13 February 2016

Adieu to the Showgirl Culture of Las Vegas

Thanks to my father's persuasive abilities, at age 12, I was privileged w/ my sister Heather to view #LesFoliesBergere at the #Tropicana from the lighting booth. The waiters brought our supper to the booth and we were transfixed by the show.
There was magic, comedy, and women who defied imagination in 40-pound headdresses and evening wear that had no covering for their perfect, natural breasts.
There were singers singing songs in French and animal acts that made us laugh. All in all it was a show such as I'd never seen and the likes of which I may never see again.
As a stockbroker in #LasVegas, one of my favourite clients was a gent who worked as a cocktail waiter at the Folies. He'd emigrated to the #USA from #Cuba in 1959, seeing the writing on the wall. He'd heard about the growing glitz of Vegas and it appealed to him.
Arriving in the desert town, he got job dropping drinks on tables at the new Bergere revue at the storied "first n the strip" hotel.
When I met José, it was 1986. We met at the "Las Vegas Sporting House" which was the best health spa I ever witnessed, but that's a different story. The gentleman dressed, acted, and invested as though he were a captain of industry. a cocktail waiter...a cocktail waiter who was putting three kids through Ivy League schools, paid in cash.
The union wage that José earned was generous, but paled in comparison to the gratuities he received. This guy was taking down mid-six-figures in tips. People would stop by just to shake his hand and leave a grand in it just t assure a lucky stay because for decades, this man had been a component of luck-filled trips to The Strip.
Some of my clients were showgirls, the improbably built dancers from shows like Folies, Jubilee at Bally's, and Splash! at the RIviera. They all had robust portfolios, though I'll grant you, many showgirls put most of it up their noses.
The Las Vegas 'Grand Variety Show' experience was a unique culture that provided thousands of jobs at pretty decent pay. It produced great entertainers and a lot of great characters.
Circ du Soleil's takeover of the Strip has lowered the wage profile of performers and homogenized the Vegas nightlife experience. Cheesy though such things may seem to a millennial audience, the showgirls of Las Vegas and the retinue before whom they strutted will be missed.

RM! Aggregate