Excuse me, sir, there’s a Tila in my (Tacos &) Tequila!

Tila Tequila
A match made in naming heaven. (Photos by Erik Kabik | RETNA)

I get invited – and attend – a lot of grand openings, media events and VIP parties. You don’t read about a lot of that stuff here because, well, that would somewhat defy VEGASinsight’s mission to reveal the side of Las Vegas behind the neon. So you don’t need me to tell you about last night’s grand opening of Tacos & Tequila (T&T) at the Luxor. You likely have no interest in reading about Tila Tequila, Criss Angel or Carrot Top posing on a red carpet for photos and not much more.

But then I got to thinking that writing about just the banality of these type of events might make for interesting fodder, and since one of the key elements of this site is “commentary,” well, who am I not to deliver the goods?

T&T is located on the atrium level of the Luxor, separated from the other new-ish makeover attempts in the once-Egyptian-themed resort such as Company American Bistro, CatHouse and LAX. So that means this “rock ‘n’ roll” Mexican-style restaurant is mere steps away from the Luxor’s wedding chapel, people hawking “rides” on magic carpets and the 15-year-old motion ride “In Search of the Obelisk.” Did we mention that not six months ago, a La Salsa was standing where T&T now resides – and not much outside of the décor has changed?

It’s impossible to assess the quality, service or atmosphere of a restaurant at one of these red-carpet events. I can’t tell you anything about T&T’s food, because of the few different plates being passed around at the opening, none of which were friendly to my palate (or diet), and though no one said anything bad about the taquitos and tacos, no one said anything outstanding either.

Coming soon to NBC: \"Douchebag and The Troll\"See, this is what happens at these events: The same group of local guest-listers – a combination of power players, public relations types, publishers, industry execs and lifestyle personalities such as myself, I suppose – get invited, show up, drink a lot of free liquor, eat a few hors d’oeuvres and schmooze it up a bit. Meanwhile, typically B- and C-list celebrities are invited to “attend,” which usually means “show up to pose for a few pictures on the red carpet and then bail.” Last night’s crop included “host” Tila Tequila, Rashida Ali, Thunder from Down Under, Mosaic, Zowie Bowie and the Luxor’s resident stable of entertainers: Carrot Top, the girls of Fantasy and Criss Angel. One has to wonder if those Luxor stage-dwellers have mandatory appearances at these events written into their contracts, because I have yet to attend a Luxor VIP event at which all of them have not appeared. Then again, really, in this city, Carrot Top is allegedly A-list talent. Anywhere else, he’s a half-forgotten joke, at best.

Thankfully, I don’t do red carpets. Here in Las Vegas, they’re not like Los Angeles or New York events, where the real celebrities actually stop and talk to entertainment reporters. Instead, a gaggle of photographers and videographers crowd up to the velvet rope like cattle in a corral, snapping images and rolling footage for whatever wire service, tabloid publication or TV gossip show by which they’re hired. I don’t envy what they do – waiting hours for 10 minutes worth of work, and then in most cases being shunned from entering the party before having to rush home to dump hundreds of photos onto hard drives in order to meet overnight deadlines. I’ve “done” one red carpet, which consisted of standing around for a few hours with other increasingly impatient and cranky radio, TV and print reporters, ultimately leaving before any alleged celebrities showed up. That was it for me.

Mind you, experiences such as these aren’t bad (usually) in the least bit. It’s an investment in good press – the public relations firms know what they’re doing: Invite the right people, get ‘em drunk, give ‘em food, surround them with celebrities, and surely they’ll write and say nice things about the restaurant/nightclub/whatever that is opening. It’s just become such an expectedly absurd process, I kind of figured telling you fine people about that is much more entertaining than simply posting a gallery of photos of the above-listed proto-celebs and adding a snarky little caption.

And maybe we’ll go back to T&T soon and actually tell you about the restaurant.

8 Responses to “Excuse me, sir, there’s a Tila in my (Tacos &) Tequila!”

  1. this article is exactly what’s WRONG with this website. if your goal is to go behind the neon and show your readers the side of vegas the tourists don’t get to see, then fail.

    stop worshipping the celebrities. cut back on the “alternative music scene”. write about normal everyday vegas happenings that locals experience. take your video camera and drive to henderson and other places away from the neon and glitter. show people that vegas is more than what’s on tv.

  2. To Vegas Billy: First, I wouldn’t normally even let this comment run, because you didn’t have the balls enough to leave a valid e-mail address, but since you brought up a good point, I figured I’d address it anyway.

    First, you will notice that in the “about” content on this site, it reads, “So this site … covers the latest in local, independent and alternative arts, music, activism and culture.” Hmm. Arts, music, activism and culture. So if we stop covering “alternative music” (this is a problem?), well, then “fail” there.

    Secondly, if you had actually READ the T&T article, you’d have realized it was critical commentary pointing out the ludicrousness of celebrity culture. And exposing the ridiculous monotony BEHIND the glossy veneer that most rubes get on TV and TMZ and Star magazine.

    And lastly, what is “normal everyday Vegas?” Softball games? High school plays? A family picnic in Summerlin? There’s already media designed to cover that mundane stuff — they’re called neighborhood newspapers.

    Meanwhile, if you’d bother to actually dig in to the site, we cover:

    – Redevelopment on Maryland Parkway: http://www.vegasinsight.net/?p=81
    – Student filmmakers: http://www.vegasinsight.net/?p=257
    – Burlesque shows at dive bars: http://www.vegasinsight.net/?p=167
    – And, oh yeah, even those places that sell those bound paper things: http://www.vegasinsight.net/?p=177

    Just as there’s more to Vegas than what’s on the Strip, there’s more to it than what’s in your everyday life. We’re here to expose that other side of Sin City not just to the world, but more specifically to the locals, the ones whose narrow world view does not go beyond their Summerlin or Anthem gates.

  3. just because i don’t leave my email adie, i don’t have balls? man, what a narrow world view you have. some people like to remain anonymous. what’s the problem?

    anyways, i was just expressing what i’d like to see in a vegas site. seeing as how you hardly get any comments from visitors, i’d say you should be thankful that i’m commenting at all.

    compare your site to a site like vegasrex.com and tell me who’s succeeding and who’s failing.

    i guess the only way to get a kinda website you want is to start one yourself. i think i’ll do that.

    stay tuned.

  4. Please do start a website! How do you think any of these sites came about? Someone saw a deficiency and attempted to fill that need. I say, the more the merrier (until the internet implodes on us all, of course!).

    And Vegasrex.com is about 180 degrees from this site’s purpose. A lengthy rant about Apple store customers and employees being somewhat offended by racy images on the store’s iMac display is … well, not really my cup of tea, but obviously it is yours, and Rex’s, and whomever else enjoys that.

    VEGASinsight is not going to be that. I come from more than 15 years of editorial background and the site is written in adapted Associated Press style. My writers and I combine traditional journalistic methods with new media techniques for the site’s written and photographic presentation. On my personal blog, you’d see more stuff along the lines of VegasRex. But not here. That’s why this isn’t “VegasPj” or anything along those lines.

    I absolutely do appreciate your comments and this is exactly the kind of discourse and exchange of ideas I’m trying to foster.

    However, yes, in my narrow worldview, people who have nothing to hide don’t need the veil of anonymity. When I post comments on blogs or websites, I always identify myself and take accountability for my actions. The discourse falls a little flat when one party isn’t even identifiable. I mean, you could be my mom. Come on, mom, quit it! 😉

    Let me know when you launch that site. I’d be interested in checking it out!

    p.s. Your IP address indicates you’re in San Francisco. Maybe you live in Vegas and your IP is just routed through SF. Or maybe you don’t live here at all? Just kind of funny.

  5. Thanks PJ for considering my images for use at your site.
    I may be a sick person but I get a kick out of the red carpets…and I enjoy it for some odd reason. Granted, it’s not my sole profession, so I have other outlets, but the red carpet part i kind of like. It IS absurd on many levels…the whole process, but unique to our home town and part of our culture if your involved with Entertainment, PR, Marketing or Advertising. I like that you gave some insight about what we photographers do here in the Vegas PR and Entertainment scene. The article was right on target about what is behind these openings and events. Vegas has always been about celebrities, fame, music and without some level of celebrity worship we would not even be on the map. It started with Bugsy Siegel and goes right up to today. These celebs draw people in and create revenues for our venues. With that I say it’s integral to our city, our culture and the economic health of Las Vegas that we promote and roll out these celebrities often and keep them tied to the fabric of our culture and our draw around the world. If there is popular interest in someone they should be here in Vegas seen somewhere and I hope that I am there to capture it (unobtrusively of course!). Being here to capture all this absurd madness is an honor for me……..from Carrot Top, The Fantasy Girls or EVEN Criss Angel to Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Nicole Kidman. Getting a media invite to come down to the strip and stand on the edge of a red strip of carpet to snap a pic of Criss Angel in front of a restaurant logo on a step and repeat wall…….This is my Vegas! Getting a shot inside partying…even better. My hope is that the PR people get that boost for their client and tourists flock to eat there next time they visit, locals catch some interest and check it out…and I played some small role in this process. The machine needs to be fed and this is our formula and I happily make the visuals. Standing there crammed on the carpet taking those shots…… It’s often described as a dreadful job (and for many people there it is and I wonder why they do it) but for some of us it’s a rush and a joy. Waiting to shoot some celeb or non-celeb and rushing off to edit all night in hopes of a sale sure doesn’t sound good on paper and yeah that part of it is the hardest part. Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy it most of the time. It’s certainly more exciting than many jobs out there and if you can find a way to get paid to do it……..well then I say it’s a great job! And the good part is many times I do get to meet and photograph people I am interested in and that is a bonus. So next time someone sees me standing there sweating on the carpet crammed between people jockeying for my next shot of Nathan Burton or Tila Tequila…….don’t feel bad. I am right where I want to be.

  6. Well said, Erik. As much as I think it’s absurd, I’m right there with you, and believe you me, when I get left OFF an invite list, it’s not a happy day around here.

    Thanks for always taking great pics and being a part of the VEGASinsight family!

  7. Sarah Gerke says:

    I agree with everything Erik said; there are some of us who actually enjoy red carpet work. We even had a discussion about this very topic while waiting over an hour for Mariah Carey. :)

  8. 1. It is amazing all of the commentary this one post fueled!
    2. People such as you and Erik are my heroes. Seriously, I just wouldn’t have the patience for it. I love what you do (and how you do it)! :)