness of the casino.

Burlesque Bamboozle

Other than cheering Mr. Typist on during his round at the World Series of Poker, I didn’t go to Vegas with any particular agenda, but I did want to see a show. Our first night in, I was all a-twitter because they were advertising a burlesque show at the Flamingo! I was super-excited to see some good burlesque, and also, as it turns out, naively and easily suckered into marketing ploys that advertise high-end hootchie-shows as authentic burlesque. Whatever it was we saw at “X Burlesque” at the Flamingo had nothing at all to do with burlesque, and was, in the end, appallingly unimaginative and banal, only with lots of bare breasts and pole action. It wasn’t the bare breasts and the proliferation of G-strings and butt-wiggling that offended me, it was the total, unimaginative dullness of the whole thing, which bore only a faint whisper of resemblance to real burlesque, and relied on a lot of stupid pole tricks and boring, derivative choreography.

PSA to "X Burlesque" producers: Playing the audio from a few old burlesque tunes before the show, and in the same inane video in which you portray Howard Stern interviewing one of the dancers while pretending not to know the difference between stripping and burlesque, does not make your crap show “creative” or “daring” or cutting edge. You basically just co-opted an alternative movement to exploit it, sell it to women, and get them and their husbands/boyfriends in the door, then provided nothing more than a dull, run-of-the-mill tittie show, albeit with some admittedly competent dancing here and there.

Additionally, I have nothing against strippers,--so, to Random-X-Burlesque Dancer-on-Howard-Stern-Video? To brag that you’re somehow “better” than strippers because you don’t allow patrons to touch you or put money in your bikini bottom is delusional. Just admit that you’ve made some of the same deals we all have in order to wrest whatever petty power we can from the patriarchy, and stop trying to pretend you’re better than anyone else. You’re not. (Although, you did have some sweet moves on that pole.)

On the plus side, they did serve me a knock-out vanilla martini that was not only delicious, but also served to make the whole performance almost tolerable, and--Mr. Typist has not stopped grinning since we left the place. 

Happiness is Being a Hag

Before I left for Vegas, I had a nice get-together with my friend Frankie, in which I told her that since I quit my job, I was suddenly seeing hag imagery everywhere, and dreaming about hags almost every night. She explained to me the spiritual meaning of the Hag, and I was transfixed.

Tomorrow, I begin a new job, and I hope, a new, fulfilling career. On my first night in Vegas, I scribbled in my notebook: “Young women do not yet know that as a women, when you become old and invisible—that is when the real work of your life can begin.”

I hope for me, it starts soon.

More Notes on Vegas, coming soon!


--Kristen McHenry


1 comment:

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