Whoopi Goldberg says, “I’m not gonna lie. I like a good machine,” referring to the electronic games of chance lined up across casino floors.
But decades ago, Goldberg was warned about liking those machines too much. A couple of friends well-educated about casino business shared their advice.
“I learned a lot from Mr. Sinatra, and a lot from Steve Wynn about how not to get into trouble in a casino,” Goldberg says, referring to entertainment legend Frank and the groundbreaking resort developer. “It was really great, because when you’re in a place like Las Vegas, you don’t realize you’re playing with real money. In those days, it was coins, so Steve told me, ‘Be careful, and make it that you don’t want to have to work for me. You always want to work for me.’”
That was in 1985 at Wynn’s Golden Nugget, when Goldberg, then a rapidly rising star, performed in the small room when Sinatra headlined the main showroom.
“When I met him I was talking like 5,000 miles an hour, I was so nervous,” Goldberg recalls. “But I got to talk about acting with him, about his role in ‘The Man with the Golden Arm,’ and I thought his performance was spectacular. I was asking him about why he took the second part (of Nathan Detroit, opposite Marlon Brando as Skye Masterson) in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ and he said, “I just did what I did, and I did it well.’”
Goldberg, of course has since become an internationally famous actress, author, and television host who has won every major entertainment award (Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy) and reaches millions of viewers each day as the sharp-tongued host of “The View” weekdays on ABC.
But Goldberg has never lost her passion for the stage, and still performs straight stand-up regularly in town. She returns to Treasure Island, her Strip home for the past seven years, at 9 p.m. Friday.
“I do a birthday show there now and they’ve been so good to me, they allow my family to come and they have been nothing but spectacular and wonderful to me,” Goldberg says. “I feel like I’m one of those people who are a walk-up seller.
The show is tied to Goldberg’s birthday — she turns 61 on Monday — and is focused on growing old.
“I went to see a Steely Dan concert and I’m standing there thinking, ‘Their fans are really old!’ Goldberg says. “I’m looking around and then I pass a mirror and I’m like “Oh, s**t, I’m really old, too!’ “
Even as she delivers pointed opinions about current events, levelling criticism on the Trump Administration, on “The View,” Goldberg says she is not interested in delving into politics in her stage show, or in conversation about her act.
“I don’t like talking politics, because I talk politics all day long,” she says. “So I like to have a broader paintbrush, and I know sometimes people come expecting me to do what I do on ‘The View,’ but it’s not good for me. I have to prove to myself that I can do other things other than the very easy material that seems to get written for me every day.”
She updates her act only after she’s finished with her day job.
“I’m weird because I work very differently, because a lot of it is the night,” Goldberg says. “I know there are four or five things I want to hit and the last couple of years, this growing up thing, has been really mind-boggling because my audiences grew up with me, they’re all going through the same thing.”
Goldberg gauges the impact of her commentary buy checking out the expressions from the audience.
“You can see the men are looking down and the women are looking at the men and we all sort of get it,” she says. “I’m taking them back to when we were the hottest thing on the block and we wore the shorter skirts and we rolled the best pot and we go from there to what we are doing today.”
Goldberg is asked if she had one entertainment to pursue, what would it be.
“It would probably be what I’m doing now because I get to do everything,” she says. “It all encompasses acting , and being present. I want to be present for whatever it is I’m doing. That was a great way to duck a question, right?”