The most popular names in pop music descend on Madison Sq. Backyard on Sunday, because the Grammys return to New York for the primary time in 15 years. The night time will function performances from Girl Gaga, U2, Bruno Mars and extra, however don’t really feel unhealthy in the event you don’t acknowledge everybody you see seated within the entrance row. Between the A-listers will probably be a small military of normal Joes and Janes.
These seat fillers be certain that the room appears to be like full, even when, say, Jay-Z is taking a toilet break, or Pink is on the point of take the stage. It’s an unpaid gig, but it surely comes with some main perks.
“Final yr, my sister and I have been seat fillers on the Staples Middle in Los Angeles,” Savannah Bickle, a 21-year-old pupil from Malibu, Calif., instructed The Submit. “Proper off the bat, we acquired seated by the stage. Adele got here on to carry out ‘Good day,’ and we have been proper subsequent to [where she was standing], which was superb as a result of she’s my idol.”
However the Grammys typically entice extra than simply pop’s elite. New Jersey personal detective Jeff Sokolowski attended the 1998 Grammys at Radio Metropolis Music Corridor in New York, and located himself sitting simply behind Donald Trump and the then-teenage Ivanka.
“I launched myself, and he was very pleasant and nice,” mentioned Sokolowski. “How was I to know that I used to be shaking arms with the long run president of america?”
Though anybody can do it, seat filling is a tough job to land. Since 2001, the Grammys have used Seatfillers and Extra, a Los Angeles-based firm that gives seat fillers for numerous ceremonies, together with the BET Awards and the Individuals’s Alternative Awards.
“We had 24,000 candidates for this yr’s Grammys,” mentioned proprietor Ted Absher. “Our laptop randomly selects the 350 winners,” who’re checked for prison data and have their names run by celebs’ safety groups to verify they don’t set off any purple flags.
Katelynn Bickle (left) and Savannah Bickle.“We ask that males put on fits or tuxes, and ladies put on robes,” Absher added. “If somebody crops up who won’t be so camera-friendly, we normally place them across the venue the place the cameras won’t be centered. However we permit everybody to attend — no matter ethnicity, form or dimension.”
Seat fillers are saved on the sides and close to the rear of the room whereas the ceremony takes place, however when an organization coordinator spots an empty seat, there’s at all times somebody prepared to leap in.
When the expertise returns, they have to vacate the spot.
It’s hardly red-carpet glamour, nonetheless: They’ve to point out as much as the venue three hours earlier than begin time, and are strongly discouraged from hassling the expertise.
“I’ve had folks attempt to community, move out résumés and even move out their music demos,” mentioned Absher. “However 99.9 % of individuals do their job effectively.”
Nonetheless, in the course of the typically drawn-out ceremony, it’s not unknown for the expertise to grow to be chatty with seat fillers. In 1998, Barbra Streisand was resulting from attend, however pulled out resulting from illness, so, Sokolowski remained in her seat all night time. Sitting subsequent to him was Chris Rock.
“I launched myself as ‘Jeff the seat filler,’ and he was fascinated by that,” he mentioned. “At one level LL Cool J was going to win an award, and Chris saved saying, ‘LL, let Jeff the seat filler go up and get it for you!’ He was so humorous.”
If fortunate seat fillers look the half and find yourself in the fitting seats on the proper time, they may simply have their faces beamed the world over. It’s a great way to win critical props out of your co-workers once you return to the workplace.
“I used to be filling Rihanna’s seat for the primary 20 to 30 minutes final yr, and I noticed myself on-screen when Likelihood the Rapper was successful an award,” says Corey Benick, a 31-year-old advertising and marketing govt from Los Angeles. “So I took a screenshot and shared it on social media. My boss blew up the picture on an enormous poster and caught it by my desk!”