Views On Vegas: Magic, Debauchery, and Where’s The Freaking Door?

Where do you go to bond with your twelve-year-old son? Why, Las Vegas, of course! Six days of cloudless, searing heat punctuated by clinks and clanks of cascading coins and retina-burning neon signs. Oh, how I embraced her tacky cheese.

My first taste of Las Vegas cheese.

Pocket for a moment your inquiry as to why I would take my child to Sin City—there will be plenty of time to ponder my parenting choices later—and allow me to share a few insights, perceptions no doubt absent from the local visitors’ guide.

Magic

My son is a talented magician. Really, he is. I’m not just saying that because I’m his mama bear. He studies instructional DVDs by the experts, and his skill with card tricks merits a jaw drop. Or at least an eye pop. Thus, magic shows ruled our stay, including Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, and Mac King, all brilliant and exciting. But here’s my magic wish. Just once, I’d like to see a female magician perform, assisted by a scantily clad man, butt cheeks protruding from toddler-sized shorts.

In fact, maybe I’ll study the trade and one day perform at the Luxor, assisted by none other than Criss Angel himself. I’ll clothe him in tiny pants and no shirt. After all, the man likes to showcase his awesome abs. Instead of Criss Angel Believe, it will be Criss and Carrie Absurd. Look for it.

Image credit: xfinity.comcast.net

Where’s the Freaking Door?

Magic shows were not our only path to mysticism. Luckily for us, two Houdini Magic Shops flaunted their make-believe wares within walking distance from our hotel. That meant hours of browsing for my son. And hours of pain for me.

To pass the time, I visited Zoltar, Gypsy fortune-teller extraordinaire, who seduced me with his repetitive foreplay: “I see you over there. Yes, you. Come. Come to Zoltar and let me share with you your fortune.”

Well, how can a girl refuse?

Normally camera-shy, Zoltar made an exception for me.

But as with all seduction, the thrill didn’t last. Sure, he murmured nice things: “You are a virtuous person. You are not easily influenced. You have a keen mind and an understanding nature.” Aww, shucks. Kind of like the spam bloggers receive. But to be honest, what I really desired from the sexy Romanian was a fortune that revealed the secrets to escaping a Las Vegas hotel. Or at the very least, a floor map. Smaktakula of Promethean Times warned me that the “painted whore” would do all she could to trap me in her vacuum of vice, and oh, how right he was. And I don’t even gamble.

Debauchery

Maybe it’s me, but is it really necessary to pass out Booby cards on the sidewalk every five feet? If you’ve never been to Vegas, by Booby cards, I’m talking about the small, glossy T&A pics handed out by a seemingly endless supply of sweaty entrepreneurial representatives. (And no, T&A does not refer to tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, though, normally, that is my first thought upon hearing the acronym. Yours, too, I’m sure.)

My version of T&A. (Image credit: patient.co.uk)

It seems to me that a greater distribution distance—say every fifty feet or so—would still alert visitors to the city’s ubiquitous sex supply. But in these fine workers’ defense, they did lower their card-dispensing arms as my son and I approached, displaying a conscientious side to their sleaze-spreading nature. Sadly, the trampled path of Booby cards littering the ground rendered this attempt at respectability moot.

If only that trodden trail of sex crumbs could have guided my exit from the dark hotel vortex.

Though it likely did wonders for my son’s sex education.

Have you ever been to Vegas? If so, what’s your favorite attraction? Have you visited the city with kids? Do you collect Booby cards? What about tonsils?

141 Responses to “Views On Vegas: Magic, Debauchery, and Where’s The Freaking Door?”

  1. "HE WHO"

    I’ve been visiting Las Vegas for 44 years – since the strip was half as wide and with much less traffic. When the mob influence burned like a 100 watt bulb. I was there when Kenny Rogers performed free in the Flamingo lounge and when you could tip 20 bucks and get a front row seat at the best shows in town. I’ve seen Hoover Dam several times and enjoyed a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon complete with champagne lunch near the bottom. I’ve seen lavish stage shows with 100 topless dancers, each better looking than the last. I saw horses thundering on the stage as they pulled stage coaches in Wayne Newton’s show. I’ve seen comedians from the family-oriented Bill Cosby and Rita Rudner to the not-for-kids Buddy Hackett. It was the latter, whose well-delivered blue material had me rolling on the floor with side-splitting stitches from beginning to end. I’ve seen several Cirque du Soleil shows and my favorite is still “Mystere”.

    Over the years I learned that although I went to gamble, I had to see at least one show every time I went. And I’ve gone at least 80 times.
    Michelle and I absolutely love Vegas and would live there if we could.

    If I was the Mayor I would rid the city of the Booby card pushers. I hate the way they flick them as you walk by. They are an eyesore (I mean the men and women flogging them). They used to be at the downtown end of the strip but over the years they have moved pretty much everywhere. I suppose a lot of men (and maybe women) look for sex when in Vegas, but I’ve always figured that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not quite right – everything stays except the STDs.

    Sadly, we haven’t been for nearly three years. We put everything we had into a business. It failed. Starting over. But we will get back to Vegas! Sorry this was so long, Carrie. It’s your blog not mine. But you and those who commented sure did get me going.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      No apologies needed. I enjoyed reading it! Gave me some ideas for next time I’m in Vegas. And despite the debauchery, I really liked it too. And what a great place for an aspiring magician like my son. I want to return with my husband. But yes, I would not be sad to see the booby cards go…

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

  2. emma

    The deal with those hotels is that they intend for you to get lost in them so you’ll give up and gamble away your big bucks. Kind of like CostCo. They move stuff around to different shelves preventing “dash in for one thing” shoppers. Once you’re in, you’re trapped.

    Like

    • crubin

      You’re not kidding. People had warned me about this phenomenon, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until I was actually there!

      Like

    • crubin

      You and many of the other visitors…

      We didn’t experience too many buffets. The meal preference for a 12 year old boy is pizza slices. Had a lot of those.

      Like

  3. Arizona girl

    How cool to have a magician in the family! Yes, Vegas with all its booby cards, blinking lights, and ringing slots is not at the top of my list of places to go, but it is kind of fun every once in a while to partake in the circus…

    Like

    • crubin

      The circus–perfect description. In fact, we even visited a hotel called Circus Circus. It was a Mecca for kids with a huge arcade, carnival games, and lots of performers. Very noisy and over-stimulating. Needless to say, my son loved it.
      :)

      Like

  4. Anastasia

    It’s taken 24 hours to finally get WordPress to load at work. Odd. Anyway, never been, never want to go, although cirque d soleil sounds cool. Vegas is everything that repels me about my country (including hard workers not getting enough pay, and people who don’t have to work much making bank, while those who can’t afford to lose any, lose it all)(extroverts paradise)… Blegh

    Like

    • crubin

      Yes, Vegas is far from the best representative for the U.S., that’s for sure. A lot of excess and waste. Then again, as a country, I guess we’re pretty good at that. Not our finest quality.

      But the shows are good…
      :)

      Like

    • crubin

      Oh, sorry to hear you are still struggling with Internet issues. I hope you’ve at least received your paychecks.

      Like

      • Anastasia

        firefox at work slows down to a tarry mammoth crawl when WordPress opens. I’m watching these words scroll out finally after I’ve already typed 8 words. Pay… pay for May but still none for June. I’d murder for a new job right now. Come to think of it, I might fit in in Vegas. Let’s go back!

        Like

  5. Polly Robinson

    Like Jane, I’ve never been to Vegas, I don’t collect Booby cards, indeed I’ve never heard of them before, and I don’t have much of an opinion on tonsils.

    Vegas looks a desperate place to me, but perhaps on the list for one visit in a lifetime … we’ll see.

    Great post Carrie :)

    Like

    • crubin

      Vegas is a bit desperate–great description–but I guarantee you’d pick up plenty of fodder for your poetry if you went there.
      :)

      Like

  6. Kourtney Heintz

    I’ve been to Vegas several times. I love walking around Red Rock Canyon. It’s about 30 minutes from the city. My favorite thing to do in Vegas is catch a show and then walk the strip sipping an alcoholic drink.

    Like

    • crubin

      I encountered several walkers and sippers. The most eye-catching was near the Paris hotel, where a young man drank from a beverage container shaped like a full-size guitar. I would need a urinary catheter to pull that off…

      I’d love to go back and see some of the other geographical sites like Red Rock Canyon. Wouldn’t mind a trek out to the Grand Canyon either.

      Like

  7. Diane Henders

    We used to go to Vegas once a year to compete in the World Archery tournament, but we haven’t been recently. We used to enjoy the food and the shows, but they both got so expensive we lost interest. I understand the prices are a little more reasonable now, so we’ll have to think about going back.

    Only problem is, the tournament is in February and all the pools are closed. You never saw such a pathetic sight as two pasty-skinned Canadians wandering around looking for a pool in February: “What do you mean, it’s closed? It’s 70 degrees! That’s summer where we come from!”

    Like

    • crubin

      Ha ha–it’s funny what’s considered “cold” in warmer climates.

      As for the fact you went to Las Vegas for the World Archery tournament? That is beyond cool. You have impressed me immensely. I bet no one messes with you. Not if you’re carrying a bow and arrow, anyway…
      ;)

      Like

      • Diane Henders

        True, but it’s not the most portable weapon in the world. My competition bow has a nearly-3-foot-long stabilizer, so I tend not to take it for too many walks in the park. :-)

        Like

  8. braintomahawk

    As a former collector of baseball cards, I am wondering if booby cards have rookies, all stars, special edition types.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, I’m sure they do. There’s probably a few stats there as well, though you might have to deduce them as they’re not formally listed.
      ;)

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      Like

    • crubin

      And it’s about the same quality, too.
      :)

      Speaking of pizza, when one’s companion is a 12-year-old boy, one consumes a lot of it while traveling.

      Like

    • crubin

      Ok, then. That’s good to know. I hadn’t taken the collectors into account…

      Like

  9. the curtain raiser

    We took the boys to Vegas last year, first trip back in 15 years. I loved Vegas but this time it felt a little sleazy largely because of the booby cards – they weren’t there last time. But it’s not just the cards it’s that whole flick of the wrist popping action the card issuers have!

    I’d go back again simply to see how big, kitschy and confusing the newest resort can get.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, that’s a good one–you’re right, the card handlers do have a flick of the wrist when they hand those babies out! Real pros they are.
      :)

      I could have used a GPS. At first I thought it was just me. After all, there are signs in the hotels. But then I saw many other people also complain about how lost they were, and I felt better. Safety in numbers.
      :)

      Like

  10. Perfecting Motherhood

    First I must say I’m out of my league because I have no idea who Criss Angel is, although I don’t lose any sleep over it.

    I’ve been to Vegas once and it was for work. What a dump. All fake. Fake town, fake people, fake boobs, fake fun, and all in the stinking desert. It’s only 45 minutes by air from San Diego but I can’t imagine going there for any reason. If you want to be entertained, watch the San Diego strippers get on the planes to Vegas on Friday and back on Monday. Lovely. I want to say I hope my kids never go there but I’d be dreaming, right?

    You’re very brave for taking your son there and I’m sure he enjoyed the magic show. Maybe he learned something from this experience, besides the T&A cards. You’re a good mom for acting as a shield!

    Like

    • crubin

      Ha ha–I love how you tell it like it is. No beating around the bush for you.
      :)

      And you’re right, it is fakery at its finest, not to mention loud and over-stimulating. It was always a treat to return to our quiet hotel room. But we still had a great time, and it was a magic Mecca, which delighted my son to no end. Since we’ve returned, he’s attacked his magic practice with even more intensity. Maybe next time, he’ll be so skilled that he can make those booby cards disappear.
      :)

      Like

      • Perfecting Motherhood

        Haha, sorry but Vegas doesn’t need any more sugar coating! A few years ago, when home prices were ballooning in San Diego, many families were cashing in and moving to Vegas to buy something bigger with the profits. You couldn’t pay be enough to live there! I think many of them forgot it’s a complete desert as soon as you leave sin city.

        Oh, and if your son makes the booby cards disappear, I’d be concerned to know where they end up. :-)

        Like

  11. writerwendyreid

    I have never been to Vegas and to be honest, I have no desire to go there. I’ve never even been to a casino, even though there is one located about 30 minutes away from where I live. I am afraid that if I tried gambling, I might lose the house and a couple of kids by the time I’m done. Best to stay away. :-P

    Like

    • crubin

      I never had any desire to go there either, as I, too, am not a gambler. But I was surprised how much I liked it. Part of it was probably seeing my son’s excitement–if one wants to see magic shows, Vegas seems the place to be. I’d like to go back, just to see all the things we missed, though I don’t think I’ll make it a regular stop. It certainly provided good writing research.
      :)

      Like

      • writerwendyreid

        I guess it did. I’m glad that you and your son enjoyed it as much as you did. I guess I’d probably enjoy some of the live shows. I’d still avoid the casinos though. :-)

        Like

          • writerwendyreid

            Don’t know how smart that makes me, but I just know myself and my weaknesses enough to avoid things that might get me into trouble. It’s good to know that all of those terrible things I did in my youth have actually prepared me to avoid awful things today. Nice to know I didn’t suffer for nothing. :-)

            Like

  12. Jane

    I’ve never been to Vegas, I don’t collect Booby cards, and I dont’ have much of an opinion on tonsils. I just wanted to make a general comment on how great this post is.

    Like

    • crubin

      Well, thank you! I appreciate you stopping by. And now, if you ever do get the urge to collect booby cards, you’ll know where to go.
      :)

      Like

  13. August McLaughlin

    I spent a bunch of weekends in Vegas for a fashion gig a few years ago. My favorite parts were my room with a gigantic hot tub in the middle of it and an expansive view (free upgrade since I wasn’t out gambling, apparently :)), and seeing Elton John perform live and up close. Wow. I thought it might somehow be cheesy, being in Vegas and all, but nope. He was brilliant.

    Like

    • crubin

      Your room sounds a little nicer than the one we had. But at the price we paid, I can’t complain. We stayed at the Luxor, because that’s where Criss Angel lives and performs, and my son hoped he’d run in to him.
      :)

      And I bet Elton John was wonderful. He’d be great to see live.

      Like

  14. robincoyle

    Whoa. Look at all the comments here! Whoa.

    I hate Las Vegas. I passed up a trip there with my husband in June because he has to go there again in October (when I WILL go with him) because it is sensory overload. Plus, he has meetings and I have to walk for a day and a half to get from the hotel room to the pool. God forbid you forget your sunscreen. Then it is a day and a half walk back to the room to get it, or $49 for 3 ounces of SPF -2 in the hotel gift shop.

    Like

    • crubin

      It definitely is sensory overload, and those hotel mazes about drove me nuts. But on the bright side, I got a lot of extra walking in. We only spent a couple hours at the pool. So much else to do (and by “else” I mean magic things for my son…)

      But I still enjoyed it and will likely go back.
      :)

      Like

      • robincoyle

        If we didn’t go to Vegas at least once a year for his conferences, I wouldn’t be so sour on it. But I’ve done Vegas. The casinos, the shows, the pool . . . BUT, I never turn down a trip with my husband! Well, I guess I turned down LV in June, didn’t I?

        Like

  15. Chris Biscuits

    If your son isn’t already aware, there’s an up-and-coming magician in the UK by the name of Dynamo who I’d be interested to see deciphered. Have either of you heard of a fellow named Derren Brown? He’s massive over here, and might spark your son’s interest in psychology – all of his tricks are based around the power of suggestion on a deeply psychological level, and he can’t be recommended enough!

    Zoltar looks like such a dude!

    Like

    • crubin

      My son says he’s heard of Dynamo, and I’m not surprised considering all of the time he spends on magic sites and educational DVDs. Not Derren Brown, though. I suspect he’ll check into him now. Sounds interesting.

      And yes, Zoltar’s one testosterone-fueled man. One only need look at the facial hair to see that. Oh. Sorry. Forgot about that whole beard thing…
      ;)

      Like

      • Chris Biscuits

        I believe Derren Brown refers to himself as an illusionist, and is probably much closer to psychology than magic, but it’s enthralling stuff and well worth a watch. He does exposés and documentaries about all manner of mind games. One related example is where he convinced someone to gamble all their savings on a roulette table, using suggestion to bolster their confidence in what was actually blind luck. I think they ended up winning!

        He also broadcast an experiment with psycho-suggestive sound and noise to trap people in their chairs, and I remember a good programme where by putting pictures of his face and suggestive imagery involving generosity around a shopping centre, he begged £5000 in two hours (which he gave to real homeless people). One man even gave Derren his shoes, which were the intended subject of a very specific altered advert in one of the stores. Again, it’s not strictly speaking magic, but it should at least provide some inspiration for your son.

        I’m flattered you remembered! Although if I’m to be known throughout WordPress for that post I ought to do one entitled ‘By the way I am actually a proper man.’

        Like

        • crubin

          Naahhh, no one wants to remember the decent stuff.
          :)

          My son and I were just discussing the fact that so many magicians now call themselves illusionists instead of magicians. But this man’s work sounds rather unique, a nice change of pace from the usual. Thanks for passing on the name.

          Like

  16. Sword-chinned bitch

    I’m touched that you went to Las Vegas so that your son could expand his knowledge in the field of magic. I loved Vegas. We went when it was still sleazy in the late eighties. I liked observing the people who were glued to their seats behind the slot machines, with cigarette butts piled up to the ceiling. These people probably had a gambling addiction. They were so obviously desolate.

    Like

    • crubin

      Oh, they’re still there, believe me. And so are the cigarettes.
      :)

      Well, given my son has maintained this magic interest since the age of 6 and has risen to a level where he can no longer be brushed off as a “cute kid doing magic,” I thought, what the heck. I’d like to see Vegas, and he can get exposed to the mecca of magic. My hubby and other son went on a two week backpacking trip (yikes!), so it was good timing.

      Like

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