My Brief Career As A Paparazzi

When I was in New York City a few weeks ago I saw a crowd gathering in front of a hotel.

They looked friendly so I walked over to see what was happening.

“What’s up?â€? I asked a young woman.

She pointed to a shiny new black SUV that was double-parked. “We’re waiting for Tom Cruise to come out, “ she said.

Didn’t take long for me to learn that Tom Cruise’s latest thriller, Mission Impossible 3, was hitting the big screen that week and he was in the midst of a whirlwind promotional tour.

(In New York the locals see celebrities all the time. They make movies on the streets there everyday. But I had just flown in from El Granada– and when I open the front door “I see trees and a cat”. That’s how our big city friends in New York expressed it… )

Suddenly I was on another plane and the energy was over-powering. I wouldn’t pass as paparazzi but I had my little digital with me.

The role was new to me; I’d never taken a photo of a real “movie starâ€? before. I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot something very important.

I was staying at the same hotel as Tom Cruise. Unlike the crowd standing on the sidewalk, I had a room at the Carlyle. Surely, I’d have a better chance of snapping a hot photo.

The lady standing beside said, “If you’re a guest at the hotel, why don’t you back in. They won’t let any of us in but they’ll you in.â€?

“Yes, that’s right; I am a guestâ€?, I reminded myself—as I made a beeline for the lobby, pausing for a second to peer into the room where the elevators were. Except for security, and an efficient woman who looked like one of Tom Cruise’s people, there was nobody else in the room.

I edged in, testing the boundaries. “Can I come in this far?â€? I said, “I’m a guest at the hotel.â€?

Nothing happened. I guess it’s okay, I thought, but there was tension in the room. They were more worried about the famous Hollywood star.

I slithered in further, finally settling down on a bench in front of the elevators. I noticed that the numbers above the elevator furthest from me indicated that my man was heading down.

By that time I was so excited I couldn’t think clearly. For example, did I really believe Cruise would walk toward me when he exited the elevator? The SUV was waiting for him at the other entrance to the hotel.

I’m the only person with a camera here, I kept thinking. I’m gonna get a hot photo. (I’ll be selling my picture to the National Enquirer for $10,000).

My finger was glued to the button on the camera. I was poised; I was ready. And when the elevator door opened, I pressed the button—and the image I got was not of Tom Cruise but two people in front of him, part of his entourage.

Recovering quickly, I tried to snap another picture but the camera wasn’t responding. Finally, after Tom Cruise and his entourage left the elevator, and didn’t come any where near me, the camera’s flash went off, leaving me with a photo of the ceiling.

(The other picture I got shows a guy holding something that looks like a communication device—but later I wondered if it was. Could it have had something to do with my camera not working?)

I had lost my chance but I was still game, so I dashed out of the lobby and back onto the street where the crowd stood– just in time to see Tom Cruise wave goodbye from his shiny black SUV.

I was a bit drained when I dragged myself back into the lobby. But as soon as I saw the concierge, I said: “Are there any more celebrities in the hotel? Are any more coming?â€?


The elevator door opened and I snapped a picture of Tom Cruise’s people–the actor himself walked out seconds later.

flash!.JPG This is the shot I got when Tom Cruise stepped out of the elevator!

tcruise.jpgIf you look really hard, you’ll see Tom Cruise waving at the crowd from the SUV.