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Trade Stars

Celebrities make the rounds at Global Gaming Expo

Trade Stars

Ahhh, the celebs are back.

I’ve told you in past columns about all the celebs who have been through the casino trade shows over the years to promote TV-themed slot machines. I can remember Gilligan and the Professor from Gilligan’s Island promoting their slot machine, each looking as if they had rested in the sun on that desert isle for the 35 years since the show had gone off the air. (Gilligan actually wore his hat, adding to the comical effect.)

I think it was the same trade-show cavalcade of stars that included Hot Lips and Radar from M*A*S*H. And both Laverne and Shirley. It was a virtual museum of television comedy.

That may have been the year Ed McMahon gave me a kind of “saaa-LUTE!” gesture as we acknowledged each other on passing escalators.

It was a defining moment of my life.

Anyway, in more recent years, it was getting harder and harder to find celebrities at the Global Gaming Expo. Consider this: Mr. Big from Sex and the City cutting the ribbon was considered a highlight of that year’s show. There was Dan Aykroyd at the Bally booth last year, but nothing compared to the old days, when you were just as likely to run into Monte Hall from Let’s Make A Deal as Gomez from The Addams Family, while on your way to some roundtable discussion on server-based gaming or RFID chips.

This year, though, could have registered the highest celebrity-per-capita rating since those golden days. Reality-show stars like the “Pawn Stars” joined NASCAR drivers and TV stars at the show, not to mention half of the legendary rock band KISS.

(Because only two of the four band members showed up, they could only rock and roll half the night, and party every other day.)

I missed David Hasselhoff. While I was at the Bally booth hob-nobbing with the Pawn Stars and NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer, the Hoff was over at Inspired Gaming’s booth. All that was left when I got there was a cardboard cutout. (These cutouts are shrines in Germany, where the Hoff is a god.)

I also missed Hoff’s introduction of the Guess Who at the big trade-show party at the Hard Rock. Well, it was the original Guess Who minus singer Burton Cummings, which is sort of like having the Rolling Stones minus Mick Jagger.

I missed Jethro, too. Max “Jethro Bodine” Baer was back at IGT’s booth this year, promoting the new Beverly Hillbillies slot. I was out fetchin’ the truck for Uncle Jed.

There were also some rather strange celebs strutting around, dancing and singing. For instance, this, evidently, was the Year of the Little People at G2E. Mostly, orange little people with green hair. Oompa-Loompas, fresh from Willy Wonka’s factory, marshaled their forces at the WMS booth, and invaded the trade show floor in all directions.

I couldn’t get a sandwich without tripping over an Oompa-Loompa.

Besides the Oompa-Loompas, there was Mini Elvis and Mini Marilyn, performing side by side at one of the booths. I do believe these were the original miniature Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe impersonators, the very ones that traverse trade shows from Las Vegas to Schenectady. Yes, they are trade-show royalty.

The official Mini Elvis is a licensed minister, by the way. “The perfect little-person officiant to make your whole wedding truly memorable,” according to the website.

The pint-sized legends joined a lot of celebrities who were actually live versions of animated characters. (Like me.) Thanks to Spielo International, the trade show began with a live battle between “Plants” and “Zombies.” It resembled a choreographed dance involving a troupe of NFL team mascots. (If the teams were, say, the Pittsburgh Plants and the Washington Zombies.)

They kept their costumes on after the battle, and roamed the trade show floor, joining the actors, race car drivers, pawn-shop owners and Oompa-Loompas responsible for making G2E 2012 such a hoot.

Oh, there were other things that happened at G2E. We’ve written about them in various sections of this magazine. As I recall, a lot of it was really serious stuff that had to do with the gaming industry. And there also was a talk by Katty Kay from the BBC. For the life of me, I don’t know why.

Still, that was another celebrity. Did I tell you I met Spanky McFarland at a gaming trade show? Yep, the Spankster, of “Little Rascals” fame.

Of course, it could have been an Oompa-Loompa.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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