I traveled through Las Vegas many times when I was growing up and my Dad drove us to see family in Colorado from our home in Southern California, but it wasn't until recently that I spent the night in Vegas and visited for the Neon Museum for the first time. I've always loved Neon and the beautiful look of Art Deco buildings in South Beach Florida and the Route 66 landmarks such as The Blue Swallow Motel. My husband and I traveled to Las Vegas so I could do some research for the cozy mystery I was writing which took place at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Vegas. The climax of the book happens at the Neon Museum; so here's an excerpt from my story The Salacious Scribes Mystery:
I returned to the Bellagio and met my husband for dinner and a bit of sight-seeing. After we ate a very expensive but delicious meal in the hotel, he drove us to the “poor side of town”—the Fremont District—the Real Downtown Las Vegas—as the locals insist—as opposed to The Strip. We wanted to see the Neon Museum, home to some of the most treasured and world-famous signs of Las Vegas. It is an outdoor museum that houses discarded neon signs ranging from the 1930s to the present day. When I think of neon—I think of Las Vegas and some of the neon signs from Vegas’s yesteryears were impressive and beautiful in their own kitschy way. The neon museum looked like a weird junkyard; but at night, it was a wonderland for any fan of glowing neon signs and Googie architecture, a style that thrived in the 1950s and early 1960s that is also known as Coffee Shop Modern or Space Age. Some of the buildings in this style remind me of the cartoon series The Jetsons: especially the space age structure at LAX. Many of Vegas’s old hotels and businesses were designed in this style and the La Concha Hotel was a prime example. Before being torn down, the shell of its lobby was saved and transported to a new location, which was now the welcome center for the Neon Museum.
My husband and I entered the reception area and were told to wait either in the gift shop or patio area until our tour began. I was dying to find out what the “neon boneyard” as they called it looked like after seeing the postcards in the museum’s gift shop, but a low rod iron fence reigned us in until the tour guide was ready. Finally, it was our turn and we were herded into a larger group and made our way towards the outdoor museum.
The “boneyard” as the guide called it, was strewn with large signs lying on their sides. Lit neon arrows now pointed nowhere. Our guide, who looked about 35, brought us over to the neon sign for the former Stardust Hotel and said, “I’ve lived in Vegas all my life and the Stardust sign was always my favorite.”
He continued, “Until the Stardust was torn down to make way for the glitzier hotels on the Strip, this was always my favorite sign. For a little kid, it was magical: Aladdin’s lamp used to be lit and the smoke and mist coming out of the lamp meant that the genie was about to appear.”
Next, he took us to a large statue of a man playing pool that had rust streaks, making it look like he was dripping blood and could be a character in a Zombie Apocalypse movie. My favorite neon sign was the one for the Sahara Hotel. It showed a scene from a desert oasis, complete with roaming camels, palm trees, and a domed building. I really felt the vibe for Vegas’s Rat Pack days of the fifties and early sixties. What was once thought kitschy is now considered art.
After my husband and I returned to our hotel, he pulled out a half bottle of wine from the minibar, and we sat down in two chairs. We clinked our wine glasses together in a toast and looked out the window of our room on the 26th floor. We watched the dancing fountains with the illuminated Eiffel Tower in the background. It was magical.
After such a glorious night, romance was in the air; so, we gave each other a massage and unpacked our silver bullet vibrator.
In the afterglow, I was feeling so warm and high that, completely naked, I plopped myself down in front of our window to watch more of the dancing water show. “I don’t care if anyone sees me naked,” I told my husband, throwing caution to the wind.
He laughed; then grabbed a chair and sat down beside me. “Life is good,” he told me and reached over for another kiss.
Would you like to read my cozy mystery that took place here? It's available for only $1.99 at the following eBookstores: