K is for Kid Rock

Every day in April I will be participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Each day I will write a post dealing with an issue that is near and dear to me that starts with the letter of the Alphabet the corresponds with the day of the month. Neat right? Today is April 11th so the letter of the day is K.

K is for Kid Rock. And the story of how we fell in love.

Peter Shapiro called me and said “The U2 3D Concert Film that I produced is having it’s world premiere next week at the Cannes Film Festival. Saturday night at 8 pm at the Palais des Festivals. The biggest and most prestigious theater in Cannes. U2 is going to give a surprise concert on the stairs of the theater. Because we have a new baby my wife is bailing. You wanna come as my date? Just get yourself a tuxedo and get to Cannes next weekend.” No way was I gonna pass on that.

Cannes is in the South of France – there aren’t a ton of flights going there. And since every rich asshole who fancies himself a film producer just *needs* to be there that week the flights are ridiculously expensive. Especially on short notice. I pulled out a map and picked a few major cities within a reasonable driving distance, and then googled motorcycle rentals in those places. About 20 minutes later I had a flight booked to Milan and a reservation made for a BMW R1200 GS motorcycle. I went to Saks Fifth Avenue and bought a fancy tux on the cheap thanks to a friend and an employee only 60% off sale and was prepped to turn myself into Jake Bond for the weekend. I stuffed that tuxedo, a few t-shirts and some changes of socks and underwear into a backpack and headed for the airport.

When I landed in Milan I went straight to the bike rental joint and picked up my partner in crime for the weekend. I somehow managed to explain to the rental agent that I was trying to get to Genoa, which was due south of Milan and on the Mediterranean. He directed me towards the motorway and off I went. A few miles down I stopped at a services station and took a look at a roadmap encased in plexiglass. It looked pretty simple to me. Keep south on the motorway til I got to the Mediterranean and and then make a right and hug the coast until I made it to Cannes. I had 3 days to make that happen. No need to buy a map. No sweat.

My Ride

My Ride

The ride was gorgeous. I spent three days just cruising at a leisurely pace, stopping every hour or so for a glass of wine and a few scraps of food. This was 2006 – the dark Bush years – so I just told everyone I met I was from Toronto and had no problem making friends. On my 2nd night I pulled up to a hotel in a small seaside town and got a room. I inquired about where to find some fun and they pointed me towards a Casino, and warned that I would not be welcome looking as I did…. How convenient, then, that I had a tuxedo. I wasn’t yet in Monaco but this place was straight out of a 007 film. This was nothing like Vegas, Atlantic City or Indian Casinos. This was a full on palace stocked with white haired men in black tuxedos and their trophy wives in gowns and gloves. Even in my tuxedo I was pretty sure they would smell the staunch of my pauper’s underpants. I played a few hands of blackjack before I realized this wasn’t the kind of place where I was gonna find the sort of mediterranean magic I was looking for, so I wandered through the town until I found the Italian Riviera equivalent of a “dive bar” and got to drinking.

I’ve never really had a problem finding trouble. I’ve had a nose for it ever since I was a kid. Or maybe trouble just found me? Either way we are like the north and south ends of magnets, always being drawn towards one another. After a few drinks the bartender clued me in to the fact that there was a ‘secret’ strip club upstairs. Normally titty bars aren’t my thing, and the only titties I like to touch are the ones I use my brain and booze to barter for, not the ones I buy my way onto, but, well, being in Italy I wasn’t about to pass up on this kind stranger’s invite to their exclusive flesh fiesta. The scene was more like a brothel and less a typical strip club… I went upstairs and it was just me and a gaggle of disinterested gals sitting around and listening to some lousy space age funk… I ordered a drink and the girls approached me one by one to ask if I would like to go to a private room for some “dancing.” I picked the girl who spoke the most English…which wasn’t much at all. We went to the back room and she told me it was 50 euros for 3 songs of “dancing” in this room. When in Itlay, right? I pulled out some cash… then came the hard sell… 100 euros for a handjob, 150 for a blowjob and 200 euros to fuck her… I’m all for rewarding hard working members of the service industry, and have been known to be a pretty good tipper, yet having this girl service me for cash just didn’t feel right… buuuuut, I had been drinking all day. I had to have some sort of fun, right? That’s when I noticed the string peeking out of her panties, and my mind went into overdrive. After a heated negotiation that found me trying to use every variation of “yes, Im serious” we struck up a deal. 50 euros for her to take her panties off and dance in front of me while I slowly removed the tampon from her body. To this day, it stands as one of the most erotic encounters I’ve ever had with a woman in a foreign country who barely spoke English. I felt naughty at the time. But when I woke up the next morning and found the tampon wrapped in a napkin in my tuxedo pocket, well then I just felt dirty. And I love feeling dirty.

I hit the road early that morning so I wouldn’t be in rush to get to Cannes, and had one simple instruction: get to this specific hotel NO LATER THAN 5pm to pick up my credentials for the film premiere. There’s no feeling like piloting a world class motorcyle over the rolling seaside hills along the mediterranean. Part of me wished the road would just go on forever, but knowing I had such an intriguing destination made me savor every piece of pavement as In rolled over it. When I got to Monaco I had to make a detour and ride through that city / state / country? They were preparing for the Grand Prix so I just followed the grandstands and imagined ripping up those roads at 200+ MPH with all the spectators and could almost hear their cheers over the revving of my engine. That was a great side trip, but it was getting late and I needed to made a dash for Cannes. That’s the great thing about motorcycles – they are perfect for leisurely rides, but can transform into rockets when you need to make up time… I wasn’t too stressed. Before long I saw Cannes in the distance… it’s pretty built up compared to the rest of the coast in that area, which was lucky for me since I didn’t have a map, a GPS or even a cell phone. All I had was the name of a hotel that Shappy had told me was “right in downtown Cannes – you can’t miss it. Just be SURE to be there by 5pm before they close the office for the day and you won’t be able to get into the screening.”

Things were going fine til I snaked my way to downtown Cannes and the flow of cars turned into gridlock. I started maneuvering the bike through the tight tufts of traffic and towards downtown, feeling like a champ for renting a bike instead of a car. It was 430pm and I could see the hotel off in the distance so I wasn’t worried at all. Til I saw the police had closed off the main road into Downtown Cannes and were diverting the traffic up into the hills. Shit. Fuck. This wasn’t good. I revved up the bike up and zipped up into the hills hoping my sense of direction would bring me back down close to the hotel… I was up at the crest of the hill and moving really slowly in traffic on a super narrow 2 lane street. Too narrow to snake the bike around so I just idled and crept along and got anxious. Super fucking anxious. Surely I didn’t fly and ride all this way to miss the…. BANG!!!!!!! WHAT THE…..?!?!?!?!

Fuck. I’m on the ground. And not feeling too good. The bike is layed out next to me. There’s a black SUV behind me. And a few confused french pedestrians just staring at me. Once I ascertained that I could move all of my limbs I got up and dusted myself off. Then tried to pick the bike up. Shit was mad heavy. One of the pedestrians helped get it upright. I stared down the driver of the SUV. He hit the locks on his doors. I must have looked a tad pit upset. I started banging on his window and he rolled it down a little bit. I started screaming at him “What the fuck is wrong with you?!?!?!? Don’t you open your fucking eyes?!?!?!” He was just replying in flustered french. Traffic had started moving again but I sure as shit wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until surveyed the damage to my bike. Other than a few scratches and broken mirror and turn signal cover, it was in decent shape. I hit the starter and it fired right up. So I shut it down and went back to yelling at the Frenchy. I had taken my helmet off by this time and was hoping he would step out of the car so I could smash him in the face with it. It was quite obvious that he didn’t need to speak English to figure out what the fuck I was thinking. That’s when the helpful pedestrian pointed down the road a couple hundred yards to a policeman that was making his way towards us… I weighed my options quickly, and figured that even though I was totally in the right, I wasn’t so sure a french policeman would see it that way… and I didn’t have any time to waste as I needed to get to this god damned hotel. Still totally shell shocked I fired up the bike, hopped on and tore off down the sidewalk to skirt the traffic… A clean getaway!

I managed to navigate the bike within 2 blocks of the hotel, parked and sprinted past the doormen and busted into the swank lobby, a big blur of tattoos and tattered threads. And my helmet was still on. Just your everyday average American tourist in France, amirite??

I pulled the helmet off and breathlessly shouted to everyone and no one in particular “Where’s the U2 3D PR office?!?!?!” They directed me to the third for so I vaulted the stairs and sprung into their suite just as the women working there were putting their bags over their shoulders preparing to close up shop for the day. They took one look at me and the gorgeous one, Diane, said “You must be Peter Shaprio’s friend” with a big smile… “He told us to expect a guy on a motorcycle to arrive at the last possible minute.” I had been so amped up to find this hotel that the weight of the crash hadn’t even set in as I rushed to the hotel, and once I realized everything was going to be alright and I was going to make it to the premiere, all the pent up shock, grief and disbelief came pouring out of me in a river of tears. I was yelping and shaking like a dog passing a peach pit. Diane asked what happened and I managed to stammer “I…I… I… just got hit by a car and thrown off my motorcyle about 10 minutes ago…” She took her bag of and brought me over to a couch and demanded I lay down. She certainly was an angel… She sat with me for about 45 minutes and got me a blanket and some water and aspirin, and stayed til I was calm and composed enough to get back on my bike. After thanking and thanking and thanking her she drew me a crude map to Peter’s hotel and I was on my way to drop my stuff, press my tux and giddy on up to the pre-screening cocktail party… You know how a confirmed bachelor “presses” a tux right? You put it on a hanger and leave it in the bathroom while you take a long hot shower. I learned that trick in an old issue of “I Guess That’ll Do Housekeeping”

The Handsome Twins

The Handsome Twins

Looking like a billion bucks now, me and Peter headed to the cocktail reception. It was in a tent on the quay by the sea, just a stones throw from the Grand Palais. Peter’s brother and producing partner John were there, as were the Shapiro parents. And one of the owners of the NY Giants. I resisted my urge to tackle him. But I did strike up a conversation with a striking blonde Australian who happened to be a dancer at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. She was seeing the movie solo and as the party wound down we decided to walk the red carpet together. Before we could, though, we had to wait for U2 to make their big arrival. The main boulevard in Cannes outside the Palais was lined with bleachers for spectators to watch the stars arrive at all the big premieres. When U2 arrived, the crowd went predictably nuts. It took the 4 of them quite some time to traverse the entire red carpet and make it to the grand staircase outside the theater, but once they did, the stagehands went into overdrive and rolled out risers with all of the band’s gear and U2 delivered an “impromptu” set for their “fans.” It was quite a treat to see a U2 concert in the original 3D that God invented, before going inside to see them on screen in a 3D process that the Shapiro brothers had pioneered.

The movie really was a sight to behold. It was shot in a couple of of soccer stadiums in South America so the crowd energy was absolutely insane, and I guess I gotta admit that U2 puts on a hell of a show! The whole time all I could think was “How amazing would this be if it was a band I really loved!”

After the screening there was another quick cocktail reception in the lobby, and a few black vans waiting to take us to an “exclusive” afterparty. My instinct was to follow Ms Moulin Rouge who was off to some other party, but Peter assured me there would be free booze, so I was stoked. When we got to the club there was a mob scene outside trying to get in, which didn’t give me a good feeling. We were ushered right inside though and shit was CRAY. A gorgeous huge nightclub and lounge and only about 40 people inside. U2 were all posing in one corner, but then I spotted Bob Richie straight maxin and relaxin on a couch with a supermodel looking lady. Instantly I was giddy as a school girl. I grabbed Peter and said “I know you gotta go hobnob with U2 and be a big movie producer and shit but if you could just PLEASE introduce me to Kid rock I promise not to embarrass you or bother you for the rest of the night.” Peter had previously made an IMAX concert film called All Access that featured Kid Rock, so I knew he could make that happen. And of course he did. Kid Rock invited me to take a seat on the couch with him and offered me a drink from his bottle of vodka. We were just hanging out talking about the movie, Cannes, girls, all sorts of shit for a good long while. Of course I never let on that I “knew who he was”. We were just two dudes on a couch ignoring the fact that U2 was on the other side of the room getting all the attention.

After a while he asked me “So, what do you do for work?” I told him I owned a concert promotion business in NYC called Rocks Off and he said “Like the first song off Exile On Main Street… NICE!” I saw my opening and I took it and said “No, more like ‘I gotta get my rocks off / cuz my wrangler’s won’t fit unless my cock’s soft!'” Which is a line from his little known and long out of print first full length called the “POLYFUZE METHOD” He looked at me like I was crazy and said “How the fuck do you know the Polyfuze Method?? NODOBY knows the Polyfuze Method. We only made 1,000 copies of that thing.” I just grinned and said “Im a huge fucking fan, man.” He put his arm around my neck and said “Well you’re alright, me and you, we’re hangin out all night!” And hang out we did. We just took over that couch and got on like long lost brothers all night. Girls came and went, but all we were interested in was shooting the shit. I was in heaven. At one point the onwer of the club took us into his back office and poured out the biggest mound of cocaine I had EVER SEEN. Not that I had seen too many mounds of cocaine in my lifetime. Just a few molehills… This shit was straight outta Scarface and he told us all to roll up a bill and just sniff up as much as we wanted. We did, and it wasn’t til later on that I learned that the busted chick who I had wondered how she made her way into that room with us was Mischa Barton. A few weeks later all the gossip sites were saying she had been hospitalized for “exhaustion.”

After that party started to die down, Kid Rock said he was gonna have an after party at his place and asked if me and Peter wanted to come with. We said fuck yeah and we all headed outside where there was STILL a huge crowd of people trying to get into this club. I guess it really was exclusive. I’m still wondering how I got in.

Kid Rock had a limo waiting for him so me and Peter and Kid Rock and his ladyfriend all piled in. The ladyfriend I later learned was May Anderson, who he wrote “She’s Half Your Age And Twice As Hot” about in reference to her and his ex-wife Pamela Anderson. Half her age, yeah. Twice as hot? Maybe 1.5 times. But that lyric wouldn’t really flow so well… “His place” turned out to be a 3 story Yacht that was moored in the Mediterranean. When we boarded the yacht there was already a party in full swing. I say “Party” because there was an open bar with a bartender in a bow ties and two waiters walking around with trays of appetizers. And only 8 people there. We made it a perfect dozen. I went to the bar to get a drink and standing next to me was James Blunt. I didn’t have too much to say to him, but on the other side of me was a fabulous gay dude so I started chatting him up. His name was Ken and he was from Texas. I told him about how much I love Teas, especially Austin and that I had been there a dozen times. He said “You should meet my friend Jessica! JESSICA, this is Jake – he loves Texas – Jake, Jessica is from Texas too!” I turned towards Jessica and sitting right next to me was Jessica Simpson – IN A BATH ROBE!!! Seemed like maybe it was the end of a long night for her – but we chatted politely for a while and then I took this photo

Chicken of the Sea!

Chicken of the Sea!

A friend of mine saw this and to this day does not believe I didn’t fuck Jessica Simpson. He actually still tells people I did even after all of my refusals. Good thing I never told him about the tampon!

The rest of the night was spent hanging and chilling with Kid Rock, Peter and May Anderson. We were up way past the morning light. Waaaay past. Ill just let these pics speak for themselves…

Friends support Friends

Friends support Friends

Dolphins and Unicorns Foreva!

Dolphins and Unicorns Foreva!

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

After sleeping off the party for a few hours, I got back on my bike and spent the next three days winding my way back to Milan. That ride is the first time I ever topped 200 KiIometers Per Hour on a motorcycle. When I came home I ended up buying that same model motorcycle. I’ve run into Kid Rock a few more times over the years, and whenever I do he remembers me as “that crazy guy from Cannes!” I’d much rather be remembered for that than fucking Jessica Simpson. Respect. And Condiche. Vaya Condiche.

Long after sunrise.  Photo by Kid Rock.

Long after sunrise. Photo by Kid Rock.