A lot of people saw it coming.
Rumors have been flying for more than a year that the high-flying, cash-laden nightclub scene was being scrutinized by the feds.
The shoe dropped Wednesday when the Internal Revenue Service and other law enforcement authorities raided Pure nightclub and Pure Management Group headquarters, confiscating a number of computers.
Cash-heavy operations are known to get the attention of the IRS.
Sources have been telling me that doormen at several clubs are clearing $8,000 to $10,000 a night before they share tips. So much cash is pouring in that some doormen are making $400,000 to $500,000 a year, several nightclub executives told me.
"Pure has guys at the door making more than the president," said one executive with intimate knowledge of the cover-charge system. He was referring to the annual salary of the president of the United States, which is $400,000, plus benefits.
A Pure executive told me over the weekend that 5,000 people showed up for Paris Hilton's 27th birthday party and her guest appearance with the Pussycat Dolls.
About six months ago, on a busy night at Pure, I overheard two men bitterly complaining about the cover charge. "They wanted $1,000 per person. I said the highest I'd go was $800!" one said.
It's not just Pure, the largest club in town with a capacity of 2,400. Grumbles about nightclub gouging have been growing louder.
In my nearly completed book "Vegas Confidential: Sinsational Celebrity Tales," I write: "It's no secret that most clubs understand that the longer the line the higher the anxiety. That's where the 'line slide' comes in.
"If people have been waiting all night, they're not going to go somewhere else and start over," said a club exec (not at Pure).
"Club employees, usually the size of big league umpires, will go down the line and fish for people who really want to get in. The line guy might get $200, but now everyone in the group is still going to have to pay a $30 to $40 cover charge. Sometimes, the doorman demands more, maybe $50 to $100 per person."
Then there's bottle service, which means you have to buy a bottle to sit in the VIP section. The usual requirement is one bottle per three patrons. Two-bottle minimums are not uncommon. Bottles at most clubs are going for $350 to $650 a piece.
WYNN WOOING GANS?
Is a Danny Gans-Steve Wynn reunion in the works?
Wynn attended Gans' show Tuesday at The Mirage and held a "post-show pow-wow," KVBC-TV, Channel 3 entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs said in a report Wednesday.
Gans, who was hired by Wynn when he owned The Mirage, has a year left on his 10-year contract.
Jacobs said her sources said Paris Las Vegas is "also making a play" for Gans, who has one of the most successful shows on the Strip.
"Dancing With the Stars" professional Kym Johnson, brought on stage to dance with Bryan Cheatham during the Chippendales show (Rio) on Tuesday. The Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, dining at N9NE Steakhouse on Tuesday. ... Reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter (aka Duane Chapman) and linebacker Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, stopping by the Playboy Club (Palms) on Tuesday with separate parties. ... Singer LeAnn Rimes, celebrating her sixth wedding anniversary with Dean Sheremet on Monday at "Love" (Treasure Island). ... Host John Stossel and his crew from the ABC show "20/20" filming an interview Tuesday with the Chippendales for an upcoming episode scheduled to air in March.
THE PUNCH LINE
"Good news for Barack Obama. The founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream are endorsing Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton. Which makes sense, because 'BaRocky Road' is a much catchier name than 'Pantsuits & Cream.'" -- Conan O'Brien