When I joined the board of the Liberace Foundation, I had never been in the Liberace Museum, nor the Liberace Museum Gift Shop. I knew of the museum, but as a young man I had heard that the staff denied that Liberace was gay, or that he had died of AIDS, which I felt did a disservice. Whether or not staffers were actually denying these facts I never found out for myself, but the societal denial surrounding his legacy had a negative feeling about it, and I was, unfortunately, not inspired to visit.
Many years later, in 2012, after his museum, gift shop, restaurant and endowment fund had all closed down, I was invited to join the board of the Liberace Foundation. Though it seemed to have few prospects, I was intrigued by the idea. It appeared to me as though his estate had under developed Liberace as a Las Vegas and pop culture brand, and I thought this could be an exciting means of renewed funding by his foundation, of the performing and creative arts. I also hoped I could do something about that sick feeling I always had, when I thought of how Las Vegans and society in general had treated the memory of the man who defined the very style of the town, when he died at the height of AIDS bigotry and hysteria.
By 2014 I had become Chairman of the Liberace Foundation, through nothing more than attrition, and a board fleeing the Foundation's mounting debt. But by 2017 we were back in black, stable again, and capitalizing somewhat on a bit of a renaissance of Liberace in pop culture. I found that the Liberace Museum was a very strong brand which had been abandoned with the museum's closure. The term remained among the most searched online, in relation to Las Vegas. I re-invigorated it as the Liberace Museum Collection, which began to see exhibition around the country. I found that the Museum's gift shop had been popular, which lead to re-starting it as the Liberace Museum Store.
That's when I began hearing about Jay Mohr having done a standup comedy monologue a few years earlier, with the topic of his hilarious visit to the Liberace Museum, and especially the Liberace Museum Gift Shop. Jay and his then wife, actress Nikki Cox, discovered the museum from their hotel room, and took it upon themselves to visit while under the influence of what they had not yet realized was palliative care marijuana - a very potent substance. Jay's narrative perfectly captures the joy of partaking in the camp and glitz of Las Vegas, just for the joy of it.
Mohr's experience, regardless of being under the influence of medical grade cannabis, echoes others' in spirit. A museum visit he thought would be funny and ironic turns out to be enlightening. And a stop off in the Liberace Gift shop becomes a hilarious and substantial Vegas bling shopping spree.
Jay Mohr Part 2
PART 2: JAY MOHR MONOLOGUE ON THE LIBERACE MUSEUM STORE
Jay's visit was is in keeping with a tradition of going all-out in Vegas. The Liberace Museum Store's affordable bling and Liberace-style glitz has reached protocol level of importance for visitors to Las Vegas, or anyone just out to do it up, Liberace style. It's the uniform. Groomsmen, bridesmaids, all sorts of reunions, they all have come to realize a bit of Liberace swag and influence is necessary when visiting Sin City. Newly licensed products from sequined sports coats to elaborate dinnerware to regal jewelry-on-a-budget, purses and attire, all made for the photo op, all bringing the joy of Liberace to the upscale Las Vegas souvenir world. After all, Liberace is the personification of Vegas.
Anyone who has seen how Liberace enjoyed and shared the trappings of his success knows he would love this. Located inside Liberace Garage and also available online, The Liberace Museum Store is a natural extension of his stage show, and has become a substantial brand in its own right.