LAS VEGAS -- Even the men who hand out "nude girls direct to your room" cards stopped their hawking long enough to do some gawking at the "stripper-mobile" as it rolled down the Las Vegas Strip this week.
It's akin to a small U-Haul truck but with Plexiglas surrounding the brightly lit cargo area instead of walls. In the middle is a gleaming stripper pole. Swinging around the pole is a scantily clad young woman. Two of her fellow strippers are in the back of the truck too, awaiting their turns.
Puttering up and down Las Vegas Boulevard earlier this week, it was photographed by nearly everyone it pulled alongside, from construction workers to an SUV-load of 20-somethings from Colorado.
It's the ultimate advertising vehicle, said Larry Beard, marketing director for Dij' Vu Showgirls. Having run the truck up and down the Strip late at night and into the wee hours for only the past two weeks, he claims it has doubled business at the all-nude Dij' Vu and Little Darlings gentlemen's clubs.
"It's just a great idea that really works," Beard said.
If a couple of county commissioners get their way, however, it might soon be a late, great idea. Arguing that state and county laws prohibit the use of a public right of way for advertising-only vehicles, as well as the possibility that the distracting nature of the, ahem, advertising is such that it could cause accidents, commissioners plan to discuss it on Nov. 17.
"You could have 10 of them out there pretty quick and a million people just staring," commissioner Steve Sisolak said. "We have to get a handle on it before it gets too out of hand."
But inside the nearly soundproof rectangle that literally glows from a distance, Kay, 21, and Alyssa and Bella, both 20, were concerned about the pole slipping out of their hands. They balanced on clear-plastic high heels and laughed and posed. Their bikini tops and bottoms are skintight to try to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions during acrobatics on the pole.
Kay used a loudspeaker to urge onlookers to come see her sans clothing at Dij' Vu.
A young man in a passing SUV waved a fistful of dollars out his window. The double-takes spread like a wave through the pedestrians on the sidewalk.
"This is what Las Vegas is all about," said Beard, marketing director for six business entities including Deja Vu Showgirls, Little Darlings and Hustler Topless gentlemen's clubs. "You come here to see something you can't see anywhere else in the world."
The reaction, and effectiveness of the advertising, "has been phenomenal," said Fred Robertson, whose company, Rolling Ads, provides the truck. "Most people don't pay attention to billboards. We go out and people are just waiting to see it."
Beard said this is an alternative to paying huge tips to cab drivers to bring in customers.
"So we're going down the strip and some cabbie is telling someone, 'Deja Vu is closed' or 'Deja Vu burned down,' and then we drive by and the customer is saying, 'Uh-uh, take me there,' " Beard said. The stripper-mobiles "are like Pied Pipers out there on the Strip," he added.
The clubs need this, they say. Business has been bad.
That argument won't fly with some county commissioners, though.
Sisolak, for example, was spurred by a letter from a constituent, Ann Mueller, who told the Sun her grandson saw the stripper-mobile on Paradise Road around 5 p.m. one weekday. (Beard said the truck usually only rolls from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. but went early that night to accommodate a TV news crew.)
Mueller said in her letter: "This is not only disgusting but very dangerous" because it could cause a traffic accident.
But nothing about the women or the truck is illegal, a Las Vegas police spokesman said. "As long as it's not impeding traffic, it's fine," officer Jacinto Rivera explained.
Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani contends the police don't enforce the law on mobile billboards in public rights of way because officers don't have the time.
"But just because no one has enforced it doesn't mean it's not the law," she said. "I don't care about the content or that they're female dancers. I'm sick of the women, in fact -- let's get some men up there for once. But this is just illegal."
Business owner Marla Letizia previously defeated efforts to outlaw her company's mobile billboards. She finds the stripper-mobiles "disgusting," however, and hopes commissioners ban them.
"They won't say it, but this is truly about content," Letizia said. "It's time someone in the community has the guts to say this is about class and decency in our community."
If that argument is made, it is unlikely to withstand a court challenge, lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said. "It's a First Amendment issue and commercial speech is protected speech," he explained.
The stripper-mobile would not qualify as obscene, indecent or harmful to minors -- "there's nothing illegal about it," he said.
Then again, maybe there doesn't need to be. County sources say some of the powerful owners of strip properties want the stripper-mobile stopped.