Happy Halloweeen: An Interview with the Vegas Vampire

Just in time for Halloween, the Vegas Vampire will appear tonight, Saturday, Oct. 29th at the Skyline Casino in Henderson.

There will a costume contest, some reminiscing about the his days on Channnel 5 as the weekend late night horror film host and Mr. Parker wants all his fans to know that this a "tribute to them.  For forty years they have been there for me and I salute them."

He'll be signing autographs and encourages fans to bring cameras to take pictures.

I got a chance to spend a few minutes talking to Jim this morning and wanted to share with all of you.

Where did the idea of the Vegas Vampire come from?

"I always liked horror-comedy films and alliteration.  And Vegas Vampire sounds cool.  I had difficulty getting it on the air.  I was working at KORK (the NBC radio and broadcast affiliate for Las Vegas) and was told "you can't do that, you're a news man."  But Al Cohen was about to start managing Channel 5 (KVVU, an independent channel back then) and he offered me the opportunity.

"I had the idea from back when I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin.  I taught other kids acting on my back porch.  I was always into horror.  I love the old classic horror movies.  And Tarzan.  I would go to the movies on Saturday afternoons to see Tarzan."

"When I was doing the Vegas Vampire show, who was at Caesars Palace, Tarzan! (Johnny Weismuller, the actor who played Tarzan in a number of MGM movies was the official greeter at Caesars in the late 1960s.)  We became good friends and he would always hurry home to watch the show."

What are some of your memories of the show?

"When we first went on the air, it was all done live.  Entertainers would want to be on the show and we would tell them "drive out the Boulder Highway until your car smells like it's on fire, we're on the left." 

"Sammy loved the show but he was always so busy so he arranged for us to come to him for a remote shoot.  Mel Torme was another.  He had to do the show because he loved horror comedy.  Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Lee Greenwood were big fans."

"When it was live we never knew who would show up.  Strange people would show up in costume at the door to be part of the audience.  You never knew who was going to call in.  It was so much fun.  I miss that spirit of fun.

"Using a little political satire and pie-in-the-face slapstick comedy we had a large audience that ranged from kids to senior citizens.  We got temporarily cancelled because we insulted then President, Richard Nixon.  We did over  a 1,000 shows from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s..  We were on Channel 5 and then on Channel 13."

What do you miss of those days and Las Vegas?

"I miss the fun.  When they blew up the Sands, that should have been a museum."

He hopes to bring the Vegas Vampire character back to life.  He would like to do a documentary on comedy in Las Vegas during the classic days as well.  In the meantime, you can catch up with Jim tonight.