The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas

By Hal K. Rothman; Mike Davis | Go to book overview

Looking into a Dry Lake:
Uncovering the Women's View
of Las Vegas

A Film Journal
AMIE WILLIAMS

AUGUST 1994

I'm standing at the edge of what I think must be a dry lake. The air is perfectly still and brutally hot. The lake is waterless, but full to the brim with light. I'm ninety miles from Las Vegas, and I don't want to go any further. I think, this is it. This must be the place.

I've been making excursions to Las Vegas to interview women for a documentary film. I ask each of them—where's the woman's space in Las Vegas? There had to be something else, something other than the absurdly oversized MGM lion, the world's longest laser, and the Stratosphere tower (its unfinished erection stands at 850 feet and growing). Most of the women look at me, bewildered. They wonder what I'm after. I'd been wondering this myself on these long, hot drives from Los Angeles through the endless Mojave.

“Las Vegas means the Meadows, doesn't it?” one woman offers. She's a former nude dancer at the Palomino turned real estate broker. She sold the entire city block on which the “gentlemen's” club stood to its gentleman owner, earning a $14,000 commission, the exact same amount of money she earned in one year of taking her clothes off. The woman's space. It's what you make it. So much opportunity here. I stand on the edge of the lake that once was and wonder what The Meadows looked like before the Mormon men came.

-291-

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