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Cult Vegas: The Weirdest! The Wildest! The Swingin'est Town on Earth Paperback – February, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Huntington Press (February 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0929712714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0929712710
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,662,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mike Weatherford rolled into Las Vegas on October 29, 1987--the last night Frank, Sammy and Dean would stand on the same stage on the Strip. Beat down by a long drive, he didn't make it to that show. But he's seen plenty of others since then as an entertainment reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Weatherford lives in Las Vegas with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
53%
4 star
33%
3 star
13%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 15 customer reviews
Also, Don Rickles is a scream!
Dean Davis
The book is in great shape and I now can finish reading it at my leisure.
Dale M. Ashmun
He retold the story exactly and even filled in some details.
The JuRK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joe Bob Briggs (forwarded with permission) on May 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
This informal history of Vegas entertainment is the best book on the subject, the product of a Vegas-phile's 14 years of reporting for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Weatherford chose to tell the whole story of the city through its entertainers, and as history it feels exactly right. He's got the precise date that the first bare breast was uncovered in the city, as well as the cost of Liberace's wardrobe on the night of his debut. Nothing here about gangsters or gambling or byzantine Nevada politics, but who would think you could write a chapter about Frank, Dean and Sammy and make it as fresh as though you were sitting at the Dunes in 1959? In fact, the opening chapter--telling Frank's story one more time--is as fine a history of the Las Vegas showroom as you're ever likely to read. He then follows up with expansive essays on the origins of the Vegas lounge. (Louis Prima gets the major credit, of course, but he also remembers that Prima was preceded by the Mary Kaye Trio, which started the midnight-to-dawn style of improvisational lounge entertainment that would become a Vegas trademark until it was watered down in the seventies to the level of Bill Murray's "Saturday Night Live" lounge lizard singing "Star Wars.") Before the era of comedy clubs, but after the age of burlesque, Vegas was pretty much the only place for top comics to work, and Weatherford dispenses that history through the lives of what he calls the big three: Buddy Hackett, Shecky Greene and Don Rickles. What, no Joe E. Lewis? Weatherford actually convinced me that Joe E. does not belong on the list, mainly because he was popular with the Vegas founders but never that big a star to the public.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. on December 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book does a great job of charting the strange, crooked route that the evolution of entertainment in Vegas has taken. I found the chapters dealing with the rise and fall of the lounge act, and the changing face of what "lounge entertainment" meant, to be absolutely fascinating. Of course, Elvis and the Rat Pack get their own parts of the book, but you've read about them already. It's the lounge acts, the comedians, the sexpot starlets turned show-singers, and the "parisian" revues that are given a funny and insightful view in this book. Easy reading, you'll burn through this book in a day or two, but it's a very entertaining read, and manages to be very informative at the same time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
You'll read how a city evolved into a phenomena, what was lost, and why. You'll hear the real stories behind the gossip, the personalities behind the public personas, and, best of all, you'll meet the intriguing cast of characters who were there when the spotlight dimmed.
There is an underlying tone of regret in Cult Vegas, a sense that some of the best of a city has been lost forever. For those of us who remember the excitement of the 50's and the 60's, the question is an affirmation of our memories of the dinner showrooms and the performers who played the venue.
But this book is not a lament. It's a blast! Mike Weatherford's style is as fast-paced and dynamic as the culture he chronicles. The fact that he is a long-addicted student of the Las Vegas Strip entertainment scene and a reporter who has recorded events for a decade gives this author a solid overview of how and why a desert oasis grew into a mega entertainment center.
Don't miss this one. You'll find history in Cult Vegas, none of it boring. Great photos. Fascinating sidebars. If you are a Sinatra fan, a trivia guru, or just love good writing, this is one book packed with page after page of good reading!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Collins on January 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Cult `Vegas" is not a history of Las Vegas per se, rather a history of casino entertainment from the rise of the Strip and Fremont Street in the 1950s up to the "family destination" of the early 21st Century. From the earliest days of legalized gambling, entertainment of one sort or another was key to get gamblers in the establishment. Later, the Rat Pack stimulated the aura of a "cool swingin'" Las Vegas. As Mr. Weatherford points out this was probably a reputation that the city held on to way too long. The rise and decline of the Lounge Singer, showgirls, Elvis and the Rat Pack are described with a clearly nostalgic eye. But the author doesn't hesitate to show the faded polyester leisure suit image of Las Vegas during the locust years of the mid 70's. He points out that holding on to the schlocky comics, and warmed over crooners moved the entertainment of Las Vegas away from the tourists with the most disposable income: singles and couples. Films about Las Vegas are also part of the "Cult" and those with the city as subject or backdrop are listed and critiqued. The book itself is quirky, with lots of sidebars and anecdotes but this fits the overall tone of the prose. This is a great anecdotal history of postwar casino entertainment, that would make a great souvenir or as another reviewer wisely suggested, cool reference material for your next trip (whether you're a local or a tourist). If you're at all interested in Las Vegas-get this.
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Cult Vegas: The Weirdest! The Wildest! The Swingin'est Town on Earth
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