Big Gay Vegas

 

Legendary topless reviews, toll-free call girls, and old school machismo may lead one to believe that Sin City specializes only in vice of the hetero variety. Well, I have visited the new Las Vegas and there is plenty of sin [gay, straight, or otherwise] to go around. In fact the city has made a concentrated effort to attract the fun-seeking queer traveler. Restaurants, casinos, clubs, and shows are bending over backwards to position themselves in the gay market.

 

 

You will know immediately you have made it to Sin City when you spot the slot machines in the airport concourse. I do not imagine the pay-out at the airport slots is very high, but if your itching for some gaming you will have plenty of chances between your arrival gate and baggage claim.

There are very few hotels in town that offer free shuttles from the airport. There are a couple of private shuttle services, but I recommend taking a taxi, or if you do not mind the extra expense, hiring a sedan. Unless you plan on visiting some out-of-town attractions, there is not much of a need for a rental car in Vegas.

Ninety-percent of Las Vegas action can be found on the legendary Strip. This make the location of your hotel on the Strip a very important factor. I always aim for a center strip location and have never gone wrong staying at the Paris. Paris and its parent company Harrah’s have been leaders in reaching out to gay customers.

Jason and I felt very comfortable at Paris; the hotel didn’t even stumble during the “two-guys, one bed” check-in bit. Paris might be a little costly for some, but you can get a center-strip location at a discount with its sister-property, Bally’s. Paris is a luxury property but if you want to splurge you can stay across the street at Bellagio. Those who end-up staying at Paris might want to consider upgrading to a strip-view room. Many of these rooms have an excellent view of the Bellagio fountains.

There is plenty of other stuff to do but gambling is still Las Vegas’ center-piece. Every major resort on the strip is built around a large casino floor. Each casino has a distinct personality and atmosphere. The Paris casino surrounds you in old-world Europe while New York, New York has you playing in the middle of Manhattan. My favorite casino just happens to be one of the newest.

Next door to Paris is the Planet Hollywood Resort [not to be confused with the Planet Hollywood restaurant at Caesars]. The Planet Hollywood folks have taken the drab Middle-Eastern themed Aladdin and turned it into a colorful, modern, and hip joint. The casino floor is open and unmatched in its progressive theming. Out of all the casinos I visited [including the super-fancy ones] I felt most comfortable and relaxed at Planet Hollywood.

I also spent some time on the floor at the MGM Grand. MGM Grand is home to the only surviving Sigma Derby machine in Vegas. This old school machine is one of the few on the strip that still takes quarters [most of the casinos now use printed tickets]. Sigma Derby, a mechanical horse racing game, is my all-time favorite gambling pastime. It is located in the same section of the casino as the lion habitat, just ask someone who works there. I encourage everyone to make an effort to play of few rounds of Sigma Derby while the machine is still there.

When if comes to food Las Vegas is much more than a series of all-you-can-eat-buffets. In fact, while some of the buffets are not half bad there are several top-tier eateries not to missed. I always try to have a good time in Vegas and where I eat is a key part of that. Vegas has a good number of places that serve exceptional food in a relaxed atmosphere. One of my favorite places to grab a bite is Corsa Cucina and Bar at the Wynn. Here you can enjoy an eclectic mix of fine Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Do not be afraid to try new things. I had my first bite of Octopus at Corsa and it is now among my favorite foods. A nice breakfast spot is Morels Bistro inside of the just-opened Palazzo. Plan to spend at least one morning here and be sure to order the fresh bengiets. Diablo’s at the Monte Carlo is a great place to grab a quick and casual Tex-Mex inspired lunch. There are literally hundreds of other restaurants up-and-down the strip. You will find something so satisfy your pallet no matter how sophisticated your taste or limited your budget.

Perhaps the gayest side of Las Vegas can be found in its theaters and nightclubs. Cirque Du Soleil has always been a little queer, but it takes sexuality to new heights in its erotic and raunchy cabaret Zumanity. Zumanity is unlike any other Cirque show, it’s venue is smaller and more intimate. Yet the show is no less breathtaking than its bigger brothers. A delicate balance of humor and sensuality move the evening along while the awe-inspiring display of some of the most beautiful bodies on the strip keeps things interesting.

Zumanity is very gay friendly too. A lot of the humor comes at the expense of slightly uncomfortable heteros and gay-love is celebrated by performers [and real-life lovers] Arthur Kyeyune and Alejandro Castillo. I must also mention the Zumanity features Alan Jones Silva, who has to be the hottest little person in the world. Zumanity is playing at New York, New York.

Looking for something a little bit hotter than Zumanity? Then you will want to make sure your trip includes a Monday night stay. Every Monday legendary burlesque nightclub Forty Deuce trades bikinis for speedos. Ivan Kane’s Stormy Mondays Male Burlesque features well-toned and almost naked guys dancing and stripping. At different times during the evening the guys perform Tovaris Wilson choreographed numbers. These boys are not only hot, they are talented. The show starts at 10 p.m. every Monday at Forty Deuce inside of Mandalay Bay.

On the lighter side of gay entertainment is Monty Python’s SPAMALOT at the Wynn. The Vegas version of the Broadway smash has just celebrated its first anniversary. The show, which stars John O’Hurley of Seinfeld fame, is somewhat adapted for Vegas but retains the camp of the original. SPAMALOT is fun, quick, intermission-free journey into a treasure chest of British humor.

The current crown jewel of the Las Vegas entertainment scene is The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Celine Dion has left the building but Elton John and Bette Midler are filling the gap. Cher has also made the Colosseum her new home and will be debuting a new show there this summer. I have not seen Ms. Midler’s show but Elton John’s is spectacular. The Rocketman’s own fantastic showmanship is almost overshadowed by the superb David LaChapelle films that accompany some of the songs.

I have been able to barely scratch the surface of Las Vegas in my space here. On top of what I have written about there is also amazing shopping [like the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace], top-notch spas [like THEbathouse at THEhotel], and even interesting cultural attractions [like the Atomic Testing Museum]. The Disney Land Vegas of the nineties has largely disappeared and grown-up Vegas has taken over. This change has also made Vegas one of the top GLBT-friendly destinations in the United States. For a weekend or a week, Las Vegas always makes an unforgettable vacation.

© Cole Wakefield, All Rights Reserved

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1 Comment »

  1. startedliving said

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Las Vegas is by far my favorite place to go on Vacation.

    Also, I saw Zumanity for the first time while I was in Vegas this past April. It was the first time I’d ever seen the Flying Silks, and Alan Jones Silva absolutely took my breath away. I never knew a “little person” could be so buff and so sexy. Now I have a new fettish that’s not easily fulfilled: Buff “little” dudes!

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