Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Luv-It Frozen Custard
An actress who plays a ditsy office gossip on TV has a Las Vegas neighborhood in a lather.
Mindy Kaling of TV’s “The Office” appeared on “The Late Show with Craig Ferguson” on Friday night and trashed the neighborhood of the venerable Luv-It Frozen Custard.
She told Ferguson she was a little mad at his recommendation that she visit the tiny blue shop in the shadow of the Stratosphere.
“We went to this frozen custard place in I believe the most dangerous and sketchy neighborhood I’ve ever been to in my entire life,” Kaling said.
She and her friends were out on the town, wearing “sparkly dresses and heels” and celebrating her 30th birthday. They saw drug addicts, a pants-less man and two apparent “murderers” who she learned were police officers on a “undercover drug sting” and big fans of her sitcom, she said.
“Was the custard good?” Ferguson kept saying.
“Yes. The custard was good.”
“Was it worth risking your life for?” he said.
“I guess in a way.”
But that wasn’t the end of it for some locals, who have been rallying in support of their favorite custard shop.
Jessica Brown created a Facebook page titled “Las Vegas Downtown Neighbors & Luv-It Fans against Mindy Kaling.”
As of Tuesday the site had more than 60 fans. Word of the actress talking smack about the custard shop spread to other Facebook pages, where the actress was lambasted as “unsophisticated, classist and sheltered.” Some suggested boycotting “The Office.”
Granted, some people agree that the neighborhood could be spruced up. The custard stand sits between two convenience stores at 505 E. Oakey Blvd., just off Las Vegas Boulevard and down the street from a topless dancing club.
“I thought I’d do a tongue-in-cheek response because it seems to us that this area of Las Vegas has a strong sense of community,” said Brown, who is a Web developer at UNLV. “We know all of our neighbors. There are a lot of professionals in the area. There are people who have lived here since the houses have been here in the 1950s.”
The custard stand with a walk-up window has been in the neighborhood since 1973 and sits at the edge of the John S. Park Historic Neighborhood. It’s common to see 20 people lined up for custard, including families, artists, Supreme Court justices, low-income residents and celebrities who give their custard orders to limo drivers.
Realtor Jack LeVine, who runs the Web site VeryVintageVegas.com, says he was insulted: “It’s far and away not the sketchiest neighborhood ever. John S. Park, 100 feet away, is one of the most sought-after historic neighborhoods and we have great mom and pops along Las Vegas Boulevard.”
Dayvid Figler, a lawyer who lives in the John S. Park neighborhood, regularly frequents the custard stand. “I sometimes walk to Luv-It with my dog. My dog does not pack heat. My dog does not shoot up. My dog does not hook.”
The segment on YouTube.com has had more than 15,000 hits. James Reza, who runs the downtown Globe Salon, says Kaling’s comments send a negative view of the Las Vegas community — beyond the Strip: “The problem with pop culture is that these days half impressions are spread around the world as truth. A half-baked opinion becomes worldwide fact.”
Luv-It Custard owner Greg Tiedemann didn’t see the episode or the video online, but heard about it.
“Somebody running around without pants on? I’ve never seen that,” he says. “I get a lot of people from England. Some have cars. Some just hoof it with a map in hand, get their custard, like it and don’t complain about the neighborhood.”