By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
JE NE SAIS QUOI
I say that I want to understand what makes a good party a good party. By way of an answer, Best asks me, “What’s your favorite food?”
That’s it then, I think. Serve your guests’ favorite food. Easy. Mine is spaghetti.
“What if I was to ask you the absolute best time you had spaghetti, where was it?”
My mom’s house, I say, I can’t remember when exactly, but I can picture it.
“So when you think about eating spaghetti at your mom’s home, there’s a whole vibe that goes with that, right? That’s the whole thing about creating a party space. There’s an intimacy to it, a feel. And that,” he says, “is the toughest nut to crack.”
The second part of his answer, the part that is less like a parable and more like practical advice, has to do with being strong on all fronts: “If you talk to a caterer, they’ll tell you the most important thing is the food. If you talk to the PR company, they’ll tell you the most important thing is the press. If you talk to a party promoter, they’ll tell you the most important thing is the guest list. If you talk to an event planner, they’ll tell you the most important thing is the planning and the infrastructure. The truth of the matter is that none of them can exist without the others. It’s a symbiotic relationship between all of those things. And if at any one level it falls down, the rest will crumble. You can’t have a good party if, for instance, the planner hasn’t gotten the space heated and it’s a really cold night. No matter how good the band is, no matter how many celebrities you have, my wife will say, ‘It’s cold, honey, let’s go home.’”
When Jeffrey Best runs an event or does a party, this, in his own words, is what it means: “I set up the press area, and we manage the people who are in it. We don’t decide who is in it, that’s the PR company, but we run them. We run the security company, the police in the street directing traffic, the valets parking the cars, the lighting company lighting the press wall. We run the rental company that puts in the rope and bicycle barricades. We run and hire the emergency medical technicians. We manage the insurance for all the companies. We talk to the city to get all the different fire permits, building and safety permits, street closures, MTA relocations, neighbor notifications, décor production, design, and installation. We select and run the caterers and then the food and beverage, the outfits for the servers, the staffing, the portable restrooms, portable generators, portable air conditioning, portable video, audio and subwoofers. We hire the DJs, decide on the location and schedule them. We pay everybody, and we bill everybody. And that is about half of what we do.” Then he whips his flat-screen monitor around to show a sample budget on a spreadsheet document. There are lines for days.
But why don’t I just pop in on Saturday and see for myself?
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: PARTY PREP
2 p.m. Mr. Best said he would buy the bats himself. And the baseballs, footballs, the Miami Dolphins jerseys, the drill bit, the caps. Best and his crew are transforming a bare Hollywood warehouse — concrete floors, exposed wood-beam ceilings — into a glamorous, high-tech, sports-themed environment. It’s mid-October and disgustingly hot. Back in January, Best Events had been hired by a PR company to organize a party, scheduled for today, bankrolled by Sony and hosted by Mark Wahlberg to benefit the children of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. Simultaneously, it’s a launch for the newest top-secret product for Sony’s PlayStation 2 video-game player. Guests (invite only) have been promised a “Celebrity Gaming Tournament” (in which 16 celebrities will play video basketball against each other), a surprise musical performance (by a famous rap artist), cocktails (free) and all the hors d’oeuvres (sports-themed) they could eat. Another Hollywood party, in other words.
2:10 p.m. Everywhere the sound of drills whines at variable frequencies. The tamp-tamp-tamp-tamp-tamp-tampof hammers. The bump-thump-bumpchest-cavity-vibrating, heartbeat-altering bass of a hip-hop song streaming from four large speakers mounted to the wall. Burly workmen pause to raise their fists, gyrate their hips and laugh. There are men on ladders. Men kneeling over wires on the ground. Men in clusters nailing things, stapling things, drilling, tying, roping, sawing, taping, relieved by other men, who arrive to sweep up the remnants of the things that have been nailed, stapled, drilled, tied, roped, sawed and taped. Men are transforming cherry-veneer IKEA bookcases into sports lockers. Beau Robb, Best’s number one, and Bryan Knigge, his number two, are decorating the soccer pit. The pockets of Bryan’s cargo shorts bulge with all manner of tools, cell phones, walkie-talkies, radios, pencils, tape measures, keys and scraps of paper. “Mr. Knigge,” Beau barks, “any ideas for a soccer-themed pillow?”