“Rufus Stanglelove, S. T. R. A. N. G. E. L. O. V. E.” Rufus a thin, immaculately dressed man, with a disarming smile and an English accent. He could be a British Director or better still, an obscure Thespian.
“Sorry Sir, I don’t have that name.” The Canadian doorman was so polite.
“Really? What about Si Si Penaloza”. This was the name of the famed Canadian magazine editor has helped us before.
The gatekeeper consults his list once more “Sorry Sir”.
Beyond the doorman is the party of the night, stacked with the A-list, and A-list wannabes. It’s just another night of the Toronto Film Festival.
We walk away with our fellow party hopefuls. “No luck” mourns Rufus.
“Well,” Swanno admits defeat, “Brad and I heading back to the Holiday Inn”
I don’t blame the deserters, it was the third party we tried to crash that night. The other two times we succeeded, with Rufus leading the way . “The List is always your best hope but the way this guy was holding it, it was too difficult to get a look at it. Remember for next time, you’re my eyes, if you get a look at that list memorise any name on it… and we have a better chance.”
We head for the street corner away from the club, “There’s always another way… 95% of the time you don’t have to do this, but once you’ve soiled your chances at the door, you’re a marked man, there’s no way they’ll let you in. ” With Rufus’ well cultivated accent it was like hanging out with the James Bond of Party Crashers.
This is a man who spends a large section of the year going from film festival to film festival, not for the films, for the parties. He recently arrived in Toronto fresh from a week of party hopping in Venice “Cannes is the best, you’re never bored, there are parties morning, noon and night, you never have to go home. If you really must sleep there’s always film screenings, no one goes to the cinema to watch the films in Cannes, they go to sleep in a quiet dark room…french films are the best for that.”
Walking around the block of the trendy Toronto club district, we eye off the side entrance.
Like two men who didn’t know each other several steps behind, we pace quickly past and make the same observation on the other end.
Looks promising, high front fence, low side fence, easily scalable, but for a few important looking men in suits standing up against a black Land Rover. They could be Meagan Fox’s cronies, or perhaps the owner of the club, here to bask in his A-list glory. While easy, this was not an ideal entry point.
Further around the block we duck down a rear alley, it’s pitch black and after the bright lights of the street it’s hard for our eyes to adjust. There are a few old cars, and plenty of trash cans and the sound of the nearby clubs echo off the dark canyon of buildings towering above.
Ahead is a set of stairs going up to a door near the roof “Let’s try up here” offers Rufus.
“No” I whisper..”There’s an opening here, I can see an Ice Machine. That’s gotta be it!”
Underneath the fire stairs is a basement window wide open. It looks like the back storage room of a club. Inside an industrial ice maker, and bottles of water and assorted booze stacked from the floor to ceiling. And conveniently placed up against wall, a step ladder, as if it was put there by co-conspirator on the inside just for us.
I go first swinging into the room, Rufus, swiftly behind. Keeping in motion I open the door to the storage room, which leads to the cloak room. Like undercover cops on a raid we stormed through the tiny corridor of coats, past the cloak attendant, out into the club, then made an evasive right turn into the unisex toilets.
“Is this the club?” asks Rufus?
“No idea, but I did notice some vodka banners.” Large marketing materials could be a sign of sponsorship. One brand leeching off the popularity of another.
“No” Yells Rufus over the music. “People are PAYING for their drinks here.”
“Let’s get out of here” Rufus agrees, annoyed. He rarely doesn’t get into a party. This blagging professional once sat next to Bill Clinton at Elton John’s birthday party.
“There was a seat free next to him, and I said is anyone sitting here and he said no, apparently Hilary couldn’t make it… so that night I was the first lady” What’s his secret, how does he get to sit next to a President? “It’s 2 parts confidence, and 1 part Jedi Mind tricks.” confirms Rufus.
Spying a fire exit sign on the opposite side of the crowded dance floor, we snake our way across. I’m already trying to think of another possible entrance, perhaps we’ll have to go back and jump the low side fence, and take our chances with the Land Rover men. As the door pops open, we stumble out onto a red carpet, in front of us a well lit media board of film company logos. Like stepping out of the Tardis, we appear four feet behind the diligent door list man who is still scrutinising a long line of party hopefuls desperate to mix with the a-list. We’re In! One step back, two steps forward. Walking with purpose and away from the gatekeeper, we get a stamp at the door, and swim into the party peppered with movie stars, producers, filmmakers, trainers, publicists and publicist’s friends, and publicist’s friend’s friends. What’s remarkable about these a-list parties is just how unremarkable they are. The booze and food is free, the people are gorgeous, and wealthy, but as Rufus says “… once you’re in.. you’re in. ” The adrenalin dissipates, and the thrill of talking to Jon Hamm gradually wears off, perhaps because I haven’t seen Mad Men yet. So after acquiring the proof in the form of blurry mobile phone pics with Bill Murray,
Hillary Swank, Danny Boyle, and telling Ridley Scott he should let Russell use his Australian accent more, it’s not long until Rufus is head down in his Blackberry for the next conquest. There’s always another party across town that promises to be better, bigger, and brighter. As Meagan Fox and her entourage squeeze past us, Rufus blissfully smiles in the glow of his smartphone’s glare, he holds up it up, there is a text in all caps “WILL.I.AM STARS PLAYING HERE IN 1 HOUR. GET HERE NOW. xx Sisi.”
With a glint in his eye Rufus excitedly yells in my ear “this party’s over.. you ready to roll?”