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FREMONT STREET, LAS VEGAS, 1959

Fremont Street, Las Vegas

A ’57 Chevy convertible, ’55 Buick and ’57 Dodge drive down the Main Street USA of Las Vegasland. A ’58 Edsel, with that famous horse collar grille, is parked on the left. Yes, just like downtown Los Angeles, Las Vegas reminds me of Disneyland.

I took a trip to Las Vegasland this week with National Public Radio’s Day to Day show to give listeners a tour and comment on the Jackpot city as it celebrates its 100th anniversary this Sunday May 15th. After a turbulent touchdown our first stop was lunch at the Peppermill Coffee Shop. I ordered an Americana classic – the Chef’s Salad, blue cheese on the side, please. The spectacular 70s-80s Tomorrowland décor is done in what I have decided are Las Vegasland’s official colors – hot pink, purple and red. The Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge is ultra space age. Sunken conversation pits surround flaming water fountains. Words cannot describe.

Completely stuffed with julienned meat and cheese, I then pointed the direction to the Liberace Museum. Liberace is the Queen of Las Vegasland, (Elvis is the King). Liberace’s cars, costumes and pianos are almost as interesting as the docents, who are all aging Liberace fanatics. I asked if they fight over who loves him the most. No. But one claims to feel his “vibration of love.

From there it was time to see Las Vegasland’s newest realm, the Wynn Resort. First thing you notice from the outside (besides the very 80s architecture) is the palm tree-less landscape. It’s a Sherwood Forest of pine trees. Inside the colorful decor is Mardi Gras meets Mad Hatter’s Tea Party meets Fred and Ginger meets Mario Andretti. A fractured paisley motive repeats in mosaic tile floors, thick carpets and bas relief bits in every direction. A promenade of smart sun-lit shops leads to an interior garden of trees hung with giant floral spheres. The “there” there is a designer waterfall in the middle of the pine trees.

After a chewy lobster ravioli dinner and a thrill-ride cab ride we were front booth center at the Tropicana for the oldest and most glamorous spectacle on the strip, Folies Bergére. This classic topless showgirl revue has been titillating gawkers since 1959. I gasped repeatedly and so will you – hopefully the next time you visit the capitol of American Kulture with a K – as in kitsch – Las Vegasland

Here’s to 100 years of Las Vegas and YOU!!