Foundin’ faddas

Jay Jones (Chicago Tribune) | May 31, 2011

LAS VEGAS — Da boys is back in Vegas. Nearly 30 years after the mob let loose of the reins in Sin City, nefarious characters such as Ben “Bugsy” Siegel and Tony “The Ant” Spilotro are back in town.

Sure, the feds’ hard-fought battle to bust the Las Vegas mob and clean up the place ultimately succeeded. So, though the crooks aren’t still skimming millions from the casinos, they’re the stars of two visitor attractions. And a third is in the making.

J. Edgar Hoover must be turning over in his grave.

Hoover and his G-men get their due at the Las Vegas Mob Experience, an interactive attraction at The Tropicana resort replete with live actors, holograms and a host of artifacts. But, to be honest, it’s the dishonest guys — da boys that once ran The Strip — who get top billing.

In groups of no more than a dozen, visitors move from room to room. They start in New York City during Prohibition.

“People still wanted to drink. There was a fortune to be made by anyone willing to supply the goods to thirsty customers,” explains a hologram of Steve Schirripa of “The Sopranos,” one of five tough-guy actors who, through electronic wizardry, guide guests through a maze of alleys, police stations and casinos.

“The gangsters that had been running small-time rackets became multimillionaires practically overnight. … They saw the opportunity and they took it,” Schirripa adds.

Farther along, at a cafe, a group of tourists come face to face with a bagman for the bad guys. The in-the-flesh actor introduces himself as Big Leo.

“You got something for me?” he asks the visitors, one of whom was given an envelope minutes earlier in another scene. How that person handles the situation will determine the whole group’s “fate” at the end of their visit.

Soon, they find themselves in several rooms that depict the lives — and, sometimes, deaths — of key mobsters. Among them is Siegel, who is seen in home movies frolicking around a swimming pool with his wife and kids.

One of his children, Millicent Siegel Rosen, provided the rare footage. Now 80, she is one of several relatives of former gang members who are consultants to the attraction.

To Millicent, however, Siegel was a loving parent while, to the rest of the world, he was one of America’s most notorious gangsters. She says she knew nothing of his life in the mob and tries to shift conversations away from her dad’s infamy.

“I adored my father,” she says. “I was raised like a princess.”

Through special effects, guests see incredibly lifelike apparitions of Siegel and fellow mobster Meyer Lansky standing beside Bugsy’s actual car, a 1933 Packard limousine, as they discuss building the Flamingo. That would become the first upscale hotel-casino along Las Vegas Boulevard.

“I want this hotel to be a paradise, rising up out of this wasteland, something breathtaking,” Siegel says to Lansky. “We could run this whole town the way we want with no one looking over our shoulder.”

“This particular scene is my favorite,” says attraction founder Jay Bloom. “It’s kind of the ‘Eureka!’ moment for the mob in Las Vegas and for the city itself.”

“He pushed Vegas to become what it is today,” Siegel’s daughter adds.

A marker dedicated to the Flamingo’s founder stands in the gardens behind the high-rise hotel, which replaced the original buildings years ago. It’s one of several stops along another Vegas mob experience, the 21/2-hour Vegas Mob Tour.

The gardens, guests learn, are on the site of the first hotel building, in which Siegel kept an apartment. It contained multiple escape routes, including a ladder hidden in a hall closet, leading down to a tunnel. There, a chauffeur waited round-the-clock in a getaway car, in case Siegel had to make a hasty exit.

On rare occasions, guests on the bus tour are joined by Frank Cullotta, a mob hit man who went into the government’s witness-protection program about 20 years ago. He now helps keep the stories authentic, and is no longer worried about ratting on his former colleagues.

Read more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/sc-trav-0531-vegas-mob-museum-20110531,0,1732613.story

Posted by on May 31 2011. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “Foundin’ faddas”

  1. shy cas

    ::maybe a zig zag with tea and vitamin C:: 24/7….

  2. shy cas

    swedish house down….

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