Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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FLIRTING FOR IMPLANTS

It was a night when competitors met on the nightclub floor of battle, an event solemnized by the celebrity presence of Mario Lopez (that other guy from that '90s show about clean-cut high schoolers). The prize for which they contested? Money for breast implants. Really. It was called "Boobs or Bust 2: Go Big or Go Home," and was like the Olympics but without the athleticism, human dignity and short videos of heartwarming personal triumph.

Clearly, it needed to be recorded.

For the sake of decency in a family newspaper, all the naughty bits have been replaced with the names of fish, which has the added benefit of being educational.

It's 11:45 Monday night, and inside the Mirage, people are lining up around the velvet ropes of the nightclub, Jet. Some guys in cowboy hats, wayward attendees of the National Finals Rodeo, are negotiating with the bouncers. VIPs are getting through, as are many women who look like past champions of surgery contests.

Then the celebrity arrives. It's been more than a decade since he achieved off-prime-time fame as A.C. Slater on "Saved by the Bell," but Mario Lopez has taken care of himself. He looks like an Adonis sculpted out of Crisco: perfect and glistening. His job tonight is to take the stage to greet the crowd and later announce the winner.

It's a promotional stunt to attract nightclub employees, one crowd out partying on an otherwise slow Monday. The way it works is the club hands out 600,000 "boob bucks" - like Monopoly money, only classier, with bosoms. The money goes to guys in the bottle-service booths, where Dom Perignon goes for $595. But hey, the waitresses wave sparklers when they bring it. These guys have the boob bucks in big wads and they flash it like extras from "Scarface."

Fifty or so women are competing. If they win, they get $5,000, which they can use for breast implants. There's no cup-size limit to compete, and since the women have to flirt the bucks off the guys, the modestly endowed could be at a disadvantage.

One woman who seems to be doing pretty well is Cody. She's wearing a scanty denim bottom, a scanty khaki top, a beauty mole and a faint, sad smile. She's going into booths, straddling guys' legs and dancing slowly, ruffling their collars and pulling their faces into her ample cleavage. They stuff in glossy blue scrip. On her lower back she has a small tattoo that says "Humility."

Sarah Lee Olson is, for a competitor, modestly dressed. A tiny woman in a short aqua dress, she reaches into booths, taps people on the shoulder, points at her Kansas-esque chest and shouts, "I need boobs!"

She's brought all of her friends to the club to help her. This is important.

"I'm a cocktail waitress, and I'll make twice as much money," she says. "It's an investment."

Bouncers start clearing an aisle to the front VIP balcony, standing back and shining flashlights down to light the path. Someone is passing, but who? Where? Oh, down there.

It's the Mini Spice Girls, a lip-sync tribute band of little people, not all of whom are girls. Mini Posh Spice is accompanied by a mini David Beckham.

A promoter takes the stage and says, "Tonight we have a television icon in attendance!"

Mario Lopez takes the stage and the Mini Spice Girls flounce in to "If You Wanna Be My Lover," showers of boob bucks rain down and Lopez's smile freezes.

Then it's over and he's offstage, making for his VIP booth. On the way, a woman shimmies up. She cups a hand to his ear and speaks. Then she walks away.

"Wait, wait! What was that?" he shouts. "How you gonna say that and then just walk away?"

She smiles over her shoulder.

Exit Lopez.

It's now 2:15 and earplug time. The music booms and brrrrrrrms and shouts out a chorus of "Where the (haddock) is the waitress with my drink?" The club smells like Red Bull and Parliament Lights, like Pez and mothballs.

As a boob bucks contestant chats up two guys, she spots our photographer. Zap! The stupid ray strikes. The woman turns, takes the men's hands and puts them on her (sabre-toothed blennies).

"Mmm, (sheepshead)," she says.

Sarah Lee Olson, though, seems to be just talking to guys, maybe batting her eyelashes. After a short talk, one guy hands her a thick wad and says, "You're special. I hope you win."

A girl in a brown dress is using the extra time to fill her trash bag with more play money. She goes up to a group of guys, reaches into her neckline, pulls out a portion of her anatomy and gives it a squeeze. Soon she's letting other people squeeze portions of her anatomy. She uses her teeth to pick bills out of guys' waistbands.

Now it's 3 a.m. and the contest is supposed to be over, but no one can find Mario Lopez. Someone decides to end it without him and calls all the contestants to the VIP stage. The women are asked to stack their cash sideways down the table and whoever has the longest stack wins.

Sarah Lee Olsen shows up first, bringing a fat sack and a couple of friends. They pull out neat wads and lay them down.

Cody follows with only a handful of badly crumpled bills to show for all her grinding. Then she remembers she has a whole backpack full, too.

The woman in brown is still trying to add to her haul. There's no subtlety now. Any time a guy with blue bills walks by, she shouts, "Hey!" and pulls her shirt open.

Finally, the promoter steps up with the microphone.

And the winners are ...

In third place, there's Brandy, who looks familiar. Her stack is 28 inches and she wins a gift basket from a spa.

In second place there's Maya, who doesn't look familiar. Her stack is 30 inches and she wins - it's unclear what Maya wins.

And then, coming in first - it's Olson, with a 33-inch stack. She bounces onto the table giggling, grabs wads of boob bucks and stuffs them down her dress. She holds up a stunt check and it's bigger than she is. She rolls in a pile of boob bucks as cameras flash. It's uplifting, a triumph of pluck and decency over lazy come-ons and vulgarity.

A woman chewing gum wanders up and looks at the scene.

"What is that for?" she says.

Plastic surgery.

"They wanted money for plastic surgery?"

Yeah. That's it.

"Oh, OK," she says. "I guess."

Sun staff member Leila Navidi contributed to this story.

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