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.
I babbled and told her I was inordinately obsessed with The Making of a Male Model (1983) which drew a bemused smile out of her, but all she'd say was that she could hardly remember it except that there were "pretty boys" in it. Devil! She 100% nailed Jon- Erik Hexum and everyone knows it. Then I complimented her on Past Imperfect (1984), her memoir, which is a really good book filled with unglamorous secrets from the set. She wasn't overly chatty with me, but I was happy. And she spent the next 20 minutes servicing the needs of Rich and Brian, who had stacks of items for her to sign.
While they were busy, I tackled Jenilee Harrison, 53, of Three's Company and Dallas and infomercial fame. She was a lot of fun and every bit as intense as you might guess. She told me her first job was with Mark Harmon (she kept slipping and calling him "Tom") on 240-Robert (1979) and that he'd complimented her on being scared really well when she was actually terrified and not acting. More on her later.
Next, I got my pals to accompany me over to see Tippi Hedren who is 81 and looks unbelievably great and natural. (She had a short, sexy helper with a British accent, too.) I told her she was not only in two of my favorite movies but actually is those movies—The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). She thanked me and signed, then made sure to put her signed photo in the pictures I took of and with her. Tippi does lots of these conventions so knows that most fanboys like that. I don't really care either way.
When I was sitting next to her, she was much more personable, though refused a handshake due to germs but assured me it wasn't personal. She wanted me to return for her animal-centric brochures. Like so many others, I wound up seeing her again later—after all, I wasn't going to pass up a professonal photo op with Tippi Hedren!
Susan Anton, 61, was right next door, so I waited while Rich talked with her about a series I never saw called Cliffhangers: Stop Susan Williams (1979) and then posed with her. Brian made the mistake of calling her a "big girl," to which Susan said, "TALL! Not big!" and some conversation ensued about the relative merits of each. She was supremely gracious about it all and very easy to talk to. She told me her fave photographer was Harry Langdon, but I suppose she liked most of them considering she rarely took a bad picture. Jeez, how many times was Goldengirl (1979) on HBO when that first launched?
It was pretty funny when Tippi giggled at Brian's comedy routine with Susan from the next table over.
She was seated by George Lazenby, 72, from On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). George wasn't too wild about being there, I sensed.
Nice enough man, but my picture with him kinda sucks.
Continuing with our tour of the menz, I hit up Denny Miller, 77, who'd been Tarzan in Tarzan, The Ape Man (1959) and the Tarzan-esque Tongo on Gilligan's Island (1967). He was super nice and is hawking a book called Didn't You Used to Be What's His Name? I asked if anyone had ever really said that, and he said, "No..but close!"
Rich asked him about working with Tina Louise, which led to a funny story better experienced on video, but one that ends with a slap or two:
We hit another hunk of the past, except Reb Brown is still pretty happenin' at 63, bursting from a tight tee and only too happy to reminisce with fans of every stripe. Seated with his smokin' hot redheaded wife Cisse Cameron (who he met while making what they call the horrible movie Space Mutiny in 1988), Reb—best known for Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), had some fun tidbits about his first movie Sssssss (1973), which I'm obsessed with.
He was extremely good-natured about the queens swarming around his muscles like moths to flames, too. Loved meeting them, and I regret I had inadvertently left at home my Yor promo poster, which had a full-body shot of a scantily-clad Reb with the legend: "DO YOU MEASURE UP?"
Brian got a pick with 74-year-old little-person actor Felix Silla from Return of the Jedi (1983) and we both snagged opportunistic photos with 86-year-old comic Shelley Berman, who was visiting friends and not a part of the show, but whose sense of humor would serve him well when he looks at his IMDb profile—he's listed as an "actress."
Robin Leach, 70, was another visiting star I nabbed. I of course told him I'd always remember his Madonna special, which elicited a groan and an, "Oh, thaaat." He encouraged me to take his picture quickly because, "I'm not here officially, not like all the others." Someone who's worked with him in the past immediately buzzed up to me and said he used to grab her butt lecherously on the set. You've heard that there is a time and a place for everything? Well, these shows are that place.
It was also a hoot watching 77-year-old Barbara Eden and 66-year-old Loni Anderson chit-chatting—it was some kind of a blonde bombshell confab going on there.
We had to go back for Jenilee Harrison for Brian and Rich, but we had no idea what we were in for! She regaled us with stories of all the fabulous memorabilia she has in her house ("When I do, look in every drawer!" she admonished her sister), her hateful family ('nuff said), opening for Bob Hope (who allegedly said, "How can I follow that???") and not appreciating getting to work with Donna Reed on Dallas. Reed, whenever she was called ot the set, would trill out, "I'm cooomiiing!" making the cast snicker in a pre-Beavis & Butthead way).
Jenilee had no idea who Reed was or that she'd been in It's a Wonderful Life (1942) until just a few years ago. She has a peculiar anti-nostalgic streak in her—she couldn't decide if she preferred Dallas or Three's Company ("They were just jobs to me,") and she even admitted she barely remembered a dinner she once shared with her mom and Cary Grant!
Most hilariously, Jenilee confessed she has kept a list of all her sexual partners. But no, she wouldn't tell us any famous ones. I bet "Tom Harmon" made it to at least third base.
Rich was dying to hit up Joan again, which we did. While waiting for round two with Joan, the lights went out in the place, causing Joan to quip, "Is somebody committing suicide?" This time, Rich had Joan sign a Siren photo from Batman (1967) and then asked her to do a back-to-back bitch pose. Joan considered it for a moment and then smiled and nodded, "'kay!" This led me to fantasize that she might recreate her Making of a Male Model pose with me as Hexum and my friends as B-list models behind me, but we never dared ask.
I helped Rich complete his Land of the Giants (1968—1970) collection. Thankfully, he didn't need 56-year-old Stefan Arngrim. I didn't want to be a part of handing $20 to the dude who molested his sister Allison (now 49) all those years, and who had told her by way of confession, "You were the best sex I ever had."
He did need 66-year-old Heather Young, who was quite flirtatious and perky, just by the by.
Speaking of which, I had to get an autograph from Tempest Storm, 82, one of the last burlesque queens. With flaming-orange hair, rosy cheeks and blue eyelids, she was a technicolor wet dream of an octogenarian.
Her styling is pretty flashy, but I have to say she didn't look her age—at all.
Speaking with her was another story—she was a little scattered, perhaps because while signing for me and posing with me, some asshole was talking to her out of turn. I've always felt the dude who most recently put the 20-spot in your g-string is the one who has the floor.
Now came one of the unexpected highlights. Before I'd come, I wasn't planning to hit up 82-year-old Michael Forest, famous as Apollo on an episode of Star Trek (1967), until I'd realized he'd played Andrew Marsh in Body of Evidence (1993)—pictured. So I had to speak with the dude (ALLEGEDLY!) killed by Madonna's pussy, right?
Michael, who'd been a perfectly proportioned stud in the '60s was quite happy to bitch about Body of Evidence, a part he never wanted and for which he demanded $5,000/day just to get out of playing. He'd been shocked when they'd hired him, but he did say that Madonna was nice, which is saying a lot since their big scene together consisted of both of them naked in bed. (In the past year or so, I've spoken to Madonna, Julianne Moore, Willem Dafoe and now Forest...and I don't even like that movie!)
I think Forest showed his bush in that movie, no? Anyway...very charming man.
Brian had a blast with Vitina Marcus, 74, the original "girl from the green dimension" on Lost in Space (1967). She looks great and had fun recounting being hoisted in the air, doing her own stunts, something that wouldn't happen today. He also chatted up Nancy Allen, 61; Marion Ramsey, 64; Leslie Easterbrook, 62; Carol Lynley, 69; and a hostess of others...I'm telling you, the boy makes an impression!
As for my professional photo ops, they went well but were as awkward as always since I'd just seen and taken snaps with all of the subjects, so it's always like, "Oh, hi...again." Richard Hatch was sweet (stain on his shirt...poor dear), Joan Collins gave me a fabulous shot again ("Haven't we seen him already?" her pal said of me, to which Joan replied, "Of course!"). As we entered, Percy politely warned us individually not to shake her hand. I said, "But a French kiss is okay, right?" and he chuckled and said—and I have to respect him for this—"Yeah, a quick fuck's okay."
Sixty-eight-year-old Valerie Perrine was so fun I'll never forget her. I'd already said hi to her on the floor, where she remembered me from our Jersey experience, but she had no idea she was doing a pro shot with anyone. Once we got past that, she took a seat with me and the photographer said, "I'm shooting from the bust up." I said, "But don't worry, you don't have to take them out, Valerie." She looked incredulously at me and said, "Did you said I don't have to take them out? Well, good, because they don't get out much anymore—they're retired!" and laughed.
Tempest Storm snapped out of whatever she'd been in and did a supercoy pic with me that I just love!
I don't remember the Christopher Knight one much it was so quick, but I remember Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen asking if they were needed in the shot and I had to tell them no, I'd already "gotten" them in New Jersey.
The best photo op was with Tippi Hedren, who came last. She arrived with a glass of wine in hand and I told her I'd love that as a prop if she wanted to keep it—she did. It looked great with her shiny suit as our zexy photographer Craig Damon noted. After we did our shots, I asked Tippi if there were any other film she wishes she were more remembered for than The Birds of Marnie, which stumped her. But then she told us a great story about her screen test for The Birds.
Apparently, she had thought she was testing for Hitchcock's TV show, until she was told to read from Rebecca (1940) and Notorious (1946), was given custom-made wardrobe and Martin Balsam was flown in to read with her!
One funny thing about the photo ops was that another dude had signed up for way more than I had this time, over a dozen. He was an awfully nice guy around my age and apparently loved just about every star on hand. He told me he was in the armed services, and when I told him he should've come in uniform and gotten free autographs from everyone he said, "Not necessarily...Hollywood hasn't been so supportive of that kind of thing." Considering NRA member Leslie Easterbrook and arch-conservative Ernie Borgnine were in the house, I kind of thought my idea would've worked.
It was finally time to wrap up, so we said our good-byes and I headed back to Roy's table, where I wound up helping him break down alongside the guy who sells these fabulous custom-made Jeannie bottles (that's his amazing jacket) and his supersexy friend.
I learned some interesting stuff watching the behind-the-scenes denouement, including the fact that no one was around to make sure you weren't stealing hotel chairs (we didn't) or hurting yourself on the hydraulic lift out back.
At any rate, this post has been my best effort to buck that recent rumor that what happens in Vegas stays there.