A Night on the (Velvet) Ropes
Monday, June 13, 2005
It's 1:10 a.m. Sunday, and we've been waiting in the lobby of the Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel for more than an hour. We're pretty sure the hotel staffers think we're hookers. (At least we don't look like tourists.) Just before we're about to slink out, Rock Newman bursts in, dispensing kisses and ready to roll.
We skipped Mike Tyson's fight but had a midnight date with Newman for the after-parties. The boxing match was just a warm-up; the test of a real champ is to muscle your way into the VIP spots and sip Cristal with Diddy. If anybody can get us in, Newman can. He's a walking AmEx black card.
Boxing promoter, entrepreneur, political insider. Knows everybody. Goes everywhere. He was in D.C. this past week as adviser and spokesman for Tyson's promoters.
So, we're riding with Rock. We assumed there'd be a white stretch limo, but no. Rock is rolling in a new $165,000 emerald green Bentley GT (much like the one Ben Affleck bought Jennifer Lopez), which Euro Motorcars lent him for the week in hopes he'd fall in love. The car itself is like a celebrity: showing off and breaking rules. "It's awesome," Newman tells us. "It's been stopping the show all week." We've been in it 10 minutes, and we're already feeling like we deserve to park any [expletive] place we want.
P. Diddy aka Puff Daddy aka Sean Combs is rumored to be at Dream, but we're going to H2O on the waterfront because Tyson is expected to show up. No one knows when, but we pull up to a scene straight out of a 50 Cent video : police lights flashing, helicopter overhead, a crowd of at least 1,000 held behind barriers, and cops breaking up street fights and diverting traffic. Newman sticks his head out of the window, and one officer -- recognizing Rock instantly-- waves the Bentley, along with his three other vehicles, through the roadblock.
The fire marshal has already shut down access to the club when Newman steps up with his entourage of 10. A few words are exchanged, and suddenly we all climb under the police tape and make a beeline for the entrance. Rock never gets mad, never pulls rank, just good-naturedly assumes everyone will give him what he wants. And they do. "Face time," he explains.
A couple hundred people hover near the door, all trying to be someone or see someone. "Rock!" shouts one. "Rock!" calls another. The crowd parts for him. He has a beard, he's wearing a white tunic and pants -- he's starting to look like Moses with a cell phone.
It takes four security guards to deliver us to the back room, where about 400 VIPs are packed in, booty to booty. We spot Wizards star Gilbert Arenas behind eight bottles of Cristal chilling in a huge bowl in front of a private banquette.
Rock introduces us to "the most famous pimp in the country," Archbishop Don "Magic" Juan. "I'm here in support of Mike Tyson," the Archbishop says. "He's a personal friend."
He's wearing a giant gold and diamond "Magic" ring on his right hand and a gold "Juan" on the left, accessories for a gold suit and hat covered with images from the Sistine Chapel. "God told me in 1985 to give up prostitutes," says the Archbishop, who lives in Beverly Hills. "Now I'm Snoop Dogg's spiritual adviser."
It's hot and crowded and almost 2:30 a.m., so we bag hope of seeing Tyson and head out. The crowd outside has grown and is restless. "Happy bedlam," grins Rock. Suddenly, a large woman in a pink dress grabs our arm.
"Are you leaving?" she demands. "Can I have your VIP bracelet?"