Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, June 30, 2013 | 2 a.m.
The gold statue rested on a plastic bin Saturday afternoon, munching on a sandwich and taking swigs of water near the Bellagio fountains.
The sun was partially blocked by the trees, but the asphalt and car exhaust that emanated from the traffic radiated heat like a furnace.
The statue is unfazed, despite the sequined hat and the golden knee-high boots. Maybe a little sweaty, but otherwise comfortable.
While people walking the Strip scattered into casinos to escape the heat like bugs under a magnifying glass, the statue, otherwise known as Angela Mauro, has been standing outside for hours. Her sweat-proof face paint shimmered as she took a break in her golden outfit.
“Come take a picture,” Mauro calls to passers-by. If she’s denied, she adds, “Have a great day, stay hydrated.”
With temperatures expected to reach record highs in Las Vegas, most Strip street performers were missing during the afternoon. Elmo, "Hangover" guy, showgirls and the characters that usually dot the Strip performing for money were nowhere to be found.
A few, like Mauro, scoffed at the heat, which can be up to 10 degrees warmer in the concrete jungle of the Strip than the forecasts based at McCarran International Airport.
“Usually there are a lot more performers, especially this time of day,” said the Gold Man, another golden statue. “I believe the heat is holding them back. Some people just can’t take the heat.”
At 1:30 p.m., the sun glared down, unobstructed by casinos or clouds, scorching everything in site. Elvis continuously dabbed the dripping sweat from between his shades; his hair remained perfectly coiffed. His pal – the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign – however, was drenched in sweat underneath the costume.
One exasperated tourist exclaimed, “Why are we walking in 500 degree heat?”
The Strip performers claimed the heat had no affect on them, but it made it harder to collect money. The majority of the costumed characters stuck to the few remaining shaded areas on the Strip and brought plenty of water.
Mauro has been doing the gold-statue routine on the Strip for four years. She’s used to the heat, and standing still keeps her body cooler than walking because the sweat doesn’t evaporate, she said. Still, she’s not crazy. She knows the heat can be dangerous.
She keeps ice rags under her shirt to stay cool and brings a cooler with water bottles. Some she drinks while others she pours on her arms and legs to prevent her body from overheating.
She also positioned herself near the fountains for a reason.
“I don’t have a problem working in the heat,” Mauro said. “Working near the Bellagio is a blessing because you get the mist from the fountains.”
Gold Man stood in the shade outside Planet Hollywood. He said many of the usual performers have been missing because of the heat. Even though he was dressed in a gold prospector's outfit, he said he didn’t felt the heat at all.
“Just staying in the shade and not moving around much, that seems to work,” said the performer, Doug, who chose not to give his last name. “Not moving around and sipping on water, that’s my formula.”
Still, not every performer could stand the heat on the Strip. James Harold, who poses as Stevie Wonder outside the Fremont Street Experience, said the Strip is too sunny.
Rather than battle it, he chose the Fremont Street Experience, where the canopy provides automatic shade and the open casinos blast air conditioning.
“It’s much cooler here than on the Strip,” Harold said. “Those on the Strip – the Bumblebees, the Elmos – must be sweating bricks.”