Crazy True Stories From a Bodyguard – So you just got a phone call. It’s another job. This time looking after a famous celebrity. You’ve been there before; you know the ropes. As they say in bodyguard circles, it’s just a matter of getting from A to B. 100 bucks an hour to make sure someone gets to the place they want to be, steering them out of the way of zealous fans, avoiding the paparazzi and at times making sure the celeb doesn’t over do it with the booze.
That’s life for a bodyguard looking after celebrities, but most of the time the work of personal security means taking care of wealthy folks, people you’ve likely never heard of. And when we say “taking care of” we mean it in the positive sense of course. But when it comes to looking after celebrities, one bodyguard in Australia said there are certain things that have be done.
He told the media that the first thing that happened was finding the right fit. Yes, what he said was celebs want to be with someone they will get along with. This person is going to be with that famous person, side by side, for a long time and so it’s important that the two people like each other. It’s not the same with, say, oil tycoons, though.
He said when it comes to protecting a celebrity you don’t only have to get along with the person but you have to look the part. He told the Australian media, “I was once turned down by an A-list celebrity because she felt I did not look good enough in Armani to represent her. My qualifications had nothing to do with it. But that is the way it is and you get on with it”.
He had a few rules as to what you do when protecting a famous person, and one was be friendly but don’t be too friendly. Don’t try and get over familiar, after all, you are working. You can’t get caught up in all the excitement. His very words were, “Speak only when spoken to”.
Think ahead, keep a clear mind, pay attention to every detail. Be the brain of your celebrity, who is likely not concerned about that car parked over the street. Another thing he said that is quite funny is you must stay out of the limelight, or things could turn ugly. He said, “Do NOT place yourself in a position where a video could go viral. Just ask Mel Gibson or Reese Witherspoon, both of whom self-immolated during alcohol fueled moments of a seriously flawed decision making process. In both of those cases, that would never have occurred had a bodyguard been there to deflect and downsize the incident. ”
Yep, part of the job is making sure your clients do not make a fool out of themselves and become a viral tweet. In this day and age security is not only there to protect people against nutty fans, but to ensure they don’t come across as an idiot. He also said bodyguards are sometimes hired for B list celebs, and those guys at times will do stuff to draw attention from others, such as acting tough and demanding people get out of the way.
Quite a few bodyguards have said in the past that they are hired for this reason; for the ego, to make people look important. The Australian bodyguard said that if you are working for a top client never act out. That’s only for the dweebs. You don’t want attention. In fact, you want the exact opposite.
Your job is to make the celebrity as invisible as possible. His exact words were, “Arrogance Kills”. Sometimes he said it’s also about keeping an eye on people when they are asleep, not just out in public. He said one of the things they often do is place security cameras outside people’s houses. He makes a few of them really obvious, so anyone could see them. Why? Because if anyone does feel like getting on that property they will see that camera and try to avoid it.
In doing that they will fall into another trap, a camera they were not thinking about. Some famous folks go as far as to install panic rooms, a room that they can retreat to if something goes terribly wrong. These really are impregnable. The walls, floor and roof are armored so pretty much nothing can break through.
In his own words he said, “We then over pressurize it, so that any gas or chemical agent has no chance of infiltrating it. Inside will be two independent communications systems based on some combination of satellite, radio, cellular, or landline configurations”. The room will have stocks of food, water, blankets, but he said some panic rooms are fitted out luxuriously.
If all hell breaks loose, say the zombie apocalypse, that room should be good for quite a while. No one is getting in. We looked online and found some of these rooms in rich folks’ houses even had fireplaces and bookshelves, so they are not always spartan as you may have thought. The Australian bodyguard said what happens on the street is very different from what happens around the house.
On the street you try your best to avoid any kind of confrontation, but if someone gets near the house of a client it’s a different matter. The guns might well come out in this situation. He mentioned the case of Madonna, talking about when a person was shot after scaling a fence and trying to get into her house.
You’ve also got to remember that each country the celeb visits will have different firearms policies, so that’s something to keep in mind. You are a hired gun, not an official working in that country. He mentioned the Cannes Film Festival, where lots of famous people go. He said you can’t just turn up there with a gun on your belt.
He also said that if things do get out of hand and fans rush a person, you never just draw out your gun. The weapon is the last resort if you are carrying one. You also have to be sly. He said on one occasion he actually told adoring fans that the celeb he was with was actually just a lookalike.
The fans then turned away, thinking they’d made a mistake. Again and again he said you need brains more than muscle. In some cases things do take a turn for the worse. One time he was with a huge pop star at a concert in Japan. When the show finished he guided the celebrity to a van. But then fans rushed the van and started rocking it back and forth, and even jumping on the roof.
The pop star was understandably frightened. The bodyguard said this, “There comes a point where adulation becomes dangerous and the mob surrounding the van was no longer there for autographs”. So then he made the decision to put the van into gear and start going forward, even though fans were in the way.
He said sometimes you just have to make such a decision. His job is to protect the client, and in this case the fans came second. He said if you do hurt someone your client will look bad forever more, but on the same token you can’t allow a crazy mob to smash the windows of the vehicle. He said this, “So we never stopped, but never accelerated either.
After ten very frightening minutes we were able to clear the area and move away. ”In all, he said being a bodyguard is not like you see in Hollywood movies. In fact, you will rarely ever see a bodyguard because they have blended in with the crowd. They are invisible, but be assured when it comes to A List celebs they are usually around.
He said it’s not a glamorous job at all, and while they may get along with the star,being a bodyguard is hardly an occupation you could make a movie out of. Another bodyguard wrote this in his book about one job he undertook: “He was dressed in all black, his face covered with a black scarf. As he got closer, I noticed his feet: slip-on loafers, slender ankles and white socks sticking out of these high-water pants. He came down, passed me, and climbed into the SUV with the children. I closed the door, got back in the lead vehicle, and we left the airport”.
Who do you think that was? The answer is Michael Jackson. This was just another uneventful job for him. He got Jackson from A to B and went home. If the job is done well, usually that bodyguard will work for another celebrity. That’s how it goes in the world of fame. Bodyguards can quickly get a good reputation…or a bad one. Another bodyguard said looking after a celebrity can be quite the lonely job.
He said, “You might not eat at the same table with them. If you go to a fancy restaurant and there’s a low degree of risk, you bring more attention to them if you stand over their shoulder with an earpiece. Instead, you sit at your own table and keep a low profile. And the best way to keep a low profile is to have a plate in front of you”.
On top of that, your life is all about them. Get a call, and even if it’s your wife’s birthday you might have to travel across the world. That’s the nature of the work. He also said that even it feels like you are getting friendly with the celebrity don’tlet it go that way.
The reason he gave is this, “When you cross the line, it’s hard to get back. All of a sudden, this person starts thinking of you as part of the entourage. That’s when they start asking you to do things that are outside your area of responsibility”. Before you know it you’ll be walking the dog and talking to the person’s lover.
That is not your responsibility, so keep a distance. He said with wealthy business people this is not really a problem, but with narcissistic celebrities they have a “Diva” touch and might demand a lot. Let them know at the start what you are prepared to do. Again, this bodyguard said the job is not really about firing guns.
He said, “Statistically speaking, the client is much more likely to trip over a wire backstage and suffer a sprained ankle than get descended upon by snipers where I have to get into a gun battle”. He also said because you are doing the day-to-day stuff, expect to see things that might make you feel awkward.
You have to be prepared to look the other way. His example was being the bodyguard of a famous rapper with a penchant for taking illegal substances. You are not there to judge. Amusingly he said, “If I don’t want any joint problems, Snoop Dogg or Willie Nelson aren’t people I would want to be around”. He also said new celebrities are the hardest because they want to show off.
They try to be seen, while seasoned celebs will do just the opposite. In his own words he said, “Nothing surprises me anymore. I find those who are new to ‘celebrity’ make the same pitfalls and mistakes. A guy gets a recording contract and all of a sudden, he buys 20 cars and gets in trouble with the girls and ends up on TMZ. There are also those that have learned how to navigate and make even the bad press work for them. We see that repeat over and over again”.
So, that’s the long and short of being a bodyguard for a celebrity. Do you think you’d be up for this job? Tell us what you think in the comments.