February 10, 2005 12:00am
Vivid the Club Opens in Las Vegas
by: Tod Hunter
(From Tod Hunter) -- Last Friday I took a long drive up the I-15 to take in the opening of Vivid the Club in Las Vegas. The drive was pretty relaxing, the only thing of interest was my iPod seized up outside Baker and I had to listen to the Highway Stations all the way in.
The club is in a strategic location, on the second floor accessible from the outside of the hotel. The sign, with its neon and Tivoli lights, is visible from the pedestrian bridge from Treasure Island, and another sign faces the pedestrian entrance to the casino on the colonnade. (the location was previously used by another, now-defunct club, but David Schlesinger told me "We don't like to talk about that, we're trying to build a new identity." So be it.)
When I got there at 7:30, there were mini-searchlights sweeping the ceiling, a red carpet... And nobody there, except an editor for the news feature the Vegas Minute. I mentioned that I see it on the KTLA Morning News in L.a. And that I had a peripheral acquaintance with somebody at the Morning News and he stares at me blankly until I smile and say "And you never go to L.a., you do all your work here, right?" and he laughs and says yeah, that's about it. The Vegas Minute is produced locally and different versions are sent to several TV stations around the country. The changes reflect the distance to Las Vegas from the markets - people in Minneapolis probably won't take a weekend drive to Las Vegas on the spur of the moment, so their version reflects big things that you can plan ahead for.
There are a lot of self-important looking people walking by, all dressed in black. Las Vegas regulars, I guess. The tourists are trying not to gawk. I meet Celena, a personable young PR rep for Ark restaurants, one of the backers of the project. There's a fast-talking bleached-blonde lady carrying a Louis Vuitton bag the size of a movie poster. Three twentyish women in black, their tops worn short enough to expose taut tanned middles, walk by chatting on cell phones. There's a young man who looks familiar. Our Australian Friend? Not on a Friday night. Celena gives me a press kit (!) and welcomes me to the photographers' area, a small segment of the red carpet just inside the door, facing a large wall plastered with Vivid the Club logos. One of the other photographers looks at the info sheet, jokes "It would be better if we had head shots."
The fast-talking lady does a stand-upper to a TV camera, in front of a large glamour shot of Tera Patrick. The guests start to come in. Monique Alexander and Lexi Marie walk in with Steve Hirsch. I have to tell the mainstream guys who Steve is. Chris Mann. Susan Colvin. Robin Leach strolls by, at ease, in his element here. Somebody says that Leach will go to the opening of an envelope if there's an open bar. Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke, who later gives the opening a big fat 34 words in a picture caption in his column . Janine walks in with Briana Banks. These mainstream photographers are aggressive. Except for the guy who's 6-8: He just shoots over everybody. Two guys pose with a sign advertising sex vodka. Stormy walks in. I squeeze off several shots, but the best one (I find later) is overlit. Bad timing, I guess. Jenna enters with a brunette in a bustier. "Hi everybody!" she says. "This is my new contract girl!"
"We're going to change it every few months." Note Mandalay Bay in lower right.
The bar has been pressed into service as a press room, with Janine doing a TV interview against one wall, and the booze flowing from the open bar. A woman lounges on a bed behind the bar, reading a magazine. Janine poses with a large bottle of sex vodka, smiling. She's very cooperative. She'd pose with a bottle of rat poison if somebody gave her one. Fooosh! A fireball blasts from behind the bar. Everybody is momentarily stunned, until it happens again. One of the bartenders is doing a little fire-eating on the side. Oddly enough, he has one of those little under-the-lower-lip Frank Zappa mustache things, and it's intact.
I speak to the "new contract girl." her name is McKenzie Lee, and she spells it for me in a soft British accent: "M-a-C-K-E-N-Zed-I-E." She tells me she was stripping in London for five and a half years, and has only been doing porn for a few months. "Gonzos. And I'm shooting next week." She poses with a bottle of sex vodka, and starts to lick the neck suggestively. The girl's a natural.
I chat with David Schlesinger on my way out the door. "We got this place together in four months," he says. "Started the talks on October, November, December, January. We may start a counter over there. Sell DVDs, tasteful tchotschkes. We have a billboard out on I-15 coming into town..."
Yeah. I saw it.
"You did? Great. We're going to change it every couple months. Running the club, we have to be careful. The laws here are the same as L.a.: Booze, nudity, take your pick. It's even more specific here, because we have to be okay with the hotel, with the other Grand Canal Shoppes, with Ark, and with the Gaming Commission."
The Gaming Commission?
"Yeah, they can pull the license if there's anything wrong on the premises. We don't want that."
A large tray of desserts comes out, and is quickly gobbled up. Good stuff. At 10:00. The lights go down, the music goes up, the preview is over, the club is open, I walk into the main room. There are go-go dancers on platforms, next to projected go-go dancers on see-through scrims. The music is loud, and the low tables against the walls are set up with glasses, napkins, stirrers and an ice bucket in the familiar Ultra-Lounge formation. Add a rather expensive bottle of booze and you're off to the races.
Not for me, though. I had a long drive back to L.A. Saturday morning.