Viva Las Vegas

*To achieve the full benefit of this piece, please first go to youtube and watch

The evening started with Elvis’s classic rendition of Suspicious Minds. In attendance was a small crowd of adoring fans, along with a few drunks, hugging the bar. As Elvis took center stage, keeping time to the music with a white loafer-encased foot, one of the aforementioned drunks–a heavyset, middle-aged woman, slithered off her stool and into the crowd where she zeroed in on a nice Midwestern (let’s assume, for the sake of the story) man. She asked him to dance and he obliged—his petite, blonde wife encouraging him to do so. They walked onto the dance floor where he attempted to take her into a proper dance position. She ignored his gesture, reaching around his waist and grabbing his ass instead.

Giggling in delight, she lifted her hands and began running her fingers through his thinning brown hair. Pleased to be in the company of a warm body, she caressed his checks and his brow, and ran her long, polished red nails over his lips. He froze in horror.

(This is getting interesting, I thought, sliding comfortably down into my red velvet chair, sipping yet another free cocktail.)


Downtown Vegas

Downtown Vegas


Elvis was swinging his hips and making signature hand gestures, when the woman flung one of her arms into the air and knocked the man’s wire-rimmed glasses from his Bill Gate..ish face. His reflexes were good though, and he managed to catch the flying spectacles before they hit the ground.

Unaware of the averted disaster, she grabbed the man again and attempted to undo the top button of his shirt, neatly tucked into his khakis. Elvis stopped swaying from side to side and reached into his white polyester pant pocket for his iPhone. He began filming, not missing a beat, even as he dropped into a deep, expressive lunge. Of course I’m not talking about the real Elvis, rather John Brooks: a young, slender, good–looking Elvis who works the lounge at the Cortez in downtown Vegas.

To prevent the unbuttoning of his shirt, the man gently took her hands. In turn, she dropped to her knees and grabbed his thighs. Elvis, rising from his scripted heartfelt moment, tried to look solemn, but he couldn’t. Suppressing his laughter, he strutted to the edge of the stage to get a better view of the true entertainment that evening.


A well-lit shoe, downtown Vegas

A well-lit shoe, downtown Vegas


When I tell people that I love Vegas, they’re usually surprised. They find it quite out of character, but then they obviously don’t know my character. I’m not a Strip girl (as in The Strip in Vegas). I dislike drunkenness, have a distain for throngs of tourists and what most people call fun, isn’t even on the bottom of my list. What I do like is people and their stories—preferably interesting, unusual and quirky. If someone looks normal, I rarely approach them, but if they’re wearing a satin purple suit with trousers 3” too short and a black fedora, I push my way through the crowd at the craps table and ask, “So, what’s your story?”

I knew I had found another place to call home when on my first trip to Vegas I missed my ride to see a show. Ok, truth be told I have a slight Blackjack problem…I couldn’t get up from the table, knowing I really had an extra hour, which my friends had left for a buffer—I don’t do buffers, I take every minute and use it to its fullest. When it was indeed time to go, I jumped into a taxi. The driver asked where I was from and I replied Mexico. “Oh, I had me one of those,” he exclaimed, shaking his head. We were at a light and I said, reaching for the door, “Let me get up front. I have to hear this.”

Robert told me about meeting a nice Mexican girl when he first came to Vegas from Mississippi, 25 years before. She was a dancer: he dealt the tables at Caesars. It was a beautiful love story, full of romance and plenty of excitement for a small town southern boy, until one day he came home from a long shift and found his wife practicing her dance routine on top of their bed wearing white go-go boots—only white go-go boots. Exactly like the man gyrating next to her. A chase ensued. The naked man, even in high-heeled boots, was fast. A few blocks from their apartment building, he managed to get away.

“I learned my lesson,” Robert said, pulling into the casino parking lot and turning off the meter. “No more dancers, no more Mexicans. I found myself a nice schoolteacher. That’s right, sixth grade. She’s from Alabama…best to stick to your own kind.”


The amazing John Brooks

The amazing John Brooks


Now, Vegas calls at least once a year. I stay at the Cortez, split a $28 a night room with a friend, and partake in the $9.95 prime rib dinner, with my $5 coupon, at least once. When I can’t find an interesting character to meet, I scan the Blackjack tables for a conservative looking Chinese man who most likely is good at math. (I realize this is racial profiling, but it usually works.) This way I get to learn more about the game and its probabilities; he gets to guide me with his wisdom.

So, what happened to Elvis, Bill Gates and the drunk lady?? She did indeed drop to her knees, his face turned bright red, his wife’s eyes almost popped out of her head, and Elvis, well, he just kept filming, never missing a lyric or the opportunity to say under his breath, “Man, this is good!”

Vegas, baby!

Don’t miss Viva Las Vegas by the King himself:

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