Find Out How Las Vegas Keeps Its Sparkle Guest host Lynn Neary speaks with Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen, who's been on assignment in Las Vegas. Over the next two Sundays, Hansen will report on the economic challenges facing the city and its hopes to diversify business. Also planned are features on a daytime cop who's a show dancer by night, and the mayor's plans for a mob museum.
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Find Out How Las Vegas Keeps Its Sparkle

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Find Out How Las Vegas Keeps Its Sparkle

Find Out How Las Vegas Keeps Its Sparkle

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY host Liane Hansen has been in Las Vegas this past week doing some reporting for upcoming stories on our program. We've reached her, where else - at a casino.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

NEARY: Hi, Liane. Good to talk with you.

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Good to talk with you, Lynn.

NEARY: Now, I gather you are the Mirage. Tell us a little bit what it's like there at the moment.

HANSEN: Well, interesting. There are a lot of people on the casino floor playing all kinds of games, from penny slots to Baccarat to craps to roulette. I mean, this is really, I'm amazed - a 24-hour city.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NEARY: Okay. What about the stories you're working on? Tell us about those.

HANSEN: We're also doing a fun story. We did go to an old-fashioned showgirl show - one of the last ones remaining in Las Vegas - because we are doing the story about one of the dancers, a guy from Brooklyn who studied with Eartha Kitt and is a dancer. He plays Samson in the stage show at night. By day, he's a policeman and trains cadets and trains law enforcement officers here in defensive and offensive tactics. So, it's quite a juxtaposition to see someone like that working here in Vegas. So, we're going to tell you all about him as well.

NEARY: Sounds like fun.

HANSEN: It is fun.

NEARY: Well, now, I know you met with the mayor of the city, Oscar B. Goodman. I gather he's something of a character. What was he like and what did he have to say?

HANSEN: Character does not begin to describe the man. I mean, first of all, you walk into his office and it is filled with tchotchke of his - you know, knickknacks and photos and baseball memorabilia, football helmets. And his desk, he sits, it's a throne. It's this carved, wooden chair. And he is a cheerleader for the city. He is an eternal optimist. And although he said, yeah, there are some things that need to be done, he hopes that Las Vegas is going to be able to do it.

OSCAR GOODMAN: You know, we were the fastest growing, so when you're the fastest growing and the world is hit with a recession, you become one of the fastest falling. But our infrastructure is in place. We have the very, very best to attract tourists. There is some suffering that's taking place now with foreclosures, with unemployment, but we're going to come back. As soon as the world gets confidence in their monetary situation, we're going to come back.

HANSEN: So, as you can see, Mayor Goodman is very optimistic. And it reminds me of the old phrase that Mark Twain used about his death - I'll paraphrase it: reports of the death of Las Vegas are highly exaggerated.

NEARY: And I know this is your first visit to the city, is that right?

HANSEN: Yeah, it is.

NEARY: What do you think your lasting impression's going to be? What's this thing that has really hit you about the city that maybe you weren't expecting or you really will remember?

HANSEN: Well, I didn't know what to expect but I'll tell you, I'm blinded by neon, I'm blinded by sequins. Everywhere you go, music is piped in, I mean, lights are on. It's a 24-hour city, and I wasn't expecting to see so many people here. But it is, I've only been here for a couple of days and there is so much still left to see. So, it's an amazing city.

NEARY: NPR's Liane Hansen on assignment in Las Vegas. Thanks very much, Liane. Good talking with you.

HANSEN: Good talking to you, Lynn. You're welcome.

NEARY: To see a photo of Liane with the mayor, you can visit the WEEKEND EDITION Facebook page.

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