Perception vs Reality: The Makings of an Overnight Celebrity

4 11 2010

 

Hey guys!!  Here’s an essay I wrote a while back after some crazy experiences and an awakening back in 2003 or 2004. I think this got published on some online outlets, and I had that shit on floppy disk and lost it, but I found the only paper copy in existence, lol. Now i’m posting it for u guys… Feel free to comment!

“I love it when you call me Big Poppa…” Don’t we all? Screaming fans, VIP treatment, flashbulbs of the paparazzi; wouldn’t you like to have that?  Well what if I told you this life could be yours for a night, heck maybe even a week if you’re on vacation?  You would probably say that life is reserved, blocked by that velvet rope that discerns the celebrity from the ordinary person.  I say that belief is played out: I can make you a celebrity overnight.  It’s all quite simple really, i mean, what makes someone a celebrity?  It’s all about perception.  We MAKE people celebrities.  Wait, let me re-emphasize: perception, perception, perception.  Got it?  Now follow this… if I told you the guy next to you was a bazillionaire, what clues could you use to see if I was telling the truth?  He could just have that look, maybe his car is an indicator (borrowed), or maybe he wears designer clothes (knock offs).  All of those things can be manipulated by anyone.  What makes him a celebrity is me making you believe that he is.  Altering perception through hype is gold.  Just ask Lil Jon or P. Diddy.  They get you pumped up, and you don’t even know why, but you just follow along.

I saw a movie called ‘Slackers’ recently and in it, one of the main characters narrated a sequence where he tried out his, “Seed of Doubt” theory on two girls at a college party.  “The technique to manipulating people’s perception” was easy he said. First he said what he wanted the other person to believe out loud. Usually he would be met with casual interest.  Then, once he got the person’s full attention, said it again with authority and conviction, making eye contact, and most importantly, believing it.  The response was complete adoration by a newly converted, star-struck fan.  I used to host a party downtown called, “Overnight Celebrity.”  Every person that came through the door was a celebrity.  As the host, I was at the beck and call of every patron there because who wouldn’t want to cater to someone of star caliber?  You are all celebrities as far as I’m concerned.  I hear the new radio ads for Moda’s Sunday night event saying the same thing.  Walk in a civilian, walk out an overnight celebrity, which brings me to my next point.

Aren’t celebrities just normal people like you and me?  Of course they are.  If you’ve seen ‘Matrix: Reloaded,’ remember back to when Neo confronted the Architect.  He went on to explain to Neo that, “his being was the sum of an unbalanced equation” that inherently flawed the matrix.  In essence, Neo was the epitome of the human race.  To some degree, I believe this is true in our world as well.  We as a society have a need to hold people in high regard i.e. movie stars, pro athletes, politicians, company presidents, etc.  Do they have special powers or do the impossible?  In most cases no, they just do things that we think we cannot.  So we put our hopes and dreams in them and place them on pedestals because we are afraid to do what they do.  Celebrities are the Neo’s of the real world.  The sum of what society believes to be the ideal of a person.  We want to be like them, wear their clothes, watch their movies, and look at countless magazine photos of them pumping gas and eating ice cream.  Look around, the fascination with celebs is like a virus.  We have gossip magazines, fan clubs, product endorsements, etc.  Why not get to enjoy a little of that life yourself?

I know some of you could care less, sorry to distract you from reading US magazine while simultaneously watching last week’s ‘The Bachelor/The Bachelorette’ in your J. Lo/Sean John sweatpants, listening to your new Ron Artest cd.  But I know some of you are glued to your screen and can’t wait for me to get on with how you can do it.  Here are some examples of personal, “research” conducted in the field.  Example #1: While on a trip to South Beach for Spring Break my senior year of college, two friends and I ran into a star NFL player.  Instead of asking for an autograph, I asked him what he did to let a club know he was showing up.  He said if knows he’s going somewhere in advance, he’ll have his publicist call in advance, if not, he’ll just show up because he’s very recognizable.  Luckily, I happened to do some research before I left home on movies that were coming out that summer.  I picked a movie with Toby Maguire because, ‘Spiderman’ was hot at the time.  The character in the movie, ‘Seabiscuit’ had a decent role for being a no name actor.  Kingston Decour was my celebrity.  The movie wasn’t coming out until the summer, so there was no way to verify the information. I called up a hot club on the strip and said I was a publicist for said actor.  At the end of the conversation, I had secured back door access, VIP table, bottle service, and security. Suffice it to say, all nine of us in our crew lived like kings that night!  And the best part was that everything was 100% absolutely free.  People were dying to give us all the perks and we were absolute nobodies.  Of course I captured it all on tape if you think I’m lying.

Example #2: In Ft. Lauderdale, I want to a club with a friend, a camera, and a mission.  I wanted in the club for free, free drinks, and film it all for my friends to see what went down that night.  I approached the manager, gave him the schtick about how we worked for a small production company and did a globe trotting party show similar to E! Wild On. We just wanted to film inside to get a feel for the club and put it on our show.  Walked past the line, free drinks all night, and proof that it happened.  Mission Accomplished!

Example #3: I was out downtown one night just after Thanksgiving with a friend of mine.  I had this article in mind when I decided to perform a series of social experiments using my friend as a guinea pig.  A nubile co-ed approached us and struck up a conversation.  WHen my friend leaned over the bar to order a drink, I discreetly told the woman that he had a part on the hit show, ‘Las Vegas,’ but was spending the holidays in his hometown.  I built the story up more a la “Seed of Doubt” technique and she promptly asked my friend to dance.  Some time later, back by the bar, a friend of that girl approaches my friend and starts dancing with him, threw her arms around his neck and started kissing him!  Must be nice to be a t.v. star. Believe it or not, a player for the Browns tried to talk to her afterwards, trying to repeat the results I bet, but she went back to my friend.  Simply amazing!

My last example taked place at the House of Blues Grand Opening.  At an invitation only event, there must be tons of VIP’s right?  But to be backstage you have to be a special person right?  Absolutely wrong.  Who am I?  I’m just a humble promoter/cell phone salesman who just happens to know a bunch of people.  Probably by accident anyways, but there I was chatting with the VP of House of Blues International.  This was sandwiched between face time with Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi, and the locals who brought HOB to Cleveland.  Did this come by accident? No, because in my mind, I already know I’m a celebrity, the general public just doesn’t know about it yet. We ALL are!  I’m a gatecrasher to show other people that it can be done.  But the difference between me and the other gatecrashers is that I fit the part.  If you have the attitude and act like you’re supposed to be there, you’re a welcome guest.  Get something back for all those duckets you spend at the club.  Make someone appreciate your presence.  Like that MasterCard commercial where Peyton Manning is cheering on the everyday people.  That’s how it should be.  Let the stars be awe struck by you, not the other way around.  As far as I’m concerned, the person reading this is a celebrity, just like the guy who just passed the Bar exam, and the woman executive at KeyBank who calls the shots.  If you are going out, there, making it, doing your thing and spreading the love… you’re it to me.

Andre 3000 said it best in Outkast’s song, “Elevators:” “I replied that I’ve been going through the same things that he has. True I got more fans than the average man, but not not enough loot to last me, till the end of the week I live by the beat like you live check to check. If you don’t move your feet, then I don’t eat, so we like neck to neck.”  With that said, I want everybody who reads this to get their butts downtown and take the self esteem up a notch.  Hold your head up and party like a rock star.  Don’t be surprised if an average guy like me asks for your autograph.  I love celebrities, and you love it when I call you big poppa, don’t you? Way to go superstars!

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Spring Break or How To Make It On The West Coast Day 1 (West Coast Trip Recap)

5 04 2010

So I decided that I was going to take a trip to the west coast.  I have a bunch of friends out there and I’m looking to move to Los Angeles ASAP. In the midst of my travel planning, I sent a shout out sayin that if anybody wanted to go, they were more than welcome to roll. It would be a great time and they would meet people and do things that they didn’t think possible!  Lol, j/k on that last part…. but pretty close!.  Kevin says that he’s up for the challenge. I’ve known Kevin since our days of working together at Verizon Wireless… He’s still there, but I had to dip out because as a salesperson, VZW was turning the screws in a direction that I felt I couldn’t turn. Oh well, the rest is history.

So checking the itinerary, I figure instead of just staying in LA, why don’t we go mobile and check out that the best coast really has to offer.  So I call my buddy Rick and ask if he minds if we come out there to see him in San Diego. He obliged. I call my dudes that play for the Cleveland Indians and ask if they could put us up for a night if we came to Goodyear, AZ to see them play…. they obliged (sorta, but that story is coming later).  In the midst of planning, I also find out that my dude Scott is gonna be in Vegas, as well as Aaron Goldhammer from ESPN 850, AND my dude John is out there w/ a cpl of his boys from Beantown.  I figure btw all those cats, there’s gotta be a rollaway with me and Kevin’s name on it.  So if you haven’t figured it out by now, in an effort to see the best coast on a dime, and use that money towards more frivolous things, I’m trying to work out our 7 day trip so that we don’t have to stay in a hotel.

Finally, after plotting a course, like any good navigator would do, I come up w/ the master itinerary.  We are leaving on a flight on Sat headed for Los Angeles.  We’ll stay in LA until Wed morning. Drive to San Diego for St Patty’s day and spend the night. Head to Goodyear early Thursday to see the Tribe play the Cincinnati Reds and spend the night. Head to Vegas on Friday morning, spend the night. Drive back to LA on Saturday in time to catch the red eye home. Sounds like a lot to do right? Well as we would find out, it was almost too much to handle…..

Friday night before the trip rolls around…. and I decide to take it easy that night. There would be plenty of times in the upcoming week for all nighters, so I figured I’d take er easy, and be rested up for the damage I was about to be doing to my body/mind. I tell Kevin to be at my place by 7:45am so we can catch our flight that leaves at 9. Saturday morning comes… I’m up at 7am cause I can never sleep well the night before I’m going on vacation (sometimes I’m like a little kid, I know). Then the waiting game starts… I send Kevin a txt around 7:30, then wait….. then I call a few times, txt him again, then wait…. Now if u have a blackberry and use bbm, you’ll know that when you send a message, there’s a little, “D” inside the check mark when the message is delivered. It changes to an, “R” once the message has actually been looked at…. I was starin at all D’s :/  Once 8am hit, I started to have bad feelings, and these feelings were confirmed once Kevin showed up at my place at 8:15, lugging two suitcases and a huge messenger bag. This trip got off to a really bad start.
All loaded up in the car, Caroline is nice enough to drive us to the airport, and I think the girl should sign up for NASCAR training. She’s flying down the highway, and by the time we get to the airport, it’s like 8:35 and we’re leaving at 9:05. Kevin checks his bag, we head to the counter and they confirm the bad feelings that had started at 7:45… We weren’t gonna make this flight. In a very calm manner, I inform the counter rep that my mom works for United, so i’ve missed a flight or two in my travels and understand that there’s nothing we can do. Recognizing my ability to NOT fly off the handle, she informs us that she has rebooked us on the flight leaving the next day at 9:05. Not only that, but she did it for free ($150 a piece saved). We thanked her and proceeded to head back home and regroup. So things got worse for a second, but that kind gesture started a wave of goodwill towards Kevin and I for the rest of the trip.

But this totally worked out, i got to hang out for Caroline’s bday celebration, and Kevin agreed that he was gonna stay at my house that night to make sure that we didn’t have any more problems w/ getting up, lol.  The night started off pretty benign… The pregame was at a friend’s place in Perry Payne, everyone was drinking, having fun, makin new friends…. Wait, I’ll show ya.

I’m really having a hard time remembering the rest of the night, but I do remember that it ended with everyone crashing at my place and I didn’t hit the bed until almost 6am, having to get up in less than 2 hrs. Kevin said it seemed like only two seconds had passed because I went in my room, he passed out on the couch and came right back out to tell him to get up, haha!  So ends day 1 of our “vacation.” Stay tuned for day 2 coming up shortly…