Staying at The Luxor in Las Vegas has been on my To Do List for years. Decades. Since 1995, to be exact.
That was the year I first saw what instantly became my favorite movie, my source of abhorrently filthy quotes, and my all-around beacon wisdom and inspiration: I am referring to the story of the rise and fall of a Las Vegas dancer, Showgirls.
Showgirls is a modern-day pop culture legend, known amongst cinemaphiles as “the worst movie ever made,” and is indeed a spectacle filled with melodramatic actors who shamelessly overindulge in chewing up a ridiculous script. Correction: the script is beyond ridiculous. It is terrible. But saying the movie is “bad” really isn’t fair; it is actually a lot of fun to watch, and not only because of the deliciously over-the-top performances. There are some energetic dance productions in there, and the cinematography is legitimately gorgeous as it frames the silly dialogue in stunning Las Vegas panoramas.
One of the most notable landmarks is the gorgeous Las Vegas pyramid, the Luxor Hotel & Casino. It showed up in the movie a couple of times.
That’s Nomi Malone, played by Elizabeth Berkley, the star of the movie. Elizabeth, wherever you are, I love you. Here in this scene, towards the beginning of the movie, Nomi is deep in thought as she tries to solve the riddle of “how to make it big in Vegas.” The Luxor’s Sphinx blocks her path, just like the mystical sphinxes of ancient Egypt and Greece that blocked travelers and ate them alive. Will Nomi get eaten alive by Las Vegas? Or will she lay the city to ruin? Only time will tell.
Here we have The Luxor again, behind the blurry “Wrong Way” sign that is a blatant case of what the film industry refers to as “symbolism” (Trouble lies behind you, Nomi! Get out of Las Vegas while you can!) At the risk of ruining the plot for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, I’ll just mention Nomi is leaving Las Vegas in this scene. Like the movie did for Berkley’s career, Las Vegas did not treat Nomi well. But spirit of Nomi lives on! I could discuss the artistic merit of this movie forever, but I’ll stop.
After the 10th or 100th time I watched this movie, I searched for the filming locations to take myself on a Las Vegas Showgirls tour, but alas, much of the movie was shot in Southern California, and the Las Vegas casinos used for a few scenes, like The Stardust and The Riviera, have closed. And I am not going into that strip club, Cheetahs. But that pyramid is still there, rising ominously and seductively on The Strip. I had to see it for myself. So after 20 years of waiting, I booked a trip.
The casino and lobby of The Luxor — in the open atrium of that pyramid — are chaotic and buzzing with energy, with people zipping back and forth with drinks in one hand and gambling chips in the other. But the rooms, thankfully, are nice and quiet, dark but not drab, with marvelous beds so weary travelers can relax and recharge before heading out again.
Rooms are both in the pyramid itself, and also in two glass towers on the grounds. The tower rooms are a bit bigger, but the pyramid rooms are more dramatic thanks to that slanted wall that cuts out a chunk of ceiling space.
Speaking of drama, the lobby is quite the sight to behold:
The Luxor is part of MGM Resorts, a collection of casinos that are each self-contained fortresses of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shows, shops, and various related offerings of indulgence and debauchery. Walkways and trams connect many of the properties, so it is theoretically possible to spend days inside, drinking and eating and gambling all your money away (helpful hint: there is a delightfully inexpensive deli that serves delicious food, hidden in a corner by the casino floor) without seeing the light of day. But doing so would be such a waste.
The MGM brand has a long history of supporting the LGBT community, and gay parties pop up here and there in the various casino nightclubs and bars. The Luxor hosts Temptation Sundays, an afternoon pool party that has run on the grounds for years (photos, above and below).
The Luxor is perfect for such a set-up: the gays take over the back pool, informally separated from the rest of the rest of the grounds by some columns, and the boys mill about in their Speedos and play grab-ass with a reasonable amount of shelter from the rest of the guests. The party runs only in the hottest summer months, but it has come back year after year, several times over. And it is quite the rowdy good time.
Perhaps Nomi and Zach will show up for another romp in the pool.