VIVA LAS VEGAS, BABY!
Although roughly two weeks have gone by since my escapade out to Las Vegas with a majority of the GL cast, the memories are still very clear of the most excellent weekend that was had by all. Even though it was my first time ever visiting that city, I’m sure that if I had been there one hundred times I’d still have the feeling of not seeing everything that it (Vegas) had to offer. There were so many places to visit and so many laws that just didn’t seem to apply there, it was almost one of those places that you think can’t be real…believe me when I say that it SO WAS! I’m pretty sure that I'll be heading out that way again when I get some time on my hands and pick up where I left off, wink! I have to say thank you to not just “Pro Event’s Inc.” who put the weekend on, but especially all the fans that came from near and far to be with us and party it up like rock stars in “sin city”!
Let’s start at the beginning of the trip so that all of you realize how this was a trip that almost never was… SNOW! The night we were all supposed to leave, NYC got hit with quite a snow storm which grounded some flights and delayed others. Ours was a flight that was delayed, not just a short delay but rather a two-and-a-half hour delay! There were two different flights carrying the GL crew out there, one had Stephanie Gatschet and her boyfriend and the other flight (my flight) had Tom Pelphrey, Doug Hutchison, Ricky Paul Goldin, David (one of our assistant producers), and myself. So how, you may ask, do a group of males in the entertainment industry entertain themselves for two-and-a-half hours before a flight to Vegas? We told stories of our relationships and our favorite shopping spots in the city, all while Tom and Doug were discussing manicuring tips on how to not damage your cuticles ……..uh, HELL NO! We pre-gamed at the nearest pub in the airport (luckily for us it was next to the gate) to get this flight started right, LOL! So already you can kind of get an idea as to how this trip is going to go for us by the start of this story, right? Anyways, we’re all being a bit loud and obnoxious but at this point we all just really wanted to get off the ground. Finally we take off and the “in-flight” festivities begin. Tom, Doug and I were seated next to each other, which might not have been a good idea (at least for me), because at some point I became the brunt of most jokes…you’ll understand why in just a minute, of course. Tom and I discover “in-flight” gambling which leads to a rather intense game between the three of us which I soon become tired of after losing frequently to “tweedle dumb” and “tweedle dumber”. Then comes my big mistake, I FALL ASLEEP! I truly believe that I have narcolepsy or something close to it because I fall asleep anywhere at any time of the day or night. I realized that this was a bad idea after waking up to the two morons beside me laughing hysterically and me feeling something heavy and wet in my arms (which I had crossed to sleep). Yeah, they proceeded to order the little cordial bottles and keep drinking on the flight which then ended up in my folded arms like a trash collector. Apparently the “NEW GAME” was let's see how many bottles of liquor John can hold without waking up….clever but not humorous. What do I do is, I dump the bottles and go right back to sleep, but only because the pair of jokers beside me stopped drinking finally. Thank Goodness!!!
We get to Vegas at like 12:30 am and Tom and I are staying with a friend of mine that first night and then at the hotel the rest of the weekend. Now I have to be up REALLY early the next morning and back at the airport at like 7 am to catch a flight to Los Angeles to do an interview for “E! True Hollywood” then hop back on a flight at like 2 pm to get back to Vegas to have dinner with the GL cast at 5 pm just before we head to the first Fan event which starts at like 7 pm. Well, all works out fine (I end up not going to sleep for fear of not waking up for my flight) and I get out there and back in time for dinner and the first event which was a Luau, how fun! Tom and I walk into the room together and we get only about six feet in before people start flashing cameras and questions start flying. It caught us off guard but was totally cool. We were laughing it up and just being ridiculous for everyone and loving every minute of it. There were so many people there from all the soaps and I’m sure the fans just loved it. Now before I go on, I have to mention this one little girl who was so precious. She and her mother and friend were from Belgium and couldn’t speak a great deal of English but just enough for me to understand the general idea of each statement. The mother was trying to have the little girl pose with me for a picture but she was just so shy I had to smile at this. So I thought of a great way to break the ice with her without having to talk…give a nice gift from me to her. Since this was a Luau event each person was given a lei of fake flowers, all of those except the soap people who were given real flower lei. So for the little girl, I pointed to her lei then to mine and I motioned to exchange them. She somewhat understood this and so I took mine off first and put it on her, she smiled and began to take hers off and put it on me….she smiled again at this. Without warning her mom said something to her which I didn’t understand and she literally jumped into my arms for a hug and kiss on the cheek. It was the cutest moment of the weekend and it had only just started. From that moment on, every time I saw her that weekend she came over to me and gave me a hug and kiss. I think that there is now an idea of us going over to Belgium for an event because of this weekend, LOL.
For those of you who are familiar with Vegas and the hotels, everyone either stayed in the Bally’s or the Paris. I was in the Bally’s with Tom but I’m not sure who else was there. Maybe they thought we’d be a bad influence so they kept everyone else away from us? Anyways, I couldn’t believe how well kept the casinos were, I mean it always looked like daytime inside with the type of lights they used, there were no clocks anywhere except your own watches and phones, they pumped extra oxygen into the casinos so that people didn’t get tired as quickly, the drinks were always coming as long as you were playing games, and there was always a band on stage like every 45 minutes to an hour. THE PLACE NEVER SLOWED DOWN! Each casino had something that the other one didn’t whether it was a club, an amusement park, an aquarium (which I went to at Caesar’s Palace) or some fantastic show. I think in the end I only made it to the aquarium, a few clubs and some very nice restaurants. All the events kept us pretty busy and tired too. I think in the long run it was a very safe thing to stay so busy because it kept me from losing any real money. I only gambled $10 on slots while I was out there and the reason is because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing when it comes to gambling. I mean the dealers work so quickly out there that before you know it; you could’ve sat down with $500 and in ten minutes might have lost it all. I basically just watched everyone and I think I’ll head down to Atlantic City before I start seriously gambling out in Vegas.
Saturday was the last day of events and it was all pretty crazy. The first was a “Q and A” with the stars where the soap people sat up on stage and the audience could ask questions about the show, people’s personal lives, whatever we were comfortable enough to answer. It was great actually because not only did the fans learn more about us, but we learned more about each other and the shows that each person was on. I think in the hoopla of everything a question was asked about the men’s butts on stage so Tom and I proceeded to pull our pants down (leaving boxers on, of course) and somewhat moon everyone. Not sure how that happened but I think Tom gave everyone a little extra, LOL. After the Q and A, there was an auction that followed and everyone gave up some personal items either of theirs or their character's. The jacket that I wore when Lizzie Spaulding fell into the cement was auctioned off along with scripts that the entire cast signed. All proceeds went to various charities that were sponsored that weekend and I’m not sure about exact numbers but I know that a couple thousand dollars were raised so “Thank you to all who participated and even were lucky enough to win a soap memento”. No worries though; those who didn’t will have so many more chances to win great prizes in the future.
Now… where was I in the story, oh right! Between events on Saturday I was so tired I had to crash for a bit, but was up again in time for a dinner with some people from both Y&R, Days of our Lives, and other soaps. We all headed to the last event which was great because it was a karaoke type event where the stars would get up and sing and make fools of themselves for ya’lls viewing pleasure. I will say though that Mandy Bruno and Steven Martinez did an amazing job so “BRAVO” to them. Unfortunately I didn’t get up to sing due to losing my voice and already getting over being sick at that time (no excuse, true story so no friendly banter please, LOL). After the event was finished, everyone started making their plans for that evening’s outings and believe me when I say there were so many choices. Ultimately, I went out with a few people to a club called “Pure” at Caesar’s Palace that was an outside club and looked over all of Vegas. The place was jumpin’ when we got there which made a pretty good impression right off the bat. Nadia Bjorlin from Days of Our Lives was in our group and she had a connection there that hooked us up with a table of our own. Let me clarify when I say “table," I mean a glass table surrounded by four huge velvet covered chairs that sit about two-and-half persons each with our own security guard to look out for us and our things. The cocktail waitress brought over mixers of all sorts and then bottles of liquor and a huge ornate metallic ice bowl that was emptied every 15 minutes and stocked with new ice….ok this place really was off the hook!!! Right beside us on either side was a giant heat lamp and a large rectangular open fireplace that was like 8 feet long behind us to keep us warm (believe it or not, Vegas gets cold at night). Whenever anyone in our group needed to use the restroom, the security guard would escort us to the restroom and back again to make sure that nothing happened along the way, this really was the VIP treatment. The view of Vegas was amazing with the Casinos in front of us and the strip right below us. The stars were bright and the music was a house/trans style with bodies all over the dance floor. Now for a kid from the suburbs of Virginia and a college fraternity guy no less, this was all crazy and so unexpected. I loved it all, don’t get me wrong, but I think I’d still take a down home bar with cheap bottles of beer and great tunes any day to dance alongside. So we were all out until like five in the morning and finally we had to head out and save some energy for the final day of fun before we all left and went our own ways. So Sunday morning or afternoon I should say, I got up and headed down to the casino in Bally’s to see who I could find and managed to get a few people together and head to the “Cheesecake Factory” for lunch and cocktails. Now for some reason I have developed a taste for Bloody Mary’s, especially the strong spicy ones. I know that I just said I’d prefer a down home bar with cheap bottled beers but I have a very eclectic taste in drinks so again, LOL, no wise cracks. After the lunch, we headed over to the Aquarium and had an amazingly intellectual time there and I even managed to buy a gift or two for my niece and nephew there that I think they’ll like. Once we did the sightseeing thing, it was time to head back to the hotel to grab our stuff and head to the airport for our red eye trip back to NYC. This time back, it was Stephanie, her boyfriend, Tom (who won $150 before we left) and I. The trip home was so much quieter and even with a layover in Atlanta; we made good time getting to the studio at like 8 am for Tom and Stephanie to work.
Now obviously certain details may have been left out or overlooked but that was my Vegas Story and I’m happy to say that I not only survived but didn’t have to mortgage my parents home or even lose my shirt (except the night I was on the platform at that club with the stripper and…never mind that, LOL). Again thank you to all who made it out there and I can’t wait to see you again (Erin, it was great meeting you too, sweetie). For all who couldn’t make it, there will be events in the near future for you to attend as well as a competition that I’m putting together for a lucky fan, BUT we’re not getting into that at this time! I will leave ya’ll with a quote from this adventure and I can’t wait to read your thoughts on this entry. All the best ya’ll! J.
“Hey John! I’m back from Vegas so I finally got to read your much anticipated blog entry. I had worried that after “Softer Moments” ended up being highly publicized you may have been a little shy about this whole blog thing. But you’re a brave one—not many people would put themselves out there as you have. It speaks volumes about your character. Anyway! On a lighter note, I had a blast in Vegas—mainly because you were there. You were a lot of fun as always, and I was glad to be there for my friend Paula to meet you for the first time. She was greatly impressed! Before we went, she kept saying she couldn’t wait to meet you and Tom, and she was not disappointed. Also, it thrilled me to see that the GL crowd FAR outnumbered the other shows—maybe even all put together! That was a sure demonstration of the spirit of the show that you were all willing to turn out for a great cause (and for your fans).” - Amanda