Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: The Time My DJ Showed Up High On Crack

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Time My DJ Showed Up High On Crack

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I've mentioned multiple times that I worked in the event business for more than a decade. I worked in various capacities - ad agency, professional services/consulting, and in catering sales and event management for a venue. I worked for four years at Sushi Samba. 80% of my events were corporate: banks, law firms, professional services, etc. I managed everything from a 10 person dinner to a 600 person post trade show, customer event for a chemical company. You name it, I did it.

While at Sushi Samba, I had to hire various vendors for my events. DJs, lighting companies, dancers, hostesses, trick bartenders, photographers, bands, entertainers (kids & adult), corporate entertainers like magicians or caricature artists - I even hired stilt walkers (more than once). I kept a roster of three to four vendors for each category. My "regular" DJ, we'll call him Freddie, would pay me a commission on the gigs I booked for him (as did many of my other vendors).

Freddie had a problem with the bottle but he was mostly reliable. Now, you're probably thinking, "Mostly reliable, that is unacceptable." But then again, you probably never worked in entertainment. Mostly reliable is not so bad, I had DJs who would show up more than hour late for an event.


Despite Freddie's lifestyle, he was a U of I grad with an Engineering degree, in other words, he was smart. When sober, Freddie could have a great conversation with my clients and many of my clients wanted to talk to the DJ about their music. Freddie showed up on time, or early, always picked up my call, would show up on very short notice and he was great with our sound system. Another "added value" about Freddie was, he was the kind of guy who knew how to get things. Things (or women) my clients would sometimes request, particularly my out of town, trade show attending clients. I would simply refer them to Freddie. Again, you may be appalled but you would be surprised at how many Executive Assistants would pussy-foot around the subject - How do I get my boss laid in Chicago.

Back to Freddie...
Holiday season was always crazy at Sushi Samba. I would have events starting right after Thanksgiving that went until just days before Christmas. I would have upwards of five events running simultaneously. The night specifically related to this topic, I had an event for about 100 people on our third floor lounge. It was a sports marketing agency, locally owned, and they had hired Freddie for four hours. Freddie was to "spin" from 8:00 PM until Midnight.

Normally, Freddie would show up an hour early. By 7:30 I started to worry about Freddie so I sent a few text messages. 15 minutes into the event, still no Freddie and I am angry. I decided to wait in the entrance way of the restaurant for Freddie. Around 8:30p, a car pulls up to the valet and erratically parks perpendicular to the curb. It is Freddie.

Freddie gets out of the car and storms into the restaurant only to find me waiting at the door livid. I may be a 5'5" white girl, seemingly mild mannered, but do not mess with my bread and butter. Freddie was a 300 lb black man and I was ready to take him down right there at the front door. Freddie walks in, takes one look at me and says, "Not now, I am in no mood." I take one look at Freddie and he looks like crackhead Bob so I back off.

While Freddie was "spinning" his eyes were rolling back in his head and at times he looked as though he was going to fall over. Freddie's music was completely off! It was too loud, nothing sounded right, everything was messed up. The client noticed. No one would go near Freddie to request songs because he had white stuff all over his lips and it was gooey. I had NO clue what was wrong with him. I called a friend who had been to rehab in the 90s and described Freddie's behavior. His explanation was crack but, to be honest, to this day, I have no clue.

At the end of the night Freddie had sobered up a bit. Freddie and I had a little sit down. 1. Don't ever make me look bad in front of my clients again. 2. Do you have any idea how much work I get you? (I had Freddie working almost four or five nights a week that month IN ADDITION to his regular nightclub gigs AND he would make a lot more at my events than what the nightclubs were paying him) 3. I make you more money than you make on your own. 4. You ever, EVER F**K with me like that again and I will tear your heart right out of your chest. And then I cut his pay for the night.

After that night, Freddie had two more events of mine to work in December. I controlled his alcohol intake by not allowing any of the bartenders to serve him until the last hour of his shift. When DJs worked for us, they were able to drink for free - its a perk. Freddie was a like a kitten, he happily obliged and we went back to being good friends. Freddie, my weirdo, resident DJ, crackhead.

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