Strip Cultures: Finding America in Las Vegas, Duke Press, 2015.
Authors: Stacy Jameson, Karen KLugman, Jane Kuenz, Susan Willis. Photographs by Karen Klugman.
My contribution: all photographs and three essays: “Framing Las Vegas ‘Reality'”, “Nature in Vegas: Cultivating the Brand” , “Ghosts of Marriages: Yet to Come”
Abstract: Strip Cultures analyzes sites and social practices on the Las Vegas Strip in relation to broader cultural and political forces in the United States. A cultural studies project grounded in interdisciplinary research, it argues that a close look at Las Vegas allows us to critically apprehend daily life more broadly in a contemporary global, consumer-driven society. Over 100 original black and white photographs embedded throughout the book are their own parallel essay and ground the theory with a perpetual sense of watching and of being watched.
“Framing Las Vegas Reality'”Excerpt: On the same day that I was publicly humiliated in front of the Elvises and the Folie Begere crowd, I was called a whore by a smutter wearing a Santa Claus hat. Again, my transgression was trying to take a picture of a public act in a public place.
Nature in Vegas: Cultivating the Brand Excerpt: Even though most people would assume the gigantic squash on display were too enormous to be real, I live in a small town in Connecticut where local farmers showcase pumpkins at the town fair that would put up a good contest against these Nevada grandes. The caretaker at the Bellagio insisted that the thousand-pounders were indeed the real thing, but here’s the catch — in the context of Vegas and under six-foot long glass leaves suspended from the ceiling, it is difficult to believe in super-sized vegetables.