Updated April 13, 2021 - 7:26 pm
The owner of Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club had seen it all in Las Vegas.
Then Usher arrived this weekend, dropped some fake money and made it rain, publicity-wise.
“I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it,” Sapphire owner Peter Feinstein said in a phone chat Monday. “I guess part of his entourage came in with a briefcase full of these ‘Ushbucks’ and they were passing them around. Now I’m getting all these calls from all these different news outlets interested in what happened.”
Yep, as we now know, Usher (whose birth name is Usher Raymond IV) and his mates were in the club Friday night, which Feinstein confirms. As Page Six first reported, the recording star and his crew flung some novelty “Ushbucks” around the venue, apparently to hype his upcoming residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
The owner says Usher will amend the chaos that ensued. Feinstein said the superstar is promising to return to the club “to make things right” ahead of the opening of his residency, which is July 16. Sounds like a preliminary plan for a post-show party.
But Usher’s appearance at Sapphire, the towering club on Sammy Davis Jr. Drive connected to El Dorado Cantina Mexican restaurant, touched off a social-media backlash. Usher was effectively called out on those platforms for invoking artificial cash that was snapped up by the club’s dancers. The user Yaya @birdsofpreys fired on the star performer, “Usher throwing fake money at a strip club? To hard-working women”
This is not necessarily a new practice. Usher has left behind “Ushbucks” at such Vegas venues as Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District. These bills evidently come in different denominations (if you have one, keep it).
Lost in the fray is Usher was also at Five Iron Golf on Saturday. On Sunday night, he cheered “X Country” at Harrah’s. No cash conflicts have been reported, yet anyway.
Usher has posted a photo on Twitter this month showing a briefcase decorated in the fake bills. He’s also shown wearing a hat adorned with dollar bills, which was posted Sunday, possibly from Sapphire (hard to tell the locale).
— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) April 3, 2021
He brought $100 denomination Ushbucks to Sapphire. Some of the dancers, who are independent contractors, were fooled. The business has already been struggling during pandemic reopening, in large part because topless clubs cannot go topless until further notice (dancers are in bikini tops, usually). A visit from such a wealthy superstar is a boost to these performers.
— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) April 12, 2021
“The $100 bills created a lot of excitement, because they look so much like real bills. But this wouldn’t have created a problem, except some of our entertainers tried to cash them in at the cage where we make all of our transactions,” Feinstein said. “That’s when the pedal hit the metal, so to speak. But he also left a lot of real money, bought a lot of ‘Dance Dollars,’ which we do create and use in the club.”
The “Dance Dollars” are exchanged for actual cash, and the dancers then turn them in for their night’s pay. From what they tell me, anyway.
Feinstein says the R&B star and his team spent a lot of real USDs on “very expensive liquor bottles.”
“We’ll have him back in the club, and we would love to host him again,” Feinstein said. “He was a gentlemen, and he spent a lot of money in here. It was just an unusual party experience.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.