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At home with: Cha Cha Velour

Home is where the wild boar taxidermy is

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Burlesque dancer (and cardiology nurse) Cha Cha Velour poses in the “Jesus bedroom,” the guest room in her Paradise Palms home.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It’s hard to imagine Cha Cha Velour and Mike Davis’ Paradise Palms home as anything other than the whimsical, retro playpen that it is today. But when they bought the 1963 property some four years ago, it was “thrashed,” full of broken windows with a hole in the bedroom wall and lots of fixing up required.

Today, the local burlesque dancer (who works as a cardiology nurse) and her union drywaller husband have transformed the vintage property into a vibrant space infused with personality and humor. Collections are neatly displayed everywhere you look: cement garden gnomes and statuary in the backyard, religious kitsch in the guest bedroom, vintage pipes in Mike’s office, tiki mugs in the tiki bar.

“I think if I didn’t have him as a filter, I could be a hoarder,” Cha Cha admits.

The couple met when Cha Cha moved to Vegas about eight years ago. As the story goes, she’d been drinking wine and went looking for guys on MySpace, which she pronounces with a wink of nostalgia in her voice. She friend-requested Mike’s roommate, and when he wasn’t interested in writing back, Mike stepped in. Last December, the pair held their wedding reception at Frankie’s Tiki Room, dressed in outfits from Glam Factory Vintage.

“Even when I was younger, I just loved the ’50s and ’60s—the music, the way people dressed,” Cha Cha says. Still, she refuses to let her beautiful things rule her. “We use all our vintage stuff, and if it breaks …”

At home with Cha Cha Velour

The taxidermy

Not all the couple’s collections are shared passions. Scattered around the house is Cha Cha’s taxidermy troop, from a wild boar in the bedroom to a lovingly posed jackalope couple to the armadillo that was her first foray into stuffed wildlife. A hunter, Mike doesn’t see the appeal: “A dead animal head is not cute.”

The guest room

“It reminds me of my grandparents,” Cha Cha says of the collection of religious kitsch she’s been working on since her teens. Both Cha Cha and Mike are atheists, but you wouldn’t know it by their guest bedroom, where black velvet paintings of the former pope (looking strikingly like Robin Williams) compete for space with ceramic Virgin Marys, Jesus holograms and a light-up display of the Last Supper that cost a cool $7.99. A quilt by Cha Cha’s grandmother covers the bed, and there’s even a black and white photo of Cha Cha’s father at his First Communion. And all the godly décor has a nice side effect: “No one’s going to be banging in the guest bedroom,” Cha Cha says.

The tiki bar

The undisputed star of the home is the tiki bar, decked out with hefty mugs, blowfish lights, bamboo-lined walls and a righteous collection of rum. Friend and tiki carver Billy the Crud did all the woodwork, moving into the house for two weeks and leaving an ornate space that’s often used for pinup photo shoots and entertaining. An inscription from Billy carved into the wooden shelving reads: “Dedicated to those who enjoy in moderation and good taste.”

The dogs

While the couple shares the 2,500-square-foot home with four dogs, none of them are pictured on the living room wall among the “badly painted dog collection.” Cha Cha says she’s very picky when it comes to the canine artworks.

The china collection

Housed in a dining room curio cabinet, the set of 1950s Franciscan Atomic Starburst china is a work in progress, bought piece by piece. Some rarer items are still missing—and very expensive.

The search

“All those reality shows have totally ruined my hobby,” Cha Cha says, citing higher prices and more competition for vintage furniture, collectibles and décor, especially in Las Vegas. These days, the couple like to shop and ship when they go out of town, and dream of filling up a U-Haul on one of their trips back East. For specific needs—say, a coveted piece of china to round out a set—there’s always eBay.

The backyard

Centered around a deep pool, the backyard is a comfy spot, where cement gnomes and statuary watch over the scene from along the back wall. “We like them old and crusty with the paint chipped,” Cha Cha says of the weathered figures. And the pool? It’s toptional. “We’re hip,” she says, laughing.

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Sarah Feldberg is the editor of Las Vegas Weekly magazine. A veteran journalist, Feldberg previously worked as the Weekly's web ...

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