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Inside Vegas - Steve Miller

Steve Miller is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. In 1991, the readers of the Las Vegas Review Journal voted him the "Most Effective Public Official" in Southern Nevada. Visit his website at:

"Can't Buy Me Love"

"Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy." - Paul McCartney

"How much will it take?" - Bob Stupak

Inside Vegas by Steve Miller
January 11, 2010

LAS VEGAS - Former professional boxer, referee, and Las Vegas construction company owner Joey Curtis died in May 2004. I was acquainted with Joey when I worked at city hall.

Stratosphere Tower developer, philanthropist, and humanitarian Bob Stupak died in September 2009. Bob and I were close friends for decades. Both men were Las Vegas icons and had thousands of friends including Rick Rizzolo.

Both men were known for not taking sides in disputes when it involved their mutual friends.

In respect to Joey and Bob, I've waited until after their deaths to tell this story.

The lyrics of Paul McCartney's classic "Can't Buy Me Love" comes to mind when I think of an uncomfortable situation that involved these two gentlemen.

"I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel all right."

The last time I saw Joey was a summer evening in 2003. My wife and I were with some friends enjoying dinner at the late Joe Kludjian's Golden Eagle on Paradise Road when Joey Curtis entered the restaurant and walked directly to our booth. He appeared to be on a mission.

Joey laid down a roll of one hundred dollar bills secured with a rubber band. By its size, it looked like $5,000. "This is from Rick," Joey said with a smile. (He didn't mention "Rick's" last name.)

My wife and friends were taken aback by the gesture. "It's so you might write some nice things about him," Joey exclaimed. I wasn't sure what "Rick" he was referring to because I know several including Rick Porrello the publisher of, but based on my then-current INSIDE VEGAS columns about racketeer Rick Rizzolo, I assumed it was that "Rick."

I introduced Joey and asked him to join us for dinner. He said he couldn't.  I placed the roll of bills back into his coat pocket and said, "I'll pay 'Rick' five thousand to sit down with me for an exclusive taped interview." Joey laughed, excused himself, and left the room. I never saw Joey Curtis again.

My friends from out of town asked what that was all about, and I told them of several columns I had recently written about the beating of a Kansas tourist at Rizzolo's then-infamous Crazy Horse Too strip club. I described how beating victim Kirk Henry was the latest in a long series of hapless tourists who had been brutalized at the club, and how Rizzolo had unsuccessfully sued me to try to stop my reports.

Later that same year, I received the first in a series of calls from Bob Stupak. He asked if I would go to lunch with him and a person named "Rick." He said "Rick" had some money to give me.

I told Bob about Joey's unusual gesture and asked if he was referring to the same "Rick?" He said he knew about Joey's offer that I turned down; and said he could get more money than Joey. "How much will it take?" Bob asked?

("...the kind of thing that money just can't buy.")

Only wanting to take advantage of "Rick's" offer to have lunch, I told Bob the same thing I told Joey; that I would offer "Rick" (if it was the right Rick) five grand in exchange for an exclusive taped interview.

Bob became annoyed saying that's not what he or "Rick" had in mind. That I was supposed to keep the money -- not try to out bid "Rick."

I told Bob that I was serious about paying for an exclusive taped interview, and that his and Joey's offers offended me as a journalist. Bob went on trying to sell me on accepting more money in exchange for writing favorable things, or not writing at all about "Rick."  I suggested he change the subject. Bob ended the call.

During the next several weeks, Bob repeated the offer three more times asking "What will it take?"

On the third and final "Rick call," it seemed like Bob was not alone. He was unfriendly and feigned an east coast accent using the "F" word repeatedly making him sound mobster-like.

There were muffled voices in the background and I could tell he was on a speakerphone. I refused his offer -- again -- and repeated mine.

Bob interrupted our conversation to say he needed to let the "Sparklets Water man" in, and stepped away from the phone. For several minutes I listened to muffled voices that I couldn't understand. I imagined that they sounded angry.

When Bob returned to the phone, he picked up the headset, lost his east coast accent, and was back to being his jovial self. I  told him that our friendship was being tested with each of his calls on this subject, and to please not bring up the issue again.

Bob respected my wishes. We remained close friends until his death.

"Mr. Las Vegas," treasured his friendships, forgave the sins of others, and was loyal to a fault. Even though we often disagreed, Bob Stupak will always have a place in my heart. I really miss him.

"I'll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel all right...." may be the mantra of many folks in Sin City, but I'm not one of them.

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