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With Pauly D, Palms owner Maloof continues celebrity DJ trend ‘for our demographic’

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Christopher DeVargas

DJ Pauly D, well known for his role on MTV’s Jersey Shore, kicks off the weekend launch of his residency at Palms Resort and Casino. Friday June 24th, 2011

DJ Pauly D

DJ Pauly D, well known for his role on MTV's Jersey Shore, kicks off the weekend launch of his residency at Palms Resort and Casino. Friday June 24th, 2011 Launch slideshow »

DJ Pauly D Residency at the Palms

DJ Pauly D begins his residency at the Palms.

The Las Vegas casino has always had its signature entertainment attraction: The Sands had the Rat Pack. The Hilton had Jumpsuit Elvis.

Today, MGM Resorts International has more Cirque than Montreal. And Caesars has Celine.

The Palms? It has DJ Pauly D.

No, seriously.

That’s not a poke at the trendy Vegas casino-turned-Hollywood hangout. It’s a sign the resort knows its clientele, Palms owner George Maloof said.

He compares the new resident DJ — and “Jersey Shore” reality-TV star with the four-inch spiked blowout hairdo — to other resorts’ big production shows. “We definitely look at it that way, for our demographic,” Maloof said.

The Palms began to grasp the drawing power of big name DJs about six years ago, he said. “DJs are like celebrities now. They’re like rock bands were 20 years ago. So it’s an important part of the Las Vegas scene. We’ve been right in the middle of it and we’ll continue to be,” he said.

Here’s where we need to make something clear: We’re not talking about your wedding DJs, but rather skilled music manipulators who take other artists’ songs — and even their own musical productions — and sample and combine them to create something new. In the process, the DJ can become as famous as the recording artists themselves.

The Palms has as much created the DJ-as-headliner trend in Las Vegas as followed it.

The tipping point came in 2008, when the resort landed the Elvis of DJs, Paul Oakenfold, for a residency at its Rain Nightclub.

“I think Vegas is the new Ibiza,” Oakenfold told Las Vegas Weekly before his party’s Aug. 30, 2008, launch, invoking the club-heavy Spanish island. “We’ve got to get Vegas on the map internationally. This club can benefit Vegas in terms of a global, international scene, and I think it’s about time Vegas had that. It’s a grown-up city now. It’s now time to take part on a global level.”

And that is what has happened. Las Vegas is “fast overtaking Ibiza, Spain, as the electronic dance music capital of the world,” the Los Angeles Times noted in a story this week.

The success of Las Vegas clubs can largely rise and fall on the DJ.

It’s a co-branding, said Michael Fuller, a former vice president of N9NE Group, which operates nightclubs Rain, Ghostbar, Moon and Playboy Club and restaurants N9NE Steakhouse and Nove at the Palms.

Fuller would know. He’s long been a significant presence in Vegas night life and was instrumental in bringing big-name resident DJs to the Palms, including Oakenfold, the late DJ AM and Z-Trip.

“There are only about 10 DJs in Las Vegas who sell tickets,” he said. And Pauly D is in that group.

In his case, that can be from 1,500 to 2,000 tickets a night, Fuller said. To put that into perspective, Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” show at the Mirage is presented in a theater with 2,013 seats; Bellagio’s O Theatre has 1,800 seats and the theater at Aria where “Viva Elvis” is performed seats 2,000.

Celebrity DJs in residence do attract big crowds. Pauly D, for example, brought more than 2,000 people to the Palms in March, Maloof said. But those DJs cost big money.

Typical DJs in Vegas might earn a couple of thousand dollars a night, but celebrity DJs in residence can get from tens of thousands of dollars to six figures per appearance, industry insiders say.

Because Pauly D is best known for his antics on MTV’s highly rated reality series, naturally some have asked whether he’s a legitimate talent behind the turntables.

Maloof says yes.

“He’s a great DJ. He’s been a DJ for 10 years. So it’s a special talent that he has and he just so happens to be on the show,” he said.

Pauly D acknowledges that his success on TV has helped the DJ side of his career. And landing a gig at the Palms is in many ways the DJ equivalent of a baseball player making it to the big leagues.

“Obviously the show picked up my DJ career but I had to show them what I could do,” he said. “This is always where I wanted to end up. A dream of mine was to (be a) DJ at the Palms.”

Now it’s come full circle, as a new MTV reality show will focus on Pauly D’s DJ career. Parts of that show will be filmed at the Palms, he said.

Pauly D’s run as the Palms’ latest DJ in residence began Friday. He will spin at Moon, Rain and the Palms Pool and Bungalows.

Pauly D, who has been nominated for the 2011 America’s Best DJ award, will join the likes of industry royalty DJ AM, Oakenfold and DJ Jazzy Jeff, who have all had a chance to spin from the Palms’ DJ stand.

The Palms, in the hopes Pauly D will draw packed crowds as he has in the past, has scheduled him for a 12-show residency through the rest of the year.

And that might mean this decade’s Rat Pack has two turntables and a microphone.

Las Vegas Weekly Editor Sarah Feldberg and Sun columnist John Katsilometes contributed to this story.

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  1. The absolute downfall of Las Vegas. DJ's...I hope they are charging those folks who actually pay to see the 'DJ show' a ton of dough for their drinks and snacks because they certainly aren't gambling.

    I guess gaming is now at the bottom of the totem pole in the eyes of the owners. Which is why we have no desire to return any time soon.

  2. Whether one likes DJ and club culture or not, I'd guess that if one is awake and commenting on news stories at 6am on a Saturday morning, they are probably not in the target demographic.

  3. James,

    *Or* the reader hasn't gone to bed yet. :-)

  4. Tom got it right James. Sleep is for the dead, right?

  5. Wonder why some have such a difficult time accepting change? Though I'm too old to "fit in", I love the whole pool-party, clubbing "thing" goin' on in Vegas. These kids are paying premium dollars to sun, party and dance... I don't think gambling's dead at all, but it's not the prime component of their Las Vegas experience. The times are a changin'...

  6. The question I have is why is there currently a huge banner at UNLV's student paid for recreation center/gym advertising this guy being at the Palm's? Who put it up and why is it appropriate?

  7. Hope they are charging alot for drinks and dancing 'cause those people are not gambling!

  8. As someone who has seen many a sunrise on the way home from a nightclub or a live music bar night, I certainly understand still being awake at 6am, just not commenting on news stories then. Well, I suppose everyone winds down differently...

  9. Pauly D... From Joisey.... with the - I use a half a pound of gel on my hair every morning and then I stick my head in a giant shop vac - look. Famous for hanging out with folks of low morals and little intellect. His lifes ambition was to be a DJ and do a stint at the Palms... High ambition.

    Now that he's reached the pinnacle of success, what will be his next earth shattering achievement? I wonder if he knows what the three branches of government are how many members of congress there are?

  10. The decline of real entertainment continues as these "celebrity" D.J.'s replace actual live music. Unless it's Wolfman Jack or Kasey Kasem, A DJ is a DJ is a DJ. Most club owners I know (I know several) see a DJ as a cheaper replacement for a live band.
    To compare any DJ to the Rat Pack or Elvis is to lower the perception of the Rat Pack or Elvis.
    On the other hand, if the target customer demands nothing more than a DJ, than go for it. Just don't expect to see me there.
    Nothing against DJ's, but if I'm going out for entertainment, I'd rather see a live band.
    Of course, if the live entertainment is something like Paris Hilton or Brittney Spears, maybe a DJ is a better choice.
    Give me a local country, blues or rock band any day over these faux celebrities.

  11. Geritol anyone?

  12. At 2% ownership, isn't calling Maloof the "owner" of the Palms is giving him credit. The family is running on celebrity and reality TV.. Forgetting that you need money coming before you pour money out the door.

    Than again, when you hang out with the boys who run Caesars, what can you expect to learn about finances??