I’ve started a new job, which is good. But I haven’t played any more Blood and Gold: Caribbean!, which is bad. But I have just enough time to write a post. But I’ve run out of screenshots. But I have some I’d taken, but never used. But I don’t have much to say about them.
I think I’ve worked out a compromise. Today, I’m going to post my leftover screenshots of Blood and Gold: Caribbean! And on an entirely unrelated note, I am going to tell you about Vince Neil’s Tatuado.
Because no-one else will.
Last year my partner and I found ourselves with a surplus of time and money. Picture a pair of cavemen staring at a rack of newfangled smoked meat, shuffling restlessly and picking lice from their eyebrows, and you’ll have an idea of how gracefully we incorporated the concept. Ultimately we did what every other lightly stunned and temporarily comfortable couple on the West Coast does: we got into a car and drove across the desert to Las Vegas.
You may be aware that the Las Vegas strip is one of the most happening, neon-soaked, raucous destinations in America. That any hotel on the strip is an all-access pass to a party that never dies and never sobers. That there are suites to serve every taste and sensibility, basically all of which offer classic, clean, and comfortable experiences within walking distance of something interesting.
Or you can stay at the Circus Circus.
There’s a few reasons not to. For one thing, it’s an hour’s blistering walk from anything else interesting. It’s flooded with squalling bargain-seeking families. It has no famous dining or appealing shows. The escalator won’t work, the bartender won’t notice you, the gift shop won’t have your first name on its leering clown keychains. But it’s bargain priced–and besides, the parking’s convenient, and some of the rooms in the main tower aren’t bad at all for the value.
Or you can stay at the Circus Circus motel.
The rates are cheap, since you’re bunking with a nice cockroach family from Akron and since the twenty minute walk from the room to the main lobby leaves you too tired to go buy an overpriced meal somewhere else. We realized this far too late.
Our fate was foreshadowed pretty early in the evening, if only we’d had our horror glasses on. The poster was everywhere we turned–there in the lobby covered with scratched plexiglass, there tucked behind the info booth, there on the staircase to the rooms. On it was a man built from the Formerly Cool Rock Star template–trapezoidal build, desperate dye job, douche shades, fedora, unfitting wycked posture. Beneath his image was a glossy rack of ribs, which–and this is just about impossible to achieve–looked inedible. The joint advertised was named Vince Neil’s Tatuado.
I might remind you that I once ate Del Taco every other meal for nearly a month. I did not want to eat at Vince Neil’s Tatuado. But, shit–we had a coupon.
No well-designed casino floor is navigable, but we knew we were getting close when we spotted the fake cherry-red chopper and blazing marquee screened in cigarette smoke. By the time we reached the hostess, and were ushered into the din and shadow, the timbre of the music was starting to key us in to our mistake. See, it turns out that Vince Neil’s Tatuado wasn’t an appalling restaurant at all. It wasn’t actually a restaurant.
It was a bar.
It was a karaoke bar.
It was a karaoke bar in the Circus Circus on a Sunday night in Las Vegas.
We passed about four hundred already-edgy families and took our hot-rod styled stools, and the young barman took our orders and vanished. I remember feeling he was holding something back on us–like it was 1999 and this club was run by vampires. Bottle of wine, sure. Just no names, okay?
Now, I don’t know where they got a creature up to running Vince Neil’s Tatuado on a Sunday night–but they did. As someone very much in touch with my physical and emotional limitations, I had to admire a man who’d transcended either.
“…and wowwhatabeautifulsong, just BEAUTIFUL tonight here at Vince Neil’s Tatuado EAT DRINK PARTY, absolutelywonderful and WHAT DO WE HAVE HERE?”
He thrust eight cents of plastic towards the crowd in his dripping fist.
“It’s a beaUTIFUL Vince Neil’s Tatuado souvenir folks you won’t find this anywhere else great reminder of Vegas ladies and gentlemen we’re giving this out right now ladies and gentlemen because this is VINCE NEIL’S TATUADO and we know how to PARTY.”
A few of the children cheered.
“And who’s it going to ohhh you know you want one of these for your very own and here it goes to THEEE LAADY IN THE PURPLE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN GIVE HER A HAND, WOW, WHAT A PRIZE BUT THERE’S A CATCH. You owe us…a SOOOOOONNGG!” His brow glowed with sweat as the woman protested feebly, no longer proud of her bauble. “YAGATTA COME UP HERE AND SING! SIING! GIVE HER A HAAND!”
His manic gestures seemed to rip her soul clean out of her body. A crisp round of applause pressed her to the stage.
So, Vince Neil’s Tatuado has an entire supply chain lined up to entrap and sonically exploit barflies. What made this even more perverse is that they seemed to lack no shortage of willing patrons, and that there was no gulf in quality between the conscripts and volunteers.
Our food arrived a few forced songs later. If you’ve ever been curious enough to bite a shoe, and persistent enough to chew a little, you might one day be hungry enough to order a steak from Vince Neil’s Tatuado. It came with a bottle of wine, with the idea that it’d kick in by the time you finished chewing your first few mouthfuls. The bottle had another, hidden characteristic: it held the seed of the volunteer. One by one, I watched desperate-eyed people climb that stage and belt breathless pop until they staggered free, sweating, to a cry of “AMERICAAN IDOL LADIESANDGENTLEMEN!” from the crypt keeper.
Before long, the lightweights had hiked back to their rooms and the bonafide regulars were sharpening their song-requesting pencils. Which led to one of the grimmer realizations of my adult life: Vince Neil’s Tatuado has regulars on a Sunday night. These included a grizzled old man of military bearing, ribbons pinned to his breast, who sat alone at the bar and watched the proceedings like he was witnessing his comrades’ deaths by firing squad.
“You know what time it is LADIES AND GENTLEMEN VINCE NEIL’S TATUADO EAT DRINK PARTY you know ONLY HERE we’ve got SHOTS FREE SHOTS ONLY HERE SHOTS NA NA NA!” The music whipped to the MC’s patter, following his loud whims like a phantom’s haunted piano. The dated rock backdrop gave way to out-of-touch trap thumping. “FREE SHOTS ONLY HERE AT VINCE NEIL TATUADO!” He approached the fever pitch of an Elmo tantrum–more mixed signals for the bemused tables of children. “SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS PAAARTY BUS!”
The barman carefully climbed onto the bar with his drinks mixer. I met his eye, gave a little waggle of my hand. I’m good.
He shook his head flatly. The vampires had other plans.
A few moments later, I was craning my head back and an eyedropper of liquid was spraying my tonsils. I don’t know what it was. It tasted of chemical lime and cold sobriety. The veteran took his next–he did not crane his head, only folded his hands on his chest and parted his lips as subtly and somberly as a man takes communion. And then shots time was over, and the party bus tokyo drifted back into traffic.
A patron on stage, sweating like a beast, hanging off the mic stand. Somehow he’d managed to get seriously, big-league drunk. “OOOOOH! THIS SEX IS ON FIIIIREE!”
The tables of children shifted uncomfortably. In the gloom of the stage wings, the MC–capped now in a black fright wig–headbanged for the approval of no-one.
Fortunately, that’s about the last thing I can recall. Just one more detail that survived the greasy fugue:
Diamonds and Rust. And I goddamn killed it.
NEXT WEEK: WAIT, WHAT WAS I TALKING ABOUT
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