My Dear friends

This site not work anymore .I have a new site and you can go there visit me. I dont go put more post here anymore ... If you like this blog go there .. I will be there for you ... Olá meus queridos amigos ... agora tenho um novo blog Este site nao funcionará mais , tive alguns problemas. Agora tenho um novo endereco de blog. Nao irei mais colocar post neste blog .. Todas as atualizacoes e novidades estarao no outro endereco .. Acessem... estarei lá pra vcssss Se vcs gostaram desse blog irao amar o outro .. mais atualizado e lindo ... Vamos láaaa .... visitem-me lá .. Beijinhos Lili

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quinta-feira, 25 de fevereiro de 2010

A Las Vegas Mansion, Glue-Gunned to Perfection



http://www.nytimes.com/

House Proud
A Las Vegas Mansion, Glue-Gunned to Perfection

Ethan Pines for The New York Times

Larry Hart decorated the Hartland Mansion, his family home. He made the bedding, drapes and upholstery in the velvet room. More Photos »
By JOYCE WADLER
Published: February 24, 2010



LAS VEGAS

A HOUSE with 32 chandeliers, twin spiral staircases and so much rococo plasterwork that Marie Antoinette, were she planning a weekend in Vegas, would say, “The heck with the Bellagio, I want to stay with the Hart family in that rundown neighborhood where Liberace used to live,” may not be for you.

That’s understandable.

Thirteen bathrooms are a lot to clean, and the Elvis Room, where a life-size cardboard Elvis, with courtly country-boy manners and a velvet voice, murmurs, “Thankya verra much, thanks for lettin’ me talk to you,” is startling.

Big houses have their problems, and this one — built by Toni Hart, a former evangelical preacher and gospel singer, and scrolled and extolled, ornamented and cemented by her son Larry Hart with his cake-decorating kit — is no exception. Although the home, which the family calls Hartland Mansion, does provide an exceptional backdrop when Ms. Hart, an ordained minister, performs weddings there.

“Welcome to my shiny world,” Larry Hart said when he opened the door, and he was not kidding.

The entrance hall has a dramatic black-and-white checkerboard floor and a 35-foot dome. Stair rails are swagged with stiffly wired gold lamé, white silk roses and ivory velvet. The living room measures 33 by 57 feet — so big, they were able to shoot a scene for the film “Casino” there. Ms. Hart’s bedroom has a velvet bedspread, made by her son Larry, which is ornamented with cabochon pearls and weighs 34 pounds. The house itself takes up some 25,500 square feet.

Mr. Hart, a singer and composer whose gospel musical, “Sisterella,” counted Michael Jackson among its producers, created all eight bedrooms: the four-poster swags made of bed sheets; the ruched silk ceilings; the gold-leafed armchairs, which he bought 30 years ago for $10 apiece and gold-leafed himself.

“All my family has a black belt in shopping, and we have radar when something is 70 percent off,” Mr. Hart said.

Understood. But why so much?

“I’m just from Texas,” Ms. Hart said. “I like it big.”

But that, of course, is only part of the story.

NEIGHBORHOODS change. In the 1940s — as the Harts point out on their Web site — Sixth Street, in downtown Las Vegas, was a high-end residential neighborhood, home to Bugsy Siegel and Howard Hughes. Now many of the yards have grimy “For Sale” signs, and the neighborhood seems defeated, as if having ceded the battle for gracious living to the suburbs. On the back porch of the Hartland Mansion, a patch of paint hangs from a water-damaged ceiling. Larry Hart, who no longer lives in the house, insists the exterior is “distressed by choice,” for security’s sake.

Inside, however, on a visit earlier this month, the house was decked out like a Vegas showgirl. “Come on over, I’ll organize something to eat,” Mr. Hart had told the reporter, giving the impression of an informal brunch.

On arrival, though, it was clear that informal is something the Harts do not do. A round table had been set in the grand foyer with a printed menu, and red napkins were stuffed into black patent-leather stilettos on each plate. Tiny glass slippers had been hot-glued to the side of wineglasses from the local Dollar Tree store (a precarious gig for the reporter’s slipper, which fell off in her hand). More glass shoes had been glued to a six-foot silver-and-faux-candle candelabra.

“My shoe-delier,” said Mr. Hart, 50, who was decked out entirely in black, complete with a black cowboy hat.

Ms. Hart, slim and raven-haired at 82, wore a tailored black suit trimmed with two dozen gold-plated teddy bears. “Larry did this,” she said, referring to the trim.

“I like gluing things to other things,” Mr. Hart said, by now stating the obvious.

Also at lunch was his brother, Garry, a 48-year-old contractor (“The normal one, like Marilyn in ‘The Munsters,’ ” Larry said), and Garry’s son, Daniel, who was about to turn 9.

Over the course of the next two days, with time out for a little piano (played by Larry Hart, who performed his composition “Big Hair Gets You Closer to God”) and some cowbell playing (by Toni Hart, who plays 17 instruments), they told the story of Hartland, which is also the story of the Hart family.

It begins in the 1930s in Dallas, where Toni grew up in a nice big house because her daddy was in the oil-trucking business. At 16, a musically talented girl who hauled her accordion to prayer meetings, she married Ralph Hart, a “gorgeous” 22-year-old preacher and musician. They soon began their traveling tent-show and trailer life and in time had three children, Linda, the eldest, then Larry and Garry.

It might have looked like a glamorous life, when the entire family was dressed in white suits, singing gospel to big crowds, but actually it was not glamorous at all, Ms. Hart said, especially in the beginning.

“Back in those days, in order to preach the gospel, we were sleeping in the back of our car,” she said. “There were lot of places in Louisiana where they’d have a room on the back of the church that was screened in, no sheet, no pillow. We were starving evangelists. All my vegetables were in cans, 10 cents a can. Every day I drove a water hose through the tent to keep the dust down.”

Her charismatic husband, from whom she has been divorced since 1979, was, in her opinion, far too charismatic when it came to women.

In a video the family was shopping for a reality television show, “The Harts of Las Vegas,” which can be seen on YouTube, Ms. Hart said that she named her furs after her husband’s girlfriends.

When did she first realize there was a problem?

“The first time I caught him was in Lubbock, Texas, with a preacher’s wife,” Ms. Hart said. “I looked out the big glass window and saw this preacher’s wife open the prayer room door, and she went like this” — she made a “C’mere, good-looking” gesture.

“I very slowly walked down the aisle,” she continued. “He had her up against the wall, and they were just having a good time. I said, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ He was good to apologize, very humbled. It just about ruined the revival.” (Mr. Hart could not be reached for comment. Linda Hart said he was in poor health.)

The family, who recorded at least two dozen gospel albums, performed across the country and in Europe, and Mr. Hart founded a church in Detroit. But since Larry was a weak, asthmatic child, Ms. Hart sought cities with drier, warmer climates, like Nashville. Larry said that his asthma was so bad that, if he tried to bounce a ball, he ended up in intensive care. The cortisone treatment he took made him fat, which helped him win a part on the television show “Hee Haw” when he was 12 or 13, but he was not happy.

“The little time I had in school,” he said, “I was the one who never got picked for anything — the outsider, most certainly the ugly and fat duckling. Part of the attraction to the shiny and beautiful is maybe an externalization, maybe feeling there was nothing I could do about me.”

Mr. Hart showed a talent for ornamentation at a very early age. Stuck in the family’s trailer, he began decorating his mother’s shoes with pearls. In his early teens, he adorned shoes for Ginger Rogers, Debbie Reynolds and Dolly Parton.

Welcome to my shiny world. And if your world is not particularly glittering, buy some Aleene’s Tacky Glue and apply your own glitter and shine.

In 1976 — by which time Linda had gone off on her own and was performing with the New Christy Minstrels — Ms. Hart and her two younger children arrived in Las Vegas.

“The first city I really got better in and got off the cortisone,” said Mr. Hart, who was about 17 then.

“I had hired Mike Stone, Priscilla Presley’s karate man, to work with Larry,” Ms. Hart said. “In three months, he got 75 pounds off him.”

In May 1978, they came upon the property where their house stands today. At the time, there were two interconnected houses on it, heavy with gingerbread, which reminded Ms. Hart of the big Texas homes of her youth. On impulse, she knocked on the door to see if it might be for sale.
“The woman who answered was the bail bondsman for the owner, who had just gotten out of jail and skipped the country,” Mr. Hart said. “The woman said, ‘Do I have a deal for you.’ ”
The departed owner was Lawrence Arvey, who had been sentenced to life for sex crimes but was out on bond. “The man had parties here all the time — Elvis was supposed to have been a guest,” Mr. Hart said. “He’s never been found.”

The Harts got the property for $190,000, but a few years later, the houses were destroyed in a fire. They rebuilt, doing much of the carpentry themselves, financing it with insurance money and by working Las Vegas lounge acts. “We’re performing at Caesar’s Palace on Cleopatra’s barge, singing Donna Summers’ ‘Bad Girls,’ ” Larry said. “And there is my gospel-singing, Pentecostal mother doing, ‘Toot toot, hey, beep, beep.’ ”

For the most part, the family followed a rough blueprint of the original houses, rebuilding the five fireplaces and the room in which Elvis was said to have stayed. The grand atrium that joined the two structures and its twin curving staircases was a Hart addition.

“Mom always wanted a double circular staircase. I said, ‘Ma, unless you want to be Mrs. Winchester, you need to put something at the top of the stairs,’ ” said Larry, in a reference to the Winchester rifle heiress who built a home with dozens of staircases, many of which led nowhere. “There are two apartment suites on either side up there. The right is my brother’s, the left is mine.”

The elaborate plasterwork throughout the house — much of it overlaid on ready-made plaster pillars, cherubim from garden and craft stores and inexpensive mirror frames — is Larry’s work, inspired by a book on Versailles. “As I looked at those pictures, it just struck me that it looked like a giant wedding cake,” he said. “I went out and got a cake decorating kit and started playing with different compounds of plaster and spackle to find something that would hold vertically on a ceiling. And once I came up with the right mix, I went to town.”

The Harts also kept an eye out for bargains. The headboard of Ms. Hart’s bed, which cost $15, came from a sale held after the disastrous MGM Grand hotel fire in 1980, as did her bedside lamps, which cost $10 each and were black with soot when Larry spotted them. (He soaked them in diluted glass cleaner.) The sconces in the hall were $5.

Two of the Hart children have since gone off on their own. Linda became a backup singer for Bette Midler and a Broadway actress, appearing in “Hairspray” and the Broadway-bound “Catch Me If You Can,” and now lives in Los Angeles and New York. Larry won a Grammy for best gospel performance in 1978, and got a place in Los Angeles, where he continued to compose and perform. But in 1999, he moved back to Hartland for several years, bringing with him some of his collections, including 350 Fabergé-style eggs and dozens of Christmas nutcrackers.

Ms. Hart began renting out the house for weddings in the mid-’80s, though she also officiated at Las Vegas chapels. She’s had her share of celebrities but is proud to say she’s always been discreet.

“I did Ryan O’Neal’s son, Griffin,” she said. “The next day, The National Enquirer called me to ask was the fiancée pregnant. She was definitely pregnant, but I didn’t tell them.”

But weddings can be grueling, and disgruntled modern brides, aided by the Internet, vicious. “Totally run-down, tacky fake flowers everywhere, roaches, brought-in food and located in a horrible part of town with no outside ambience,” groused one, under the name travilyaya, on tripadvisor.com, with the heading “Do NOT Do It There.”

That review hurt Ms. Hart horribly — it was “not remotely accurate,” she said. But since she is getting on and is sick of mopping all those floors, she recently put the Hartland Mansion up for sale, for $8.5 million.

Larry, who now runs an events company called Botanica Las Vegas with his partner, Michael Flach, lives in a town house in the suburbs, and Ms. Hart often stays at her condo at the Las Vegas Country Club. The 34-pound bedspread in her grand bedroom at the Hartland Mansion is too heavy for her, she said, and when she does stay there, she sleeps in a workroom littered with bills.

The only family member who still lives at Hartland full time is Garry, in a suite off limits to reporters and reportedly utterly free of pearls.

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