Category Archives: Paparazzi

Social Media & Professional Development

 

About a week ago I put up an Executive Protection Scenario on the Corporate and Facebook Pages of the North American Bodyguard Association.  On it, I posed the following along with the associated photo:

“Grammy night. Pre-show red carpet. Your Principal, a celebrity, has had a public falling out with another well recognized celebrity a few days before who is also nominated. The incident is currently the buzz of the tabloids and Blogs. Using the photo below as a reference, what considerations, actions and contingencies do you plan prior to bringing the P out onto the red carpet?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As is typical with the scenarios, I got some good answers from some seasoned industry vets, along with some interesting points of view from newcomers who also try their hand at solving the problem.  It’s the mix of the two that have made taking the time out of my schedule to craft and post the scenarios worth it.   A little bit of backstory:  When I was coming up in the Executive Protection field, interaction with individuals already in the field that did not personally know you was rare.  Now fast forward to 2013 and having the opportunity to get valued opinions and viewpoints from not only all over the country but all over the world via social media, is not just amazing, it’s revolutionary.

Don’t misinterpret me, reading a few online blogs and participating in some newsgroup chats, won’t make you proficient in this field, but what it can do, *in the right settings* is be a part of your ongoing training and personal development.  Through reading, participating and interacting, the Protection Specialist can grow in an industry where too many think just because they completed a 7 day course, or served in law enforcement or are former military, they know it all.   Don’t take my word for it, pay a visit to the Facebook page of the NABA by clicking HERE and read some of the post that are taking place.  If those interest you, check out the Official Members-Only Site and get an even more in-depth look at the Close Protection industry from a global perspective. 

Oh and the reason for this post —

the BET Award Show just occurred in Atlanta, GA this weekend.  At it, two rival performers and their entourages, bodyguards included, were involved in a melee that warranted enough attention to involve the police and be covered in the mainstream press.   Upon reading this, I ask myself, did the respective artist’s security have a plan in place to avoid their client’s crossing paths?  Had they even thought about it?  Well, I do know this, if they had visited the NABA site, they would have at the very least, have read some very well thought out suggestions from industry professionals.

 

Celebrity Protection: How Not to Go Overboard

 

I know it might sound odd, but you can do effective VIP Protection for recognizable personalities without having to resort to tactics that would paint your Client in a negative light.  We’ve recently seen some horror stories about what happens when a bodyguard is overly aggressive.    Executive Protection Agents can most effectively ensure the safely of the VIP by remembering that one of the most important pieces of the puzzle comes in the planning & preparation stage.  In industry lingo, we term that the Advance, which includes  anticipating encounters  before they happen and having effective systems in place to negate or counter them.

While some view the fans, the press and the paparazzi as a major problem, we have to be aware that, particularly in the arena of Celebrity Protection, those three are a constant.    Taking the wrong approach in dealing with them could have a negative effect to the client, and one that could also affect security.  (Insiders tip, managers and agents don’t like bad press, if the Protection Agent is responsible for it –even if they thought they were doing the “right thing”,  they could still be on the unemployment line).

I try and stress this fact during the Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course that I teach at ICON.  “Verbal Judo” is sometimes more effective than taking them to the floor.  With that said, it’s always nice to hear it from someone else:

Via the Star Tribune

“The security guys with Kim Kardashian garnered praise for being impressively un-heavy-handed.

Although Kardashian was in a VIP section, the security was not pouncing every time she was approached. One excited woman was gently asked not to rush up on Kardashian but to give the reality star a few minutes to adjust to the scene.

As you can see from my video, the security guys were calm and civil and not shoving people out of the way as she and her fiancé arrived at the restaurant.”

full story HERE.

 


 

The Alpha Male Trait in Executive Protection

Playing Well With Others

by Elijah Shaw

The 2011 Grammy Awards is a very prestigious event.  Every A-List celebrity you can think of in the entertainment industry; musicians, actors, models, but more importantly decision makers, shot callers and handlers are in attendance.  For the Security Professional operating in the celebrity arena, it’s the equivalent of your team going to the super bowl – It likely took hard work to get there, it raises your profile, but the stakes are dramatically higher.  In addition there’s the added pressure that, as opposed to working one on one, with your Principal you are now moving your client in an environment where he or she may not be the most famous person in the room.  Things may take a little longer to happen, there are additional security procedures that apply to everyone and the undivided attention and assistance you once got from support staff is now splintered.  In short your VIP is now one Very Important Person amongst many.

The problem I see too many in our industry make when faced with this situation is that instead of adapting, we try and throw their weight around.   We become belligerent to the PA’s (personal assistants) who are in charge with navigating us around the event.  We become acrimonious with law enforcement that has been given strict orders that in a place where “everybody is somebody “ all need to submit to security screening. Most telling of all, we sometimes treat our counterparts working close protection as adversaries as opposed to allies.

It’s that last point that I’ve found so fascinating in my many years in the industry.  While I fully acknowledge that a contributing factor to success as a bodyguard is the “Alpha Male” Personality, I’ve never understood why when you put more than 3 of us in a room who are not on a detail together you can see territorial lines being drawn almost as clearly as if they were written with crayon.

Now don’t get me wrong there are definite exceptions to this rule (I try hard to consider myself one of them).  There are some great guys and gals in the industry that every time I see them it’s an opportunity to combine intel and share resources.  When on an event similar in scope to the Grammy’s we provide introductions to key staff and alert each other to any security or logistical problems.  But more often than not, I see agents eyeing each other with suspicion and barley veiled contempt.  You can almost hear their thoughts out loud:

“How did this guy get that client? I’m so much better than he is.”

“That’s not how you escort the Principal, diamond formations always work better than box.”

“This guy is standing too close to my client’s door, is he trying to steal my client”?

I know this situation is not unique to the Celebrity Protection market.  My associates that operate in some of the more hostile areas of the world tell me about protection teams sizing each other up all the time.  Of course the stakes are different when you’re in Iraq or Papa New Guinea.  The point I’m trying to make is: Think how much could be accomplished if  simply we adjusted our mindset that other EP Agents and event staff were all working for the same goal – The safeguarding of the individuals inside that collective circle of protection.    Sometimes those rings will overlap and when they do, I’ll look at others providing services not as nuisances but as brothers (or sisters) at arms dealing with their own set of challenges.  I believe that an attitude like this will pay back in dividends in the long run.

Read the full story in The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards by ordering HERE.

Safar Interviews Hans Van Beuge

Safar Protection Consultants does a great interview with Hans Van Beuge.  For those of you that don’t know Hans, he’s the owner of S.A.V.I.O.R  Services out of Australia, and in my mind a proven authority on the subject of identifying and dealing with stalkers and paparazzi.

In short, Hans is one of the good guys.

Read the interview HERE.

See Related: Industry Spotlight: EP Agent Hans van Beuge

Stunt Double

From the Archives:

Anybody who knows me personally knows there has been kind of running joke about my *alleged* resemblance to a certain actor…Well a few years back I had to escort a client to what was at that time the reception to the wedding of the year.   Security was pretty tight with multiple checkpoints and roadblocks leading up to the site of the event.  The paparazzi took advantage as best they could of the roadblocks and scrambled over themselves to get shots of whoever they could arriving.    It was a little bit of a feeding frenzy as one shout of recognition lead to 100 flashbulbs going off at once.  Mistakes are bound to happen and well…
…click HERE and scroll thru the first couple of arrival photos, you’ll see what I mean =)

Doorman Knocks Out Paparazzi

An angry doorman knocked out a photographer taking pictures outside of accused Ponzi scam artist Ken Starr’s residence in New York.   –That is knocked him out while other photographers took even more photos of the incident.–  Police later arrested the man for assault.  So now take another look at the photo above.  Who really won the fight?

Full story HERE.

Bodyguard Training Course (July 7-11)

Icon Services Corporation is proud to again present our 5 day course of practical theory and hands-on training in the world of Celebrity & VIP Protection. If you are new to the bodyguard industry or a current operator looking to refresh and polish your skills, this course will offer excellent instruction into the professional side of Close Protection work. Taught by industry veteran Elijah Shaw, who in addition to his corporate clients, has traveled the world as the personal bodyguard of international public figures such as musical giant Usher, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and rap megastar 50 Cent, the course will offer real world problems, scenarios, and solutions from instructors that are currently active in the Executive Protection industry.

“Your training is an invaluable tool to your industry. I was very impressed how close to realistic training you all provide. Having been taught by the best, I can honestly state that I learned quite a bit in your class. There is always room for improving ones skill set, and your training definitely added to mine.”

~ Special Agent Robert E. Jones / US Secret Service

For more information on attending the course click HERE.

Industry Spotlight: EP Agent Hans van Beuge

Icon – Behind the Bodyguard Business holds a spotlight where we feature someone in the Executive Protection, Security or Investigation industry.  Our hope is to provide some insight into our profession and also show newcomers & the media that people from all walks of life and all parts of the globe do this type of work with honor and pride.   No it’s not like the movies, but it can be rewarding, thrilling, and yes, sometimes fun.

Below is an excerpt of my interview with veteran Executive Protection Agent, Hans van Beuge Principal Partner of SAVIOR.

Hans

Agent Name: Hans van Beuge
Company Name
: SAVIOR
Website:
www.saviorservices.com
Home city / Country: Australia
Contact info: (email/phone number) hans@saviorservices.com int + 61 418 553 363

How long have you been in the Protection Industry
?

My career began in 1970 as an 18year old. This was well before any licensing or training accreditation was necessary. I was recruited to work for a company that provided security for Rock venues and Festivals and quickly progressed to tour/personal security for various bands and artists.

Can you give our readers a little bit of your background?

I started doing security work to support myself as an aspiring athlete. I was a Shot Putter in the Australian Athletic Team.  I was 6’6” and 240lb at 18 and about 265lb by the time I was 20.  Back then most of the guys protecting entertainers were martial artists or former boxers or wrestlers.  Muscle and physicality were seen as the only prerequisite at the time, however that’s definitely how I got my break into the industry.

Knowing how difficult it is to build a strong, long term base in EP work, what specific skills/traits make you marketable to potential clients?

I think it’s really necessary to determine which areas of Protection you are best suited for.  In this profession you can work in the Government, Military, PSD, Corporate (from CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies to small business owners), or for Wealthy Individuals, Entertainers (encompassing actors, rock bands, individual singers, rappers, models etc) and professional athletes. Although the principles of protection remain the same, the perspectives vary enormously depending in which field you work. Very few guys can transition successfully between all areas.

With the killing of John Lennon in 1980, the Hinckley/Reagan/Foster incident in early ’81 and a host of other high profile attacks on celelebrities around then , I came to the conclusion that the greatest hazard to entertainers was going to be coming from those mentally disordered individuals who for whatever demented reason seek connection with the famous.

I started to study psychology and read and researched as much material as available to understand the mind set of the types of offenders who pose a risk to my clients. I did as many courses as possible and started to interface with clinical psychiatrists and psychologists to workshop ideas and share my on the ground experiences with their more often textbook experience.

Behavioral prediction became a greater and greater aspect of the services I provided and eventually I started to market myself as a “Violence Consultant” rather than a “Bodyguard” to reflect this shift in focus. I also found it a rather untapped area for offering advice as it was in an area that Law Enforcement had no expertise in and the Mental Health authorities had little interest in.

I know that you have some pretty extensive experience dealing with the paparazzi as it relates to celebrity clients.  What do you think are some effective ways to deal with aggressive photographers?

Well, no security or safety program designed for a client is complete unless you have a plan to counter or minimize the invasive/aggressive/illegal intrusions of the tabloid media.  My advice:  Understand what each particular client’s attitude is towards the paparazzi.   Some are nonchalant about them; others want their privacy protected at all costs and most have a love/hate relationship. No matter what their opinion of the paparazzi, I’ve never yet met a client who didn’t want to be advised of the presence/position of paparazzi before a photo was taken.

To someone coming up after you in the industry, what advice would you give?

To strive for professionalism in their work.  We see so many people in this industry who lack any vestige of professional demeanor or behavior. Conduct yourself in a professional manner, be well presented and attired, be dignified and be knowledgeable about as many areas of security as possible. Your Clients are going to look to you for answers to all kinds of security issues.  Remember that we are in a service industry. Treat your client as the boss, you are there to support them, they are not there to enhance your career.

(continued)

For the full interview of my Q&A with Hans van Beuge, check the back issues of The Circuit – The Magazine for Bodyguards, by clicking HERE.

Kate Holmes Bodyguard Saves Paparazzi

Kate Holmes’ bodyguard has found himself on strange duty – saving the paparazzi from a beating for photographing the actress in a shop.  Looks like some shop patrons didn’t take to kindly to the harassment and took matters into their own hands.

I’ll assume that the Bodyguard intervened at the clients request, otherwise I can’t see leaving the Principal for any reason.

For the full story, click HERE.

*update*

Had a person with a first hand account contact me on this story.  It appears the BG made a tactical choice to defuse the brewing fight that was then occurring outside of a small store front cafe.  Imagine being faced with a scenario where the only way to remove your Principal was to exit past a full blown fist fight, or be trapped inside?  One option would be to do what this agent did and verbally defuse it.  –At the end of the day it worked.

Kudos.

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Celebrity Stalking Increasing?

ICON VIP Protection Course Training

Tyra Banks: Stalker gets 1 year of probation.

Britney Spears: Awarded restraining order against stalker. The stalker was arrested around the singers home wearing camouflage clothing.

Maria Sharapova: Her suspected stalker has been showing up repeatedly to the public tennis matches.

*The above photo is from the ICON Celebrity & VIP Protection Training Course. Have the students spotted the stalker? For more information click HERE.