Las Vegas once was a place where a select few entertainers were invited in to do their thing, then walked away with a paycheck from the casino.
Now, anyone can have a show here. All you have to do is rent the venue, negotiate contracts for all means of advertising — from visitor publications to those trailer billboards that cruise the Strip — and cut commission deals with several venders to sell your tickets.
You can argue these business skills are entirely separate from an artistic mind. And that as a result, the Strip is closed to a lot of great entertainers who would simply like to come in, do a show and be paid for it.
To which Anthony Cools says, “It is what it is. If you don’t like it, then don’t be here.”
Cools is best recognized as a hypnotist. He has been one here since 2003, the past five years at Paris Las Vegas.
But that barely scratches the surface of his workday. Lately, most of his energy has gone into opening the new Swingers Club at the Plaza, a bar offering not just dueling pianos, but miniature golf to the ADD tourist.
Cools is also readying a lingerie salon called Exposed at the reborn Plaza. A country bar is in the pipeline, too, and he is almost certain to figure into the Plaza’s future showroom plans, having already ventured into producing with titles such as “Freaks” and “Ooh La La.”
Then there is real estate and day trading. And Cools now advertises his show through his Hootie Pa Tootie sign company, which has seven of those mobile billboard trucks.
“I’m pretty sure I’m a workaholic. I love the thrill of business,” he says. The hypnosis show is now “the most relaxing part of my day. I just hit the stage and do what I do. It’s set up now where it’s a machine. I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
He has long been this way, though his first “look” at the Stardust ditched the suits in favor of bleached hair and Owen Wilson/beach-bum casual.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur my whole life,” he says. When he was 12, he would pack speakers and turntables into the family station wagon to DJ weddings in Calgary, Alberta.
Hypnotism came late, in 1994, when he was managing a nightclub and “booked myself” for a promotion.
“I walked offstage going, ‘This is what you’re supposed to be doing.’ ”
A few years later, he pulled up for one of the last of the paid gigs at the Stardust and discovered a new frontier, perfect for an entrepreneurial hypnotist.
“I saw opportunity after opportunity here. It’s addictive. It’s like a drug for me.”
An addiction easily fueled, without any complaining about the good old days.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.