Las Vegas Boulevard is full of hustlers. Tourist modis operandi is to avoid the face, wave off the pitch and move on.
Yesterday, I took a different tack to the Strip while on an extended lunch break from the New Media Expo 2013 conference at the Rio. I faced up the hustlers on Las Vegas Boulevard working the Strip in front of the Bellagio fountains, Caesars and Cosmopolitan to get insight to the street players, peddlers and performers.
Las Vegas MVPs
Facing the police was an easy start for making contact on the street. Turns out these individuals with the bright jerseys and jackets are not actually police officers, but part of the 400 or so strong Las Vegas Metro Volunteer Program (MVP) cadre organized by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. MVPs apply for the position and receive training from the police department. They are unarmed and function primarily as roving tourist information guides and neighborhood watch when working the Las Vegas Strip.
Steve draws portraits for free
Steve provided insight to the mechanics of working the Las Vegas Strip for money. There is no need for a business license as long as you are not selling. He told me this gig is about self-promotion after art school. The street rule is you can’t impede pedestrian traffic, so he is positioned between the palm trees and out of the main flow of tourists seeking to see the Bellagio fountain show that launches water cascades to music every 15 minutes to one hour depending on day and time of the week.
Steve works for tips.
The Card Clickers
Anyone who has walked the Strip has been confronted with the army of handbillers passing out cards and leaflets for strip clubs and escort services. In 2007 a federal judge struck down a Las Vegas ordinance to restrict commercial leafletting on the Strip. The peddlers and performers have a first amendment right to the public sidewalk to express themselves, or their employer.
Each of these guys has a shirt with a different number for female escort services.
Seeing young guys at this job is not as shocking as seeing the older women, who remind me of my Mexican grandmother, working the Strip passing out X-rated flyers.
Pictures for Tips
Spiderman is one of dozens of characters seen in costume working the Strip as freelance performers.
Merc Out Bois
When a rapper from Oakland hustling on the streets of Vegas tells me he doesn’t want to read negativity in my piece, I listen up.
Merc Out Bois are Myke Sosa and Nino Dice. They gave me their CD Block Champions Vol. 1 Cornerstone of Power and I gave Nino, aka Tha Dealer, $2. That was a good deal. I listened to a couple of tracks already and plan to hear the full CD on my 500-mile drive back to Monterey, California today.
Rap is not my music genre of choice. The New Media Expo opening night party at Lavo in the Palazzo was a rap night while drinking complimentary Guinness Black Lager. Lavo is typical of Vegas nightclub life where a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka that you can buy for $30 in most stores sells for $375. That’s living with money to burn.
I lifted Merc Our Bois closing track title “Building the Dream” for this post title. “Building the Dream” is a strong closing track for their CD.
Nino Dice, aka Tha Dealer, of the Merc Out Bois hustling on the Strip.
Nino’s recent twitter post kind of sums up the New Media Expo conference takeaway for many of the bloggers and podcasters and entrepeneurs in social media:
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.
My Las Vegas Boulevard takeaway is most of the hustlers I met face-to-face are just building their dream. That is the allure of Las Vegas where sometimes the money comes easy and often times your luck goes bust.
Take your energy to the street and if you got the right stuff you will make money and friends.
Building the dream is also what brought many of us bloggers, podcasters and videographers to Las Vegas for New Media Expo 2013 #NMX.
We are hustling on the web with entrepreneurial energy and building our dreams.
Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.