I would die to have a Boss like Sir Richard Branson. The man is an absolute Rock Star with a clear understanding of what makes this Ikea-buying generation tick. He understands the power of Celebrity and the importance of Budgeting and Style as driving forces for consumers. His vision has made Virgin Group the Empire that it is today.
To have been invited to one of his parties is an amazing honour and an experience I will never forget. Held at ultra-swank The Thompson Hotel, Virgin America's Launch Party for its first-ever international flight to Toronto, brought together Influencers of all sorts and a handful of recognizable Stars.
With a Drink List that offered tantalizing selections like The Virgintini and endless helpings of Sliders, Cold Spring Rolls, Lamb Chops, Salmon Tartare Canapés and many, many more, Branson owns the term Hospitality. After mingling a bit, I decided to proceed to the Lower Level, where he could be found sitting on a Bench with Guru-like presence, as guests lined up one-by-one to chat with him and have photographs taken. I got my moment finally after letting a few over-zealous Ladies in ahead of me and was very direct and to-the-point, thanking him for having me at his Party. I then shook his hand and told him how much I admired his understanding of my generation and vision. And he appreciated my conciseness amidst the scurry of young Entrepreneurs trying to throw Business Proposals at him from every which direction. As if.
I also got a chance to spend some one-on-one time with the incredibly handsome Gilles Marini, Dancing With the Stars Champion and Samantha Jones's Object of Desire in Sex & The City: The Movie. He was very down-to-earth, posing for a photo with me and signing a couple autographs, including one maybe for my Readers. We'll see soon.... And the photos I chose for him to sign lit up his face as they too were shot at a Thompson Hotel. He was going to introduce me to the General Manager of the Hotel but alas, we couldn't locate him. Marini told me he's in-town until Thursday (Canada Day) and plans to do a bit of relaxing. He was hoping to extend his trip through the weekend to partake in Pride festivities, but alas he has other obligations. He sure knows his Market! And he kept insisting I call him "Gilles" as he hates being called "Mr. Marini". One of the General Managers at Virgin who was observing us, came over after and we both gushed about him like a bunch of School Girls!
And nobody told me Eric Roberts, brother of Julia and accomplished actor in his own right, was going to be there! Well, this pretty much makes up for the fact that I missed out on seeing Julia Roberts last week during her blink-and-miss trip to the city. Roberts is a total flirt, that much I will say. No complaints here!
Despite being on the Confirmed List, True Blood actor Mehcad Brooks, singer Ryan Cabrera and The Hills' Kristin Cavallari couldn't be spotted. Comedian Russell Peters and his girlfriend did make a late appearance though and he recognized me again instantly, calling me Lloyd from HBO's Entourage - an on-going joke we've had since last October.
The biggest highlight of the night though for me, other than the Open Bar and All-You-Can-Eat Lamb Chops, was that repeatedly people would come up to me and go, "Oh! You're the Perez Hilton of Toronto! Except you're way nicer...." or "Apparently I have to read your blog because it's amazing". For the record, I love Perez - but we're totally different. It baffles me why people keep drawing these comparisons.
Check out some more photos I got from tonight below:
So yeah - more details on the sexy Gilles Marini Autograph Giveaway in a bit. Check back, okay?
(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)