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A poetic investment: Ray J’s role at Poetry goes beyond celebrity

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Ray J - singer, actor and now nightclub partner.
Photo: Sarah Feldberg

Every weekend Vegas nightclubs serve up celebrity hosts to their clientele – attractive bait in Jimmy Choos and Versace suits that lend an element of glamour to a room filled with jet-lagged tourists sweating out cocktails at $12 a pop.

The plebian visitors who make it inside the club can expect, at most, a glimpse from across the room of the supposed “host.” The A-listers (and even the B, C and D-listers) are there to draw guests in, not to entertain them once they arrive.

Even in cases like Pure, where investors include Andre Agassi, Stephi Graf, Shaquille O’Neal and Celine Dion, or LAX with investors Christina Aguilera and DJ AM, the celebs whose bucks help run the club don’t necessarily spend much time inside its walls, let alone on the dance floor. DJ AM spins regularly at LAX, but if you expect to find him mingling with guests or playing host to VIPs, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Which is why Poetry Nightclub’s move to not only take on a famous partner, but to make him part of the staff is so interesting.

“I’ll be performing. I’ll be hanging out. I’ll be in the VIP,” says R&B singer Ray J of his role at Poetry. “I’ll be on the radio stations. I’ll be all over Vegas getting other people to just come around and feel the vibe.”

Ray J, younger brother to singer Brandy and a hit maker in his own right, says he’s always wanted to expand his company, Knockout Entertainment, in new directions. When the singer was at Poetry over New Year’s he saw something he liked.

“I’m the type of person when I come to town and have a great time and I see a dream or a vision, I go for it immediately. I just went to Mike (Goodwin) and I told him my ideas, and he thought it was great. It was just perfect timing.”

Mike Goodwin, managing partner of Poetry, saw in Ray J a “triple threat – acting, music TV shows,” and was quick to partner with the singer who will be starring this spring in his own VH1 reality dating show, For the Love of Ray J.

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Poetry Nightclub.

“When we got together with Ray J and started talking business, we realized there was a marriage made in hip hop heaven,” Goodwin says.

Ray J’s involvement in Poetry, which sits above restaurant Chinois in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, is redefining the idea of celebrity investing. Rather than putting up some money and then largely disappearing into the background, Ray J vows to be a constant presence at Poetry.

“My involvement in the club will be pretty much just bringing more life to the party,” he says. “What we want to start off doing is just bringing more people to the club, bringing a whole new lifestyle – something sexy, something classy. This is already the hottest R&B nightclub and hip hop nightclub out here.”

Joining the Poetry staff will require one obvious change for the 27-year-old (Ray J will be celebrating his 28th birthday at Poetry on Saturday). He’ll have to live, at least part time, in Vegas.

“I’m looking forward to getting a spot down here and to start recording my album down here, so I should be out here pretty much all the time,” Ray J says.

And, of course, that also means performances from the artist who scored a No. 3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2008 with the track “Sexy Can I.”

“I’ll be grabbing the mic,” Ray J says. “I’m an entertainer that’s what I do.”

As partner, however, he’ll have to think business, too.

“I want to make sure to bring profits to the club,” Ray J says. “I want to make sure people buying bottles increases and people paying admission to get in increases. That’s what I’m praying will happen – not just having a good time, but for Mike and everyone at Club Poetry to make more money and to make sure that me being an investment to the club is a good investment.”

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