The curtain closes on Las Vegas showgirls: thanks to Covid-related staffing shortages
With their towering hairstyles and skimpy jewel-encrusted outfits, they were once an integral part of Las Vegas like slot machines and roulette.
But the days of the traditional Vegas showgirl are doomed – thanks to Covid-related staffing shortages and new “woke” values.
While the city’s garish street was once filled with elaborate revue shows with names like Jubilee!, Folies Bergère and Lido De Paris, they’ve been replaced by big names like Celine Dion, Elton John and the Acrobatic Theater of the Cirque du Soleil.
Last night, a source – who tried unsuccessfully to bring a new showgirl review to town – said: ‘Times have changed. It used to be glamorous to be a Vegas showgirl. They had to be trained dancers, there were very strict restrictions on their height and weight, they were the “face” of Las Vegas.
“But with the rise of revival, girls don’t want to be seen that way anymore.” They prefer to earn a lot of money as hostesses in nightclubs.
“If they want to show off their bodies, they’d rather put on a bikini and have the pool parties at every hotel.” This is where the big tips are. Traditional Vegas showgirls are a dying breed.
With their towering hairstyles and skimpy jewel-encrusted outfits, they were once as much a fixture of Las Vegas as slot machines and roulette.
When the team organizing Adele’s postponed concert series at Caesars Palace needed showgirls to man the gift shop to sell merchandise, they were forced to hire drag queens instead, said the source, adding that part of the problem is that so many people left the gaming center during the pandemic, or got new jobs working from home.
“Now the only girls you see are pale imitations,” they said. “They pose for photos with tourists for $20 per stay on the Strip alongside Elmo and Spiderman.”
At the height of their fame, in the 1950s and 1960s, showgirls became synonymous with Vegas glamor and glitz, popularized by Rat Pack artists such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.
Each girl had to be between 5ft 8in and 6ft tall and weigh no more than 8lbs and 8lbs. Most were classically trained dancers.
They wore five pairs of false eyelashes – three at the top, two at the bottom – and their breasts had to be “small and natural”.
Their elaborate headdresses could weigh up to 25 pounds and cost up to £8,000 each. Swarovski encrusted bikinis and exotic plumes meant costumes could easily cost £12,000.
But the days of the traditional Vegas showgirl are doomed – thanks to Covid-related staffing shortages and new “woke” values
A former showgirl, Lisa Medford, said: “We had real chinchilla, real sand. I wore a cape that took two women to hang, weighed 58 pounds, velvet with satin lining. I had a 25 pound helmet on top of that.
Grant Philipo, a “showgirl evangelist” who has collected over 40,000 pieces of showgirl memorabilia, said, “They were classy shows, not girls squealing in your lap”.
‘The showgirl is an endangered species and soon she will be extinct. And that’s really too bad for Vegas.
The source added, “The original showgirls were stylish and put on performances to entice players to stay inside casinos and spend more. These days, you can see more with just a few mouse clicks than you’ve ever seen with a showgirl.
At the height of their fame, in the 1950s and 1960s, showgirls became synonymous with Vegas glamor and glitz.
A handful remains. At Bally’s Casino, a new show called Extravaganza opens this weekend with a mix of acts including motorcycle stunt performers, acrobats and comedians.
Bally said, “We’ve brought the classic showgirl back to Vegas, putting their rhinestone-studded tushies back under the twinkling lights where they belong.”
But several performances have already been canceled, according to the casino’s website.
Simon Painter, creative director of Simon Cowell’s America’s Got Talent Live on the Strip and producer of Cirque du Soleil’s new hit Mad Apple, said: “Entertainment has evolved. Showgirls are no longer new or new.