Culture Street

Diary of a London publicist: Chanel de Yong attends the London premiere of The Monuments Men and discovers the lengths she has to go to for a brush with a Hollywood Star.
By Chanel de Yong

AWKWARD body heat, squashed against a railing at a premiere, and sandwiched in a group of people I’ve never met before. Current status: “Chanel DeYong Press Pen PRINT/ONLINE Cluster 2”.

As a journalist, you are sent to events that provide you with challenging locations and situations that you have to throw yourself into, regardless of the circumstance. You have to be prepared for anything, and I mean ANYTHING!

As unglamorous as this sounds, certain skills are required.

I have found myself running round Leicester Square - wait, when I say running I mean literally sprinting around it like a yoyo on drugs. Where is the entrance, all I need is my press pass! My hair is now stuck across my face as I ask the nearest security guard where on earth I am meant to be. The podgy security guide with red flushed cheeks directs me in the completely opposite direction from where I stand. Typical.

Finally, I have my press pass. I am now in my correct press pen, the one marked PRINT/ONLINE Cluster 2. Locked up like an animal at the zoo, or a celebrity on Big Brother, I feel slightly suffocated. Aggressive rubbing and thrusting of bodies as everyone in my cluster pushes their way to the edge of the railing. You need that front row space, you need to be practically hanging over the rail. You need to get that tape recording, and you need need NEED to be the one that gets it first. It’s like a drug and you have to pursue it relentlessly otherwise you will leave with nothing, no story. Let’s face it, if you get nothing, you’re screwed.

I’m leaning so far over the railing that I can practically touch the red carpet, awkwardly thrusting my torso against the bar while my head strains sideways to spot any celeb that might walk in my direction. Picture this. I am in this position for close to a full hour! The idea is to remain immobile until your celeb appears- sounds fun right?

I start to get cramp. But it’s okay, I can now see George Clooney casually making his way down the carpet.  He’s getting closer and my hands are starting to go numb. My fingers now resemble blue claws, and I’m all scrunched up like some sort of Icelandic creature waiting to pounce on its prey. This really is NOT a hot look. George is getting nearer and the pushing and body rubbing is getting more aggressive. Other frozen claws belonging to my fellow pen-mates are holding Dictaphones and mobiles up in the air. I can hardly see because all these frozen claws are right in front of my face. It looks like a sea of arms all entwined into one.

The PR has brought George over. He is finally here to speak to us. “You only have two questions,” says George’s agent. Suddenly everyone is shouting questions at him but I patiently wait my turn so I can get one burning question out when they stop to catch their breath! Silver fox Clooney looks divine in his fitted dark blue suit. The look is made more casual with a grey scarf that is neatly tucked into his blazer. Making a joke with the journalist beside me, he gives me a casual arm stroke. He’s grinning and laughing with his Hollywood smile while I am feeling all giddy inside. I’m completely star struck, mesmerised on the spot. My hands were already numb, but now my whole body has turned to glue, and what makes it worse is that I have completely forgotten my burning question. Help!

Finally I manage to blurt it out. But the silver fox has already turned to walk away and just like that, the sauna-like vibe completely disappears. Everyone disperses. It is over. All that manic energy and body heat has gone and I’m left with a recording on my mobile, which will hopefully provide some good quotes for a story. Oh, and the memory of George’s lovely little arm rub.

Chanel de Yong is a freelance London based journalist for the Sunday Mail and The Huffington Post. She writes about her behind the scenes moments on The Out and About Life. Chanel took the photographs that accompany this story.

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