There is a massive difference between “The Hangover,” the film series, and an actual hangover.
A pair of conventioneers at CES were reminded of that distinction Wednesday night during the Hardware Massive industry mixer at Caesars Palace. Sierra Dasso and Taylor Lemmon, who work in marketing for the San Francisco cyber-security sales company Cloudflare Inc. attended their first CES this week.
They arrived at what was billed as a trade party and networking event at the hotel’s popular Hangover Suite. So, I asked the conventioneers how they liked networking at the suite made famous for the first “The Hangover” movie in 2009.
“I think it’s beneficial, I have had meetings a coffee bar. I grabbed gelato today and met up with someone,” Lemmon said. “We’re all gathered in the same place here. Is this evolving my career? Absolutely.”
I asked again, “But is it interesting to you that you’re having an industry mixer in this suite modeled after the one in the movie?”
Lemmon stopped, looked at her friend and said, “Wait, this is the one? Haha!”
— Kevin M. Cannon (@kmcannonphoto) January 10, 2019
“Now it’s clicking!” Dasso said. “OK, that’s hilarious.”
“We didn’t know that. We were on the elevator on our way up here and we’re asking, ‘Are they going to give us a hangover? Do they expect us to arrive hung over?’” Lemmon said, laughing. “But where’s the piano? Where’s the tiger?”
In one of the bathrooms, actually. A stuffed one.
But no piano, and “The Hangover” co-star Mike Tyson could not make the party. He was out of town Wednesday. I know this because his wife, Kiki, told me this after I texted the couple and invited them to the event.
Lemmon said, “Las Vegas is a lot. This isn’t my first time here. It’s great in small doses. Sorry!” And Dasso allowed, “It’s overwhelming, very fun, very informative. It’s a working vacation, and I’m glad the company paid for it.”
— Kevin M. Cannon (@kmcannonphoto) January 10, 2019
The room was booked by Dana Madlen, Vice President of Services for Rush Order of Gilroy, Calif. His company fulfills delivery orders for electronics companies.
“This is our client-partner-friends party, we’re celebrating a successful year and celebrating it here,” Madlen said. “This suite is our official room.”
The mixer was launched five years ago at Bally’s, but moved to Caesars in a luxury suite actually designed to reflect the party room from “The Hangover,” which is actually modeled after the one in the movie and was also featured in “Rain Man.”
To clarify a piece of Las Vegas lore, the suite seen in the movie doesn’t really exist. “The Villa,” which bachelors request, is actually a sound stage inspired by elements from several suites at Caesars but producers chose most of the set elements from the Emperors Suite.
The actual suite is a two-bedroom, two-story suite, not exactly like the one-story villa seen in the movie. There’s also no grand piano or bar area, but the Emperors Suite is covered in marble and filled with flat screen TVs, just like the movie. The floor-to-ceiling windows seen as the actors enter the suite — showing a sprawling view of the Strip — also are right out of the Emperors Suite.
Over the years, single-night rates for the suite have ranged from $1,600 to $4,200.
Thought the suite is commonly booked for bachelor parties and NFL fantasy draft parties, Wednesday’s event drew comparatively business-focused conventioneers. One was a familiar figure in Las Vegas, Howard Kenig, managing director of Evr.Design.
Kenig is a product and industrial designer who has been in the business for more than 40 years and attended CES at least 35 times.
— John Katsilometes (@johnnykats) January 10, 2019
“I remember when this was held the basement of the dome, at the Las Vegas Convention Center Rotunda, in the mid-1980s,” said Kenig, whose wife, Barbara, is a Vegas PR rep who worked for the late comic legend Marty Allen. “I go as far back as when it was in Chicago.” The show was first staged there in the mid-1970s.
I asked Kenig if he had any advice for first-time attendees.
“Run! Run!” Kenig said, chuckling. “No, really, this was a show that was about product, which is what I do, and things that can really change the world. Now it’s a show about investments and (pause) letting everyone know what you’re invested in. Back the days in Chicago, you’d go to the Panasonic booth and they’d have 250 VCRs — and they’d ask to pick the one that would wind up on the market.
“Now, I’m guessing, that none of what you see is going to wind up on the market.”
Kenig mocked some of the dazzling prototypes unveiled at this year’s CES, especially the hyper-advanced vehicles.
“Coming out of the auto and technologies industries, I look at all all these companies who can build cars,” he said. “But I am reminded of what (famed auto executive) Bob Lutz said, ‘Building a car is easy. Building a car company is a bitch.’ “
Revving up, he continued, “Showing up with a really cool car? Yeah, you can do that. But you know, all of these folks who have autonomous vehicles running over autonomous robots — which I think is a great stunt — are coming to the show to do publicity. When that happens, I think we have lost the point.”
But Kenig says he will continue to attend, canvass and network at CES.
“Even this show, with 200,000 of my friends, and events like this,” Kenig said. “This is the type of event where you might find the guy who has a garage in Sunnyvale who is working on something that might really make a difference.” If not,there’s always the tiger in the restroom, ready for his next photo op.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.