In 1976 Las Vegas was a mob town.
Everything was clean.
Everything was tidy.
Everyone knew their place.
Young, junkie bottom feeders were allowed to exist. They served a purpose. They were consumers. They also took care of one another, sort of like a black market Department of Social Services.
Birdie Wallace discovered Upstate New York refugee, Max Steingrout, among the pimps, prostitutes, con artists & drug addicts, exhalting in the exhaust fumes of the Trailways bus station.
“Welcome to Las Vegas, Pilgrim!”
Unlike in New York, in Las Vegas Max made friends quickly.
By 1977 he ran security for Birdie’s bergeoning escort service empire consisting of an old crack whore named Connie and a semi-retarded 17-year-old.
Security consisted of Max hiding behind the trailer with a baseball bat hoping the johns didn’t get out of line.
James “Birdie” Wallace was a peculiar bird, not a common bird. He was not a big bird, he was a skinny bird, sort of like a humming bird, flying all around.
Between 1979 and 1985 Birdie Wallace became the biggest importer and distributor of cocaine in Clark County, NV.
He helped Las Vegas become known as “Sin City.”
Everyone did it.
Nicknamed “Elvis,” it was The King and thought of as a clean, healthy, recreational drug.
If you did blow in Las Vegas in the early ’80s it probably came from someone who got it from someone who go it from Birdie Wallace.
He supplied coke to everyone who supplied coke to everyone in Las Vegas: dealers, valets, bartenders, taxi drivers, strippers, whores, hotel managers, stars and performers.
Steve & Edie, Phyllis Dyller, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Brando, Eric Estrada, Goldie Hawn: either directly or indirectly, Max Steingrout sold cocaine to them all.
Birdie Wallace’s cocaine.
Peru was the world’s leading producer of cocaine. The Colombian traffickers turned it into a dirty, bloody business and the cartel cocaine wars turned violent. This spelled the end for ’60’s pacifists like Las Vegas’ Birdie Wallace.
He didn’t have the stomach for the rough stuff.
Birdie made too many people nervous and he started to make too much money.
Birdie was fine doing the hustle, rolling a junkie or slapping around an under-aged runaway hooker, but once he started to move mountains of coke and make the kind of money reserved for Wayne Newton, he no longer knew his place.
One day he flew away.
Allegedly with a bullet to the back of his head in the back of an El Dorado.