The gonzo, gold-toothed Gazillionaire—the MC for Absinthe at Caesars Palace—is the iconic Vegas celebrity of our time, reveling in the loucheness and excess of Vegas while simultaneously exposing it for the act that it is, mining the exhaustion and bitterness behind the slick façade for laughs.
His new web series Gazillionaire debuts tonight with a party at Sapphire Gentleman’s Club before launching wide on YouTube September 22 at 7 p.m. at youtube.com/spiegelworldtv. The show chronicles the start of Absinthe, the beginnings of Penny and the Gaz’s partnership, and a great deal of envy of Neil Patrick Harris—maybe. When I spoke with the Gazillionaire Friday night before a production of Absinthe, he typically refused to commit to too much.
Why a web series? You’ve got a pretty good gig with Absinthe. Boredom. You know you’re doing the same show 1,700 times, and I figured if you watch some reality TV there’s some pretty bad things out there, so I figured we’d make something, and at worst it would be better than Project Runway.
The trailer is very funny, but there’s a definite David Lynch vibe to the whole thing. Where did that come from? Probably a lot of drugs and alcohol involved in the creative process and actual filming could have something to do with it. What’s great about doing the web series versus getting CBS to put up $3 million to make your show is that no one really cares, so potentially we’re making a piece of crap, but it’s kind of what we wanted to make, exactly how we wanted to make it. So that’s good. I hired these guys from the Lightforge Studios, who are amazing local film makers, and basically paid them to do what I wanted to so I could change whatever I wanted. They’re very nice about being yelled at.
This is not the Vegas of The Hangover. What is Vegas like to the Gazillionaire? People assume that when you’re in Vegas that there’s one Vegas, which is the Strip. And Absinthe is part of that as well, but we all live and party and work in Vegas. Those of us who are here, we’re involved in a different Vegas, Downtown Vegas, East of Downtown, West of Downtown, dirty alleyways, all the stuff that people don’t necessarily get to see all the time. So we wanted to have fun with that. I tried not to go to Surrender nightclub and film there. I wanted to do something else. I wanted to make a testament to Las Vegas in 2012—when we originally started it—so I kinda got together all my friends, stupid people from all over the Strip coming out and doing their part in the show, so it was fun to kind of connect to people in Vegas, our celebrities. It’s like a who’s who of the Vegas you don’t know. So it’s nice to have something like that.
Neil Patrick Harris is on film in the trailer refusing to do a cameo for your show. I’m sorry about that. He was the inspiration. After he saw Absinthe the first time he kind of inspired the writing of this show, so it was quite fun [to do the non-cameo].
How did he inspire it? Well, the concept—without giving too much away—for the surprises in the show, we needed someone that we thought that would be kind of a funny person that would be a celebrity that we would be referencing in most of the show. So we kind of wrote around him, because he has seen the show. Right when we started actually writing and conceiving the show he was at the show that night. And he was great fun, and he participated. And we like the gays first of all, can’t do anything about that. Love ’em. And he was just the perfect person to kind of include in that. And he ended up coming back to the show while he was still filming, so it turned out pretty well.
Some of the material you’ve sent out about this says that the web series will tell the story of how you and Penny met and became partners in crime. Yeah, I think that’s kind of a lie. It doesn’t really talk about that much. I’m realizing that as you’re asking that questions, yes, that is not true. A little bit. It’s more of the beginnings. You’ll find out.
You started writing this two years ago now. What were those two years like? There’s very little writing, mostly it’s just kind of filming crap and then a year of editing, because we filmed too much crap. Originally it was going to be six episodes, but we had to make 11, because we filmed too much stuff and we figured we might as well put it all in there and make more episodes. They’re all short, ADD-style, four-minute, five-minute episodes maximum. That’s the other thing about a web series, you don’t have to worry about timing or anything. So we just tried to make it watchable and a good length. So yeah, it was kind of film a bunch and then edit, and then we got busy doing other things, traveling and partying. I mean, we probably could have done it in a couple weeks if we had some focus, but Scotch. I blame it on Scotch.
Gazillionaire will release a new episode on YouTube.com every Tuesday, starting on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. You can watch it at youtube.com/spiegelworldtv.