You’ve probably seen my face in paparazzi photos of celebrities. I’m one of those guys in the dark suits who won’t crack a smile. The reason I look so gruff is because it’s my job to protect some of the biggest actors, musicians, and sports figures in the world…which means I have to be on alert every second.
Sure, there are some perks that come with the gig: I get to travel and attend A-list parties. And the pay is pretty damn good. I usually work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., unless a client requests that I stay longer, and I make about $75 to $100 an hour. When I travel with a client, I can make twice that. But there are also a lot of demands and responsibilities, and sometimes, my client’s life (or even my own) is in danger when things get hairy.
I have several clients, and most of them go out to dinner almost every night. They’re constantly interrupted by people. Sometimes 10 or 15 fans come up to them during the course of a meal, and there’s no telling if a person is a psycho stalker or just a regular admirer.
To be on the safe side, I have a few rules: I sit with the client or nearby. No one can ask for anything while the client is eating. If he or she is not eating, the person can approach for a few seconds. No one can hand anything to the star or put anything on the table. Everything has to go through me. What if it’s a bomb or anthrax?
One time, a guy grabbed the arm of a female client, a very popular sex symbol. She just said, in a very relaxed tone, “Can I have my arm back, please?” But he didn’t let go. So I stepped in and told him to leave her alone. He didn’t. At that point, I twisted his wrist — hard. I thought I heard something crack, and I am sure I was causing this guy serious pain. Finally, he let go and took off, but not before calling me an A-hole.
Another big-time celeb I work for is a notorious womanizer. Ladies from 15 years old to 50 want to get close to him, hoping they can hit the jackpot and become his wife or girlfriend. One night, I was in the VIP section of a club in L.A. with him when two 20-something girls walked up and proceeded to make out with each other. They French-kissed and rubbed each other’s breasts. One even started taking the other’s top off, just to get my client’s attention.
Well, it worked. At the end of the night, he asked the girls to come home with him…and his girlfriend. His stretch limousine pulled up, and I got into the front while the four of them climbed into the back. Five minutes later, I looked behind me and saw one of the girls kissing my client’s girlfriend. He just smiled, and I closed the divider. I hadn’t done any security checks on the girls, but they were carrying purses too small to conceal guns, so I felt they were fairly safe.
When I’m not out guarding my clients, I just hang at their homes and watch for suspicious-looking people. Every major star has at least one guard at the house; some have three or four. And most have a security room that’s full of TV screens playing video feedback from the security cameras.
I’m superattentive when a client decides to “order out,” and I’m not talking about pizza. One actor likes his guards to act as a screening/dating service. Whenever his girlfriend is out of town, he and his best friend peruse escort services online. Once they decide who they want, they call and make a request. Then we all talk about how hot the girls are while waiting for them to arrive. But the truth is, it’s weird to watch some famous, handsome celebrity shop for chicks online.
When the girls show up, I have to frisk them. It’s very awkward because these women are often wearing nothing but underwear (if that) under their coats, and I have to feel around for mikes, drugs, and weapons. Then I give them their money, always cash in an envelope. I usually hang out, wait until they are done, and then I walk the girls back to their cars.
It’s probably no shock that celeb bodyguards witness a lot of drinking and drugging. One friend of mine used to work for a famous country-rock star who loved to party. We’re talking cocaine, meth, heroin, pot, pills, and whiskey.
One night, he hosted a bash at his hotel room in New York City and unloaded a pile of coke onto his coffee table. It must have been a quarter kilo. Then two Oscar-winning actors in their 40s — highly respected family men — came in and went right to the coke. They snorted away like kids in a candy store.
Paparazzi and overeager fans are usually just annoying, but sometimes I have to deal with real security threats. The worst safety problem I have had was when a stalker was released from prison after sending one of my clients hate mail and death threats for years. The day after he got out of the slammer, he showed up at his would-be victim’s home. Luckily, there were other guards at the house, so we all lined up, trying to look really fierce, and called the police. He drove off before they got there, and we haven’t seen him in months.
Sometimes it’s the stars themselves who are the dangerous ones. One night, I was with a $10-million-a- movie actor, and he decided to go nuts on some guy who tried to take his taxicab. He didn’t just tell the guy off though. He grabbed him and threw him on the pavement so hard that everyone thought he’d cracked his head open. I pulled my client off the dude, and then he turned on me! He was so liquored up, he didn’t even realize that I was his security guard trying to get him out of trouble.
It took two other men to restrain him. He finally calmed down enough to realize what he had done. We helped the poor cab-stealer off the ground, and he never pressed charges, which is shocking considering that my client didn’t even offer the guy an apology.
I admit, I see a lot of strange behavior, but the world of celebrities is completely different from an average person’s. Almost every star faces death threats, adoration, criticism, aggressive autograph seekers, and legal woes every day. Sometimes I wonder why they don’t just pack it in and move to a remote island. But then I wouldn’t have their wild tales to tell.