I arrived at work one morning to find a copy of Vegas on my desk, with a Post-it slapped above the strangely death-like gaze of actress Heather Graham. The note read: "Mock me." As my colleagues will attest, I'm the first to do a coffee run and aim to be a congenial office mate. So let the jabs begin!

In all seriousness, it wasn't that hard. What is it about Las Vegas that brings out the big hair and big jewelry? Or the nightclub ads that give Calvin Klein's a run for their money? It helps explain why the lifestyle magazine's mission, per its company president, is to "arm readers with all the ingredients necessary for their pursuit of Luxury, Access, Money and Power." Wait till this guy finds out about the recession, will he be surprised!

Then again, Sin City is billed as an escape from America. That means you can gamble 24/7 while being served endless cocktails, then get married by an Elvis impersonator to a stripper you met 15 minutes earlier in a neon-lit chapel.

Yes, I know all about the family-friendly efforts and the hotels that make the Sphinx look like a hood ornament, but when it comes to glitzy overkill, Las Vegas stands alone. (The Venetian's Tao Beach features a pool surrounded by 14-foot-high columns of fire, Xboxes, daybeds and a 30-foot bar.) Too often, luxury and money are used for conspicuous consumption. People, try emulating fashion icon Diana Vreeland, who said less jewelry made more of a statement. As for Power, there is the power to indulge your fantasies -- just ask your LV cabdriver -- and the power to jump-start sane health care. Given how most of us treat our bodies, it's probably a toss-up.

Vegas, however, celebrates the body beautiful, which can mean full-time work in its namesake, according to the "model couple" profiled in the "Voyeur" section, which is top-heavy with local talent -- from Michael Curry, a master puppeteer, to poker champ Phil Hellmuth. Laura Diane and Jay Rebholz run a modeling agency that provides DJs, go-go dancers, valet parkers and golf caddies. Posed among mannequins and scattered limbs, a la "Dexter," Jay is draped in black, apparently fulfilling George Costanza's dream to be "ensconced in velvet," while Laura is sporting a hot pink teddy, her hands perched possessively on Jay's thigh.

Laura, 28, was once a pussycat doll at Pure, a local hotspot, but admitted, "My knees started hurting." I feel your pain! Ask anyone who spends hours at work in front of a computer, moving only to order lunch. The joints are the first thing to go; idealism is the second.

Perhaps we could take a page out of Elaine Newton's book. Vegas pop-culture editor Michael Shulman asked local VIPS "What can't you live without?" Newton, who is slugged "hostess/icon," picked the agedashi tofu at Raku, since "freedom" and "culture" were probably too generic. Her dogs, Troy and Geisha, came in second. She's also a big fan of Botox, which, judging from the photo, may be used on the poodles. I was stunned, however, by "icon," a term usually reserved for a name, face, picture or edifice that carries well-known significance and embodies certain qualities, like the Empire State Building or JFK.

Hold the presses! Newton isn't alone. Apparently, there is a second icon in LV: Jojo Zanone-Pucci, who has a passion for and expertise in upscale timepieces. There are macro icons and micro icons. Now, I agree with Ms. Z-P about the artistry of classic watches. To quote Keats, "a thing of beauty is a joy forever," but a Cartier Tank Louis is also an acquired taste. The under-30 crowd tells time via their cell phones. I'm guessing they take the same approach to an exquisitely crafted Bucherer chronograph, profiled in the mag's "Indulge" section, as they do to newspapers.

Vegas, which is heavy on profiles and accessory features, is splashy, like the city. In short, it's oversized, loaded with pretty women and divorced from current economic reality. Then again, if you are nostalgic for the Reagan era, Vegas leads the way.


Published by: Niche Media Holdings/Greenspun Media Group

Frequency: 10 times a year

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4 comments about "Vegas".
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  1. Debra Howard from Information for Inspiration, June 24, 2009 at 5:45 p.m.

    Fern - Your column always makes me laugh. It's timely (the nod to Calvin Klein's ads) and smart. You managed to work in Diana Vreeland, "Seinfeld" and newspapers' woes with young readers, while sizing up a lifestyle mag. Thanks for a fun read.

  2. David Reich from Reich Communications Inc., June 25, 2009 at 8:01 a.m.

    Fern, I look forward to your reviews. Great writing and clever humor. Thanks.

  3. Michael Shulman from self, July 10, 2009 at 10:08 p.m.

    Fern: Thanks for the plug.


    PS - I LOVE any Diana Vreeland reference. My fave DV quote: "Pink is the navy blue of India."

  4. Beth Hilton from The B Company, August 18, 2009 at 5:50 p.m.

    I've run music promotions with VEGAS, and found the editorial and promo teams very professional and pleasant. They deserve a thumbs up!

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