Writer Corey Levitan Does Craziest Jobs in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Writer Pads Resume With Crazy Jobs

Apr 26, 2010 – 11:41 AM
David Moye

David Moye Contributor

(April 23) -- In this economy, any good job is a good job -- even when your job is to do as many crazy jobs as possible.

And that's how Corey Levitan earns his keep.

Levitan is a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and his specialty is tackling the most bizarre jobs that Sin City has to offer.

Since his first column appeared in January 2007, Levitan has performed a wide variety of tasks, including washing sperm, being a go-go dancer in a gay nightclub and impersonating Sonny Bono at a blackjack table.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
9 photos
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Corey Levitan takes a different job each month and had great success being a Sonny Bono impersonator until it came time to do the other half of his job: dealing blackjack.
Corey Levitan's Odd Jobs
Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Corey Levitan takes a different job each month and had great success being a Sonny Bono impersonator until it came time to do the other half of his job: dealing blackjack.
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Review-Journal

He has even spent time working as a prison guard.

It's a crazy job doing all sorts of crazy jobs, but Levitan relishes the opportunities. Plus, there's a pragmatic reason.

"I feel lucky just to have a job," he said. "Especially with what's happening in the newspaper industry."

There's another reason Levitan is willing to pad his reporting resume with all sorts of offbeat job skills, such as cleaning the windows on skyscrapers or being a madam at a Nevada brothel or a "breast mister" at a topless pool at the Venetian hotel: fear.

"I am a chicken s***," Levitan admitted. "My tombstone would have read, 'This dude did NOTHING,' if I hadn't decided to do everything I'm afraid of. And Las Vegas is a natural choice to do this. There are 20 crazy jobs on every corner -- and they're real jobs."

For instance, the aforementioned "breast mister" position. Levitan's job was to help spray female guests with water droplets to cool them off in the hot Vegas sun.

In theory, it seems simple enough, but "theory" never met Levitan.

"The last straw for my misting career began when I could not adequately reach a woman named Kayla -- even after pumping up the Misty Mate for added pressure," Levitan said. In an effort to provide the best customer service possible, he borrowed a tip from his trainer and took off the attachment that makes the mist.

He missed misting Kayla and ended up soaking some male customers who didn't want to be misted. His boss-for-the-day was so ticked off, he practically fired Levitan on the spot.

"They eliminated the position a week later, but I don't know if it had anything to do with me," he said.

It's probably just as well it didn't work out. Levitan admits his columns work best when he is placed in a position that is as uncomfortable as possible, something he learned earlier in his journalism career while writing for a Los Angeles publication, the Daily Breeze.

Levitan was hired as a music journalist, something he had experienced thanks to his earlier stints writing for Circus magazine in the late 1980s ("I loved THAT job. I was just out of college and got to experience the whole Led Zeppelin in a limo thing -- except it wasn't with Led Zeppelin, it was with Slaughter and Warrant."). But he would fill in with other articles when needed.

In one case, he was sent to cover a nearby nudist camp. However, the folks there weren't interested in being interviewed by someone in shorts.

"I realized this might be a good first-person story, so I did the whole story completely naked," Levitan said. "I covered the nudist colony completely uncovered and was chased around by some perv who looked like LBJ. I was completely awkward and out of my element, and it was a hilarious story."

At that point, he had a brainstorm: Do something where you'll be awkward and you'll have a great story.

This was in 1997, and Levitan spent the next few years conquering his fears by skydiving, being an extra in a porn film (no sex; he played the victim of a mob hit and his only lines were muffled by the gag around his mouth) and going back to middle school as a student -- except this time, he was popular.

In 2005, the Review-Journal hired him and asked him to focus his column on jobs, a different one weekly at first, and then once a month.

That was fine with him since he is a longtime admirer of writer George Plimpton, who tried a similar stunt by auditioning for the Detroit Lions (which was turned into a popular book, "Paper Lion," and later a movie starring Alan Alda).

But that's where the similarity ends.

"I'm more George Costanza than George Plimpton," he admitted.

Levitan picks situations he has no right being in. He says he used to prepare for them but now doesn't.

"I'm the only guy who makes a living out of a lack of skills," he said.

Maybe that's good, because on the occasions when he does prepare, it doesn't work out, such as the time he tried doing stand-up comedy after taking lessons for three months.

"But that was because it was something I might actually be able to do," he said. "A lot of my jokes were stuff that would have gotten 'LOLs' if I had posted them on Facebook, but there are other skills that come into play."

Levitan also spent a few days brushing up on junior high Spanish for his stint as a Spanish-language news announcer. But even that didn't work. When asked on-air how he enjoyed the experience, he replied in a stentorian tone worthy of Fidel Castro, using a phrase he had learned from a newspaper co-worker: "El elefante se comio mis calzones!" (An elephant ate my underwear.)

Some experiences work out better than others. His upcoming column is about his experience going back to Little League as a 45-year-old man.

"None of the kids knew what was happening, but I did a good job," he said. "I blasted a double. However, I don't know if I could get a job playing Little League."

And when he impersonated Sonny Bono, he was thrilled at how well he was received for his performance.

"It's surprising how the placement of facial hair on me turned me into one of the ugliest men in showbiz," he said. "I have an OK singing voice and I've been in bands, so I knocked it out of the park. I was feeling great, until I remembered that the job also required me to be a 'dealer-tainer' and deal blackjack afterwards.

"Believe it or not, I live in Vegas, but I've never played blackjack. In fact, I didn't even know when I had blackjack. So the pit boss wanted to pull me because they were losing money and the players wanted me to stay because they were winning with me."

Unlike other job applicants, Levitan says he can't actually apply for his offbeat positions -- the folks doing the hiring have to offer him a job.

"If I make the cold call, I am always rejected. That's because I get the low-level person who won't get any benefits from saying yes, but will take the heat if it doesn't work out -- although no one has complained about any of my stories."

That means there are still jobs he covets. For instance, Levitan performed weddings in California but hasn't been able to marry any couples in Las Vegas, because the law in that state requires a minister with a church affiliation.

"It's strange that the law is so restrictive since it's possible to get oral sex legally 45 minutes away from town," Levitan said.

And that brings up another position Levitan would like: male prostitute. The Shady Lady Ranch in Tonopah, Nev., recently hired a guy as the first legal male prostitute in America; while Levitan wanted to be the second, the madam wouldn't hear of it.

"That guy's not there anymore, so I guess it won't happen," Levitan said, adding that at least he won't be in the uncomfortable position of explaining THAT job to his wife.