If you didn’t recognize legendary LGBT spot Gipsy on Spike TV’s tavern-rehabbing show Bar Rescue, you certainly won’t now. It currently sits behind construction fences. Inside, the interior is almost completely gutted; there are large holes in the ceiling and front wall; and a pool has been dug out just feet away from Paradise Road.
Paul San Filipo, portrayed on the show as a drunk, debt-addled, dramatic proprietor—“I gave them enough rope to hang me with,” he says with a laugh, claiming he went along with an exaggerated narrative—is drastically remaking Gipsy. It’s slated to reopen this summer as a dayclub and ultralounge, the only gay-oriented club of its kind in Las Vegas.
Gipsy first opened in the late 1970s as the Valley’s first gay dance club, bought by San Filipo in 1993. However, it was overshadowed by the adjacent Piranha and 8 1/2 complex, which he opened in 2006. Thinking it needed a reinvention and better exposure, he had his Piranha designer contact an acquaintance at Bar Rescue, which scheduled a refurbishment last summer.
San Filipo famously loathed the overhauled space, which the show rebranded as the Miami-themed SBLV—he and his staff especially took offense at a neon sign inside that read “Gay Ol’ Time”—and snubbed host/bar consultant Jon Taffer at the taped unveiling. He quickly shuttered SBLV, and after he aired his protestations on its Facebook page, he received threats from viewers.
But director of operations Jerry Masini saw a silver lining: “[The episode] made [San Filipo] go the next step further—what Gipsy is supposed to be.” Inspired by Strip megaclubs—and enabled by a $2 million investment—both men drew up plans that include, among other things, a waterfall, cabanas, a retractable roof and an indoor/outdoor bar. The goal: to once again make Gipsy the main draw of the “Fruit Loop.”
“In order to make Gipsy successful in today’s competitive market, it’s got to be something so special, unique and different that it will stand out,” San Filipo says. “Gipsy will not open until it’s that product.”