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The Vegas Hotspot That Broke All the Rules
July 20, 2013 3:19 PM   Subscribe

“What would happen if some of those ‘priests’ in white robes started chasing you at 60 miles an hour?” Frank asked. “What would you do?” And Sammy answered, “Seventy.” The Moulin Rouge: The Vegas Hotspot That Broke All The Rules. Smithsonian Magazine on the brief life but long-lasting legacy of Las Vegas' first racially integrated casino.
posted by goo (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a good reminder that Jim Crow was everywhere in America, to one degree or another, at one time or another. I already kind of knew about Vegas, though, because of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and "Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang", the episode in which the crew pulls an Ocean's Eleven-ish caper in the holosuite's Vegas program to help out Vic Fontaine, the holographic crooner. Sisko isn't interested at first, saying that in the real Vegas, they wouldn't have even let him in the front door, although he comes around.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:58 PM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nat King Cole turned away at the door. Lena Horne was allowed to stay at the hotel, but not to enter the casino. "When she left, her bedsheets were burned."

What did they think, skin color was contagious?
I know, I know, they imagined all black people carry lice or something.
posted by dhartung at 4:04 PM on July 20, 2013


What did they think, skin color was contagious?
I know, I know, they imagined all black people carry lice or something.


Racists have ever been impervious to logic.
posted by Etrigan at 4:24 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Right about the 37-minute mark in this video Sammy goes into a bit that starts with marching with Martin Luther King, and moves into explaining his race, religion and ancestry, building up to "That means I'm colored, Jewish, and Puerto Rican. When I move into a neighborhood, I wipe it out!"

He was doing this in St. Louis, which is where Shelley v. Kraemer -- the case that started as a lawsuit to stop a black family moving into a neighborhood, and ended with the Supreme Court ruling racial covenants unenforceable -- began.
posted by ubernostrum at 4:37 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Considering how racial insensitive TNG's writing could be, I have a feeling that the sort of insight often found in DS9 episode such as the one you mentioned is 100% Avery Brooks.
posted by thecjm at 4:45 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


What did they think, skin color was contagious?

Well ... sort of. Seriously. From the article: Another local tells of the day Sammy Davis Jr. took a dip in a whites-only swimming pool at the New Frontier. Afterward, the manager drained the pool. This is why places had separate drinking fountains and so forth. Or consider the way Germans were taught to associate Jews with rats, filth, and disease. It's all about hijacking visceral reflexes to impose separatism.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:49 PM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sisko isn't interested at first, saying that in the real Vegas, they wouldn't have even let him in the front door, although he comes aroun

Check out Sammy Davis Junior in Oceans 11. To pull off the heist they all get jobs in casinos, Martin becomes a lounge singer etc. Sammy Davis Junior, despite his obvious talent, is a decorated war hero and is apparently good enough to be a professional ball player, gets stuck as a garbage man.

I think they were trying to make a point.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:42 PM on July 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


That was a really great read. I had no idea segregation was that out of control. Despicable.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:22 PM on July 20, 2013


From 1957 to 1960, John Boyd, the extraordinary fighter pilot intellectual, strategist, and competitive eater who revolutionized military aviation and ground warfare doctrine (as well as being an ardent Pentagon reformer, and later the architect of Operation Desert Storm), forced the unprecedented desegregation of the Friday buffet at the Sahara casino hotel in Vegas, requiring the hotel to allow in his African-American personnel ( see Robert Coram's biography of Boyd)
posted by Bwithh at 6:19 AM on July 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


competitive eater who revolutionized military aviation

Sorry to derail, but, competitive eater?
posted by sammyo at 6:37 AM on July 21, 2013


What did they think, skin color was contagious?
I know, I know, they imagined all black people carry lice or something.


No,syphilis. At least that was the myth in the South. That's what I heard when I was little(50's& 60's). Bear in mind that until after WWII, syphilis was incurable. Children could be born with it, and in advanced stages it affected your brain. It was the AIDS of it's day.
posted by pbrim at 6:45 AM on July 21, 2013


Stan Armstrong's been working on a film about the place. I'm not sure how finished it is.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:52 AM on July 21, 2013


competitive eater who revolutionized military aviation

Sorry to derail, but, competitive eater?
posted by sammyo at 6:37 AM on July 21 [+] [!]


Yes, he was a true All-American patriot; and this was why buffets were especially important to him ( read the bio )
posted by Bwithh at 3:42 PM on July 21, 2013


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