Divas get a bad rap. The term carries the assumption that whomever described — usually a woman — is demanding, over-the-top, and often very, very un-punctual. Another way of looking at it is that a diva: A) knows her worth, B) lives out loud, C) deserves to take her time getting up from that chaise lounge. In other words, we could all benefit from letting the supposed "primadonna" within take the spotlight.
Enter stage left: yours truly, at the time this essay was written. I'm three weeks off a move from New York to Los Angeles. Though the Vitamin D and fresh produce are doing me well, moving your entire existence from one coast to another is stressful for any human. If the gospel of the diva would come in handy at any time in my life, it would be right about now. And what's the closest place to get some of that big diva energy? It's Fabulous Las Vegas.
I hopped on a super-short "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway all aimed at coaxing the extra, spotlight-seeking diva back out of her shell. From private pool cabanas, to upscale massages, to getting my mug done by a celebrity makeup artist, no indulgence was too rich for my retreat in the city that does extra like none other.
1. Take Up Space! (Especially in a Poolside Cabana).
I can think of few activities more extra than renting an entire poolside cabana and sipping cool drinks late into an afternoon — all while wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a 30’s style romper.
This is exactly what I did at my hotel, The Golden Nugget, one of the most classic institutions in Downtown Las Vegas. While taking advantage of their jaw-dropping multi-story pool — complete with a fully operational shark tank as the centerpiece — I had the privilege of enjoying a private cabana in their club "H2O Bar at The Tank" all to myself.
In between friends dropping by, I spread out and luxuriated like a true star. I moved from sun bed, to sun bed, to chair, to couch, all while taking in some entertainment (there was a TV). Miles from my obligations and worries, I imagined passersby catching my incognito disguise and wondering, “Who is that? A celebrity?” Why, yes! (In my own mind).
2. Spring for the Fancy Massage Every Once in a While
My ideal self gets weekly massages. In real life, I've had about two massages in my 30 trips around the sun. Combine that with a life spent hunched over a computer and a tendency to carry many heavy bags, my neck and back have some serious knots. Those knots have knots.
The Spa at Vdara came to my rescue. At this sleek, tranquil retreat, I booked myself a Strength & Resilience Massage, aimed at restoring well-being and releasing muscle tension. My lovely masseuse Carrie treated me to a back, neck, and shoulder rub-down, a scalp treatment, and some yogic stretches that felt like butter for my muscles. After 80 minutes of being deliciously kneaded with aromatherapy oils, scalp scrubs, and muscle balms, I felt like some dense and fluffy bread straight out of the oven, in the very best way. Followed up with a dip in their hot tub, a steam, and a shower, and yours truly was a new woman.
“Why don’t I do this more often?” I asked myself on the massage bed. I was too relaxed to notice the thought passing through my brain/mouth barrier, because next thing I found, Carrie was answering my question. “Every six weeks is a good idea!” With that, I’m taking a vow. Carrie, the relaxation gods and all you dear readers as witness — every six weeks, this pleasure monkey is getting a massage.
3. Wear the Makeup for the Life You Want.
If you told me last year that I’d spend an afternoon getting made up by the legendary makeup artist of a hit Las Vegas show, I’d tell you to get out of town. Yet there I found myself, backstage at the Zumanity by Cirque du Soleil theater at New York-New York, surrounded by makeup lights and lacefronts, perusing looks from the cast makeup look book with the show’s makeup artist of 16 years, Roger Stricker. I was about to be transformed into one of the beautiful night creatures from the cheeky burlesque-inspired show that is Zumanity.
And though this was the first time I've had the privilege of getting show makeup done, I felt at home. As I sat in Roger's chair while he painted, we traded bawdy jokes, and discussed being born in the wrong era. He showed me how to properly contour my cheek (don’t go too dark), and how to make my blush hit at the right place. He applied the first fake eyelashes — made exclusively for the show, now for my face — I’ve ever intended to wear in public.
Forty minutes of rat-ta-tat dialogue later, my metamorphosis was complete. Rather than not recognizing myself, I basically saw my inner vampy self — the one I fantasize commanding a dimly lit stage at a piano bar — brought to light. Rather than leave the look in Vegas, my makeup angel (and new best friend) Roger sent me home with ample tools to recreate the look. With the power of these bird-of-paradise lashes, my fantasy self can fly right out of my head into reality.
4. Toast Yourself Early & often
At most drinking establishments, happy hour begins at 4 p.m., but with my work schedule, I'm lucky if I make the tail end at 7. On my Vegas vacation, however, I was able to take full advantage of the full "hour of mirth" time block. These lashes and these feathers needed to be taken out on the town.
My venue of choice? A speakeasy called Ghost Donkey, hidden in the gourmet food court of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Block 16. Chosen for the extra-ness of their menu, this New York-originated mezcal and tequila bar serves upscale, loaded nachos, and some tasty cocktails providing the perfect overture to your decadent night out.
Just a few highlights: the Mezcal Sunrisa, the Pistolero, and the Mushroom Margarita, which was a unique savory spin on the drink. Not to be outdone, the mushroom nachos, molé chicken nachos, and spicy crab guacamole played a great snack accompaniment.
"What was I toasting?" you might ask. I had met lovely people, had amazing experiences, lounged in cabanas, and eaten incredible meals. I was a lucky broad, but I also allowed myself to feel comfortable with all this opulence — like I was worth all of it. After all, the diva celebrates herself with great enthusiasm, and without shame. Whether your dream is to be pampered, to spring for the luxurious experience, or to spend an afternoon in a sacred temple of showgirl beauty, just do it. 'Cause you're worth it, baby. ::throws glitter::
So, one more time for the cheap seats in the back. 'To me! To You! And to Vegas!"