Monday, Oct. 24, 2011


“Someone is lining his pockets with cash, and it isn’t the family members who contributed the Mafia Collection” says Mob expert LUELLEN SMILEY, of the declaration of bankruptcy filed last week by the Las Vegas Mob Experience at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

Smiley’s father, Hollywood gangster Allen Smiley, was featured in the exhibit’s Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel room as Siegel’s best friend and partner in the 1930s and ‘40s.  Allen Smiley was seated next to best friend Siegel the night he was murdered.

Declaring bankruptcy is “a chicken move,” continues Smiley.  “Family members have been waiting months for payments.  I saw it coming, a month ago.”

The Wall Street Journal, in its bankruptcy blog, reported this week that JVLV Holdings LLC would take over ownership in exchange for putting $2 million to pay off some of the museum’s creditors.  The bankruptcy case comes as investor and contractor lawsuits brew against the projects former developer, Jay Bloom, who faces accusations of fraud that he’s fought in court.  The proposed sale would allow the buyer of the Las Vegas Mob Experience to leave those lawsuits against Bloom behind.

“The Mob Experience brought together both visual and narrative about the gangster history,” continues Smiley. “This was an extraordinary gamble for Jay Bloom but he earned my trust and other family members. I expected to be out there every few months for personal tours, discussions, and interviews, and if he can resurrect this sinking museum, I’ll stand on my head on the Strip.”

Luellen Smiley’s “Growing Up With Gangsters” stories have appeared in the New York Post, MORE Magazine and numerous publications throughout Southern California.  She currently is finishing a feature length script based on her life as the daughter of Hollywood gangster, Allen Smiley   Luellen’s extensive research has led to numerous TV and documentary film interviews regarding the Los Angeles mob scene, and especially Benjamin Siegel, her father’s best friend and business partner.

Luellen Smiley is available for interviews about the Las Vegas Mob Experience and “Growing up with Gangsters,” as well as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and PBS’ Prohibition.


KABC-TV interview on Las Vegas Mob Experience




Media Contacts:

Scott Segelbaum / Right Brain Agency

610.389.1807 /

Randy Alexander / Randex Communications

856.596.1410 /

Online press kits with downloadable jpegs at




      I am walking the streets of August and the descriptive details have since evaporated. I bring them back, as I mentally pluck myself out of this moment, and open the shades to thought, memory, where all writers meet, on some psychic level, the place of imagination and creation, an aberration of miracles. The morning after Rudy’s arrival, he burst into the moment, acrobatically, as if he was on the high wire, his eyes darting in all directions.
             “See ya in a while, going to get my coffee.”
            “I would love to go hiking; will you take me to the top of Atalaya?” I asked.
            “I have a date today.”
           “I didn’t mean this minute.”
   The next moment opens with Rudy climbing on the roof of his car and scrubbing with militant urgency. I knew it was for the Bird because the friend, who introduced Rudy to her, told me she will not ride in an unprepossessing automobile.
John was in Sedona, negotiating his contract with Hollywood producers and agent. I imagined him attached to the phone, his hands on his head, feet propped on the desk, looking out the window to the Red Rock. I turned toward to the front window and found a shower of sunlight, but it passed over me, and I slipped into the entanglement of my dreams, hopes, and disappointments, a Molotov cocktail to drink alone.
   Now that writing that overly ripened memoir, and the Mob Experience, were both in the dumpster, what was really in my path besides moving in and out of the house for vacation renters? Is this it? I just move up and down the staircase and across the street and never seem to get anywhere. I fell back in the middle room and stared at the bird cage hanging from the ceiling, and examined every throw of the dice over the last ten years.
   At five o’clock I went looking for Rudy, but he was still out. The toothpaste white VW van was in the driveway. I lectured myself on the advantages of going out: to mingle with an unfamiliar crowd, look at the Aspen trees on Palace Avenue, or buy a lipstick at Cosbar, the laboratory of cosmetic rituals. I didn’t listen to the lecture; I opened a bottle of wine and sat on the terrace draped with trees where I was invisible.“Don’t end up in the bottle.” Dad’s voice erupted in my conscience. I didn’t listen to him either.
   Rudy bounced into my corner, dressed like a peacock.
     “When did you get home?” I asked
     “Just a while ago. I’m going out now; bye LouLou.”
   The words were strained, I couldn’t put my finger on the hollowness attached to his good-bye, but it felt unfamiliar. In the sedation of sun and wine, I drifted with the breeze, until dark.In the morning, I intercepted Rudy before he left for his coffee.
    “How’d it go? Do you like her?”
    “Good. I’m leaving now.”
    “When will you be back? We have business decisions, and…”
    “Okay, okay. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”
    I recalled the evening Rudy and Bird drove in the driveway, hesitated, until I waved them both in. This was on a previous visit, after they’d first met. She appeared on the porch, a beam of blonde wiggling light that was at the same time dark. Her laughter spilled out, and lined her conversations without interruption, even during an unpleasant story that I cannot recall. John poured what she announced was her favorite wine, and the four of us maintained her dimension of shallow conversation, while my mouth stiffened from too much unwarranted smiling. Rudy was silent, a rugged detached exactness to Clint Eastwood, leaning up against the house, his mouth a crooked curvature of apprehension. Something happened that evening; it was revealed in a passage from the diary of Anais Nin: “Be careful not to enter the world with any need to seduce, charm, conquer what you do not really want only for the sake of approval. This is what causes the frozen moment before people and cuts all naturalness and trust.”
This passage rhymed with the incessant ringing of false laughter on the porch.
 When at last I cornered Rudy, three days after he’d arrived, he was on his way out of the house again. My eyes pleaded for attention, and for words of encouragement. A split second later, anger rose, then rage exploded.
    “You’re leaving again!  I just want to talk with you awhile. I haven’t even seen you since you came home?”
    “I can’t.”
    “Why not?”
    “I’m late. I’ll see you in the morning.”
    “Did I ever turn my back on you when you needed me!”
  There was no Rudy in the morning, or the afternoon, only after midnight did I hear the chime of his door open, and notice the exterior lights go off. The next day I reached into my bag of feminine tricks, and pulled out a not so fictitious, dejected and tearful woman, and propped myself on the back porch, waiting for his return. I felt the atrophy of my senses, my mind swirled, casting nets over speculative and disturbing tributaries, like going into a ten-foot wave, not certain you’ll pop-up.

I called John.  “What’s the matter? You sound terrible baby?”

“At this moment I can’t move. I mean something is swallowing me.”

“Want me to drive back tomorrow?”
“Yes.”  To be continued.
Any dice to throw email


The scent and scenery of August on Palace Avenue is a perfume of Plaza pushcarts selling burritos and beef skewers, afternoon thunderstorms splashing the soot and dust from weekend fiestas,low riders spinning and smoking up Palace Avenue, and the  blasting booty bump bass in tempo with the wheels as they rise and fall to the concrete, the motorcyclists on four wheels, with jet black hair flapping the wind, like long tongues, and the bicycle riders, glazed eyes, and head-phones, detached, and daringthe driver to predict their next turn, sometimes women, in street shoes, and hats, gliding by, smiling independently, and then the two grumpy men. Five days a week they walk to and from work past my house.  One wears a chef’s coat and never raises his eyes from the sidewalk, and The Walrus, whose mustache and face, are griddlded into an expressionless tolerance for all things that happen
I left the porch, went inside, where I felt the absence of John and Rudy.
John was in Los Angeles at a screenwriting meeting; a triumph for a guy whose waited more than ten years to get an assignment. I imagined him in a trendy restaurant, seated at a table, one foot tapping the floor,and his right hand clutching the corner of the tablecloth his own peculiar fetish to feed the nerves during suspenseful situations. He‘d be dressed in the outfit I picked out, but the shirt would be loosely tucked because that’s his style.  Rudy was on his way back to Santa Fe, and eagerly waiting to take out his new Bird, a gal he met at our Baron Wolman book signing. 
Absence of their conversations, frivolity, dancing, feasting together, two men who share nothing in common except me, sort of like Jules & Jim, only Rudy and I have been like brother and sister, since 2003. He was the only man I ever trusted before John, and thattook many years, but once he went into the vault of truth and loyalty, I trusted him as I did my mother.
Then after so many days, my bounce and blush started shedding. It was as if someone tied me to an anchor and I dragged my litheness from room to room trying to fight it, with chores, writing, and then all the structure started crumbling, and I left the lights on all night, and didn’t empty the trash, or go out on the front porch to wave at the La Posada crew I didn’t leave the middle bedroom, the one with the big screen, and I snuggled the silence with old movies,and half read books, and Gummy Bears.  I was a heap, unlike the temporarily tide pools we fall in and out of constantly, this was a tidal wave.

The window facing west is an aquarium of pine and cotton trees, and between them, there is JD’s Tree Tee Pee, left over from Fiesta week, but he’s too busy working on his winter addition, to bother with it.  I can see the 2nd floor of La Posada, Julia’s room, the daughter that killed herself in the bedroom, and is widely known as the Ghost of La Posada I’ve listened in on these stories, and staff members see her. New Mexico storytelling is checkered with ghost stories. I saw the light as it transcends the hours of the day, and found the most beautiful time was four in the afternoon. The sunlight turned the light peach walls to pomegranate, and I felt like I was inside the fruit. If we stop, we see everything so clearly.

I was waiting for Saturday, when Rudy would drive up in the white van, filled with tools and purchases he’d made over the last three years.  He was officially coming home to stay. He’d completed the New Mexico Contractors License Exam and was going to start renovating adobe homes and gardens and spend his days in the place he loved as much as San Francisco.

It might have been a Carole Lombard movie, that got me untangled from the
Gummy bears and Kleenex, and I went out to dinner Friday night with the gal who introduced the Bird to Rudy.  Sipping wine with faces I like, and food that nourishes brought back a flash of light to me, and I was animatedlike an old person right before they die. You ever see that? 
Rudy’s room was tided: new soap, washed towels, the closet rearranged so he was able to unpack all his belongings. I was sure there would be a new rattlesnake head. 
     “I have a present for you.” he said on arrival.
 He brought out an Emporio Armani garment bag, his only brand of clothing, and out came a pair of black silk balloon pants. 
” Thought they’d be good for the Cuban Carnival party.
I fancied them, hugged him, and then he scampered in a hundred directions, as he does, and I returned to myself. Rudy was home. To be continued.