Paul Stanley, Lita Ford, Kip Winger -- Playboy Mansion -- 11/12/11
If you're like most folks, your rock star fantasies require nothing more than a pair of tight jeans, an air guitar, a locked door and a mirror. Maybe, at most, an XBox with a Rock Band setup.
But those who plunked down big cash for something called Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp got the chance to do it up big time this weekend at the Playboy mansion, with a bevy of rock stars on hand.
It was all part of a splashy fundraising gig for a charity called Sweet Relief Musician's Fund. The evening's big headliner was Paul Stanley of KISS, who was wearing the requisite leopard print and black leather ensemble.
Also on hand were porn star Ron Jeremy, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Lita Ford, Kip Winger, and a smattering of other vaguely familiar rock names interspersed with more hired T&A than you could shake a drumstick at.
Photo by L.J. Williamson
Then there were the scores of fanboys who spent the evening standing around the bar, the game room, and the grotto, cell phone cameras in hand. They kept saying, "We're at the Playboy Mansion!" Because, after all, that's what you do when you're at the Playboy Mansion.
Sweet Relief Musician's Fund is a charity that provides assistance to career musicians who don't have health insurance.
But last night's party also served as a graduation gig for folks who attended the Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy Camp. (Those folks also got to perform at venues like House of Blues or Whisky A Go Go in front of an audience of friends and family.)
Prior to the gig, campers spend several days rehearsing, eating, and drinking with their rock star "camp counselors," including Steven Tyler, Brian Wilson, Jane Wiedlin, and Jack Bruce.
Lita Ford and fanboy
The fantasy camp also offers corporate packages, described as "a unique and cutting edge team building experience that engages your company as they write and perform an original song about its values, goals and message."
Sing it with us: "It's all part -- of my corporaterocknroll fantasy... it's all part -- of my corporaterocknroll dream..."
Of course, anyone who's ever actually been in a band knows that it can be a lot like being married, so the camp takes care of that little problem by limiting the experience to a low-commitment five days or so, which eliminates the often thorny relationship issues that tend to arise in bands, making it more like a torrid, long-weekend affair than a committed relationship.
For all of the star power that was in attendance, the event didn't feel much like a rock show. When the celebs in attendance took their turns performing on the low-slung stage in a brightly lit tent, they served primarily as backup band members to the paying fantasy campers.
During his turn on the stage, for example, Paul Stanley was surprisingly low-key, modestly sharing the spotlight with the guys who were paying to share the stage.
The evening's performances mostly consisted of well-known big hit covers by bands like R.E.M., The Police, and The Ramones.
Overall, the show felt more like a wedding than a concert, with the live performances less a compelling draw and more a perfunctory presence. Attendees who initially drew near the stage to ogle Kip Winger, or perhaps the hired lingerie models who banged tambourines on their asses nearby, soon wandered off to chat, look at silent auction items, or visit the bar. Folks behaved more like guests at a company Christmas party than concertgoers.
Working your way up to the front of the stage was always easy -- sometimes easier than getting to the front of the buffet line. The thrill of seeing stars like Lita Ford was tempered by the ho-hum of seeing them on a two-foot high stage backing up random strangers with money.
For audience members, seeing the finished product of five scant days in rehearsal is much like watching karaoke gone wild, but for campers, playing at the Playboy Mansion layers fantasy upon fantasy -- the rock star dream of onstage fame sliding on top of the adolescent dream of being surrounded by loads of lovely ladies in lingerie.
If you suspend disbelief for a moment, the snapshots you share on your Facebook page will tell a fairly convincing story of glamor, thrills, and a brush with fame.