Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Vegas Vic

I'm sure you have seen Vic before.
He was once the biggest star of Las Vegas.

He's the smiling neon cowboy that would wave to the gamblers as they walked the Las Vegas streets. If you can't remember him for that, I bet you saw him in a movie, or parodied on 'The Simpsons' or something.

Built in 1951, Vic stands 40 feet high and in his heyday he could talk. He would bellow "Howdy Partner" to those that entered the famed Pioneer Club. He was built at a cost of $25,000 and remains "the largest mechanical neon sign in the world."

Still, he doesn't look so big anymore. When he was built neon signs ruled Las Vegas (actually the mob ruled Las Vegas, but there were lots of neon signs.) Today, there are ridiculously large hotels that stand so tall that they make Vic look like that little guy who used to be on Seinfeld. You know which one I mean, the midget that used to hang out with Kramer. Vic looked like him without the beard. Although, a neon beard would be AWESOME!!!

Vic may have been beardless, but he did have a smoking problem back in the old days. He had a cigarette that moved and he blew smoke rings.

He was cool. Because back then, smoking was cool. Even cooler than it is now!

At the start of the new millennium Vic was falling apart. Only part of his lights were turned on and only one of his eyes worked. He had also stopped blowing smoke rings and waving his arm. His paint was peeling and he looked awful.

He also didn't speak anymore.

He was actually silenced way back in 1966, when actors Lee Marvin and Woody Strode complained that he kept them awake when they stayed at the nearby Mint hotel. At the time they were filming the movie "The Professionals".

I assume they were staying in separate rooms.

Today Vegas Vic stands proud as part of the Las Vegas Freemont Street Experience it's a collection of neon lights bright enough to make the gamblers forget that they all have a serious addiction and should really be treated. God bless Vic.

As a side note, in the 1980's a girlfriend was built for Vic. She was named Vegas Vicki and she sat right across the street from him to promote a strip club that sat beneath her. She too has become part of the Freemont Street Experience. Check em out if you are in the area.

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