The Wrangler

I recently helped out at another charity gala which raised money for hereditary inclusion body myopathies (HIBM)–a group of genetic muscular disorders. One particular form of HIBM is IBM2, which causes the muscles to waste away, and is most common in late-twenty-somethings of Iranian Jewish descent. There is currently no cure for this disease.

The event was a black and white Gatsby themed gala and took place in the world famous Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel. My team consisted of: Lisa our point person, a security/backstage manager, the voice of God, and I rounded out the group as “the wrangler.” My job that night was to “wrangle” any speakers/talent who were going to be on stage and guide them there. The first half went smoothly: everyone was at their respective tables and I delivered each of my “packages” right on time. The second half was…a little more challenging. I had a speaker go missing which, when you’re under the gun is absolutely nerve wracking. I spent 20 minutes looking through a sea of black and white tuxedos and gowns for he who shall remain nameless who…straight up hid from me. He found out that he would be performing during the dessert service and, in my opinion, threw a tantrum. I get that you want your audience’s full attention, but this is a charity gig, not your own private show where people paid just to see you. Suck it up and be a professional.

The highlight of the evening was listening to the keynote speaker. I was backstage with her before she went on and she was so kind, funny and playful. She looked absolutely flawless in her black and while floor length gown which hid her orthopedic shoes. This young and beautiful woman shared her heartbreaking struggle with the disease. She was strong and passionate and then broke down into tears when she spoke about her toddler and his hopes that “mommy will get stronger.”

The night ended on a truly only in LA random note. After the grand prize Birkin bag had been raffled off, Lisa and I joined the rest of the guests in the valet line. The female guests who had previously been dashing around in their Louboutins etc… were clutching their shoes and hobbling around on their balled up feet. Others, who had not quite given up yet, were gingerly shifting their weight from shoe to shoe, wincing each time. Suddenly, an ethereal young girl glides, and I mean glides, past me in her floor length flowy sky blue dress and 7 inch heels. And then there is another one. And another one. And another one, who sports a man in a full red suit and chunky heels on her arm. I look at Lisa and she looks at me and we realize that we had just seen Prince.

Lend a helping hand

Yesterday I had the honor of helping out with Face Forward’s annual gala. The charity, founded by the effervescent Deborah Alessi and her husband and top surgeon, David Alessi, offers pro-bono reconstructive surgery and emotional counseling for victims of domestic violence. It was a star studded affair, complete with a red carpet, exclusive auction items, and a powerhouse performance by Ms. Macy Gray (who is so nice and down to earth btw…). These glamorous events with all these moving parts don’t “just happen.” As I witnessed last night, it takes a whole team, a lot of patience, a ton of flexibility and a bit of magic to pull them off.

I was asked to help out by my friend (a seasoned road manager) who was asked to help out by her friend (a Face Forward board member) to help run talent at the event. It seemed that the the event planner, in my opinion, had bitten off a bit more than she could chew, and we were needed to lend a hand. My friend also called in four more friends to round out our rockstar team. For almost twelve hours straight we ran around making sure that all rider requirements were met, worked with volunteers, and wrangled talent and award recipients. We were thrown the extra curveballs of road closures (GLOW was going on two blocks away), swamped event parking, a delayed program start, and a program adjustment but we knocked them all out of the park. Oh, and did I mention that most of this was done sporting a floor length gown, headset, and (in my case) a freshly sprained ankle?

It was the most exhausting, frustrating, and exhilarating day that I have had in a long time. It definitely took me back to my days as a PA. And, while my legs are killing me today, I would absolutely love to help out again with future events.