The legendary Las Vegas Showgirl icon, “Jubilee” is lowering it’s curtain for the final time on February 11th, 2016. The show has run for over 34 years and is the last true showgirl spectacular left on the strip. I couldn't be more saddened by this news. When I read the article announcing the news it caught me off guard by bumming me out for the entire weekend.
Since discovering this shows existence I have become obsessed with it so I'm going to take this time to wax poetic about "Jubilee" and it's amazing showgirls.
"Jubilee" came to my attention when I rediscovered my love and respect for Bob Mackie's work. I had seen the sketches before in the centerfold style pages in his book 'Unmistakably Mackie.' At that time I thought they were pretty cool, but not much more. They didn't strike me too much at the time since the only context I had for such over the top designs was the Bob Mackie Barbies and Cher. When I launched 'Hire Me Bob Mackie' back in 2011 I revisited the book and that foldout, with its army of topless goddesses, halted me dead in my tracks. I was consumed with finding out EVERYTHING I could about these Mackie Showgirls. I realized that these sketches represent real life women and that these costumes are marched on stage nightly. In other words these are not flights of fancy, they are REAL. These costumes are one of a kind and the likes of them have no equal... possibly ever.
After researching more and more I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas for my 30th birthday and see the show and its equally impressive back stage tour. Seeing those master works up close was astonishing. No other show uses this many rhinestones, the pounds of sequins and the variety of feathers that 'Jubilee' does. This is also where I learned about Pete Menefee and his genius which parallels Mackie's. I soaked it all up, every ounce of information I could. See my original post here and here.
These ladies exist in a show and in a theater that was tailor built for them. I feel like they are mythical creatures that can't exist anywhere else. Some of these costumes are so epic they are stored in the rafters and must be lowered and strapped to their respected showgirl for every performance. These costumes aren't practical. They are art and so is the showgirl wearing them. You aren't going to be seeing a headdress clad showgirl riding the subway or shopping for frozen peas at Safeway. They are master works of sculpture, meant to be worn while walking down an amazingly lit staircase.
I can't say this enough, I am deeply saddened by this show closing. If you are in Las Vegas prior to February 11th GO SEE THIS SHOW, you won't regret it. I hope the team at Bally's is able to replace it with an epic contemporary showgirl spectacular, but these kinds of shows are wildly expensive to mount as well as maintain. In the meantime, my personal mission since seeing this show in person is to apply one philosophy to my own designs, "Is this fabulous enough for Jubilee?"