By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
@body:But whether Debbie's hotel meets the needs of the typical Las Vegas tourist is something that the city's oddsmakers are still handicapping. Does the "bawdy, zany, madcap, vaudeville revue" that Debbie plans to perform in her showroom twice per night stand a chance against the multimillion-dollar pyrotechnics available just down the street?
Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Adviser, a monthly tip sheet focusing on bargains in the gambling world, says he's not privy to any inside information about the hotel, but predicts that anyone who took over the hotel was going to have his work cut out for him.
"She's bound to have a bit of a tough time, because that's a notoriously unsuccessful location," says Curtis of the ten-year-old property. Although located about a quarter of a mile east of the Stardust hotel on a major thoroughfare that intersects the strip, the hotel might as well be ten miles away. Because average Vegas tourists tend to walk from casino to casino along the strip, there is currently no good reason for anyone to make the hike to Debbie's isolated hotel.
"The place was formerly the Paddlewheel; before that it was the Royal Americana," says Curtis. "One after the other, they open and they close. And, certainly, when something doesn't open on schedule, something's wrong."
During a hearing to grant the renovated hotel a gaming license last June, a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission expressed doubts about the profitability of the enterprise. Referring to the property's long history of failure, commissioner Augie Gurrola reportedly commented, "Is Debbie Reynolds going to make a difference? I personally don't think it will suffice."
"Everybody here is pretty skeptical about the hotel's chances for success," says another Las Vegas gaming observer, who requests anonymity. "I wouldn't count it out, but it does seem they are undercapitalized. Her only real commodity is her celebrity, such as that may be. But if she oversaturates that to the point where it's no big deal to walk in the place and see her, she might be in trouble." @rule:
@body:Nevertheless, on a recent Saturday afternoon, the hotel's behind-the-scenes trouble seems to evaporate, and the biggest problem appears to be finding a seat for the 3 p.m. minirevue in the lobby. By 2:30, the area surrounding the check-in desk is already jammed with Debbiephiles, most of them females in late middle age; one fan later earns a round of applause when she reveals that she is 103. Some carry scrapbooks, while others struggle with wheelchairs and walkers. Bounding onto the makeshift stage to the tune of "There's No Business Like Show Business," the veteran trouper cracks jokes about her failed marriages, impersonates Zsa Zsa Gabor and Bette Davis, sings song parodies (You made me love you/You woke me up to do it"), mugs for the shutterbugs and hawks video copies of her old movies and exercise tapes.
Then, eager to make the distinction between the "bawdy, zany, madcap, vaudeville revue" that may soon be her bread and butter and the impromptu entertainment currently transpiring, Debbie waves a cautionary finger in the air. "This is not a show," she chides jovially. "It's an 'open house.' You'll notice that we are in the lobby and that you didn't pay. We're just doing this until the showroom opens. And if it doesn't open soon, I'll be broke!"
Well, if worst comes to worst, she can always try to line up three Debbies.