Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Living my dream in Las Vegas was a career and life highlight

OK, so I’ve been putting off writing this because there are way too many wonderful experiences to sort through, but I want to share some of the joys of my Las Vegas adventure.
As some readers know, I spent three weeks in Las Vegas, the Best City in the World, in March and April. The goal was to find a job in public relations or entertainment journalism and although I returned to Seattle without full-time work, I experienced some of the best times of my life and career. That was just the warm-up.
Not long after returning, only about two weeks or so, I noticed through Twitter an opening for an internship at Wicked Creative, a PR company. I immediately responded and was soon making arrangements to move yet again to Vegas; this time for a month!
Ke$ha is interviewed by Abigail Miller of Wicked Creative/Photo credit Chaz Holmes
The internship was one of the best experiences of my life and one I will always cherish and remember fondly. Wicked Creative handles a lot of red-carpet events, which is my ideal job. Just three days after arriving in Las Vegas I found myself mere inches away from Ke$ha as I assisted with a red-carpet event. So excited was I that tasks which many might find trivial I took great pride in. When I arrived at Sugar Factory American Brasserie at Paris on Las Vegas Boulevard on May 7 my first task was to set out the place cards on the red carpet so the photographers would know where to stand. I know, this isn’t really a major job and it certainly doesn’t require the type of skills associated with a journalism degree from a four-year university, but for someone who has seen the red carpet as their goal for more than a decade, it was exciting. I set foot on the carpet and began carefully placing the pages on the floor, making sure they were well -spaced and parallel to the carpet.
Red-carpet events are a surreal experience. There’s a lot of waiting and things never seem to go exactly as planned, but they are very energizing experiences for me and the rush from them completely makes me forget I’m working well past midnight. While a co-worker and I were waiting for Ke$ha to arrive, my co-worker asked if I would take photos of the singer so we could post them on social media sites. OMG, could I have been more excited?!? Of course I agreed and after a brief iPhone tutorial I was ready to take pics of America’s fave $leazy pop star. Without any official announcement, Ke$ha suddenly emerged from Sugar Factory and walked inside the Paris casino and onto the red carpet. I took way more photos than necessary, but I wanted to make sure we had some good ones.  When I later saw one of the pics I took posted via Twitter I felt a sense of pride and excitement I didn’t think I was still capable of feeling. After the event that night I grabbed a burger and milkshake from Sugar Factory and headed back to my room in the early a.m. hours. I had the experience of opening the door and looking out the window at a gorgeous, late Las Vegas view of the Strip which allowed me to see The Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood and the Eiffel Tower. Amazing.
While in Las Vegas I worked events with T-Pain, Nicky Hilton, Samantha Ronson and most of the “Holly’s World” cast. For the T-Pain event I got to do some reporting from inside Chateau Nightclub. I recorded such details as what he drank, what he wore and what his general mood was during the evening. You know, the hard-hitting stuff which gave Barbara Walters her credibility. I got to stand right across the table from Nicky Hilton and take photos of her sipping from her Sugar Factory beverage as well as snap pics of her inside the candy shop posing with some sweets. I was allowed near her VIP table by security to record more details. My PR experiences were not only significant on a professional level, but some were even meaningful on a personal level.
DJ Samantha Ronson poses with a Sugar Factory Couture Pop/Photo by Chaz Holmes
I am a major fan of Lindsay Lohan. Her movies are my go-to source of cheer when I’m down and I even wrote her a letter while she was in the Betty Ford Clinic. She didn’t respond, but I know she’s busy with other things. So it was with great excitement I learned I would be working an event attended by her on-again-off-again girlfriend Samantha Ronson. As Samantha approached the carpet, I got into position to take photos and was sort of in a strange dreamlike zone while doing so. I don’t mean dreamlike in the sense of being out of it. Far from it. My professionalism in all situations is something I take very seriously and I was on my game. Yet while taking the pictures I had this wonderful sensation of registering this moment for the special, top-shelf area of the memory vault. When the photographers, including me, were finished and Samantha was walking off the carpet, I said two words: “Thanks, Sam.” OMG again! Samantha then entered Gallery Nightclub where she would DJ for Angel Porrino’s 22nd birthday party, which was the event for the night.
The next guests were Holly’s World co-stars Josh Strickland and birthday girl Angel Porrino, along with the show’s star, Holly Madison. OK, getting a little personal here, I want to express the significance of being at a red-carpet event with the three stars of Holly’s World. When I first made the decision in February to try my hand in Las Vegas, I spent hours upstairs in my makeshift office sending out resumes, writing cover letters and establishing contacts in town. While doing so I watched untold numbers of Holly’s World episodes (often the same episode repeatedly) because it provided me with a boost to assuage the anxiety of moving. It was amazingly fun watching a show set in Vegas with the realization I was on my way there. It’s also a really fun show! Before long I knew the words to the theme song: “She’s single and sexy, smart and independent, Vegas celebrity, #1 resident!”
When I watched the show I thought: “I’ll be living in Las Vegas soon, too.” It did not cross my mind I’d be inches away from this crowd on the red carpet! Words cannot express the significance. I pride myself on my professionalism and this excitement was all kept under control while I assisted my co-workers by taking photos and making sure they had plenty of Sugar Factory Couture Pops prior to the photo opportunities. My excitement actually was put to good use that night, since when I ran from the red carpet to Sugar Factory it was with great speed and agility.
Honestly, this night alone would have made the month worthwhile, but amazingly enough, the most fulfilling experiences of my career had yet to take place.
A lot of different things aligned allowing me to be in the right place at the right time and US Weekly commissioned me to cover three events over Memorial Day Weekend. I remember in sophomore English class learning the word zenith. I believe it’s a perfect word to describe this point in my career.
Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian were in town celebrating his 28th birthday at Gallery Nightclub and I was to interview them on the red carpet. OK, let me break down the significance here. The Kardashians are pretty much the cornerstone of celebrity journalism. There’s rarely a magazine without a story about Kim’s new man, Khloe’s pregnancy struggle or Kourtney’s post-baby bod. To interview one of the Kardashians is to have made it. Much to my excitement, my “made it” moment arrived three days after Kim K announced her engagement to Kris Humphries. In addition to standard red-carpet questions, all of which were new to me, I was to ask Kourtney and Scott about Kim’s engagement. OMG!!!!!!! I would like to say I do keep this in perspective and I know in the grand scheme of things, Kim’s engagement is not significant. That said, on a relative scale and in the world of entertainment journalism, it’s major. It’s like a political reporter getting to ask Hillary Clinton about her foreign policy strategy. To use a celeb/politician analogy, interviewing Kourtney Kardashian is like a political reporter interviewing Joe Biden. Kim Kardashian is of course the Barack Obama of the entertainment world. She’s change I can believe in!
So I got to ask Kourtney about this and her beauty secrets. I will always remember the exchange we had when I asked what beauty product she always has to have with her. While making eye contact, she replied, “Aqua Four.”
One of my other assignments was to interview Holly Madison. As you might imagine, this was also very significant for me. I’ve already mentioned Holly’s World, and to be in Las Vegas and interview the city’s resident “mascot”, a term given her by “Las Vegas Weekly” was wonderful. I even got to join her and Angel Porrino at their VIP table while taking notes and pictures.
Following my big weekend of events for Us Weekly, a coworker at Wicked Creative tweeted that she could be seen on that evening’s E! News because they were covering the Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian event.  I quickly called home to ask my parents to record the show just in case I ended up making a cameo too. Later that night I settled into my room to watch E! News. This is of course, not out of the ordinary sine the 60 minutes of E! News are among my favorite of each weekday, but my anticipation was building.
Finally E! News cut to the piece on Scott Disick’s birthday and I got to see the event I’d worked at on TV. The broadcast included footage of Scott and Kourtney inside Sugar Factory and Gallery Nightclub, but most exciting was the footage of them on the red carpet. I could tell from the angle the camera operator had been right behind me when filming and I saw my co-worker from Wicked Creative on the screen. I also saw a voice recorder which belonged to a fellow journalist. In fact, I could eventually see three voice recorders being help toward Scott and Kourtney. The most fantastic thing about this is one of the recorders was being held by me! I was so excited!
My recorder is the black one in the front. It is just behind the caption on the screen.

All I ever wanted was to be seen on TV reporting from the red carpet.  I realize this isn’t like saying all I ever wanted was to have a self-published blog, but I’ve never been good at setting small goals for myself.
Last August, I went to Vegas for The Monster Ball and while there, had lunch with a journalist who interviewed celebs on the red carpet for magazines including Us Weekly. During that lunch we discussed career paths and she told me some red-carpet and celeb stories. It was one of the highlights of my year. Later that night, she was to interview Kim Kardashian. When I returned home, I watched E! News and they covered the K-Dash event. On screen for at least a few seconds and in full view was Melissa, the journalist I’d met with. In the time since our lunch together, Melissa has been a better mentor than I ever imagined I would have. I’ve worked tirelessly to find a job in Las Vegas, even flying down for a single day and night for an interview in October. Melissa’s supported me the entire time, providing advice, helping me network, making introductions, and including me in her events. When I was in Vegas in March and April, she invited me to go with her as her “assistant” at a CinemaCon event at which she interviewed Cameron Diaz.
It was Melissa who made my work with Us Weekly possible. She recommended me to the magazine and it is because of her this was possible. To go from that lunch last August as a fledgling entertainment reporter to actually being on the red carpet just like someone I admire is really quite magical. I will always be grateful to Melissa for helping make my dream a reality.
I returned to Seattle a month ago and the transition to my former life has been difficult. I knew it would be and for this reason, was sure to cherish every amazing moment in Las Vegas. I feel so lucky to have had the experience of commuting to and from work and having a view of the Strip. The commute was really quite an adventure, entailing several buses and a combination of long waits and quick sprints. Yet, to finish a day of work which involved writing a Britney Spears press release, searching entertainment sites and preparing for the weekend’s event, and then ride the bus to Las Vegas Boulevard, is an experience I will always hold near and dear to my heart, which is where Las Vegas really resides.
Before boarding my flight home, I bought an issue of Us Weekly which includes a picture from Scott Disick’s birthday celebration. My interview with Scott and Kourtney was not included, but I would be foolish to complain. Three days after I got home, I put the magazine in a frame and it now rests beside my bed. Before drifting off to sleep each night, I get to look at this magazine and feel a sense of pride and fulfillment beyond belief.
Me holding my framed copy of Us Weekly. Introducing myself as "Chaz from Us Weekly" is among the great joys of my life.

I truly hope to be able to continue this career in the future, but even if I don’t I am so grateful to have lived the dream for a month. I can’t think of a better way to close this entry than with one of my favorite quotes.
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

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