Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2017

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Guest Columnist:

Michael Godard: Las Vegas pop artist witnesses McCarran’s midnight circus


Tom Donoghue/

Michael Godard and “Jubilee!” showgirls arrive at the “Veronic Voices” premiere at Bally’s on Friday, June 28, 2013.

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D.J. Ashba, Vince Neil, Michael Godard and Carrot Top at Vince Neil’s Tatuado, Eat, Drink, Party on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at Circus Circus.

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Michael Godard and Brittany Webber.

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Criss Angel, second from right, with Klayton, Robin Leach and Michael Godard, launches at Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage on Aug. 15, 2011.

As Robin Leach winds down his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy — with a visit to Pisa and its Leaning Tower, plus, a stop in fashionable Milan — many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Las Vegas artist Michael Godard, Las Vegas big-bandleader Louis Prima Jr. and new Riviera comedian headliner Matt Kazam. Here’s Michael.

Once again I find myself at one of the greatest locations for people watching: McCarran Airport here in Las Vegas. Usually I’m rushing through the terminal placing mental bets on whether I’ll make my flight.

Well tonight’s a different story. My flight on Spirit Airlines was scheduled to depart at 10 p.m., but I received a text saying that it was running an hour late.

Sure enough, within minutes, it gets much worse.

When I look at the monitor of departing flights, it reads 3:31 a.m. All the concessions are already closed, but I’m getting off track.

I arrive curbside around 10 to find two smokers outside the terminal puffing away in front of the nonsmoking signs. One of them is a lady chilling in a wheelchair with her cigarette magically dangling off her bottom lip (a David Copperfield trick, no doubt).

Inside, I see what looks like 300-plus people standing in lines. They look like a bunch of cattle bunched together but with no rancher in sight. Everyone looks lost.

This herd is a mixture from all walks of life. There are a couple of girls holding each other to my left. One holding on to the one traveling who won’t let go of her friend, who happens to still be carrying her 4-foot drink.

I watch them wobbling back and forth in a drunken stupor as if they are slow dancing. I’m imagining that if one lets go of the other, they’ll probably tumble to the ground, their beads flying everywhere and alcohol thrown across all the people in line waiting to check in.

Turns out there are three red-eye flights, all delayed. The family in front of me is completely confused. They look like they just walked off the set of “Honey Boo Boo.”

The husband was wearing a cap and sunglasses earlier today. I know this because he is so red with sunburn, I can see the shape of his frames outlined in white flesh that clearly hasn’t seen the sun in months.

Well, he's in a different line. Seems the family split into three groups, and he’s so excited that his line is moving that he is excitedly yelling to his wife, “Come over here, Betsy, I’m moving!” To which I hear his wife’s equally loud reply, “How do I get to you? I don’t think I can make it!”

As I’m writing this, a young man walks past me wearing half a bear costume. I can’t begin to imagine what his story is. Only in Vegas, I’m thinking.

Also in line are some very scantily clad girls dressed in what looks like they just left the Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Fluorescent furry boots and booty shorts, with their cleavage not leaving much to the imagination.

My guess is probably dancers here for the weekend because they look like they’re in their early to mid-30s, a bit on the mature side for EDC attendees.

After going through security, I finally make my way to my gate. Bodies strewn all along the hallways, makeshift pillows created from everything you can imagine — shoes, bags, purses, etc.

The other half seems to be plugged into everything, from web browsing to social-media addicts. In the background is the comforting sound of bells and rings as the slot machines serenade me.

The term red eye takes on a whole other meaning at this hour. Four more hours of waiting, but I’m in no rush. I actually enjoy watching the circus around me, and I think to myself, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Be sure to read our other guest columns today from Las Vegas big-bandleader Louis Prima Jr. and new Riviera resident comedian Matt Kazam. On Sunday, it’s star chef Rick Moonen, museum maverick Tom Zaller and Eric and Jayne Post of “Marriage Can Be Murder.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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