By Tenzin McGrupp
We wandered back over to the front of the casino and sat down to do some more people watching. There was a kid in a tie-dye sitting next to us who looked like he was in high school. His girlfriend wore a long green dress and looked like she was barely 16 years old. He had a ton of acid to sell but was worried that he would get busted. We joked with him that we were FBI agents, but he sold us some anyway. He mentioned that he had not been to too many shows because he wasn't 21 and most bands that he liked had an age requirement of 21 and older. He was trying to tell the Joker that Cheesekids (teenagers who followed around String Cheese Incident) were good people.
"I know. I live in Boulder," answered the Joker. "I see Cheesekids and the guys in the band all the time."
The kid liked the Cheese and didn't even know they were from Colorado. That's what happens when you chomp on acid every day from ages 16 through 18. Although naive, he seemed nice enough and he had a hot girlfriend who we still couldn't figure out was jail bait or not. For a brief moment, I considered beating the piss out of him, stealing his drugs, and running away to San Francisco with his girlfriend. But then I'd have an Amber Alert on my hands. The federalies would lock me up and throw away the key for sure if I was caught with a glove compartment full of doses.
The Trey Anastasio Band show ended and the crowd rushed back into the casino as hey left the theatre. I yelled, "They're letting the freaks out! Here come the freaks."
Thousands of spun out hippies, Phishkids, wookies, and other weirdos flooded the Aladdin casino floor just around 4 AM. For a tourist couple who had no idea there was a music festival going on in Vegas, they must have been freaked out to see so many dirty hippies walking around in a jovial daze. The unleashed freaks did nothing to deter the degenerate gamblers from plugging away at the slot machines. They kept their heads down and continued to gamble while they ignored all the weirdness that went down right behind them. Kids were slinging pot and molly behind rows of slot machines, while other rolling hippie chicks watched the various lights on other slots, or headed to the bar for post-show cocktails, or continued to dance at the bar above the poker room.
Grubby was in the poker room at the time and told me that the entire casino reeked of pot. He thought kids were actually smoking it inside. I'm sure that the aromas of various kind buds wafted from the theatre out to the floor. Grubby also said he saw a few braless hippie chicks wander through the poker room.
The Joker and I made our way outside and walked from the Aladdin to the Excalibur. Along the way, we spotted two hookers on Las Vegas Blvd. just outside of Fatburger. The Joker wanted me to teach him how to spot a hooker in Las Vegas and I gave him a quick tutorial. We identified the ladies as they walked right next to us. One was a tall, super thin black woman with a blue wig. Her friend was a portly white girl with a super short skirt and her beer belly slipping out of her top. Two middle-aged tourists also spotted the girls and began to follow them. We walked a few paces behind them. I couldn't tell if they were interested or just fucking around. The black hooker with the blue wig walked up to an older gentleman wearing a suit. He was by himself and she made a decision that the guy was going to be her mark for the moment. The other chubby hooker slowed down and made a phone call while she let her friend do her thing. I assumed she was calling up their pimp telling him that they have a possible john. The old guy walked into the MGM. The black hooker with the blue wig walked in with him, followed by the chubby hooker a few feet behind them. The two middle-aged tourists followed the chubby hooker. I looked at the Joker and motioned towards the MGM front doors. We followed everyone into the casino. We decided to investigate.
By then, the Joker picked up on which girls were hookers and which weren't. As we walked by one of the bars, we saw about a dozen at work. He was amazed at what was going on, but for me, it's just part of Las Vegas. It's not anything out of the ordinary for me to see hookers crawling around a Strip hotel bar. It's simply another integral part of Las Vegas, just like the Bellagio fountains or the all-you-can-eat shrimp buffet.
The black girl with the blue wig struck out with the older gentleman. I assumed he wasn't interested. The middle-aged tourists soon disappeared from sight and we found the two hookers sitting at the hooker bat at the MGM. We sat down for a little while before retreating back to the Excalibur. On our way from New York, New York to Excalibur, I spotted a woman sitting down in front of the Statue of Liberty. She was drunk with a souvenir goblet nearby, she was missing her shoe, and crying hysterically. Another Las Vegas 5 AM casualty.
We headed to the bar at Mandalay Bay where we met up with some of the Joker's friends from Colorado. We all watched the hookers over there work it. One guy had a table of three or four of them and we wondered if he had any idea they were working girls. There was some sort of bull riding contest in town, and a slew of cowboys were all around. They stood out with their tall black cowboys hats, blue jeans, and shiny buckles. Some of them were getting hit on by the hookers. The bar had an interesting mix at 5 AM with drunken cowboys, tripping hippies and scantly clad hookers elbowing each other and fighting over which girl is gonna blow the only high roller in the bar.
The Joker is originally from Texas and said, "Tourists from Texas must get a lot of hookers when they come to Vegas, because every time I tell them I used to live in Texas before I moved to Colorado, the hookers start flocking and hit on me even harder."
Since Vegoose was supposed to start in seven hours, we decided to leave Mandalay Bay. We eventually walked back to our room as the sun was coming up over the mountains, and we spotted a hooker walking towards us. The Joker nodded to me with a funny face which said, "Spotting hookers at sunrise is tons of fun."
Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.