Seeing Red

After an eternity, as the guards grilled the crowd and examined personal effects, Donna and I were deemed camera felon-free and admitted to the auditorium of the "King Kong" benefit screening.

Being lowly $75 ticket holders, part of the "red" wristband group, we had been forced to wait until the larger contributors to The Gorilla Fund International were processed, an extra perk of their deluxe bonus packages of cocktails, schmoozes, and snoots.

Ho hum. I would have paid the $400 not to endure the cocktail party.

I assumed, since my looked-down-upon $75 contribution only bought me a body search with an electric security wand, the more opulent benefactors got special treatment.

For $200, there was the security wand and a hernia check with a velvet glove.

The $500 ticket holders got the security wand, a hernia check with a velvet glove, and a shiatsu massage and wallet fluff.

I guess things could have been worse. If there had been a $50 ticket, I'd probably would have been made to undergo the security wand and the security colonoscopy.

"There are plenty of seats left," said Bill, as we inched into the stadium-tiered theatre for a first look-see.

I spotted four empty chairs a few rows up and motioned to my companions to follow.

"Red ticket seating is down there," said the usher pointing to rows of seats crammed too close to the screen.

"What? Those seats are horrible," I protested. "We can't see the entire picture down there."

He was adamant, pointing us into the underbelly of show business. For our measly $150 per pair sins, we were treated as if we were lucky to be within Milky Way distance of this event.

We marched on to Death Camp.

Someone was teaching us a lesson for sure and I learned it well. Namely, this shabby, unacceptable handling was not the way to make friends nor finesse patrons. I regretted coming. Shame on The Gorilla Fund International, Universal Pictures, and Regal Cinemas -- and welcome to my blog!

Having spent decades employed inside movie theatres, primarily as a projectionist, I can tell you with authority those seats were installed too close to the screen for professional presentation standards. Sure, greedy seating practices go on all of the time in the entertainment industry, but that does not make the contempt for audiences tolerable.

Furthermore, in a huge multiplex like this one, on an otherwise slow Wednesday evening, there is no reason a second auditorium couldn't have been opened to accommodate the crowd and provide every participant a pleasing experience. It happens with considerate hosts.

"What's FEMA's phone number?" I seethed.

We plopped begrudgingly into the best availables on the fifth row from the screen. I eyeballed numerous empty, forbidden chairs remaining on the prime viewing levels behind us as late as showtime. I also learned some jerk had swiped our intended commemorative "King Kong" t-shirts, but that was of minor concern at the moment.

My feet, double swathed in sweat socks and shoes, were turning frigid on the drafty, cement floor. It was cold in the cheap seats.

I anticipated frostbite before we beached on Skull Island. I prayed Kong had a parka.

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Anonymous said...

Listening to your story reminds me of a scene from that great NYC movie, "The Taking Of Pelham 123." A hijacked train was blocking a tunnel. The transit supv wanted the police to hurry up and end the standoff before his system gridlocked. Walter Matthau replied that he was more concerned with saving the hostages. The supv replied in classic NYC manner..."(Screw) the damn passengers. What the hell do they expect for their lousy 35 cents? To live forever?"

Well, my friend, what did you expect for your $75 dollars? A good seat at the screening? You are lucky that they even let you into the same room with the beautiful people, even if Andy was not among them. They probably had a row of Ion Breeze air cleaners stationed behind the last red seat row. Can't expect the high rollers to breathe the same air you do. I am surprised that they did not have seperate auditoriums for you prolaterian red banders. Surely there was a 100 seater in that complex they could have spared. Not so you could get a good seat,(I doubt if there is such a thing in the throwaway houses) but so the big shots would not have to lower themselves to be in the same room with you.

If I may be permitted to reference another movie, it reminds me of that scene in "Doctor Zhivago" where Lara is walking through the alleys of Moscow amid the poorer people who are celebrating Christmas huddled around burning trash bins. (This would be you red banders.) When she arrives at the resturant where the $500 ticket holders were lighting their huge extravagant Christmas tree, she shoots Rod Stiger. Come to think of it, that may be the real reason they wanded you at the door. They might have been afraid that there were some Julie Cristies among you who also objected to being raped, albeit for a $75 screen in your lap seat.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, make that Julie C-H-ristie. They should put a spell checker on these things. Besides, I kind of got fired up there. During my theatre management days I always dreaded events such as this. You can not blame the organizers for acting as if their event was the most important thing currently occurring on the face of the earth at the moment, but I still did not like being treated as their personal rent-a-slave for the evening. Besides, it was a no win situation. Any complaints during the evening were directed at the theatre even if the cause was with the event. All compliments, of course, went to the organizers. O well, for $1.50 per hour (my effective pay when you divided my hours into my salary) you have to take the good with the bad.

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