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“Oh mein Gotte! Oh mein Gotte! Oh mein Gotte!” squeals Bill Kaulitz, the 18-year-old glamtastic frontman of German emo-metal-pop band Tokio Hotel. His hands, with fingertips pointing towards the casino ceiling, flap against each other like hummingbird wings, his Sonic the Hedgehog coif is too stiff to keep up with his bobbing head.

It’s the final hand of Tokio Hotel’s day at a Hamburg casino, where they have decided to ruthlessly gamble the $848 Blender generously provided them. Laid out before Kaulitz are the ace of diamonds and jack of spades. The singer’s eyes, lined like a raccoons with smokey kohl makeup, widen as he lets out a high-pitched “Woooaaahhh! Blackjack!” Gasping for air, he declares through a translator, “I made so much money in such a short time, I’m going to start gambling professionally. Good bye Rock & Roll!”

As Kaulitz and his band members – identical twin and guitarist Tom, bassist Georg Listing, 21, and drummer Gustav Shäfer, 19 – edge away from the gambling table, a swarm of casino employees appear out of nowhere, bearing sheets of paper and pens, faces fixed with hesitant smiles. The boys, who have sold 6 million CDs and DVDs worldwide and packed arena throughout Europe, are used to the attention.

In the controlled environment of the casino, closed off for their personal use, the frenzy that typically envelopes Tokio Hotel (think The Beatles circa 1964 or Backstreet Boys circa 1997) has been expertly headed off – there are vows of secrecy from the staff, vans with blacked out windows and bodyguards who sweep the area before the band’s arrival. The security measures are as much for the boys as for their fans. An offstage sighting of Tokio Hotel is likely to make girls’ glockenspiels explode.

Inspired by the twins’ casino-themed 18th birthday last September, Tokio Hotel figured a gambling spree was the best way to blow Blender’s dough. Unfortunately, given the exchange rate, we don’t have much to offer: “is that all that I’m getting?” Bill squawks after we hand him his €145 share. “Ok, it’s not a big start but I’m going to make €4000 easily.” Georg agrees, “We are in a positive area when it comes to winning and money.”

A few spins at the roulette table later, the twin’s strategy of always betting on red isn’t paying off. When black comes up for the third time in a row, the both scream “Nein! But you must understand,” Bill says, his manicured hands aflutter, “I take red because it’s the color of love. But now I must choose black, the color of Tom’s soul.”

When the steel ball lands on 20 black, Tom, who is sticking it out on red, turns philosophical: “Bad luck in playing, good luck in love. It fits me losing because I am very lucky with the ladies.” Blender asks his secret: Is it the perfect blonde dreads? The enormous, drooping jeans? “It’s like with our success, I just don’t know,” he shrugs. “It’s nothing I ever choose.”

After their high-stakes session of Twenty-One and the departure of the autograph seekers, the guys count their chips. Blender finally finds out what they were hoping to buy with their winnings. “A house,” Georg offers. “A car,” says Gustav. “A house in the sun,” Tom adds. “A small island somewhere in the South where it’s nice and cozy,” Bill chirps. While they didn’t win enough for homes, the band hardily beat the house. Everyone came out ahead, raking in a total of more than “two thousand dollars” as Georg puts it in his attempt at English.
After the croupier hands over a whopping €680 ($1020 to Tom, the days clear winner, the front man sings “I am the champion!” and beats his chest. Trailing him are Gustav with €485, Bill with €430, and Georg with €370. “Georg, you can only buy a tent,” teases Bill. “But you can stay in my house….in the closet, with all the cleaning supplies.”

Later, at the posh Hotel kempinski Atlantic, the boys sit in a green room created by their burly bodyguards and celebrate their good fortune with a champagne toast. The staff is atwitter and the guests sneak peaks at Bill.

Blender retakes that when a co-worker saw a promotional photograph of the singer for the first time, he declared, “She’s hot!” Being mistaken for Germany’s Next Top Model not only doesn’t bother Bill, it inspires the return of the hummingbird wing hand claps.

“Sometimes it tough to be reduced to being just beautiful,” he says coyly. “It’s all about the music. That’s what I tell the other boys – so they don’t get too jealous.”

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Filed Under: TH.V-CandidCuties

(Feb. 2008 for 2009)

Valentine Wishes

(August, 2006)

Directed by: Christopher Häring & Daniel Warwick
Berlin, Deutschland

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