By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
The flashbulbs were exploding on Main Street. Trent Steele paid no mind to the blinding orbs of light. He was used to the attention -- and he was wearing dark sunglasses. Surrounded by an entourage of personal assistants, bodyguards and hangers-on, this guy definitely didn't look like he planned to wait in line.
Out of the entourage stepped forth a thin, determined man in a black jacket. He walked up to the bouncer behind the red rope. The rabble looked on in disbelief.
"This is Trent Steele," he said, pointing to the man behind him in sunglasses. "We're going to need a VIP table."
"Who?" replied the bald bouncer.
"Trent Steele," he repeated, in a tone full of annoyance. "Haven't you heard of him? Mr. Steele is a producer. We need a VIP table."
After a befuddled pause, the bouncer unhooked the rope and watched the entourage roll into the club -- to the dismay of those still waiting in line. They obviously didn't know about the magic of Trent Steele.
Trent Steele is H-town's biggest player. Trent Steele always travels with an entourage, a crew of toughs and beauties who are willing to do anything he asks. Trent Steele is the man-about-town.
Trent Steele is me.
I used to joke with my friends about how easy it would be to pretend that you're famous. All you really needed was a couple of big dudes in black suits and another guy -- the player -- in a dark pair of sunglasses. It seemed like a surefire way to pick up chicks.
So we finally did it, with a little help from my friends at the Houston Press.
In the span of five weeks we went to five different clubs, never had to pay cover and had a helluva time. Anybody can do it. All it takes is a few friends, some nice clothes and a whole lot of nerve. That, and these ten lessons.
Lesson 1: It's all about the entourage
Through a drunken process of trial and error, we eventually came up with the perfect formula. First and foremost you need the famous guy. The whole gambit was my idea, so I got to be Trent Steele. I dressed up in a decent suit that had been hanging haphazardly in my closet -- thus giving it that slightly worn-in look -- and popped on a $5 pair of sunglasses.
Next up you have the brutes. You're nobody unless somebody wants to kick your ass, so you'd better have some protection. Two big dudes in black suits should suffice. If finding muscle is a problem, then you can substitute one of the big boys with a guy who looks like he knows karate -- or one that just looks downright crazy.
And then you've got the personal assistants. You need at least one. Famous people don't deal with the general public. They hire well-dressed soldiers armed with pens and clipboards to take their bullets. This is where you want to station your most aggressive friends, the ones who always treat service people with a little less respect than they should. These are the guys and gals who are going to be opening doors for the entire crew.
You also need a couple of gratuitous hot chicks. No one wants to hang out with a traveling sausage fest. I know this might seem like a catch-22, but you need hot chicks to get hot chicks. Every guy knows a few moderately attractive women who won't sleep with him. The problem is finding one who will. Your friends' wives or girlfriends are a good place to start. After all, they're the ones who are always trying to set you up.
Last and probably least are the random hangers-on. These are the friends who don't really fit anywhere else. You need at least one or two (otherwise it'd look pretty lonely at the top), but keep the number to a minimum. Too many random buddies weigh down a posse. (See above about the sausage fest.) Make sure they understand what kind of favor you're doing them by letting them tag along, and pound it into their heads that they have to dress appropriately -- no scrubs allowed.
And then it's time to hit the streets.
Big-pimpin', the crew of unknowns flipped up their DVD screens and piled out of the Ford Exhibition. They clumped together in the crisp night air and strutted up to the Red Door on Brazos.
Press writer Craig Malisow stepped up as Marshall Simmons, the personal assistant to Mr. Steele. Simmons had been with Steele from the beginning. Tall, thin and unabashed, he was the only one whom Steele truly trusted. Like a cat loyal to only its master, Simmons was an asshole.
He walked up to a bouncer and announced the presence of Mr. Steele and company. Trent Steele remained true to his name, standing there in the streetlight with an aloof sense of impatience -- and a woman on each arm.
The entourage was not ushered in.
"What the hell is going on?" echoed throughout the crowd.
Then one bouncer turned to the other: "That's Trent Steele."