Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Circus Circus Midway

Visiting the upper-level midway of Circus Circus casino in Las Vegas recently brought back lots of memories of the attraction.

The first time I wandered the midway was nearly 50 years ago, back in the mid-'60s, when my friends and I went to Las Vegas during one of those three-day weekends. No, we didn't stay at the Circus Circus, it was too expensive ($20 a day, I think); we stayed at a downtown motel for $6 a room, two to a room.

But I digress. The midway then was different than it is now. There were quite a few adult-oriented side-show attractions, including four that I vividly recall:

1. A mad-scientist experiment where electricity was sent coursing through a lovely woman, turned the scantily clad young lady into a raging gorilla that broke out of the cage and charged the audience, sending us careening out the entrance, trampling small kids and deafening us "normal" college boys with high-pitched girly screams.

2. A strip show with teaser women gyrating outside the "tent," enticing us hormone-driven young men to come on in and see what went on in there. Yep, we went in, anticipating bare breasts. But y'know how that goes, they don't call it a strip-TEASE for nothing.

3. A tic-tac-toe champion chicken. If you beat it, you won a cheap prize. If not, well, you were out a quarter. I lost, my friends lost.

4. A chicken-munching boa constrictor. It was past its lunchtime, so we didn't actually get to see it, but someone described it to us: People stood around a large ring that was walled off with a foot-high fence. A live chicken was thrown into the ring and it clucked and strutted around for a while. Then, a huge boa (6-8 feet at least) slithered into the ring and stalked the chicken until it was cornered. It then struck with its big mouth and proceeded to strangle and swallow the poor bird.

Now, all they have are carnival games, no side shows. Still, it was a nice, nostalgic wander around the center ring where an aerial artist named "The Fabulous Alexandra" was twirling high above the audience.

I wonder what the midway will look like 50 years from now.

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