The Sunday Magazine: Las Vegas

I am in one of my favorite cities in the world for the next three days. I’ll be covering Cosmoprof North America which is taking place in Las Vegas. I have loved this city from the first time I visited. I got married in Vegas. I’ve had memorable times with my friends every time I have come here. There is a fascinating energy here which goes beyond the gambling. It draws together people who are looking to take some time off from responsibility. It has created one of the more memorable tag lines in tourist advertising; “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

The history of the city has always fascinated me from a literal Gangster’s Paradise to a pop culture nexus in less than 100 years. There may be no major city in the world which has re-invented itself so many times. It is what makes it so interesting as someone who visits years apart. This never ending evolution means there is always something different. For a world which usually resists change; fearing it, Las Vegas rides the crest of that wave like a champion surfer.


My first visit was in the late 1970’s. From the first moment I laid eyes on The Strip where all of the big hotels’ marquees lit up the night I think I realized I had found a place I wanted to visit often. As I experienced the different resorts I couldn’t help laughing at the cones of hair the female waitstaff had to wear at Caesar’s Palace with the hair colors usually a shade different. I imagined a dressing room full of cones of hair in different shades. That was my first lesson in Vegas if you look too closely the illusion falls apart. That is part of what Vegas sells that idea of perfection but only illusory, at best.

I had my weeding in Las Vegas because Mrs. C also shared an appreciation of that quality. We were married by Elvis in the Graceland Chapel. We had our reception at the Las Vegas Hilton where Elvis played all of his sold-out shows. It was a fantastic weekend surrounded by our friends and family where that love became as much part of the tapestry of the city as anything else.

I’ve spent a weekend during the NCAA basketball tournament watching people scream at television sets over a game where a team was winning by 62 points but the line was 63 points. I always imagine that every time I know a sporting event is close to that in my mind I call it the “Vegas Zone” knowing in some part of Las Vegas somebody is getting apoplectic.

This trip is going to be different yet as I participate in one of the largest beauty conventions in the world. I don’t know what is in store for me but I know it will add to my memories.

Mark Behnke