“The goal for Las Vegas was to be naughty enough to attract you but not naughty enough to repel you,” said Michael Green, a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada.
The city — which rises and falls on the pocketbooks of its 40 million annual visitors — must balance the sexiness with the sensibilities of foreign tourists and large, multinational casinos.
“It’s highly sexualized and gets a lot of mileage out of that, but it’s a very particular version of that,” Comella said.
In The Act’s case, Sands executives notified club officials on April 26 that they’d crossed a line with the show and were no longer welcome in the $15 million space. The casino giant wants to evict it, ending a 10-year lease.
The casino notified club officials after undercover security officers went into the venue in March. The details of the show were laid bare this week in court, when an investigator apologized for getting graphic and looked pained while describing some kinky scenes.
The club contends Sands “manufactured this ‘breach’ in an attempt to improperly evict” it.
“We believe we are on the leading edge of the next evolution of nightlife in Las Vegas and that The Act fills a niche for patrons looking for an alternative to the typical Las Vegas big-box club scene,” Dunn said.
Those who stray outside the limits of what is considered acceptable in the city risk invoking the wrath of the state’s powerful Gaming Control Board and losing their lucrative gambling permits.
The board smacked the Planet Hollywood casino with a $750,000 fine in 2009 amid accusations that employees at the independently owned Prive nightclub allowed toplessness, turned a blind eye to prostitution and physically and sexually assaulted patrons.
The board isn’t investigating The Act and is waiting for the lawsuit to play out, according to chairman A.G. Burnett.
There’s no doubt that Las Vegas markets itself as an adult playground, said Oscar Goodman, the larger-than-life former Las Vegas mayor who’s often flanked by scantily clad showgirls, martini in hand.
“We have standards and we’re not going to advocate illegal activity,” he said. “Unless the sex goes out of the line, we embrace it.”