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Wonderfully Awful: Dealertainers!


a blogumn by Robin Rosenzweig

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty much obsessed with Las Vegas. However, it seems that more often than not, my trips to Sin City don’t coincide with the rare times in my life when I am cash flush. I’ve had to do the Vegas on a budget trip so many times that I’ve actually given how-to tips in a previous blog. But I forgot one key entertainment tip in that blog – something that can be ridiculously fun and totally free. I’m talking about Dealertainers, folks.

Billy Idol!DealerWHATers? Dealertainers are pretty much what their name describes – celebrity impersonators/dealers that can be found at the Imperial Palace on the Las Vegas Strip.

I discovered these little gems several years back when the annual roller derby convention, Rollercon, started centralizing itself within the Imperial Palace. Since a common theme among roller derby types is a general lack of disposable income, we generally would buy a case of beer at a store, keep it in the room, and then never leave the hotel so that our beer would always be within reach. It was while I was hanging out in the casino enjoying my room beer that I first saw the magic that is the Dealertainers. See, not only do these celebrity impersonators deal cards at their respective tables, but periodically they get up onto a tiny stage in the middle of their pit and perform a song or two from the artist they are impersonating. And since the management at Imperial Palace seem to have a loose policy when it comes to crowds shaking-it in the middle of their casino, an impromptu (and free!) dance party can very easily form in front of the Dealertainers pit…particularly when roller derby skaters from around the world are involved.

MJ and his adoring fansSome Dealertainers look more like their celebrity counterparts than others, and some are better performers than others. I would hope it would go without saying that if your job is to imitate both Fergie and Gwen Stefani, there’s a pretty solid chance that you don’t look or sound like either.

However, the Freddie Mercury I saw was spot on in looks, style and mannerisms. Though the Billy Idol Dealertainer doesn’t look exactly like him, he was good looking, and his performance style has made him an absolute favorite amongst the derby crowd year after year. And Michael Jackson – who they seem to have a crop of in regular rotation day and night these days – brought so many to the makeshift dance floor to celebrate MJ’s music that the crowd’s overwhelming response to his performance of “Man in the Mirror” actually brought a tear to my eye.

I actually wonder if the Dealertainers all clamor to work the night shift during Rollercon, because I can’t imagine they get the same response during the rest of the year. During this one particular week in late July, they get to feel like complete and utter rock stars. Even the Bette Midler, Charo and, for some inexplicable reason, Alice Cooper that work during the day shift don’t get the undying adoration that Billy and Michael did when we were there. And based on what I have seen when I have stopped into the Imperial Palace during other visits to Vegas, it seems that the Dealertainers remain one of the best kept secrets in town.

So if you are in Las Vegas and want to have a shamelessly good time, grab your friends, some room beer and plant yourselves in front of the Dealertainers at Imperial Palace for a night filled with free concerts and booty shaking fun.