Sunday, 16 June 2013

Viva Las Vegas

If you haven't yet seen Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra you need to drop whatever you're doing and watch it right now. For Michael Douglas's amazing acting and for the rare pleasure of seeing Matt Damon walking around in skimpy swarovski-embroidered speedos, but also because it's a turning point in film history: this is the first time a TV company hs produced a movie that has the same quality as any traditional Hollywood feature, to the point of premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. Soderbergh had problems rising funds since the story was deemed "too gay" by studios (and they say there is no censorship anymore...), so he got picked up by HBO. I personally hope this is the beginning of a long line of movies with innovative plots that will give the industry a much-needed shake-up.
Behind the Candelabra has had a great impact on me for all of these reasons, but also because it has rekindled my love affair with the city that Christian extremists have dubbed "a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah". Las Vegas is truly fabulous! As Joe Pesci said in Scorsese's Casino, "it's a city made of money" where the concept of good taste doesn't exist. In Paris - where the constant focus on tasteful living and understated chic can get quite oppressive - I always feel like I'm committing some sort of capital sin when I express my love of (cue French people cringing) Dolce & Gabbana, Playboy magazine or long gel nails. What I think most French people don't understand is there's an art to "good" bad taste and tackiness too. And no city masters it like good old Vegas. So in case you had forgotten how great the worldwide capital of gambling is, here are 10 reasons to remember:

1. Las Vegas is the only place where it's acceptable for a man to dress like this.

Or this,

or this.

We don't see nearly enough silk, sequins or fur on men in the rest of the world, which is a shame.

2. It's the only place where this is considered elegant jewellery.

Liberace does it better. That is all. 

3. It' the only place where it's acceptable for a decent(ish) woman to dress like this:

Or like this.

We, the women from all other cities in the world, have some serious catching up to do on feathers, gold and chinchilla.

4. It's the only place on earth where it's acceptable for a house to look like this.

Enough said.

5. With 300 sunny days per year, Vegas is the only city in the world where wearing fur coats when there's 30 degrees outside is in.

This might be changing though. I hear in Dubai the latest fashion for wealthy princesses is turning the air conditioning full speed and inviting your friends for a fur tea party. But Vegas has a unique brand of fur glamour though.

6. There must be something wonderful about Vegas when entertainment royalty such as Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Mohamed Ali or Joan Collins goes there to celebrate birthdays and other milestones.

Who wouldn't want to celebrate his birthday amidst a cloud of marabou feathers and girls in sequined bikinis?

7. If it wasn't for Vegas we wouldn't have Showgirls, that utterly vile masterpiece of film history.

I've seen softcore porn movies with better plots and dialogue. But somehow this movie is iconic and addictive, so it must be good in an Ed Wood kind of way.

8. And speaking of showgirls, flooziness reaches a whole new level in Vegas. Which is obviously fascinating.

I must confess I've always been intrigued by Vegas floozies. I saw Casino when I was about 10 (yeah, probably a tad young, but it taught me a valuable life lesson: the house always wins) and I was enthralled by Sharon Stone's Ginger. That girl certainly got around: she knew how to properly gamble, how to tip casino employees to her advantage, how to get 100 dollars out of Robert DeNiro by just saying "I need to go powder my nose" and how to attach her hairpiece flawlessly. It takes a real skill to be a professional Vegas hussy. Chapeau.

9. Elvis's legend and his sequined overalls wouldn't have existed without Vegas.

We've got a lot to be thankful for.

10. Vegas has generally made an art form of tackiness and bad taste...

... so don't be afraid to apreciate the goodness in good bad taste and to indulge in it all. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

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