The first time I noticed the Showgirl is missing from Las Vegas
In 2018, I took a road trip with my family to LA to visit Disneyland for the first time as a whole family since 2008. It was always a road trip, as it is (supposedly) cheaper and my dad is afraid to fly—never been on a plane in his life!!
After 13 grueling hours of driving via caravan (2 vehicles with 12 passengers,) through the mountains and then desert from Aurora, Colo., we arrived at our first stop of the trip, Las Vegas.
It had been about a year and a half since I had been, and it was definitely hotter than I remembered. I recognized feeling this icky energy from the city when I got out of the car. It felt really sad, heavy and desperate. Something I hadn’t admitted about Las Vegas before, even though I spent almost a decade of my life there.
We were staying for just the night before finishing up the first leg to DisneyLand the next day.
We decided to chill inside the hotel for the happy hour in the lobby and of course, hit the pool.
It was the next day, when we had planned to visit the World’s Largest Souvenir Shop, that I realized something was missing.
The Showgirl was gone.
I scoured that gigantic store and I couldn’t find a single postcard, key chain, shot glass or silly t-shirt featuring the exotic feathered icon of the city I used to call home.
It was then that it hit me—she’s really going to disappear.
Jubilee!, the last remaining Showgirl production show had closed in 2016 after a 35 year run. And we (the cast and crew,) all knew that the end was near for the Showgirl. (I was in Jubilee! For five years, if you are curious about that experience, check out the post Going from Classical Ballerina to Las Vegas Showgirl.)
I made a decision
Fast forward to my trip to Paris in 2019, where I attended the Global Bluebell Reunion to celebrate 100 years of Madame Bluebell.
I met the most fascinating people in the world on that trip. All of them former Showgirls, Bluebells and Kelly Boys that were in any Bluebell production, ever.
It was quite the spectacle!
One short bluebell in Jubilee! always used to say “ You can take the girl out of the show, but you can’t take the show out of the girl.”
It was proven to me that weekend. Every person, aged 24-81 that walked through the doors of the Lido de Paris to attend the reunion had a certain spark to them. And it was absolutely contagious!!
After chasing the attendees around for autographs (more about that in this episode,) and having conversations and connecting with these brilliant people, I was struck by a profound calling.
I have to share their stories with the world.
And so, during the exclusive Showgirl Master Class on the Lido stage, I made the decision to start a podcast highlighting this unique genre of cabaret entertainment and celebrating all the people that made it possible.
And to top it off, another woman made that same declaration on that same stage.
We are stronger in community
Sheri Lewis and I crossed paths for the first time during that master class. It wasn’t until we had both started interviewing similar guests that we realized that our podcasts existed. (Note: I had done my research in February of 2020 to see if there was another Showgirl podcast, but there was not. I found Bluebells Forever podcast after interviewing Pete Menefee in June of 2020.)
She and I spoke a little about our impressions we each felt when we first found out that someone else had a podcast in our first chat, ep 010 You have to be this tall to ride this ride.
Sheri and I have since connected and formed a friendship, which I feel is more like an alliance. We are both supporting each other on Patreon and will occasionally talk shop about what’s coming down the pipe for each of our shows.
I even donated a virtual performance to benefit her studio, which has suffered since the onset of the pandemic, for her monthly Isolation Cabaret virtual fundraiser show. Lots of co-creating going on!
Together, through our own work with each of our shows, we are preserving the Showgirl and all the people that were part of those amazing stage spectacles.
We are hitting the road together this summer!!
Sheri and I will be embarking on a tour of Reno, Las Vegas and LA together to visit with guests, dig into Showgirl history and drop by our old theaters!!!
The trip is happening June 8-June 14th starting in Reno. Sheri and I will meet there and then drive to each city together. She will be driving from Seattle and I will be flying in from Denver. It’s going to be the most EPIC SHOWGIRL ROAD TRIP, EVER!!
The entire trip was Sheri’s idea.
While the main purpose is to connect in person with guests and dig into the past through access to historical documents, it’s also a great way to get the word out about each of our podcasts and our efforts to preserve the history of the Showgirl.
The Showgirl doesn’t have a show anymore, so we are kinda making our own, in a different format than she has ever been featured.
Showgirl Road Trip 2021 Itinerary
Want to find out what’s on the itinerary for the trip? Here’s a run down of our “loose” plan:
- Grand Sierra Resort, formerly the MGM Grand Hotel, where Hello Hollywood, Hello lived
- Backstage at the theatre
- Meetings with former HHH members
- Meeting with Karen Burns, owner of most of the HHH costumes
- Peppermill Reno
- Backstage at Jubilee! Theatre (I get to sign the memorial wall created for the cast and crew of Jubilee during its 35 year run!!)
- UNLV Library Special Collections (gotta get a look at the Bluebell scrapbooks and Donn Arden papers)
- Visits with more show people that stayed in Vegas after they finished performing
- Visit with Grant Philipo of the Las Vegas Showgirl Museum
- THE Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
- Visiting with Emmy award-winning costume designer, Pete Menefee in his Hollywood Hills home
- More visits with performers
Sheri and I will part ways on the 14th and head home. She has more fun planned on her drive up California back to Seattle, and I will stay an extra day to secure a couple more interviews. Still waiting to hear if those are happening!! I will let you know when I know!!
Podcasts fueled by passion
It is so reassuring to know that not only do I have the opportunity to help preserve the Showgirl and her history through the Showgirl’s Life podcast, but there is another podcast, Bluebells Forever, hosted by Sheri Lewis, doing the same.
It feels so good to bring this to the world.
If you haven’t heard any episodes of either podcast, make sure to check them out!! There are some exhilarating moments and some tender moments on both shows. If you have ever been curious about Who Killed the Showgirl or where she went when the shows closed, both podcasts are the perfect starting point to dive deeper into the sparkly and dazzling world of Showgirls.