Las Vegas is America's town of choice when it comes to boozing, philandering, and gambling. Even if we're all aware it's a morally bankrupt and viciously corrupt metropolis filled with mirages of the American Dream, it will continue to be a mecca for hedonists – forever, and always.
This week, Vegas hosted the World Series of Poker, sparking an influx of tourists, gambling, and general splurging. For people with lots of money, but little interest in organising what to do during their stay, various casinos and companies sell the company of VIP Party Hosts for high-rolling visitors. These people are generously paid to do everything from arranging a client's meals, getting tables at extravagant clubs, and even hiring strippers and other forms of adult entertainment.
Depending on how much a client bets in a given hotel's casino, VIP Party Hosts employed by that casino will even pick up the bill for their nights out. Essentially these hosts are a mixture of an assistant, party planner, and member of your entourage.
VICE got in touch with hosts Kevin* and Lance Sherman, the latter operates concierge and hosting company Let Loose Vegas and counts athletes, celebrities, and poker stars among his clients. We talked to these VIP Hosts about the ins and outs of their unique jobs.
VICE: What do people want when they come to Vegas and how do you fit into that?
Kevin: When people come to this town they're like, "BOOM!" It's a Jekyll and Hyde kind of thing. They think they're the man when they get off that plane. They want rooms, food, spas, limos, shows – all comped. If they're a $50,000 player, they'll get a room or suite and a limo. If they're a million dollar player, they'll get a villa and a private jet. I'll easily pick up the tab for $50,000 night out – but only if they play a decent amount in the casino. Everyone wants an off the wall, crazy night in Vegas. They want the ultimate VIP night, and I'm the ultimate Vegas host. You don't have to know everyone, but you have to know the guy who knows everyone. Is that me? Maybe!
Lance Sherman: People want to have fun and I facilitate that. My service is for everyone from all walks of life – it's my job to make celebrities feel like normal people and show non-celebrities a glimpse of the rock star life. I'm a one-source solution – clients call me and I'm a one-stop shop to the city. People come here to escape the real world. They want to let loose – that's how I chose the name for my company.
What's your background like? How did you become a VIP Host?
Kevin: I used to work in client-facing roles in casinos and hotels. I heard of an opening for a VIP Host and I just went for it. It's a really prestigious position so there was a lot of competition. I don't have any special skills. I'm just very personable. It's more than a full time job. I'm taking client calls on my days off, so you have to have the right temperament for it.
Lance: I started out as a dancer – I graduated from Juillard and I was one of the original cast in Celine Dion's first show in Vegas. I started arranging monthly parties for performers in shows on the strip. It escalated, and a year later I hung up my dancing shoes to become a full time VIP Host. I started as a promoter and from nightlife I expanded to daylife, selling cabanas and daybeds instead of nightclub tables. Once I had over 10,000 contacts in my phone, I knew I was ready to set up my own company. So I used to be an entertainer, and now I entertain in a different way.
For more on Las Vegas, read THUMP's coverage of Electric Daisy Carnival
Is it lucrative to be a VIP Host?
Kevin: Depending on bonuses, I earn between $100k to $250k on a yearly basis.
Lance: My hosting company is looking to make over $1 million dollars this year and I'm going to double that by this time next year. A top VIP host in Vegas can easily earn over $100,000 a year.
Tell me about your most extravagant night out?
Kevin: I took clients for dinner at Nobu once. We were drinking hot sake and eating sashimi and Hamachi – we had the teppanyaki grill too. The bill came to over $15,000 for eight of us.
A table at a high-end nightclub can cost $10-20,000. We had a party at Drais one night, it's a rooftop club on the strip where you have a security guard at your table, so there's no riff raff bothering you. We ordered Dom Perignon, Don Julio, and Patron. At four or five in the morning, we got the bill and we were looking at $200,000.
Lance: It started with a bottle of Louis 13th Cognac, which costs $6,500 a bottle. We were in the Pussycat Doll Lounge at Caesars. My client loved Mike Tyson so I gave Mike a call. We got a limo to Savile Row at the Luxor and another bottle of Luis, then we started on the Grey Goose. It was around $450 a bottle at the time. The total bill for the night, just drinks for me, Mike, my client, and some girls, was $18,000. My client was paralysed. He and Mike really hit it off – and by the end of the night, Mike was pushing him round in his wheelchair.
What about the craziest night you experienced as a VIP Host?
Kevin: There's an NFL player who can play $1-2 million dollars a night in the casino, so we give him a villa when he stays with us. One morning, I went in and there were naked girls all over the floor, white powder everywhere. The place was covered in rolled up doobies, empty bottles, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and someone had taken a shit in the bidet.
Lance: One client wanted a pink gorilla costume for a party he was having in his suite with a topless bartender. I couldn't get anyone to do it, so I did it myself, jumping around for 20 minutes in a gorilla suit – nobody knew it was me!
Do you get any unusual requests?
Kevin: This NFL guy I work with likes to play dice in the casino. Most guys want to stand around the table. This guy, we have to bring him a chair and a bag of cheese puffs. He just likes to sit there eating cheese puffs all night.
Lance: Whatever clients want, I'll provide it. Some people request "atmosphere models" or wing-women who work as icebreakers – it's easier for guys to meet women if they have women with them.
Is anything off limits? Do you ever say no?
Kevin: When it comes to drugs, I tell a lot of people they're on they're own. Mostly anything illegal I say no to, but there's so much grey area. I work in the grey area all the time – there's always a right way to do the wrong thing. I build friendships with clients, but I'm always aware the shit could hit the fan. Trust is a massive issue and these guys are already lying to their friends and family about their gambling habit. Some people you can open up to more, some people you have to be by the book.
Lance: I'll give them anything they want, but keep it legal! The revenue from entertainment is almost equal now to Vegas's revenue from gambling, so nobody wants to jeopardise that. Trust is important – the more I know someone, the more I can expand the horizons, push the envelope. I have to be careful, though. Image is everything and I might want to be the president of a casino some day.
Do you hook your clients up with women?
Lance: I play matchmaker, I'm a little bit of a cupid. I'll invite people to my clients' table or cabana in the nightclub. Guys tell me what kind of girls they like and I'll bring them over. Sometimes they're really specific – they want blonde girls in blue jeans or "girl-next-door" types. One client wanted "dirty Indian girls." I didn't even know what to make of that. I introduced him to Indian girls and left him to decide if they were dirty or not. Only one in 50 of my clients are women, but I'd be happy for more. Female clients want the same service as men. I regularly get asked to, "Bring me some cute guys to the cabana!"
Do you have repeat clients? Do any of your working relationships turn into genuine friendships?
Kevin: The majority of the time they're always repeat clients – it depends what kind of experience they have on their trip! Over time, I've built up some natural friendships. I show clients the best time possible when they come to Vegas and sometimes we click really well. It's like any relationship.
Lance: I've got a lot of repeat clients and many of them have become close friends – some of them were guests at my wedding last August!
*Kevin's name has been changed to preserve anonymity
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