More reality show-quality drama for Gentile in Club Paradise credit card saga

Dominic Gentile, in courtroom mode.
Photo: Las Vegas Sun

From a purely entertainment perspective, it’s a shame that the Gentile family’s Playboy TV film crew wasn’t following James Hackett on the night and early morning of Oct. 11-12. If the phalanx of videographers was in aggressive pursuit, we might have some concrete answers as to how Hackett’s American Express card was charged $29,512 during a night of apparent revelry at the gentlemen’s establishment Club Paradise.

In a fascinating twist that would have made a great installment of the Playboy reality show “The King of Clubs,” Adam Gentile is the recently hired general manager of Club Paradise, the slick gentlemen’s establishment east of the Hard Rock Hotel on Paradise Road. He’s also a centerpiece in the upcoming reality series set to begin airing on Playboy TV in September. As reported earlier, “The King of Clubs” is a 12-week series focusing on the news-making Gentile clan that finished taping last month at the Palomino Club in North Las Vegas.

Why the Palomino Club? Because it is owned by … Adam Gentile.

More fascinating for the Playboy crew is that the five acres of land on which the Palomino sits is owned by his powerhouse attorney father, Dominic, who has been chosen to prosecute Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who is accused of mismanaging state money while Krolicki was state treasurer. Dominic Gentile also owns the land on which the Palomino Club sits. In a tantalizing slice of Vegas lore, the elder, genteel Gentile acquired the five acres of land in North Las Vegas as payment from former owner Luis Hidalgo Jr. a little more than two years ago in exchange for Gentile’s representation of Hidalgo in the investigation of the May 19, 2005, shooting death of onetime club doorman Timothy Hadland. (In February, Hidalgo and his son, Luis Hidalgo III, were convicted of second-degree murder for conspiring with others to mastermind and carry out the murder of Hadland, whose body was found near Lake Mead.)


It all makes for high drama. It’s small wonder Playboy sought out the Palomino and the Gentiles for adult-targeted footage. They make “Dynasty’s” Carrington and Colby families look like the Brady Bunch (the old Zenith got quite a workout at the Kats house in the ’70s and ’80s). You might already know the non-LVCVA-approved saga or what happened at Club Paradise involving Hackett and his smoldering American Express card, but let’s give an overview anyway.

In mid-October, Hackett was in town on business, attending the Direct Marketing Association Trade Show -- one of these quick trips to Vegas in the middle of the week. Hackett was staying at the Las Vegas Hilton, and on the night he arrived, he threw back a few vodka martinis at one of the hotel bars -- likely at the bar at the Hilton Superbook or Tempo lounge -- while watching Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays won the game, 9-8, a result that might well have escaped Hackett, who says he blacked out much of the evening. But before the blackout, Hackett was approached by a stranger -- a heretofore unidentified person we’ll call “Bill Buckner” -- who handed Hackett his wallet after telling Hackett he’d dropped it on the ground.

Hackett noticed his credit card and ID were in different slots in his billfold, but the rest of the night was wiped out as he headed toward the hotel lobby, in the general direction of the Elvis statue, possibly for a night of what-happens-here-stays-here. Whatever, Hackett called his wife the next day to check on his credit card bill, which is really a no-win proposition no matter the outcome. Nothing seemed amiss at that point, but when Hackett returned home, the huge sum from his Vegas trip turned up on his bank statement. All of the charges were amassed at Club Paradise in a six-hour stretch in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, from about 3 to 9 a.m.

Hackett is now contesting the charges to his credit card, which include a $4,000 bar tab and $25,000 in “unexplained services” from a sextet of Club Paradise dancers (“The CP Six” are listed as "Paulina," "Jani Lee," "Isabel," "Vanessa," "Roxanne" and "Lexi").

About a week before Hackett’s complaint was made public, I talked to Adam Gentile on the phone. He said the taping of “The King of Clubs,” which prominently features Dominic and Michelle Gentile (Adam’s mother and Dominic’s ex-wife, who is the accountant at Palomino) was “a pain.” But it did provide a chance for Adam, who specializes in adult-themed entertainment as the producer of the now-defunct “Men the Show” at the Riviera, to branch out professionally. As the production crew, led by “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” producer Leslie Greif, finished its three-month stint at the club in June, Adam realized he’d been able to work the taping schedule into his usual shift as the club owner/manager. Buoyed by his newfound time-management skills, he sought a second GM job at Club Paradise, which is owned by C.P. Food and Beverage Inc. and whose president is Geralyn Cecola (for yet more drama, Cecola is the wife of convicted tax cheat Sam Cecola, who took over operations of the club after her husband was sent to prison in 1999). Gentile started work at Club Paradise in June and still operates Palomino, keeping the club’s pulse throbbing and stamping out rumors (he says spread by limo and cab drivers) that the place has long closed. Not bloody likely.

Gentile described current business at Palomino as “slow, it’s the slow season. Summer’s always a little slow, but all things considered, it’s been decent this year.” But business should perk in September, once the county’s only all-nude club allowed to hold a full liquor license (the club, which opened in 1969, holds a license that was grandfathered with North Las Vegas and expires in 2019) is featured on Playboy.

During taping, Gentile did have a tough time managing the drama. Often an issue would arise at the club, and instead of stamping it out at once, the cameras would be assembled to properly record the back-and-forth. “The most challenging part was a lot of the management was actually out of my control,” Gentile said. “Having the camera around threw me off my game. It was all about controlling the drama.”

And as the club manager has learned, some of the best drama can’t be scripted.

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