Las Vegas Stripped Bare
With its reputation for glitz, glamour and gambling, Las Vegas has become one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations, with over 40 million visitors a year. Adele Edelman has been a limo driver there for the last 25 years, and knows the area intimately. In her company we meet a VIP casino host whose job it is to keep the money rolling in; showgirls from what is billed as ‘the sexiest show in town’; and a larger than life Elvis marriage celebrant. We hear from well-known Vegas residents, Mark Hall Patton (of Pawn Stars fame) and Marie Osmond who has headlined on the strip, with her brother Donny, for nearly a decade.
Las Vegas began life as a tiny oasis in the Nevada Desert with a handful of inhabitants. In little more than a century it has become a fast-growing modern metropolis with a population of two million. But the bright lights and breathtaking architecture conceal a murky past. After gambling was legalised in Nevada in the 1930s, a raft of hotel-casinos sprang up under the control of gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel and Frank Costello – a state of affairs that continued well into the 1960s.
Even today, there is a hidden side to the city that the tourists and gamblers barely glimpse. We meet the people responsible for supplying water to a huge city in the middle of an arid desert, and find out what it’s like to raise children in what often seems like a strictly adults-only town. We find out how it feels to be homeless and hear about those living underground just a few feet away from the casinos where millions of dollars change hands every day.
(Photo: Graceland Chapel and Pink Cadilac)