Dilettante 8: Las Vegas pt4

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Are you a goth Charlotte, punk Miranda, or queer Samantha? Definitely a bizarro Carrie here. Actual Carrie wasn’t weird enough to develop a small obsession with getting fake-married to a rockabilly dude in the Elvis chapel in Vegas twenty years ago this week, but I was.

Some months after my move to the City in ‘96, my long-term North Carolina boyfriend and I gently broke up, and I began dating. My job at the time was in the big leagues, writing art previews, reviews, and then this “Dilettante” column for a big-city paper, the SF Bay Guardian.

Around the same time, my best girlfriends and I became aware of a brand new TV show called Sex and the City, wherein a columnist like me chose to spend all her free time shoe shopping and sitting in fancy restaurants. On a journalist’s salary, this would be implausible at best.

Every week our one television event was to gather in the living room of our house and watch how the SATC episode stacked up to our lives with “Dilettante” that previous week. The girlfriends identified with their fave SATC characters, as did most watchers of the program — but we unlike many in America knew that 1) life as a columnist or friend of columnist could be so much more interesting if you’d just go downtown more often, and 2) you can’t talk about people you date in your columns.

My favorite plot hole to love to harp on about that show was the faultiness of the premise that you could write about your single life for an entire major city’s population to read, with your actual face plastered all over bus ads in New York City, and not have things get weird fast.

Soon, you’d be approached by readers and sycophants when you went out, rendered unable to do your job as a sometimes-incognito reviewer properly. That’s why, despite my editors’ strong wishes, I chose to pen my “Dilettante” column anonymously, with no author photo.

I couldn’t help but wonder — wouldn’t hashing out personal love problems in my column make me seem passive-aggressive to the people I’m dating?

Sex and the City appeared to us as a harbinger — a paler, New York-ish television variant of our actual world in our funkedelic house in the Mission in San Francisco.

Carrie Bradshaw recounted her own love problems week after week when she could’ve been out magnifying worthy artists and musicians or delving into strange subcultures and THEIR sex lives maybe. To each their own modern anthropological kink, but dang, Carrie, there’s a plot hole with the bus ads and the whole attracting-rich-dudes-and-hunks-not-narcissists-and-weirdoes thing.

Also, I dare you to try disclosing deeply personal details about your friends’ love lives in your column. You’d shortly get hollered at and maybe even voted off friendship island.

Anyway in this 1998 four-part article series about Vegas, this one covers that time my rockabilly-type date and I got fake-married in Vegas surrounded by hot greasers at the Elvis chapel. It would be the only event where I came anywhere close to writing about my current sweetie (who was a great guy btw). Just this once, to tell the whole story, I had to write about my date.


Click through to read “Vegas, Baby, Vegas — part four of four,” originally published in the SF Bay Guardian on May 12, 1998.

This is the eighth entry in my “twenty years ago this week” project from when I was a nightlife columnist at the Bay Guardian, once the country’s largest family-owned weekly newspaper. These “Dilettante” clips, compiled on my portfolio page, create a serial portrait of San Francisco culture at the turn of the century (1997-2001).

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