The Big One. Vegas. I’m in a plane coming in to land at McCarran airport. I’ve had to spend the whole trip in a cage, the only way Air America would let me fly. Health and safety gone mad. They couldn’t have a hamster running around the plane. And what if there was a crash or the plane had to go down in the desert. But none of that happened. But it’s a deluxe cage strapped into a seat. A couple of hours ago a flight attendant brought me a little aeroplane meal in tinfoil and popped it through the cage door. For most of the trip I watched films on the screen on the back of the seat in front. The last one I watched was Down in the Duckhouse starring Mallard Duck (aka Duckie). The hit song from the film was playing. Once that catchy number got into your head you couldn’t get rid of it.
I’m living in a duck house
I call it mansion view
Sir Henry has the old place
And I live in the new
Sir Henry calls it Mallard House
To the Portofino set
He says it’s not the best one
But it’s all that he could get
There’s still no jacuzzi
No gas-fired bar-be-que
It was almost nearly there
But we still had work to do
(posh butler voice)
There are some new arrangements
Sir Henry has to make
There are some tough decisions
He has been forced to take
Sir Henry has the Morgan
And will be out of town
But he’s left a memo
Henry won’t let you down
Oh no not the PlayStation
I’m on Star Trip level nine
Please not the plasma screen TV
I use it all the time
Come on guys leave the hard drive
That’s how Sir Henry keeps in touch
At least leave me something
You can see I don’t have much
Who’s that Canadian goose
In suspenders and a bra
I only use that webcam
To send emails to me Ma
Don’t take my little motorboat
I’ve forgotten how to swim
I do all my fitness work
In the duckhouse gym
(posh butler voice)
Sir Henry has a colleague
His name is Jing Jang Ju
He is a very nice man
And he’d like to meet with you
You know The Golden Dragon
On the Portobello Road
That’s where you’ll be living
When this old place is sold
He’s sold the Tracey Emin
He’s sold the Banksy too
Poor man is down to his last yacht
There’s nothing he can do
On the way to the Golden Dragon
Call in at Mr San’s
Pick up some Hoi Sin sauce
Spring onions and a nan
I’m living in a duckhouse
I’m playing ducks and drakes…
Duckie was cut off in full flight by the announcement that we would be landing soon in McCarran. Watch out the U S of AAAAA – Harry the Hamster is comin’ on in. Now I can see McCarran International Airport and the Sphinx outside the Luxor. Just a month ago I’d been sitting having a drink with the guys at Club Magik. Mark had just got back from Ibiza.
“What was Ibiza like?” asked Chris.
“I’ll tell you what Ibiza was like. It was like this – pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy.”
“That’s an awful lot of pussy,” said Tod, taking a swig of his Aztec Warrior.
“It is a lot of pussy. Pussy everywhere. You go into a bar – pussy. You sit down for a cup of coffee – pussy. You go for breakfast – pussy. You go for a waz – pussy.”
“You go for a waz and there’s pussy?”
“Yep,” said Mark, “it happened. I’m talking about wall to wall pussy. I’m knackered me. I need a holiday. Not to mention the third degree burns on me todger. I should be in hospital.”
“You need to get yourself genetically modified like the new astronauts.” said Chris.
“How’s that then?”
“I’ve just been reading about it on the NASA website. You know what the problem is with space travel?”
“Dunno – there’s no pussy on board?”
“Many a true word spoken in jest. Something like that. But that’s not completely accurate from the scientific point of view. The problem isn’t so much a lack of pussy but you are getting close.”
“You can never get enough pussy, not even in Ibiza.”
“Even on long voyages in outer space there is enough pussy for everyone to be able to get their leg over but that’s not the problem,” explained Chris.
“The problem is when you get to the planet you’re going to. You arrive on your planet, say the planet Zorg, and you’ve got to populate it. Because you can’t send thousands of people into outer space on a spaceship, even one of the new megaships.”
“Because according to NASA boffins it’s not logistically feasible.”
“So how do we populate the planet Zorg then?” asked Mike.
“Now that’s a difficult question,” said Chris, “that NASA has been working on for years.”
“Yeah, coz if only a few people land on Zorg it won’t be long before people are shagging their sisters coz that would be the only way to do it.”
“I once knew a guy who shagged his sister.”
“Who was that – your brother?”
“Yep, it was in a threesome with your mum.”
“This is how you do it. You go to a planet where there are loads of chicks already. Then no worries, our guys just get to work and populate the planet.”
“Whooooa, I can see a flaw in your plan. If there are loads of chicks on say the planet Zorg then there are going to be loads of Zorgian guys as well. They’re not gonna like a load of astronaut guys from earth shagging their girls. Just imagine Saturday night there would be so many fights going on you wouldn’t be able to get to the bar for a beer.”
“But the chicks are going to go for the astronauts. It’s the uniform. Chicks love uniforms.”
“Agreed. But have you ever seen an astronaut’s uniform? You’re not going to be shagging nuffin wearing that.”
“I’m not talking about that kind of uniform. That’s a space suit. Astronauts have really natty uniforms when they’re not in outer space. Like Navy Seals. The chicks go wild for it.”
“Hold on, nobody’s gonna be shagging their sister – unless they want to of course – but what I’m saying is they’re not going to have to populate the planet Zorg. NASA has come up with a solution after decades of research.”
“So what’s the solution then?”
“The solution is genetic modification. The new astronauts are all going to have three peckers. NASA is working on it at the moment. In fact, the first astronaut is ready for launch. Big Baz the three-peckered astronaut.”
“But that doesn’t solve the problem of who the astronauts are going to shag. Even if you have three peckers, which I must admit is possible, that doesn’t change the basic problem.”
Chris answered “but on the new planet the chicks are going to go for the guys with three peckers over the ordinary guys who have just one pecker. It’s science, like in Darwin.”
“You mean Darwin had three peckers?” said Ben.
“Don’t be daft. Darwin couldn’t have had three peckers because he was a scientist living in the nineteenth century. They didn’t have genetic modification like we do now.”
Everyone reached for a new Aztec Warrior and I reached for a junglefrenzy.
“So this is what is going to happen,” said Chris “the next NASA mission is to the planet Crudnik, a small planet in the constellation KY69, five light years away. Big Baz and the other genetically modified and enhanced astronauts are going to be heading that way in a couple of months and here’s the thing – Crudnik chicks have three pussies. That’s really why our guys had to be modified. So when you get back from Crudnik it’s not going to be just pussy pussy pussy pussy like Ibiza it’s gonna be pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy pussy. And that’s what scientists call an exponential increase in pussy.”
We were all having a laugh when my mobile went off. It was Big Cheese.
“Harry, have I got news for you. It’s the big one – Vegas. I think you’re ready for it.”
Vegas, fantastic, I’d always known it would happen. Big Cheese had done it again.
“That’s great, how did you set it up?”
“Do you know Porky?”
“Sure, the piggy poker guy.”
“Porky has loads of contacts in Vegas and helped set it up. We’ll have to meet Porky to discuss a few things. Are you OK for tomorrow?”
“For Vegas? You bet.”
Now at the mention of Porky I couldn’t stop the piggy poker song popping into my head-
piggy poker-na na na na naaaaa
piggy piggy piggy poker
don’t be a joker
play piggy poooooooker
“I’m looking forward to meeting the big pink guy in person,” I said.
“Harry, get a grip, pigs aren’t pink, show some sensitivity.”
“Of course they are, everyone knows that. I’ve seen them on telly and what about Pinky and Perky?”
“Pinky and Perky aren’t real, Harry, they are cartoon characters. And when you meet Porky don’t call him a pig.”
“But he is a pig. I’m a hamster, you’re a cat, Freddy the Frog is a frog, Duckie is a duck and so on.”
“It’s just something he’s a bit touchy about, you know, the long history of peccarism, and he likes people to know that he is a Gloucester Old Spot. That’s a rare breed. So come on Harry, humour the guy, let’s keep him on our side.”
“Gloucester old spot, Gloucester new spot, Gloucester pink spot, it’s all the same to me.”
“Great Harry, I’m glad you’re on board with that. See you tomorrow night around eight at my place. Be there or be square. This is it Harry.”
The aeroplane is about to land at McCarran. Down in the Duckhouse finished a few minutes ago. Duckie gave one of his best performances. I wasn’t the only X-Pet celebrity heading for Vegas. Freddy the Frog was at this moment on an Air France jet on the way to Vegas after a four week set at the Moulin Rouge. But it was going to be difficult for him to break into the States. The Americans didn’t love frogs the way they did Brits. And then Duckie was doing a night club on Sunset Strip, riding high after the success of Down in the Duckhouse and the follow-up hit single.
Big Cheese had set us up at the Luxor. Where else? Got to be the best place in town. I was booked to do a one-hamster slot in a cabaret joint on Sunset Strip. My show was part of a revue. Big Cheese was going to do all the PR work and set up meets with agents, TV, radio, the works. Cheese said this was going to be my stepping stone to the States. There had only been a couple of photographers at the airport but that would all change when everyone knew that Harry the Hamster was in town.
I was sharing a room in the Luxor with Big Cheese. Not exactly the penthouse suite but it was OK. The Luxor was fantastic. It was like being in ancient Egypt except back then they didn’t have casinos and nightclubs. Everywhere you looked there was somebody dressed up like an ancient Egyptian. It was cool. We had our own personal hostess, Lorna Rodriquez. Lorna was there to make sure everything was right. She was used to dealing with the big stars, so she wasn’t fazed by the most famous hamster in the world. Lorna was a smart girl as well as being a looker. Every morning she gave poker lessons to people at the hotel. That’s how Big Cheese started playing poker. He started with three card poker, which he soon got really good at. When he played he would sit and stare hard at the cards. He could also flip the cards over using his claws. Lorna laughed when she first saw it.
Lorna took a big shine to Cheese. He’d sit on her lap and purr away like a machine gun while she tickled under his chin. She started giving Cheese extra poker lessons in our room at night. They would spend a couple of nights going over stuff. They became real buddies. That cat’s got natural talent, a real sixth sense, she would say. Lorna had been at the Luxor for years and knew all the moves. She would take Cheese on a tour of the casino floor, holding him in her arms like a baby. Cheese would be purring away. Of course everyone knew Lorna so everyone got to know Cheese as well. The casino floor was huge, 120,000 square feet according to Cheese. There was everything you could ever want, everything you have ever dreamt about and more. More slot machines than you could count, rows and rows of them. Roulette, ordinary and rapid, black jack, six and eight deck shoe, double deck and single deck. Lorna said there were 87 games in total. And then there was sports betting. You could bet on every sport under the sun, all the biggies and sports you’d never heard of like women’s basketball. I’d always thought that women’s basketball was netball but there you go what do I know. And if you didn’t want to bet, and who could resist, there was loads of other stuff to do. You could hang out in the atrium. Lorna said it was the biggest in the world. There were restaurants, bars and a night club with two giant statues of an ancient Egyptian god. And it was always bright. I never had to take my Rayblokkers off.
Lorna took me on a tour. I perched on her shoulder as we walked through the casino. Lorna told everyone I was a celeb hamster from England, a big star and one day I would be a big star in Vegas too. Sometimes I’d see Porky around. He was staying at the Excalibur nearby. He would meet up with Cheese in the atrium then they’d go off somewhere together, maybe to the high limit area or to meet the high rollers. Talking about high rollers, Big Vince’s brother Dave was staying at the Luxor. Dave was a diamond merchant from Hatton Garden in London and Cheese spent quite a lot of time hanging out with him. Big Dave is a diamond geezer Cheese used to say. Cheese said you know something Harry diamonds beat money any day put your money into diamonds. But I didn’t have much money. At the start of the trip I was nearly broke. The hotel gave me some chips to play with but I quickly lost them on the slots. I wasn’t bothered about gambling though, I was focused on my act, like a pro should be.
The Orange Cactus was a cabaret place just off the strip near Tropicana Avenue. I was to do half an hour a night five days a week. I was on in the first half, about halfway through. The show started with the MC then there was a comedian, some up and coming local guy, then a magician, then a singer, then me and after me another comedian. The second half of the show had one act, the all nude revue Girls of Mexico. The manager said don’t worry if the audience is thin in the first half, most people come for the revue. In his office were photos of all the stars who had played at the Orange Cactus, guys like Liberace.
I’m in the Green Room before the first night. The room is a pokey little place by human standards but big enough for a hamster. There is a kind of sour sweaty smell. There is a tatty old chair in front of a mirror. The mirror is dirty and has a crack in it in the right hand corner. I get a piece of tissue paper and wipe a spot clean big enough to see myself. Looking good. I do a couple of poses and a bit of shadow boxing, moving my powerful forelegs fast. Still in great shape. The manager comes in and says,
“Five minutes Harry.”
Time to get focused, to do the Elvis fifty yard walk thing. And now I’m side stage. I’m the greatest, I’m the King. The MC is warming up the crowd.
“And now all the way from London England, the X-Pet sensation, the one and only Harry the Hamster!”
The speakers boom out Move your Body as I leap onto the stage. I head for a little raised platform area mid-stage. This was built specially for me. There is a large screen behind me so that everyone can see the act close up. I do my trademark back flips on the way to the platform and wait for the crowd to go crazy. There is what sounds like two or three people clapping. They even sounded half hearted. What is wrong with these people? I peer into the auditorium. I don’t see anyone in the front two rows. At the back I can see three or four people. Most of the people must be right at the back where it is really dark. No problem. Harry is a pro. This wouldn’t be the first hit show that was slow to warm up. And it is early in the week. I go on to the next bit of my act, which is a few jokes based on local stuff. I’d run the material by Lorna and she’d said she thought it was quite funny. So I decided to run with it. But it doesn’t get huge laughs. Maybe I’d have to tweak it a bit, look on the show as a work in progress.
Like the pro I am I continued with the act. It could be going better. I get the occasional laugh from someone at the back. A couple of times someone applauds but kind of slowly. I think just finish the act and get off, live to fight another day. Then I notice something move at the back. It looks like people are coming in. At last. Phew. Panic over. But it is only three guys. Three big guys. They walk down the aisle and sit in the front row. One is a huge guy who looks like a Mexican or a Columbian. He is wearing an old leather jacket and jeans. He looks like a bouncer. Another guy is wearing really old worn jeans and an old t-shirt that says Los Hombres Nevada Chapter. The third guy is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, big baggy shorts and sandals. I expected the place to fill up for the Girls of Mexico revue and it is good to have a few people sitting at the front. Makes me feel like there is an audience. I only have about five minutes of my act left so I just get on with it.
But the big guys decide they will amuse themselves by having a little heckle. Hawaiian shirt says,
“Hey, Tony, I can smell a rat, can anyone else smell a rat?” And he sniffs really loud and then waves his hand in front of his nose like a fan. There are a few sniggers from the audience. I ignore this like a pro. The Los Hombres t-shirt guy says,
“What the hell is this – a guinea pig that’s a comedian?” A guinea pig? ok – funny. The other guy says,
“Last guinea pig I saw was on a stick. Ever had that, guinea pig on a stick? Tasty.”
The three amigos laugh and so does the audience. Biggest laugh of the night so far, and that’s what hurts. I have to have a comeback shot.
“Hey guys, nice to have you here but the Gay Guys of Columbia revue is next door at the Pink Cactus.” There’s a nervous little laugh from someone in the audience. Then complete silence. The three amigos have all been smiling and laughing. Now their expressions change. They don’t say anything. The Hawaiian shirt slowly stands up then moves forward towards the stage. He looks dangerous and the other guys are right behind him. Just as well you’ve got backup mate you’re gonna need it. Hawaiian shirt lurches onto the stage and makes a grab for me. But he hasn’t realised just how fast a hamster in peak condition can move. I just jump off my little platform and land at his feet. I jump on his right foot and sink my teeth into his big toe. That would hurt. Horrible taste though.
The amigo screams and kicks out. I sail through the air but no problem, I sail through the air just like one of the Wang Doo guys in the films. I land back on the platform and take up the Crouching Tiger position as soon as my hind legs hit the ground. I adjust my Rayblokkers in a micro second, then left back leg planted firmly, right back leg relaxed and slightly pushed forward, right foreleg raised, left foreleg held back in a reserve of power and strength. Leather jacket dives at me with his arms outstretched. I easily get out of the way using the Leaping Antelope manoeuvre. Leather jacket is left clutching air. I sail off the platform and land in the Winter Swan position. Now the crowd are going wild. The place has suddenly filled up with the Girls of Mexico audience. The Los Hombres t-shirt guy makes his move. I focus my mind on my Shaolin mantra: attack with speed, strength, power, precision and flexibility. But Los Hombres is too fast. He grabs me with his left hand and for a moment it looks like I might be a goner. I bite his hand and he screams and loosens his grip. I jump onto his face and grab his hair with my left foreleg. Then comes the Fishing Crane move. I stick my right foreleg in his eye, and don’t forget that all this happens almost faster than the eye can see. The three amigos have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m using moves I’d learned in Modern Shaolin Mastery, A Guide for the Small Mammal, by Ken DoNa Gasakaki, martial arts coach to A-list celebs. Anyone who is anyone has trained with Ken. I’d even had a few sessions myself with the great man. It’s all paying off now as Los Hombres screams and brings his hand up to his eye. I pivot and swing powerfully, digging my right back leg into the guy’s other eye. I let go of his hair and sail through the air Wang Doo style, landing with perfect balance. Time to make an exit. In a dark place like this my strategy is to stick to the edges of the room and move like greased lightning.
“Where is he,” screams Los Hombres.
“Get him!” screams Hawaiian shirt.
Too late, amigos. Sticking to the walls like glue I run for the exit. The place is going bonkers, crazy. For a moment I think I’m running blind, it is hot, dark, noisy, people screaming, shouting, laughing.
“There he goes!”
“Don’t let him escape!”
“I’m gonna kill him!”
“Bring on the girls!”
Then I see a door. Quickly through it. I’m in a kitchen. Down to the back then left, moving fast. Still not huffing and puffing. It pays to keep in shape. Through the kitchen I look up and the place is full of the girls from the Girls of Mexico revue. One of them spots me and they all start screaming. At least that clears a path for the door. I sprint towards the door and escape into an alley. Right or left? On a hunch I go right. Wrong decision. Dead end. A brick wall, too high to climb. I turn around to see the three amigos comin’ towards me. On the way through the kitchen Hawaiian shirt had picked up a meat cleaver, one of those things you see Chinese guys with and he was waving it around like he meant business. A brick wall behind, the three psycho amigos comin’ at me, Hawaiian shirt with a meat cleaver. What’s Harry goin’ to do? Right Harry, time to think like a Ninja. Counter attack with speed and confusion. I stick to the left hand wall and sprint as fast as I can. The amigos are big and heavy and they try to grab me but I squeeze past. The meat cleaver misses my head by an inch. Without pausing for so much as a milli second I adjust my Rayblokkers and head for the main road I can see ahead.
I can hear the amigos behind me, shouting, panting – those guys are in terrible condition, then suddenly I burst onto the main road and I’m hit by the noise of cars, the smell of fumes. I turn a sharp left and head for the Luxor. Hawaiian shirt reaches the main road but trips and crashes to the ground. Los Hombres trips over Hawaiian shirt and next thing all three amigos are in a heap on the pavement, shouting and swearing. One of them tries to get up but accidentally gets a meat cleaver in the foot. He holds his foot and starts hopping around screaming with pain. I jog back to the hotel, puffing a bit but not too much. I go straight up to my room to crash out. Big Cheese is in the room watching TV.
“What’s up Harry,” Cheese says, hardly taking his eyes off the telly.
“What’s up? I’ll tell you what’s up. I’ve nearly been killed by three psychos. One of them had a meat cleaver. I’m lucky to be alive. They ended up in a pile on the road.”
“Where was this? “ said Cheese.
“Just out there, on the road, down near the club.”
“Well Harry, you survived and that’s the main thing.”
I went for a lie down. What a thing to happen on your first night. But the show must go on. Harry will be back tomorrow night. Harry always bounces back.
A couple of days later the three amigos pileup was a viral video hit. The whole thing had been captured by CCTV cameras and the shots had found their way onto FunVid and then even onto local telly. I became a bit of a local celeb. I ditched my original act and instead based my act completely on the three amigos incident. I acted out the scenario myself, playing all the roles and throwing in a few jokes. The place was always packed. And that’s how I got to be a star in Vegas.