It sounds a little like an angry bee. The tattoo needle doing it's job. The job it's doing right now is on a young women's butt, "freshening up" a couple of cherries. Nice work. And so are the tattoos. The name of the place is Vince Neil Ink, and for rock and roll aficionados, it is "that" Vince Neil, lead singer for 80's rock mega band, Motley Crue.
"I was walking down the Strip, and I got out my phone, and I called Vince. I said, 'Dude, we want to open a tattoo parlor, and I want to do it with you.' " Don Marrandino and I are chatting under a rather large picture of some kind of animal with it's tongue sticking out, and there's a blaring TV with Motley Crue videos playing.
He also happens to be the President of Harrah's and the Flamingo. He raises his voice a little, "It's one of the great pieces of real estate on the Strip. Thirty-five thousand people a day walk by this store front."
And allot of them have tattoos, or want to have tattoos. And that's what Vince Neil is counting on. At 46, Neil is trying to find his next act, a non-musical one.
"I'll always be the 'music guy'. But right now I'm looking for something new. I like taking a new thing and building it and seeing what happens. I could just retire and play golf, but I tried that already a couple of times and it just doesn't work. It's not me."
Neil and I are spending the day together. He wants to show me his business plan for his future. It includes motorcycles, tequila, tattoos and a restaurant.
"When I look at that tequila bottle I see my retirement." We've switched locations now. We've left the tattoo parlor and we're sitting at the outdoor bar at La Salsa. Neil, who no longer drinks himself, has made a deal with them for a "branded" bar area. Vince it turns out is now in the tequila business. Tres Rios is the name and for an 18 month old operation he has surprising distribution.
"This is great stuff. We've run blind taste tests of 80 or more tequila's and we're always near the top."
Neil has not left music behind. He still performs with Motley Crue, packing stadiums around the country as so many "old" rock bands are these days. When they're not touring, he has his own band which plays small clubs.
But what he has learned over the years is that the good times don't last forever and that you had better be ready for whatever is next. So that's what he's doing now. That's why we're visiting this custom motorcycle shop. He's creating a line of four different bikes, each themed after one of the better known Motley Crue songs.
"We're painting the lyrics of the songs on the front forks. It's so small that from a distance it looks like pin striping." Bikes, tattoos, tequila? Oh yeah, he's opening a "themed" restaurant in Florida soon. Guess what the theme is.
"What we're trying to do is build a brand. They're all things I love, or used to love, and now we're letting other people get into them too." I wonder how those cherries would look on my....
"MOA" is in San Diego the rest of the week, and set your Tivo's!!!! A 'Mike On America' hour special on Christmas morning at 9 am eastern.
Hey, they look cute there.
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