In the late 80's Vegas tried a more family friendly marketing plan. Many casinos set up areas like arcades for kids to play in while their parents hit the slots. As a long time visitor it was disconcerting to find ourselves on a casino floor watching cargo short wearing dads pushing oversized strollers through the banks of machines and blackjack tables.
When I was a kid there was a very definite line between adult activities and kids' presence. “Go outside and play. The adults are talking,” was a standard refrain in my house and my parents sure were't “swingers.” It was just very clear that some things were for grown ups only, and they were entitled to their space. Mom, Dad and their friends certainly weren't swinging from chandeliers, not that we had chandeliers, but their conversations whatever they were were things they didn't want to have to explain to us until we were “Older.” At least that was the explanation I was always given when I asked why all the secrecy.
Meanwhile around 2008 Las Vegas seems to have largely abandoned the push toward family friendly weekend stays and reverted back to showgirls and drinks at gaming tables. Their tourist bureau started using the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and it's been one of the most recognizable and apparently profitable marketing campaigns ever created. Why? Because Sin Sells. Even if Mom and Dad aren't availing themselves of the more outre offerings of Las Vegas, they can go, be adults with other adults and get a little naughty. She'll pack her black lacey teddy and they'll book a nice room. They might even get a little drunk one night and hit a show. He'll ogle the long legged beauties in the ten foot wing span headdresses, she'll look at him as the slightly faded Lothario he still thinks he is but he's HER Lothario. He got her after all, didn't he?
New Orleans has also been seen for a very long time as a “naughty city” our Tourism bureau make it look like out city is one continuous party and many of our tourists treat her as such. Then they go home having done some things here they'd never do at home and may never do again, but they will always get stars in their eyes when they remember their trip to New Orleans.
Sin Sells. Folks can sin for a week or two on their vacations then head home to their local churches and all will be well.
Our current raids on local strip clubs just ahead of Mardi Gras is in my view counter to our “Naughty City” marketing. No we're not Bangkok but a less enlightened Amsterdam might be a viable description. We'll never make the list of the Naughtiest Cities except by virtue of our bar hours. And kids can't get into the clubs or bars. No ID. So no real problem.
I've always thought one of the dumbest things New Orleans ever did was accede to the Secretary of the Navy's prudishness and shutter and demolish Storyville while one of the smartest things was its creation in the first place.
This current war against the clubs on Bourbon is a job wrecker for a city whose population relies so heavily on service industry jobs. I know several dancers, all but one of them are either students in college working for tuition or single mothers. None of them are prostitutes. They're just dancers and all of them chose it, not one was forced into nor are any of them being held against their will. They dance because they're good at it and the money is great, “much more than I could ever make waiting tables.”
What are we doing New Orleans? I know the days of Evangeline the Oyster girl are long gone unfortunately. I would have loved to see some of the ladies from that era. We are visited because of our history architecture and Mardi Gras for sure but also because of our vaguely sinful reputation. Do we want to be Dayton Ohio? Nothing against Dayton but it's not particularly evocative is it?
I'm also a bit concerned about the tinge of “judgment” I'm seeing regarding the dancers and the clubs. We gonna slap a degenerate art banner over their doors after we shutter them? And what exactly would the city fathers prefer? More tshirt shops or do we just let the developers come in, get some boffo tax abatement, build some luxury timeshare condos who market themselves as the former strip club, counting on the “naughty” to sell units? I'm just not sure what's being accomplished by all this raiding other than to put a lot of folks out of a job. And the timing is terrible. Not that I'd think it a great idea at any other time but two weeks before Mardi Gras is really really dumb.
Our tourist bureau will I guess just come up with a tag line like “where you drank too much in New Orleans will stay in the cloud forever! We have cameras!” Yeah, that'll bring folks in. I'm also not saying that we should ignore folks who bring the family to our city but truth is there's not a hell of a lot of interest to most of today's 11 year olds unless they're serious history buffs. My grandson at that age was most impressed by the Lucky Dog carts. The WW2 museum was terrific for about an hour! Let's embrace our "adult entertainment" reputation. See the link below to see how really very tame we are.Places that make us look like relative Puritans
Ten Years. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Sin Sells!