Sunday, late summer - early 1980's. The Culture Club with Boy George is just breaking in the United States. The first show of their tour is at Poplar Creek Music Theatre. They are playing one show at Poplar and then on to Los Angeles for number two. At that time, I was a security supervisor at night and sold group sales tickets by day. The Culture Club contract called for rides and escorts 24/7 while in Chicagoland. Accordingly, we rented two vans- one for the band and one for luggage. I drove the band van and served as a sort-of quasi laison with the band.
We picked them up at O'Hare the afternoon of the show. George is in full make-up and outfit - right out of People magazine. They flew commercial, walking through the airport turning heads - I'm sure as planned. The band, manager and their security guy pile into my van for the drive to the Rolling Meadows Holiday Inn on Algonquin road. They where all quit pleasant, excited and talkative. George noticed the rose-painted water tower near I-90 and asked me if I knew the significance.
"Well, this is the town of Rosemont"
"I dont understand"
"The town is called Rosemont, so they painted the tower like a rose"
"I'm not following."
Then the manager spoke up, "Jesus Christ George, the town is Rosemont and it's their tower!"
The Manager and I walk into the Holiday Inn lobby to check in, leaving the rest to wait in the van. The lobby is unexpectantly full of well-dressed people. Many with large cowboy hats and boots - odd for Rolling Meadows. Turns out there was a wedding a few minutes prior with half the attendees from Texas. Good thing the band is waiting in the van, I thought. Just then I hear a "ruckus" and there's George and band walking into the lobby. Silence. Gasps. I heard a few "Oh my god's."
"What in the hell is that" a large man in a ten-gallon exclaimed.
It was like the parting of the red sea as George walked through the crowd, winking at curious females and others. We checked in and got out.
It was raining and cold and ticket sales for the show were not good. I knew this.
"How's ticket sales," Georged asked me in the van on the way to the show.
"Pretty Good......I think"
Show goes off - nothing spectacular happened. Admittedly, I didnt pay much attention. Afterwords, about midnight or so we are on our way back to the hotel. The band has not changed out of their feminine-inclinded stage clothing and make-up.
"I'm hungry, " George announces.
"Why didn't you say something earlier," Manager says.
"I'm hungry; I need to eat."
Sunday night Holiday Inn room service does not exist. Most restaurants are closed. Manager understands this and asks me for suggestions.
"There's a Denny's not too far from the hotel that is always open."
"How about a hamburger George?" barks Manager.
Denny's it is. I pull into Denny's and in walks Boy George, the Culture Club, Manager, Security and me. It's about 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning - there's a couple of early risers, late partiers, burnouts, and a waitress. The place stopped dead. Not a word. Not a sound. All mouth's hung open and froze. Boy George, Denny's, Rolling Meadows, Sunday night - a classic.
"Is that......Boy what's his name" the waitress asks me.
"Thought so. What does he want?"
"Best ask him. Probably some type of food"
The entourage feasts on burgers and Grand Slam's. Back to the hotel around 2:00 a.m. Manager got me a room -I ended the night watching "On Golden Pond" on Pay-per-view with Manager and Security. So much for sex, drugs & rock-n-roll.
It was an early morning as they had a flight to Los Angeles. We're all sitting in the van waiting for George. He's late and their pissed.
"Where's the bitch," Manager says.
"Always late, doesn't care, doing his hair," barked a club member.
George finally arrived. I had 25 minutes to make it to O'Hare at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning.
"We're not going to make it," I told Manager.
He pulled out $100 bill. "This is for trying, another $100 if we make it."
We made it.