Several years ago, while Fred and I were still doing Margaret Ellis Jewelry, we did a trade show in Las Vegas. People had continually told us, “Oh, you should do the Vegas show.” After hearing this over and over, we decided that maybe we should. It was certainly by far an outstanding show. It was outstandingly the most expensive show we ever did, and by far the least successful. It was a five day show of sheer misery. We had two sales in five days. One was a very small sale to a store in Japan that we never saw again, who wanted to “custom design” every piece they bought. The other was a sale to a regular customer that we could have seen in New York. We did write one $12,000 order, but they came by the next day and cancelled it.
Las Vegas itself is my very least favorite city. It was hot as Hell, and the entire environment was so cheesy that it was almost (almost being the key word) wonderful. While there are some restaurants there that were started by some well-known chefs, they are located inside what feel like shopping malls. We were trapped in the convention hall from morning to night, with horrible food options and no air-conditioning on the set-up day. We stayed at the Luxor (maybe the tackiest hotel on the strip), and had to walk through the canyon of slot machine to get to our room. Fred and I kept fantasizing that we’d get on the elevator with Carrot Top (remember him?) who was playing there. We didn’t. The only comic relief was that a fake Elvis came by our booth. At that point anyone coming by our booth was a joy. We hated being in Las Vegas.
For therapy while we were there, we would go outside at night. There is more neon on the strip than there is in Times Square. Nothing seems authentic; everything seems fake. That’s because everything is fake—fake New York, fake Paris, fake Disneyland, fake Rome, fake Venice, and, of course, fake Egypt. And it’s probably gotten worse. But, the nights were salvaged by my camera. Taking pictures was the one thing that redeemed this trip. I started to experiment with “arty” shots of the lights, and ended up enjoying taking pictures very much. I played around with moving my camera when I snapped—sort of drawing with the lights. I started to see these photos of light as very psychedelic (not that I would know from personal experience, you understand). Since the assignment this week from Sylvain Landry was “Night” I went straight to my Las Vegas photos. I still liked the photos, but I still would never want to go back to this town, even if that $12,000 order had come through.