My recent trip to Las Vegas wasn't to gamble (even if I lost $360 on slot machines) and it wasn't to indulge my personal fetishes (even if I wound up at a Chippendales performance and attending The Hollywood Show Las Vegas—read on for both), but to have meetings for work. Unfortch, my main business contact was forced to stand me up through no fault of his own, so that left me with gambling, men and starfucking.
Before I did anything, I pigged out at a late buffet with my autograph-show buddies Brian, Rich and Don—pictured. Don is pals with Jane Withers, 85...and how many people can say that? We feasted on fatty foods, sweet celebrity gossip and even salty sex talk. I won't say which one of us, but somebody had been Manhunting earlier and had been successful, even if bagging the prey had involved a premature shot.
For later that evening, I had gotten myself invited to the Chippendales show at the Rio. I don't know if you've ever gone, but I hadn't, and going to see something that is so ubiquitous in the culture with very little idea of what to actually expect was quite nerve-wracking. And yes, they totally allow men in these days. In fact, I saw quite a few men with their girlfriends or wives, and was told of one couple who saw five or six shows in a row because, as the hubby confessed, "She fucks my brains out after seeing this stuff."
If you haven't gone before, I recommend doing what I did and going with Miss Texas USA and her equally pageant-ready friend. It was very Suddenly Last Summer the way they attracted a large percentage (the straight percentage) of the dancers, all of whom are so big even Herman Munster pants would've looked like floods.
My friend, his friend and I were seated in the back while the women sat front and center, all the better for one of them to be pulled onstage and mock-manhandled, it looked like. If that isn't what it was, maybe I'm just projecting, but if I could've done some astral projecting, I would've.
The show is 75 minutes' worth of female fantasies, a non-stop series of classic scenarios—firemen (so 98 Degrees! sorry I missed your stint, Jeff), businessmen, the mandatory bowties—with the bulky performers moving with surprising fluidity. I would not call it tasteful considering all the bumping and grinding and the occasional bare ass, but it's not like you're at NYC's late, great Gaiety or in Canada, either, so let's say it's racy but doesn't cross too many boundaries. I loved seeing the men invade the audience and hit up the absolutely pussy-soaked patrons, who were screaming their fool heads off from the word "go."
A cute blond guy kept looking back at us, sizing us up and wordlessly wondering why the hunks kept bear-hugging or high-fiving my buddies (one of whom runs the show's PR). Later, our peeper shyly confessed to being "a closet case" with a highly Christian job. Oh, well, more for me—I shamelessly went onstage and posed with the guys after, though it sucks that my green shirt made me look shapeless, the worst effect when you're standing amidst human statues.
The guys were as nice as they were nimble, mingling with guests in the Flirt Lounge after, where I nabbed this:
I highly recommend taking in a show if you're in Vegas—the dancers could not care less if you're a guy or a girl. At least...if all they're doing is dancing for you.
The next day was The Hollywood Show Las Vegas at Harrah's, a satellite version of that autograph show I've attended three times in Burbank (here, here and here). I'd already gone to the pre-show to see where all the vendors were set up and to greet my buddy Roy of Baby Jane Collectibles, so I knew the lay of the land. I'd been shocked to see that the show's #1 name—Joan Collins—had been set up right by the front door, so wasn't surprised on Saturday when she'd been resituated in the far corner, where she could more properly hold court.
Bright 'n' early, one of the attendees' helpers was asking someone at the show about all the changes that had happened overnight and the short answer was: The bigger the star, the more right to change his or her position. They might as well have had letters on their foreheads denoting who was A-list, B-list, C-list and beyond.
I arrived early even though I only had about 10 names I wanted. I'd decided to attend based on Joan Collins and Tippi Hedren (one of the last, but not the last, great Hitchcock actors), but was also excited to meet '70s heartthrob Richard Hatch. If the first thing you think of when you hear that name is a fat, thieving survivor, you're oh-so-tender and oh-so-young. The first thing I think of is a gorgeous brunet who was all over the teen mags even when he was in his late twenties.
Spotting Richard's asscrack (he was hanging his own poster and it was a stretch), I headed over. For 66, he looks pretty good and couldn't have been nicer. An oaf was talking to him and once it was my turn never ceded Richard—this happens a lot at these shows, people don't realize their time is up. I presented him with a great still from The Hustler of Muscle Beach (1980) showing him being held up by a bunch of beefcakers in Speedos. Hatch correctly IDed the photo.
Next, I had him sign an at-home spread from a German magazine sporting images that a modern-day publicist would not have allowed because they made it look like he had no pants on. Hatch reminsiced about his home (it hadn't been a fake set) and then happily posed for me and with me. I had to take a picture for the oaf, too, and it was all I could do to keep from shaking his camera as I took it.
Still waiting for my pals to show up, I decided I could take on The Brady Bunch's Christopher Knight (aka Peter) alone. It was an odd encounter! He was engrossed in his phone, then as I appeared, his helper sent me over to pay at the end of the table where all things Brady (Susan "Cindy" Olsen and Mike "Bobby" Lookinland were there, too) were taken care of. On my way there, I noticed Joan Collins had arrived. The legendary burlesque star Tempest Storm was leaning over to shake her hand and Joan was saying, "I'm not shaking hands with anybody!" apologetically. Ouch!
After paying, there was another mix-up as Knight's assistant thought I had overpaid and that pictures with him were supposed to be free. It was more awkward than having your voice change in the middle of recording a hit record! Finally, he signed for me and answered my question about what it had been like to be in a teen magazine all the time as a kid:
"Odd...none of it, truly, was all that meaningful to me since I wasn't a consumer of it myself, it was just really odd to be on that side of that kind of attention. It could be really draining...I always thought their descriptions of me were always better than the ones I could come up with...'What's your perfect girl?' It's like, I don't know. I have no idea what I'm lookin' for. If I'm even lookin' for that."
Just to make the whole thing perfectly imperfect, my pictures with him were dark because my camera refused to flash, leading to some discussion on his part that he was going to figure out how to make it work.
Next, I found my sidekicks (or rather, the guys for whom I was the all-purpose sidekick), Brian and Rich. Brian is tall and aggressively gay in a way that could put some people off but that almost always does the opposite, softening people up right away. "We're fags, you know we want more than one picture," he'd say, leading to appreciative laughter and near-total compliance. He can also take a great pic-with for you, and will not be shy to insist on doing one horizontal and one vertical. Rich is the uberfan who knows everything about Dynasty and various other TV shows. He's shyer than Brian but not too shy to get what he needs from each and every star he cares about.
Both of them are Joan Collins superfans, so I ran into them as they got into Joan's shockingly short line. Immediately, a fan came up to us and was bitching about his treatment—already! Seems he'd objected to her prices ($25 per autograph, $25 per pic-with, $40 for both, $40 for a signed book—sounds like Krystle prices for Alexis if you ask me!) and said to Joan's young hubby, "I'm poor!" to which the hubby, Percy, 46, had said coldly, "How do you know she's rich?"
Well, I know she's not worth $50 million or she wouldn't be at this autograph show, but I hope she's worth a few million or somebody's ass needs to get fired!
But I was Team Joan on that one. The prices are what the prices are, and hers were a steal.
As we got closer, I could check her out better. At 78, she looks fantastic. The wig is the only thing that ages her. Otherwise, she's fit and sexy and was in good spirits despite being dressed for a TV character's funeral—all in black including gloves and sporting a necklace that looked like it weighed about the same as a filing cabinet. Really dazzling.
I had a vintage shot for her to sign, to which she said, "Oh, gosh...This is a classic!" She dutifully signed that and a book for me, a photo for a Facebook friend and then posed for a photo I took and for a photo with me that came out flawless.