The VAPORS Dinner Theatre
From Serving Spirits to Serving the Holy Spirit
The Vapors Club in Hot Springs was built in 1959 by a local prominent businessman. Although it was a small nightclub, how did the Vapors afford to hire big name entertainers like Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Shore, Phyllis Diller, Liberace, Tiny Tim, the Smothers Brothers and more? (Legend has it that Tony Bennett sang “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” for the first time at the Vapors and was encouraged to record the song.)
The Vapors may have been a talent entertainment facility, but income from the casino in the club and sales from alcohol (spirits) helped pad the bill for big name talent. Although casino gambling in Hot Springs was controversial and for many years illegal, the owner of the Vapors brought respectability to a seemingly “sleazy” industry. He joined the chamber of commerce, contributed to all church fund drives and even gave the city 2 swimming pools – one for the whites and one for the blacks. He was quoted as saying, “Never underestimate the effectiveness of a straight cash bribe.”
The Vapors Club was closed after a raid in 1967, but has recently been inhabited by a church. Tower of Strength Ministries is the church that has rejuvenated the old Vapors Club, serving the Holy Spirit rather than serving “spirits.”
P.h.D. of Wit
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