Turntable Legend DJ Hollywood Wades Into Uncharted Waters

Don’t let his name fool you: DJ Hollywood is a true Las Vegas nightlife veteran. Born Lee Vlastaris, he got his start DJing at 14 in his hometown of Atlantic City, and at 19 moved to Las Vegas, where he became a man of firsts: He was one of the first DJs to use CDJs in a major nightclub; he opened an eponymous restaurant (DJ Hollywood’s Pizza & Gyros); and he was the first music director of Drai’s Afterhours. He put in serious hours as the Pure Management Group program director from 2004-2009. Most importantly, however, he’s known as the originator of the Party Rock, open-format style of DJing. Recently, the 41-year-old achieved another personal first: He produced his first original track.

What does this first track mean for your career trajectory?

I just started. I’m gonna be doing everything from EDM to hip-hop. I’ll be [producing as] DJ Hollywood. I thought about going under an alter ego, but I want to capitalize on the tiny bit of fame I’ve gotten over the years.

The whole thing is a gamble, because—who knows?—maybe the tracks will flop. But at least I can say I did it. I’m releasing an EDM track, “Industry Champion,” at the end of February; the next one will be an electro anthem and the third will be future house. I hope to have everything ready to go by spring and be full-fledged by summer.

Any other new Vlastaris ventures?

I just started a partnership with Howard Weiss, who does nightlife for M Gaming and the Tropicana. At one point, he was the regional vice president of pool and nightlife operations at Caesars Entertainment, and he left to become vice president at Penn National Gaming, which was a monstrous move.

We’re gonna be putting together festivals under [my artist-management company]. Hard Rock is another contract, and we’ll continue working with SLS, M Resort and Tropicana. We’re picking up accounts left and right, and everybody wants to be part of the excitement.

[When it comes to DJ Hollywood], I’ll be doing gigs all over the city as usual. I’m in negotiations for more residencies. I have to work harder now, because so many young kids are killing it.

I’ve got a residency at Foxtail in SLS. A friend [Matt Minichino, vice president of nightlife] books all the entertainment there, and asked me if I wanted to come aboard. In the last couple of years, I’ve spun at the Pool in Atlantic City, Liv Nightclub in Miami, and several major nightclubs across the country. I do it just for me, to keep my head going, stay in the game and keep the passion alive.

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Many would say we’re now partying in a post-EDM world. What do your sets consist of?

I’ve kept it the same since DJ Frankie [Anobile] and I created the Party Rock format. You might know that as open-format now. We play everything—old-school pop, EDM, hip-hop—mixed into one set. When [former] Mayor Oscar Goodman proclaimed December 23 as DJ Hollywood Day, part of the proclamation was ‘one of the founders of the party rock set.’

I’ve tweaked my format here and there. I still always play ’80s rock ’n’ roll, but I’ve introduced more EDM. EDM is in its downfall; everything that goes up must come down. Open format is huge right now. If you’re not open format, you’re not gonna last. [Party Rock] caters to everybody—whether you are from Iowa, Georgia, Florida or even international. It’s one way to give everybody what they want.

It’s been awhile since you were in the limelight. Where have you been?

I’ve been working on artist management, mainly with DJs and celebrities. I’ve been doing it since the early 2000s, when it was made popular. In 2009, I left my post at Pure, and launched the BeatClan. This gave me the opportunity to pick and choose my own DJ gigs as Hollywood, though my focus is primarily on artist management and talent buying.

[The BeatClan] has a longstanding contract with all Caesars-owned venues. We manage the Pool After Dark [in Harrah’s Resort] in Atlantic City, which was voted Megaclub of the Year [by AC Weekly] in 2011. We’ve booked everybody from Paris Hilton to Scott Disick. [In Las Vegas,] Caesars doesn’t own Omnia, so we cover everything else.

How did the name come about?

Being a DJ and producer, I’ve always loved the word “beat.” I always traveled with a huge group or entourage, and people would call us a “clan.” So we put the two words together when we were throwing names around. I’m still not exactly sure why we settled on that. [Laughs].

How did your radio show, Hollywood Boulevard, start on KLUC 98.5-FM?

I started doing guest mixes in 1997 as part of my good friend DJ Frankie’s show on Friday nights. I did that for two years and then launched my own program, Hollywood Boulevard, on Sunday nights. It was No. 1 in the nation in its time slot, and people from everywhere were tuning in. That relationship is still alive. KLUC puts on a festival called Summer Jam. I produced the last one, which was two years ago. They’re in talks to do another one this year, and I’m gonna help produce it. With Vegas being a transient city, I’m lucky to have built such great relationships with these people, and to have them withstand all the rain and thunderstorms in our lives.

Let’s not forget another of life’s firsts: You just became a father, right?

I’ve got a 3-month-old boy. He’s a tiny DJ who hangs out with his dad in the studio all the time. He better be ready for all of this.

DTLV

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