In the margins
All the stuff from my interview with Steve Wynn you didn’t get to read about
Wed, Dec 24, 2008 (8:30 p.m.)
A few weeks ago, I was staring at Steve Wynn while he went on about his theories as to why the economy was in the shitter when I noticed something far more interesting to me.
“Your eyes are sparkling,” I interrupted, trying not to make this sound like a romantic come-on. I wouldn’t be asking other than that it was startling, I’d never noticed it before, and I wondered if maybe there was some news regarding his degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa.
“That’s because when I was younger, I had cataract surgery, so I had the artificial lens, so if the light is above me and I turn at a certain angle ...” Wynn answered, a little startled himself. “You know who the last guy to say that to me was? Michael Jackson. I was having dinner once years ago. There was a candle on the table, and I went like that, and he said, ‘Oh my God—your eye just flashed!’”
See, these are the sorts of things—say, being told I have something in common with The Gloved One—that just don’t fit anywhere in a mainstream-media profile of Wynn that ran over the weekend on the occasion of the opening of Encore. I did manage to mention in that piece that Wynn jumped up and down to show off his knee replacements, but I didn’t get to say that before that, he forced me to put my hand on his knees to feel that they’re made of tin. Or that he did a squat before he jumped up.
Indeed, nobody provides more excess fodder than Steve Wynn, as he did in my two 90-minute sessions with him this month. Here are a few more bits that didn’t make their way into my mainstream-media work, as much as I wish they had:
• One of three times Wynn got cross with me during our November 16 tour of Encore came when I quizzed him about having a soft opening of Encore after he’d criticizing Sheldon Adelson for soft openings of several Las Vegas Sands properties. Not wanting my story to become a pissing match between the two—even though he would rip on Adelson to several other reporters the following week—Wynn scolded: “Now look, I’m working very hard. I’m busy here. I’m doing this because you’re a nice guy, but I don’t want to have a confrontational interview. I don’t have the patience for it.” As usual, I kept my mouth shut until the storm blew over.
• I just love how Wynn described what was innovative about the Mirage: “The Mirage was the Flamingo masquerading as Caesars Palace public areas and the size of MGM and the Hilton. And the greatest thing we did? Siegfried & Roy. The most wonderful show. Tremendous.”
• For all the hype about mobile gaming devices, they won’t have a place at Wynn any time soon. “It’s not interesting to me,” he said.
• I asked Wynn why all the bars and shops were so simply named. That is, there’s an Eastside Bar, Southside Bar and Lobby Bar, and a sundries shop called Sundries. It “cuts through the noise. The customers are hit with so much information in this town. It’s one thing to be cute, it’s another thing to let them know what’s going on.”
• Wynn went on about the décor of, of all things, the taxi-waiting tunnels. “It’s all pretty pictures for the guys to look at,” he said, describing photos of women in bikinis. He said he did similarly elaborate staging areas at Wynn Las Vegas, Bellagio and Mirage. “Cab drivers know I’m on their side,” he said.
• The Beethoven I meeting room has glass windows that overlook the main Encore pool. Or, at least, that’s what they say. Wynn was aggravated that the drapes were drawn when we poked our heads in. He called out to see if anyone knew where the switch was to open them. A group of workers just stood around barely reacting. This wasn’t the only time. Wynn nearly got stuck in the wedge of a very heavy glass door from the XS dance floor out to the pool. Again, several employees just stared at him struggling with it.
• A boy was scooting along in heelies, those sneakers with wheels at the heel, when Wynn spotted him. “Is that kid on roller skates? How is he gliding? Can it hurt the mosaic?” He stopped the kid, felt up the heel and decided it was okay. The kid’s father, more stunned than angered, said, “Who are you?” Wynn’s reply: “I work here.”