Native Offers Advice on Sin City-Inspired Tattoos


The Blue Angel Motel is gone, but its heavenly symbol remains. | Photo by Jon Estrada

What are some Vegas icons that would make good tattoos? I want something classic but not clichéd or cheesy.

The bouncing dice, the gushing slot machine, Betty Willis’ Welcome to Las Vegas sign—at first glance (especially if that glance happened during the recent Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender), it would seem all the good ones have been done. Repeatedly.

So, with the help of a few friends, including native artist Jerry Misko, I curated a list to consider when chatting with your inker. Repeatedly mentioned was the Blue Angel, the Willis-designed sculpture that reigned above its namesake Fremont Street motel for decades. The motel is dust, but the angel remains. Similar iconic shapes would be the mod Landmark tower, the Paul Revere Williams’ shell-shaped La Concha lobby (now the Neon Museum lobby) and a wooden water tower from the Springs Preserve.

Inked-up natives of Santa Catalina traditionally sport an outline of the island, so a silhouette of either the Spring Mountains (towering above Red Rock Canyon) or Sunrise Mountain (depending on your east-west allegiance) would be a subtle-yet-strong nod to your environment.

For something more obvious, consider a classic Strip marquee. The original Desert Inn, Dunes and Sands signs would make great tattoos. Or you could simply adopt one of Misko’s signature neon abstractions from canvas to skin.

More on the Cristo saga.

Readers and eaters continue to weigh in on the search for an authentic Monte Cristo sandwich. Charles W. recalls one served at the Desert Inn, a notion seconded by Hans-Dieter L. The former chef collects old menus, including two from the resort’s Cactus Room, which once plated the classic creation at both lunch and dinner. Gregory K., a local since 1975, noted the Peppermill’s proximity to the long-gone El Morocco coffee shop, which he says served an “incredible ’70s version” of the sandwich. Perhaps that’s why I’m confused about the Peppermill’s claim that they never served one.

Linda F. praised the Cristo at the Cracked Egg, though her fave is found about 270 miles south in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square. That’s a bit of a drive for brunch. Thankfully, Chef Natalie Young at Downtown’s Eat quietly added a Monday-only, off-menu special of—you guessed it!—a (griddle-fried) Monte Cristo. Featuring turkey, gouda, cranberry sauce and arugula piled between two slices of egg-dipped Bon Bread, it won’t satiate the purists, but it’s the best I’ve had so far. Get it while you can. And be sure to ask for that side of jam!