IT DOESN’T MATTER whether you are a singer, a chef, a former footballer or mid-level actor, making a living in a fragmented entertainment market buffeted by plagues, technology and failing media organisations is no easy thing. It’s a very bloody hard thing, where the side hustle is often enough the main gig. The only gig.
So you won’t find me criticising someone for making their living from any exploitation of their talent or claim to fame, wherever they can. But it sure does provide some interesting insights into what people will pay for, what people will do, and where everyone stands in the hierarchy of fame/demand when you take a peek at just one site touting access.
My attention recently was directed to Fan+ “sport and entertainment experiences”, which incorporates corporate and personal events and “experiences” for Australian individuals and businesses. And it’s fascinating.
How would you like a night out with Nathaniel Willemse? The man described as “most notable for finishing sixth on the fourth season of The X Factor Australia”, who released five charting singles between 2013 in 2015, can be yours for one night only. In Melbourne.
Well, part of the night. Well, not on his own exactly, as the package includes a drink in a booth at a Melbourne nightclub with Willemse and some “reality TV stars, example: Love Island, MAFS, Housewives of Melbourne etc”. And ok, there is some loose use of the term notable. But you do get a private performance by him at 6pm – they are quite specific about that, though the length of the performances unspecified.
How much for all this? $10,200.
(Nathaniel Willemse - yours in a booth, with a drink)
Maybe you just want to shake the hand and shoot the shit with someone from Love Island on their own. You can have Cassie Lansdell or Sam Withers for a bargain price of $704. Alright!, sign you up.
Alright, you get them for an hour of “meet and greet” with a photo. No promises, but the photo suggests Withers maybe doesn’t do his shirt up at that price.
(If you’re asking who is Sam – grandpa, what are you even doing reading this? – he is an “international DJ who’s been single for seven years”. Seven years? This undoubtedly is a recommendation. Though possibly not if you want a date.)
But it’s possible Willemse whet your musical appetite, stirred your inner sixth place in a talent show persona. Luckily there’s a vocal lesson – singular, please note eager beavers – from a former member of Young Divas, Emily Williams. Williams released a solo single in 2010 and an album in 2012. How much? Ah, I can’t tell you as this is one marked POA, price on application. So, like, exclusive and stuff.
(If you’re asking who were the Young Divas – listen kid, what are you doing even reading this on a school night? – they emerged from the Idol factory and had two albums and “three top fifteen singles, including the hugely successful This Time I Know It’s For Real". So you know this is for real.)
(Emily Williams - has a vocal lesson for you)
What if your interest is in a blend of stage and field? Say for example former, dare one say legendary and/or ancient, sporting stars strapping on a guitar? You’re in luck.
Eric Grothe & The Gurus or Wayne Pearce and the Big Hitters Band will set you back $5610 for a couple of sets of hit tunes (not by them, obviously: their hits being confined to the likes of Leichhardt and Cumberland Ovals) and one autographed piece of memorabilia, supplied by you.
And if a full set of The Gurus – most decidedly NOT the Hoodoo Gurus gurus, let’s be absolutely clear – is too much to ask, Grothe will send you a video message for 10 per cent of that price.
While we’re in sporting territory … Golf your thing? Manly your footy team? Beer your tipple? A round of golf with 349-game veteran and multiple grand final hero, Steve “Beaver” Menzies for you and two friends – including a “light lunch” and “ice cold beers” – has a minimum cost of $2295. For this you can have him autograph one item per person of memorabilia (so decide early if you want your 2008 or your 1996 jersey signed) but you may have a couple of hours to pump him for hilarious stories of Des Hasler’s notorious parsimony.
Speaking of 349-gamers, Terry Lamb, former top flight rugby league player (and an even more famous representative of Chester Hill than this writer, who was a shit player, and even then it was soccer for Bass Hill RSL, so no wonder I am not on the Fan+ books) clearly has been unable to swap stories, tell yarns or speak to anyone who might recognise him at a Bulldogs, NSW, Australia or general rugby league event.
(Eric Grothe - the ball, and hair, now swapped for a guitar)
This must be why he is a fan of Fan+. His testimonial quotes him enthusiastically saying that this is a “very rewarding feeling to be able to share my stories and comparisons to the game of today with my fans via experiences and Fan+”
Which is nice, but I have to say that all of you who have walked past Baa Baa in the past few decades and not asked him about Wocka Ryan or exactly what Ellery Hanley’s jaw attacking his innocent elbow felt like, should be ashamed of yourselves leaving him hanging there, desperate to talk to strangers, wayward fans and well lubricated know-it-alls.
Of course, this may be a bit sweaty for you. Maybe you are of a more genteel persuasion and want a seat, a table, a meal. Getting closer and for longer – ooh, watch him bite, swallow and fork another mouthful! – with your chosen star comes in various shades.
Let’s try morning tea. Tea, biscuits and maybe a scone (your choice presumably as it’s not very likely he’ll be making it, despite his name) with actor Harry Cook will set you back $510. For that price he better be pouring the tea at least as he talks about his roles in Accidents Happen and Caught Inside, or his experience coming out.
For the same price you can upgrade to lunch and upgrade/downgrade (it’s not my place to say which) to Home & Away actor (and Xavier from Dance Academy: The Movie, “which was released worldwide”), Nic Westaway, who will share his thoughts on acting, music and singing. This won’t just be stargazing though as Nic will “give you the confidence and tips to become the aspiring actor or actress you are wanting to be”.
Maybe you don’t need your celebrities in person. Maybe you just want a video message saying happy birthday or congrats on the promotion or get out of the bed you lazy bastard there’s lawns to be done. You can have one from Dan Ewing, another Home & Away actor (he played Heath Braxton, as you well know), on your screen for a trifling $50.
Interestingly, if you want the same thing from sportscaller Andy Raymond that goes up to $62. Maybe it’s the reverb on the voice or the ratcheting excitement as the message goes on that bumps up the cost another $12.
(Beetroot soup, not a Master Chef alumni)
Okay, your mind is reeling with the possibilities and all you want to do is put in an order, so here’s one to go out on. Specialist skills, not just presentation night banter and entrée to a Melbourne nightclub, can attract too. Though watch out for the fine print.
A cooking class with Master Chef type, and man clearly marked for this career from birth by nominative determinism, Ben Borsht, is offered “from $275”, though it turns out there is a minimum booking of 20 people and a minimum cost of $5,610.
For this you and 19 friends in Brisbane get a two-hour class making two dishes (entrée/main or main/dessert, or surely if you asked nicely, a cold beetroot soup), though you supply the ingredients. All of them. As directed by him. So no skiving off to Aldi for some cheap alternative.
But hey, one of the 20 in the class will walk away with a signed cooking apron awarded to the masterchef of the day. That’s not borscht shit either.