Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Find and Spot Celebrities in Las Vegas

OK, so you and I are hanging in Vegas, and suddenly you hear murmured whispers : "Look, there's........" We gawk in the direction of the pointed fingers. We haven't a clue of who it is, or if it is even SOMEBODY given the royal title of "celebrity". Sure, celebrities walk amongst us common folk, but they don't party with us or like we do. You aren't going to see the celebs playing penny machines. You won't even see them playing the slot machines. They walk amongst us, but they are not of our kind. They have been anointed as celebrities by the media. Maybe they acted in a film. Big deal, we all act in real life, we just don't get paid for it. Maybe they are famous for basically being a media darling...the ones with the glorious blonde hair extensions, the blindingly white teeth, the surgical makeovers, you know..the people we read about every day who live to party in Las Vegas.

We've seen all the pics of the celebs posing and posturing in Las Vegas. Maybe you were in the same place at the same time but didn't realize you were amongst the celebrities. It happens. I was sitting in Paris a few years back, when a big part of the male cast of the Soprano's walked by me. I saw them but it didn't register. They all looked like uncles at my family reunion. They didn't LOOK special. They looked like ordinary people.

The same trip I was in the lobby of Paris with a security guard. (Long story, someone got into my room). It was during Sho West and there were celebs all over the place, so I heard. The security guard told me that Michael Douglas was in the lobby. I looked around, saw maybe three men, and none of them looked like Michael Douglas to me. He told me he couldn't say which one was Mr. Douglas, but trust me, I never could ID him. Maybe I was just too upset or maybe makeup and camera lighting does wonders.

Celebs don't always look the same in person. So here's my tips on how to find and ID celebs on your next trip to Las Vegas.

Location, Location, Location! Its true in real estate, its true in Vegas. You won't find celebs in the Excalibur or the Riviera. You might find celebs at the Bellagio, Wynn's, the Venetian complex, the Palms or the Hard Rock. If there is a big whoop de do at a hotel, like a huge concert at the MGM, you might see one or not. If there is a club opening, you'll find celebs. You may not have heard of any of them, but they'll be there to get their picture taken. The red carpet with the back drop and paparazzi will tip you off.

Check out the latest hot spot restaurants that you and I can't afford, nor would we eat the food they serve. You know, the ones with like 12 tables and a chef whose name we can't pronounce. Regular people don't want to spend $200 bucks on a dinner of exotic things they've never heard of...we'd rather hit a buffet and pick stuff we can readily ID. But if you hang around the area, you might see one or two slipping in.

Here's how to spot a celeb: If you see a very anorexic thin blonde with hair extensions, a tiny club dress, expensive stiletto heels and a purse the size of a sofa cushion, you may have seen a celebrity. If she's being "handled" by a very large man who looks like a former pro football player gone to seed and he's telling people to make way, you've spotted a celebrity. Expect to spend hours saying "Who the hell was that?" Even when you find out, you still won't have a clue who she is. You'll just want to feed her.

If you see a man who has blindingly white teeth, a six pack, has tousled uncombed with a three day stubble, is surrounded by a bunch of guys saying "We love you, man", he's either a young celeb partying or he's a groom at his bachelor party. Could go either way. All the young male celebs look the same. If he's wearing expensive clothes, he might be a celeb. If he's wearing shorts and a tee shirt with a ball cap, he's one of us.

If you are in Caesar's Forum Shops and you see a thin man in spandex pants with dyed hair and full face makeup, you are probably seeing a rock star. He may or may not have tattoos. If he has scarves trailing, you've just spotted Stephen Tyler. If he has a British accent, you may have hit the celeb mother lode. If he is accompanied by an aging plastic Barbie doll with a plunging neckline and huge lip glossed lips, he's a rock star and that's his wife.

If you see a young girl shopping for a purse in Hermes that costs 17 grand and she actually
buys it, she's either a new young celeb, or a daughter of a rock star. If you go home and brush up on your reality shows, you'll find out who you saw. Getting your ass kissed in these stores by sales clerks means nothing. The clerks don't know if you just hit a jackpot or if you are SOMEBODY until they see the cash or the name on the credit card. They won't tell you, their
commission is at stake. Cha Ching! Privacy rules. If its a celeb who doesn't buy and she was a total bitch to the sales clerk, they'll drop her name as soon as she leaves the store.

If you are hanging at the Palms and you see an old guy in the Playboy club in his PJ's wearing an ascot and surrounded by big breasted blondes, don't assume its Hugh Hefner. It just might be an old rich guy who wandered out of his room and forgot how to get back. If its Hef, you'll know by his entourage.

If you are still hanging at the Palms, and you see some really really tall men, they are probably basketball players, current or former. I've seen a lot there of tall men there, never could figure out who they were.

If you are at the Luxor, you might see Criss Angel. He lives in the Luxor and performs there. He is a different celeb, he actually walks through the casino. Don't expect to party with him or hang with him, just be satisfied with a glimpse as he passes by.

If you see a very tall well dressed woman who struts, sashays and poses , you've either spotted a super model or a man in drag. Check the hands and feet, check for an adams apple. If you still can't tell, back off, you've had too much to drink and could be making a huge mistake! ;)

Low Rolling With Mom, Las Vegas, Sept2-6

Trip Report, Sept 2 to Sept 6.

Took my Mom to Vegas with me as a combination vacation and business trip. Mom is a Vegas freak and hasn't been able to go for two years because she had been taking care of my father. Her doctor said she was suffering from severe caregivers stress and needed a vacation.
She discussed taking the trip with everyone from his doctors, the nursing home staff, her priest, the family, her neighbors and anyone who would listen to her. Once she got the thumbs up from everyone, she decided it was a go and was packed two weeks in advance.

Our flight left at 5:30 in the AM, of course she was dressed the night before and sitting on the sofa waiting for us to arrive. Since we were flying outbound on US Airways, we did a carry on thing so we didn't have to pay to check our bags. US Airways charges for every freaking thing
on board and no one was buying anything. On our first flight, the flight attendant made a pot of coffee. No one way paying for any of it. She poured herself a cup of coffee, drank it and poured the rest of the pot down the drain. Does that make any sense? We got real coffee at Starbucks in Charlotte and carried in on the long leg of the flight. No one was paying for any of the food and few people were springing for drinks. I wonder how much food on these flights are stale or just thrown away because no one wants to pay $7 for crap food? Flew over the hurricane and it wasn't as bumpy as the pilot led us to believe.

Arrived in Vegas, caught the shuttle to the car rental and convinced the rep at Dollar to rent me a convertible for the same price as my rate. We negotiated a few dollars more and we were soon driving down the strip with the top down. Mom has never been in a convertible and I barely could get her out of it. Told her she could finally cross off driving around Las Vegas in a convertible off her bucket list.

Headed to the Venetian. Stayed using slot points. September promotion for Club Grazie is 1,000 points on your card gets you a free night. Used the same promotion in May and its a screaming deal. It was only about 11AM, they walked us over to the Venezia tower check in and we were soon checked in early and ready to rock. Did lunch at the Grand Luxe cafe. Portions are so huge we split an entree and were both stuffed. Back to the casino, Mom hit Cashman and didn't move for hours. I hit Cashman for a few hundred bucks. Got some gelato at the food court and passed on dinner.

When you are playing with Mom, you low roll. She plays the rock bottom minimum and never wins anything. She can't bear to put a dollar in anything, it just kills her, so it kept me out of all the high roller areas. We played around and walked over to the Palazzo where Mom started hitting on one quarter on a triple machine. She took out her hundred bucks like she just hit the big progressive and started ordering us strawberry daiquiris. I hit on the pennies, lost on the dollar slots.

Before we knew it it was 2AM and time for bed. At 5AM, Mom is dressed, showered, made up and ready to roll. She kept hitting me below the belt...."Don't you want some coffee?" I finally rolled out at 8AM, after coffee and muffin in the food court and jumped into the convertible for a trip out to Red Rock Canyon. Mom kept flirting with all the young guys (did I mention she's a very young 82 and cuter than cute? She looks 20 years younger and has the energy of a hyperactive kid). who pulled up along side us. Mom nearly had to be pulled out of the car. We drove around and stopped in at Red Rock Casino, one of my happy places. Didn't win a thing, but sure had fun trying. They didn't seem to be running any good promotions, and the locals were complaining about the machines being tight. It wasn't as busy as the last time we were there, but it was still hopping.

We pigged out at the buffet at Red Rock...rated 4 yums. Mom managed to stuff her purse with cookies, the woman is a slight of hand artist. She munched out all day long.

We headed back to the Venetian, I had to get ready for the biz portion the next morning. She needed to gamble more. Mom sits down at a triple 7 machine, pops in one freaking quarter and hits triple 7 with stars and bars and triple. OMG...if she had been playing the max, she'd have won a grand, but she won something like a hundred or so. If my husband was there, he'd be in tears. She was thrilled, I rolled my eyes. She'll never learn.

We played near the La Senica lounge and the band playing was amazing. The had everyone rocking. Turned around and saw Mom dancing with some hot young guy who kept telling her she was so cute. Eyes rolling again, I'm so glad Mom is having fun. Rolled into bed at 1AM, up at 5:50 to hit the dress show in the Sands expo center at the Venetian. The bridal shows free breakfast sucked, but the coffee was stiff and we sat for hours looking at wedding dresses until my eyes were ready to bleed white and my stomach was growling. We had to check in at the Monte Carlo as we were comped a suite.

Headed over to the Monte, the place was dead. No one was in the casino, the suite looked like a Motel 6. We had food comped, so we headed to the cafe and ate. It was OK, nothing spectacular, typical cafe food. Service was spotty, they weren't busy, the staff was chatting and basically ignoring the customers. Another strike. Back up to the room, I decided I was going back to the Venetian to sleep. Played in the casino. Hit $837 on powerball and $200 on pinball and another hundred on Monopoly. Took my cash and ran back to the Venetian. Listened to the band, played some dollar VP and hit quads twice and promptly lost it.

Last day...up early, back to the dress show. Finished up and walked over to TI and hit the buffet. TI's buffet never disappoints. Its always the same.

Stopped and played $5 blackjack for an hour, doubled my twenty bucks and left. The dealer was awesome and I would have stayed for hours but Mom wanted me to play with her. I played dollar VP and lost and lost and lost. I always win big at TI on VP, this time, nada. Back to the Venetian, we decided to make dinner reservations at Kokomo's at the Mirage instead of eating at Monte Carlo's new steak house. Sat down with some friends of mine who were at the dress show, playing Cashman and chatting, when I was approached by a slot host. Are you Rose?
You just won two tickets to see Blue Man Group tonight. Woooo Hoooo.....great seats, free. Apparently I was picked at random by the computer. My husband has been dying to see Blue Man Group, and here I am, going without him. Oh, well, that's life!

So we headed off to Sephora to do some mandatory makeup shopping, changed clothes and headed to Kokomo's. Kokomo's has been remodeled since our last visit. While its still has the waterfalls and palm trees, it has these weird sculptures over your head that remind me of airplane parts. I don't like it, but that's me, I loved the tropical vibe. Portions are smaller, but the food is still 4 yums. Service is exceptional except we had to wait 20 minutes for the bill. And while we are waiting, the casino is losing cash.
They brought Mom out a bananas foster cheesecake for her birthday and she was in heaven. So was the cheesecake! Our bill was around a hundred bucks without tax, tips and drinks. We each had a small filet, shared two side dishes, so it didn't cost nearly what the other diners were paying. We were stuffed without appetizers and salad. Hung out for a bit in the Mirage...lost everything I touched. It used to be my lucky place, but the last few trips, the machines have just squeaked.

Back to the Venetian just in time for the 10PM show. I figured Mom would hate it, but she loved it. In fact, she got to hug a Blue Man. Don't ask me how she did that! The show is different from the TV traveling show version. There's no singing, just a lot of drumming and music. The special effects are just amazing and the show is a lot of fun. Husband is still pouting! The show got out at midnight and we have a 6AM flight. So we decided to try our luck again, and I had none. I managed to get a few penny machines to spew, but I was itching to hit the high roller area but finally went upstairs at 2 am, showered, packed and out the door at 3:30AM. The casino was still rocking and I hated to leave without at least one tax form. Some guy was hitting on Mom..it was hysterical. She was freaking out.

Up and ready to roll, checked out of both hotels, returned the car and was in line at Delta to check in at 4:05 AM. I didn't bring my laptop this trip and I didn't go to the biz center to print out boarding passes. Big mistake!! The line was out the door and in the front of the line was a huge group of foreign tourists who didn't understand English and didn't want to pay the excess weight fees. Delta should have moved them from the front of the line so they could repack, but the line didn't move.Same thing, a huge foreign tourgroup was at the kisoks and the rep told us it would be faster to go to the counter. I stopped several Delta reps and said I was concerned we wouldn't check in in time and they all told me we'd be fine. So we waited and waited and waited. (Same thing happened in May with Delta, I should have known!!) The same reps who ignored us were walking people up to the counter. It was 5:15 and I was panicing...and we finally make it to the counter. Too late, the flight is closed. OMG...I was hot. The counter rep kept taking first class customers and telling us to get back in line, so of course, she was our rep. She had the balls to tell us that they cleared all flights and the next flight was at 7 something and we'd have a 4 hour layover in Atlanta. I insisted we WERE in the line as did all the people around us. Too bad, another hundred bucks to make the change. We ended up home 5 hours later and a hundred dollars poorer. While we were in Atlanta, there was a huge storm. When we got home, everything in our luggage was wet.

Back to the airport to file a baggage claim, sitll haven't heard a word from Delta. I called Delta corporate offices about the in line treatment, they agreed I shouldn't have had to pay for the change that took her all of 10 seconds, but no money back. Take this as a warning....get your boarding passes before you leave the hotel, make sure your luggage isn't overweight or be willing to pay the excess fees or you will pay regardless in a missed flight, even if you ARE at the airport waiting in line!

Random thoughts: Vegas was dead during the week, on the weekends it was full of 20 somethings partying, drinking, dancing and not gambling. Shows were running half full and dinner reservations were easy to get anytime. Vegas just isn't that busy.

City Center is an eyesore. It barely looks like the mock up models we've been seeing for the past few years. Its ugly!! The towers that sort of twist have yellow and green glass in a checkerboard battern. Blah! The round building has different shades of blue glass. Its almost out onto the street. In fact, they built a walkway for pedestrians on the shoulder of Las Vegas Blvd and closed the right lane to traffic going south. I can't wait until they implode the place and its no where near done. It sure takes away from the beauty of the Bellagio.

Some of the strip is so cluttered and junky looking. The new trend toward modernizing the strip in my opinion (and I've been there over a hundred times) makes it look like a beach boardwalk attraction. Am I'm the the only one who liked the themed properties?

Loved loved loved the Venetian. The place is spotlessly clean and the service is impecable from everyone from housekeeping to the front desk. I really wanted to like the Monte Carlo, but the vibe just isn't there for me. The casino was dead, there was a weird man following me around and it made me really uneasy. He just liked to watch people play, but he gave me the heebie jeebies. I just didn't feel comfortable there and I don't know why, because I love the small local casinos and never feel uncomfortable anywhere. Just a weird vibe, it may have been different if I was with the husband.

I can't wait to go back!!