Friday, April 27, 2012 | 9 a.m.
The first time I ever gambled in Vegas, it was at O’Sheas. My local friends took me there for the cheap drinks and blackjack buy-ins. Compared to the marvels of steel and style that dominate the Strip’s façade, this felt like a place I’d been before, a warm, broken-in, neighborhood hangout that wouldn’t make me look like a jackass.
I bought $100 in chips and played for hours—up, down, drowning in rum and Cokes and having a ball. I walked away with a single chip in my hand, worth the exact amount I’d started with. For some, that’s chicken sh*t. For me, it was the perfect night.
Well, almost perfect. Had I know the bar is often home to a 4-foot-1 charmer in a silky green suit, I would have been sure to make his acquaintance. Since then I’ve seen Lucky the Leprechaun in action a few times. He’s a lap-dancing, shot-pouring, photo-posing, shtick-performing Energizer Bunny, and at noon on Monday, he will finally hang up the green hat.
Not forever, I hope. Even though O’Sheas is closing in its current space and current form after almost 23 years, it will reopen in the mega-project LINQ sometime next year. I’ve heard it will be smaller, and I have no idea how much of the essence of the original will survive, but the memories of playing blackjack and watching Lucky work it for the crowds will never die.
There’s still time to drink with him and reminisce at the Final Countdown, a “celebration to commemorate the beloved property’s history.” That history involved a lot of drinking, and there will be more, starting Saturday, April 28 at noon and continuing till noon on Monday, April 30.
Lucky will host, and guests will enjoy discounted memorabilia, live entertainment and drink specials. The daily drink specials include $1 10-ounce Miller Light drafts and $4 O’Sheas souvenir shot cups filled with any call liquors (while supplies last). Bands will include Bullzeye and Rock Your Soul. And those who want to gamble one last time will be happy they did. A poker buy-in comes with a commemorative shot glass; throw down $40 to play blackjack and get an O’Sheas T-shirt. And you can become part of O’Sheas history by signing a wall that will be photographed with Lucky and installed in the new incarnation.
From noon on Sunday to noon on Monday, there will be free shots at the center bar at the top of every hour to celebrate the last 24 of the casino’s existence. There’s a two-shot limit per person, but that’s still like finding a pot of liquid gold.
Lucky, also known as Brian Thomas, spent some time on a live Facebook feed today saying farewell to his fans. And he also spent some time with us, looking back on the O’Sheas that was, and that infamous lap dance on Shannon Tweed.
Do you remember your first day in the shiny green suit, back in early 2006?
When I first walked in as Lucky in the Leprechaun outfit, the employees actually had no idea what the hell was going on. They were like, what is this? What are we in for? So it took about a good month, a month and a half, to prove myself to the employees that, hey, I’m on your team, and I’m here to make everybody happy, make everybody money and make our guests have a memorable experience. So it was quite interesting, but after that month and a half it really became one big family.
How big an impact do you think the character made on the experience and popularity of O’Sheas?
When I walked into O’Sheas prior to being the spokesperson for them, it was just a fun place. And I guess I just made it a lot more … fun. (Laughs) You know Cheers, that show, and actually the Cheers bar in Boston, that’s what I compare O’Sheas to. The people are real; they’re real down to earth; and it’s a broad range of guests that walk in there, from 21 to 80, and everybody seems to have a smile on their face. And our employees are just as down to earth as they are. You can sit there at a blackjack table and have a perfect conversation like you’ve known this employee forever. You can talk to the bartenders and be open and honest and they don’t pass judgment; they’re not snobby. They’re really personable people.
We don’t know many details about the new O’Sheas, but will Lucky rise again?
We’re working on some deals right now, so hopefully you’ll see my face. (Laughs) I will still be with the company, with Caesars Entertainment. I don’t want people to think that I’m gone. They will be able to find me throughout the Caesars properties, but also I’ve joined forces with KISS. I am with Christina Vitaliano and Patrick over at KISS by Monster Mini Golf. I’m their spokesperson for that particular property. I became ordained, so I can perform marriages. I call myself a “mini-ster.” I’m doing that as well as some nightclub gigs over at Chateau. … I’ll be in Vegas for quite some time. I don’t plan on leaving the city any time in the near future.
As you say goodbye to the good old days of O’Sheas, are there favorite memories you can share, beyond the daily joy of pouring mysterious booze into the mouths of crazy tourists?
The biggest one for me was with Oscar Goodman, receiving the key to the city for my contribution to the tourism industry. Second would be, we filmed a segment of Gene Simmons: Family Jewels. During my shtick, you know how I pour shots on the bar? Well I poured shots for Nick and Shannon Tweed. I got to give Shannon a lap dance on my bar, so that was a highlight for me.
Are you a natural lap-dancer?
Entertainment has always been my passion, so it’s kind of been a natural ability. Ever since I was born, I stand out in a crowd. Growing up, at an early age, I learned to respect people for who they are and not really what they look like. But I also knew that eyes are always going to be on me whether I’m on or off, so I kind of had to train myself on how to work a crowd.
Are you burnt out at this point on the pace and energy required to perform, or are you planning to keep the characters going full-tilt?
Heck yeah. I’m going to look like Yoda in about 20 years and then I’ll still continue doing it.
What are Lucky’s plans for the Final Countdown?
I’m going to just be with our guests, for the most part, and just make sure their experience is great and fulfilled, and have that last memory be their first memory they remember about O’Sheas. I’ll be doing the shots, of course. We’ll be doing specials for blackjack and poker; we’ll be giving away shirts and souvenir shot glasses. We also have a commemorative wall that people can sign. There’s going to be a spot for it somewhere within the new O’Sheas coming up. So that’s another little draw for people to come back to and say, yeah, I remember those days and that’s my name. A really sentimental piece.
Have you seen any tributes to you in recent weeks, with people gearing up for the end?
There’s a group of people that have come in recently with my face on their shirts. … I was actually in the middle of a shtick on a microphone, and I saw this group walk in and I honestly stopped talking because I had no idea what the hell I was looking at. I was like, that looks like me, but then I’m like, I’m not that catty; I can’t be like that. And then the closer they got, sure as hell it was me. I was like, oh my god—this rocks.
Any last words for the Lucky faithful?
I just want to thank everybody for their support and making Lucky who Lucky is. … They really, really embraced this character, and it’s very, very rewarding. It’s going to be an emotional day on Monday.