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The reporter who routinely infiltrated Hollywood’s celeb party circuit

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The gatecrashing escapades of former Los Angeles Times reporter Adrian Maher should earn props from the most tenacious of paparazzi. Pulling from 25 years of personal experience, interviews and anecdotes, Maher’s new book “Uninvited: Confessions of a Hollywood Party Crasher” is a hilarious chronicle of the reporter’s various adrenaline-fueled capers as part of a select group of dauntless Tinseltown interlopers.

A freelance journalist for UPI, Newsweek, Time and the L.A. Weekly, Maher has also written, directed and produced dozens of programs for Discovery, History, National Geographic, and others. I interviewed him from his home in Santa Monica, California for this Maine Edge profile of ‘Uninvited.’

The Maine Edge: How did you become a celebrity party crasher?

Maher: As a Los Angeles Times reporter, I used to see the same group of people, over and over again at these parties and events. They would be the first to belly up to the bar or stand in the buffet line. I started talking to these people and I realized they had nothing to do with the industry events being put on. They were crashers.

Some of them were very successful by day as real estate agents or lawyers but they became party crashing caped crusaders at night. I was planning to write an LA Times story about this group of people when I lost my job due to a big layoff. Here we are 25 years, and many incidents, accidents, pitfalls and pratfalls later.

The Maine Edge: If the names of these party crashers are not on the guest list, how do they keep getting in?

Maher: There are about two dozen hardcore party crashers in Hollywood. The one thing they all share is a willingness to risk untold embarrassment, and that’s why there are so few. There could be millions joining in the fun but so few people have this personality chip. They wear a tuxedo while holding a champagne glass, go in through side doors, leap over hedges and stroll up beachfront property in wingtips at midnight. A lot of them are adrenaline junkies and it’s somewhat addictive. It’s a daytime/nighttime adventure.

The Maine Edge: You became one of those figures willing to risk untold embarrassment. Could you share some of your favorite celebrity encounters?

Maher: One of the most difficult events to obtain access is the night-before party, held the evening before the Oscars ceremony. It’s usually held at the Beverly Hills hotel, also known as “the pink palace.” This legendary holdover of old Hollywood saw Humphrey Bogart routinely wet his beak with various members of The Rat Pack in the famed Polo Lounge.

A friend and I slipped in a side exit and rode freight elevators until we found a hallway where we picked up some silver trays. We carried those and popped out into a courtyard where we had one final security bouncer to get by. My friend turned to me, saying “Just go with me on this” and began screaming at me, so I began arguing back, and we just cruised past that security guard. No security guy wants to stop two people in the middle of a huge argument.

We got in and I immediately had a double vodka to calm my nerves, when I looked over and saw one of my old production bosses, because I also do a lot of documentaries. He was bent over the sushi table when I slapped him, grabbed him by the shoulders and started shaking him. His head was bouncing back and forth when I flipped him around and saw that it was actually Clint Eastwood.

I was staring at Clint Eastwood from a foot away and he seemed nervous. I realized it was important for me to just play it cool and pretend that I know him. I said he was looking good and asked if he was still lifting weights. He just leaned down and said, “Thanks fella.”

In the background, I could hear the radio traffic of security lighting up, so I fled and hid out in the Andy Gump portable bathroom for 20 minutes. When I popped out, a friend who had seen the whole thing asked if I realized I had just assaulted an icon.

Another memorable encounter happened at the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year gala when they honored Paul McCartney at the LA Convention center. It was a very exclusive event with about 3,000 people and everyone seated at tables.

We managed to get in, but we couldn’t find a seat. Every seat was spoken for. There’s always a spare seat at these events but this event was for a living Beatle. We walked around for an hour looking for a seat, and finally I saw one open up at a center-left table.

I sat down and looked to my left and saw James McCartney – Paul’s son. I looked straight ahead and saw George Harrison’s widow, Olivia. I felt a hot burning gaze to my right and turned to see a woman with huge bug sunglasses monitoring me from four feet away. I realized I was staring into the face of Yoko Ono. When we made eye contact, she said “Who are you?” I stood up quickly and began sputtering and stuttering. I finally said “I’m me,” then bowed to one and all and just fled. I had been sitting in Paul McCartney’s chair. He was backstage getting ready to go on.

I’ve collected so many of these encounters over the years, my friends kept saying “You’ve got to write some of this down,” so I have them to thank for encouraging me to write this book.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2019 07:24

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