Showgirls are synonymous with Las Vegas. Up until recently, extravagant productions featuring beautifully costumed women were part of the Las Vegas Strip. One man who was lucky enough to be part of Las Vegas during this era was Grant Philipo, who is working hard now to preserve this aspect with the Las Vegas Showgirl Museum.
Visiting Las Vegas for the first time in 1976, Philipo knew he wanted this to be his forever home. Shows such as “Lido de Paris,” “Hallelujah Hollywood,” “Splash,” “Enter the Night,” “Jubilee!” and “Les Folies Bergere” were all part of the entertainment along with big name headliners and the first residency shows of Sigfried and Roy and Liberace. With intricate detail, rhinestones and feathers while still barely there, the showgirl represented glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It was during this period Philipo would start his collection of costumes.
Moving to California, Philipo return to Las Vegas to briefly from 1980-81 when he accepted the lead male role in “Lido de Paris.” Unfortunately, while waiting for the show to open, the fire at the then MGM (now Bally’s Las Vegas) killed his deal and he moved back to Los Angeles. Philipo would begin to design costumes for the some of the top designers as well as restore older costumes.
Along with performing, modeling and producing; Philipo also has a background in art and museums. “I have been working in museum since the 6th grade when I won my first art scholarship,” he explained, “I have a love of history. Also performing in Las Vegas, I saw this as something that needed to be preserved but I never imagined I would open my own museum.”
He moved back to Las Vegas in 1990 and has called it home ever since. In his residence, Philipo would exhibit various costumes on mannequins while many remained in storage. With the purchase of a building in 2002, it was suggested to create a museum which became a reality in 2010.
Grant Philipo’s Las Vegas Showgirl Museum houses actual wardrobe pieces, sets, props, costume designs, film footage, historical documents, and photos paying homage to the glamour and beauty of Las Vegas entertainment, as well as show business history from other parts of the world. The collections begin in Paris showcasing all aspects, including live re-enactments of some of Las Vegas’ most famous production numbers, headliners and specialty acts. The last showgirl production show, “Jubilee!” at Bally’s Las Vegas, will close on Feb. 12 after being part of the Las Vegas Strip since 1981. The magnificent work of designers Pete Menefee and Bob Mackie is on display at the museum, which owns all of the original opening costumes of, “Jubilee!”
Due to an anonymous complaint stating that tickets were being sold and there were no restroom facilities available to the public, a hearing will be held at Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. about the future of the museum. The museum holds a state business license, only asks for donations, has six bathrooms available and each tourist must make a confirmed appointment with no walk-ins allowed.
Supporters are urged to attend the Clark County Planning Commission on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Commission Chambers, Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.
For more information, visit lasvegasshowgirlmuseum.com.