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
“How about a cushion in the shape of a soccer hexagon?” Leslie, Best’s assistant, calls out while ransacking a bag of brand-new soccer balls printed with the PlayStation logo.
“Yes! I need cushions that are padded with soccers,” says Beau.
“You gotta let me know these things before the day of the event,” says Bryan.
“I’d let you know if I had them before the day of the event,” says Beau. “If you want to go work with Leslie and Emma and the girls unwrapping the balls, okay — otherwise, you’re gonna have to toughen up. Buck up.”
2:45 p.m. A giant array of LED screens — five screens vertical, 18 screens horizontal — is on. The warehouse is heating up. Sweat pours down the workers’ dusty faces. For a party past, Best had envisioned candles flickering in a dark space, but the Fire Department wouldn’t let him have candles. So he arranged for a wall of video monitors to be installed, filmed a thousand candles in his warehouse and put them all onscreen. “You came in and there was this wall of candles,” he says. “It was 30 feet tall. It was unbelievably beautiful.”
3 p.m. Air conditioning is pumping in through collapsible tubes that look like giant worms. The worms are attached to air-conditioning units in the backroom and reach out like tentacles. Rehearsal begins: Stand-ins for the expected celebrities ascend the stage area, where couches have been arranged atop a wood floor painted like a basketball court. The players onstage are like the characters in a Greek tragedy, a tableau caught in the spotlights. “I need to see more spirit from the mock celebrities, please,” says the announcer.
3:15 p.m. Cold air. Yummmmmm.
3:36 p.m. The punching bag in the boxing ring is good to go. Emma, from the office, marches by, followed by a gaggle of seven fresh-faced young men and women, like prospective college freshmen on their first campus tour. They are called “the staffers.” Their job is to gofer, to pick up the little odds and ends, to guard the equipment, to direct guests to the bathroom, to be informative, helpful, polite and invisible. Back at the IKEA bookcase lockers, she says, “This is the sports-bar area. Ideally you should be watching these,” she points to footballs, jerseys and caps arranged in little spotlighted vignettes. “If anybody tries to take anything, you tell them, ‘Sorry, guys, that’s just for display.’ If it’s a celebrity, well then . . .” She shrugs and grins. “During an event we don’t ever go up to a bar for a drink or start eating the hors d’oeuvres. There’s a craft services table in back. There should be at least two of you in each area. There are celebrities at our event. You are not allowed to ask them for an autograph. If Jeffrey finds out that you did, it will not be a good thing.” She makes a slicing-across-the-throat motion, and the staffers fidget nervously.
“What about dinner?” someone asks.
“Everyone was told to eat before,” Emma murmurs apologetically. “You’ll be able to grab stuff in the back. But there’s an appropriate time and place for it.” The staffers nod sagely.
“Also, there are a lot of games everywhere, and it can be tempting to play with them,” Emma opens her arms wide. Animated graphics and catchy songs loop continuously on flat-screen monitors. The staffers smile and nod, looking at Emma like they’re falling in love. “Don’t.”
3:50 p.m. Yo, yo, yo, yo. Check, check, check, check.
The announcer plays with his microphone onstage. Backstage, the staffers gather near the craft services table for a lesson from Emma on how to operate their Motorola radios. “Say your name quickly. No ‘uuuuhhh, ummm, ahhhhh.’ None of that. Be brief. Get to the point,” she says. When the party starts, it will get so noisy that only by using an earpiece can they hear the radio. In slim black pants and plain black shirts, the staffers are like young Secret Service agents in training. “Can you hear me?” Emma asks. “Check!” says one girl. Her radio voice sounds weird, sexless and roboty. “Check!” say the others in turn.
At a nearby table sits a girl whose sole job is to guard the radios. “These radios are so important,” says Emma. “They cost a thousand dollars each to replace.” When they aren’t needed, the radios live in silver James Bond Zero-Halliburton-esque suitcases with gray egg-crate foam padding. In the past, people have stolen radios and pawned them. Or if there wasn’t a kleptomania problem, there was a problem with radio channels. Sometimes they’d be on a frequency that matched up with the police or with people working a different party. “We’d be like, who are you? You want what?”
4:10 p.m. “Start from the beginning of the event and work your way through,” Jeffrey orders the cleaning crew. Now is the time for sweeping. Out front, Julie from the PR company, who ran the mock-celebrity gaming rehearsal, sends her people home to change into their party clothes. Backstage, giant fans the size of steamship propellers are brought in to blow out the heat generated by the air-