May 3, 2013

Pay $100, watch Chris Brown drink vodka

Big news for Breezy fans: For $100, you can join the rapper for his birthday at the Emerson Theatre in Los Angeles tonight. 

“Join us FRIDAY, MAY 3, as ZING VODKA and SBE NIGHTLIFE present a very special BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION for CHRIS BROWN at THE EMERSON!” the venue’s ticketing Web site proclaims. “Music by DJ Sourmilk.”

I called a press rep for the venue to ask what I might get for my $100 birthday party ticket, other than ZING and NIGHTLIFE. I was told that Brown isn’t likely to perform. And don’t expect any of Brown’s celebrity guests to perform either, except for Mr. Sourmilk.

In fact, according to another music business source familiar with these kinds of arrangements, fans shouldn’t expect to even meet Brown at the party, whether they pay the $100 base ticket fee or the--wait for it--$120 VIP rate, which includes, per the Emerson site, "no lines, no wait."

“It’s just a party,” the venue spokesman told me.

The price tag may be steep, but none of this is a surprise. For years, celebrities have been selling their birthdays for big bucks. It works like this: A club invites a star to make a paid appearance under the auspices of a birthday or anniversary. Starstruck fans pay a door fee of, say, $30, and then get to watch a star drink and make merry behind a velvet rope. The club benefits. The star benefits. 

The fan? Well, she gets a $15 cocktail and a glimpse of a bodyguard or two.

Kim Kardashian reportedly charged a Las Vegas nightclub $100,000 for the privilege of hosting her 31st birthday. As a worker for the Marquee later told GQ, “She came an hour and a half late, and then she left after twenty minutes.”

Other stars who have made similar arrangements include Paris Hilton, who got a reported $250,000 to celebrate her 32nd birthday in Lake Tahoe; and Kevin Federline, who once raked in $175,000.

This kind of business arrangement is not to be confused with your standard six-figure celebrity appearance fee, which is charged by a star to show up at someone else’s party. No, we’re talking a very different beast: a celeb selling a private milestone for big exchange for--at least, from a fan’s perspective--relatively little.

“Fans are not going to be bonding on the dance floor with Chris Brown,” a longtime music business source explains to me. “Chris Brown is not sending them a glass of Veuve.” (Or throwing bottles of Veuve at their heads. Whoopsie! Where did that come from?)

If Brown’s $100 charge is too much for you, don’t fret: He’ll celebrate himself all over again again tomorrow night at the 1 Oak club at the Mirage in Las Vegas. 

I called the club to ask how much I’d have to pay to join Brown there. 

“It’s $40 for men,” I was told, “and $30 for the ladies.”

Stay classy, Chris.

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