The Museum of Stripping Cowboy Vampires

It can’t be easy running a museum. For one thing, they exist because they display items that are special, which by definition means there aren’t many of them around. It’s not like you can walk into Wal-Mart and pick up a new Picasso painting, a medical oddity from the 18th century, or a just completed dryer lint sculpture to put on display because the old ones are, well, old news and you need to spruce things up a bit. Add to that the current slowdown in tourism, the recession, and quality TV shows like Watching Ellie which are keeping us glued to the tube and it’s no wonder museums are having problems staying filled with living, breathing people.

So it came as no surprise to hear that a benefit show was recently held in Los Angeles to help raise money for the Exotic World Burlesque Museum in Helendale, CA. It’s not that people aren’t interested in getting a glimpse of Sally Rand’s shoes, Blaze Starr’s red dress, and lip prints from Candy Bar and Chesty Morgan--after all, these aren’t things you find in stuffy old places like the MOMA or the British Museum--but apparently there just aren’t enough of them willing to trek to an isolated spot midway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas to see them.

When I was there several years ago I didn’t get to talk to the curator, ex-dancer Dixie Lee Evans, as I’d hoped to because she was rushing to make a deposit at the bank before it closed. That may have been one of the last times she had to make that trip. The benefit show at the Palace Theater featured, among others, Kitten DeVille, Kitten on the Keys, and Kitten Diggins. I know there’s a theme there if only I could figure out what it is. Since the museum is registered with the California State Historical Society tickets were tax deductible, so I’m sure the Orange County Republicans turned out en masse, especially those who saw the entertainment schedule and mistook it for an SPCA fundraiser.

Meanwhile, 16 miles away from Exotic World in Victorville, the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum has hit hard times too. So hard that it’s up for sale. They’re not selling the contents, just the building and 50 acres of land. There’s no word what will happen to the posters, saddles, gold records, autographed baseballs, or rock mineral collection, but I hope they don’t get separated from the stuffed animals, which include Roy’s horse Trigger rearing up on its hind legs, Dale’s horse Buttermilk, Trigger, Jr., and Bullet the Wonder Dog--whoever the hell he was. There’s no telling what will wind up on those 50 acres, though it’s a good bet it will either be housing or a shopping mall. Either way they should at least make sure there’s a Roy Rogers restaurant included to honor his memory. And use up the last of Trigger’s innards.

Both of these museums would do better if they were converted into theme parks. After all, people can’t get enough them. Aside from the usual ones based around cartoon characters, movies, and trained sea creatures, there are theme parks about religion (The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, FL), trees (Bonfante Gardens Park in California), and huge mountains (Dolly Parton’s Dollywood). Build a few rides, toss together a few flashy shows, and sell lousy food at exorbitant prices and they’d have a sure fire hit on their hands. Think about it. Exotic World would become quite the tourist destination if they would add a roller coaster called the Feather Boa Constrictor, offer karaoke strip teases, and feature games like Pop The Dancer’s Balloons. Roy’s museum would come alive if they’d put in the Tumbling Tumbleweed ride, Roy’s Ambush Laser Tag arena, and the Hung Like a Horse gallery of Trigger’s family portraits.

A group of people in Transylvania understand this concept well, which is why they’re raising money to build a Dracula theme park. I know there never was a real Dracula, but there wasn’t a real Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or Pluto either and that hasn’t stopped a couple of people from plunking down $43 a day to see them. (Note to any children reading this: There isn’t a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, or Tooth Fairy either, but don’t let that stop you from raking in all the money and gifts from your parents that you possibly can by letting them think you still believe. Gravy trains like this don’t happen often in life.)

BloodsuckerWorld will be based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was loosely inspired by a real 15th century Transylvanian prince named Vlad the Impaler whose hobby was capturing Turks and shoving stakes through them. Hey, there wasn’t any post office yet so there weren’t any stamps, meaning collecting them would have been even more boring then than it is now. If you can imagine that.

It looks good that Land O’ Vampires will really happen, unlike Bambiland, which was the proposed name of the Yugoslavian theme park being planned by Marko Milosevic, son of famed president Slobodan "If It’s Good Enough For Vlad It’s Good Enough For Me" Milosevic. Even though NATO war planes did a lot of the preliminary work by clearing the land, the project got derailed by some court in The Hague. Meddling judges!

The Romanian Tourism Minister says the Dracula theme park will have rides, a spooky Gothic castle, a zoo, and of course a golf course. You can look forward to The Impaler roller coaster, a 3-D multi-media show based on communist President Nicolae Ceausescu’s tenure called "Honey I Shot The Kids," and Bloody Marys being sold every 20 feet by college students wearing capes, slicked back hair, and fangs.

It would be a shame if Draculand becomes a reality while the Exotic World Burlesque Museum and Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum bite the dust. After all, they’re each classics in their own right. Maybe there’s safety in numbers and the three of them could combine their efforts. The idea of a flashy show featuring female vampires slowly stripping off their capes while singing Happy Trails sounds like a sure fire winner.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

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