In a city that is constantly changing, there is little time for nostalgia, which makes 86-year-old Ffolliott “Fluff” LeCoque a member of an increasingly exclusive club. She is the dancer-turned-stage-manager of Bally’s Jubilee! The last revue standing on the Las Vegas Strip celebrates its 29th anniversary on July 30, and LeCoque is a Jubilee! original. Born in Butte, Mont., she studied theater at the University of Washington before landing in Las Vegas in 1947 for a short stint opening for Liberace. LeCoque traveled often while dancing, but continued to return to Las Vegas until she settled for good in the city in 1963. It was while working in Las Vegas she met producer Donn Arden, who shaped the latter part of her dance career and facilitated her movement from the stage to behind the scenes. She managed many of his productions before coming to rest at Jubilee! in 1981. Twenty-nine years later, LeCoque is still the grande dame of Jubilee!, where she runs the production as close as possible to how Arden would have wanted.
How did you become interested in dancing?
As a child, every time the music came on I was dancing, and so when I was 7 my parents sent me to dancing school. And I studied dance all my life until I was out of college and I became a professional. I continued on until I couldn’t really dance anymore, so I bridged the gap and went on the other side, to management.
Do you think showgirl shows will have a resurgence?
Look at your advertising. What do people like to look at? They like to look at beautiful girls, and a showgirl is still the epitome of glamour, and it started in the days when they started doing shows with girls. You don’t see that much of it anymore, but the showgirl will never leave.
What do you miss about being onstage?
The wonderful physical exertion of letting your brain and your body respond to music. I miss that. I miss performing onstage because whenever I was onstage, I always loved being out there to let the audience feel what I was feeling. The spotlight turned me on.
Why hasn’t Jubilee! changed much in 29 years?
Jubilee! hasn’t changed all that much because it costs a great deal of money to put this show on in the first place and they probably wouldn’t duplicate it or replicate it ever again. We’ve changed a few production numbers, but in essence Donn Arden’s staging of most of the numbers is so original. He was very good, absolutely a genius, and he was never really recognized for it. The numbers are still good. They still work.
Why does being a dancer sometimes have a negative connotation?
I think that’s horrible. We have been fighting that for generations because most people don’t realize that anytime they see a girl that’s in the show, they call them a showgirl, but in theatrical vernacular a showgirl is more like a statuesque girl that wears the costume and can dance. They are the epitome of glamour. And nowadays so many of the girls in gentlemen’s clubs are also called showgirls, but I do not call them showgirls. I’m not putting them down at all, but in our theatrical brains we do not consider them showgirls and the public does.
How do you stay motivated to come to work every day?
Sometimes it’s not as easy as it seems. It’s like everyone else, “Oh I have to go to work today.” But then I think, “What if I didn’t have to go to work today—what would I do?” It’s nice to have three or four days off, but then what do you do? I enjoy it. It keeps your adrenaline going.
What was your favorite era in Las Vegas?
In the 1960s. It was smaller, you knew people more, the traffic wasn’t so terrible, it wasn’t overbuilt. Everything was fresh. The air was clean. There used to be so much oxygen in the air you almost got high when you got off the plane. I liked it because people dressed. Now, it’s strictly tourists and they have a lot of walking to do and they can’t walk up and down the Strip in high heels. It’s a little bit hectic with all the traffic and everything.