How I came to find myself driving out to Las Vegas is a long story best left for another day. Though I can tell you this, it was a beautiful but long and boring drive, completely devoid of the highway rest stop glory holes and “foot tapping” truck-drivers I so had my heart set on. Where is Larry Craig when you need him?
At the mention of Las Vegas one commonly thinks of the shimmering lights of the famous strip. Some may also think of the belching volcano in front of the Mirage or the thunderous fountains in front of the Bellagio. Not I though. Over the years I have come to dislike the shinier parts of Vegas. It becomes easy to forget that there is so much more to this city than “The Strip.” With the exception of the north end of the city (which much, like Hartford has me agreeing with many that “the north end of any city is where you go to die”) Las Vegas is really quite nice.
My view of Vegas is a decidedly different one. I sit atop the southern hills in the adjacent city of Henderson (you’ve probably heard of it if you’re a CSI fan). Like a gay Batman, I overlook the huge, twinkling Vegas Valley. Henderson is easily the Avon/Glastonbury of Nevada, so I feel right at home. It’s mostly comprised of planned communities, so much like “Agrestic” from the early seasons of the Showtime series “Weeds,” that as I drive across town I often hum the theme song to the show.
As this summer has led to me transitioning from a frequent visitor to a temporary resident, my view of this city has changed yet again. (Don’t worry, Nutmeggers, I’m still a CT property owner…I’ll be back sooner than you think.) As you might imagine, the gambling industry here is inescapable. It’s almost laughable to see gaming machines (mostly video poker) at the bars, gas stations, and even in the supermarkets. As a “local” I’ve grown used to the over saturation but have come to enjoy the many tacky “free” events, concerts, hotel rooms, and giveaways at casinos that cater to the local players. $25 in “free play” cash?…Why thank you! A free T-shirt giveaway?…Don’t mind if I do…
Having reached the “President” player level of my favorite local casino, The Green Valley Ranch, and with some winnings in my pocket, I decided a few weeks ago to fly my best friend out here for a week. I called my Casino Host (being a regular player in their second highest player tier does have its own set of perks!) and got my friend and I booked for a complementary three night stay in a two room suite, two days of which include a private cabana at their pool and limo transportation down to “The Strip” for a show. Because no Vegas vacation is complete without seeing a Cirque show or T&A, we decided to kill two birds with one poker chip and see Zumanity. Described as “the sensual side of Cirque,” Zumanity has managed to incorporate the two things Vegas does best, thrilling acrobatic performances and nudity!!
I know, what you’re thinking: “What’s so gay about any of this?” Well there’s a good reason for my lack of homo-porting…I haven’t done much. There is an area of fun looking gay bars lovingly referred to as “The Fruit Loop,” but I’m not much for the bar scene. Oh sure I’ve doled out a few discriminating hand-jobs (after all, one does need to make friends), but for the most part I’ve found the men here, strikingly less desirable than the men of the Northeast. I hate to make sweeping generalizations but if you’re into Meth and/or STDs, there is a virtual gay playground for you here. (Send me an email and I’ll see if I can get you a free hotel room.)
In keeping with my status as a sage advice-giver, I’ve got some great Vegas travel tips for you. The nice people at Southwest Airlines (if you don’t mind the greyhound bus of air travel) have a handy-dandy non-stop flight right from Bradley Int’l. If, like myself, you’ve done “The Strip” side of Vegas, you may find properties like The Red Rock Spa, Hotel & Casino, The Green Valley Ranch, the SouthPoint Hotel & Casino or the M Resort more relaxing. Off-strip properties often have better room rates and certainly have better odds and pays for the gamblers. All the properties I mentioned are about 20 minutes or so from the strip. But if you just can’t leave Vegas without taking in a Cirque show, or seeing water blasted into the sky choreographed to a Celine Dion song, most of the hotels run a free shuttle down to Las Vegas Boulevard.
Whatever you find yourself doing, or in the case of dear sweet Ring Nation, not doing….I hope your summer is safe and wonderful….and filled with T&A!