Moonlighting Vegas Cop Takes It Off Onstage

By day, Anthony Brown is a police officer in Las Vegas. At night, he swaps the police uniform for something more sparkly. He is a principal dancer in the Las Vegas' production Jubilee. Host Liane Hansen speaks with Anthony "Hitman" Brown about his double life.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

The lights of Las Vegas, Nevada, shine for miles at night in every direction. Conventioneers, honeymooners, families and party animals flock to this place to play and maybe see a show at Bally's Hotel and Casino, where you can buy a ticket for one of the longest running showgirl productions on the Strip.

(Soundbite of music)

CHORUS: (Singing) Ah, jubilee, jubilee.

HANSEN: "Jubilee" will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. It's a cross between Vaudeville and the follies. Dance numbers evoke the sinking of the Titanic, the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah and much, much more.

Eighty-seven-year-old former showgirl Fluff Lecoque is the company manager. She's been with "Jubilee" since its opening.

Ms. FLUFF LECOQUE (Company Manager, "Jubilee"): People expect to see glamorous, beautiful girls - with or without their clothes - but mostly with clothes and gorgeous costumes. I mean, that's their idea of a showgirl is a beautiful, tall girl who can wear gorgeous, extensive costumes.

HANSEN: The showgirls wear large, heavy, feathered and sequined headpieces. The rest of the costume, what there is of it, usually consist of a thong and flowing chiffon. The muscular, bare-chested male dancers also wear next to nothing, when the number calls for it.

Brooklyn native and "Jubilee" dancer Anthony Brown is one of them at night; during the day he's a cop. I visited him backstage in his dressing room at Bally's before the show. He was watching the basketball game.

Mr. ANTHONY BROWN (Dancer, "Jubilee," Police Officer): I was watching basketball.

HANSEN: Of course you were. (unintelligible).

You're a principal dancer.

Mr. BROWN: Principal dancer in "Jubilee."

HANSEN: When did you start with the show?

Mr. BROWN: I started in "Jubilee" in 1985.

HANSEN: What was your background in dance?

Mr. BROWN: Wow. I took dance lessons all over New York. Master classes with Eartha Kitt. I took classes with Gregory and Maurice Hines. Hines and Hatchet -I took Frank Hatchet, off of Broadway Arts.

HANSEN: So, you were a well-trained dancer.

Mr. BROWN: Yes, it was kind of hard because, you know, I'm from Brooklyn and I played basketball and I hung out with the guys and, you know, you have to go to Manhattan, take these dance classes. And it's kind of difficult telling people, yeah, I'm going to take a dance class.

HANSEN: So, you come to Vegas, you audition for the show. What part do you play?

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: Tonight, a tale of love, romance, passion and betrayal. The story of Samson and Delilah.

Mr. BROWN: I play Samson. I destroy all the stuff in Samson and I play Mr. Debonair. We do a tap number, a tribute to Fred Astaire, "Top Hat."

(Singing) I just got an invitation through the mail...

HANSEN: Now, you left the show. When did you leave?

Mr. BROWN: I left the show in 1988. I went to Siegfried and Roy. Yes, I did that show. I was a lead in their show. And I stayed there a very short amount of time because I had tested for the police department and I got hired. So, I went into the police academy, graduated in the summer of 1988.

HANSEN: So, what did you do at the police department - or what do you do? You're still on the police?

Mr. BROWN: Yes. I've been a police officer now for 22 years and I train the police officers how to fight, because I fight professionally as well.

HANSEN: What do you mean fight?

Mr. BROWN: I fight Muay Thai kickboxing. It's like boxing but you have elbows and knees and kicks.

HANSEN: So, I'm trying to get this straight: you're a cop during the day and a dancer at night.

Mr. BROWN: Yes.

HANSEN: Yes.

Mr. BROWN: It's just natural to me. It's just, yeah, that's what I do.

HANSEN: You do the show at night and you get up in the morning and you train police how to fight?

Mr. BROWN: Yes. Well, we call it defensive tactics, OK? But basically I train them how to defend themselves if the person has a gun or if the person has a knife and how to take people into custody if you have to arrest them.

Batons, batons, batons, go, go, go.

HANSEN: The next morning, we drove a few miles away from the Strip to see Anthony Brown on the job at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He was teaching his defensive tactics class. I stood at a safe distance away from the batons.

Hang time. Relax, relax.

HANSEN: You have a middle name, a nickname?

Mr. BROWN: Hitman Brown.

HANSEN: Hitman.

Mr. BROWN: Yes.

HANSEN: Hitman. Not because of your work as a cop?

Mr. BROWN: No. It's so funny, people go you're a cop, how can you have hitman? I fight, like I said. And I was always a boxing fan of Tommy Hitman Hearns. And since I was fighting, my coaches always called me hitman because I would knock people out, so they called me hitman.

HANSEN: So, your fellow cast members, they don't give you, you know, a hard time about being a cop or say...

Mr. BROWN: Every now and then. You know, they don't realize that I don't know everything that goes on in the city. So, they'll come in and go, there were a bunch of police officers parked around my house. You know what's going on? I go, no, I don't know.

HANSEN: How about your colleagues in the police department? Do they give you a hard time about being a dancer in "Jubilee"?

Mr. BROWN: It's funny. They don't think I can dance dance. Like they go, whoa, you know, what do you do? I go, I dance in the show. And then when they come see the show, they go, like, he can really dance. And they always ask me about the young ladies in the show.

(Soundbite of music)

CHORUS: (Singing) What gives a man power and punch? (unintelligible) for breakfast and (unintelligible) for lunch and hundreds and hundreds of girls...

HANSEN: Is your wife in the show?

Mr. BROWN: Yes.

HANSEN: What part does she play?

Mr. BROWN: She's also a principle. She has a few numbers that she does in the show. She'll be here a little bit later on.

HANSEN: Can her costume fit in a teacup?

Mr. BROWN: No.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, I've heard that, you know, there's 25 pounds of headdress and the rest of the costume fits in a teacup.

Mr. BROWN: I will tell you this much: I wouldn't want to wear that costume and, you know, those hats, they look heavy and I'm sure they are heavy. But they carry it off beautifully. But, you know, when you see the show - and we've had a house full of monks; we've had...

HANSEN: Monks?

Mr. BROWN: Monks, literally. You will not believe the variety of people that we have in the show. And they'll see the show at first, the girls and they're topless, and then you don't pay it any more attention. And that's one of the things that the guys say to me. How can you dance with a girl and she's topless? I go, I'm more concerned about picking her up and making sure the lifts are on time than I am about her being topless.

(Soundbite of music)

CHORUS: (Singing) Dancing, dancing, dancing. He's here, the guest, the highly welcomed guest. The man that's got an awful lot of...

HANSEN: I'm looking at the costumes in here. Will you show us your Samson costume?

Mr. BROWN: Yeah, it's just a lot to that costume.

HANSEN: Really?

Mr. BROWN: Yeah.

HANSEN: That's your hair?

Mr. BROWN: Yes.

HANSEN: This is what gives you your power?

Mr. BROWN: Yes, it's gives me the strength.

HANSEN: These tiny little dreads here?

Mr. BROWN: Tiny little dreadlock (unintelligible)...

HANSEN: They are dreads.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BROWN: And so now - I'll have to stand up for this one - this is the one that's so much - this is the rest of Samson.

HANSEN: Now, that could fit in a teacup.

Mr. BROWN: Yes.

HANSEN: This is basically a studded jockstrap and a headband.

Mr. BROWN: Yeah. And then I wear...

HANSEN: This is it?

Mr. BROWN: ...I wear the skirt before I do the dance number with her, and then it rips off and...

HANSEN: And it rips off.

Mr. BROWN: ...and we do our dance.

HANSEN: And you do your thing.

Mr. BROWN: Our duet.

HANSEN: But this part stays on.

Mr. BROWN: Yeah, oh yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, at least it's not heavy.

Mr. BROWN: No, it's very light.

HANSEN: How long do you think you can keep this up?

Mr. BROWN: I'm coming up to the nice young age of 50.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BROWN: Now, I don't feel like I can't do this anymore. You know, but anything can happen. But I just feel blessed and lucky that I'm doing this and I can still do it. Every time a young guy comes into the show - I'll be honest with you - it's kind of like a challenge to me. 'Cause I'm like, well, he's young. Well, yeah. Well, I'm doing this. You're trying to get to where I'm at.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: And then you tell him you're a cop.

Mr. BROWN: I tell them I'm a cop, so don't give me too much trouble.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: That's Las Vegas police officer Anthony Hitman Brown, who is also a principle dancer in Jubilee at the Bally Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Soundbite of music)

CHORUS: (Singing) You see them (unintelligible) in the Hollywood jubilee. So, hallelujah, we're bringing it to you...

HANSEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Fully clothed, I'm Liane Hansen.

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Vegas Mayor Optimistic; Vegas Cop A Hard-Hitting Dance Man

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman's office reflects his buoyant personality.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman's office reflects his buoyant personality. Ned Wharton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ned Wharton/NPR

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman sure seems to be a tireless pitchman for his town. He's fired back when it's been suggested (by President Obama, no less) that corporations shouldn't spent money to send executives to Vegas. He's gone on The Colbert Report to trade one-liners with Stephen (and get in some more plugs for Sin City; "the greatest city in the universe .. an adult playground," Goodman said).

"Hitman" Anthony Brown in uniform.

"Hitman" Anthony Brown in uniform. Ned Wharton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ned Wharton/NPR

Weekend Edition Sunday this week will be taking a long look at Las Vegas, including the serious economic problems it's been having in recent years. Goodman makes the case to host Liane Hansen that while gambling has been very, very good to Vegas, the key to its future will be diversification — particularly into industries such as "medical tourism," which focuses on bringing state-of-the-art health care facilities to the city in the hope that folks will want to travel there to take advantage of them.

Here's a bit of their conversation:

Liane Hansen talks with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman

"Hitman" Anthony Brown, in costume.

"Hitman" Anthony Brown, in costume. Ned Wharton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Ned Wharton/NPR

Also on the show, there will be a piece about "Hitman" Anthony Brown. By day, he's a Las Vegas police officer who frequently trains others on "defensive tactics." By night, he's the principal male dancer in the Jubilee! show at Bally's Las Vegas. The show's been going 30 years, making it one of the longest-running showgirl productions on the Strip.

Hitman says "it's just natural to me" to live his seemingly split life. Here's some of his conversation with Liane, followed by the sound of what it's like when he's training other officers:

Liane Hansen talks with "Hitman" Anthony Brown

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