Word of Mouth

Oh! Were that it the Mob still had a Las Vegas presence! Recent events here in what’s become the Big Mayberry have old-timers hankering for the dese and dose guys. “The boys.”

Too bad time has excised the city of old-timers. More of them and maybe current authorities might recognize experience and listen to it.

Present pandemic and economic conditions have forced owners of the city’s swank properties still operating to slash room rates and lower standards for guests and visitors. Some kind of money churn is better than none.
Dregs throughout the nation have recognized their opportunity. This is the moment to invade, uh, infest, um, visit Sin City.

Calamity brought on by Trumpvirus has made Las Vegas less discriminating. As recently as February of this year, high percentages of guests in town now wouldn’t have dared driven up Interstate 15 or flown here. Then, the city wasn’t desperate for visitors and airlines weren’t starving for passengers.

Today, the cheapest sneaker pimp, the biggest piker believing himself a Big Willy, dumb, loud thick chicks who’ve tarted themselves up beyond garish into circus attractions loaf upon the Strip.

And with notable extravaganzas shuttered, the attractions open space and time limited, and bars only just reopened, hanging out, loitering is the best these severely budgeted Californians, Texans, and Southeasterners can do. That is until their garbage natures surface and they exhibit stereotypic traits.

By the way, it’s mostly tourists who deliver most disrepute to Las Vegas. A k a “dumbfucks from outta town.” People who live here, working residents from every stratum, we manage not to shit on the place. After all, Las Vegas is “home.”

I know tens of millions of Americans will find it strange that Nevadans can find living in Las Vegas “normal.” Certain images of the city have been hard-wired into those living beyond the Mojave despite that vision fading decades ago.

The combatants seen in YouTube videos aren’t locals, but strangers. See them as finally arriving in a destination hyped, imagined, okay, fantasized about. With Las Vegas now under duress, this is their chance to exhaust dreams. Once among the bright lights, amid the thin crowds, they feel obliged to lift their legs and leave their marks on our neon and LED illuminated metropolis.

Yes. The possibility of unfettered licentiousness is one of Las Vegas’ main lures. It’s no joke that arrivals leave their inhibitions at the airport or scattered on roads just outside city limits before entering. And should the visitor possess enough cash and daring, excess living can be experienced. Done right it can also be envied.

But too many current tourists lack the money, the awareness of their own limitations. These days and nights they mill in a city whose previous wealth of distractions might’ve delivered the best-suited diversions. Without those occupying them they are aimless. In the worst sense. There is next to nothing here that’ll deplete energy they’d hoped dedicating to “fun.”

So they act out. So they perpetuate, propagate, and confirm the worst about themselves.

This is what Las Vegas has become. At times a center for knuckleheads.

Fortunately I’ve been recalled off furlough to a job that occasionally allows glimpses into portals of the past.

Today, tourists coming to town expecting to gaze upon real live statuesque showgirls wearing intricate costumes and soaring plumed headdresses will be disappointed. Shows featuring those dazzling presences became extinct years ago. They’ve been replaced by spectaculars emphasizing technological and physical virtuosity. Or residency shows starring pop culture icons belting out their catalogues of greatest hits between pleasant stage patter.

To find a “showgirl” these days, one must beat feet along the Strip. On that pavement, a seeker should come across pairs of reenactresses garbed in approximate attire.

To casual eyes they’ll look the part. Yet somewhere the spirit of Fluff LeCoque recoils at such pretenders.
After her own showgirl career ended, LeCoque, a Las Vegas legend, managed a long-running review called Jubilee. It encapsulated bygone Las Vegas.

Seeing some of the women now on the Strip blaspheming the title “showgirl” while packing themselves into the sort of harnesses that gave old Las Vegas sparkle as they fueled illusions would’ve infuriated LeCoque. These women wouldn’t have passed her muster. Period.

Showgirls in her day needed fitting images, maintain certain measurements. Exacting guidelines demanded strict adherence.

Women today would bridle at the body consciousness of yesterday’s Las Vegas women. Also, few of the descendants have the necessary discipline. Moreover, rare would be the woman of this hour who could carry off past females’ allure.

Anyway, for 10-20 dollars sappy out-of-towners can enjoy the privilege of having photos taken with an ersatz “showgirl” or two.

Ex-dancers are rarities. The few met remain conscious of appearance and poise. Won’t they forever see themselves as always “on display”?

These former performers are discreet, too. If such stage figures extended into our present age, who’d have any problem believing they’d establish and tend websites which “branded” them? Or maybe they’d become “influencers.” In any case, their lives would fill rapidly clicked pages of disposable fashion. The hard work, long hours behind the artifice might receive at best minor mention.

The drudgery required to attain brilliance doesn’t intrigue the public. Just the rewards acquired upon reaching summits.

Besides, thanks to “leaked” videos, Instagrams whose compositions once would’ve severely compromised their subjects, and unsparing, detail rich, sometimes cringe inducing confessionals planted and sprouting all across the internet, disclosures, no matter how embarrassing or humiliating, are the gold strikes that make possible the fame, infamy, or notoriety the public gulps down without bothering to taste.

Demure as they remain, one-time showgirls still charm with modesty. A knowing listener can imagine them luxuriating in what increasingly appears as halcyon Las Vegas; a time when fun was nowhere as grueling and debased as today.

Rat Pack Las Vegas.

What present luminary swiftly comes to mind upon mention of the attribute “charming”? Difficult to conjure one, no?

That aside, I’ve no doubt more than several ex-showgirls have valedictory and validating Milton Berle stories. After all, there’s a neighborhood in town knowing locals still call “Naked City.” In the past, fair numbers of leggy chlorines resided in the bungalows and apartments once crowding its blocks.

The “Naked City” appellation derived from plenty of its female residents tanning themselves beneath the Mojave sun either topless or nude.

Berle was a Golden Age of television star. Furthermore, as numerous women have attested, not only was he a cunt hound of the first order, Berle also was monstrously endowed.

When visiting Las Vegas, it’s a good bet “Uncle Miltie” prowled and schtupped around “Naked City.”

Know who talks freely about Rat Pack Las Vegas? Retired hotel/casino industry personnel. Waiters. Waitresses. Door men. Bell hops. One-time gofers. Ex-sparring partners. Former musicians. Stage hands. Off curtain actors and visible staffers, either briefly seen or slightly regarded, yes, but integral to having made the city’s hospitality and entertainment machinery function smoothly then.

All of the above heard plenty, saw plenty. A few might’ve gotten pulled from the deepest periphery into incidents marking that Las Vegas. Perhaps among themselves at the time they spoke softly. Otherwise little-to-nothing escaped the bubble while the principals still lived.

Self-preservation as much as circumspection ruled. Management then didn’t condone mouths that ran. Assuring the talent and guests of silence insofar as all but the most egregious indiscretions or excesses drew multitudes of tourists searching for safe adventures in the city.

Whether this confidentially tacit or explicit, it was understood by all nonetheless. Anyone drawing pay from a hotel or casino knew what happened to anybody stepping out of line.

Management retained men, oh, let’s call them “no-necks,” who dealt with problems. Like people who needed wising up – and got summarily straightened out. A fate visited on how many gamblers who thought they could cheat the house? And not get caught! If only those alleys behind now razed casinos could’ve talked.

Knowing talking out of school quite frowned upon, what employee wanted risking his or her face being rearranged?

Aside from the see nuthin’/say nuthin’/hear nuthin’ ethos pervading the properties, a lot of bosses kept abreast of their hourly employees’ lives. Not only was it common for department heads to know who worked under them on first name bases, but further recognize the same when new births enlarged families, their children’s high school or college graduations, celebrate strokes of good fortune or commiserate when misfortune inevitably struck.

Corporately owned and run as 21st century Las Vegas is, an associate would be hard-pressed to receive anywhere near the same depth of treatment from one of today’s supervisors or managers.

Freewheeling and swinging as Rat Pack Las Vegas is popularly portrayed, the city only grudgingly loosened its segregated shackles. Mirroring America, covenants and restrictions often determined who could live where here.

Again, since almost familial connections permeated many of the hotel/casinos, more times than anyone will ever know a “somebody” learned of an employee’s quest and discovery of better housing had been deterred through third-party interventions. Generally neighbors found the prospective buyer’s complexion or ethnicity disagreeable.

If the dashed purchaser known as a hard worker, a person demonstrating sought-after and appreciated qualities (eyes and ears open, mouth shut), it was entirely possible for “friends” of his or hers to visit those impeding the sale. Forget overt threats. Just a few no-necks appearing at front doors in order to jam the right words into recalcitrant heads.

Sometimes the “friends” even made the already grateful new homeowner’s down payment.

Naturally those new very welcomed arrivals next door or across the street became known as the best neighbors ever. Today the old-timers certainly have stories to tell.

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