“I can’t wait for this place to be destroyed,” said my friend, now an adult industry CEO, as we waited for our food at Mr. Lucky’s, a finer in the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino. Several people we knew had come down with food poisoning after eating at Mr. Lucky’s the day before (“I think the eggs were a big mistake,” said an agent, still in bed, when I visited him in his hotel room) so my friend and I figured that 1.) How likely was it to happen twice, and 2.) Alcohol would kill it. The problem with the eggs guy? He doesn’t drink.
There are two adult industry events every January in Las Vegas. One is the AVN Awards. From modest beginnings in a back room of the Tropicana Hotel in 1985, the AVN Awards have always been a delightful trainwreck of nonexistent-to-suspect-to-admirable production value (often in the same evening) and an awkward prom for adult biz popular kids, wallflowers, chaperones, gatekeepers, and Smoking Area reprobates. The AVN Awards have never been called anything but the AVN Awards.
But then there’s the Adult Entertainment Expo. Or AEE. Or the AVN Show. Or simply “AVN.” That is the multi-day convention that surrounds the Awards and needs an international standards body to step in and name, once and for all, and impose penalties on people who call it anything else.
For several years, both the AVN Show and the Awards have been held at the Hard Rock. But come February 3, the Hard Rock will be closed for eight months, gutted and, some time before Christmas, we hope, reborn as Richard Branson’s Virgin Casino, where the Porn World’s Winter Classic is scheduled to return for at the next three years.
Says adult star MacKenzie Moss, “It’s ironic that a bunch of porn girls are going to be hanging out at the Virgin Hotel next year.”
A Mr. Lucjy’s waiter tosses some hash browns at my friend. Workers throughout the faciulity seem to have senioritis. “If they can stay until the very last day,” a security guard tells me, “they get severance and a job guarantee at the new place.”
I ask my friend why she wants to see this place destroyed.
“It just seems cheap, and a reflection of how far porn has fallen,” she says, recalling conventions a decade ago at the Venetian. Me, I feel comfortable here. Every year the Hard Rock got just a little more squalid, it took just a little extra time to unstick one’s hand from doorknobs. And just this year, I walked across the street to what is probably the saddest excuse for a White Castle Burgers the world has ever seen. I feel that that the Hard Rock represents the adult business as it is, and is less exhausting that way.
I’ll be sad to see the Hard Rock go. I’ve always had fun here. But after this, my first AVN Week in several years, I’m also excited to be a part of what happens next year, too, which is a sentiment that surprised me.
Check out several dozen photos from this year’s debauchery.