Tales of extreme Vegas heat

From youthful semi-nudity to rescuing the ice lady

Illustration: Vince Ray
Las Vegas Weekly Staff (+1 Mom)


What do teenage girls, fast food and bras have in common? They’re all part of a typical occurrence during hot Vegas nights—at least for my group of girlfriends during high school.

I think it was Wendy who came up with the idea. As the first to have a license and a car, she was the wildest one, even though she’s a Mormon (and has since calmed down).

When we grew tired of staging musical numbers in the living room of whomever was hosting the sleepover that week, we’d pile into a car or two and head out for a little mayhem, though mayhem for this group of theater geeks from the Las Vegas Academy was pretty tame. Mayhem for us was daring Amanda to buy whipped cream and condoms, though only the former would actually get used—for ice cream cake.

We also took bra rides. Oh, the bra rides! There’s nothing like a group of underage girls driving around on a hot Vegas night in their newest Victoria’s Secret purchases. Our bra rides served two purposes: One, no one’s air conditioning worked all that well, so a bra ride would cool you down; two, we got free grub.

We were the highlight of stoplights, with people in nearby vehicles glancing over at first, then staring as they realized we were less than fully clothed. Our carful of virgins smiled and waved. We were the delight of the drive-thru, where our semi-nekkedness garnered surprised smiles and free food from the barely pubescent boys working the night shift.

Those summer bra rides were the stuff legends are made of. At least in our minds. I haven’t had the guts to attempt it again since senior year. –Deanna Rilling


The standard Metro police uniform is 100 percent wool, and nobody knows that better than motorcycle cops, who wear the tan outfit all summer long, during 10-hour shifts, with body armor vests underneath.

You don’t get used to the heat, says Lt. Christopher Ankeny of Metro’s traffic bureau. You get used to working through it.

The uniform does come with a short-sleeve option, though motorcycle cops seldom choose it during the summer, both because of sun damage and because the long sleeves allow you to build up a breeze-activated cooling layer of, well, sweat.

Aside from this, Ankeny says, drink lots of water and utilize shade as much as possible. Traffic officers writing in-field accident reports will get underneath a light pole if it provides even a sliver of shade.

And when they’re standing outside for a long stretch—directing traffic through an intersection, for example—some officers bring a piece of carpet to stand on, a buffer from the asphalt. It’s the same logic behind those thick-soled boots: A few extra inches off the ground is a few extra inches away from the hot earth below. –Abigail Goldman


Editor’s note: When we asked staff writer Rick Lax if he had a good heat-related story, he said he didn’t, but that his mother did. Have her tell it, we said:

In the mid-’70s, Ricky’s father and I took an extended trip to Vegas. A full week, in the dead of summer.

We stayed up late, played slot machines (to no avail), and caught a few shows. I remember being pleasantly surprised by Charo’s talent and musicianship. She delivered a lot more than that whole “cuchi cuchi” business.

One day, we decided to walk from The Riviera to The Sahara. Perched atop the Sahara was the famous thermometer, which told us it was 110 degrees. But that didn’t stop us. We trekked onward … until I realized how tired and hot I was. But by that point, we were at the halfway mark. There was nowhere to stop, and either direction seemed too far.

I still remember what I was wearing, partly because I have a picture taken from the earlier part of the day. I had on a sleeveless, floor-length, white lace cover up. But in the 110-degree heat, it felt like chain mail.

By the time we walked into The Sahara, no amount of air conditioning was sufficient. With my heart beating and my throat parched, I knew what I needed. As soon as the pool came into view, I jumped in. Didn’t remove any of my clothes. I didn’t care if we got thrown out of the casino. I needed to be in that pool.

No one threw us out. I stayed in the pool a long time—it took 10 minutes until I felt better. Then we took cab back to The Riviera. It was a wet ride. –Linda Lax


I’m rolling down the 1-15 in a Geo Metro in 117 degrees with the windows down and the heater on full blast, heading into Vegas. I’ve gone 1,600 miles on bad tires and I know nothing about cars, other than cooling the transmission by turning on the heat. There’s nothing on this freeway and nobody to call for a ride. My quarters are useless here and cell phones have yet to be.

I pile more ice cubes on my head, then rest my hand in the cooler and wonder whether my new apartment will have air conditioning, whether I’ll be able to get the keys from the office in time and whether I’ll even make it that far anyway. –Kristen Peterson



Heat factoids!
117 degrees: The hottest temperature recorded in Las Vegas, on two days: once on July 24, 1942, and again on July 19, 2005.
30 minutes: The amount of time it takes a car to heat to 114 degrees inside when it’s 80 degrees outside.
150 days: The longest streak in Vegas history with no measurable precipitation. It started in February 1959.

As the sweat poured onto my already sunblock-caked sunglasses, it became virtually impossible to make out distinct shapes. If a softball were to actually be hit my way, odds are I wouldn’t know it until I was knocked unconscious. But then again, being carted off the field seemed infinitely preferable to actually standing on it, roasting in the 113-degree heat of the summer I somewhat too eagerly agreed to join my company’s softball team.

Most of the season went by without a hitch, our games being played early on Sunday mornings, before the sun knew we were there. But this was the day of the championships, with each team playing a minimum of three games. Things got started around 8 a.m., when it was a balmy 90 degrees. But by the second game, it was 110. By the third game, running turned into jogging, high-fives turned into barely spoken yays, dugouts emptied in favor of tree shade.

By the end of the third game, everything was a haze. I remember collapsing in a heap near my gear, and one of my teammates, who was about 50 feet away at the cooler, yelled, “Do you want a beer?” I’d never had heat stroke before, but I knew that was exactly what had happened to me as I raised my bat in the air and yelled back, “I have one already!” -Ken Miller


Misfortune had brought me to Vegas. Like many, I’d landed hard: found work with a company that serviced ACs and low-temp coolers. I was riding with Chris: the most frenetic human being I’d ever encountered. Chris wasn’t runnin’ tweak; greater demons drove him to pin the speedometer—take hairpin turns on two wheels, a la Neal Cassady. I was certain he’d roll the van and kill us both.

An emergency call from dispatch: a unit on the fritz over in Spring Valley. “Guy says his poor wife’s melting ... get your ass out there quick!” With the mercury north of 110, we had many such calls. The heat was brutal, but more brutal still, on the sick and elderly. Chris gunned the engine. We were on a mission of mercy.

We were ushered into the house by a frantic old gentleman, who led us at once to a walk-in freezer located in the basement. The compressor had given up sometime during the night; there, lit by a single 75-watt bulb, encircled by a series of portable electric fans, was a hauntingly beautiful naked woman—carved completely out of ice. Turned out the old guy had spent more than 40 years creating elaborate ice sculptures for banquets at Strip hotels. The beautiful ice woman was a tribute to his wife, who’d passed the year before: lovingly rendered and anatomically correct—right down to the frost of pubic hair.

Yes, we changed the compressor in time to save her. -Quentin R. Bufogle


Heat kills more people every year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

Hot weather becomes dangerous when your body can’t eliminate excess heat, or when you lose too much fluid and salt from sweating. Sunburns, by the way, make it harder for the body to shed excess heat.

An early sign of heat stress includes heat cramps—painful spasms often in the legs or stomach muscles.

Nausea and fainting are signs of heat exhaustion, along with heavy sweating, clammy skin and weak pulse. At this point, experts advise getting inside, lying down, loosening clothing and covering yourself with cool cloths.

Vomiting is a sign of heat stroke, which requires immediate medical attention. Other signs include rapid and strong pulse, hot dry skin, fever, irrational or confused behavior and loss of consciousness. At this point, delaying emergency medical attention could be fatal. –Abigail Goldman


Sitting poolside with a gallon of water in my lap and a group of cicadas screaming behind me, I listen to a friend from the Midwest complain about Las Vegas heat. “At least in Wisconsin you can pile on layers of clothes in the winter,” he reasons. “Here, you can’t do anything. You can take off your clothes, but you’re still hot.”

I yawned. I wasn’t buying it.

I, too, came from the land of ice and snow. Daily tasks were hellish in the below-zero temperatures in Minnesota. Trudging to the car in 20 pounds of clothes, chipping ice off the windshield while the engine warmed, then driving and sliding the frigid tank through snow-tunneled city streets was no fun at all.

Threatened by frostbite, burdened by parking tickets (plow days) and harassed by cold mornings, we lived cocoon-like for months on end and, when we had to, moved about briskly in Norwegian sweaters and down coats. Give me triple degree temperatures, sunshine and short-sleeved shirts any day. -Kristen Peterson


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