What’s the most popular show in Las Vegas?
Something called Absinthe? Blue Man Group? Mystere?
Cirque du Soleil, which features no fewer than eight productions here?
Singer Celine Dion?
The magic of Penn and Teller (which is the quiet one again?) or David Copperfield (thought he disappeared years ago)?
The comedy of Carrot Top (talk about milking your 15 minutes of fame)?
None of these get a sniff as far as I’m concerned.
It says here that the best Las Vegas show is Pawn Stars, a History Channel reality show filmed at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop a couple of miles north of the Strip, where glitzy gives way to gritty.
The outside of the shop is plain, almost run-down looking.
Inside is another story.
The shop is crowded with people checking out everything from coins and jewelry to guns and swords to sports and military memorabilia to artwork.
A sampling of sports memorabilia included such things as an autographed photo of former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, a game-worn Willie Mays jersey (priced at $80,000), wrestling boots worn by Hulk Hogan and a Tony Hawk skateboard marked 25 percent off its $899 ticket price.
Most impressive was walls and walls of art pieces that included work by Picasso, Dali and Chagall. There also was a Pete Rose piece done by Andy Warhol.
Owner Rick Harrison, his dad Richard, his son Corey and employee Austin Russell (better known as Chumlee) have become TV stars thanks to the show, which centers on the unusual, exotic and rare things people bring in to pawn or sell.
Business in he shop is booming. Dexter, who has been working in the shop for five years now, estimated that 5,000 people came through during its peak popularity a couple years ago. He said they still probably get 3,000 people a day. That’s about a 2,000 percent increase over the pre-show foot traffic.
The shop has been expanded twice, they now sell T-shirts, cups, postcards and Christmas tree ornaments, among other things, depicting the shop and its stars, and even give tours of the place.
Who knew a TV show could lead to all this. Apparently, Rick Harrison did. That’s a trick even Penn and Teller can appreciate.