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April 19, 2014

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Ice Ice Billy

The sad tale of Dolly the Sheep

This week’s VEGAS INC magazine cover features three Las Vegas Wranglers staff members embodying several of the Wranglers’ promotions and publicity stunts pulled over the years.

As advance copies were distributed around the Wranglers offices recently, staffers pointed and laughed at a shirtless torso, a bad wig and a demented hunter. There were bigger laughs yet as The Great Antoine — the charismatic and charming little person actor and performance artist — mocked my pose in the most sarcastic of ways. Oh, and, he was dressed as a member of KISS.

To many, the cover is clever, perhaps even funny. But it came at a price.

This is the tale of Dolly the Sheep.

Just as Jeff Bridges never cuts his hair in case his next role requires his famous locks, Dolly came to the photo shoot fluffy. She was unsheared, as requested. She was punctual. She was not demanding and didn’t come with some ridiculous contract rider that would have our interns remove all yellow M&Ms from her dressing room snack bowl. Dolly was a real pro.

This was to be her moment. This was the break that was to take her from her regular Vegas gig at “Petting Zoo 2 U” to magazine cover stardom — likely giving the magnetic Great Antoine a run for his money.

It is said the key to success is being prepared for when destiny beckons. But Dolly was, sadly, not prepared for fate’s knock.

This sheep cannot walk on ice.

“Bend your knees,” someone yelled.

“Baaaa,” she snapped back. “BAAAA!” The echo of her retort bounding through the empty arena was chilling.

And the ugly, ugly diva in sweet, sweet Dolly was revealed.

After the shoot, The Great Antoine shared what he planned to name his memoirs. It drew a huge laugh. A stoic Dolly lingered, however, and she was later overheard demanding a publishing deal from her own handler, Nancy.

Dolly had turned bitter. She was stealing ideas. She avoided eye contact. She threw the yellow M&Ms to the floor. The interns scrambled. She took a swig from a flask and lit a cigarette.

And finally Dolly went business-man-on-airplane-beverage-cart crazy and left a little something behind to be cleaned up.

To compare her to Norma Desmond would be misguided. Even Desmond had already been a star, but tragically clung to that time. Dolly had only looked upward and dreamt.

Dolly left Orleans Arena unceremoniously. She took her fee and tromped into the crisp fall sunset never, one assumes, to fully understand George Webber’s sobering realization in Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again.” To Dolly, Webber’s bittersweet assessment may forever remain a watered down concept at the hands of a simplified American culture — just a cliché, that like Dolly’s big break, eludes her on this tiny island of bright Vegas lights in a sea of unforgiving desert darkness .

If only Dolly could read.

We often think of Dolly now, performing in two pettings daily. She’s probably been sheared since, causing a little extra chill to reach her ovine core this November. She is ruefully telling her cast mates of what could have been, all while Nancy keeps this week’s VEGAS INC clear of Dolly’s view.

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