Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 55byhollywoodjim©
It was late in the afternoon on a Thursday when Amy Adamson called me out the blue. I'd worked with her many times before and she was more than responsible for Tigress' return to the music charts. It might be hard to believe but in all the time we'd known one another I never tried to put any moves on her, but I knew that way back when, my old partner Chris had. He was promptly shot down in flames when told through the grapevine that she preferred the affections of the feminine to the masculine. An intriguing image, yes, but I wasn't going to try to make her "change teams" as it were.
If you'll excuse the pun, I doubted I'd have a "sporting chance" and would likely "strike out" anyway.
"Jim! Glad I got a hold of you!" Amy said in a breathless tone
"I've got a photo shoot I need done but the guy I was going to use bailed on me."
"Whoa, wait a minute! If you needed a photo project done that would be me that bailed. Do you know something I don't?"
"Trust me, it's a long story" She continued "can you come out to Vegas and take over?"
Normally, Vegas would be the magic word for me. But this sounded odd.
"Uh, I guess I could...does Chuck know about this?"
"Oh yes, he knows, call him and you'll get all the logistical stuff, bye!" she said as she hung up.
Marvelous, I thought. I don't mind my work, but last minute doesn't always mean a project you'll love.
"What do you mean, I know all about this?" Chuck yelled
"That's what she told me." I replied, just as confused as Chuck
"Give a girl a big break and she drives me up the fuckin' wall..." he mumbled as he grabbed his phone and dialed Amy
I took that as my cue to leave his office
"STAY RIGHT THERE!" he yelled at me just as I reached for the door handle.
"Amy! What the hell are you doing?" he said angrily into the phone "I got you the photographer you wanted, that Demi wanted and now you want to change everything again and dump the guy?"
If Chuck was mad, this was clearly shaping up to be a fun project! And who was this "Demi" I was hearing? Demi Moore? Nah, that wouldn't provoke a tirade like this from our fearless leader.
"Oh, no you didn't...no, you didn't...we had a deal Amy, you know that!" he was clearly arguing back and forth with her "What do you want from me? It wasn't my idea...OK that was my idea...whatever Amy...fine, FINE! Fine you'll get what you want...Uh-huh...uh-huh...whatever, he'll be there." He said as he hung up.
Chuck looked at me and let out a disgusted sounding sigh.
"OK, Hollywood, you're going to Vegas." He said as he pulled an envelope from his desk "Painted Desert Casino, you were there once, right?"
Hearing the name brought back a lot of memories. It was where Paris and I had quite a memorable night together, and we first worked with Tigress there too.
"Whoa, yes, man, it's been awhile. We first saw Tigress there." I said
"You might be seeing more of them soon. They're considering a residency gig there." He said as he scribbled some notes. "3 months, 4 shows a week."
"Who's the subject of this project, anyway?" I finally asked
"Demi Lovato, she's gonna do a warm-up show there and wants new photos for the tour book." Chuck replied
"Just out of curiosity, I thought I ran things in the photo department."
"How the hell do I know?" he yelled as he threw his hands up in frustration "She's already letting the power go to her head...just get yourself out to Vegas; she's arranging everything else you'll need."
As I left his office I heard him say "Aloha."
I hurriedly gathered my gear together and headed for the airport. On a project like this I figured 2 cameras and extra memory cards would be enough. In the envelope were my hotel confirmation info and a strongly worded request from accounting that I save all receipts, no matter how small, for reimbursement. From what I'd heard they were becoming sticklers for that kind of stuff.
For all of Chuck's bluster, this looked like an easy project from what Amy told me in a text message I received on the plane. Demi Lovato was her newest project and she would be kicking off a tour at Painted Desert's mini-arena and for the tour book, she'd primarily need shots of her performance. With the time in between, I might get the Vegas weekend I'd never had.
"Jim! Oh my god! So glad you made it!" Amy said excitedly as she met me in the lobby of the hotel "You don't know how much this means to me, I thought this was gonna be an easy project, man was I wrong!"
"So what happened to make Chuck go ballistic at you?"
Amy rolled her eyes
"The previous guy we had did all the studio stuff but suddenly got an attitude and felt working with us was somehow beneath him so he dropped out. We'd pretty much gotten what we wanted anyway, so no big loss."
"Chuck made it seem like you wanted him out."
"Well, he's partially right." She said "but I felt it was better to work with someone I knew, so who better than you?"
"I guess I can't argue with that."
"Great! OK, get yourself squared away and meet me in the arena, you can get some shots of the soundcheck and her meet 'n greet." She said as she handed me a backstage pass "I'll make sure there's a laminated one ready for you." She said as she hurried off, chattering into her cellphone as she walked away.
A half hour later, I was escorted into the empty arena. It wasn't a huge one but ideal for a show like this one. I got my main camera out and as I was getting things together, a small group of teen girls was led in and were met at the stage by Amy and a big guy I later found out was a bodyguard named Ike. I could faintly hear Amy welcoming them and after a small speech, her voice went up in excitement.
"OK, is she there?" Amy said looking towards the side of the stage "OK, everyone! Say hi to...Demi Lovato!"
Instantly, all the girls screamed and went for their camera phones as she walked out from the wings wearing black jeans and a Texas Rangers jersey, topped off with a vintage denim jacket. Her thick reddish-brown hair looked gorgeous and she had an electric smile for everyone. I started snapping a few shots when Amy came down to join me.
"Great spot, Jim. She always enjoys these." She said
"Want me to do shots of her with fans?"
"Oh! That would be great! We can do those after the show and put them on her site."
Demi was all smiles as she answered every question;
"Is Demi your real name?"
"It's actually short for Demetria."
"Do you just play piano?"
"I play guitar too, I'm getting better at it, not perfect yet but I'm getting better"
"Who's your favorite guitar player?"
"Right now, I love this British guy named Jimmy Page, he's the guy in Led Zeppelin, um, the guys in the Eagles are really cool too. The guys in the Stones are great. I'm really into players from long ago for some reason. Their stuff just sounds so cool to me."
While Demi answered questions from the fans I moved to the side of the stage and snapped off a few shots. Demi looked over at me as I lowered my camera, we gave smiles to one another.
"I hope you're getting my good side." Demi said jokingly
"Oh, with you every side's a good one." I said in the same tone, making everyone laugh
Demi seemed to like our little flirtation and watched me closely as I clicked away. Her interaction with fans was sweet as she gladly answered all their questions before performing 2 songs acoustically. After a few more questions, Amy saw her cue and stepped in to wrap things up as Demi thanked everyone and went offstage. The fans were still giggling at their encounter with Ms. Lovato as they were led out.
"Great job Jim! We'll have to get together for dinner you can show me your photos." Amy said as she bounded off the stage.
Showtime came and the arena was filled with 2,000 screaming teenage girls waiting for Demi to hit the stage. As this show was intended as a warm-up for her tour, she did a mix of her own songs and some cover tunes. She opened the show with her take on Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak", complete with Police lights and sirens. Her version of "Moves Like Jagger" got the biggest response, but I was surprised by her take on Elvis' "All Shook Up". Somebody in her band must've heard Rod Stewart's version and Demi really took to Rod's vocalizing of the line "I'm in love...I'm in love...I'm in love...I'm in love...I'm allllll shook up!" It gave her band a chance to show off, in particular her guitarist who added some nasty slide guitar tricks. And for an encore, it was another Thin Lizzy classic "The Boys Are Back in Town" followed by Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". I think she chose that one just so she could sing the line "...take a long ride on my motorbike 'til I'm ready" and her band could yell back "Ready Demi?"
Whoever did her setlist was someone I wanted to meet, if only to check out their music collection.
The backstage area was its usual hubbub as I went into a side room decorated like a cozy bar and got my gear setup. Soon Amy and Ike the security guy came in and quickly checked the room.
"Checking for stalkers?" I said with a chuckle
The pair looked at me with an expression that said my remarks were NOT funny before leaving the room. A few minutes later Demi was brought in, she'd changed into a loose green t-shirt with royal blue Addidas pants.
"Hi, camera guy!" she said to me with a cute little wave "I can't wait to see your photos."
"Well, I hope they meet with your satisfaction." I said back
"They will, I know they will." She said confidently
Amy led a group of fans in and we were quickly snapping photos of Demi with her fans, many wearing purple concert shirts with her face on them. She freely hugged and posed with every one, she certainly loved her fans.
After about an hour, the group was escorted out.
"Thanks, Jim" Amy said as she left with Demi "Meet us up at the Summit and we'll have dinner."
The Summit was a luxury, members-only type restaurant at the top of the casino and it offered a spectacular view of the strip. Amy and Demi arrived first, I quickly setup an IPad to show all the photos I took. I sat in between Demi and Amy as we clicked through the shots I took. I went for a mix of color and black and white shots and Demi was excited by the variety of photos.
"Wow, you take good photos Jim!" she said excitedly "I don't which one I like best."
Demi looked so casually gorgeous now in a black dress with gold jewelry accents. She had a beautiful perfume on too, unless that was Amy's.
Amy started to tell how I'd worked with her long ago on a shoot with Rihanna and later on the Triple Threat Tour. Demi eagerly wanted to hear all about it, as she was one of her favorite singers and excited about a song she planned to do on Rihanna's next album. I tried not to look embarrassed as Amy told how good my work was, or how Rihanna had surprised me one night onstage when it was my birthday. Over dinner Amy talked about the upcoming tour. It would be a huge cross-country trip, her biggest yet.
"Maybe we should get Mr. Photo Guy here to come with us." Demi said with a giggle as she playfully gripped my arm.
"Yes, you can never have too much of an entourage, you know." Amy added
I knew that as much fun as the idea sounded, I wouldn't be available as Artists Unlimited was committing to several film projects in different parts of the country, and I'd be needed for at least one or more of them.
None of us were drinking. Demi declined a glass of wine, noting how proud she was of her sobriety and stuck to ginger ale, as did I.
As we finished dinner, Amy stepped out to take a call on her phone, leaving me alone with Demi.
"So, Jim...what do you think of Vegas?" she asked as she leaned forward in her chair
I rolled my eyes in response
"Well, it's definitely a city that never sleeps. I've been here a few times but I've never really gotten a chance to see much of it. I'm always working."
"I know just how you feel" she said with a nod "the last year has just been so non-stop for me. When we finish this tour I'm taking a lonnnng vacation on a beach somewhere." She said with a big smile
"Oh, take me with you." I said casually
Demi responded with a sly smile
"You got it, babe." She replied with a smile as our glasses clinked.
Amy returned now
"I've had enough, guys. I'm calling it a night." She said
"Good idea, Jim it was so nice meeting you." Demi said with a kiss
"The same here." I said as we parted outside the restaurant.
Demi made sure to look over her shoulder and wink at me as she left.
Amy was right, I was beat too. It had been a whirlwind day and I hadn't even asked if they'd need me for anything else. So my return home was uncertain at the moment, wonderful.
I wandered through the casino, taking the long way back to my room. It was still intoxicating to be there, even without betting a dime. As I passed by a huge window that looked out onto the pool, I noticed the west tower. It was there that Paris Hilton had surprised me, and provided one memorable sleepover. I could see the penthouse suites at the top lit up and maybe a few shadowy figures on the balconies. I wonder if she ever bought a place there, she'd said they'd made her an offer to buy one.
Thinking about that time made me smile.
I turned and saw something else that made me smile, no, make that gasp. Amidst the glittering lights of the casino, atop a platform that slowly rotated, with a light that only made it sparkle, it sat.
And man, was it beautiful.
Two wheels of retro glory. Red, white and blue teardrop gas tank, chrome everywhere the eye could see.
It was Peter Fonda's Harley Davidson motorcycle, straight out of Easy Rider, on display at a Vegas casino with a small collection of other classic movie cars and bikes.
All I could do was look and say "Whoa..."
I immediately got out the little Nikon camera I'd just bought. The irony was not lost on me. Here I was, a big time photographer who traveled the world, who tonight had snapped dozens of concert shots of one Demi Lovato, with top of the line equipment, and to photograph a piece of movie history all I had at this moment was the little point and shoot camera I'd bought at Wal-Mart along with a bag of kitty litter for Smokie the cat.
The bike looked beautiful, like it had rolled out of the movie, intact. Next to it, fittingly, was the orange Harley Dennis Hopper had ridden. The jackets and hats each had worn in the film were hanging on the bikes too. Man, was it beautiful.
"Great way to end the night." I said to myself after I'd photographed each from every angle I could think of.
The next morning, I was attacking the breakfast buffet and reading the comics when my phone rang.
"Hey, Jim!" it was Amy calling "Are you on your way to the airport?"
"No, I was about to book an afternoon flight, why?"
"Uh-huh...Let me ask you this" she said slowly "Would a location shoot be impossible for you to do on short notice?"
I was a little dumbfounded.
"Uh...depends on the location, I guess."
"I see, okay, well let me bounce an idea off of you." She replied, sounding thoughtful
"If you wanted to do more photos, your ideas alone, what could be setup on short notice, like within the casino grounds or close by?" she asked
"Man, I-I'm not sure. The casino certainly has a lot of possibilities but I don't have all my gear here and..."
I happened to look down at the Nikon holding the bike photos I took last night, and heard a loud "click" in my head.
"Uh, does Demi like motorcycles?"
A few phone calls later, and I was riding in a limo with Demi Lovato and her manager Amy Adamson. Behind us was a van carrying the Harley motorcycle from the casino. Amy had cleverly arranged with them to have the bike trucked out to some desert land the casino owned for the afternoon. My idea was to photograph her posing on the bike on a flat part of the desert, maybe with the sun setting behind her. It was pretty impromptu, I'll say that, but if it worked it would be spectacular.
"WOW! What a beauty!" Demi shouted as the bike was wheeled out of the van. "And this was in a movie?" she said as her hair and makeup people worked their magic.
"Well, sort of, classic film from the sixties called 'Easy Rider'" I said as I stood nearby "but it's not the actual bike from the film, this is like a precise copy of it."
"Still, it's a beauty." Demi said with a smile to me as she gently ran a finger over the gas tank while looking at me with her beautiful brown eyes.
Out of the corner of my eye, the rep from the casino was tapping his watch while looking at me.
"Right! OK! Let's get it on, people!" I said excitedly to the small crew assembled and we got to work.
Demi wore a replica of the Fonda jacket with its American flag stitched on the back and black leather pants as she looked seductively over her shoulder, like she was the one riding the bike. The shoot went perfectly, Demi seemed to look the part of a biker chick as she draped herself on the bike, sunglasses on or off, the desert winds gently blowing through her thick brown hair better than any studio wind machine could. At one point I had her sit on the ground at an angle for a close-up that would show her reflection on the chrome of the Harley's "panhead" engine.
And I got my "sunset photo" at just the right time. Demi looked great!
"That's a wrap, everyone! Thank you!" I said as the casino guys immediately grabbed the bike like it was a stack of winning poker chips.
"Wow, this was so much fun!" Demi said as she hugged me "I can't wait to see these photos! You are such a cool guy!"
"Aw, shucks, ma'am I'm just doing my job." I replied to laughter from her
"Well, you do it very well. Bye, babe!" Demi said as she went off to the limo with Amy.
"Thanks, Billy...I owe you one." I said to the driver as I shut the door on the truck that delivered me back into Vegas. Yeah, maybe I should've ridden back in the limo with Demi, but I figured it was only right to help out the people who are often the real reason shoots like this go as planned.
I'd just gotten back to my room when I realized I should've sprung for burgers on the way. Oh well...maybe room service is still open. Just as I started to look over the menu, there was a knock on my door. Looking through the peephole I saw it was Demi.
"Hiya!" she said in that bouncy tone of hers as I opened the door "I didn't know if you'd eaten anything so..."
She held up a takeout bag from the Mexican restaurant in the hotel.
"Better than room service, I promise." She said
"Well, who am I to argue." I shrugged as she breezed in past me wearing an oversized pink t-shirt and grey sweatpants.
"I don't know what you like to drink, so I figured water was best." She said as she quickly set things up "Can I see the photos you took?"
"Uh, sure, that's a good idea." I replied as I went for my gear bag
"I'm still so jazzed up from the photo shoot and the concert last night." She said excitedly "I mean, can you, like, sleep?"
I was at a loss for words at the moment, so I just gave a look of agreement
I quickly hooked up the IPad again and started to click through each shot.
"Oh...my...god! These are so cool!" she said excitedly of a shot where she looked over her shoulder at the camera "I look so dangerous here!"
"Thanks, I wasn't sure if they'd turn out like I imagined."
"Whoa, I really look good there, don't I? Like a real biker chick."
"Yes...and the bike's nice too."
We both laughed heartily and Demi clutched my arm as she laughed
She now looked at me with an easy smile
"You're a funny guy, Jim." She said "I'm really glad you came out here. You made all the difference, you really did."
"Well, Amy's a friend and all so..." I shrugged