Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Off-Strip: The Clarion

I won't lie: We went to The Clarion (305 Convention Center, just off the strip, like it says on the sign) because we had a coupon for two free drinks in the American Casino Guide. But I really like this little place. In honor of the New Year, $20.14 will buy you all you can drink; and they offer free coffee and saltines to help you sober up before you hit the road. There's a "24-hour" food court," i.e. vending machines and tables and chairs. It's part of the Gambler's Bonus network (also available at local convenience stores, drugstores, supermarkets, and other fine places where pulls on slots are sold), which earns you cash back on the video poker machines along the bar. By the way, I found them pretty loose for video poker machines at a bar.

But it's the history of the place and its remnants that are still viewable on-site that really fascinate me. At one point, back in the days when I would go to the nearby Convention Center for COMDEX, this was home to the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Museum. Big framed photos of classic movie stars still adorn some of the walls, and her "D" monogram is still on the doors that led to the spa during her residence here. Her showroom is still there too and hosts several rotating shows. A bit later it was the Greek Isles (the Cashier sign is noticeably unchanged since), and Buddy Hackett's son Sandy ran a comedy club there. According to Ken, our bartender, it was also briefly the WWF Casino Hotel, until Vince got way overextended. It was almost Larry Flynt's Hustler Hotel. Some of the old-timers remember Larry wheeling his chair through checking out the property; he wanted to get into the resort business in Vegas and the Clarion had its resort hotel license, but he lost interest when he learned of certain anti-nudity clauses. As a practitioner of what I like to call "casino archaeology," this place is a gold mine. Anyway, after all I've recounted: Why wouldn't you head out to check it out?

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