Fashion, Beauty, Celebrities, Events + Things We Love

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Girl Power Hour Blog: Behind The Scenes With Cy Waits


Recently, my business partner Kassie Edwards and I were fortunate enough to host nightlife mogul Cy Waits in Seattle. We provided all his travel arrangements, hospitality and Public Relations while he was in town.  I wrote an article on him for the March 2012 DLIST Magazine and got to know him on a very personal level.  It was a great experience and I wanted to make sure to share it with my GPH gals!  Cy was an absolute pleasure to work with. He’s extremely intelligent, very polite and devilishly handsome.  It’s definitely no surprise to me that he rose from the bottom up, to meteoric success in his industry. Here are excerpts from my interview with one of Extra’s  Most Eligible Bachelors. {To read the interview in full, please visit}

Maile Cabral & Kassie Edwards with Cy at his cover shoot.


Cy Waits opens up to Maile Cabral Hager about his meteoric rise in the nightlife Industry, what it takes to be successful, and what he’s up to now.

Cy Waits is undoubtedly one of the most successful nightlife and club entrepreneurs in the world.  Recently, I had the honor of speaking with Cy discussing his meteoric rise to the top of the Las Vegas and Hollywood nightlife scene.    Cy Waits was at one-time an owner and partner at club XS in Las Vegas. XS is located inside the Encore Las Vegas, which is owned by the Wynn Resorts Holds, LLC and it has been widely speculated to be one of the most expensive clubs in the world, with an estimated value of over $100 million.   He was also a partner in Tryst Nightclub, also located in the Wynn.  Currently his twin brother, Jesse Waits, manages and oversees both of the clubs. However, when Cy was still overseeing operations at XS and Tryst he most notably helped club XS earn the number one spot in the Top 100 ranking in the Nightclub & Bar magazine's annual list.    

Early in his career Cy learned the ins and outs of the industry when he was with the historic House of Blues (HOB).   Here he learned all the basic elements of nightlife that he would need later in his career.   He began building a foundation of knowledge and experience by working every job in the front of the house as well as the kitchen of The House of Blues restaurant, to working within their nightclub, at concerts and even with the Foundation Room.   His four year stint with them began when he was hired as a security guard, to work the front door.  On his days off Cy would come in and learn about anything he could, from lighting to sound to the kitchen.   Eventually, the corporate headquarters saw something special in Cy and promoted him to General Manager and he travelled the United States opening new venues for them.   When asked about his successful career with HOB Cy said, “As long as you work hard and work harder than anybody else, you will surpass everyone. You can be anyone you want to be. I came from nothing and look where I got”.  

After his time with House of Blues, Cy’s next stop was as Assistant Manager at Tabu Ultra Lounge in Las Vegas. “At the time, Tabu was very edgy and very fashionable.  We were the first to have model waitresses and model staff.  It was the first ultra lounge, which is a concept we created.  I worked very hard for them and within a year was promoted to General Manager based on my work ethics,” Cy says.   Moving from a corporate job with House of Blues to Tabu was risky, but he insists that, “You can’t be afraid to take chances.” He stayed with them for three years.

From there, Cy’s professional accolades include a six year partnership with Victor Drai, and helping Drai turn around his afterhour’s club named Drai’s inside Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon in Las Vegas. After a successful turnaround in Las Vegas, Cy helped Victor Drai bring Drai’s to Hollywood and secured a successful opening for the brand in Los Angeles.  Cy has also been a managing partner in the past at Botero restaurant inside Encore Las Vegas, which took him from the nightclub industry to the restaurant industry. His most recent venture is “The Agency” in Hollywood, which is a smaller, invitation  only venue built for celebrities.  He was even named one of Extra’s “America’s Most Eligible Bachelors”. 

DLIST Magazine and I were honored to bring this nightlife mentor to Seattle for an exclusive interview and photo shoot for the magazine.  Here are excerpts with my interview with Cy where he talks about his rise in the nightlife industry, how he got started, and even about his relationship and breakup with Paris Hilton.

Maile:  So Cy, how has your visit to Seattle been so far?

Cy:  Everything has been great so far. I love it! It’s been cold and it rained, but people are still very friendly. It’s a very fashion forward place and a very romantic city.

Maile: Have you ever visited here before?

Cy:  No, but surprisingly I have a lot of friends out here. I’m getting a lot of calls and texts from people.

Maile: Yeah, your friends and your fans are definitely learning through the grapevine that you are in town! How do you feel about having fans here?

Cy:  I am very appreciative of how I have been treated here. I’m surprised at how many fans I have in Seattle.

Maile:  How did your photo shoot go? Were you nervous?

Cy:  It was a lot of fun. I have done several photo shoots before and it was very easy and everyone was fun to work with. I loved the energy in the DList Magazine office. So far, you guys are genuinely the favorite that I’ve work with so far.  I was very tired but you guys made it effortless for me. The photographer was great and I wasn’t nervous in front of the camera. Everyone was just easy, no one had attitudes.

Maile: Most of the clothes at the shoot were a locally created brand called Built For Man by Francisco Hernandez.  How did you like the locally based clothing line we styled you in? 

Cy:  His shirts really fit me like a glove. He makes great clothes for me, because I am into fitness. I’m not a body builder but I am a fit guy.  He puts a lot of thought and complexity into his designs and its clear he designs for people that are fit and into their health. I appreciate that. For men’s clothing this guy is the best, really he’s a genius.

Maile: After the shoot you picked up some one-of-a-kind pieces from Built For Man, as well as some of his other pieces which are available at The Finerie, in downtown Seattle. Are you excited about them?

Cy:  Yes, this city is a great place to go shopping in. I was surprised to see how many talented local designers there are.

Maile: Have you read DList Magazine before?

Cy:  I think DList is a great magazine for people in the nightlife industry. I’ve read a couple of the magazines and they are very good. They know what is going on, they are very hip and on trend.  The magazine is not out in L.A. or Vegas, but from now on, I will watch what they are doing up here in Seattle.

Maile:  Your accolades are pretty impressive.  Tell me what getting started in the nightclub industry was like for you.

Cy:  I started as a security guard at a club in Las Vegas, and moved my way up to Management from there. Really, I dabbled in all aspects of the industry. I’ve worked in every aspect, from security to bar back, to bartender, and even lighting. I’ve never worked exclusively as a DJ, but I watched and learned what they do. I came in on my days off to observe what is going on and put a lot of time in. I would also go out and market the clubs on my own, hand out flyers and try to bring more business in.

Maile: So, Seattle’s nightlife has its pro’s and con’s.  What advice can you give to anyone about being successful in the nightlife industry?

Cy:  You have to know your market, and what your market wants. And then, be unique.  I also think being honest and cutting out the B.S. is important. Be very motivated and be the best. Make sure you do everything right. Build a great foundation and after that take care of it. Address all the elements you need to be a success.  Really, it’s a lot of hard work. 

Maile: What is your key to a successful nightclub?

Cy:  Keeping it sexy is vital, keeping it warm. The attention needs to be on the club itself and not the entertainment at the club.  Having the act is the cherry on top.  People want to come somewhere where they know they are going to be treated well, every night and not just when there is  a headline act is in town.  Your customers need to know what to expect when they come in.  They need to feel comfortable.”

Maile:  What is the best way to make your customers feel comfortable in your club?

Cy:   There are many elements that play a role in keeping people comfortable. The venue needs to have good flow.  Your staff has to be very well trained and the venue needs to be clean.   Organization and communication with your staff and team is key.  Be consistent and have the integrity to run your club the same from night to night. Having the lighting just right, and perfect, is really important. You can’t have the wrong lighting no one wants to go into a club that is too dark because it’s scary.  You want them to feel safe in your club and when they feel safe, they are comfortable. The colors in the venue also have to be sexy. If you use the wrong colors people will want to leave.  They will feel more comfortable with warm colors that make them feel like they are in their own living room.  Don’t just paint your club black.

Maile: What kind of crowd do you want in your clubs?

Cy:  A sexy crowd is definitely important. But more than that, controlling your crowd is also key.  The patrons you let in the door have to respect the staff and the other patrons.  As an operator, you have to constantly stay on top of your crowd. You can’t let hooligans in even if you have a slow night.  If the night is slow, accept the fact that it is slow and keep the crowd sexy even if it means less numbers through the door.   In Vegas we have to keep a balance between the table and bottle buyers and the ticket buyers who are more of a filler crowd.  In Seattle, you would want to make sure to keep the right balance between premium drinkers and your filler crowd drinking the well specials.

Maile: Do you make an effort to maintain relationships with your guests?

Cy:  Yes, building and maintaining relationships with customers is crucial.  You have to make them feel at home.  Everyone wants to be where they feel the most comfortable.  Also, I try to be the best at anything I do and I  am always be open to learning more. You have to really learn the business and be willing to change in order to stay ahead of what’s going on.  Otherwise you’ll fall behind everyone else. You need to be ahead of the curve.

Maile: How do you stay ahead of the curve and keep things interesting at your venues?

Cy:  It’s a lifestyle. You have to live the nightlife. I think most professionals live the lifestyle of their industry. You have to keep your finger on the pulse.  I am involved day to day and am a strong operator.  I also observe what is going on.   I talk to a lot of people and see what they like and what they dislike.   I talk to cab drivers or anyone really and ask them what they think and I listen to their responses.  I also travel and watch what other clubs are doing.

Maile: Do you think nightclub owners in Seattle can be successful?

Cy:  Yes, absolutely.  I brought a nightclub to Macau, where a nightclub had never been done before and we were very successful.  If you follow the right recipe, you can be successful anywhere.  Make sure you hire and keep the right staff.  Each of your staff members are key marketing tools for your club.  Your waitresses are better than any billboard, and being in touch with your staff is more important than anything.  You want to look at your waitress and know that you want that look and you would want their friends to come in too.

Maile: What’s the biggest mistake other club owners make?

Cy:  It’s a lot of things. There is a formula and a recipe to a successful nightclub.  It comes with the details like the sound and lighting and the temperature of the club.  The flow that’s in there is important and the staff and the way people run their door.  You can’t let other people run your clubs for you.  Marketing is very important and partner with the right people, the right magazines the right billboards.  Figure out what works best in your city for your demographic.

Maile: What’s your most important marketing tool?

Cy:   Employees are your most important marketing.  Treating your employee’s right is imperative.  You have to dress them well and pay them well.  Listen to your employees concerns and have them come up with solutions.  They get it, they are right there in the middle of it.  Sometimes, their solutions will make sense. When they give you solutions, it’s a win-win situation when you solve something together.

Maile: Do you use hosts or promoters to boost your business?

Cy:  Yes, hosting and promoting is a profession in Las Vegas. They make a ton of money and take it seriously.  They are very well respected in the community because nightlife is the number one industry in Las Vegas.

Maile: Coming from a guy who started at the bottom and worked his way up, what’s it like now getting to meet all the hottest celebrities day in and day out at your venues?

Cy:  They are just like anyone else. They are people too. There are some nice ones and some not nice ones.

Maile: Vegas and L.A. always gets the world’s best DJs.   Who are some of your favorites?

Cy:  I have several of them. I have so many favorites right now.  I really like all types of music but EDM is everything right. I love Avicii, a Swedish house music star. I also love Tiesto, Alesso and Rehab. Manufactured Superstars, are good DJs.  I really like Morten Breum.  This guy Travis Emmons out of L.A. is a great local DJ too.  There are really too many to list. I’m really fortunate that I am able to get some of the best DJs in the world, like Deadmou5, to play at The Agency in Hollywood, in such an intimate setting.

Maile: I’m guessing your Blackberry never stops ringing. How do you deal with all the communications? Do you use an assistant, or do you just attend to everything yourself?

Cy:  I like doing it myself because I don’t want anything being mis-communicated, which could be really bad.

Maile: So tell me, what’s next for you?  Are you working on anything outside the nightlife industry?

Cy:  I have a music studio I’m working on. I’ve been asked to work on one of Jenny McCarthy’s upcoming shows.  I love good food so I’m working on a few restaurants.   I feel most comfortable staying with what I know best.  I wouldn’t mind doing other stuff but it just seems nightlife is what I am best at.

Maile: Would you consider acting, modeling, singing?

Cy:  Not so much. I don’t want to be famous. I like to stay a little more low key.  I like to be behind the scenes.

Maile: Kassie and I were honored to attend your charity events you partnered on with Roc Nation after the Grammys this year.  The event included performances from DJ Sebastian Ingrosso, Rihanna, Chris Lake, Calvin Harris and Deadmou5.  How did you feel the event went?

Cy:  It went great. I’ve worked with the House of Blues so many times before and most of the people or additional staff I brought in were from my new club, The Agency.  My management team Misty Mansouri and JP did a great job.  Really my entire staff was great; I couldn’t have done such a great job without them.

Maile: I appreciate what you do professionally. Can we talk a little about you? I know that you’re a very private person. Have you always been that way?

Cy:  I try not to blend or mix the two, my personal life and professional life.  It’s the lifestyle I live, it’s hard. But I like to come home and protect those small things, the little things that you do have in your private life. I don’t like to be completely accessible.

Maile: What’s it like when you were single trying to meet people in L.A. and Vegas?

Cy:  Well it’s not hard, you meet lots of people.  But that’s part of the problem is that you meet a lot of people but you never know what their intentions are.

Maile: I have to ask, are you currently dating?

Cy:  Yes, I am dating.

Maile: What do you find most attractive in a woman?

Cy:  She has to be secure about herself and I like women that are soft and sweet.

Maile: I know the million dollar question for our female readers is about your relationship and break-up with Paris Hilton. Tell me about that?

Finish reading this article at Girl Power Hour. CLICK HERE to read complete interview.

Interview by Maile Cabral Hager, Cabral Edwards Management.  To reach Maile for comments or questions please contact her at or tweet with her @MailePRMedia.

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