Thursday, May 19, 2011

Viva Las Vegas... Nyet!

“Did you see any shows?” is the second question people ask you after you get back from Las Vegas. (The first is “Did you win any money?”). But there’s no need to ask us about Las Vegas shows anymore. Two years ago on our last trip, we attended a show that pretty much soured us on Vegas shows forever.

It wasn’t one of those $120-a-pop supershows with flying flaming monkeys, surfing clowns, and acrobats who can swallow their own foot. We opted for something a little more low key and intimate, but mostly cheaper. The show was in the small cabaret theater of an older hotel on the strip, the kind of place you might expect to find Major Nelson and Major Healy in white dinner jackets on a Saturday night. Or Don Ho. The show featured a little comedy, singing, dancing and, some, er, mature entertainment. So let’s just call the show “Juggs.”

Too busy drinking wine and playing video poker at the bar to watch the time, we ended up near the end of the general admission line. This turned out to be a major tactical error. The maitre d’ led us and another gentleman into the theater where he sat the gentleman in a center seat near the back. Then he motioned for us to keep following.

“That guy got a center seat,” I thought. “We must be getting a really good one near the front.”

The maitre d’ did lead us toward the front of the theater. Then he opened a side door next to the stage. He stood there smiling and pointed out into a hall.

“Awesome!” I told St. Pauli Girl. “Backstage pass! We get to meet the dancers!”

We followed the maitre d’ into a long, dimly lit hallway.

“I’m not sure we’re in the theater anymore,” St. Pauli Girl whispered after we had walked about a hundred yards.

We could hear loud noises at the end of the hallway. The maitre d’ turned to the left and held open a swinging door which opened into the hotel kitchen. Cooks, waiters, and dishwashers ran around screaming and throwing things. The maitre d’ signaled to one of the lowly cooks who then rolled two barrels of frying oil over to him. He set them upright, and the maitre d’ slapped our programs down on the barrels.

“These are our seats?” I asked.

He nodded, pointing to a television monitor mounted on the wall above the swinging doors. Then he left.

We sat down and sure enough the show started on the television screen but with no sound. Then an angry chef threw discarded duck organs at the screen. Soon after, the head chef came over and grabbed me from behind by my shoulders. He spun me around on my feet then jabbed a finger into my chest, yelling something in some sort of French or German. (I thought it was French, but he spit and growled a lot.) Then he pointed to two huge sinks full of dirty dishes.

“You want me to wash dishes?”

He pounded his finger into my chest even harder.

“But I have tickets.” I showed him our tickets and pointed at the television screen.

“Nyet!” He shoved me toward the sinks.

“It’s alright,” St. Pauli Girl said. “According to the television screen, it’s intermission.”

Okay, so maybe that was a slight exaggeration of our experience. In reality, we were seated behind and underneath a projection screen that hit me at about nose level. I had to lean down to see anything, while the guy in front of us kept leaning back and banging his head on the screen.

“Oh, they’ll take that up before the show starts,” I told St. Pauli Girl.

But they didn’t. A man down the row from us left after the corner of the swinging projection screen poked him in the eye. Lucky me, I wound up with only a stiff neck.

It’s one thing to not thank customers as they walk out of your store/restaurant/theater, but this brought customer service to a new low. In a message I sent to the resort, I pointed out that essentially their message to us was, “Thank you for your money. We hate you. Please don’t ever come back.”

Guess we should have spent the money on a show with double-jointed contortionists on unicycles.

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