Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh no--Liberace Museum to close! World a little less shiny

So sad that the Liberace Museum in its nondescript Las Vegas strip-mall location couldn't make it in these tough recessionary pop-culture times. Can't someone step in and save this boundless camp experience (Lady Gaga...)? Though it was a pain to get to, off the main strip by a couple of miles down a boulevard of sunspot-causing concrete, the Liberace Museum was a glitzy, paean to tackiness. It didn't try to be Paris or Milan or even some crazy semblance of a medieval castle. It just tried to honor the man who would wear sparkly red white & blue hot pants at Radio City Music Hall.

You kids with your technos and vocoders just wouldn't understand. This man played a grand piano covered in rhinestones! This man was covered in rhinestones, most of the time. And you should've see his antique bedroom furniture. I didn't know the meaning of Baroque until I walked around the bedroom suite at the Liberace Museum. Who knew wood could curly-cue like that and remain so high-gloss over the centuries?

My one visit to the Museum was long ago, during the building of the great MGM Pyramid. Very elderly employees admitted me but with a warning that they would be closing in less than an hour. Thereafter, they followed me from room to room, whispering darkly, "We'll be closing in 30 minutes. See as much as you can but--30 minutes." As if I were touring the Smithsonian instead of a multiple-roomed strip-mall store-front. I wish Liberace had been alive to swoop down and say, "Ladies, ladies. Please. For my fans--we can stay open an extra 15 minutes. They still haven't seen my mirrored Rolls Royce and matching piano!" I managed to see the entire exhibit, my eyes wincing at the multitude of sparkles at times, and still had time to buy some fabulous nylon Liberace knee socks for Ms. Iconoclast (I hope she saved them!).

Some highlights:

The world's biggest rhinestone at 59 pounds.

Take the tour, America!

The kid from Milwaukee regales us with a polka.

Artist or technician? Who cares; for a few decades he made piano-playing almost cool.

Gershwin, represent!

Greatness will never truly be forgotten.

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