A3TH69 Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

A Language All Our Own

Terms, catchphrases and jingles uniquely Vegas

Call them tropes. Call them euphemisms. Call them clichés. Yes, even call them hashtags. Vegas has spawned a number of phrases mystifying to outsiders, uncertain to newcomers and maybe even forgotten by longtimers. Some set us in a particular time and place, some gain nuance with each passing decade and others recede into obscurity. No doubt readers will let us know what we’ve missed (that’s half the fun of such an exercise), but here are some of the phrases that set our city apart.

Around Town

Arts_District_by_Krystal_Ramirez-7_WEBAmber Sampson | Vegas Seven

18b

Like all arts districts, Las Vegas’ Arts District was once a place full of abandoned buildings, spray-paint murals and edgy art galleries that is now filling up with craft beer bars, metered parking and brand-new condos. This reference (for 18 blocks) will become even more obscure once the area is rebranded as … the Arts District.

Long-haul(ing)

Also known as tunneling, the practice of unscrupulous taxi drivers taking new arrivals from McCarran International Airport to, say, the Tropicana via Interstate 15; any superfluous use of the airport connector or other extraneous routes.

Vegas throat

It happens to all of us, but most of us aren’t paid to sing. Say the phrase to any performer and watch him or her nod knowingly. The desert’s conditions play havoc with vocal cords, causing dryness, scratchiness or a loss of voice.

City of HendersonHamburger street signs

Squint when you’re looking at street signs, and the city of Henderson logo faintly resembles a burger. “Mmh, burger,” Homer Simpson says. (And who remembers the replica of The Simpsons home in Henderson, built at 712 Red Bark Lane in 1997 as a promotional giveaway?)

Over the hump to Pahrump

This refers to the one-hour or so drive from Las Vegas to Pahrump in Nye County. State Route 160 runs through the Spring Mountains range—the hump you go over.

Bathtub ring

A depressing symbol of the ongoing drought, acres of white (the color is formed by minerals on previously submerged surfaces) on Lake Mead’s shoreline remind us of its high-water mark.

Glitter Gulch

Often-used nickname for Downtown. It refers to the heavy concentration of lights and neon (especially “Vegas Vic”) created by all the casinos being lined up side-by-side.

Naked City

The small subdivision that radiates for eight or 10 blocks from the northwest corner of the Strip and Sahara Avenue behind what’s now the Stratosphere. In the ’50s and ’60s, showgirls who occupied many of the apartments there sunbathed topless to avoid tan lines, spawning the nickname.

Rancho Circle

One of the city’s first exclusive residential enclaves, about a mile west of Downtown, and previously referred to as the “Beverly Hills” of Las Vegas. Residents included the elite of the casino industry and some Hollywood types, perhaps most notably, Phyllis McGuire.

Casa de ShenandoahSara Bayer

Casa de Shenandoah

Casa de Shenandoah

Wayne Newton’s sprawling residence, located on Pecos and Sunset roads, used to be a big mystery to his neighbors. What exactly was behind that sprawling gate at the estate known as Casa de Shenandoah? Wonder no more: Wayne’s casa es su casa, with public tours available. More than 50 acres are dotted with lakes and wells, eight homes, 60 stalls and 60 purebred Arabian horses—a veritable wonderland that can only come from Wayne’s imagination and can only rightfully exist in Las Vegas.

Oscar GoodmanDarrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau

The Happiest Mayor on Earth

The would-be Oscar Goodman, former mayor of Las Vegas. The former mob lawyer served three terms from 1999-2011. Highlights included having his face put on casino chips at the Four Queens, snapping photos of Miss January for Playboy, appearing in episodes of CSI and walking around with a martini in his hand and a showgirl on each arm. Nice work if you can get it.

Bombay Sapphire

One of the things that keeps Goodman the “happiest.” The former mayor remains the only officeholder in the nation to have an official liquor sponsorship.

Serendipitous collisions

“Maximize collisions and accelerate serendipity” is a philosophy of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh and one of the principles underwriting his investment in Downtown Las Vegas. When people run into each other and share ideas, great things happen.

Delivering happiness

Not only a book by Hsieh but an ideology that theorizes that a happy corporate culture is the pathway to success.

The Loop

The 13-mile circular scenic route through stunning sandstone backdrops in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Most drive it, but it’s also popular with bikers willing to take on the challenging, but reasonable, climbs and descents.

Fruit Loop

New York has the West Village, San Francisco has the Castro, Los Angeles has West Hollywood and Las Vegas has … the Fruit Loop. A block and a bit more, it’s home to long-standing gay bars FreeZone, Piranha and Quadz, as well as more recent addition the Locker Room.

Manneken Pi marks his territory DowntownKrystal Ramirez

Manneken Pi marks his territory Downtown

Manneken Pis

Scantily clad buskers at nearby Fremont Street Experience don’t hold a candle to a peeing little boy at The D. The statue is a replica of the famous one in Brussels, supposedly representing that city’s rebellious spirit. The same can be said for our town. (Follow the statue’s stream on Twitter @MannekenPis_LV.)

In the Arena

The 1990 National Championship trophy presentationGreg Cava

The 1990 National Championship trophy presentation

103-73

The tally that will live in infamy. It’s a coda for the late Jerry Tarkanian. The Shark’s outstanding UNLV run would soon evaporate. He’d coach again, at his alma mater. It didn’t matter. Vegas mattered. And that 30-point destruction of Duke in Denver on April 2, 1990, stands as the most lopsided NCAA championship game. The combined margins of the past five title tilts don’t even match that astounding spread. And no team but that Tark squad has ever tallied triple figures in a final. Voilà!

Fan Man

James Miller paraglided into the Caesars Palace outdoor boxing ring—and Riddick Bowe’s fist-clenched entourage—on November 6, 1993. He pulled other stunts. In his final act, at 39, he hanged himself in the Alaska wilderness in 2002.

Tyson and Holyfield clinch before the infamous bite. | Photos by Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau

Tyson and Holyfield clinch before the infamous bite.

The Bite

Mike Tyson made an hors d’oeuvre of Evander Holyfield’s right ear on June 28, 1997. The unappetizing act is etched in the minds of witnesses and fans. A London T-shirt would bear a poignant Iron Mike dénouement —END OF AN EARA.

“Walk Like a Tarkanian”

The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” became a smash hit in late 1986. Hence, Cathi Campo deftly mimicked Susanna Hoffs to hail UNLV’s hoops boss. Campo fronted the Vegas group 911. They produced one album—and one brilliant spoof.

Hardway Eight

A group of eight recruits, including Eddie Owens, Reggie Theus and Robert Smith, who formed the high-scoring nucleus of UNLV’s first great basketball team. In 1977, the eight led the Rebels to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, breaking several scoring records along the way and earning coach Jerry Tarkanian (and the program) his first taste of national recognition.

Amoeba

An aggressive style of defense used by the UNLV basketball team en route to the program’s first and only national championship in 1990. Pioneered by assistant coach Tim Grgurich, it mixed elements of man-to-man defense with zone defense principles. The amoeba gave the Rebels’ quick, versatile defenders free rein to force turnovers and start fast breaks. Which they did. A lot. 

Gucci Row

A stretch of courtside seats opposite the scorer’s table at the Thomas & Mack Center. During the glory days of UNLV basketball in the 1980s and early 1990s, the seats became a popular spot for image-conscious celebrities and wealthy elite who desired to be seen at Rebels games. Dubbed “Gucci Row” because of  the fashionable nature of the clientele.

Rebellion

The student cheering section at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV students run and operate the “Rebellion,” which in recent years has earned a reputation as one of the country’s most creative cheering sections because of the liberal use of cardboard cutouts, oversize puppets and other props.

Hey Reb!

Hey Reb!

Hey Reb

The official mascot of UNLV sports since 1983. Modeled after the prospector and mountain man-types who populated the Las Vegas area in the 1800s, Hey Reb’s defining characteristic is a giant mustache. He wears jersey No. 57 as a nod to 1957, the year UNLV was founded. 

“Are you kidding me?

When a call doesn’t go the Rebels’ way, UNLV men’s basketball radio play-by-play broadcaster Jon Sandler laments rhetorically. His passion for the team indefatigable, Sandler’s frequent exasperation with referees helps keep his listeners engaged.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona DiamondbacksMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s a clown question, bro”

Southern Nevada resident and Washington National Bryce Harper was only 19 in 2012 when he responded to a Toronto TV reporter who asked if he’d have a celebratory beer after a win. The phrase took off on social media and helped set the tone for the gifted player’s persona. Harper’s savvy advisers filed to trademark the phrase the next day.

In Political Sphere


“Chickens for checkups”

Republican Senate hopeful Sue Lowden captured national attention in April 2010 when she suggested a return to the days when patients could barter with doctors by offering them livestock. Comedians wouldn’t let it go. She was serious, but the yolk was on her: Sharron Angle, no stranger herself to outlandish ideas, went on to defeat Lowden in the Republican primary.

#AB230

What started as a hashtag for a failed comprehensive sex education bill in the 2013 Legislature continues to be used as a shorthand for similarly themed efforts by local feminists and sex ed activists.

Ring around the Valley

In 1997, state Senator Dina Titus proposed adopting a boundary beyond which development would be prohibited. Despite the catchy name, reminiscent of a Wisk laundry detergent commercial in the ’70s, the proposal died—but not before sparking a debate about how to address the Valley’s rampant growth.

Operation G-Sting

Federal law enforcement officials targeted bribes paid by topless club owner Jack Galardi to four Clark County commissioners: Dario Herrera, Erin Kenny, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Lance Malone, who worked for Galardi after losing his reelection bid. To help Galardi’s business interests, the politicians took payoffs, including special service provided on a golf course and a comped lap dance for a commissioner’s son.

Law of the River

The collective term for the compacts, federal laws, court decisions, decrees, contracts and regulatory guidelines that manage and operate the Colorado River, apportioning the water among the seven basin states and Mexico.

Nuclear Suppository

After Congress targeted Nevada as the site of America’s only high-level radioactive waste dump, then-U.S. Senator Chic Hecht meant to say the state shouldn’t be forced to accept a nuclear repository. Instead, he called it a nuclear suppository, which would hurt even more.

Screw Nevada

In 1987, Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana pushed through legislation to circumvent the process of choosing a nuclear waste dump site to focus only on Yucca Mountain. Nevadans began calling it the “Screw Nevada” bill, suggesting the federal government was out to do something biologically impossible to the state by making it accept something scientifically debatable.

Still Defining  Us

Sin City

No one is sure where the term comes from. Las Vegas earned this nickname for winking at prostitution, alcohol and gambling almost from its beginnings as a railroad town in 1905. As Las Vegas became a major tourist destination from the late 1940s on, its notrorious  image was more associated with being the gambling capital in the only state where that supposedly sinful activity was legal. Some critics suggest Las Vegas has evolved from “sin city” to “the entertainment capital of the world,” but the terms have been used interchangeably to describe Las Vegas for many years.

Nevadagation

The practice of walking from place to place via air-conditioned spaces, even if it means a longer trip.

Rehab

Rehab

Dayclub

We have circa-2003 Hard Rock Hotel to thank for dragging all the trappings of nightlife out of the dark and into the light at Rehab pool party, where we can still partake in all the requisite drinking, dancing and standing in front of DJs—but barefoot and with a super-size sippy cup of Miami Vice.

Ratchet

In a word, trashy. But we prefer to think of it as the title of native North Las Vegan Shamir Bailey’s 2015 debut LP, a follow up to his 2014 EP Northtown. Devoted Shamir fans embrace the artist’s pro-hot-mess ethos, and answer to the collective “Ratcheteers” and “Baby Ratchets.” So while he may not have coined it, the burgeoning superstar has certainly done more for the term than the Black Foot Club.

Black Foot Club

The Black Foot Club is reserved for those who wear towering heels to the club, and then throw their stilettos and caution to the wind, and opt for a more comfortable, albeit dirty, conclusion to the night.

“The Adelson News”

Ever since the Las Vegas Review-Journal was purchased by local casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the paper has been less than subtle about adhering to its owner’s various agendas. Among these are an abrupt about-face on its pro-legalization marijuana stance and ardent, unequivocal support of a publicly funded football stadium. It has brought the R-J national attention, although we doubt a featured spot in a “death of journalism” segment earlier this month on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver was what they had in mind.

0-100

The act of consuming a vile string of cocktails consisting of a shot of Jägermeister, a Red Bull/Vodka and a Corona within one minute to get drunk fast. A popular pregame item Downtown—especially at the Fremont Casino where it would total up to $10.50. A reference to the Drake song.

Spaghetti Bowl

Despite its culinary moniker, nothing is appetizing about the Spaghetti Bowl, that special slice of hell where Interstate 15 and U.S. 95 meet. With 300,000 cars weaving through its arteries each day, it’s the place where motorists’ dreams die, especially during rush hour. Still, hardy Las Vegans take on this tangled concrete, barrel through like expert NASCAR drivers and thank their lucky stars that at least it’s not L.A.

$20 Trick

The act of sliding a $20 bill toward a hotel check-in clerk while simultaneously asking if there are “any complimentary upgrades available” in an attempt to get a better room. Reported results for this move run the gamut from scoring a lavish suite to being summarily shut down and embarrassed.

“It’s a Dry Heat”

What you tell your out-of-town friends when you still want them to visit you in the summer, even though they’re buying a first-class ticket into an oven.

“Vegas Has No Culture”

A collective saying among statewide relocators who can’t see past the transience of our city to notice the communal glue that holds entire areas of it up, such as with Downtown Las Vegas.

Vegas-Chella

It’s the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival experience without the flower crowns, culturally offensive outfits and Jenner sisters. Big-name artists have a record of passing through here during the interim of the festival. It’s a win-win. We get the music, they get to play to a more intimate—and hygienic—crowd.

$7.77 Gambler’s Special

The long-running “off-the-menu” special in Mr. Lucky’s at the Hard Rock. With several variations over the years, it’s a sirloin steak with three shrimp that comes with string beans and a heapin’ helpin’ of mashed potatoes. It’s not really $7.77 anymore, since it’s mandated that you also buy a drink.

“Gambling” vs “Gaming”

Moral wordplay referring to the same games of bad math upon which Las Vegas is built. Gaming is for happy people on vacation. Gambling is for outlaws. Gaming is a fun, exciting distraction. Gambling is a degenerate rush for addictive personalities. Gambling is outside the law, but gaming? That’s heavily regulated. Perhaps first officially used in 1955 when the Nevada Legislature created the Gaming Control Board, “gaming” sounds less sinful. Right?

Oh, What Was


Las Vegas CityLife

Believe it or not, Las Vegas used to have multiple newspapers and magazines. During those glorious days of large-scale tree slaughter, CityLife covered where to drink and what to listen to, but also more in-depth stories about homeless colonies in the storm tunnels and the disparity in development spending in North Las Vegas versus Downtown. CityLife began publishing in the summer of 1996 and folded in January 2014.

Las Vegas Mercury

Another of Sin City’s crop of alternative weeklies, the Mercury published from 2001-2005, when it was bought by Stephens Media and folded into CityLife.

Valley Times

Founded in North Las Vegas in 1959 by Adam Yacenda, the newspaper under publisher Bob Brown later employed Ned Day, who in the late 1970s and early 1980s uncovered a variety of stories about organized crime figures and what law enforcement officials hoped to do about them. The paper was known for its in-depth coverage of gaming and politics. The Valley Times closed in 1984, two weeks after Brown’s death, because of financial problems.

Scope

The independent genesis of the Las Vegas alt-weekly scene. Published from 1992-1998 (by “Ask a Native” columnist, James Reza), Scope documented the city’s music and cultural scene with gusto, and today reads like an edgy compendium of an alternate Las Vegas.

Fabulous Las Vegas

A semi-glossy tourist guide published by Jack and Etta Cortez from the mid 1940s to the mid 1970s, when (some would say) Las Vegas truly was fabulous. The photos, showroom guides and interviews with headliners (Robert Goulet! Juliet Prowse!) are nostalgic gems, but the kitschy ads are the true treasure.

Vegoose

Before Coachella became Brochella or EDC came to  Vegas, the creators of Tennessee’s Bonnaroo brought massive acts such as Rage Against the Machine, Muse, Daft Punk and Iggy Pop to the Sam Boyd Stadium fields for Vegoose. Because of  low attendance, the Halloween-weekend festival didn’t make it beyond 2007, but continues to live in the hearts of rock ’n’ roll lovers everywhere.

Brad Pitt attends the opening night screening of 'Ocean's Thirteen' during Cinevegas in 2007.Mark Mainz/Getty

Brad Pitt attends the opening night screening of ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ during Cinevegas in 2007.

CineVegas

In its heyday, Sean Penn, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt and George Clooney were among other A-listers who brought star power to the Palms hotel-casino red carpet for the nationally recognized film festival. After 10 years, CineVegas canceled in 2010 because of the economic downturn. While it may never return to its Ocean’s Eleven-level glory days, it was reappeared on a smaller scale as part of 2015’s Las Vegas Film Festival. 

Tijuana Panthers perform at Beauty Bar during Neon Reverb 2016.Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Tijuana Panthers perform at Beauty Bar during Neon Reverb 2016.

Neon Reverb

Reappearing in 2016 after a three-year hiatus, the homegrown indie music festival continues to help the local music scene stake its claim against the Strip’s Cirque and Celine. The festival brought local and national acts to Fremont East’s bar venues in March for four ear-ringing days of guitars and PBR.

Never Forgotten

May 4, 1988

A series of massive explosions leveled the Pacific Engineering & Production Company (Pepcon) solid-rocket-fuel component plant and the adjacent Kidd Marshmallow facility, killing two Pepcon workers, injuring more than 300 and inflicting damages of more than $80 million throughout a stunned Las Vegas Valley.

The MGM fire, Nov. 21, 1980. Photo courtesy UNLV Special Collections

The MGM fire, Nov. 21, 1980.

Nov. 21, 1980

In the worst disaster in Nevada’s history, the MGM Grand (now Bally’s) fire killed 85 people, most through smoke inhalation, and injured more than 700. As a result, fire codes were enacted to require sprinklers in high-rises, automatic elevator recalls, heating ventilation shutoffs, extensive alarm systems and evacuation maps on the back of hotel room doors.

Green Felt Jungle

The 1963 Ed Reid/Ovid Demaris muckraking potboiler that threw the curtain off Vegas’ mob corruption. Casino owners grimaced, but visitation inexplicably soared in the subsequent years.

Fear and Loathing

A reference to Hunter S. Thompson’s 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which was initiated by Thompson’s Rolling Stone assignment to cover the Mint 400. A classic of gonzo journalism and the inspiration for VegasTripping.com.

"Leaving Las Vegas," the movie

“Leaving Las Vegas,” the movie

Leaving Las Vegas

A song. A movie. An attitude. A party: Part I. In the same year (1995) that Sheryl Crow played the Hard Rock Hotel’s VIP grand opening party, she released this stereotypical Vegas loser’s anthem. Two years later, Nicolas Cage scored an Oscar as a drunken loser who ends up never leaving Las Vegas. During the recession, it became a hashtag for everyone who abandoned the city. Today, it lives on as a frequent going-away party theme.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

A song. A movie. An attitude. A party: Part II. The city’s most recognizable theme, sung in 1964 by one of its most celebrated headliners (Elvis) starring in the eponymous Technicolor tribute film. Today, the phrase remains relevant thanks to the annual springtime soiree, the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender.

“Danke Schoen”

Depending on how old you are, the song “Danke Schoen” may be etched in your memory as lip-synced by Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Wayne Newton’s high-tenor 1963 version remains iconic, and while we don’t have an exact count of how many times he’s performed his signature tune, we bet it’s a lot. The last time we heard it live was in April, when Newton christened the T-Mobile Arena, and we were reminded of how lucky we are to have our very own Mr. Las Vegas.

Montecore

Although their show is long gone from the stage, Siegfried & Roy will always be part of Las Vegas’ DNA. And no local who lived here in 2003 can forget that fateful last show on October 3 when the pair’s beloved cat Montecore hauled Roy off the stage with its mouth, severely injuring the performer. The white tiger died in 2014, lovingly cared for to the end at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden Habitat at The Mirage.

Receding Into Memory

Family-friendly

Generally the 1990s, an era when theme parks were pushing out blackjack while Dorothy and Toto worked at the MGM Grand.  The trend, also known as “Disneyfication,” was itself pushed out by nightlife decadence.

Hendertucky

Simply put, Henderson. A jab at the city’s distance from the center of Las Vegas and its barren landscapes. Oh, and cows.

Hooterville

Another derogatory term for Henderson, specifically the Pittman area just north of Boulder Highway, which housed a Depression-era tent city nicknamed “Hooverville” after President Herbert Hoover. And who can forget Hooterville, the farming community in Green Acres?

Henderson Cloud

Particularly offensive throughout the 1980s, a distinct haze and a pervasive odor settled over the Basic Magnesium (BMI) and Titanium Metals (Timet) industrial complex along Lake Mead Drive in Henderson. Chlorine and other chemicals formed the greenish stew, eventually vanquished with new regulations stemming from the 1988 Pepcon explosions.

Magnesium Maggies

Southern Nevada’s version of Rosie the Riveter, these women worked at the Basic Magnesium Plant during World War II, making, stacking and shipping ingots to the factories where they would be turned into tracer bullets, aerial flares and incendiary bombs for the Allies.

Old Vegas

The short-lived amusement park located on 126 acres of land in Henderson opened in 1978 and operated for eight years. The Hollywood-style reconstruction of an Old West town featured old movie sets, several rides, staged saloon brawls and gunfights, and the Hondo Casino.

Snoberlin

The oh-so-Euro roundabouts, Money’s affirmation of Summerlin’s affluence, its peerage over the Valley, the attitude. How hasn’t it been made into a sappy soap, replete with Percy Faith strings? Get Courteney Cox’s agent!

Northtown

Derisive nickname for North Las Vegas, the “scruffy and poor” (Las Vegas Sun, Jan. 18, 2002) city that sprung up near Nellis Air Force Base in 1946. After shiny new master-planned communities (Aliante, Eldorado) opened in North Las Vegas, the nickname is often limited to older areas of town.

University of Never Leaving Vegas

A derisive nickname for UNLV. Its origin stretches to Old Vegas, when the city was a much smaller place, every kid couldn’t wait to leave, and going to college locally was seen as a life sentence.

Vegas Stench

Not that long ago, a mysterious odor used to hover over portions of Downtown such as the old Bonanza Gift Shop, the pre-renovation Gold Spike and a number of buildings that have fallen beneath the wrecking ball. Rather like sewage, but with a subtle chemical undertone, it often roiled up during heavy rains but, really, it could make its presence unwelcome at any time. Today, the smell no longer permeates but its malodorous memory lingers in the minds of longtime residents.

Airbaggers

A term used to refer to veterans of the Las Vegas music scene. It’s a reference to Team Airbag—an online message board that detailed upcoming DIY concerts and events in the early days of the internet.

Mississippi of the West

Las Vegas (and the state) acquired the reputation in part after a March 1954 Ebony story titled “Negroes can’t win in Las Vegas” chronicled deep segregation practices. African-American entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Pearl Bailey couldn’t stay at the properties in which they performed.

31ers

The collective name for the workers who arrived in Black Canyon in 1931 to build what became known as Hoover Dam.

Miss Atomic Bomb

The holder of one of four A-Bomb-associated beauty queen titles, Sands Copa Girl Lee A. Merlin emerged as the iconic image of the atomic era in Vegas. The classic 1957 photo of Merlin wearing a mini mushroom cloud attached to the front of her swimsuit has appeared on everything from mouse mats to magnets, greeting cards to poker chips.

Hole in the Wall Gang

The Tony Spilotro-led burglary ring that got its name from its not-so-subtle technique of gaining entry by drilling through exterior walls and ceilings. The gang fenced the stolen goods through a business located just off the Strip called The Gold Rush.

Block 16

Back when the Strip was just a dirt road, Las Vegas still had a street for drinks, dice and dames. In the early 1900s, liquor, gambling and whoring were all forbidden—except on Block 16, where Sin City earned its name.

Tabish-Murphy

In 1998, Ted Binion died of a drug overdose and prosecutors charged his girlfriend, Sandra Murphy, and her boyfriend Rick Tabish with murdering him in a plan to steal millions Binion had buried in Pahrump. They were convicted, retried after an appeal and acquitted of murder charges, though they were convicted of burglary and larceny.

Mr. Happiness

The Jimi Hendrix-looking dude who, for years, hung out at the corner of Sahara and Fort Apache avenues, performing, waving, and shouting at passing motorists. His typical impromptu act involved an array of outlandish costumes, facial gestures, air guitar, high kicks, claps and dog barks, performed come rain or shine (family commitments permitting).

Soak ’n’ Poke

Affectionate nickname for the rent-by-the-hour Jacuzzi-suite “spa” called Spring Fever that was located on Boulder Highway and Sahara Avenue. Rumored to have clandestinely filmed its frolicking patrons, nothing was ever proven and the place closed after a fire in the late ’80s.

Picasso's 'Le Reve'

Picasso’s ‘Le Reve’

Picasso’s “Le Rêve”

It was the rip heard ’round the art world. In 2006, Steve Wynn was showing some guests Picasso’s “Le Rêve,” which he had bought for $48.4 a few years before and was about to sell for $139 million to hedge-fund mogul Steven Cohen. All that needed to take place was to exchange money for art when Wynn accidentally backed his elbow into the painting and created a 2-inch puncture. The sale was called off, the tear was restored, and Wynn held on to the painting for many years. In 2013, Cohen finally bought “Le Rêve” for $155 million. Apparently, Wynn’s elbow added a cool $16 million premium.

The Harmon

Las Vegas is known for tearing buildings down, but the Harmon never even made it up. Originally planned as a 47-story tower, it was cut down to 26 stories, was eventually determined to be unstable and had to be deconstructed piece by piece.

“You’re a poker player”

Joan Rivers scowled in an attempt to denigrate Annie Duke in an episode of The Apprentice in 2009. The host, whose name escapes us, chose the late Rivers over Duke, both frequent Las Vegas visitors.

O.J. Scott Harrison

O.J.

“Arrogant, ignorant or both”

District Court Judge Jackie Glass concluded O. J. Simpson was both before sentencing him in 2008 to nine to 33 years in federal prison on conspiracy to commit a crime, robbery, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weaponx charges.

Unforgettable Lines

“What happens here, stays here”

The official tagline of the iconic commercials created by R&R Partners in 2003 for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; popularized as “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Shorthand for the adult hedonism that defines Las Vegas today.

“The only one I’ve signed my name to”

Steve Wynn pulled out the big guns in 2005 for the Super Bowl commercial that introduced Wynn Las Vegas to television audiences. It featured him standing above his name on top of the tower. He showed he doesn’t take himself too seriously by asking, “Can I get down now?” at the end.

“Remember to Breathe”

A marketing slogan dreamed up for MGM’s Aria. Also helpful for those suffering respiratory distress.

“Just the Right Amount of Wrong”

The advertising campaign that captured the Cosmopolitan’s spirit; notable for its commercials featuring everything but the property itself,  it’s the poster child for elevating the “brand” over the building itself.

“In Henderson, of course”

Beginning in the early ’80s and through his death in 1999, car dealer Ben Stepman would wrap up his television pitches with the phrase, grinning broadly, his arms outstretched.

“877-1500”

He no longer goes by “The Heavy Hitter,” but Glen Lerner’s law firm, which specializes in personal injuries, championed some unforgettable idioms such as “In a wreck? Need a check?” and “Make one call. That’s all.”  That jingle with the number has been seared into our brains since the early 2000s.

“Enough said—call Ed”

Sure, Ed Bernstein’s tagline isn’t as catchy as “The Heavy Hitter’s”, but it’s still a memorable and ubiquitous saying.

The Cragin and Pike jingle

Las Vegas’ first mayor, Peter Buol, founded the insurance company that one of his successors, Ernie Cragin, and William Pike took over. Its jingle began, “Call Cragin and Pike/For insurance every time/Serving Southern Nevada since 1909.” One version also rhymed “agency” with the names of partners Paul McDermott and Frank Kerestesi.

“Clean, green Boulder City”

Sometime after Boulder City went from federal reservation to a Nevada city in 1960, local residents began promoting their town as clean (no legal gambling and suburban) and green (courtesy of Southern California water and urban planning).

“You see that I get enough towels.”

The commercial featured Frank Sinatra murmuring that to a well-dressed bellhop—Golden Nugget owner Steve Wynn—as he slipped him a fin. Only Ol’ Blue Eyes could pull off such a scene in a mauve sports coat. Mauve.

“If I can finance him, and I vill, I can finance you”

Fred Fayeghi owned GMF Motors on Boulder Highway and featured everyone from Elvis impersonators to down-on-their-luck gamblers needing a car. The car lot closed and went into bankruptcy early in the decade.

“Denk you”

Polish immigrant Bob Glinski concluded commercials for his car dealerships, most notably Datsun (now Nissan), with the phrase. During Helldorado, he would add a “yippie-ti-yo-ki-yay.”

“Laaaaas Vegas”

Ralph Menard worked at Channel 5 for nearly 30 years in numerous capacities, but everybody in town knew not his name but his voice. His station identification said, “KVVU-TV, Channel 5, Henderson, Laaaaas Vegas.”

“U-N-L-V tick-ets, we get you there”

If having a slogan eternally sealed in the recesses of the cranium is a sign of Madison Avenue brilliance, this one gets a gold medal. In fact, you know the line will stick in your craw the rest of today. (Sorry.)

“Scarlet and Gray, Every Day”

Marketing ace D.J. Allen brainstormed that gem in an ad-campaign skull session during a three-year stint in the UNLV athletics hierarchy. It instantly resonated with many. Still does. Says Allen, “It seems to speak to a lot of people.”

“Your Vegas Is Showing”

When 2003’s dependable “What Happens Here” campaign started to show its age, local ad company R&R Partners and the LVCVA dropped this one on us and caught the city’s visitors acting out their Sin City fantasies, only to return to their workaday lives with a little proverbial lipstick on their collars, as if to say, “Let your freak flags fly—HERE!”

DTLV

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