Here's What It's Really Like to Be a Guest at the Grammys
Some people are paid to rub shoulders with celebrities like John Legend, Chrissy Teigen, Lana Del Rey, and Miley Cyrus—and I’m one of them. This year, I was lucky enough to be a guest at the 2018 Grammys and if you’re wondering whether or not it’s just as glamorous as it looks on TV, well, it is.
To cut to the chase, getting to experience “Music’s Biggest Night” is any gay boy’s dream come true. I love an Oscar-winning starlet, but for me, it’s all about pop music. So the opportunity to see Lady Gaga, Kesha, Bebe Rexha, Ashanti, and SZA all under one roof is as good as it gets. Women (and men) this year wore white roses to the black-tie event in solidarity against sexual harassment and in support of Time’s Up.
I asked Cardi B what the white rose meant to her and she delivered my favorite quote of the night: “The white rose means to me, like, I want the world to speak up. A lot of people think, I’m glad that like, the awareness is going on, but it’s so crazy that the awareness is going on now that it’s in Hollywood. This type of thing happens in the hood and in every workplace everywhere, even if you want to be working the supermarket and you want to get the manager position. Men always try to bribe you to get it in different ways and that’s that it means to me.” Cardi for President, anyone?
But what do journalists like myself actually do at these events, and are they even a lot of work?
My day began at around 9 a.m, and I was out the door of my apartment by 12:30. I spent that time running to my friend Alex’s apartment to grab a few spare backup chargers and put the finishing touches on my outfit. I wanted to honor the black-tie and white rose dress code yet still break the rules a little, so I skipped the tie part and kept it cool with a black turtleneck and an off-white tuxedo jacket from Zara. Trust me, I tried to slap a real white rose on my lapel, but it’s harder than you think. Thankfully, I have a gold rose pin that my friend Meagan gave me years ago, and it fit the bill perfectly.
Media outlets like InStyle were instructed to be on the red carpet at Madison Square Garden by 1:30 p.m., at the latest. That means that in total, I spent almost six hours standing right next to E! host Giuliana Rancic asking celebrities, ‘Tell me about your dress! What does the white rose mean to you? How will you celebrate if you win tonight!’ It was fabulous, but honestly, super exhausting. The carpet was outside of the arena but covered in tarp, and it felt like a city in and of itself.
Once you’re in your designated red carpet spot, you’re technically not allowed to leave. I snuck out to use the restroom twice, but there was no water and the only snacks I packed were a tiny selection of cashews. Yes, I understand this Hunger Games-style depiction of an ultra-glam red carpet situation sounds dramatic, but I’m simply trying to paint the picture! I was very hungry and very thirsty. But who cares, right?
VIDEO: 2018 Grammy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals
The major celebrities began to arrive around 5:30, and after that it was a full race to the finish line. Every celebrity’s publicist will work with reporters to try and nail down quick interviews with the stars. And sometimes, certain stars are so major they simply just part the red carpet crowds and march into the arena like they own the place. That’s exactly what Lady Gaga did. She was among the first to arrive in a killer black Armani Privé gown that made her look like a winner.
At around 7:10 p.m., 20 minutes before showtime, security started to ask guests with a ticket to the awards show to head inside. SZA and Julia Michaels made a beeline for the main entrance, and I shortly followed. By the time I got to my 200-level seat, all of the concessions stands were closed, so no snacks or water for me.
I’ve always wondered what happens in between commercials during an awards show. Are there secret performances? Do you get to take home some swag? Are celebrities down to pose for selfies? Basically, nothing happens. An MC will count down the seconds left before the cameras go live, and host James Corden prepared to address audiences at home. During breaks, people quickly rushed to make bathroom breaks, and celebrities on the ground floor shuffled in and out of their seats to head backstage either to perform or present more awards.
The show was, of course, a success, and one of the most entertaining to date. Honestly, nothing beats seeing the live performances in person. You could actually feel the boom of every single “gun shot” during Kendrick Lamar’s moments on stage. Lady Gaga, my favorite artist, looked beautiful and angelic while performing “Joanne” and “Million Reasons. But in my opinion, the standout moment of the night goes to Kesha, who brought many to tears as she took a stance against sexual harassment and delivered an extremely emotional rendition of “Praying” alongside Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha, and Julia Michaels.
Once the show wrapped, I headed home to quickly freshen up. After the show comes the after-party, and just like your favorite stars, I chose which to attend. Mark Ronson hosted a late-night showdown at the popular Public Hotel downtown (Shinola hosted the bash), so I grabbed my plus one (my boyfriend John) and we headed to the party for a few well-deserved glasses of champagne. There, Sam Smith, Dua Lipa, Diplo, and Darren Criss hit the dance floor. I told Dua Lipa she was a queen and that I loved her, because she is, and I do. She complimented our looks.
After the party, I returned home, where I transcribed all of my red carpet interviews and submitted a reporting file just after 5 a.m. A 17-hour workday? Piece of cake.
Scroll down to see more from my 2018 Grammys experience.
The Golden Ticket
The best memento.
Madison Square Garden
The view hours before showtime!
The Red Carpet
Trust me, it didn’t look this peaceful once the action started.
The 200-level seats were perfect for spotting every major moment on stage.
Guests were given this program, which contained every detail about the performers and nominees imaginable.
Boys Wear Makeup, Too
It’s the Grammys, so I obviously wanted to look nice. I’ll spare you the details of my routine (and the fact that I stole these from my boyfriend’s beauty cabinet), but I used (left to right) Le Labo Thé Noir 29 ($78; nordstrom.com), Bumble and Bumble BB Grooming Crème ($31; sephora.com), Le Mer The Soft Moisturizing Crème ($85; sephora.com), Pat McGrath Skin Fetish 003 highlight, Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist ($48; sephora.com), and Nars Chestnust Radiant Creamy Concealer ($30; sephora.com).
The White Rose
I couldn’t pin down a real white rose to my lapel, but I wanted to support the movement. This gold version did the trick.
Why not show your support for something you believe in? At the after-party, I wore this #TimesUp label on my lapel, courtesy of John and his best friend Meagan.
This is where I steam things at home, in case you were wondering.