WEST PALM BEACH – As one of the core group of sharks on the Shark Tank television show since its inception in 2009, Daymond John keeps abreast of the latest product pitches. He and a panel of other investors listen to presentations from entrepreneurs, then decide whether to invest in their companies.
John has become a millionaire from his astute involvement in this and various other ventures. He was the founder of the hugely successful FUBU hip hop clothing brand. He’s the founder and CEO of The Shark Group, a brand management and consulting firm. He is an author and motivational speaker and sells an online training course. Even AARP is offering a chance for four of its 38 million members to win a “power meeting with Daymond John to talk careers and entrepreneurship.”
For his next venture, John, 50, oddly will be “hosting” for one night at a West Palm Beach strip club. Two large billboards near Spearmint Rhino off North Military Trail near Okeechobee Boulevard are promoting Saturday’s appearance. They feature John’s image, looking like one cool cat in a black suit and equally dark shades, crisp white shirt and black tie.
Women answering the phone at the club have a pat spiel, stating the name of the club and quickly adding that John will be hosting there and the date. Inside the club, patrons can pick up bookmarks that mimic the billboards featuring the entrepreneur whose net worth has been estimated at up to $300 million.
An entrepreneur and a bawdy bar seem like an odd pairing to some, akin to pork rinds and Dom Perignon, or a tuxedo and flip-flops.
“What is the point of him doing this?” wondered Andrew Blum, a New York PR consultant specializing in high-profile clients and crisis management. “I can’t see what it does for him.”
But, he added, “Unless his appearance gets national publicity or he promotes it nationally, I don’t see it having a lot of impact on his brand.”
Said Cheryl Burke Jarvis, chair of Florida Atlantic University’s marketing department: “There must be some benefit to both [parties] in their marketing efforts.”
Maybe. But normally when strip clubs feature a celebrity guest, it’s somebody like a porn performer. Stormy Daniels, for example, has been capitalizing on her purported tryst with President Trump by appearing at strip clubs. (Roger Stone, former adviser to the president, followed suit, albeit fully attired, while he awaits trial on obstruction of justice and other charges).
Spearmint Rhino is no different than other strip clubs in this regard. One week after John’s appearance, it will have a porn actress named Tori Black appearing for two nights. And a week before John shows up, a “fetish queen” by the name of Rubber Doll was to perform. Her website says she “combines cutting-edge kink with sultry sex appeal.”
So why Daymond John?
Is he looking to invest in garter belts? Body glitter? Chokers?
Will he be mentoring a pole dancer who yearns to open a dance studio? Or a novelty line of gymnastics equipment?
Will Spearmint Rhino customers get a Q&A along with T&A?
John isn’t saying. He didn’t respond to emails and a voicemail seeking enlightenment.
A manager at Spearmint Rhino referred questions to the corporate office in California, where the chain of 17 U.S. strip clubs, plus another half-dozen in the United Kingdom and Australia, is based. Silence there, too.
Brian Gross has been a California publicist for the adult entertainment industry for more than 20 years. He was astonished to hear about John’s foray to a flesh palace. “That’s a first,” he said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s definitely outside the box.”
What John’s hosting at Spearmint Rhino entails isn’t clear, but a talent booking agency that represents him says on its website that he commands $50,000 to $100,000 per speaking engagement.
The club must believe John will bring in some big spenders. General admission is $50, plus a $4.67 fee. The admission fee typically is $10. A “meet & greet VIP package” costs $2,000, plus a $123.38 fee. That permits entry for six people, a table and bottle service – two bottles – and an opportunity to meet John.
Maybe John will uncover some promising business ideas from local entrepreneurs who pay for the VIP package. Maybe they will be exposed to some of his most revealing business insights. And maybe nobody will be able to hear each other over the music and the DJ.
Regardless, it’s yet another venue for the versatile New York City native.
“There is a saying that any publicity is good publicity,” Blum said. “I don’t necessarily agree with that. This is kind of a head scratcher.”