Photo Julie Cook
Our flat is full of ephemera, lots of it carefully mounted and framed, I mean we have cocktail napkins and swizzle sticks framed up, which I suppose is unusual. Up on the landing there's what we euphemistically call the gallery, a collection of 10x8's of porn stars improbably named 'Butter' 'Trinity' and so on which form a kind of heretical altarpiece. Of course all the photographs are lovingly signed with stuff like - 'To Paul - So deep in to me!XXX' and they derive, with augmentations, from Las Vegas - that most genuine of ephemeral places. I'm just pleased we grabbed these momentos when we did, for they are the equivalent of historical relics. Who knows what 'Butter' is doing now? I even wonder whether Jackson (above) still runs the Oculus bar in the centre of the Venetian's huge casino floor. Bartenders in the States can have lengthy and illustrious careers, but Jackson seemed all out for everything; fast cars he wrecked, planes he flew, whatever he could get his hands on, he even ran a boxing ring.
During the AVN porn show the stars would flock to the Oculus bar like the exotic birds they were, equal in every way to any strange wonders that make you yelp with surprise at the zoo; tottering on skyscrapers, poured into scraps of designer material, painted in the most florid of markings, making strange calls and slewed to the gills (and supported by highly suspicious looking gentlemen) they appeared the most miraculous of humankind. Me, with my feet hurting after days following them around the circus of the porn convention, convincing myself, ever more improbably, that I really was going to file a story for the Independent on Sunday, I was ground down by the spectacle and carrier bags full of porn crap that filled our room at the Vagabond Inn (now long gone) from which some tiny precious relic would later be salvaged for of all things, our landing.
The Venetian cannot be inauthentic, it is no less real than Venice, it just responds to a different, more accelerated program. Perhaps that program is absolutely rammed with false consciousness but then...sometimes...you just have to get a life.
Photo Julie Cook