(This is part three of a series. You can find part one here, and part two here)
At my former employer, one of my co-workers was the guy who came up with the most awarded radio campaign ever. yeah, that one! Now i have won my share of ad awards but this guy has had an insufferable run. so much so that he sometimes needed people to cover for him at awards shows. so after he and his partner bowed out of attending a somewhat prestigious radio awards show for the umpteenth time, he kindly nominated me to show up in his stead. it entailed a potentially fun night in new york so i agreed. i like new york. i used to live there. it was summer. what the hell!
so i go there. and spend the first hour explaining to attendees that i am NOT in fact the guy they’d hoped to meet. more wine was consumed and i kind of stopped doing that. i happily pretended that i was who they’d hoped i was. they had come all the way from paraguay! what was i supposed to do? disappoint them?
So the awards show gets underway. It was one of those awards shows where they serve dinner as they dish out the gongs. i made many fake acceptances. And the guy sitting next to me is a young Jamaican-Londoner. He hears me tell somone at the table that i used to live in NYC. But what he doesn’t realize is that it had been 7 years since i lived there. everything changes in New York every three years. all my former hangouts were long gone. i tried to communicate this to him but it fell on deaf ears. he thought i was his ticket to New york excitement baby! ouch. so not the case. i am a middle-aged white guy with three kids who lives in the Chicago suburbs.
After the awards show, i was laden with a shedfull of gold and silver awards. so i suggest going back to my hotel bar for a drink. so we’re back at my hotel in the bar and my pal starts nudging me in the ribs.
“LOOK WHO IT IS!! IT’S LUDA BOY!!”
He pointed towards an African-American guy with corn rows seated next to hot girl. An enormous bodyguard type sat in front of them. there was nobody seated near them. And sure enough, it was Ludacris himself. Even I knew who who he was. My London pal suggested we go over and introduce ourselves. I dismissed the idea. Ludacris looked like he wanted privacy. But it turned out that he didn’t.
We both went and sat down at a table far from Luda boy. I facing in the general direction of Ludacris. Then suddenly i noticed Ludacris was gesturing to me to come over to him. doing that index finger “i mean you” thing. I was convinced i’d somehow insulted him and that this was surely the end for me. So I reluctantly creep over. He’d clearly noticed my friend’s excitement at seeing him. So he invited me and my new found friend to join him and his girl for a drink. I agreed. I was not a fanatical fan but i appreciated his coolness. I went back to Londoner and told him. he nearly died of ecstatic transport. i did have magic new york powers!
So he bent Ludacris’ ear about music etc. I told Ludacris of some ads i’d done. He liked them. Luda likes Irish people! I mostly chatted with his girlfriend and bodyguard. his girl suggested i get my picture with Ludacris and i foolishly declined. citing my sudden and strident inebriated desire not to intrude on his privacy, i stupidly refused. Ludacris was somewhat surprised by that too.
i remember buying a bottle of expensive champagne for us all – hey, i was partying with a famous rapper! Ludacris’ girl drank some blue stuff out of what looked like a test tube. Hpnotiq i think. I had some of that too.
we had a great night. Ludacris was cool. simple as that. but of course i have no digital photographic record of any of it. doh! i got an email from my london cohort the next day featuring some of the hundreds of cameraphone shots he’d taken with Ludacris.
This incident prompted me to, somewhat weirdly, have Sir John Hegarty sign my D&AD Art Directors book when we met in NYC a month later. i wasn’t letting this one get away! Asking someone to sign something immediately places you in pathetic geek fanboy zone. but i didn’t care. it was true. and i had a feeling we would never meet again. So far i’ve been right. So I’m glad i did.