The Movable Buffet: Dispatches from Las Vegas by Richard Abowitz

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Perez Hilton's excellent Vegas adventure, from Criss Angel to Miss USA

09:36 AM PT, Apr 20 2009

I spent one day in bed sick and the rest of my weekend at the opening of the Hard Rock's new Joint checking out the Killers and Paul McCartney. I messed up. I should have followed blogger Perez Hilton during his Vegas weekend. His visit is going to be talked about for some time to come.

First off, Hilton attended Criss Angel's "Believe" at the Luxor on Friday night. Like many, he had enjoyed all of Cirque's other shows in Vegas and therefore ignored the reviews and was willing to risk "Believe." It took 15 minutes into "Believe" for me to realize that the show was really not going to get any better but instead, with an earnest energy, kept piling up melodramatic and pretentious moments to some summit of numbing dullness and pointlessness. After months of work on improving the show through Cirque's fixation process, it took Hilton about five minutes longer to reach the identical conclusion. So, perhaps "Believe" has manged to prolong by five minutes audience members' realization moment that they are at an insufferable show?

Anyway, Hilton sent a Tweet to his over half-million followers when he reached that moment: "We are 20 minutes in and Criss Angel's Vegas show, Believe, is unbelievably BAD!" Reading Hilton's other Tweets made clear that the performance was a typical one for the troubled show as when a technical glitch brought the show to a halt for a few minutes (when I saw "Believe," among other problems, Angel was cut in half by a descending blade that had yet to reach him). Hilton's other Tweets on "Believe" included: "I would rather be getting a root canal."

Angel ended the performance by giving a call out to Hilton. At that point, according to Norm Clarke's Review-Journal column on Saturday, Angel hurled obscene insults at Hilton. Hilton's smiling response: "Thanks for the free tickets." Round 1 goes to Hilton, and Angel should not only apologize but thank Hilton for what was probably a rare moment of actual entertainment for an audience at "Believe."

To Angel's credit: For all his bad judgment, he is not a coward. For him to get into a war of words with Hilton is to enter a fight he is certain to lose. Being articulate and quick-witted are not exactly Angel's strengths. But they are Hilton's gifts in abundance. Already the most ridiculed headliner on the Strip, leading the most reviled show in Vegas, Angel wears a gigantic target with "Believe," which is totally worthy of nasty satire. With Hilton he has challenged an expert marksman and dared him to shoot at an easy target. Only pity can save Angel's show at this point. And, I am not sure if pity is one of Perez Hilton's gifts.

One startling example came in today's Review-Journal with Clarke's column. Clarke is a news guy whose columns frequently feature personal anecdotes but usually leave commentary and reviews to the critics on staff. The rare times Clarke breaks that tradition are usually to talk about something he enjoyed. In fact, for all the writing Clarke has done about Angel, I don't think he has ever published his opinion on "Believe." 

But today his column opens "Criss Angel has got to go." Clarke's argument is more rooted in the star becoming an embarrassment to the city than a critique of the show. To many of you reading this, Angel's behavior may not seem as bad as, say, his behavior this time last year when he allegedly threatened to poke Clarke's eye out. But even then Clarke did not call for Angel's expulsion from Vegas. There is a reason for that change. The story resonates and is much more upsetting to locals. Everyone in Vegas gets that we are a tourist economy dependent on our guests. Angel is not the first Vegas worker to be upset by a guest's opinions or behavior. Every casino employee at some point has had to smile at the words or actions of a hideous guest. Las Vegas strives to be overwhelmingly grateful for our tourists and there is a Strip obsession that nothing in the stories tourists take home contain complaints about the staff. Unless you are Don Rickles, any employee in any casino in Las Vegas would likely lose a job for insulting an invited guest as Angel did to Hilton. That behavior is anathema to the entertainment and business model that makes Las Vegas Las Vegas.

But Perez Hilton was not close to done with his Vegas weekend. To be fair, he could not have known that Angel would behave in such a bizarre way. But this one Hilton saw coming: He was invited to be a judge at the Miss USA contest at Planet Hollywood last night. Earlier in the day, Hilton had sent out a Tweet: "The question I came up with for the interview portion of Miss USA tonight is SO good! You have to watch just for that!"

One of the most commented-on Buffet posts I have ever written -- a total surprise to me --- was about Miss America back in January. The item began: "The Miss America contest is stupid and dated and we crowned a new winner in Vegas." I did not mention it in that item, but I feel identically about yesterday afternoon's Miss USA pageant that took place in Planet Hollywood. And, so by the time I ran into Robin Leach at the Hard Rock last night (before Paul McCartney), who heavily covered the event, it was with little enthusiasm and a bit of feigned interest that I politely asked who won.

"It was unbelievable," Leach said. " Miss North Carolina won. But Miss California was going to win."

"What happened?"

"Perez Hilton!"

Remember that question Hilton was so excited about? I had forgotten about it.  Miss California was the recipient of Hilton's query about legalizing gay marriage. And, as beauty contestants do, she tried to have it both ways, only she felt one way and that came through. She began her answer praising America for allowing gay marriage as an option (which it certainly is not in most states, including Nevada) and continued with "I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." If you consider how lost "I think that I believe" sounds, you realize that the contestant was totally unprepared for a question that was not bland. Watch the YouTube version yourself:

I have created a new category on the Buffet for Perez Hilton this morning. Has anyone considered Hilton for his own showroom? In one weekend in Vegas he managed to overshadow the Luxor's headliner and the entire Miss USA pageant. Perez Hilton, as we say to all our guests, please, come back soon.

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that's just amazing!

I really applaud Norm Clarke for incredible patience and restraint in this whole matter with Criss Angel. And I really do admire him for making the difficult decision to point out what all of us locals have come to a conclusion about quite awhile ago: Criss Angel must go. Period. I'm sure it was a decision he had to think about hard before doing.

I would be amazed to see Cirque du Soleil and the MGM Management people put up with any more of his shenanigans. If they allow this to continue much longer, throwing their money behind a person who is tearing apart their reputations, they stand to lose much, much more than what they invested in Criss Angel BeLIEve. If it continues, birds won't even fly over the Luxor show room...because there won't be anything worth crapping on there. I am amazed that Criss Angel has continually crossed the double yellow line many times, but he has never got involved in a head on collision. I think he feels he can't be touched. But, like Norm Clarke points out, this may be the last straw. Cirque du Soleil has pretty much avoided everything and has been quiet. I don't see that trend continuing in light of what just happened this past weekend.

I just wanted to point out that I saw both of Norm Clarke's columns about this Criss Angel/Perez Hilton debacle (and I commented on them too..numerous know me). One thing I find is that Criss Angel still has fanatical fans. And they are actually people I would safely say I have no interest in meeting or even looking at. On Norm Clarke's web site, there are comment after comment demeaning Perez Hilton, his sexual proclivities, attacking his personal life, etc., etc. And it just shows how idiotic and dumb they are with all this Criss Angel can do no wrong and he's the best thing since sliced cheese ramblings. They point the finger at Perez, but Criss is okay to yell out profanities in front of an audience and do whatever he wants. And I really bet there were children in the audience too. I'm sorry, but I have friends in entertainment and you NEVER, EVER do that. You never, ever lash out at audiences and/or a specific person in an audience (unless it's part of the act...and this clearly wasn't). And if you do, you are pretty much guaranteed you won't have a job for very long.

So, I agree wholeheartedly with Norm. And I have harped on this knucklehead ever since he started his public temper tantrums and personal behavior that borders on being criminal. I saw right through his crap from the beginning.

He's got to go.

And please do us all a favor, Criss. When you go? PLEASE take your idiotic, numbskull fans with you too. Somewhere far, far away from Las Vegas. Perhaps the Antarctic.

If that contestant (and her pageant consultant) did not predict Perez's question, they deserve what they got. Perez was OBVIOUSLY going to ask a question about something he's passionate about, and they should have forseen his question on same sex marriage.
I know, I know, she's honorable for sticking to her guns, but she offended half of the audience, which is something Miss USA should never do! (Plus, she came off as a blubbering idiot rather than a confident conservative!) How simple would it have been to say, "I think love, in any form, is something that this country and this world need more of, and when two people love each other enough to committ, they should be able to receive the same benefits and rights as any other couple." That would have been neutral enough for her to win! She should have been nice, smiley, and diplomatic. Give a freaking non-answer! Its what beauty queens do best!

As far as Miss California's answer to Perez Hilton's question, I agree with SaraElizabeth. Even though Miss California probably had her own opinion, it would have been better to give a non-answer, something neutral, not as controversial.

"Well.... That is an important issue that people should address. And it is a difficult and controversial subject. But I do want to say that I do love all animals. Especially my dog Muffy. And global warming is important too. Ice cube trays should always be refilled and put back in the freezer. And.... OH! Yes! I pray for whirled peas......" (world peace)

Something brainless. They can get away with it and still have credibility.

Who is she kidding with that kind of answer, wow!
geez. anyhow at least everyone looked beautiful, here are a ton of pics I wanted to share wtih you from last nights show: enjoY!

Fat boy Miguel (Perez Hilton) is so-o-o puffed up with his own importance that he won't see the train coming that will eventually flatten him. O happy day!

What is a Perez Hilton, why is it on television, and does anyone really care what it thinks?

Same-sex marriage or opposite marriage? That is the question.

Re my previous post: apologies to Miguels everywhere - I should, of course, have said fat boy Mario.

i needed miss california to morph into a miss arizona type response to the question, "the beautiful thing about living in this country is one's ability to have choice. if you choose to have choice then it's up to you if you want to choose."

Colin I think that you are over compensating for something by leaving so many comments.

I don't condone what Criss did, but his accusations were right. What gives Perez the right to talk about people the way that he does? I mean what really has Perez done in order to collect a fan base? Gossip.....that makes him a highschool girl, noone who has actual recignission if you think about it. Now like I said I don't condone his actions but I do agree. I just don't agree with the venue in which he chose to do it in.

TO: JJ Flash

Uh, not to be a jerk or anything, but Perez's real name is Mario, not Miguel. I haven't quite figured out Perez Hilton except to say that he is very bright, witty and politically aware. His opinion, whether one agrees with it or not, is his and not formed or molded by the establishment or for convenience. He calls it as he sees it and is often right on. He has no fear (to own a little would be nice) of expressing his opinion, owns up to his comments when confronted and can argue or reason his opinion intelligently and comprehensively. And he has mastered the technology to make himself available and appealing, for better or worse -- the Web, YouTube, Twitter.

How long Mario/Perez is au courant is anyone's guess. I have a feeling he will be around, in some form or manifestation, for some while.

Perez is an idiot - his livelihood thrives on "hurling obscenities" at people. Perhaps he takes a break from chewing to ponder his hipocrasy.

In the end, you are just giving Perez exactly what he wants, attention. While Criss Angel's actions are out of line, you have to wonder what Perez was doing at a show that he had panned loudly and longly already on his website. Further, Perez has been very agressive in putting Angel down, so again, I have to wonder what he was doing at the show.

As for Miss America, well, shame on Miss California for not having a pat, all inclusive 'we are all different but the same' message that she could roll out and make Hilton look bad. He asked a hot button question, one that divides many, and promoted his own political agenda. Again, while Miss California's aswers were out of line, you have to wonder why Perez was even asking such a nasty, sharp edged question in what is generally a puff-ball contest.

Congrats on being another one of the suckers that helps to give Perez way longer than the 15 minutes he should have gotten.

I have to wonder at those people questioning why dude was at the show...he could have bought tickets...maybe he was bored...maybe he got free tickets somehow who cares...he was at the show and that venue was not the place to address your beef with the man. Create your own website and blast him, call him later and voice your displeasure, email the man for crist sake but at your place of business....not very professional at all. As far as the mss cali thing...come on as a person who wants to represent a state then you have to represent the whole state...i'm not saying that she should change her beliefs but she should have phrased her beliefs a way that doesn't deminish the other party. Many have given answers to that question in such a way as to maintain their belief system but not offend...if she couldn't do that then she should represent her state.

Miss California walked into that one. If she had listened carefully, the question was do you think other states should follow suit in legalizing gay marriage, NOT do you personally believe in gay marriage. All she had to say was everyone has the right to choose. I'm glad she lost, she didn't deserve it. Not because she is against gay marriage but because she's an idiot.

Regardless of your opinion on the issue of gay marriage, I think Perez was completely right to ask that question. At least he is trying to make the pageant more interesting and make it something less "puff-ball" as I believe someone called it. Yes, we all know pageants aren't exactly legitimate, but he had the tenacity to ask a hot question and I think the women should have been prepared for it. There was definitely a "right way" to answer that question without offending and without revealing a personal opinion. Perez did an interview this morning where he said that he was not upset that she doesn't support gay marriage (that is her own prerogative) but is upset with the manner in which she chose to go about answering. On his website he even made a video with what he would have liked in a "neutral" or "pageant" response.

And before you go insulting Perez Hilton, just think about the attention he is able to throw onto issues. Yes, he does celebrity gossip. But do you know who reads that? High school kids, college kids, young adults... people who aren't typically known for being politically active. During the election he had a big "campaign" to register to vote, and a campaign of sorts for Obama. But if I remember correctly, he mainly just urged the youth to get out and vote. He frequently puts up websites for charities, great causes, and hot political issues for young people to read. I was reading his site the day Iowa decided to change the gay-marriage laws and I happened to hear it first from him. I saw his headline and then went to the news sites to read more in depth. No matter what kind of gossip he does, he does keep an otherwise "uninformed" demographic up on hot topics. Isn't that important too?

I'm glad Miss California said what she believed. I'm so sick of "politically correct" answers that actually mean NOTHING... She is more than entitled to her own opinions and beliefs. She doesn't seem to regret it now, and she shouldn't. I hate that everyone has "freedom of speech" to state his or her opinion unless it's the "wrong" one. I love her for saying the truth. She probably could have articulated her opinion in a better way, but still. Go California :)

That's the problem with people that have morals -- they just won't compromise themselves by hiding behind generic statements to gain acceptance -- at any cost. Good for Miss California. She may have lost the pageant but she won so much more and in the bargain can retain her self-respect.

Oh, and to "commonsense" I believe she did represent the California voters, who voted and voiced for themselves, their opinion on it with proposition eight.

Haha God forbid she express the same opinion as the majority of Californians!

It was an inappropriate and baiting question. All he was doing was promoting his own agenda. She has as much right to her opinion, as he does.

To the author: I don't know who's given you this column, but you are quite an embarrassment as a journalist. You actually write and give credibility to a person who is nothing more than an attention seeker, who builds up his career by bringing down others, and who, quite frankly, is an atrocious representative of the gay community. Mario Lavandeira, or Perez, has consistently put down celebrities over the years, only to claw his way to the top to try to become one. He writes whatever he wants, without any real fact checking or sources. Did you not learn the basic principles of fair reporting? No wonder newspapers are going down the drain, with columnists like you writing such garbage and promoting the worst aspects of blogging. Is being spiteful, mean, malicious and on and on worthy of such attention? How sad what this industry has become thanks to pseudowriters like you. Betcha Hilton will take you out to dinner when you visit L.A.

Why phrase what he said as a question if he just wanted her to make a statement confirming his position on the issue. This was just him trying to voice his statement on a national television audience. This was a pitiful way for a judge to act and should end his career as a celebrity judge.

Perez, you a joke. A Hollywood nobody calling someone else a "dumb 8!TCH"!?! You asked for her opinion, toolbag. She expressed an opinion that happens to alight with the majority of Americans so you made her lose? You obviously lack integrity, like many of the hollywood scumbags you write about.

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