History of Las Vegas showgirl costumes
March 22, 2010 11:58 AM   Subscribe

What is the history of Las Vegas showgirls, and especially their costumes?

I am writing an article, which I hope to eventually turn into a book, about the history of Las Vegas showgirls—the performers with big feather headdresses and costumes covered in rhinestones. Do you know of any good books, articles, websites, or films on this topic? I am especially interested in the costumes and how they are tied to the exotic. Scholarly material with footnotes and a bibliography would be a plus, but anything at all would be appreciated!
posted by tnygard to Society & Culture (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
From what I recall, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal (the real-life inspiration for the movie "Casino", which is almost completely accurate except for the changed names) was very innovative in expanding this type of entertainment, going as far as to "bring women over from Paris," and other things that are considered commonplace now. Check out his bio, also named "Casino". Can't answer about the costumes, sorry.
posted by Melismata at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2010

I know little about the subject myself, but have you checked out the online showgirls exhibit at UNLV? I imagine that if you got in touch with one of the special collections librarians, they'd be able to point you in the right direction, thanks to their showgirls and early Las Vegas collections.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:21 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Does this look familiar? "The opening of Lido de Paris at the new Stardust in 1958 was an instant sensation, attracted millions of patrons, and ran for over twenty years. It ushered in the big show as a staple of Las Vegas Hotel entertainment. (...) The Tropicana hired Lou Walter as entertainment producer, and he immediately flew to Paris to sign the Folies-Bergère, which opened at the Tropicana in 1959. Frederick Apcar’s even racier Casino de Paris, the show created for the Paris club of that name, began a long run at the Dunes in 1963."

The Las Vegas showgirls' act and costumes were inspired by Folies Bergère, Moulin Rouge, Lido, Crazy Horse, and other cabarets in Paris. Somewhat similar shows were performed on Broadway (The Ziegfeld Follies etc) and in London (The Windmill Theatre), but the original showgirls were Parisiennes.

(Btw, the last surving Ziefeld Girl, Doris Eaton Travis, turned 106 years old on March 14th.)
posted by iviken at 3:18 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

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