Costumed Characters Crowd the Las Vegas Strip
Comic-Con and E3 are famous as hubs of gaming culture. These yearly events feature the latest and greatest creations in the industry as well as some creative visitors. Comic-Con in particular houses the largest congregation of outfitted participants ranging with characters from video games, comic books, television, and more. Who would have thought the city of Las Vegas, Nevada would feature its own dress-up event.
The Las Vegas Strip is known as an adult playground. The oasis right in the middle of the Mojave Desert houses world class resorts, countless entertainers, and a nightlife unmatched across the globe. Recently, the entertainment capital of the world has witnessed a different type of performer, costumed peddlers.
Woody (from “Toy Story”), Goofy, and Hello Kitty walk the sunny Strip hugging children, waving to passerbies and greeting tourists. The dozens of characters gather to the busy streets with the intent of gaining tips and selling miscellaneous items such as bottles of water.
One of the most popular acts, a Mario and Luigi duo, are part of a growing number of people trying to earn tip money in this difficult economy. Some of the others include characters seen are Zorro, Batman, Sonic, and Donald Duck. While most of the make shift entertainers reside in the 110° F weather to make ends meet after a job loss, or layoff, some have migrated to Las Vegas from Hollywood due to the pressure from law enforcement.
The threat of being arrested is a huge deterrent to those weary of peddling. Perhaps an even more powerful disincentive is the possibility of violence and/or other forms of harassment incurred while on the job. One man is suing The Venetian hotel and casino alleging that he was detained illegally by hotel security last year. Others have reported being tackled and physically harassed by random assailants.
“This is a dangerous job because you don’t know what you’re dealing with,” one of the costumed actors stated.
Many of the costumed characters work 8 or more hours a day, 5 days a week. On a good day, the entertainers can bring in more than $100. Holidays boost the earning potential to as much as $250 and slow days can bring in $50.
As a person who lives in Las Vegas, someone who has experienced the extreme summer heat, and who has seen the state of Nevada’s economy deteriorate over the past few years, I can understand their situation. With one of the worst job markets in the United States, making ends meet in Las Vegas is becoming increasingly difficult for many. I don’t feel as if they are doing any harm. I’d much rather have laid off workers posing as street performers for money than participating in anything related to crime.
While Las Vegas isn’t hosting a new gaming convention, it has beckoned a cos-play crowd. Hard times call for desperate measures and these costumed-clad entertainers have honed their desperation into resourcefulness and amusement for many. Las Vegas showcases everything else from nude girls to 24-7 parties, lets welcome costumed Mario and Luigi to the festivities as well.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal