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."
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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