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Las Vegas's return to its wilder side coincides with another major shift for the city: While drag shows have always been an entertainment draw, Las Vegas is vamping to the gay and lesbian market with new hotels, shows, and bars.
Where else in the world can you combine some of the most beautiful natural scenery with the most overdone manmade fantasyland? Practically within neon's glow are Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon. Meanwhile, The Strip flashes day and night with a combination glitz, glamour, and grit. Its skyline now includes re-creations of Egyptian pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the canals and bridges of Venice, and New York City. A queer pilgrimage should be made to the Liberace Museum. Though little is said during the guided tour about the late performer's sexual orientation, his fabulous pianos, cars, and outfits tell all.
Lovers considering a commitment ceremony have several choices of wedding chapels, including Cupid's Wedding Chapel, Silver Bell Wedding Chapel, Gay Chapel of Las Vegas, and Eternal Hope Ministry. For romantic entertainment, the latest show turning the Strip red-hot is Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, a risqu? and sexy version of the circus troupe's act, now hosted by a drag queen.
The recently opened gay-owned Blue Moon Resort features 33 deluxe rooms and 11 parlor suites and is the city's first and only full-service gay resort for males (866-798-9194, doubles from $99). Other gay-owned or gay-friendly properties include the clothing-optional Las Vegas Rainbow (866-367-6849, doubles from $97) and the Viva Las Vegas Villas, also known as the "Las Vegas gay hotel," with both standard and kooky themed rooms (consider booking the Disco, Blue Hawaii, or Camelot suites; 800-574-4450, doubles from $69).
Good deals on Strip hotels can be had, especially on midweek stays. The best themed properties include the Luxor (800-288-1000; doubles from $69), MGM Grand (800-929-1111, doubles from $69.95), and New York-New York (800-693-6763, doubles from $64.99). Top-tier hotels include the Bellagio (888-987-6667, doubles from $159), Hard Rock Hotel (800-473-7625, doubles from $69, $89 in spring), Venetian (877-857-1561, doubles from $119), and Four Seasons (877-632-5000, doubles from $225).
Food and Bar Scene
Celebrity chefs continue to open up restaurants in many of the bigger hotels along the Strip: Julian Serrano's Picasso and Sirio Maccioni's Le Cirque at the Bellagio, Alessandro Stratta's Renoir at the Mirage, and Wolfgang Puck at the MGM Grand. Tramps, the city's largest gay bar, also offers dinner most nights, and Freezone, another gay-owned restaurant-bar attracts cabaretgoers on weekends and a ladies night. Gay clubs include Flex, Spotlight, Badlands Saloon, and Buffalo, while the Las Vegas Lounge is the only transgender bar in town. The oldest gay bar and club remains Gipsy, on Paradise Road.
Gay theme parties, events, and listings can be found in the Las Vegas Bugle. The Center, the city's gay and lesbian center, has an information line that can be reached by calling 702-733-9800.
Las Vegas is rediscovering its hedonistic ways. If you want to be in-the-know when traveling to Sin City, visit the Las Vegas Bugle newspaper's site. Other resources can be found at GayVegas.com and Vegas.com.
The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. We suggest that you confirm all details directly with the establishments mentioned before making travel plans. Please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any new information.