The Vegas Showgirl

The Vegas showgirl is as iconic as - uh - just about anything. Vegas Vic, one-armed bandits, craps tables, and the topless Vegas showgirl complete with feathered headdress. It's all Vegas, baby! (Photo from Destination360)

It's a little sad little fact that these revues are slowly disappearing. Only three productions featuring traditional showgirls remain on the Strip: the Tropicana's "Folies Bergere," Riviera's "Splash" and Bally's "Jubilee!"

They are being replaced by Broadway-style production shows. I guess that's what you'd call all the Cirque shows, plays, high-tech shows, musicals etc. It's a revenue thing as much as an image thing, I'm sure.

5 or 6 years back, E! ran a series titled, "Vegas Showgirls: Nearly Famous." It was fascinating - watching the incredible work and pressure, and the slow demise, inching rather than racing into quaintness, soon to be oblivion. Back in 2006, the NYT had an article, "The Twilight of the Ostrich-Plumed, Rhinestone-Brassiered Las Vegas Showgirl."

It got me to thinking maybe I should take the backstage tour of Jubilee! before the show, like so much of Vegas, disappears into a balance sheet of modern corporate decision making. [ed note: Bally's owner, Harrah's, has been especially non-sentimental in its razor-sharp cuts under the new ownership of two private equity groups, so anything is a very real possibility]

Anyway, here's a snippet from author Mike Gerrard, in his article Las Vegas Nude Showgirls Revisited that gives you the flavor of what you learn on the tour:

The cramped dressing rooms are two stories below the stage. Paula has 11 costume changes, which makes each show like an hour on a Stairmaster. 'The stairs on stage are 12 inches high, twice normal height,' she says. 'Walking down those in high heels, wearing a 20 pound costume, a headdress that sticks out three feet on each side, hitting your mark to avoid bumping into the other 85 dancers…and doing it topless…is quite a challenge.'

If you have any experiences with Vegas showgirls - shows, people, tours, send them in.

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