Friday, September 24, 2010

A "tweet update," and I was meeting Gwen Stefani!

Surfing through Las Vegas blogs on the Internet, I found out that Gwen Stefani would be in Vegas soon for the unveiling of her wax figure at Madame Tussuads Wax Museum. I quickly contacted my pal, Sally Steele of Vegas Rocks! Magazine to see if she could score us some media passes to photograph Gwen once she was in town. A week later, I received a call from Sally informing me that she was doing all she could to achieve a photo pass for this event, and that the chances of getting approved were not looking good. The day before the event, I had decided that the next morning I would still make my way down to the Wax Museum in hopes of possibly catching a glimpse of Gwen.

The morning of September 22, 2010 I caught the bus at 9:00a.m. and headed for the Strip. Before I left home, I logged on to Twitter, went to No Doubt's page and turned 'on' mobile updates so that any tweets Gwen made that morning would be sent to my phone. Since I don't have Internet on my cell phone, I thought it would be a good idea to receive text updates.
"@NoDoubt Vegas no doubters. Wanna meet me? First 5 right now to M Tussuad's VIP check in win passes to meet me! Vegas here we come..."
I was in shock at the tweet I had just read, and began pacing through tourists down the sidewalk towards Madame Tussuads! I couldn't have been more happy that the buses were all running on schedule that morning! About 7 minutes later, I was at Madame Tussuads ticket area and noticed a guy sitting at a table next to the ticket windows. There were no signs, just a clip board so I assumed that was the media check in. I got out my phone and showed him the tweet and asked if I was in the correct area. To my surprise, I was in the right spot and was the first person out of the five who would win passes to show up! He then told me just to stand by for about 10-15 minutes and then they will hand out the passes. During that time, Sally gave me a call and told me she was on her way down to Madame Tussuads to just see if there was any chance they would credential her a photo pass.

Two super No Doubt fans showed up at the media table, one gal actually had a Gwen Stefani portrait tattoo on her leg! I walked over to the table and the man handed over the meet & greet passes!!! I had thought there would only be only one VIP pass in the envelop but instead all five people that 'won' the giveaway had two meet and greet passes. Sally had arrived and I quickly told her about what I had just won. The winners were directed up to the gift shop to wait until the unveiling of Gwen's wax figure would begin. Sally met up with me again about 20 minutes later and she still was not given a credential to photograph, so I offered her the second VIP pass I had so that she could still at least see Stefani. Sally thought it was awesome how this winning happened all thanks to a simple tweet Gwen posted.

After about an hour, we (Twitter giveaway winners & radio winners) were taken into the room where there was a small stage where the unveiling would take place. Inside the dimly lit, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani filled room courtesy of a DJ, were press photographers, about 20 winners from various contests inside for the meet and greet, and a table lined with lots of candy. From sour gummy worms to lollipops, jellybeans and M&Ms- I filled a little bag with a variety of the sugary goods. Soon enough, a spokesperson for Madam Tussauds took the stage and gave her thanks to everyone behind the making of Gwen Stefani's wax figure and of course a thanks to Gwen herself! She then welcomed Gwen to the stage and with sounds of cheer from fans, Gwen emerged from curtains on the side of the room where Sally and I were standing all smiles and waving to everyone. The room was filled with sounds of camera shutters as the photographers began photographing Gwen next to her wax likeness! She posed for just the right amount of time so that every photographer got their shot.

Polaroid of Gwen Stefani's wax figure (© Nick Leonard)

Gwen then left the room and the PR people let all of us know she would be back in about ten minutes for the meet & greet. We were then arranged in a U-shaped line and were allowed to have anything we wanted signed by Gwen once she returned and made her way down the line, but that photos with her would be done on the stage by her and the wax figure. Some fans had posters they wanted signed, while others had their VIP pass or shirt ready to be signed. However, I was prepared with my Polaroid Spectra camera around my neck. I was hoping on snapping a quick portrait of her once she got to me in line, and then signing the Polaroid. Sure enough, the doors opened and in walked Gwen ready to sign away!

Two above photos were shot by Erik Kabik

I kept my fingers crossed that the Polaroid idea would work out. Finally, Gwen got to my place in line and was very friendly. I showed her my Polaroid camera and asked if it would be alright to take her photograph to sign.

About to snap a Polaroid of Gwen! (photo by Erik Kabik)

She was very cool about it and agreed to pose, noting that it was neat how I was using a Polaroid camera and that the film must be hard to come by. I told her thank you, and that it is difficult to find- that I mostly search out deals on the web when they come up. I took her photo and handed her the shot for her to sign. As she was signing, I told her I was at No Doubt's May 2009 show at Mandalay Bay and it was an amazing show. She smiled and said she was glad I made it down to the concert.
I couldn't wait for the Polaroid to finish developing. After a few minutes, I looked at the shot and began to shake a little bit... I was so thrilled with the quality and just the shot itself! Getting that Polaroid definitely meant a lot.

Polaroid portrait of Gwen Stefani (© Nick Leonard)

The line began moving as people started going up either two at a time or one at a time to get a photo shot by the Madame Tussauds photographer with Gwen and her wax figure. The cool thing about getting the photo was that after it was shot, prints were made and we each received a 5x7 copy of our picture!

Gwen Stefani & myself (shot by MT staff)

Shot by Erik Kabik

After everything wrapped up, I couldn't get over how well my luck was that day. It's just crazy to me- by deciding to set mobile updates to 'on' from No Doubt's Twitter feed, and the buses being on time I was able to meet Gwen Stefani!?!? A lucky day I will not soon forget!

~ Nick Leonard

P.S. My friend, Erik Kabik was one of the photographers at this event, so be sure to check out his photos of Gwen and her wax figure by clicking here!