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Showgirl Museum has legs

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By Robin Leach Niche Division of Las Vegas Review-Journal

June 16, 2017 - 2:00 am

The city’s historic mascot, the iconic Las Vegas showgirl, may have disappeared from its stages but the world’s only showgirl museum is ready to show that it is an entity that has legs — and long-standing ones, at that.

Showgirl Museum owner Grant Philipo is hoping the city will give official approval this month for his collection of 30,000 artifacts to be moved from “Boylesque” star Kenny Kerr’s former mansion in Paradise Palms to the Reed Whipple building, a former Mormon church on the Las Vegas Boulevard. A decision is expected before month’s end.

I spoke with Philipo by phone this week and he told me that the expansion into a 65,000- to 70,000-square foot venue can accommodate the collection that includes more than 1,000 mannequins adorned with the gorgeous costumes of the great Las Vegas extravaganzas. 

“The value is so great that it can’t even be determined. It’s been described as “priceless,” he told me. “ Just 100 pieces of the collection were appraised at $15 million. Many of those artifacts are currently residing in four different warehouses in Las Vegas.”

For more than two years Philipo has been in conversations with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and city planners to relocate their collection. In November of 2016, the museum, along with a few others, made a formal proposal for the building. “We’re waiting for the response, which we have been told will come later in June,” Philipo added.

A nonprofit, The Society for the Preservation of Entertainment History, created for the preservation and restoration of the collection, has put together a group of private investors and fundraisers to raise the monies needed to solidify a home for the museum. Past co-owner of The Tropicana, Fred Doumani, spearheads the group. The 50-member board of the museum includes influential Las Vegas residents ranging from former hotel owners to politicians, business owners, headliners and former showgirls.

“Once we find the venue for the museum, our team is confident that we will raise the funds to complete this project successfully,” Doumani commented. “It is going to be spectacular and our team is experienced in many different areas.”

Entertainment writer and publicist Bobbie Katz added: “ The one-of-a-kind collection contains costumes from famous designers Bob Mackie, Pete Menefee, Michael Travis, Bill Hargate and others, and artifacts from producers, Donn Arden, Barry Ashton, Frederic Apcar and more. It also takes in shows from Paris, New York, Reno and Lake Tahoe, as well as movies and television shows. In addition, there are costumes and jewelry worn by such stars as Ann-Margret, Carol Channing, Raquel Welch, Lynda Carter, Rosemary Clooney, Omar Sharif and Liberace, as well as on TV shows such as “The Donny and Marie Show” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.”

Philipo, the creator and curator of the museum and a former performer and show producer, has plans to include a theater that will be home to an authentic old-Vegas-style spectacular; as well as a school offering all-day full classes for those interested in learning dance, technical techniques, how to design costumes and build sets, and how to get hired for a show. The actual production show will take place at night. Philipo produced the second largest show and the second-to-last show to ever play the Dunes, “90 Degrees and Rising.”

“The museum will be a totally immersive and continually moving experience for visitors,” he said. “The mannequins will turn and there will be the authentic sets, videos, pictures, scripts, music and more. When those shows existed, the showgirl was the image that drew people to Las Vegas. Since the closing of “Jubilee ” in February last year the showgirl has still existed on the city’s website but is non-existent on the entertainment scene. We are intent on keeping her image and this incredible part of Las Vegas history alive. This museum will attract visitors from all over the world and will bring new business to whatever part of the city it is housed in.

“Each room in the museum will be themed like a specific show,” he continued. “It will be like stepping into a showroom and onto the stage. We’ll have chorus lines of mannequins and guests will be able to take pictures that make them look like they are right on stage with the casts of the various great Las Vegas shows in the city’s longtime history. It will be an up-close and personal experience. We will also give VIP tours. We aren’t going to hide the topless aspect, either.”

Bobbie confirmed the museum has received recognition from Jon Porter, former Sen. Harry Reid and Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and was awarded “The Coolest Museum” in one set of Las Vegas rankings.

She added: “ The heart of Las Vegas rests within the amazing entertainment history found within Grant Philipo’s Las Vegas Showgirl Museum. But home is where the heart is and all involved in this project are hoping that a new venue is in its near future. The destiny of the history of the showgirl is in the City Council’s hands.”

I narrated a video about the museum at www.lasvegasshowgirlmuseum.com and you can join the call to action to help the museum find its public venue.

Philipo started this collection in the late 70s. It got a big boost when he became friends and was hired by Liberace’s designer, Michael Travis, as Liberace’s fitting model. Travis learned of Philipo’s love for historic show costumes as well as his ability to bring them back to life. He connected Philipo with many iconic designers and show producers who offered their collections to him because they knew he would bring them back to perfection and even use them in the shows he produced.

In 1992, Philipo met and became business partners with Maryadelia Mantle, the wife of Mickey Mantle’s brother Roy, and together they produced Philipo’s “90 Degrees and Rising” at the Dunes. With Maryadelia’s help, they expanded the collection to include the Lido Jewels from Donn Arden’s show “Allez Lido” at The Stardust, plus the costumes and props from “Enter the Night.” Another friend, helped them acquire the original opening costumes from, Donn Arden’s “Jubilee!,” which debuted in 1981 at Bally’s with a cast of 140.

It is all the ultimate homage to the glitz, the glamour and the beauty of a unique Las Vegas phenomena that marked our matchless entertainment history going all the way back to 1973s “Hallelujah Hollywood” and the “Folies Bergere” shows that began at the Tropicana in 1959. The nearly 60-year tradition has to be maintained for a long time still to come.

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Future of Las Vegas Showgirl Museum undecided

Yasmeen Hassan

6:45 PM, Jan 5, 2016

The future of The Las Vegas Showgirl Museum is up in the air right now.  

It opened in 2010, but it could be forced to close down for good. An anonymous complaint was filed with Clark County, and after investigating the county discovered the museum has been operating without a use permit.

"We're not doing it for money. We're doing it to keep the image of the showgirl alive and to keep all this history that is based in Las Vegas in the eyes of the public," curator Grant Philipo said.

It will be up to the planning commission to decide if a use permit will be used, but Philipo says he is going to fight for his museum. This is his passion, and he says Las Vegas deserves this piece of history.

"We're not out to compete with anyone. We truly believe that Vegas has enough history for a million museums, let alone the number of the museums that are here," says Philipo.

Read the ABC Action 13 News article here

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LAS VEGAS SHOWGIRL MUSEUM UNDER ATTACK!

The World's ONLY Showgirl Museum is in Las Vegas, in a Home and is now on the verge of being denied the right to continue showing this great History to guest's of their home. An "Anonymous" complaint was filed against them stating they Sell Tickets for $10 - $25.00 per person and that there are No Bathrooms.

The Facts are, this business has had a State Business License for ALMOST 6 years and has Never sold any tickets. Being also a Non-Profit, "The Society For The Preservation of Entertainment History", they only request a donation for the preservation and restoration, of the Collection. Everyone associated with this, works for FREE. Also, it should be noted the home has 6 working bathrooms!

Now, the County wants to deny or limit them from having tours! Stating it will negatively effect Traffic and Noise. They also want to limit the amount of tours per month to 4 Total and no more than 10 people at a time! This means if you want to come for a tour and have too many people, Like UNLV Students who have come in the past or others or we have met our quota for the month, then you will be denied, entry! Most tourist take Taxi's and in most cases are driven back to their hotel, as a courtesy, so they will not have to wait the extended time for a Taxi to return!

Each tourist has to make a confirmed appointment and they can NOT just walk-in, they must call for entry. Also, the tours of the Collection which includes over 150 Mannequins wearing costumes from Famous Designers, like BOB MACKIE, PETE MENEFEE, MICHAEL TRAVIS, etc... and Shows from Paris, New York, Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Hollywood and Stage as well as screen!

If you feel this is un-just and would be a bad decision, please help us by voicing your opinion with a signature ( First and Last Name and City & State ) showing support for this Historic Landmark of Las Vegas. The last place to see a Real Showgirl in Las Vegas when, DONN ARDEN'S "JUBILEE" Closes on February 11th, 2016!

If you want to look up the complaint you can find it:

Application Number: UC-0784-15

Owner: Maryadelia Mantle

Use Permit for a museum.

Waivers of Development Standards for following: 10 reduced parking; and 20 modified landscaping requirements.

DESIGN REVIEW for a Museum ( Private Collection ) in conjunction with a single family residence on 0.2 acres in an R-1 ( Single Family Residential ) Zone. Generally located on the west side of Gaucho Drive, 100 feet north of Sombrero Drive within Winchester. ( For possible action )

 

 

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Don't Let the Showgirl Die!


Help us keep our doors open to the public!

There are other museums with Showgirl and Showboy Costumes but in our museum, our Guided tours bring their stories back to life as you learn about everything involved! Not by reading it on a card but by someone who was a part of it, telling it like it was!

PLEASE Join Us showing your support!

As a Reminder, we need all of our supporters to attend the:

Clark County Planning Commission TUESDAY January 5th at 7:00 pm at the Commission Chambers, Clark County Government Center 500 S. Grand Central Parkway Las Vegas, NV.

Even if you have signed the petitions, we still need your support!

Bring your friends and show them that there is enough History in Las Vegas to keep many Museums Open and a shame to prevent the public from enjoying our Culture, Past and the image that made Las Vegas Famous - The SHOWGIRL!

PLEASE feel Free to SHARE this!

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Las Vegas Showgirl History Museum: Keeping a piece of Las Vegas Alive

   By:    Debbie Hall    Las Vegas Arts & Exhibits Examiner    Showgirls  are synonymous with  Las Vegas . Up until recently, extravagant productions featuring beautifully costumed women were part of the Las Vegas Strip. One man who was lucky enough to be part of Las Vegas during this era was Grant Philipo, who is working hard now to preserve this aspect with the Las Vegas Showgirl Museum.  Visiting Las Vegas for the first time in 1976, Philipo knew he wanted this to be his forever home. Shows such as “Lido de Paris,” “Hallelujah Hollywood,” “Splash,” “Enter the Night,” “Jubilee!” and “Les Folies Bergere” were all part of the entertainment along with big name headliners and the first residency shows of Sigfried and Roy and Liberace. With intricate detail, rhinestones and feathers while still barely there, the showgirl represented glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It was during this period Philipo would start his collection of  costumes .  Moving to California, Philipo return to Las Vegas to briefly from 1980-81 when he accepted the lead male role in “Lido de Paris.” Unfortunately, while waiting for the show to open, the fire at the then MGM (now Bally’s Las Vegas) killed his deal and he moved back to Los Angeles. Philipo would begin to design costumes for the some of the top designers as well as restore older costumes.  Along with performing, modeling and producing; Philipo also has a background in art and museums. “I have been working in museum since the 6th grade when I won my first art scholarship,” he explained, “I have a love of history. Also performing in Las Vegas, I saw this as something that needed to be preserved but I never imagined I would open my own museum.”  He moved back to Las Vegas in 1990 and has called it home ever since. In his residence, Philipo would exhibit various costumes on mannequins while many remained in storage. With the purchase of a building in 2002, it was suggested to create a museum which became a reality in 2010.  Grant Philipo's Las Vegas Showgirl Museum houses actual wardrobe pieces, sets, props, costume designs, film footage, historical documents, and photos paying homage to the glamour and beauty of Las Vegas entertainment, as well as show business history from other parts of the world. The collections begin in Paris showcasing all aspects, including live re-enactments of some of Las Vegas' most famous production numbers, headliners and specialty acts. The last showgirl production show, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s Las Vegas, will close on Feb. 12 after being part of the Las Vegas Strip since 1981. The magnificent work of designers Pete Menefee and Bob Mackie is on display at the museum, which owns all of the original opening costumes of, "Jubilee!”  Due to an anonymous complaint stating that tickets were being sold and there were no restroom facilities available to the public, a hearing will be held at Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. about the future of the museum. The museum holds a state business license, only asks for donations, has six bathrooms available and each tourist must make a confirmed appointment with no walk-ins allowed.  Supporters are urged to attend the Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Commission Chambers, Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

 

By: 

Debbie Hall

Las Vegas Arts & Exhibits Examiner

Showgirls are synonymous with Las Vegas. Up until recently, extravagant productions featuring beautifully costumed women were part of the Las Vegas Strip. One man who was lucky enough to be part of Las Vegas during this era was Grant Philipo, who is working hard now to preserve this aspect with the Las Vegas Showgirl Museum.

Visiting Las Vegas for the first time in 1976, Philipo knew he wanted this to be his forever home. Shows such as “Lido de Paris,” “Hallelujah Hollywood,” “Splash,” “Enter the Night,” “Jubilee!” and “Les Folies Bergere” were all part of the entertainment along with big name headliners and the first residency shows of Sigfried and Roy and Liberace. With intricate detail, rhinestones and feathers while still barely there, the showgirl represented glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It was during this period Philipo would start his collection of costumes.

Moving to California, Philipo return to Las Vegas to briefly from 1980-81 when he accepted the lead male role in “Lido de Paris.” Unfortunately, while waiting for the show to open, the fire at the then MGM (now Bally’s Las Vegas) killed his deal and he moved back to Los Angeles. Philipo would begin to design costumes for the some of the top designers as well as restore older costumes.

Along with performing, modeling and producing; Philipo also has a background in art and museums. “I have been working in museum since the 6th grade when I won my first art scholarship,” he explained, “I have a love of history. Also performing in Las Vegas, I saw this as something that needed to be preserved but I never imagined I would open my own museum.”

He moved back to Las Vegas in 1990 and has called it home ever since. In his residence, Philipo would exhibit various costumes on mannequins while many remained in storage. With the purchase of a building in 2002, it was suggested to create a museum which became a reality in 2010.

Grant Philipo's Las Vegas Showgirl Museum houses actual wardrobe pieces, sets, props, costume designs, film footage, historical documents, and photos paying homage to the glamour and beauty of Las Vegas entertainment, as well as show business history from other parts of the world. The collections begin in Paris showcasing all aspects, including live re-enactments of some of Las Vegas' most famous production numbers, headliners and specialty acts. The last showgirl production show, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s Las Vegas, will close on Feb. 12 after being part of the Las Vegas Strip since 1981. The magnificent work of designers Pete Menefee and Bob Mackie is on display at the museum, which owns all of the original opening costumes of, "Jubilee!”

Due to an anonymous complaint stating that tickets were being sold and there were no restroom facilities available to the public, a hearing will be held at Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. about the future of the museum. The museum holds a state business license, only asks for donations, has six bathrooms available and each tourist must make a confirmed appointment with no walk-ins allowed.

Supporters are urged to attend the Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Commission Chambers, Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

http://www.examiner.com/article/las-vegas-showgirl-history-museum-keeping-a-piece-of-las-vegas-alive

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