Ah...gatecrashers. We've all had them, sometimes we haven't known what to do about them (without causing a scene), and yet they remain either a source of amusement or a frustrating fact of life for all event producers. Firstly, you have to discern which type of gatecrasher you're dealing with:
-The Harmless Gatecrasher: When a guest brings a few friends without telling you. At worst, this is just mildly annoying if you have a maxed-out event. I generally have no problem with this and happily let them in (I'm a soft touch).
-The Creative Gatecrasher: This is someone who just really, really wants to come to your party and will do whatever they can to get in. Generally, they look the part - ie, fabulous - so you can't really complain! As William Petley wrote many years ago in Mode Magazine, a hilarious trick is wandering past an event with a napkin and canape as if you've just stepped out for a ciggie. Presto, you're past the velvet rope without the doorgirl even glancing at the list...priceless. You almost have to take your hat off to someone who would do this.
A fave is when a friend of mine - the ballsiest chick I know - wanted to go to a party where Carl Cox was playing in Melbourne but didn't have a ticket. Although the queue snaked down the street and around the block, she boldly walked straight up to the rope as if to enter. The doorman stopped her, saying "Excuse me, get to the end of the line", to which she loudly replied: "Excuse me, I'm fucking the DJ". The doorman, suitably shocked, quietly lifted the rope and in she went. She had of course never met Carl Cox and what I love most is, she was alone. This chick has BALLS.
There's another classic Sydney story from years back about a girl who tried and tried to get an invite to a party and couldn't, then tried to get in on the night and couldn't, then called up a limo who picked her up around the corner and dropped her off outside the party - alas, to no avail! I find this amount of effort beyond hilarious and out of sheer gob-smacked-ness and respect for her perseverance I would have let the poor girl in (oh God I really am SUCH a soft touch.)
-The Serial Gatecrasher: The very worst kind...and the only ones I have no qualms about kicking out. These are the ones who tell you they are a journalist, wield their "media pass" or huge camera, or at worst, create ho-hum websites about the Sydney social scene giving themselves carte blanche to demand invitations to everything. They can be agressive and bullying, with a tendency to harass junior staff - something I will not put up with.
The very first 'serial gatecrasher' I had was at a lingerie event back in 2000. And how I found out I had one? In the paper the following Sunday! What made it a little embarrassing was that it was a sit down lunch for just 60 people. So yes, this guy enjoyed a free meal whilst ogling a bevy of semi-naked women - not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon! The way he got in was to say his name and (bogus) media outlet on the door, and then proceeded to intimidate the inexperienced coordinator when his name wasn't there. The poor girl had been previously instructed to look after the media so she let him in.
I've had many interesting run-ins with this guy over the past decade. In the interest of not naming names, lets call him Douglas Dingleberry. I've escorted Douglas out of a fair few events - and fortunately, he never makes a fuss. He simply puts his drink down and follows you to the door. One night at an event in 2005, I saw him over at the bar enjoying a glass of red. As he saw me approach, he immediately put his drink down to leave. I told him to relax, that I wanted to have a chat. I figured there must be an interesting side to this guy if he gatecrashes as a hobby! We chatted for a while and I invited him to stay.
He then proceeded to crash another couple of my events and I let him be. The truth is I had this notion that he was rather eccentric and should possibly be added to people's lists - or at the very least be some kind of indicator of success, eg "My party was so fab that Douglas Dingleberry crashed!" I imagined him writing a fabulous book on his years of crashing and becoming somewhat of a Sydney bon vivant. Unfortunately, this was not the case. He ended up biting the hand that fed him, so I don't allow him to stick around any more. Such a shame really...
As for the self-professed 'journalists' and the "Don't you know who I think I am" types...well, let me just say that you should always check their background before you add them to your list. In my experience anyone who calls up and demands to come to your event, spouting off how important their extremely popular site is and how many hits they get - perhaps should learn this is not the polite approach. Whatever happened to being gracious? If these people just learnt to develop relationships and be friendly and positive, chances are the invitations would come rolling in. Many times over the years people I don't know have asked to attend my parties, and if they are polite and lovely about it, I put them on the list. Call me soft, but I like savvy, confident people. Don't let the bullies get to you.