When an industry holds its annual trade show in Las Vegas, surely there will be plenty of distractions to make the experience more palatable. It was the year 2000, the turning of the millennium, when I found myself in the world capital of broken dreams. The hotel package came with some comp tickets to attractions within the complex, the idea being that you will “make it a night” there and then trundle up to your room with empty pockets. The Riviera was an aging casino, built when the Rat Pack was in its prime; it had become a bit faded, but it still possessed a main room, a comedy club, and an “exotic” show: burlesque that had been updated a bit, but only a bit. There were various acts: leggy and busty dancers sporting teased hair in a flashy musical revue (titled The Crazy Girls), a fan dancer emulating Sally Rand, a foul-mouthed comedienne who brought back memories of high-school locker room conversations.
And then, the climax. The lights dimmed, the curtain slowly opened to reveal...
...a woman, totally nude, lying on a platform that tilted as it revolved. Her “artful” poses changed, depending on the platform's position relative to the audience, she was careful to keep her “bottom” concealed. Classical music played. She looked like a piece of meat on a slab in a butcher’s shop; a plucked chicken displayed for the customer’s approval. This went on for several minutes. Then the curtain closed and the lights went up.
Somehow, I had imagined that Sodom would have been more exciting. After a curtain call by the Crazy Girls, (consisting of them turning around and shaking their collective posteriors), I was herded out with the rest of the chumps.
As I left, I wondered what went through the mind of the “girl on the wheel.”
Twenty years of dance lessons and this is what I get? Rolling around naked on a lazy-susan, oogled by a bunch of creepy tourists?
It’s a living, I guess. I’ve had worse jobs.
First published February 27, 2007