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Desert Companion

Dancers and Review-Journal

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I would have done it for free
Photography by Aaron Mayes

I would have done it for free by Heidi Kyser

1. “Long article, but worth the read!” That’s Heather Nickens O’Hara reacting on Facebook to Heidi Kyser’s March feature about Las Vegas production-show dancers. A deep examination of the complicated post-dance lives of that Sin City archetype, the showgirl, Kyser’s piece tallied such factors as injuries, insurance coverage and future career prospects. “It was the best job I ever had,” O’Hara writes, “and when I pulled my groin when dancing in New York they took care of me, and I didn’t pay a dime!” (That’s not always the case, as the piece shows.) A reader named Catherine wrote in to applaud the story, as well: “Thank you for giving these dancers a voice from beyond the center stage.” The situation is different in Europe, she says, where her boyfriend was a modern dancer. “At the time we thought about trying for Cirque du Soleil. However, the risk of being in the U.S. without insurance as a dancer wasn’t worth it. In Europe, dancers were covered.” Rachael Sellars, who appeared in Kyser’s story, had this to say: “So honored to be amongst these amazing women and sharing our stories of a life and career that we wouldn’t have changed for anything.” She concluded with some wise advice for dancers young and old: “Pick up a copy of Desert Companion at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Jamba Juice.”

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2. Las Vegan Joe Silverman has had enough! “Your article in the February issue entitled ‘Goodbye, Review-Journal’ caught my attention,” he writes, referring to the piece Andrew Kiraly wrote after the family of Sheldon Adelson bought the morning paper. “I have been receiving a free issue of Desert Companion since 2012. I have enjoyed the content and most articles, particularly those highlighting the history of Las Vegas. But throughout your article about the R-J you clearly expressed a caustic and a malicious hopefulness for the decline of the R-J. Why would anyone get joy out of the decline of another business, particularly in Southern Nevada? Do you dislike Mr. Adelson to that extent? Or is it because you disagree with the long-standing mostly conservative views of the R-J? Are you upset because the R-J provides an exception to the liberal views of most of the mass media?  …

“Well, I thought your February commentary was just an anomaly and I let it go … until your March issue arrived. It appears that I am going to be subjected to your ‘drip by drip’ torture castigating the R-J and Mr. Adelson, such as with the End Note, page 83, and Notes and Letters, page 12, in which an R-J reader cancelled her subscription to the R-J hoping, as you highlighted in bold, that the ‘paper folds.’ I wish no such ill will to Desert Companion, but I do wish to cancel my free subscription. As my Pappy once said, ‘Son, the things you get for nothin’ are worth nothin’.’”

Our take: Nowhere in his piece does Andrew Kiraly hope — caustically, maliciously or otherwise — for the decline of the Review-Journal. On the other hand, he is caustic about the paper’s decline, another matter entirely. Anyone interested in his logic can revisit the piece at desertcompanion.vegas. Meanwhile, we hope Mr. Silverman will come back to DC some day. There’s a lot of nonpolitical good stuff — including plenty of history — to come.

Silverman isn’t alone in his opinion. “At first glance,” Jennifer Fawzy writes, “I knew that this article was going to ruffle my conservative feathers. And I was right. … My interpretation of the material was that the R-J is now transforming into some ultraconservative medium that will brainwash everyone into believing a new agenda. That, of course, did not happen. ... 

“Overall, here is my position: Every person is different, even if they belong to the same political party. Conservatives are not one-eyed monsters running around trying to hurt everybody, yet some of our liberal countrymen paint this picture of us. That simply isn’t true. The good part about your article is that it was written so colorfully that I was stirred into action to write this email. Just calm down a bit … there really isn’t a monster in the R-J’s closet.”

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

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