Topless Ladies With Dice On Their Heads


I came across this gaming guide from a relative’s 1954 visit to Vegas. It had everything one would expect of a Saharan theme. Arab sheikh? Check. Sand and camels? Check. Hedy Lamarr in transparent veils? Check. But then it gets weird. Topless men and women carrying dice, cards, and roulette wheels? Is that what people in the Sahara desert look like?

Nope. The Tuareg are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa, a nomadic, pastoral, Muslim people. They don’t look like that rendering at all. Their hair is much more fantastic.

Now are there women in Africa who go topless? Absolutely. Do they carry things on their heads? Sure. Do they have naked babies, carrying spears? Doubtful. I was reminded of the Louis CK SNL episode, wherein he discusses mild racism in his opening monologue. NBC has already shown it twice this year, which makes sense, as SNL evidently does five new shows per season and then shows reruns.

This Sahara ad, though, is more than mild. And redunkulous. I mean, how long can a woman hold a clock like that without her arms hurting? And that necklace would chafe.


And what about these fellows below, holding spears and shields? I just don’t see what this has to do with the Sahara. Veils I get. This I don’t. I imagine it’s offensive to many. But it also just looks odd.


Who knows? Maybe people of the Sahara would find our dancing girls’ outfits absurd. These gals were part of the “nocturnal diversion.”


That very Congo Room hosted entertainers for 59 years, until the Sahara closed in 2011. Big names like Mae West and Ray Bolger.


And if you were lucky enough to be in Vegas back in the day, you might have even caught a glimpse of this guy out front.




  1. That type of mocking of other races was pretty common back in those days. In fact there were scholarly treatises that posited that the white race was the highest pinnacle of evolution and that the brown races were secondary humans. That being said, there was often mocking of the brown races and the use of racial advertising.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think it was mocking so much as a fascination with Africa. Until drugs were developed to prevent/cure exotic disease, few people could survive expeditions to the heart of the continent. In the late 50s & early 60s, talk of African tribes, pygmies, bushmen, aborigines, head hunters, cannibals & witch doctors were common, and the recording industry glommed onto it (including black recording artists). Advertisers’ graphics reflected the same, and many cartoons featured a white guy in a pith helmet standing in a big kettle over a fire.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Absurd ads aside the Sahara was a swell joint with one of the best breakfast buffets around. They also offered some of their suites as time shares. Living like a whale 2 or 3 weeks a year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I really was impressed at how you analyzed this, Kerbey. Each comment you made either had me smiling, cause you are funny or had me thinking. You made great observations. I am a little surprised at how “racist” it was since Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Poitier were respected out in Vegas.
    I love this program’s list of entertainment ! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, I know all about topless ladies from Africa. I grew up in a National Geographic household dontchaknow, source for many young men to first view the mysterious tatas.

    Loved the ads. I remember the Sahara in the 60s, a little past prime but still a Vegas hot spot before faux everything took over. My favorite clip…the Elvis photo and that little bow tie on the sheriff. Only in Vegas and that one should stay in Vegas.

    Liked by 2 people

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