Beware of the CEO: they are sneaky.
The Snack Food Association’s (SFA) convention moves from city to city, nationwide. And, like the NGA (my little story from yesterday — National Grocers Association), they have been a great client for years. Their annual convention is called “Snaxpo”, and their event kicks off in style.
One year, Snaxpo started in San Antonio with a theme party featuring Armadillo races.
One year, it was Fort Worth and a rodeo.
But my favorite was my first year with SFA — and the member party kickoff with the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas.
I love theater, and it’s seldom I get to go. Hell, in high school I was stage manager for the theater club — and we put on the BEST productions EVER to see high school, ranging from the Crucible to Little Mary Sunshine. I’ve always been a ham, albeit behind the scenes, and bossing people around back stage during high school was only a precursor to bossing people around back stage as a photographer conducting a meet and greet.
Wasn’t it George “W” Bush who called me “bossy?”
One of us needed to be….
But I divert. This SNAXPO was in Las Vegas, and the feature was the Blue Man Group. After a reception at a trendy bar inside the Palazzo, the members filed into the adjacent theater to watch the troupe dunk each other in paint, throw marshmallows, pound on colorful barrels squirting paint 12 feet in the air, and other Shakespearian drama.
The CEO, Jim McCarthy, approached me as I photographed the reception.
“Mike, do you mind? I need your ticket. We totally ran out, I have a national sponsor seatless, and need to get him into the show.”
“No problem,” I said, and handed over the pass. After all, there wasn’t much for me to do during the show, photography was prohibited, all I could do was the meet and greet following the marshmallow toss.
About 20 minutes ticked by, and the reception was winding down. Up came Jim again, a ticket in his hand.
“Here ya go,” he said, “you can have mine.”
Now, I was totally touched. Here was the freaking head of the organization giving me his PERSONAL ticket so I could relax and watch the (in)famous Blue Man Group.
Did I turn down the ticket? No. I snatched it up and filed in with the rest of those about to be entertained. Thinking, of course, Jim was the nicest of guys. (And, for the record, he is.)
About half way through the production, the Blue Men broke for the audience, fanning up the dimly lit pathways in a huge semi-circle. One stopped at my seat. He looked down on me.
Through his blue paint, I could tell something was wrong.
His eyes narrowed ever so slightly.
He reached out his blue hand. I shook my head, and melted down into my cushion, making myself tiny and invisible. I protected myself with my camera, shielding between blue hand and me, so it was clear I was a worker bee. The blue hand went to the guy next to me.
And they dragged him up on stage.
They tied him into a trapeze thing, and dunked him in paint. They twirled him around, pelted him with marshmallows, hell they did everything but give him a lobotomy.
Somehow, my suspicion was raised. I got the distinct feeling I’d been set up.
After the event — and after the meet and greet — I asked the CEO…
“Was that Blue Man expecting to find you in that seat?”
“Of course he was. I’ve seen the show. I wasn’t going to be dunked in paint, twirled around, and pelted with Marshmallows”.
“So you substituted me?”
Note to self: When photographing for SFA, keep a wary eye on the CEO, Jim McCarthy. He’s sneaky.
In truth, if I’d of known what was in store, I totally would have done it. I figured they were just going to try to saw me in half. I’ve seen too much Penn and Teller — but that’s a story for tomorrow.
This is SFA CEO Jim McCarthy: who tried to set me up to be abused on stage by the a Blue Man Group in Las Vegas nearly 8 years ago. But I don’t forget these things… This photo is from this year’s Day in DC event.
And this is an Armadillo Race…