A little bit of the viva is about to leave Las Vegas. After 31 years, the Liberace Museum is closing down. Dwindling visitor numbers has made it impossible to keep going and as of October 17 2010, the doors will close one last time.
Why would such a museum fold in a town like Vegas? Mr Showmanship himself was such an integral, essential part of the Vegas spirit, embodying such unashamed glitz and dazzling performance - there really was - is - no one like him. Well, one reason is that he never actually charted a hit record. While Rat Packers like Sinatra have enduring songs, you think of Liberace and you think of hands full of diamante piano rings. Another reason is simply that Las Vegas has changed, and the Vegas that Liberace glistened in no longer really exists.
Which is why you have to get out and see the museum. Seriously. It's a trip. Located way off the Strip in a low-lying, generic mini-mall out on East Tropicana Ave (you can get the Liberace shuttle bus from most major hotels), it's staffed by aging, ardent fans who grumble at each other as they issue tickets while equally aging patrons bumble through a flurry of feathery displays.
You can swan through the rooms and see his outlandishly jewelled suits and capes (he actually had to wear customised heels that were stacked towards the back to stop him toppling over from the sheer weight of the costumes as he walked down the onstage staircase), his customised cars (who wouldn't want a mirror-tiled Rolls Royce?), a recreation of his Palm Springs bedroom and cases of piano and chandelier-related jewelry.
It's also a chance to appreciate what an accomplished a musician he really was, and how many musical scholarships he funded. There are daily piano performances from Liberace-wannabes and a gift shop that blows a kitsch gasket, stocking Liberace handbags, beach towels, cookbooks, dazzling costume jewelry and confusing items like oven mitts with sausage dogs wearing Christmas bonnets. It's a joyful confection of mad Vegas fun, all for the love of this Vegas icon.
So it's your last chance - you've got until October 17 before the final feather flutters to the floor and the sequins glitter no more.