No ifs ands or butts About the bottom line

Jan 22, 2002 7:24 AM

The recent hoop-de-do over the advertising for sexy shows like the MGM’s “La Femme” or the Riviera’s “Crazy Girls” and the resulting restrictions placed on advertising and promotion puts even more emphasis on Las Vegas’s obsession with the “bottom line.”

The promotion that is being objected to by at least one of the city’s councilpersons, for instance, reflects the city’s old understanding of the Vegas “bottom” line, as opposed to the new corporate understanding of the meaning of the phrase “bottom line.”

For a decade, at least, the term “bottom line” is emphasized when being used to cast negative aspersion on the so-called bean counters, who supposedly are responsible for the elimination of, among other things, much of what was originally the more popular concept of Vegas’s “bottom” line.

With the 25-year evolution of the corporate takeover of the fabled “Strip,” and change in promotional focus to Vegas as a “family destination,” the obsession with the “bottom line” has comes to mean that every area of a hotel/casino must be able to pay for itself.

In other words, big loss leaders like “complimentary” entertainment, food and rooms, are rarely given out so freely, as was once the case, to entice people to spend at the gaming tables. Of course, on the backside of that issue is the fact that with more and more video machines, each place has fewer gaming tables to entice them. Nevertheless, hotel buffets, showrooms, and other areas can no longer operate at a loss, regardless of how well the casino portion of the property might be doing. Every area of the hotel/casino must show a profit on the “bottom line.”

Looking in the rear view mirror, we uncover that hotels made the vast majority of their profit in the casino and IT was the largest area of the hotel, not the shopping plaza. The bottom line then, more often than not, would have been thought of as that part of the production show chorus line that was advertised most prominently. In fact, the latter bottom line, in the days when cheesecake was a type of photography rather than just the main dessert, was used to”¦uh”¦beef up, the other bottom line.

The Tropicana once put up billboards that showed a line of scantily-clad derrieres of gals in the “Folies Bergere” with the slogan, “We have the best seats in the house!”

The double entendre is quite obvious in the “Crazy Girls” slogan: “No Ifs, Ands, or ”¦!” as well as the Flamingo’s “Bottoms Up!”

The town fathers (and mothers, presumably) forced the hotel to cover the nearly-nude buttocks on the line of those gals in the “Crazy Girls” public ads. On one billboard in particular, along Paradise Road, they were covered with a row of mylar streamers. Not wanting to seem prudish, the objectors supposedly claimed it caused too much distraction for drivers. In fact, though, the end result was that the bright streamers wafting in the breeze drew even more attention to what lay underneath.

Hind sight tells us that the advertising of production shows like “Nudes on Ice,” “Oba Oba,” “Bare Vegas,” “Vive Les Girls,” “Dan Sin Dirty,” “Spice on Ice,” as well as theatrical shows like “Natalie Needs A Nightie,” and even the shows of “Melinda, the First Lady of Magic,” reflected more of the bottom line of Sin City than Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.

“Falling behind” meant a showgirl was eating too much of the food group that causes cellulite.

“Bountiful booty” back then was something other than 20,000 points on your slot club card.

Hotels were much more concerned about the firmness of the thighs of the girls in the show, than on the fried chicken in the coffee shop.

And tender rump”¦well”¦you get the picture.

There just are no “butts” about the bare fact that what was once the “bottom” line of the fabled Las Vegas French revue has been replaced by the “bottom line” of the not-so-fabled corporate profit-loss statement.

Oh, and as for some of those bean counters, who know little of Vegas before 1992, the phrase “unbelievable boobs” has been redefined, as well.