The main attraction at the popular Neon Museum (770 N. Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702-387-6366. www.neonmuseum.org) is a boneyard containing signage from Las Vegas’ most iconic, seminal, and, in some cases, long gone and forgotten hotels and establishments. Those include The Palms, Golden Nugget, and Stardust, and walking through these snaking remains during a one-hour guided tour is an opportunity to take in classic, quintessential Las Vegas–style design.
Yet, today’s Las Vegas is not exactly the kitsch-gone-wild, pulsating lights environment that Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis, and Liberace made their stomping grounds. Both on and off the Strip you’ll find eye-popping, creative, thoroughly contemporary design. The city’s five-year-old Smith Center For Performing Arts (361 Symphony Park Ave. Tel: 702-749-2000. www.thesmithcenter.com) for one, offers theatrical productions that combine technology and derringdo beyond anything you’d see elsewhere, and buildings that add pure 21st-century international sophistication to the landscape.
Interestingly, a number of RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni have settled down in Las Vegas, drawn in part by this mix. Season eight’s Britney impersonator Derrick Barry and season nine’s Farrah Moan and Kimora Blac are among the local residents. “I mean, its not the same to be in New York or Paris,” says season three and All-Stars competitor Yara Sofia, “but at least you have a taste [of those places] and that suits me just fine.”
Sofia, aka Gabriel Ortiz, moved to Las Vegas at the urging of another Las Vegas–based RPDR alumni, Coco Montrese, and currently performs at the glitziest gay dance club in town, the Fruit Loop’s Piranha Nightclub (4633 Paradise Rd. Tel: 702-791-0100. www.piranhavegas.com), and at a weekly Drag Brunch at Senor Frog’s (3300 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702-337-7577. www.senorfrogs.com/lasvegas).