Joe Newton
Las Vegas is a sexy city, and I am a sheltered Seattleite. I want to explode! Should I become a showgirl? I am 21 years old and still live with my folks. I hate it so much that I eat for refuge and pacification. The weather here makes me depressed. I am self-destructing! I've always wanted to be a dancer. I have some training and want to lose my inhibitions! I am in good shape; I could lose 15 pounds easily and be really hot. Las Vegas would offer hot weather, adventure, and perhaps a good career. But where does the sex industry and the showgirl thing differ and divide?

Former Catholic School Girl

"It's nothing like that awful Showgirls movie," said Lisa Perkowski, company manager for The Follies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. Follies has been playing at the Tropicana for 40 years, making it the longest-running showgirls production in Las Vegas. "We don't have people pushing anyone down the stairs, or stagehands waiting in the wings with ice cubes for the girls' nipples. It's all very professional and not in the least bit sleazy."

An ex-Catholic school girl herself, Lisa grew up in Las Vegas and was a dancer in Follies for 18 years before becoming company manager a year and a half ago. "Being in a Las Vegas show would definitely break this girl out of her shell," said Lisa. "In Follies you have to be topless, so this girl would definitely lose her inhibitions working here. And there are 800 people in the audience for every show, and performing for that many people every night gives you lots of confidence."

Unfortunately for you, FCSG, getting one of those confidence-boosting topless Las Vegas showgirl jobs is tougher than it used to be. "We've lost most of the big production shows in the last 10 years," Lisa told me. "We only have two showgirl productions on the strip now: Follies at the Tropicana and Jubilee at Bally's. So a lot of people are out of work right now and things are really competitive."

Dancer and Showgirl are two different job titles at the Tropicana, Lisa explained to me, and the two positions require very different skills and attributes. Showgirls, on the one hand, parade around the stage topless in the big headdresses, all decked out in feathers and jewels, with the minimum height requirement being 5' 9 1/2." Dancers, by way of contrast, dance around the stage topless, all decked out in feathers and jewels, and have a minimum height requirement of 5' 5."

"I always wanted to be a showgirl," Lisa sighed. "Showgirls don't have to dance as hard, and there's a little more prestige in being a showgirl because their costumes are a lot more beautiful. But I was too short, so I became a dancer." Provided you don't top out at 5' 2," how do you go about getting your bare breasts into Follies at the Tropicana? "She would have to audition. She would have to show me she could move well, that she had a nice figure, and good looks. And, like I said, to be a showgirl you have to be tall. It can be extremely hard to find tall girls that meet all these criteria, so if she's tall and moves well, she has a real shot."

As for where the sex industry and showgirl thing differ and divide, Lisa wanted you and everyone else on earth to know that the line is thick and black. "There's not much gray area here," said Lisa. "The only way she'll wind up working in a strip club is if she sets out to work in a strip club." What's the difference between being a showgirl and being a stripper? "Well, the biggest difference is that strippers can make a thousand bucks a night! But most of the performers working as showgirls wouldn't be interested in being strippers. Being a showgirl is more respectable -- which is not to say anything bad about strippers. They work hard, too. But it takes a special kind of person to do lap dances."

Could you possibly refer me to suppliers of Roman lace-up sandals?

Claw Claw

Figuring that if you could get lace-up Roman sandals anywhere, you could get 'em at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, I called their gift shop. "No, no sandals," said the clerk. What about togas? "What are togas?" Ancient Roman fashions. "No, we don't have that. Only modern American fashions. Sorry. People wear modern clothing here. We're a modern hotel." Caesar's wasn't much help, but I did manage to find a place online selling decent-looking Roman sandals: Osprey Trading Co. (www.plpower.com/~osprey). Knock yourself out, CC.

I have searched the Internet to no avail. Is there a place where one can find people who are into BDSM in Las Vegas? Los Angeles has many fetish and BDSM clubs. But Las Vegas has none that I can find. Are there any organizations for BDSMers in Las Vegas?

St. Anthony

"There are two scenes in Las Vegas," said Leonard, a BDSMer who moved to Las Vegas three years ago from that notorious hotbed of BDSM activity, Coos Bay, Oregon. "There's an above-ground scene and an underground scene. Shibari, a local BDSM club, is the above-ground scene. I have to be careful what I say about the underground scene because some people have sensitive jobs and they have to remain discreet."

For the indiscreet, Shibari hosts club nights, special events, and workshops. There's a calendar of events at Shibari's website (www.shibari.org), or if you're visiting Vegas sans laptop you can call Shibari's hotline (702-440-0515) for updated info. You have to be a member to attend Shibari's functions, but tourists can contact Shibari vie e-mail (shibari@shibari.org) for details on how you, too, can attend Shibari's monthly eat-and-beat potluck play party. (Those still living in the stone age can contact Shibari via U.S. mail at 3151 N. Rainbow Blvd., #405, Las Vegas, NV 89108.)

Finally, if you want to have your own private play party, check out Studio Bound (www.studiobound.com). A Las Vegas photo studio set up like a dungeon, Studio Bound can be rented by the hour or day. Leonard is currently Dungeon Master at Studio Bound, and claims they supply photos to about half the Internet's kink and fetish sites. Leonard also teaches courses at Studio Bound on erotic caning, sensual whipping, bondage, and suspension. "Learning proper safety is more important than learning first aid," said Leonard, "because if you know how to be safe you won't need first aid."

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