I will be writing an awful lot in the next several days about my experience on August 8th when I got the VIP treatment and met Gaga backstage as one of the 30 Los Angeles ticket holders for backstage VIP (those $1,500 price range tickets) but I wanted to let people know quickly about several guidelines to keep in mind:
1. There is a bag check.
It varies in how thorough it is, but a basic point and shoot or retractable lens camera and binoculars are fine (at least in Los Angeles.) As a backstage ticket-holder, I had to pass through security 3 times: the VIP tent with appetizers, drinks, DJ, and photo props, the entrance to the underground halls where we ate the main food, met the cast, had the tour, and the re-entrance to the building itself where we saw the show. At the security check, you pass through a floor to 7 foot tall full body scanner, and a guard waits at the end to wand you down. At the last two passes, since we were wearing the wristbands, the security was more of a glance. Drugs aren't permitted, and depending on the security guard you get, neither are vape pens. Rechargeable phone chargers and external battery packs are okay. YES the lanyard for VIP is a phone charger, but it is missing the key part that plugs it to the wall, so many of my 30 new best friends complained it would do no good at the concert. ( All that also being said, I was able to record the entire show for 2 hours. )
2. All groups to meet Gaga are groups of 6 people. There are no exceptions. If you have a tight knit group of 4 friends, you will be added 2 to make 6 or some of you will be split up to make another group become 6. No one likes to split up from their friends, so most people clung in little bands of 2's and 3's and 4's, however, the VIP manager will encourage you throughout the night to mingle in the VIP area and make friends until you find your group of 6.
3.Here's where it gets Hunger Games on everyone: you must decide amongst yourselves who gets to stand on Gaga's side. Of course Gaga only has two sides. In most groups, people worked out who deserved the experience the most among them: a disabled child, someone who's never met her, someone who's never had a photo with her, someone who flew from 20 hours away, etc. You must all fairly decide these merits together amongst yourselves as a group of 6 people.
If you as a group CANNOT decide who will stand next to her, the VIP manager will do it for you. Mine took a glass and filled it with 6 pieces of paper. 2 pieces had a pink star, the other 4 were blank. you close your eyes and draw papers after she shakes them around vigorously. So randomization plays a decision maker if you can't come to your own feelings about who stands where.
There is only a 16% percent chance you get right and a 16% percent chance you get to be on her left, so that's a total of 28% odds it will be you.
4. You don't meet Gaga right away.
It is rare she will visit the mess hall/cafeteria / eating hall where the dancers and musicians eat. Sometimes she will dart in and grab some fruit, but it is rare as she doesn't have a lot of time. Don't expect to run into her in the halls. Guards stand at every door and exit, and are always eyeing your credentials. You get escorted to and from restrooms as well. We waited until almost 9:00 pm in LA before we got to meet her, we gathered in a side hall an hour before. She will meet your group about 15 minutes before stage time.
5. All your belongings (clear backpack, shirts, posters, anything portable) and purses are to be grouped together and left behind when you meet her.
Ours were in a row in the hall where they are guarded by a guard (and cameras) who never leaves them when you go to meet her. This also means phones and recording devices, although in my case I left one of my phones in my back pocket by mistake on silent and it was never noticed.
6. Gifts are to be given to the VIP Manager or Security head. At my show, the VIP manager took the 600 song Ipod and another young man's pottery gift to Lane Bentley, who placed both in Gaga's dressing room. Or so I was told.
7. Gaga is more protected now than ever, in this day and age of concert uncertainty and global terrorism.
I don't say this to scare you guys, but it's true. I'm glad the Haus is taking steps to protect her. Any sudden motion around Gaga can possibly result in you being taken away from her. When you go to meet Gaga, you can't have anything in your hands. Even though my cell phone was silenced in my back pocket, I got lucky they didn't see it. But they will kick you out if you reach for it or attempt a selfie or something like that.
8. When you walk into the room to meet her, you have to keep your hands visible above your head so security can see they are empty.
To quote the lead security master for the Haus (i forgot his name, I'll find it later) you don't want this to be your "big moment".
"Don't think this moment is your time to pull out that special gift and surprise her with it. Any movement into your pockets, your coat, behind you, your pants, is when my team will decide you can be removed." No one tried anything, thankfully.
9. You get 30 seconds with Gaga per group of 6 people.
Yes. Thirty seconds per group. This means time to file in, pose and smile, get 2 clicks on that camera in front of you, say hello to her, a brief word, and goodbye. IT GOES BY FAST. Too effing fast in my personal opinion, for the thousands of dollars some of us paid for this.
This also means about 5 seconds per person with her. I got *extremely* lucky in my group that two of the girls had nothing really they wanted to say to her, and they very graciously gave me their 5 seconds each. This gave me about 15 seconds to talk. During which I explained I worked for GagaDaily, that I was fullfilling what she asked for back in October to bring her a GagaDaily playlist of remixes, had given it to Lane, and this was only a taste, there are over 35,000 in my collection at home. Before I was even finished talking to her, security had already ushered in the group of 6 behind me, and was tugging on my jacket to get me out. So make sure you know what you are going to say to her.
10. Despite all of this, it will be worth it.
Was it worth the several thousand I paid? That is debatable by many, but I know I fully enjoyed being there and being able to see her, and learning the vast mechanics of how a world tour of superstar status gets put together physically on the road. The food was excellent, they had tables and tables of choices (filet mignon, spinach salad, and hot sauce of all varieties for me!) and the chance to eat with the Haus in their huge communal hall was really nice, you see a lot of familiar faces grabbing a bite. The chance to experience the instrumentals of the soundcheck are unforgettable too, I was losing my sh*t dancing to Scheisse being blasted at me full force as I stood in front of the speakers (Who needs hearing ... if it's too loud you're TOO OLD, B*TCHES )
Yes, it was worth it
Now, let's hope I didn't blink in my photo!
One last thing of note:
Gaga will not pose with anything that could be considered a political symbol.
Two men waiting to see her had stuffed a big gay pride rainbow flag in their pockets. The head security guard refused to let them take it back, saying she will not pose with any political symbols of any kind. (even though we all know she's pro Gay pride, rules are rules, I guess...)
Edit 2: (Why do I keep remembering misc. details LOL)
You cannot touch Gaga other than to reach behind her in a gently holding hug with one arm as you are being photographed, if you are one of those 2 people.
She is in full thick stage makeup and costume, and as the security captain said, if she messes up her face or outfit, because you touched her, she'll delay the whole show that much longer to get it fixed again and likely won't be happy with you.
edit 3: (I KEEP REMEMBERING stuff)
Selfies of any kind are forbidden backstage and with Gaga.
So is photography of any kind, the tour guide told us it's kind of like you wouldn't take photos in someone's private home, it was the same principle. Also the security manager told us, why would we risk 'getting kicked out taking a selfie when the professional photographer will take a far better photo' of us with her.
She cannot autograph anything, because there is no time.
The security captain stressed that we shouldn't ask her to sign stuff because she doesn't have the time. She has to be onstage in about 10 to 15 minutes from the time she meets with you. Also, since you can't bring anything in with you, it's impossible for her to have much to sign even if she wanted to.
On that note, I agree with what someone said about having a signed CD per person with M&G $1,500.00 ticket. That should have been a thing.
On the UPSIDE, finally and quite possibly MOST IMPORTANTLY in ALL OF THIS:
Gaga herself is very kind and friendly in those seconds you have with her.
I had a great interaction for those 15 seconds. She didn't have glasses on, she smiled at me, and the generic "hello" she says to everyone changed into an "Oh, hi!" when I said I worked for GagaDaily. The tone of her voice changed and she smiled sweetly. Everything was so fast that i don't remember exactly what she was wearing but I think it was light blue or white in color.
Since I only had 15 seconds, I ended up doing most of the talking and explaining, but after she said hello and as I was walking to be on her right side (my left side) I opened my jacket a little further so she could read my GagaDaily ModRAVE teeshirt so she could see I was one of those other people she met once As we took our places, she put her arm around one side of me and gave a small little squeeze , like a one armed hug. I smiled as best I could and through my teeth told her about how we'd met at the dive bar *click* *picture was taken* and then how I'd given the ipod of 600 Gaga Daily remixes to Lane. She put both hands skyward and looked up and said to me, "I NEEDED remixes!" Then I said, "Well, if you ever need more, I have 35,000 at home, on harddrives, if you ever need archives for the Haus..." And I smiled and pointed to myself, "I can hook you up!" By now, security was having none of me delaying this anymore and tugged at my sleeve saying, "Okay, time to go..." And she was already posing with the next group of six. So, it's brief as heck but it's worth it
How often does ANYONE have gauranteed time with her ever anymore...!
@not asher613 Also, I am continuing to write a huge descriptive experience post about my time at the JWT. Especially the details of how backstage really works.