Crashing the Playboy Mansion: An Inside Look at Nelly's 'Celebrity Sweat' Party
It was far from a typical Saturday night -- unless you're a rock star or your name happens to be Charlie Sheen.
Here are some of the highlights from my night at the Mansion (a.k.a. Nelly's "Celebrity Sweat" party):
- Getting inside the party. Members of the media weren't supposed to. In fact, the specific instruction we received before getting onto the shuttle to the Mansion was to hang out on the red carpet until 11:15 p.m., then leave. Immediately. Fortunately, Darryl Dawkins is a friendly guy -- we talked basketball for about 20 minutes as he hung out on the carpet -- and his cousin took a liking to my partner in crime, Frances. 11:15 rolled around. Instead of getting back on the shuttle, though, we were stashing our camera equipment in the bushes and walking into a $1,000-a-ticket party with an NBA legend. Party at the Playboy Mansion? Bucket list. Check.
- The party itself was awesome, don't get me wrong. But talking with Dawkins, DeMar DeRozan's "coach" during the Dunk Contest, was one of the more exciting moments of the night. Dawkins was candid about DeRozan's performance -- "he got robbed" -- and the way voting was conducted -- "I don't like the fan vote. I'd like to see them put pressure on the judges to make a decision." He also told me what DeRozan's final dunk would have been had he made it to the finals. Here's the dunk:
- All of Dawkins'/DeRozan's dunks had nicknames that were stenciled on signs held up by a PR lady. This one was going to be called "The Yellow Brick Road." "We're not in Kansas anymore," Dawkins told me. (Yeah, real original, "Chocolate Thunder.") It would have involved turning off the lights in the arena to reveal three spotlight-sized yellow dots on the court. The dots would lead up to the hoop, the last one placed a challenging distance from the hoop. DeRozan would take a running start and hit each of the dots in succession before launching himself from the last one on his way to an emphatic dunk. Earth shattering? Not really. But it would've been a helluva lot more entertaining than JaVale McGee's final dunk. Back to the party...
- The Playboy Mansion wasn't exactly as I imagined it. Hef wasn't there, first of all. I expected him to be in the corner in an oversized armchair surrounded by blondes, but he was nowhere to be seen. There goes that opportunity. Second, there were no bikini-clad models playing volleyball by the pool like in Beverly Hills Cop II. That shook my world. Third, there was a stunning lack of celebrities. At a party "hosted" by Nelly with a guest list that included, well, just about everybody, you would have expected wall-to-wall A-listers. But nobody was there. Well, not "nobody," but you know what I mean.
- Among the attendees: Darryl Dawkins (of course), Norm Nixon (of Lakers fame and Clippers broadcasts), the Weasley twins, some dude from Friday Night Lights that I didn't recognize, the rap group Pac Div and Craig Robinson from The Office and Hot Tub Time Machine. Not exactly a star-studded cast. Still, it was fun to watch them interact with the other guests. Hardly anybody recognized the Weasley guys but everyone and her sister was trying to take a picture with Robinson on the dance floor. Frances couldn't get a shot from the couches, so we went to the black-and-white checkered floor and I pretended to dance (pretended being the operative word) while she sniped him with her iPhone. Entertainment journalism at its finest!
- The crowd was E-list but the presentation was definitely A-list. Open bar with specialty drinks by Chivas, sushi, sliders, chicken and beef skewers, a dessert table with stacks of cookies and red velvet cupcakes and enough sports memorabilia to start a museum (all of it up for auction). Plus the DJ was terrific -- he played Biggie all night. Granted, we were celebrating in a tent because it was raining (no grotto for us) and there was turf under our feet, but I'd still give the setup a solid "A."
- Uh, make that an "A+". I forgot about the lingerie models, I mean party guests. It was like the groupie version of a Victoria Secret catalog. Somebody must have told them Nelly was coming and it was going to get hot in therre. They took off most of their clothes during Pac Div's set. I haven't seen that much skin on display since Travis Henry's last house party.
- The girls weren't Playmates. But they weren't exactly ugly either -- well, most of them anyway. Some had no business wearing what they were wearing, which led to an interesting game: spotting the night's most egregious lingerie violator. The winner was wearing a lacy white number. She had more rolls than Cinnabon. It wasn't pretty. Not every girl who goes to the Mansion deserves to wear a teddy. I'll leave it at that.
- The night ended with a 1 a.m. last call and the strongest Crown & Coke I've ever had. Fortunately, one of the guys in the Playboy-themed green jackets scooped it up while I was helping Frances paparazzi the hell out of Darryl from the warehouse. Dodged a bullet on that one.
- On the shuttle back, I recapped the night in my head. Good food. Good drinks. Good...atmosphere. On a scale of 1 to the ESPYs after-party, I'd give it an 8.5.
Until next year, Hef...