I’ve done music festivals and left that small reminder of my attendance on my body for a couple of days. Those were mostly about grabbing artists, plopping them down in some random venue and begging people to randomly display vulgar abilities of power. A Super Bowl party is a different breed. It’s where the famous Hunter S. Thompson quote about nobody offering him cocaine in Houston at Super Bowl VIII sounds benign. Because you think everybody is on something.
If Sugar Land’s brand-new Smart Financial Center offered a winding spree of traffic cones and security officials that were easily swayed by the word “MEDIA,” the Playboy Party downtown at Spire offered none of it. There were photographs with a motorcycle, plenty of tightly dressed women whose playbook for the evening involved “breast-tape optional” and “save my battery for Snapchat and Instagram purposes." The chocolate fountain of Playboy Party lore was, sadly, absent. But there was Flo Rida, and there were people championing to hear “Low” like it was 2009.
To put it bluntly, the MAXIM Super Bowl party is part booze-filled gala where there’s an off chance you may be drunkenly standing next to your boss, and part side-eyeing people who think you’re special because you know all the words to a certain rap song. Even the celebrities, such as Terrell Owens, can feel ostracized and, in his case, be taken as a piece of a living museum when onlookers see him and plead their cases for how he should have made the Hall of Fame.
The event's producers, Thomas J. Henry and Karma International, made it certain that the venue would rival the extravagance of Vegas. There were sculptures and dancers on platforms in barely-there lingerie. Many women wore ball gowns and matching dresses unsuspectingly. It was glorious for the over-the-top extravagance of it all. To the point that regulars, who didn’t deck themselves out in suits and wheel exotic cars, tried to jump over into VIP. Few succeeded but after a while, a police officer shut it down. VIP is never that mandatory, even when you accidentally sit in DJ Khaled’s section hours before the headliner is set to perform. Even if the price to gain access into this Houston-style take on Las Vegas was $750. There’s so much going on inside that it’s an adult, man-centric sensory overload of strobe lights, women who would double as dream dates any other day of the year, high-priced cars and bronzer. Oh, the bronzer.
Say for example you wanted to get a decent shot of women suspended mid-air as in Cirque du Soleil. Joe Jonas and company want to give you the idea that you’re about to enter the tantric sex dance party from the second Matrix movie. You budge, but then slide your head over to notice a girl in a barely-there dress standing next to a dude bro in white sneakers and a T-shirt. You look down at your press suit and open shirt and wonder, “There really are two dress codes for these things.”
When I ventured back downtown, all I saw was a line stretched around the building. People roaring outside, ecstatic that the Playboy party did indeed give them what they wanted. Even if they didn’t share my night in Sugar Land, the high was sort of the same.
Everybody wants to ball at a Super Bowl party. But only those with the wallets and stomachs for it can become the hedonistic gluttons our egos could only dream of. BRANDON CALDWELL
This event was also to serve as the kickoff to the magazine's 50th anniversary, which it will celebrate later this year. To help out with the grandeur of the event, musical performers included Nas, Diplo and Big Sean.
Thanks to my amigo DJ Playboy's connection with Diplo's record label, Mad Decent, I secured entry as his plus one and we were escorted inside. A Budweiser backstage lounge awaited us as we arrived, with two cold ones in our hands just seconds after entry. We could hear Nas behind the wall already running through his hits, such as "The World Is Yours" and "N.Y. State Of Mind." The crowd in front of the stage was certainly feeling his lyrics and attitude, sometimes menacing but always cool. Upstairs, high rollers played and drank in their expensive private sections, which included bottles and mixers, and a comfy couch to rest your feet on. The balcony was also the best view in the house.
A who's who of Houston could be seen at the party, from Houston rappers Willie D and Slim Thug to Houston Texans guard Duane Brown and his wife, Devi Dev, as well as Houston Rockets forward Sam Dekker. Everyone was dressed like a million bucks and having a blast. Can we please host the Super Bowl every year?! MARCO TORRES