Certain showgirl, Elvis imitator often seen with Vegas mayor
LAS VEGAS (AP) – The showgirls are a must. And Elvis, sure, bring him, too.
Whether boosting Las Vegas on the road, announcing the latest convention coup or throwing a party for visiting politicians and business leaders, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is certain to bring along two or three living symbols of the city’s entertainment tradition.
“They refresh me,” Goodman said. “We celebrate our history here, and they’re part of it.”
Although Goodman wouldn’t admit to having favorites, beneath the makeup or behind the long sideburns there’s a special showgirl and one hunka-hunka Elvis who have caught most of the work with the mayor in recent years.
Porsha Revesz, a 26-year-old full-time model, has worn the showgirl headdress for nearly all the mayor’s magazine photo shoots.
Jesse “Garon” Grice, a Dallas native who has been playing a slim version of the king of rock ‘n’ roll for 14 years, is usually the glittery Elvis flanking the mayor.
Both found work again with Goodman during the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Las Vegas.
“People now have come to expect that wherever he goes he’ll have showgirls and Elvis with him,” said Revesz, who also is familiar to Las Vegan residents as the blonde in a pink dress in eye-catching Studio 54 billboards.
Revesz has been working with the mayor for about two years, averaging about two news conferences or photo shoots a month with Goodman, who variously describes himself as the world’s or the universe’s happiest mayor.
Her job is to be tall, pretty and sometimes to make small talk.
Grice’s duties might also include a little singing.
But if either has an embarrassing story to tell about the mayor, they aren’t sharing.
“The man’s a publicity genius,” Grice said. “When you’ve got a showgirl and Elvis with you, they ain’t going to miss you. Plus, he’s fun to work with because he drinks, so he doesn’t mind if you do, although it doesn’t go with the pills.”
“Just a little Elvis joke,” Grice said.
Grice, 35, has been the mayor’s Elvis for about four years. He averages about one gig a month with Goodman.
Revesz and Grice would not say how much they are paid to appear with the mayor. But city and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority figures show each event costs from about $550 to $1,600, depending on how long an event lasts, how many showgirls are brought in – always at least two, but sometimes a few more – and whether Grice/Elvis is summoned.
Goodman’s showgirls’ and Elvis’ tab with the Las Vegas Centennial Committee was $22,873 for 15 events in 2005. The city also has spent $1,800 for two events, and is on the hook for an additional $1,125 for two nights of entertaining the mayors and some business leaders attending a shopping center convention.
The Convention and Visitors Authority also pitches in. During the past 11 months, it spent about $13,000 for showgirls and Elvis to accompany Goodman, who chairs the tourism agency.
“Obviously the showgirls and Elvis are icons of Las Vegas,” convention authority spokesman Vince Alberta said. “And we’re going to have those marquees there with him because of our marketing strategy.”
And it does draw attention to the attention-loving mayor.
Revesz said that while some out-of-town politicians are hesitant to have their photo taken with a showgirl, it’s usually a picture-taking and media frenzy when the Las Vegas delegation hits a new city.
“For the baseball winter meetings we arrived in a limo,” Revesz said about a December 2004 trip to Anaheim, Calif., during which Goodman made a pitch for Major League Baseball to locate a franchise in Las Vegas.
“And as soon as we stepped out we were swarmed,” Revesz said. “We could barely walk.”
“I think it’s just that we’re Vegas icons,” she said. “When you see showgirls and Elvis, people think Las Vegas without you even having to say anything.”
Goodman said showgirls and Elvis bring the crowds and the attention to him – and also to Las Vegas.
“The first thing they wanted to do was take pictures with me and the showgirls,” Goodman said of other mayors at a recent reception at his home.
Goodman had an extra twist for the Conference of Mayors, booking showgirls, male Chippendales dancers, celebrity gossip Robin Leach, comedian George Wallace, and Las Vegas performers including magician Lance Burton, singer Clint Holmes and showman Wayne Newton.