By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Photo by Bill Smith
“Mick, Mick,” Ashleigh Meyer, a 21-year-old blond shrieks as Mick Jagger takes the stage at the El Rey Theater. The guy in leather next to her grabs his face, hands jutting dramatically toward the ceiling, screaming, “Oh my God . . . Mick.”
As touching as I find this display of fidelity to one of rock’s most tenacious members, someone in the VIP lounge has tipped me off that some of the younger devotees at Jagger’s record-release party, including Meyer and Leather Boy, are not what they seem. What they are, he said, are fans for hire.
“Are you girls getting paid for this?” I ask two of the youngest and prettiest women in the audience. “Umm, I don’t know,” one responds. “Ask him?” the other says with a girly question-mark lilt, then points toward a dark and slender male.
“Him” turns out to be Scottie Lazarus, owner of Scottie’s Bodies, a casting agency. “Yes, they are talent,” admits Lazarus, who also casts music videos and commercials. “We try to keep it kinda quiet.” Lazarus looks around the crowded theater. Jack Nicholson, Meg Ryan and Sean Penn are in the audience, but 50 of the best-looking “fans,” mostly female, are his. He’s paid each of them $100 to attend the four-hour event, and attracted them by putting out a call for “Great Looking Sexy Fun Party People,” ages 18 to 25, on online job boards, including HollywoodOS.com.
“Is this a common thing?” I ask. “Do other rockers hire talent to fill the audience?”
“A lot of these guys do,” Lazarus says. “They want to believe they can still attract girls like Britney Spears.”
Lazarus explains that the event director was worried about the look of the audience since it was full of radio contest winners, who often turn out to be fans in their 40s. The show was being filmed for the ABC special called Being Mick, and, as Lazarus says, “They wanted good-looking people.”
“Is Jagger aware of it?” I ask.
“Mick was afraid people would know they were talent.”
Lazarus says he got into the fan-casting business when a Baywatch producer approached him as his girlfriend was trying on clothes at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. The man told him he would pay his girlfriend $500 to lie around on the beach.
“I said I would talk to her. She came out of the dressing room, and I told her that this guy would pay her $250 to be on Baywatch. It started then.”
“Did you tell her he offered $500?” I ask.
“Eventually,” he laughs.
Over in the VIP section, two very young-looking women in midriff- and butt-cleavage-baring jeans stand on top of their chairs, swaying to the beat. Two men seated among them egg them on. As if on cue, Jagger looks toward the group and winks. The girls respond by screaming and clapping.
“Do your hired fans even know who Mick Jagger is?” I ask.
“Not all of them,” Lazarus says.
As Jagger’s brief performance progresses, Meyer and her friend attempt to rub Jagger’s leg as he sashays by. “We love you, Mick,” she and Leather Boy shout as the diminutive rocker shakes them off.
“Of course, I know who he is,” Meyer says indignantly when I put the “Who’s Mick?” question to her after the show. “I’m from Kansas. Classic rock is what makes the country work.”
“Do you play a groupie often?” I ask.
“All the time,” she says, smiling to reveal her tongue pierce. “I played a groupie on Mick’s latest video.” She’s also been a body double for both Pink and Gwen Stefani, the lead girl “Shelby” on a Staind video, and made a raft of paid party appearances.
“It is a matter of looking fabulous,” the wannabe rock & roll singer says. And the job has its perks, including occasional dates with rock icons.
“Have you ever been asked to do the groupie thing?” I ask.
“No, it’s not like that,” she says. “Everyone is very professional.”
For this gig, Scotties Bodies asked her to dress like she was going to a Rolling Stones concert. Meyer obliged by wearing a black off-the-shoulder shirt and black leather pants.
“I am honored to be here,” she says.
Fashion Ethics: My Forever 21 Problem
I’m embarrassed to admit how many tank tops I have. More than 20, more than 30, more than, well, more than a 26-year-old girl who works at home should rightfully own. But this morning I’m going to picket Highland Park’s Fashion 21, the first store opened by multimillion-dollar retailer Forever 21, and I can’t find a thing to wear. Nearly every article of clothing in my closet is from Forever 21.
If you don’t hang out with cheap kids who love clothes you may have never heard of Forever 21. But the retailer of low-priced young women’s fashions, started in Los Angeles by a Korean couple, Do Won Chang and Jin Sook Chang, now has 92 stores across America. The problem: 19 garment workers from six different alleged sweatshops filed suit against Forever 21 and the factories, claiming unpaid wages and unsafe conditions. A friend who knows my love of Forever 21 forwarded me a notice about the protest.
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