WARNING: The following column is rated NC-17 (No Children
under 17 Admitted) or perhaps it could be rated MA (Suitable
for Mature Audiences or Adults Only) - it may contain extreme
examples of graphic sexual attire, strong profanity, overt
sexual dialog and/or explicit sexual acts.
I came to Las Vegas for a couple of trade shows and voila!
an orgy broke out while I was trying to find my way into the
Consumer Electronics Show and the Internext Dating Show.
I'm writing this column in my hotel room because I promised
my wife I would not violate my marriage vows in Sin City on
this trip, and if I go out to party, I'll get in trouble and
fail to get my column done. I only get to Las Vegas a couple
of times per year, always on business, because I am not much
of a gambler. But my entry into the Sands Expo Center on the
north end of the Venetian Hotel complex a few days ago was
more than I had ever expected.
We all know Vegas is the Sodom and Gomorrah of the United
States and of course, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
While some of you APTRA diehards were helping out Hal Eisner
at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino, I was trying to come
to terms with how open I really am about life, society's sexuality,
my morals, Las Vegas' morals, business and morals, politics
and morals, and the business of sex, from sex toys to skin
flicks to pornography, both the heterosexual and homosexual
It's one thing to walk into a hotel and expo center and expect
to see computer geeks and gadget freaks plying their trade
in iPods, plasma TVs and other electronic gadgets. It's another
entirely different experience to see some of the most beautiful
women God put on this earth walking around the public hallways
in nothing but see-through bras and panties.
I'm no prude and I'm not complaining. It's just that as much
heat as Hollywood and California take for being so liberal
and smutty, we just don't see women in business walking around
Southern California almost totally naked. And while I am probably
as guilty as the next normal red-blooded American male of
leering at the female form, it was still both a shock and
a challenge for me to handle.
The sexuality and comfort that exude from these ladies were
both marvelous and scary. Were they such comfortable and strong
women or were they sex freaks or abused women with little
or no self-esteem? Now don't get me wrong; I was not playing
psychologist or judgmental preacher as porno star after naked
model strutted her stuff in front of both men and women. I
just didn't know how to react; I wasn't sure whether I should
look them straight in the eye like I do with most people,
or ogle at their beauty and attire as I suspected they expected.
I asked for directions to the booth where I could pick up
my credentials for the Internext Dating Show and I found I
was now on the south side of the main hall where the Adult
Entertainment Expo was being held. This was Adult Porno and
Sex Toy Central. With a set of credentials hanging around
my neck, passage into the Married Man's Purgatory was much
I've been the inquisitive journalist type since I started
writing sports professionally at the age of 14, and I have
always prided myself in knowing a lot about a lot of things
with NO limitations to my curiosity. My ability to rattle
off the names of porno stars is rather dated, running the
gamut from Ron Jeremy and Nina Hartley, to Traci Lord and
the Lynn sisters (Ginger and Amber). I do know about Jenna
Jameson and other current practitioners of modern cinematic
sex, but I never imagined that I was so totally out of touch
with the most modern sex toys and their practical use.
I am trying to be as open and clear in my descriptions here,
without being too clinical on one extreme, and perverted on
the other end (no pun intended). But when I saw a vendor doing
a brisk business selling a product that looked like the plastic
tubs of margarine I buy at the supermarket, I was astonished
to find out it was called "Boy Butter" and the name
alone tells you what it is and why it is so popular with gays.
Even though I am a life-long practicing Republican, I have
always taken the position that I am not the morality policeman
anywhere outside of my own sphere of influence with my family
and those who work for me. I have always said that gays are
free to live their lifestyle as long as they don't try to
push it onto me, my family, or anybody else's children. That
infuriates my most right-wing pals, especially those for whom
their religion and gay folks' lifestyles clash, but that's
just how I feel.
Yet, despite my professed openness to the "live and
let live" view of life, turning the corner and seeing
two guys pleasure themselves on a 72-inch plasma screen was
way beyond any interest I might have had in gaining a better
understanding of the gay lifestyle. All of a sudden, I was
muttering to myself, "TMI, TMI - too much information".
My eyes and my brain were woefully out of synch and arguing
over what the hell I was seeing and why.
As I headed out of that section, a vixen - that's what she
had stenciled on her wet t-shirt that amply displayed her
ample attributes - approached me and she either saw my shock
and discomfort, or found me an easy mark. She asked how I
was enjoying the show and as I tried to regain control over
my communications functions that were still scrambled from
the gay video, I muttered something like, "Wow, this
is great. And what do you do?" I asked to try and buy
some time to readjust.
She looked down at my credentials, quickly analyzed what
they said, and then she told me she did whatever would make
me happy. "My job is to put a smile on your face,"
she said with the sweetness of a high school cheerleader in
a porno flick but with the conviction of a self-employed entrepreneur
engaged in the world's oldest profession. Game point to the
hot young lady wearing almost nothing.
I was not a match for her approach arsenal, despite my moral
compass spinning so fast in my head, I was feeling like a
tormented soul with a bad case of Tourette's Syndrome. Was
she serious? Was I such an easy mark to pay her big bucks
or just an easy schmuck to toy with in the middle of this
garden of iniquity? I was having a hard time accepting that
I was out-matched or out-witted, as the case might be, and
I felt even more uncomfortable as another vixen joined the
fray, creating more distraction for me.
Just then, a couple of gay guys strolled by and a third fellow
walking by began to express his interest and admiration for
the "package" on one of the gay fellows. He reached
down to personally inspect the "package" and I knew
I was totally out of my element. As I tried to assess my level
of discomfort with engaging in frank sexual talk with a strange
seductress while watching a gay encounter, it hit me.
In less than 10 to 15 minutes in the adult expo, I realized
that if I spotted someone there that I actually knew, I wouldn't
know hot to respond. I began to wonder if I would be more
concerned about what they would think of me, or if I would
be judgmental of what they were doing at a porno expo. I began
to ask myself why I was even entertaining such thoughts and
concerns because just being at such a show is not a crime.
I know some religious people would call it some sort of moral
crime, but that wasn't behind my level of discomfort. It felt
as wrong as it felt right but way too weird over all.
I knew this adult expo was not the main reason for my Vegas
trip and my unexpected, but unavoidable side trip had to end.
I did not like the fact that I was having a difficult time
feeling in full control of my faculties inside that exhibit
hall. There's no way in hell I would have cheated on my wife
with one of those beautiful bimbos, but there was a part of
me that was trying to consider the possibilities. Ultimately,
it was the reality of sexually transmitted diseases that cut
into the folly of any thinking there could be a horny hook-up
in Hot Town USA.
I left the exhibit hall seeking some form of refuge in the
busy halls of the high class Venetian Hotel. It got a little
better, but not much. The young ladies strolling toward the
shops that run along the man-made canals were still strutting
their stuff, and the reaction to them from visitors was mixed.
Most people looked and then looked away, apparently not wanting
to appear so obvious in their reaction.
Others dropped their jaws and their eyes got as big as dollar
coins as they stopped in their tracks and tried to grasp with
how different Las Vegas is from the farms in Ohio or Kansas
from whence these people came. An occasional "Oh my God"
from their mouths said it all.
Then I saw the "final straw" that sort of wrapped
up the cause and effect ratio that had been puzzling me, the
issue of whether these young women (and there were a couple
of women over 40 who really showed their age) were parading
their bodies because of emotional or psychological deficiencies,
or it was just about the money.
I saw a very chubby short guy with a scraggly beard and a
case of the really bad hair day, wearing a dirty-looking running
suit, with his scuffed tennis shoes overly worn at the heels,
walking arm in arm with two young beauties who were wearing
almost nothing and showing almost everything, as they entered
a jewelry store at the Venetian. He told them, "Pick
out something you like baby, something you can brag about
to your peeps."
The reporter in me couldn't resist the urge to find out who
this guy was and how he could so easily gain and maintain
the attention of these two babes in a place like the Venetian
with his scruffy look. I walked up to him and said, "Hey
man, I'm curious by nature and the old reporter in me just
has to ask, 'How does a guy like you land these hot escorts?'"
He chuckled and said to me, "Just show them the money
and they're all yours, as long as you have the money."
There was the answer to the burning question of the moment.
For this guy, it boiled down to the stereotypical image of
women as gold diggers. Like it or not, for him, it was real.
And I saw it as a metaphor for Las Vegas and for the adult
industry expo. It's all about the money - always. And it's
all about the pleasure it will buy you, whether it's in the
casino or in the cozy comforts of a suite.
I discussed my experience and my mental dilemmas with some
of my cohorts at the trade shows and they were more freaked
out than I was. I called my best friend in the entire world,
my wife, and without getting into a lot of detail, I jokingly
told her, "Either you get to Vegas in the next two hours
and help peel me off the ceiling, or I'm never coming home
again." She politely laughed in a way that told me she
fully understood my reaction to what I had been through.
She told me that I would survive my adventure and that if
she flew to Vegas, I would miss my trade shows due to her
becoming my distraction, and that this temporary absence would
certainly make my heart grow fonder. She was surprised I was
such an easy fall guy, for the moment, to scantily dressed
models and porno stars. She told me my dog instincts were
out of control. She was right and I realized that to put myself
back in control of my persona and my direction, I had to rely
on a quick and firm reply to her points.
My only response was, "You know, I can't explain what
happened and why, but after all I have seen, and all I have
learned about Boy Butter and sex toys, I have to leave it
all behind and just accept that what happens in Vegas, stays
in Vegas." Especially, when it completely boggles the
mind and defies normal human logic and the average American
For the first time in my life, I now realize that Las Vegas
is more than about gambling, entertainment, and trade shows.
I now believe this city is America's relief valve for all
the things in our lives that we can't or don't talk about
or easily deal with anywhere else in the country. It is a
freedom zone where anything goes even the most bizarre behaviors
are just a blip on the radar and not even the media finds
it unusual to see naked or near-naked men and women express
their sexual proclivities openly, even in high end resorts
like the Venetian that also cater to the average American
working stiff (and again, no pun intended).