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Strip Cultures: Finding America in Las Vegas

The Project on Vegas
The Project on Vegas

The members of the Project on Vegas are Stacy M. Jameson, Instructor of Film/Media at the University of Rhode Island; Karen Klugman, photographer and Chair of the Art Department at the Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut; Jane Kuenz, Associate Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine; and Susan Willis, Associate Professor of Literature at Duke University.


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Duke University Press
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Book Chapter


September 2015

This chapter explores the use and meaning of water on the Strip, not from the more traditional perspectives of environment or politics, but rather as an entertainment spectacle and even high-tech new media phenomenon. Water transactions and displays—such as the illicit sale of water bottles on hotel overpasses, the luxurious Bellagio fountain serenades, the Cirque du Soleil show O, and the visual cues of sinking water levels in Lake Mead—function as lenses into hierarchies of Vegas privilege and power. Water in Sin City is understood through a series of tensions, first between water as the stuff of both mundane need and consumerist spectacle, and then between the ways in which this basic elemental substance marks a difference between leisure and employment, hotel casino and resident, and the stratification of work and bodies.

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