02/04/2014 Update: Nickolas Pilotta has taken to the radio airwaves to respond to our story. It should be noted, we stand behind our reporting 100%.
Anyone who has followed the socialite scene in Minneapolis surely has heard of a man named “LA Nik”, the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark” (City Pages 06/18/2012). I first heard of Nick when I started to see his name on concert flyers as a promoter for rock shows downtown. Being familiar with the industry I started to notice things that were a bit off. Sitting at an uptown bar, I overheard a conversation the bartender was having with a patron who identified himself as the general manager of prominent bar not too far away. They were talking about LA Nik and how he used to be in a ton of bands in Hollywood. The bartender inquired about which bands and the patron stated he used to be the drummer of the 1980′ sleeze band LA Guns. I thought to myself, I bet Steve Riley would disagree. Steve Riley, who had been the W.A.S.P. drummer, has been the drummer in LA Guns for almost 25 years. Previously, their drummer was Rob Gardner until the band merged with Hollywood Rose to form Guns N Roses. In 1985, Tracii Guns reformed LA Guns with Nickey Alexander who would bang the drums until the classic lineup of LA Guns was formed with Steve Riley on drums. Although, a man named Nic(Nickey to be correct) would drum for LA guns for 2 of their 30 years, this was not LA Nik. Certainly, I have no way of knowing if LA Nik was the one spreading this tale, but I do know no one has ever spread a rumor of me being a drummer for a successfully 80s Hollywood band. This would lead me down a road of similar stories. A man who would take a small similarity (in the LA Guns case, a similar first name) and pretend it was him.
LA Nik seemingly is a man who may mean well. But it’s hard to say what his real intentions are. If I had to take a guess, it seems to me his intuitions are to simply make a living – and he doesn’t want to do it the old-fashioned way. It was only recently that he appeared to try to monetize from his “notoriety”. In January, Nik released a press release stating the following:
New author, L.A. Nik, a career musician, promoter, and entrepreneur from West Hollywood, CA has authored a new book targeted at middle-aged people that have become stuck in a rut, struggling to achieve their dreams in life and work – seeking words of wisdom that are actually achievable points of traction.
Published by Cartus Press, “Life is Short, then you’re Dead Forever” is the culmination of a life of experience with people, careers, marriage, drugs, poverty and wealth. This book is a quick, energetic read that is intended for those that truly want to take away action points to apply to their life. It is refreshingly simplistic and delivered in a storytelling format. The author explores born-in “powers”, in the form of chapter titles that do not come easy for many, but are identifiable in all successful people.
Born Nickolas Pilotta and growing up and attending school in Delaware, his high school years were rough. He readily admitted to the Star Tribune in November of 2011, he’s “been called every name in the book, but I knew who I was going to be by the ninth grade“. This may be when he first decided to live the life of someone he’s not. In this same article, he tells the tale of his “rock star life” in Los Angeles:
He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, where he drummed in bands but never found stardom. Still, he lived the life. He opened a club, hung out with famous comedians and befriended hair-metal gods. I asked him if he did a lot of coke.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I was like Charlie Sheen. People were just throwing me 8-balls.”
Fast-forward to 2009: Nik was clean of drugs and working several angles, one of which brought him to the Twin Cities. He designed a mall kiosk called “Go Hollywood Live,” which allowed customers to record audition tapes for movies and TV shows. It lasted for eight months at the Mall of America. But he was here to stay.
While it may be true that he moved to Los Angeles in the 80s(he was 15 in 1980), there is no record of any of his stories ever taking place. For anyone who has lived or worked in Los Angeles or the 3.5 square miles that is Hollywood, they can tell you it’s a very very small world. Having spoke with numerous entertainment executives and long time Hollywood club promoters and owners, I was told over and over they’ve never heard of Nick nor do they recognize photos provided. He has no trail of ever being in a band, ever owning a club, ever working with a club, ever playing in a club, or ever being a part of the Hollywood music scene. However, it does appear while in California “living his charlie sheen life”, he would meet a girl, and eventually she’d become his wife – and his ex-wife. She attended school in the San Fernando Valley at Cal State Northridge in LA. After graduation, she would go on to be a writer at a small time diving magazine. Not long after, she would move with Nick to Florida. While in Florida, Nick and his girlfriend would buy a small home for $97,000 in West Palm Beach. About a year after, they would marry. A few years after that, Nick would attempt to run a few small car lots with names such as Delray Vintage Motors, S&N Car Care, etc. All would fail and leave Nick with various small claim judgements against him. It seems around 2003, things were going south. Nick would give up his home and divorce his wife. She would move with her new career as a production assistant for a small independent television production company. At this point, details again become murky. It’s now the late 2000’s and certainly no longer the 1980s. In any event, this was likely an uneventful time as well. Until he came to Minneapolis and became… LA NIK.
From all appearances, Nick arrived in Minneapolis in November 2008 when he signed a 3 month lease for his green screen talent booth at the Mall of America. From court documents filed by Nick, the purpose of the booth was to allow patrons of the mall to step into his unmanned booth to record a try out video that he claimed would then be shipped to talent agencies who are looking for reality contestants. He would pay for 3 months up front and then another 3 months up front. He would then convince the Mall of America to allow him to pay month to month by explaining that he may be selling his operation to “Interactive Media Group (IMG)” and if this happened they would be paying the entire upcoming years lease. For reasons unknown, Mall of America evicted Nick and removed his booth from the mall.
In November 2010 and after his eviction, Nick sued Mall of America stating they damaged his booth and caused him damages of more than $50,000. In the same court filings, Nick claims he has a deal in place to locate his booth in the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas with potential to be in every location in the United States – 3 others. Further, he stated that because of the damage to his booth he may lose a $1 million licensing deal with IMG to license the booth overseas. This is interesting because he previously stated he was planning on selling it to IMG rather than licensing. Also, by stating he may lose the deal implies he already has it landed. Lastly, he claims because of the damage to his booth, a “drone” version of the booth that he operates at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood can no longer function. When contacted, representatives for Mall of America stated they did not wish to comment on LA Nick or his talent booth. The Comedy Store did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
On April 28th, 2011, Minneapolis 2 Nite publishes the article “Q&A with Minneapolis’ L.A. Nik“. Nick offers this explanation about his green screen operation:
I have been in Minneapolis for a little over a year and a half, spending time in Kauai, Vegas and L.A. It all started with a patent I developed for a Green Screen Live Moving Video Booth. I built this booth, called GoHollywood Live, and I was trying to sell it to MGM Entertainment. They wanted to test it 2 weeks before Christmas. I called malls in LA and Vegas-everyone had a 4 month block out period for the holidays. I started calling malls all over the country and Mall of America said “Bring it, we’ll take it!””
While his side of the story sounds great, it’s not the truth. To put it bluntly, Nick has no patents in his name and certainly not one for “Green Screen Live Moving Video Booth”. There is also no evidence that “MGM Entertainment” was interested in his booth. In fact, assuming he was trying to refer to the famous MGM movie power house, the company “MGM Entertainment” hasn’t existed in this name form since 1985 when Turner Broadcasting bought MGM. Surely someone trying to sell his product would be aware of the name of the company he is trying to sell to.
Amazingly, there is a company out there that does do all the things Nick says he is doing. That company is called MyStudio and was founded by Larry Ryckman, an entertainment entrepreneur. Before serving as President and CEO of MyStudio, Larry founded QSound technology with super music industry veterans like Jimmy Iovine (Founder of Interscope Records and chairman of Geffen Records). Using his QSound technology, Mr. Ryckman oversaw the production of albums such as Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous”, Maddona’s “The Immaculate Collection” and Paula Abdul’s “Spellbound”. Ryckman would later sell his company, MyStudio, to Studio One where he remains a chairman. One of Studio One’s products is called the “MyStudio HD Recording Studio”:
Studio One introduced its first groundbreaking product in 2008 with the installation of its first MyStudio HD Recording Studio.
Studio One has developed MyStudio, a self contained, state-of-the-art, high definition interactive audio/video recording studio designed for installation in shopping malls and other high traffic areas. MyStudio offers groundbreaking quality from a proprietary/patents-pending, stand-alone recording studio with an ease and convenience never before available to the public. MyStudio and its accompanying website, MyStudio.net, incorporate into a single entertainment venue the best elements of the world’s leading Internet and entertainment properties: the video sharing convenience, the social networking appeal and the talent showcase of other well-known websites and television programs.
MyStudio enables a user, for a fee, to record up to a five-minute personalized video with professional-quality backdrops, lighting and sound. The studios feature Hollywood-style green screen technology.
It gets even more interesting when you look into what Studio One has been up to. From a August 10th, 2009 press release announcing their partnership with The Comedy Store:
Studio One Media, Inc. announced today that it has partnered with legendary comedy club, The Comedy Store, to create “The Comedy Store/MyStudio Comedy Challenge.” Contestants can enter the comedy challenge by recording a comedy video at Studio One’s MyStudio personal video recording studio located in the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale, Arizona and submitting it for entry at www.MyStudio.net. The comedian with funniest comedy video, as judged by The Comedy Store, will receive an all expenses paid trip to LA to perform on the main stage of The Comedy Store on the evening of Friday, September 18th.
Another press release from January 11th, 2010 mentioning they are again partnering with The Comedy Store. The same place that Nick claims his technology is at:
Studio One Media, Inc. announced today that it has once again partnered with legendary Hollywood comedy club, The Comedy Store, to create “The Comedy Store/MyStudio Comedy Challenge.” Contestants can enter the comedy challenge by recording a comedy video at Studio One’s MyStudio(R) video recording studios and submitting it for entry at www.MyStudio.net. The comedian with funniest comedy video, as judged by The Comedy Store, will perform on the main stage of The Comedy Store in Hollywood, California on the evening of March 26, 2010.
As far as Nicks $1 million dollar deal with Planet Hollywood? You guessed it, no deal. Of course, StudioOne has had multiple deals with Planet Hollywood over the years. Most recently in conjunction with Simon Cowell’s The X Factor television show allowing try out videos to be recorded and submitted from MyStudio kiosks inside Planet Hollywood.
I reached out to MyStudio founder Larry Ryckman and his publicist had the following to say on his behalf:
“We are not familiar with the individual nor his business.”
It’s like Nick decided to move to Minneapolis and sue the Mall of America by stealing the persona of another established company. He would then take that persona and continue this into everything he stands for in Minneapolis.
Over the years Nick has made several comments regarding a successfull nightclub he ran in Hollywood. He seems to have used this nightclub as his entire experience with the nightclub industry. He claims he made his living playing gigs at his club as well.
“A wealthy man that owned a lot of clubs in L.A. and he just gave me my own club. Next thing I know, I ran The Pleasure Dome, I had every rock star play in there like Slash and Axel for example. We gave away free breakfast at 6am. Then I got raided for selling after hours. That was the end of that.” – 04/28/11 “Q&A With Minneapolis’ L.A. Nik – Minneapolis 2 Night
Still, he lived the life. He opened a club, hung out with famous comedians and befriended hair-metal gods.” – 04/28/11 “Q&A With Minneapolis’ L.A. Nik – Minneapolis 2 Night
While there was a business in Hollywood called “The Pleasure Dome” that had to do with rock n roll there was certainly no music venue sharing the same name. The Pleasure Dome was a boutique clothing store that catered to the rock ‘n’ roll crowd. When speaking with Mark Danachick, who’s family owned The Pleasure Dome he had this to say:
I remember there was a sex shop in Hollywood also named the Pleasure Dome that sold sex toys because I was worried that my friends would think that was my families business. Also what comes to mind is a gay dance club that didn’t last very long with a similar name.
Nick claims the only reason he has never recorded an album or obtained a record deal was due to the music industry not wanting to pay him $5 million dollars for a deal. In a sit down interview with Minneapolis 2Nite he is asked if he had the opportunity to record a record
Did you ever have an opportunity to for a record deal? I had a record deal and they said to me “You want $5 million these guys over here want a six-pack and a Big Mac—we’re going with the Big Mac”. That’s what they called The Grunge Movement. Sound garden, Nirvana—played for free. Every band’s deal was about to expire. The only people that skated through is Motley Crue. They got a deal for $50M for 3 years, the day they signed them they said he we don’t want any of your albums—go ahead take the money. That money got them to start Crue Fest, that’s dead too now because they didn’t sell out. – 11/24/11 “Nightlife: LA Nik at Night” – Star Tribune
There are so many things wrong about this statement. First off, Nick implies that he was requesting a staggering $5,000,000 record deal. To put this number in perspective, during the time he is referring to as the “grunge movement”, Incubus had released their first 3 albums. They would all be certified 2x platinum by the RIAA, the rare award given to albums that reach a million copies sold. After selling almost 10 million copies of their first 3 albums, Incubus wanted to re-negotiate their initial record deal. Going into their 4th album, Incubus was given a 2 album $8,000,000 deal.
Second, Motley Crue never signed a $50 million dollar record deal for 3 years. Nor would anyone ever give a band money without getting anything in return. Motley Crue did however sign a very well documented $25 million dollar deal with Elektra. Elektra would pressure the band into keeping up with the changing trends in music(i.e., grunge, nu-metal). In doing so, the album was an absolute disaster. In fact, the album didn’t even feature original frontman Vince Neil. The album was easily the biggest commercial failure of the bands career. This was evident by the shows Motley Crue was playing at small clubs (i.e., First Avenue). By 1997, Motley Crue was an unsigned artist. Cruefest didn’t come around until 2008. To this day, 18 years since their last record deal, Motley Crue is not under contract with any major record label.
His lack of understanding or knowledge of the music industry is apparent very often. For example, in a post on his own blog regarding attending Warped Tour in Shakopee in 2011 he shares the following:
When I was playing in L.A. all through the 80’s and 90’s, the Warped Tour was not sponsored by Vans and it hosted the biggest, baddest bands they could find. Some of the biggest names have played in the Warped Tour. These days, its more about alternative music and smaller names. — 08/24/2011 Nick’s blog
Technically, this may be true. Only because there was no such thing as Warped Tour in the 80s and early 90s. Warped tour was created by Kevin Lyman in 1994, Vans has been the lead sponsor every year except for the initial year in 1994. As far as it hosting the “biggest, baddest bands they could find”? That was never the goal nor the result of any Warped Tour years. For instance, the first Warped Tour consisted of bands like No Doubt, Deftones, L7, No Use For A Name, Fluff, Sublime, Guttermouth, etc. Hardly the “biggest baddest” of bands. Smaller names and alternative music? It’s the exact opposite. Warped Tour has for years now produced some of the most hardcore/metal tours along with hosting the top-selling metal and rock artists out today.
On June 13th, 2012, Nick issued a press release titled “Letterman’s Late Show in Talks With L.A. Nik, “The Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark”. It went on to say:
L.A. Nik Is in Talks With “Late Night With David Letterman” Over His Midwest Public Figure Status and Upcoming Book, The “Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark”, as deemed by Minneapolis Star Tribune, is a complete fish-out-of-water character that continues to rise in popularity in Minneapolis, MN. A transplanted Hollywood rocker, the public figure has deemed himself an ambassador to downtown Minneapolis and is a respected voice across a diversified audience who has gained the attention of national talk show host David Letterman.
It immediately caused a stir around town with people questioning the validity of it. When asked by City pages why he put the release out his response was:
“Well remember, I didn’t put it out, my management put it out. I didn’t know they were going to put it out, and I wouldn’t have, because it’s not a complete story. But there’s nothing untrue in that press release. I got a call from a segment producer — they called me, I didn’t call them. I’m on stage every day. I’m not playing a role, but I’m on stage walking down the street. On any given night, about 100 people will come up and shake my hand. Every manager of every restaurant and bar, every suit.”
This is all too fitting. At least he understands the street is the closest he has ever been to a stage and the closest he will ever get to one. I don’t know if this was an angry response to the reporter’s question or if he was serious. All I can say is I have seen Nick out at night and hardly is every manager and a hundred people rushing to shake the mans hand.
We reached out to Worldwide Pants Incorporated, the producers of David Letterman, but received no response on requests for comment. He never appeared on David Letterman.
We could go on and on with more stories such as his unsolicited video he tried to sell as him promoting the Metro Transit. Or maybe his “danger zone” map. Or maybe his attacking the city after not allowing him to be involved in marketing decisions. Interestingly enough, it seems he was always just one step away from the entertainment career he thrived – everyone around him was constantly a step ahead. Whether it be his photographer girlfriend or his television producer ex-wife. After all, who really cares who or what Nickolas Pilotta is or does. Life goes on with or without him. He can choose to use his manufactured fame for good, profit, or evil. It appears he has tried to use it for good, being an advocate for our beautiful city. He also is currently trying to use it for profit, with his bizarre life story books. What’s next for Delaware Nickolas? Only time will tell….
Have you had run-ins with Nick? We’d love to hear them. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
SW and TR also contributed to this story.