In the first part of this ongoing series, we discussed the challenges faced by Protectors who work with entertainers that spend at least some of their career involved in stage performance.
These challenges can take the form of unintentional harm coming by way of a prop, stage equipment, or something as simple as a slip and fall caused by a long dress and high heels.
Whenever we can, we as Protectors must try and anticipate, correcting or counteracting the occurrences that can cause this harm. This is usually done during the Site Advance at which time we do a walk-thru of the areas that the VIP will be visiting, in this scenario, the stage. It is at that time we will perform a visual inspection of the stage and the props, go hands-on with items the Protectee might come into contact with, such as the guard railing, and enlist the help of experts to answer questions that are beyond our realm of expertise, such as how the overhead lights are connected to the scaffolding.
Even in the event of the before-mentioned trip and fall, we may not be close enough to catch the Client because of the proximity issues discussed in Part 1 (issue 42). However, we should see the incident as it occurs, and be in motion to render aid in the shortest window of time conceivable. In many instances, the entertainer will wave you back off into the wings, give a shrug, along with a joke to the audience in attendance, and carry on with the show. Yet, in the back of the Protectee’s mind, they know you were there and responded to a potential crisis.
The act of being in the right place allowed us to be effective and never is that more true than when dealing with the other category of intentional/unintentional harm, namely the stage crasher. Be it the individual who’s so caught up in the excitement of the night and can’t contain themselves, so they leap on stage to party with the performer or, the disturbed or disgruntled person who evades the other rings of security and has an intent to do harm or embarrass. Regardless, we are the last line of defense.
Again, if this individual has reached the stage, there have been a number of breakdowns that have occurred. The concentric rings mentioned in the last edition have been penetrated and now the moment of truth is upon you. You have to do something, but what?
At the moment when you recognize that there has been a stage breech, you may not be able to ascertain the person’s intentions immediately, all you see is a body moving towards your Protectee. However, in whatever time it takes for them to cover the distance to reach the entertainer you have to have at least one thing running through your mind – Protect the Client, Protect the Client’s Image. The tough part is, I see members of our community get the first part right but still ultimately fail because they neglected to think about the importance of the latter: Protect the Client’s image. We have all heard the phrase, ‘image is everything’, and that’s a truism in the entertainment business. Much of a performer’s career is centered around the image that the paying public receives. This is truer than ever with the rise and popularity of social media. Not only will accomplishments be shared far and wide, but embarrassment or scandal will spread further and wider.
So let’s rewind to that moment of truth; you identify a twenty-something-year-old male approaching from stage right, running with arms outstretched towards your Protectee who happens to be a solo pop star with a slender build. You are positioned stage left, and immediately spring into action, you dart past your client reaching the crasher before he can get to them. Once there, you then initiate a foot sweep, drop him to the floor, before picking him up by his collar and belt and tossing him, head first, back into the audience, quickly exiting stage right. The entire incident took seconds; the client wasn’t touched and was able to finish their performance to rounds of applause.
However, the next day you are brought into a meeting with the client’s management and informed that there will be a separation of service. How did this happen? Unbeknownst to you, the stage-crasher, who was thrown back into the audience, is claiming to have suffered substantial injuries as a result of your actions and has retained legal counsel and plans to sue. But more than that, the replay of the event is trending on social media, and overshadowing the client’s stellar performance. Headlines now read some variation about how “_____ bodyguard kicked the crap out of a fan.” The client’s person was protected but not their image, and it’s a failure on our part, as it is our job to safeguard both.
In part 3 of this series, we will discuss alternative responses to dealing with stage crashers of all types.
Keeping Your Edge – Measured Responses in Tour Security (Part II)
By: Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and the CEO of ICON Global, and International Executive Protection Consulting Firm. Elijah, who has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Portfolio, runs the ICON Academy, an EP Training Program specializing in Celebrity & VIP Protection. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Executive Security International (ESI), the United States oldest Executive Protection Training School.