The Directors Guild of America Awards at the Palladium is an ultra-exclusive party and awards ceremony. I was completely unaware of what the Directors Guild was, but was told that it was one of the most exclusive invites anyone could get in the entertainment business. In the early eighties, The DGA chose the Palladium as a venue for its annual party and awards ceremony. The top directors from around the world and their guests would come to the Palladium to participate and celebrate after the ceremony. This party was different than other celebrity events, as the most powerful directors in the world were in attendance. Most every SAG actor and pretty much every A-list celebrity and actor wanted in. But this was for directors and their guests only. The security was, by far, the tightest of any event I worked prior.
I was given the task of keeping unwanted fans and party crashers from getting in. I had the list and was told no one gets in who isn’t on that list. When I started to qualify the security level they expected me to enforce, I was told, if they were not on the list, no entry. Period! As the date approached, the manager came over to me to have a private conversation. He did not want the head of security to hear. He said, “If someone really famous comes to the door, make them wait and call me.” It was obvious that he liked to hook-up celebrities in return for favors, both for the club and personally. While I was committed to security, I knew that it was my manager who determined if I did or did not have a job. I had to be politically strategic in those situations.
This was a huge deal for me. I was still considering acting if the opportunity came along. My father always told me, “It’s not what you know, it is who you know.” I intended on knowing the right people. This was a huge opportunity for me to expand my options. Once people started arriving, I realized just how exclusive the event was. There were Bentleys and Ferrari’s, stretch limos and all kinds of incredible cars dropping older people off. The funny part of it was that I did not know any director by face or name, other than Stephen Spielberg or Ron Howard. They were the two directors that did not attend, or at least I did not see them arrive. So, I did not recognize anyone who came to the ropes without first checking the list. When the escort or publicist would tell me who they were, I was like, holy shit, I know that name. It was very exciting. People were taking photographs of the stars. I must have been in many of them.
Everyone was prompt. I learned that many of the guests were there early for an even more exclusive invite. As such, after the first half hour or so, the ropes were not too difficult to manage. It was almost boring. I would have preferred to be inside. Then, all of a sudden, a guy walks up to me and starts to chat. After a bit of bullshitting he said, “well aren’t you going to let me in?” I was very nervous. He was a huge star who had just headlined in the Outsiders, a hugely successful film. It was Matt Dillon, but I could not remember his name. I was that nervous. So, when he asked, I looked at my guest list and asked him whose guest he was. It was humiliating. At least I knew he wasn’t a director, even if I couldn’t remember his name.
Well it just so happened that Matt Dillon was not on the list. What the FUCK was I going to do now? How could anyone turn away a movie star like Matt Dillon? When he finally told me his name he said, “I am not on that list. Do I have to be?” He said it with an aggressive, ballsy attitude and smirk on his face. He was even somewhat threatening. I stayed calm even though I wanted to punch him in his face. I thought about letting him in and risking my job. I didn’t know if the manger would protect me or if security would fire me. There was no way to reach them on the radios. They were too busy inside, so I was forced to make a judgment call.
We were about the same height. He came up to the ropes as if he were getting final instructions from a referee at a boxing match, before we were going to touch gloves and go at it. He was staring directly into my eyes. So, I did what any badass Irish kid would do, I stared right back at him, put my clipboard down and moved right up to the ropes. I was going to intimidate him into either going at it right there, or changing his tone. After all there are worse things for a career than knocking out Matt Dillon, or getting knocked out by a movie star. I was not into fighting at all. I swore it off after having hundreds of fistfights during my childhood. I was a typical Irish wise-ass who never backed down to most anyone. These days I would run for the hills, screaming like a little girl, begging for help. Well maybe not, but there was no fucking way he was getting in without going through me. At that point he started to realize he was fucking with the wrong guy.
I made him wait at the ropes for over fifteen minutes before I even tried to call management and security. After he stopped staring at me and trying to intimidate me, he switched strategies. He smiled and asked me to please call the manager. It became obvious that he was the guy the manger was talking about earlier. So, what the heck was I going to do now? Call Management or Security? I played it cool. When I heard the head of security was coming to the front for another issue, I called my manager. I figured if they got there at the same time and saw Matt Dillon and I standing toe-to-toe, they would come over. My manager did. As soon as Matt saw my manager, his tone completely changed again. He said, “don’t you know who the fuck I am?” I respectfully replied yes I do and I would love a photograph and your autograph, if you do not mind. He was livid and could not believe my audacity.
As my manger signaled me to let him in, he said, “You have a big set of balls dude.” My reply was “if you only knew, you never would have fucked with me to begin with.” I let him know I was willing to go anytime, even inside. He really got to me. I was only too ready to go at it, but I started to think that it would be far better to hang out with him and pick up some chicks together. So, I thanked him for being patient and asked him to wait for the head of security to leave. I told him that his manager friend was not the guy with the guest list. The only way he was getting in was if my boss said it was ok. I left him at the ropes and went over to Steve and asked him if I could let a friend in. He looked up at the ropes and saw who it was and nodded his head yes. I went back to the ropes. As I did, Matt put his hand on my shoulder like were old buddies. I flinched a bit, thinking we was going to take a cheap shot at me. But as he did, he winked at my boss and said, “Do you mind if I take this guy in with me?“ Much to my surprise the head of security said go ahead They all laughed as we went in together.
At that moment, I was feeling beyond cool. So, Matt and I walked in together. Once we got in, he went to mingle with some directors. I went to the dance floor, where two super-hot actresses were dancing together. There was no one else on the dance floor. Once inside, I realized that it was a very low-key event. Everyone was in a tux or gown. Most were much older than we were. I started hanging on the same side of the dance floor as the two hot girls. As soon as I got close to them the music changed. The DJ started playing faster, more current, music. As the next song came on, a smoking hot blonde actress grabbed me and pulled me onto the dance floor. I figured she must have thought I was someone famous. She was way too hot to be pulling me onto the dance floor. I had no idea who she was, but she was a great dancer.
We were dancing everywhere including on the speakers. It was old school, pretty much the couple’s dances that my mom taught me when I was learning to dance as a teenager. It was not how I would typically dance in a nightclub. We were getting the attention of the directors and guests. That was exactly what she wanted. She really knew how to dance. As each new song would start, she would change her dancing style to match. Almost every song had a music video. And, every music video had dance moves. She was emulating every dance move from most every song that was playing. I thought that she was a professional dancer as opposed to an actress.
By the end of the night we were making out in remote sections of the bleachers. Since it was a VIP event, every bar was open, but the place was relatively empty. We made our way up to the Michael Todd room and went behind some white curtains. We were hot and sweaty. She took off my bow tie and unbuttoned my shirt and started fanning us with some napkins. Well that is what I thought she was doing. Before I knew it, she was unbuttoning the rest of my shirt and taking my belt off. She pulled my pants off me without even unzipping them. She leaned back over a cocktail table to reveal that she wasn’t wearing any underwear and we started to go at it. I was young and she had been teasing me all night, so I came jackrabbit fast. As soon as I did, I heard my manager’s voice saying “John there are cameras everywhere. You and your guest better get back down to the party.” She was freaking out. I didn’t realize it, but she was an extremely popular actress.
The last thing she wanted was a videotape of me fucking her on a cocktail table. My manager assured her when she started freaking out that the video cameras were off in the Michael Todd room because the organizers insisted on no videos or photographs. They even turned off the security video that night. He showed us no tapes were in the VCR’s and she was relieved. Talk about a buzz kill though! He confided in me later that I would never have been given the opportunity to work another party if security found out I was banging a guest. So, he really did have my back, just like I had his, at the front door.
I never saw that blonde bombshell again. Later, Matt told me that she was from a family of famous actors and actresses. I had no idea who she was. I figured that he was just fucking with me, for fucking with him earlier. I didn’t know who she was, but even if it was Rosanne, I would never confirm or deny it. Regardless of who she was, it was a great night. And, not just because I hooked up with a future movie star. It was the night I danced in front of hundreds of directors with the hottest girl at the DGA, but also became friends with Matt Dillon and his brothers. His brothers came later in the evening, when they opened the place to the general public. They all came to my first NYC nightclub photo exhibition, weeks later, at Heartbreak. As a side note, from that point on, I always worried about what was captured on those Palladium cameras. I did aa lot of crazy shit there before I found out about them.