Liberace in Paradise (Nevada, that is)

May 16, 2015 | 1878 Views | 3 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.30.34 AMThose of us who embrace the adage “vanity trumps sanity” know it’s often necessary to suffer for beauty. But who among the world’s leading fashionistas would or could endure the discomfort of performing in an outfit that weighs 200 pounds? Flamboyant pianist-showman Władziu Valentino Liberace, of course. His famous, weighty King Neptune ensemble was one of many extravaganzas on display at the now-defunct Liberace Museum in Paradise, Nevada. We were in Las Vegas in 2004 for a wedding and were looking for something different to do (we’re not gamblers), so we took a taxi to Paradise and spent several hours marveling at Liberace’s outrageous collection of jewel-encrusted clothes, accessories, shoes, pianos, and cars. It was fascinating. I only wish I had worn sunglasses to shield my eyes from the blinding light reflected off mirrored keyboards and other dazzling displays.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.05.04 AMThe museum closed in 2010 due to a drop in attendance. What?? You mean people would rather sit in a near catatonic state dropping coins into slots than gaze upon an 1885 French-made Pleyel art-case grand piano or a virgin fox fur coat with a 16-foot train? Philistines! Happy 96th birthday, Liberace. Rest in rhinestones and ostrich feathers.

 

 

 

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Tim Tucker will now take you on a tour of the majestic museum. Says he: “I strongly urge that you run, not walk, down here to see this glorious collection….Every rhinestone reflects the spirit and energy of the man who wore them [the clothes] with such style, grace, and showmanship.” There are rumors that the museum may eventually reopen on the Las Vegas Strip.

Thanks to Rockin’ Janey Mac for suggesting I add the Liberace Museum to my list of Las Vegas must-sees. 

© Dana Spiardi, May 16, 2015

Tagged: Fashion, Liberace

Responses

  1. Dave says:

    May 16th, 2015 at 4:25 pm (#)

    What a character, what a different world it was. I watched Liberace on all the current variety shows that were on. My grandmother loved him. My father always made sarcastic comments about him, but I never really caught on. The whole sexual orientation thing was so secretive and taboo. It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, just really made me remember how different things were.

  2. Pete says:

    May 17th, 2015 at 1:01 pm (#)

    Once again, thanks for bringing back some fun memories!

  3. Jane of the Desert says:

    May 23rd, 2015 at 7:54 pm (#)

    Good news and bad news. Sad to report that the Liberace Museum in Paradise, is no more, and hasn’t been for awhile. It closed due to lack of ticket sales sometime after Yer Blogger visited at my suggestion.

    The good news is that the showman’s Las Vegas mansion, on Shirley Street, is undergoing a complete restoration. The lavish home had fallen into disrepair and was put up for sale in 2013 as a foreclosure. Luckily, UK (wouldn’t ya know) businessman Martyn Ravenhill, a long-time Liberace fan, saw a YouTube advertising the property and ponied up $500,000 to buy it.

    After spending several holidays there, he committed to a total restoration even thought the work was complicated by the discovery of sinkholes under the master bedroom. (I’ll leave that to the comedians.)

    The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that Mr. Ravenhill has spent a cool million on repairs to date and has much more planned for 2015. “The to-do list for the second floor includes preserving the atrium-style “Moroccan Room” and finding replicable copper tiles for it, restoring a bar area, furnishings and accents, and a costly roof replacement. Ravenhill is also researching options and seeking a partnership for solar panels.”

    He wants to install as much of Liberace’s original furniture as possible and the Liberace Foundation has agreed to plans to show off some of its collection in the house. So far there are no plans to open the house to tours, but Mr. Ravenhill has allowed it to be used as a site for a charity fundraiser.

    What’s not to like about a house with a recreation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the bedroom and a Moroccan Room? I guess we should be glad Mariah Carey didn’t buy the place.

    For more info about Mr. Ravenhill’s ambitious project:
    http://www.reviewjournal.com/real-estate-millions/liberace-mansion-restored-old-glamour-photos

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