"Because the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes, the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, and then you take the house." - Danny Ocean, Ocean's 11
Ahhh, truer words have never been scripted.
Las Vegas, once a railroad worker's end of week steam valve, has transformed through the years into a glittering man made oasis of carnality in the Nevada desert. Its nickname of Sin City is apt, as it has everything your sinnerly little heart could desire. A racy, mobbed up history, 24 hour gaming, thong laden pool parties, big name concerts, foods of all ilk to indulge your inner glutton, and "companionship" just a call away.
Las Vegas makes the fabled Sodom & Gomorrah look like The Magic Kingdom.
Millions of visitors from around the world flock to Vegas every year to leave their cares behind, ignore the clock, and dive headfirst into the action. I am one of them. In fact, I head back again in a month.
I have been frequenting Vegas since the late 80s when it was just on the cusp of undergoing its most important transformation. Back then, casinos were smaller, smoke filled, and actual currency was still dispensed from the machines. I have very fond memories of walking the Strip with my big bucket of quarters in hand. Not so fond memories of filthy fingers and hands from scooping all those won quarters up.
Back then, gaming was the thing. It was the bread and butter of the owners. Rooms, shows, food? All necessary components, but completely incidental to the process. Rooms were cheap, food was cheaper - that simply was not where the profits were.
But a young man had a vision. He saw massive hotel + casino complexes, complete with shopping, fine dining, luxurious spas, in-house stars and attractions - a one stop shop of indulgence and decadence. A place when once you entered, you would never have a reason to venture back out until the taxi came to take you to the airport and home.
That man was Steve Wynn. His vision? The Mirage. A hotel/casino - the first to ever be financed through Wall Street junk bonds (thank you, Michael Milken) with 100,000 square feet of gaming, 1.1 million square feet of public space, 3,044 rooms (making it the largest hotel in the world at the time), high tech security cameras over every gaming table (first to use them), a volcano along its front that "erupted" every 15 minutes, restaurants galore for every palate, and Siegfried & Roy - the hottest ticket on the Strip.
There had been nothing like it, and once it opened, and was a screaming success, other casino owners and moneymen insured there would be nothing unlike it ever built again. What followed was a metamorphosis - the smaller grand dames were imploded making way for the titans - Venetian, Bellagio, Treasure Island, Rio, Paris, New York, New York, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, and on and on. The new additions forced the mainstays like Caesars Palace, Circus Circus, and The Flamingo to up their game and build wings, towers, colliseums - anything to be able to compete. And suddenly where you stayed mattered as much as where you played, and room rates became a profit center.
It was quite a time.
I remember visiting the Mirage in its early days. The place was massive, beautiful, enchanting with its 20,000 gallon aquarium that spanned the back of the entire front desk. Even with 100,000 square feet of gaming, which included 2,300 slot machines, you literally had to stand in line to play one.
Steve had certainly gambled, but that perfect hand had come along and he not only took the house, he took all of Las Vegas. He was now the golden boy and investors clamored for his attention, eager to be a part of his next winning hand.
I met him before he was the "it' kid. I was working for an airline in Indianapolis and we had charter flights to LV twice a week. In order to secure blocks of rooms at reduced prices, I went with another group coordinator and met him in his little office in the Golden Nugget - at one time his only property - downtown. Nice guy, attractive, amiable, and friendly - he was happy to just be on the radar of airlines, even charter ones.
Fast forward 30 years, and that amiable little smeege of a man is a powerhouse. He sold his holdings ( Mirage, Bellagio, Golden Nugget, etc) to MGM years ago for 4.4 billion, going on to build his namesake properties, The Wynn and The Encore. I have stayed at all of them - gorgeous, detailed to a fault, high end, glamorous.
Unfortunately, as we are now finding out, with the climb to fortune, fame, and power, came the hubris, ego, and entitlement. And that amiable, friendly little man, is a raging, molesting, coersive piece of shit.
Seems Steve Wynn has finally crapped out.
News began breaking yesterday of his exploits, his penchant for scrotum flashing spa employees, and his insistence on his penis not being ignored during massages. Nearly 150 employee stories have piled up around his reprehensible behavior, which included a 7.5 million dollar payout to a manicurist whom he forced to have sex.
The stories reported by the Las Vegas Journal are sickening and detail a decades long pattern of abuse of employees. It was so bad that spa employees would pencil in fake appointments to avoid having to service him in any way. He would constantly walk around in short shirts with no underwear. He would let his undercarriage fly free during pedicures, and constantly harass the women with inappropriate banter. He also would insist on getting phone numbers of young cocktail waitresses in his employ.
Employees dreaded being summoned to his office to provide treatments like massages because he insisted on being masturbated.
And please don't start with the "Why did no one say anything?" They did. But in a town where power talks and Wynn held all the cards, nothing was done.
“Former employees said their awareness of Mr. Wynn’s power in Las Vegas, combined with the knowledge that the jobs they held were among the best-paying available there, added up to a feeling of dependence and intimidation when Mr. Wynn made requests of them,” the newspaper reported. “Some said that feeling was heightened at times by the presence in a confined office space of one or more of his German shepherds, trained to respond to commands in German.”
So he, like Weinstein, Spacey, CK, et al, continued his campaign of sexual assaults unchecked. And while, yes, the sex part was obviously a huge component in this for these men, the bigger aphrodisiac was the power. The power to dominate. The power to pull their dicks out with no consequences. The power to get off, then move on with their days as if nothing had happened. Leaving a vast wasteland of crippled psyches, nightmares, fear, and shame in their wakes.
I always find it especially stomach churning when these men have daughters. In Steve's case, his daughter, Kevyn, was kidnapped in 1993 when she was 27. She was stripped and posed and threatened should her father not pay the ransom. He's a father. The what ifs that had to spiral through his mind when he got the call that she had been kidnapped had to be horrific. His daughter, at the mercy of God knows who and how many men. The ways they could have been violating her, raping her, using her. In the end, the ransom was paid, Kevyn was released, and the kidnappers caught, but still.
His own daughter was a victim of men who saw her as a piece of flesh, a commodity, a thing. Yet here he is, with a decades long resume of treating women the exact same way. Those women were used repeatedly and paid huge ransoms with their hearts, their minds, their fears. They will never escape.
And all of this brings me back to these questions:
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK DO THESE MEN THINK THEY ARE DOING?
CAN THEY NOT KEEP THEIR DICKS IN THEIR PANTS?
DO THEY HONESTLY BELIEVE WOMEN WANT TO SEE THEIR JUNK IN THE WORKPLACE?
Guys, I do not give a mongoose shit who you are - mechanic or mogul - KEEP YOUR GENITALS IN YOUR PANTS UNLESS EXPRESSLY INVITED TO THE PARTY.
Your dick is not a gift. It is not a party favor. It is not a conversation starter.
And quite frankly? Unless we are feeling equally amorous with you? It's one of the funniest damned things we women will ever see. Seriously, Steve, you are 76 years old. Do you honestly think a 22 year old manicurist is turned on by your shriveled and patchy haired man raisins? Do you really believe a 26 year old masseuse wants to touch your papery skinned, saggy ass or your softserve consistency penis?
Give me a break.
Even if it is consensual? If a 21 year old woman beds down with you, Steve? Think Anna Nicole. It's not lust, it's lu$t. It's a business transaction. An agreement to play to your ego and your half dead prick in exchange for $omething.
Which also brings me to this - in a town where a single phone call could provide old Stevie with tight ass in any color of the rainbow - why target his employees?
Because. He. Could.
It is that simple. These men do it because they can. Because there is no one who can stop them. No one powerful enough around them to slap their ignorant heads and say, "Hey asshole, put your shit away." So they gamble and gamble and gamble and gamble.
Of course, Steve is denying everything, trying to obfuscate, spin, etc. Good luck with that. The number of women is surely going to continue to grow now that he has been dragged out of the casino and into the harsh light of #MeToo.
As Danny the oracle waxed crapsodic, "Play long enough ... the house always wins."
Sorry, Steve, you know how this works. Sometimes you Wynn, sometimes you lose. And this time, with a hand of 150? You busted. Big.