Photos by G.
Before I tell you about one of the worst celebrity encounters I’ve EVER had, let me preface this story with a few things. This site turns two years old today and with close to 3,500 posts, I’d be conservative and say that at least 95% of them are about positive experiences. I’d really prefer not to waste my energy talking trash but one thing I absolutely refuse to do is be treated like crap and stay silent about it. I was given a voice and I plan on using it – and I think you’re a fool if you don’t use the one you’ve been given! Next, I’d like to say that I am fully aware that nobody on this planet owes me a thing and I have certainly kept that in mind in over thousands of encounters with famous people in all walks of life for over 20 years. If you read the “Encounters with G” section, I think it’s fairly clear that I must be doing something right.
On May 18, 2011, RuPaul was doing an in-store appearance at Best Buy in New York’s Union Square to promote his new CD “Glamazon.” As you know from the site, I am fortunate enough to have chance encounters with many of the personalities I meet, but occasionally I’ll go to a signing. I try and steer clear of these as they are usually very forced and your “face time” with people you admire is typically not very high quality. Since there were only about a paltry 100 people at the signing, Best Buy decided to let you talk to RuPaul as long as you wanted (perhaps to give him something to do for the entire duration of his 2 hour long appearance). It made the wait excruciating, especially since the weather outside was absolutely nasty. But I like RuPaul and the weather was not going to stop me from meeting a person I’ve looked up to as an inspiration for being someone I really thought was open-minded. You can only imagine some of the trials and tribulations RuPaul must have gone through in his life on his way to becoming a famous drag queen, so you’d think he’d be a very cool person.
When my friend and I had our turn meeting RuPaul, he couldn’t have been nicer. He complimented my rain coat and was happy to sign some hard to find CDs for my friend (and the pen Best Buy used for the signing was a dead black sharpie – ugh!). I asked if I could take a photo with him and I was told by a security guard named Joelle Pezely that a Best Buy cameraman was taking photos and they’d post them online. I explained to both her and RuPaul that I write a blog, so I needed the photo right away, and also that I like to use the photos I take, etc. Nothing was listed in the advert that cameras were not allowed and in fact, when my friend went to Best Buy in the morning to purchase the CD to ensure our entry to the signing, he specifically had to ask two different Best Buy employees to find out more information about the event and nothing was mentioned about a “no camera” policy.
I’ve even been to this particular Best Buy before and was able to get a photo with the band, a band who are true legends for changing the game in rock and roll. I politely tried to explain my situation about the photo and when that request went ignored, I explained that I wouldn’t have trekked down in the rain had it been communicated properly. When I was advised that if they let me take a photo, they’d have to let everyone take a photo. I said “well you should let everyone take a photo that wants one! There can’t be that many people that care.” I was clearly upset and RuPaul, a person who has been such a rule-breaker in the past, just kow-towed, and in public! I said that I would unfortunately be writing about this really negative experience and Joelle Pezely condescendingly told me “good, go ahead and write about it” while I was given the “who cares, you won’t do it and we’ve never heard of your website anyway” look. I am a man of my word and I am writing about it. And just so you know RuPaul, here’s a few fun facts on where we all rank on the World Wide Web (the lower the number, the higher your rank).
Worldwide Rank (out of 26,000,000 + websites) as of May 19, 2011:
RuPaul.com: # 1,010,119
First of all, I paid money to support RuPaul. I trekked out in nasty weather to make it to the appearance and finally, there were not that many people at the store. Clearly, I am a dedicated fan if you let actions speak louder than words. I can certainly name much bigger stars who have been a hell of a lot more accommodating in much crazier circumstances. Voices were starting to get raised and I finally gave up. Joelle Pezely decided she was not finished yelling at me and I literally had to put my hand over my face for her to stop. Of course I had to yell back because I refuse to be spoken to that way and I was practically escorted out! It was pretty ugly. Not once during this time did RuPaul speak up for me, when my approach was direct as well as courteous (until I was provoked). It was certainly uncomfortable. From a gay man to another gay man, what a horrible way to look out for each other. I am so disappointed. Obviously, RuPaul proved that he is a total phony.
UPDATE: I received an apology via email from Best Buy, which I think is very classy. They advised that Joelle Pezely is not a Best Buy employee, but instead she is RuPaul’s manager. It all makes sense now. I will no longer support RuPaul. Someone that I thought of as a great inspiration, is clearly only motivated by money. And more power to him. There are PLENTY of other artists out there that rock my world and treat their fans with much more respect. I’ll choose to spend my energy supporting them instead. There is no need for RuPaul to apologize either as I am the one who is sorry. I’m sorry for ever putting money in his pockets! I am not sorry for using my voice to speak up about this really negative experience and I hope when RuPaul sees it (and I know he will because I gave him my business card) he realizes that I’ll never be able to think of him again without a negative stigma attached to his name. RuPaul – I’d seriously fire Joelle as your manager because here’s a few cold hard facts: she was only able to wrangle about 75 people to an in store appearance. I overestimated the total number above, but Best Buy true to their word, posted photos online. I’ve been at signings where the lines are around the block and fans were treated better. Of those 75, at least 10 people saw the nasty exchange which made you lose 10% of your paying fan base in a 15 second exchange. Do what you want, but I guarantee you, you’ll never see another cent from me. Of course, bad press is still good press but you won’t be receiving ANY press from me. However, I’ll gladly post an update that Joelle has been fired. I look forward to hearing that news too. There’s a lot of great people that are without work and tryants such as Joelle should count their lucky stars to be employed! As I walked away from Best Buy, I was so disappointed in being a part of that really awful exchange, but New York is truly an amazing place and less than 2 hours later, I was graciously welcomed into the studio of another legend, artist Mark Kostabi. As you will read, he is truly someone who knows how to treat his fans right. This episode was just a little black spot on what turned out to be an epic evening.