I’ve been performing in Las Vegas comedy clubs for just over 20 years and thought I had seen it all. I’ve walked on stage at The Sahara having to step over tiger urine to get to the microphone (the crew apparently didn’t have time to mop the floor between the big, white cat extravaganza and the comedy show). I’ve seen bachelorette party girls holding each others’ hair as they took turns vomiting. I watched a 450-pound Elvis sing from a “throne” because he was too heavy to stand for 30 minutes. I’ve shared a green room with a topless magician’s assistant who purposely made conversation with me because she could tell I was uncomfy. I’ve even been to the Liberace Museum, which is great if you like sequins. It looked like someone shot up the place with a Bedazzler.
The only thing I’ve never done was go to the legendary Mob Museum. I WANTED to go but never felt like the time was right. That changed yesterday.
A couple of hours after we landed in Vegas, my friend Kathleen called and asked, “Do you want a tour of The Mob Museum with Meyer Lansky III?”
GODFATHER-O-RAMA! In The GodFather Part II, the character Hyman Roth is based on Meyer Lansky.
Are you kidding me? There is NO better time for a visit to the Mob Museum than when the grandson of the guy who practically invented the mafia, and Las Vegas, is giving the tour, especially for a mobster-maniac like myself.
FACT-O-RAMA! Jews, not Italians, are credited with creating the modern mafia. Unlike Italians, they were mostly single-generation gangsters. Jewish gangsters sent their kids to college whereas Italian gangsters taught their kids how to commit crimes.
We met Meyer Lanksy III in front of The Mob Museum, which is a former courthouse. Meyer has a gravelly voice and even looks like his grandfather. He’s the nicest guy on the planet and is an encyclopedia of mafia knowledge.
FACT-O-RAMA! When he was a kid, Meyer Lansky III dodged an attempted kidnapping after an apocryphal story emerged that his grandfather had $300,000,000 socked away.
Unlike most tour guides I’ve seen, Meyer is passionate about the subject matter and knows how to educate and entertain at the same time. He and his family donated a piece or two to the museum. Not to mention, he met some of the guys whose pictures are on the wall!
The museum is spectacular. Way better than a crime enthusiast can imagine. Not only do they have actual bricks from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, but they also have some of the actual bullets removed from victims.
FACT-O-RAMA! The only survivor of Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre was a German shepherd named “Highball.”
The Mob Museum has several floors worth of mobster history and a “wall of fame” with pictures and brief bios of everyone who was someone in organized crime. It also has a “greatest hits” section (wink wink), which you can dodge if you aren’t into looking at pictures of dead Italian guys.
As with any other museum, the last stop on the ride is a gift shop. I was hoping for a “My dad got whacked and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” souvenir, but they didn’t have them.
The Mob Museum is a must-see. Meyer Lanksy III is an amazing guy. Say hi if you see him there. Then head to the basement and have a drink at the Speakeasy, which is made to look exactly the way you think it does.