Circus, Circus is made up of 2 huge dilapidated towers, both of which smell shockingly similar to dorm room refrigerators. Everywhere you turn you’ll find gift shops full of crap, disgusting “bars” with folding chairs knocked up against card tables, Krispy Kreme outlets with Ellis Island-esque lines at all hours of the day, and horrible, horrible lighting. We were in the “Sky” tower, the greater of two evils. For $20 less a night, we were relegated to the cheap section of the cheap hotel. To travel between the two towers, one had to take a tram, conveniently located right by the elevators, in between a Krispy Kreme and disgusting Keno bar filled with people sipping tropical cocktails covered in whipped topping at 9am.
The tram, complete with charming theme song, takes one back and forth from the Sky Tower to the main hotel, filled with the casino and the Circus, Circus arcade. Needless to say, Circus, Circus works very hard to maintain their “theme” and at every turn, we’re bombarded with family entertainment. We’re also bombarded with families. Kids were everywhere, covered in highly flammable short sets and face paint, clutching sticky and smelly stuffed animals their parents were forced to win them in that cursed arcade.
Circus, Circus is attached to the Silver Legacy Hotel and Casino and we ran between the two seamlessly, although the difference between the two is rather dramatic. Though, like any palace of sin in Reno, packed buffets and poorly designed bars are everywhere. I believe we dined the first night at the El Dorado buffet, but left that casino after an international array of culinary crap for Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Casino, regarded by everyone as a “low end” establishment.
Upon entering the leprechaun themed Fitzgerald’s, one is handed a coupon, redeemable in the “Enchanted Forrest” for any number of prizes. Every coupon is a winner, so we grabbed a million of them, making several trips to the Enchanted Forrest every day. In addition to a highly coveted baseball hat and ballpoint pen, we won 6 (yes, six) eyeglass repair kits.
The guys all saddled up to the blackjack tables and Zoë and I entertained ourselves at the slots. At one point, finding the temptation to smoke inside too great, Zoë bummed a cigarette, took a sip of her free drink and said, “This Finnegan’s place is a dump.”
Towards the end of the evening, Zoë, Paul and I found ourselves at a frightening cabaret bar in the Silver Legacy, watching a gentleman play a piano whilst singing LeAnn Rhimes lesser hits. I refused to even mock as this was the one and only time we were able to find Belvedere vodka.
Back at Finnegan’s, errr Fitzgerald’s, Zoë and I continued to cash in our coupons racking up those eyeglass repair kits, and when we returned to the blackjack arena, Paul and Highlights were gone. “Where’s Paul and Audrey?” we innocently inquired, while snickering to ourselves.
Turned out, Audrey took advantage of that chivalry, made Paul walk her back to the hotel and proceeded to miserably fail in her attempts to bed him.
Zoë and I were beat and decided it was time for us to turn in as well, although we’d be sleeping together, thank god. We’d made it clear to the group that we planned to spend the next day at the gym, at the pool, and shopping around town. Any and all were welcome to join us.
In the morning, we declined an offer to join in the breakfast buffet fun and Zoë headed downstairs to find us breakfast. She returned 45 minutes later, horrified to have waiting in the huge Krispy Kreme line, behind people purchasing Mountain Dew and cheese danishes. She actually saw a couple drinking directly from the little cups of non-dairy creamer. All she could come up with was a banana and a bran muffin, both of which we happily split. She also procured some “coffee” which I believe turned our teeth green.
After the gym, we put on swimwear and headed up to the Silver Legacy’s roof pool, tanning ourselves in the 90 degree dessert heat while reading Marie Claire. Feeling like the most healthy gals in all of Reno, we ordered a spa lunch consisting of a vegetarian sandwich and fruit salad. Only in Reno can they make spa food appallingly unhealthy, but we dove in none the less and I burned my boobs past recognition.
We showered and changed into our ever present sequins, deciding to meet up with Tristan, Cap’n, and Paul who’d spent the day at Harrah’s. Desperate to shop and thinking that a pawn shop would provide a new experience, we headed across the street and into a filth covered building.
The previous night at dinner, I was shocked to learn that just about everyone at the table owned guns. Lots and lots of them. And they were just as shocked that I didn’t. Cap’n took advantage of this in the pawn shop, where he guided me over to the gun section and rapidly befriended “Jerry”, the bolo tie gun guy. Jerry seemed to think I’d really be purchasing a gun and Cap’n delighted in this, introducing himself as my “uncle” who’s niece lived in the big city and needed some lead protection. First they had me practice with a .38. That’s a little gun that Cap’n pointed out would fit beautifully into my gold studded handbag. I was instructed to shoot at the male silhouettes on the wall, always aiming for the head of my assailant. I adjusted my shrug, placed one high heel in front of the other and discovered, I’m a pretty good shot. The boys were quite impressed, and decided to up the ante.
Jerry pulled out some shotguns, described the size of the hole they’d put in a person, and handed what I believe to be a Remington over the counter. Cap’n instructed me how to hold it, and Jerry taught me how to cock it. Now, I’m a liberal fag hag from San Francisco, highly opposed to guns, pawn shops and bolo ties. But it is fucking fun to cock the barrel of a rifle. Apparently, most people don’t laugh hysterically and scream, “This is fabulous!” while cocking the barrel of a rifle in a pawn shop, but I had never felt more American.
I tried out another rifle, this one wooden in parts and a little heavier. Jerry gave me some tips, told me some crazy stories and reminded me to take care of myself. It was an absolutely bizarre experience and as we walked outside into the sun, I grabbed Cap’n and thanked him. “I have never had that experience before. Seriously. I’m not kidding. Thank you for showing me that.”
Cap’n could’ve rolled his eyes at my crazy, gun-less city ways, but he was tremendously sweet and very cool about it, rightly thinking that if I was going to hold an opinion of guns, I might want to actually hold one. I’m still not planning on packing any heat, and I still look at guns as instruments of unnecessary death, but I think I’ll look at those that treasure guns a little differently.
Zoë and I then dragged Tristan, Cap’n and Paul to Rum Bullions, an acceptable looking tropical bar we’d spotted in the Silver Legacy. Over huge drinks, the guys regaled us with tales of their fascinating jobs, rescuing people and firehouse drama. Firemen are amazing story tellers. Maybe it’s because they have the best stories, but I was enthralled by the tale of the 700lb. child molester or the hot chicks trapped in a rowboat.
“So, do you only save the hot chicks?” Zoe asked.
Paul winked and responded, “They’re all worth saving.”
Seriously. These people are wonderful.
It was nice to be away from Audrey and her synthetic daggers. She was avoiding Paul- and probably us- like the plague, choosing to venture out of town with Amy and Mike to visit some friends. We gambled some more and excused ourselves to get ready for dinner. Changing from sequined outfit for day to sequined outfit for night took longer than expected, but out escorts didn’t seem to mind. Apparently, people watching at the tram exit is amazing, and whether you come from downtown San Francisco or rural Oregon, Circus, Circus is a freak show like no other.
Yet another buffet was in store for us, this time at the Silver Legacy. People watching there was just as spectacular and the fellas marveled at a woman with “100 pound breasts” at the next table. Still high from my firearm experience, Cap’n promised me I’d get to shoot a gun if I came up for a visit. Tristan offered me a ride-along on an ambulance and Paul insisted that we come to his farm, where he’d put me on a horse AND a tractor. Although, he warned me, I should probably wear overalls.
“Overalls? Are you kidding me? I’ll shoot a gun, I’ll ride a tractor, but there is no way in hell you’ll ever catch me in overalls.”
“Aw, quit it. You gals’d look beautiful in anything.”
God Bless America…
Tune in tomorrow for my final installment on Reno, the only vacation I’ve ever been on that takes longer to read about then actually experience…