I think I've seen everything. Rock stars, celebrities, natural
disasters, unnatural disasters... I'm jaded, OK? So I was
just as surprised as the next guy when I found myself in
a heightened state of excitement as I inched my trusty 1989
SAAB turbo into the long line of limos waiting to get into
the VIP parking lot at the Los Angeles Convention Center
on February 23. For the first time in my rough and tumble
music biz life, I was going to the Grammys. Not as a low-life,
small town radio station prize winner, but as a credentialed
journalist. Little did the Grammy folks know I was covering
the event for Exotic Magazine--my credentials were
for the LA Times and Music Connection. Not
to mention LA Architect, the magazine that butters
long black limo in front of me, with a license plate that
read "Music53," came to a halt; as I swerved to get around
the car (which was larger than my apartment), I saw legendary
(his word) Arista chief Clive Davis being loaded out of
the car and onto a golf cart. A golf cart! The stars were
still making their entrances for the paparazzi when I reached
the entrance. I stood and watched the preening and posing
for the yelling photogs. "Brittany, over here! Ricky, show
us that smile! Jennifer, bay-bee, let's see the front of
"What front?" another photog snided.
"What dress?" was another's retort.
Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche brushed by me, but I was
still cool as I wandered over to the media tent next to
the Convention Center. Fitting architectural choice for
this circus, I thought. Most of the journalists had set
up their laptops, planted for the duration of the ceremonies.
After all, the winners and other celebrities were ushered
in for their interview by their handlers. Why bother to
sniff out a story?
I'm not one to sit and wait for the story to come to me.
So I immediately started testing the limits of my credentials.
First I decided to see if I could get into the main performing
hall. I took a deep breath and walked into the building
past guards who looked at my laminate. Presto! They just
smiled and waved me in. I found a seat about 10 rows from
the stage. The Dixie Chicks were performing. The lead singer
was wearing a tight black leather dress that a woman of
her substantial weight in another town would have been tarred
and feathered for wearing. But this is showbiz, kids, and
the rules are very different.
Ricky Martin was next and the crowd showed its appreciation
for his record sales by standing and cheering when he was
finally finished. During the thunderous applause, I made
my way back to the "one-one-one" room. This is the room
where little cubicle sets are constructed for the talking
heads from Access Hollywood, MTV, VHI and E! to conduct
their interviews with celebrities and winners. There was
a spate of actors making the rounds. I zoned in on the cop-with-a-heart,
"Dennis," I asked, "who's your favorite architect?"
Well, to be sure, no one at the Grammys had been asked THAT
"Hey," he exclaimed. "Great question! Actually, my answer
is Frank Lloyd Wright, because I'm from his hometown in
the midwest!" He seemed happy he got to display some intelligence.
Hmm. Maybe this LA Architect approach is going to
My next target was X Files' David Duchovny. I threw
the architect question at him.
"Uh....wait...I know the answer...help me out here...it's,
it's the guy from Chicago. Frank something.... " he fumbled.
"Frank Lloyd Wright?" I offered.
"Yeah! That's him! Whew! Thanks for helping me out, there,"
About this time, Her Majesty Whitney Houston and her short,
cheap husband, Bobby Brown, breezed into the room. Whitney
was wearing a tight, chintzy looking pink gown with a trashy-looking
feather boa. She strutted in like Mae West with her nose
in the air. As I approached, Bobby shoved me out of the
way. Somehow, I felt her answer would have been Frank Lloyd
Feeling bored, I started for the backstage area, just as
Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez were making their way to the
stage entrance. Needless to say, they were surrounded by
the biggest, baddest bodyguards I'd ever seen. I examined
her skimpy dress for some clue as to how it adhered to her
body. It looked great on camera, but, in person, poor Jennifer's
bony chest was overexposed for my tastes. I approached the
couple, in spite of the imminent threat that their bodyguards
would body slam anyone who got near them.
"Jennifer," I said, thrusting my little microcassette recorder
in her face, "who's your favorite architect?"
"Huh?" she said, wrinkling her perfect nose. Then, a slight
shake of her head and she was gone. I'll never know if the
"huh?" meant she didn't know who was
her favorite, or if it meant she didn't even know what an
architect was. I hung out for a while in the area where
escorts meet the stars they are escorting, then made my
way to the backstage pit to watch Elton John perform. When
he was done, I followed his entourage to the press area.
I couldn't get near him,
but managed to chat for a while with Billy Joel--who was
was much cooler than I anticipated.
in the press room, Sir Elton was trashing the Grammys.
"I mean, let's face it", he said, "the Grammys and the other
awards shows... well, they're just a bunch of bullshit,
aren't they? Oh, and by the way, I want you all to know
that I've slept with several members of the Backstreet Boys."
The press corps roared with laughter (the next day, I noted
that no one had mentioned Elton's remarks. Pussies. You
have to read Exotic Magazine to get the real story!).
After his wry comments, Elton and Billy Joel were whisked
away to waiting limos.
By now, the Grammys were winding down. Once it was clear
that Carlos Santana was going to win everything, there was
no suspense. Again, I eluded the PR and security people
(one of the press agents asked me, "Why do you keep asking
everyone about architects?" "America wants to know," I replied),
and fell into Carlos' entourage, where I chatted with Clive
Davis about the future of music on the internet. He indicated
that he wasn't interested in the internet and that it will
never replace record companies as a way of distributing
music. It was sad to think that a once powerful music industry
executive was so out of the loop, but then I remembered
how much money he has and the pity stopped.
On my way out, I stopped by the digital imaging photo services
station to put in a request for photos for this article
(well, actually, I didn't tell them it was for THIS article).
Couldn't get photos. I found out the next day that the LA
Times was denied photo passes because the Times
is investigating the head of NARAS (National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences) for misallocation of charity
I made my way out of the building and headed downtown to
the NARAS party at the Bonaventure Hotel. It was surreal
to see an empty downtown LA with nothing but stretch limos
silently cruising up and down the dark streets. Looked like
a movie set. I valeted my car and walked confidently up
to the front of the entrance and flashed my press credentials.
"No press," I was told. What they meant was, no LA Times.
Dejected and badly in need of a drink, I went around the
building to another lobby where a bar had been set up. Bemoaning
the fact that I had to actually pay for a drink, I struck
up a conversation with a handsome conga player with a party
pass. Turns out I had reviewed a band he was playing in
once, so he went back into the party and got his friend's
pass and came out and gave it to me. Voila! I was in.
Three floors were jammed with all the free food and booze
a jaded journalist could want. Puente was playing on one
floor, Dwight Yoakum on another, the Manhattan Transfer
on another. I picked up my official Grammy goodie bag, which
included hats, perfume, CD's, etc. It cracked me up to see
the incredibly wealthy and beautifully gowned women grabbing
up the bags as if a free sample of perfume was pure gold.
I drank and ate until 3:00 am, and then accepted the invitation
of a friend to stop at his condo on my way home for a nightcap.
While backing out of his parking garage, I crunched the
right fender of my SAAB on a pole that somehow eluded my
alcohol impaired vision. So that's why the stars use all
those limos. I made the decision then and there that next
year I'm taking a limo to the Grammys. And getting a better