The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV

The El Rey Club, Searchlight, NV
The El Rey Resort & Casino, Circa 1957-1962

The Book

It started with a photo on a museum wall.

It ended as a mission to tell the story of Willie Martello & his El Rey Club.

Having only encountered someone other than family with the last name "Martello" three times previously in my life, I set out to investigate the El Rey Club, a resort & casino owned by Willie Martello.  At one time the El Rey was a place to find prostitutes in the tiny mining town of Searchlight, Nevada.  Fueled by fascination about Martellos, casinos, and prostitutes I took to the internet.

Very little information was available about Willie and his club.  What was out there was primarily, almost exclusively, information about the working girls and not much else about the man nor the casino.

References to the casino mostly spoke about the place burning to the ground once or twice in its history.  References to Willie mostly involved the prostitutes.  He's named in "The First 100", a book detailing the first 100 people who shaped Southern Nevada, but only as a "pimp".  Harry Reid had even labeled Martello as "The King of Prostitution in Searchlight" in his book about Searchlight and would later call him "whoremonger" in his book, "The Good Fight".

With research and sheer luck I learned so much more about Willie, his amazing little El Rey Club, and fantastic tales that surrounded both.  Willie Martello was no saint, but he was far from the sinner that the few who thought to mention his name would have you believe.

It became my job to bring you the rest of the story.