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5 minutes with Joel Johnson

Billionaire boy

Get a taste of the good life—or maybe just some high-end bourbon and cigars. For the last ten years, Joel Johnson has headed up the Lincoln Park Young Professionals, a social-networking club that holds monthly sponsored events (a businesslike approach entertainment), from wine tastings to extravagant dinners at museums. Johnson is taking this concept to a higher level with a series of events called the Billionaire Boys Club, which launches Friday 22 outside the NBC Tower. If you have trouble finding it, just look for the raffle cars, including a Porsche 911 convertible. The event benefits the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Auxiliary Board.

Is the Billionaire Boys Club just for boys?
No, boys and women—and it's open to the public.
How did LPYP get started?
Me and some buddies of mine from Michigan State were on all these different charity boards and we'd do these great events at the Shedd, the Art Institute—and then I wouldn't see them again for another year. So I took the concept and said, "I could do this monthly." We had our first event at Tiffany's—we wanted to make it more upscale versus just going to the bar to have a draft beer—and we got 450 [guests] by word of mouth.
Is it strange to be enticing people to live like a billionaire in a time of war?
[The event] is basically to feature upscale products—we're featuring Taste America Catering, McCallum Whiskey. There's a lot of issues going on, and we're here to get people out and be social. Actually, after 9/11 happened—it was a Tuesday—I was having my lobster/clambake at Joe's [on Weed] on Friday, and when all the airlines stopped, I couldn't get any of my lobsters from Boston. So I had about 50 friends go to local restaurants and we bought lobsters and put them in everyone's trunk. We had about 950 [people] that Friday—I was shocked. They used it as their first night out after 9/11.—LAeah Pietrusiak

The Billionaire Boys Club is Friday 22.

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