Las Vegas is one of those places that has entrepreneurial opportunities you don’t readily find anywhere else, and many of them take place on the street. No matter where you go on the Strip, you can’t walk a block without stumbling across someone selling VIP access to a UFC after party or handing out ads for services we’ll refer to as “exotic.”
But in the past year there seems to have been a new crop of entrepreneurs working the Strip who earn money based on wearing a costume. Of course Vegas is known for impersonators; Elvis can marry you whenever and where ever, and the Rat Pack can often be found gossiping near Bally’s. But the costumed entrepreneurs I’m referring to are those who charge tourists to take a picture with them when they are ostensibly wearing a Halloween costume.
It would be one thing if these entrepreneurs put on some sort of performance, but that’s not the case in most instances. Instead of offering a song and/or dance, they merely stand there and take your cash after the shutter clicks.
I understand that the American economy is in a slump, and many people are finding it difficult to earn a decent living. I also know there are no shortage of parents dragging their kids around Vegas who are more than willing to pay for a souvenir photo. So clearly these entrepreneurs are supplying a service that’s in demand.
But riddle me this: Shouldn’t the ranks of street performance culture be a little more difficult to join? Shouldn’t there be some sort of barrier to entry that involves talent and/or performance, as opposed to merely purchasing/renting a costume?
I can’t quite figure out if this is a genius way to earn a living, or just another way to swindle tourists out of a few bucks.
Here are a few of the costumed entrepreneurs the Strip had to offer last week:
- Mario and Luigi passed out among empty bottles and cigarette packs
- Jigsaw from Saw
- Buzz Lightyear
- Freddie Krueger
- A large man dressed as a showgirl
- The Easter Bunny
- Elvis and the Las Vegas sign
- A man and his puppy – the latter was dressed as a showgirl
- Women dressed as showgirls
- Hello Kitty
So what do you think? Is buying a costume and putting out a hat for cash:
a) a great way to participate in the underground economy
b) another way Vegas endeavours to ensure a fool and his/her money are rapidly parted?