of Las Vegas”
Reflections On Growing Up
in Smalltown, USA
Having “juice” was everything when I was a kid growing up in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Juice was not a tangible thing. You couldn't actually see it, but you knew when someone had it. If you had juice or access to someone with it, you could get into any show or restaurant on the Strip—without paying. The joy of having juice lay only partially in the fact that you didn't have to pay. The realjoy was knowing that you had the juice. Having juice also meant that you didn't have to wait in a line to see a show. Waiting in lines was only for the chump tourists. When I was twelve years old, I loved being able to go to a Las Vegas showroom and have the maitre d' walk my family and me to the head of the line and watch the look on tourists' faces as they wondered what was so specialabout us that we didn't have to wait like they did. The pleasure came from the fact that they knew we had juice. The free flow of juice provided locals with perks and privileges and, most important, with a degree of respectability. Being Italian and from Las Vegas was a difficult predicament for a kid going to college in Los Angeles. I don't know how many times I defended my birthplace with the refrain “Growing up in Las Vegas is like growing up in Smalltown, USA. ” The entire time I lived in LA, I defended my hometown—more times than I can count. As time passed, I began not only to appreciate the town's outlaw image (which, by association, became my own) but actively to cultivate it. When someone asked where I was from, I instantly snapped, “I'm from Las Vegas and, yes, I live in a hotel, and, yes, my mom is a hooker,
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Publication information: Book title: The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas. Contributors: Hal K. Rothman - Editor, Mike Davis - Editor. Publisher: University of California Press. Place of publication: Berkeley, CA. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 187.
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