If one place on earth has vanquished nature and stopped the clocks, it is Las Vegas. Built on land without water or any reliable resource apart from the blazing sun, the resort entombs visitors in the permanent, cool, jangling dusk of hotel casinos. Its skyscape positions ancient Egypt near Renaissance Venice and fin de siÃ¨cle Paris. I had come to this confected city to find out if the Cenegenics Medical Institute, "the world's largest age-management practice," could subvert the laws of human biology with similar ease. First I had to locate Cenegenics, and though you might think it would be easy to spot a building described by its tenants as "quite a lot like the White House," the cab driver took more than a few passes before we were able to pick out the right White House from the rows of White Houses that have sprouted in the Nevada desert.
That's the Vegas paradox: despite the mind-boggling range of architectural styles and eras represented, there's a remarkable uniformity to it all. The residents are similarly homogeneous. Perma-tanned and toned, many of them sport a uniface common to both genders and across the income range, from bellhops to casino owners. The uniface is defined by absences: its eyebrows have been plucked, threaded or waxed into submission; its fine little nose is free from bumps and bulges. Above all, it looks neither young nor old. It is ageless. It is amortal.