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'Flabbergasting and Amazing'

Nevada's flamboyant desert flower is in full bloom, nourished by gambling's easy money and adorned with lavish shows

Las Vegas, America's Babylon-in-the-Desert, is a city of superlatives, the praise agent's paradise. The stakes are the highest, the weather the driest; the sky is the bluest; the decor the newest; and so on ad infinitum. It is the only place, at least so they say, where you can get tanned and faded in the same day. The colors of gambling, as this week's cover and the photographs on the following pages show, are those of the spectrum. Las Vegas is so far removed from everyday experience, as Kenneth Rudeen's report beginning on page 88 attests, that it dazzles the eyes and numbs the senses, like champagne downed too quickly.

"When we first came over," says Miss Enid Mills, of Middlesex, England, the spectacular redhead who is captain of the spectacularly undressed Bluebell girls in the Lido de Paris show, "we were absolutely amazed and flabbergasted, because there is no place like it in the world. I think that's a jolly good job for Las Vegas."

It comes as something of a shock to realize that many Las Vegans lead lives whose workaday routine is not very different from what it would be in Kansas City or Peoria. None is untouched, however, by the essential Las Vegas, the glittering gambling-and-entertainment capital. For Dr. Carl Kaufman, a physician and non-gambler, this adds an appreciated extra dimension to everyday life. "I would live in no other place," he says. "You have a wonderful sense of freedom; you have cosmopolitan living in a small town." To the Mormon leader Bryan Bunker, however, gambling is "a positive evil," which imposes a grave duty on the elders to protect the young from entrapment.

In any case, Las Vegas is one of the wonders of the New World. As such it must be seen to be comprehended in all its extravagant facets, all its various moods.

The one-armed species is everywhere to be seen in Las Vegas, where restless plungers play two machines at once

Shellbursts of gaudy neon proclaim the enticements of the Fremont Street gambling houses in Downtown Las Vegas

Players await the luck of the deal at a smoke-wreathed, green-topped table in one of the plush casinos on The Strip