Megalomaniac Hospitality Rider by Matt Saleh

The following is the hospitality rider for my 2018 World Tour.

My name is Justin Abbracciabene.

You may have heard of me.

*

You will notice that I’ve elected to draft my own hospitality rider, in long-form prose. Typically, this document will look very much like a list, or very much like a legally binding contract.

And it will come from someone called like a ‘tour manager’ or something similar, and he will have likely a very immature-sounding email address for an adult professional.

While unorthodox, I think it is important to emphasize that I have my hand in every aspect of my work.

And lists are boring and legalese is the anti-art.

Only philistines speak in legalese.

Only weak minds operate in lists.

Initial here ___ if you understand.

*

Before we get into the specifics of how you will accommodate me, you need to get to know me as a person.

The only hope you have of successfully accommodating me is if you and your staff take the time to understand me and my innermost poetry.

I am not interested in the very formal, very phony hospitality that permeates our society. Let’s go deeper, together. It will make for a more fulfilling experience for all parties involved.

*

I am, first, a human being.

I put my velvet pants on one leg at a time.

I am, secondly, a man of the arts.

I mastered fifteen instruments before I was twelve-years-old. Did you? Today, I play more instruments than I can count and am involved in the entire production side of my music.

I was an international pop star before my fourteenth birthday. My parents said “no” when an agent approached me on a rainy day in Seattle, so I filed a petition for legal emancipation.

Or ‘termination of parental rights,’ as it is called in the Great State of Washington.

Perhaps that ordeal is where I developed my deep and profound hatred of legalese (supra).

The process was very painful. My father looked like a broken little doe up there on the witness stand, yelling at the judge:

“But he’s just a boy!”

And the big, very serious looking judge looking at him very suspiciously, tipping his glasses down at a piece of paper and going

“Hmm.”

And the piece of paper in question being an affidavit from my neighbor stating that my parents were—and I quote—“helicopter parents who forced Justin into the arts against his will.”

And one that the judge leafed through from a child psychologist who posited that my parents—or Todd and June as I call them now—were likely living vicariously through me, to compensate for their own pathetic failures and shortcomings in life.

My attorney was top notch and did a very convincing job of portraying Todd and June as first-order creeps.

He represented me on contingency.

Of course, none of it was true. I was always a precocious type. I knew I wanted to be famous even when I was a dripping wet infant. It was my destiny. There wasn’t any pressuring in the slightest.

Todd and June Wimple were nothing but a couple of harmless rubes from Conconully, Washington.

But they were dead weight and wanted a kind of very traditional ‘life’ for me, which included attending eighth grade, and not signing record deals with many zeroes and many commas.

And not touring the world at fourteen to be mobbed by “vampires and sycophants and groupies,” as Todd said.

Todd and June were filled up with one-too-many ‘nots.’

They were old-fashioned, as they say.

Initial here ___ if you understand.

*

     And so it goes without saying that I was successful in terminating parental rights, and Mom and Dad were converted to Todd and June, just like that, with a swipe of a serious judge’s pen, and I suddenly had the legal authority to sign my own binding contracts.

Which I did, and there were many zeroes and many commas.

And suddenly I was signed to Columbia Records.

And Todd was right, there were sycophants and groupies galore, and maybe some vampires too although I’m not quite sure what he meant exactly by that.

But I was able to keep my wits about me, mainly by focusing on my art.

Like one time, I was blazing down Constellation Road in Valencia in my new Lamborghini Diablo GT1 convertible, very high on Mescaline. I was with my new friend Alex.

Now Alex was first my drug dealer but then he became my best friend and then my tour manager and later my financial manager too.

And we’re going maybe 150 down Constellation, blasting my newest double-platinum album, and Alex says to me “Justin, let’s knock over a liquor store, just for the rush.”

And he like pulls out this giant pistol that looks like it should say A.C.M.E. on it.

And you know what I said to him?

I said “I can’t just knock over a liquor store, Alex. I’m a famous musician. If they caught me I’d be locked in a box and I wouldn’t be able to make music. And without my art, I’d just wither away and die and the general populace would love every second of it because the only thing they love more than a celebrity is a former celebrity that they can cannibalize.”

Alex looked at me kind of wide-eyed like I’d just exploded his Mescaline-drenched frontal lobe.

“Do you understand?” I yelled, the hard wind flicking my hair back as I turned from the road to him, and back to the road.

“I understand,” said he.

And so he just fired a couple of shots from his big old gun into the stillborn purple California dawn and we raced away, clean and clear.

And I’m still making number one hits with careful, market-tested regularity.

Not locked in a box in fucking San Quentin or Folsom or wherever, being slowly taken apart and very forgotten.

Initial here ___ if you understand.

*

     You’re probably wondering now, but what do I want?

And this is a complicated question indeed.

This is the simpleton in you, aching for a list to calm your nerves, to order the world just-so. Fight the urge, you will be better for it.

I feel that I’d be doing you a disservice if I jumped right in, going “hotel accommodations this” and “tour bus/dressing room appurtenances that.”

We’ll get to all that, sweet, sweet music venue proprietor.

We haven’t far to go yet.

*

     Where was I?

Yes, so it was primarily through my commitment to my music and my art that I was able to avert the treacherous path and stay clean and clear on the path to righteousness.

I’ve been on the international pop circuit for almost four years now and some consider me to be a bit of an old veteran at this point, especially as far as the whole converting oneself from teeny bopper to adult sex thing is concerned.

Sometimes when a new up-and-coming teen idol is uncovered, the label will even come to me—wise old sage that I am—and ask me to take the fresh meat under my wing as a mentee.

For example, Bing Satrakian, my label rep—“Old Bing,” as I call him—will ring me up on the phone and he’ll say:

“Justin, Justin, we got this new kid. Very fresh and the pipes on this kid! You wouldn’t believe it even if I showed you.”

And then I hear Bing, he’s waving the kid over to the phone while I wait.

“Kid, kid, sing into the phone for Justin.”

And the kid does like a little improvised vocal riff in whistle register and it sounds slightly prepubescent and slightly like self-flagellation but I dig it and I’m like:

“I dig it,”

To Satrakian and you can almost feel the kid just beaming on the other end of the phone line as I say this.

“He digs it,” Satrakian says to the fresh meat, “you hear that kid?”

And he says:

“Great, Justin we’re going to bring you on as a producer on his debut album. Maybe a guest spot too we’ll see how it’s looking—how the buzz is.”

And then he pauses for a second.

“But listen, Justin-baby, there’s something else. How was it that Ben Sampson handled that whole Mouseketeer sex tape thing of yours? We’ve got a bit of a situation brewing over here with the kid.”

Ben Sampson was my old assistant and disaster management specialist with the label.

I have to jog my memory a bit.

“I wasn’t really involved in the whole fallout from that, why don’t you ask Ben?” I say.

Satrakian says, “Problem is: Ben, well, Ben is not talking to me and is on unpaid leave at the moment on account of his saying that I sexually harassed his wife.”

“Oh,” I said.

“You know how it is with that stuff,” says Satrakian. I could tell he was kind of turning the phone away from the new talent and speaking in muted tones. But only to appear modest, not really to protect his actual modesty, of which he had almost none.

“Sure,” I said.

And so I gave Satrakian the best advice I had, which basically was that the kid should pay the person with the sex tape a giant lump sum of cash and ‘purchase’ the right of first refusal from the owner of said sex tape. But I also remembered something that Ben had said to me:

“But Bing—and I just remembered this—even when we got down to cutting the check, Ben looked at me one last time and said ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ and what he was saying, Bing, was that maybe it was actually better to let the sex tape go public,” I said.

It was starting to come back to me, I was jogged. I continued:

“Ben asked me some background questions like how the lighting was, what type of camera we used if the girl was wearing makeup, and whether I was well-endowed and if it looked like I was a generous lover. And I guess the way I answered convinced him that we should probably just purchase the right of first refusal.”

And then we both paused for a second.

“You’re a lifesaver, kid,” Satrakian said.

And he hung up the phone just like that.

No signoff.

Initial here ___ if you understand.


Matt Saleh is a musician and writer based out of New York City.

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