It started with a cake. It was hand delivered to my door by a character that could have been in a Cirque show. “You are formally invited to play,” said the man with the painted face. He informed me the dessert hid a special surprise.
Ten minutes later, hands covered in black frosting, I had retrieved my invitation. Besides a time and start location, I had no information. I RSVP’d anyway.
“So you have no idea what we’re doing?” My friend asked when I picked her up.
“Nope. All I know is we’re going on a bus tour. And unexpected things will happen. And we should play along.” I weaved through traffic, rushing to make it to The Cosmopolitan on time.
“So in theory, you could die tonight.” She quipped.
I thought for a moment and shrugged. “Yeah, I suppose so. But that would probably be towards the end of the night.”
Las Vegas: The Game is a new and unheard of concept for Sin City (which is saying something). The company’s sole purpose is to prank your friends, boss or group with once-in-a-lifetime Vegas experiences. With three different package styles: Night Out, BeSpoke and Prank a-la-carte, clients can choose to have a full night of over-the-top Vegas adventures, customized pranks specific to their party or individual target, or short games to spice up already existing plans.
The only catch is that besides the person booking the package and The Game’s players, no one knows what will happen. In fact, in a typical scenario (sans tonight), no one would guess anything was out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t be until the victims — er, attendees — got to the end of their experience that it would be revealed their adventures were planned. Las Vegas: The Game wanted to leave its clients with story-worthy photos and tales worth sharing with friends and associates for weeks.
The concept was awesome in theory. Except I didn’t know what to expect. For a control freak, this was vexing.
“I even e-mailed ahead to see what kind of shoes I should wear,” I told my friend. “They said heels were fine, so that’s what I wore… But what if they’re not? Three hours is a long time in heels.”
We arrived at the Vesper Bar, alert and suspicious. In a typical scenario, the entire group would know each other. I eyed potential game mates to determine who was a plant and who was a friend. The attendees received free cocktails (another perk to the package) and we got to work getting to know each other. Soon enough we were introduced to our hosts for the evening.
Quickly ushered onto a party bus, we took off down the Strip to Mandalay Bay. Our hosts uncorked bottles of champagne, encouraged us to dance on stripper poles, and followed up the fun with cups of vodka cranberry cocktails. Lasers danced on bodies and club music blared in traditional party bus fashion. “I may not be the right audience for this kind of participation,” I told my friend.
Fast-forward to us sipping more comped cocktails at the top of the miX Lounge. My friend, who had never been there before, was stunned by the view. “Wait until you see the view from the bathroom stalls,” I said. She bolted to check out their impressive floor-to-ceiling ‘window seats’.
She would later tell me while she was in the loo, she got kissed by a drunken birthday girl. Turns out the birthday girl and her friends were not part of The Game. Let’s call this one of those organic Vegas experiences. Moving on…
Before we left miX Lounge, we met a showgirl who had lost her friend and needed a ride. She joined our party and returned with us to the bus, this time heading to a dive bar located off-Strip.
Our relocation to Champagnes Cafe coincided with (surprise!) shots. Not long after we were seated did Elvis stop in to say hello. The classic Vegas flashback was short-lived as a bounty hunter crashed the party looking for one of our hosts. Following us back to the party bus, he demanded we tell him where our missing host was. Enter a man in a monkey suit to wrestle the bounty hunter out of the bus. The monkey looked like he was winning as we rolled away, tackling the bounty hunter to the ground and humping him unapologetically.
More drinks and music flowed before our last stop: the quintessential photo-op at the Las Vegas Sign. When we arrived, a bride and groom were getting their photos taken in front of the blinking neon.
“How selfish,” a reporter in the group said flippantly. “Like people haven’t been taking photos of her all day.” We all laughed.
The group squished together, making silly faces for our final photo. Giggling, we walked back to the Mothership only to find our remaining VIP host fighting with an injured transvestite. Crutches and cutlets went flying. Tourists whipped out their cell phones to capture the brawl on video. Somehow our new showgirl friend convinced the two to stop fighting. The drag queen joined our crew.
On the way back to The Cosmopolitan, the showgirl gave us a taste of her talents, dancing burlesque throughout the bus. But it turned out she has a tiny bladder and accidentally peed on a guy. It’s unclear if they’ll stay friends.
Three hours and three VIP bus tour stops later, we’d heard Elvis sing, watched a monkey take on a bounty hunter, danced with a showgirl, witnessed a brawl between a VIP host and a drag queen, and been served drinks galore. We’d also seen one of the best views of the Strip, and visited an iconic Vegas landmark and a bar I hope to never step foot in again.
My friend and I exited the bus, shaking hands with the players. Passersby gawked at our strange entourage, unable to hide their shocked expressions as we chatted leisurely with the showgirl and drag queen. Normally at this point of the night the players would escort The Game attendees to Marquee, the nightclub inside The Cosmopolitan. As a Vegas local, I opted for pizza and bid ado to our Game actors.
“Well,” my friend said with an unrecognizable facial expression. “THAT was quite a night.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. We made our way upstairs to the secret pizza shop. “But I think I wore the wrong shoes.”
Las Vegas: The Game adventures can be booked as a full-night experience or as individual one-off gags. All attendees must be 21 or older. Show times can vary to fit a group’s existing plans or to create a customized experience. Night Out VIP Party packages start at $179. Prank a-la-carte and customized BeSpoke experiences start at $500. To book your prank adventure, call 702-WISE-GUY (947-3489) or visitlasvegasthegame.com.
–Hilary Billings is a Las Vegas local, travel blogger and the current Miss Nevada United States. She was named Las Vegas Weekly’s Best Blogger for 2013. For more on Hilary, visit her blog thenomadgrad.com and follow her on Twitter @TheNomadGrad.