Fashion Masochist: The Paparazzi Treatment

By Rachel Baker | Boston Magazine |


When I first hear about the new firm Your Paparazzi for Hire, which stages public-ambush encounters to make you “feel like a superstar,” I get a bit queasy. Just how celeb-obsessed are we? Apparently, very: According to founder Lance McBrayer, Bostonians are lining up. Packages start at $500 for 30 minutes with four pretend paps (plus photos and a commemorative magazine cover), and go up to $2,500 for two hours of bombardment, limo service, and actors playing bodyguards and publicists.

[sidebar]Sounds impressive, but I have my doubts about how realistic such a gimmick could be. I imagine a few hairdressers with disposable cameras. Awkward. Turns out, McBrayer’s operation is much more high-tech than that.

THE EXPERIENCE A few days before go-time, I answer a questionnaire about favorite shows (Gossip Girl), recent vacations (Palm Springs), and frenemies (this one stays blank—I’m a classy girl). McBrayer recommends bringing a handful of friends to play entourage, so I enlist two coworkers plus my friend Max, a real-life fabulous publicist, who’ll portray my make-believe fabulous publicist. My outfit, of course, must reek of manufactured nonchalance. After an Us Weekly tutorial, I don Wayfarers, an oversize Chloé bag, and a silk scarf. A venti Starbucks latte completes the look. Alas, CVS is fresh out of alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelets.

Our route will take us from the Pru to the patio of Newbury Street’s Cafeteria Boston, which has hosted authentic tabloid targets Gisele and Tom. As soon as we hit Boylston, four photogs, two reporters, and a videographer attack. They look and sound the part, with industrial-grade tape recorders and enormous cameras, and fire off question after question: “Will you be judging America’s Next Top Model this season?” “Is it true you two are engaged?” Max barks, “No comment!”

When I pause to indulge them with a pose on the corner of Gloucester, I realize: We’re causing a frenzy. Necks are craned. Camera phones are in the air. Traffic has stopped. It all couldn’t seem more real. At Cafeteria, one last paparazzo sneaks up from behind some shrubbery, but vanishes after a warning from Max: “You got your shot. Just let us eat!” The gossip-hungry pedestrians take longer to scatter.

I’m surprised to say that the experience is incredibly fun, and even a bit exhilarating. It’s also a hilarious memory to share with friends—though it certainly helps to be in on the joke.


Snap Judgments

Photo by Eric Antoniou

Channel 7 anchor and flash magnet Frances Rivera on how to make the camera love you, too.

1. Pressing your arms flat against your sides guarantees they’ll look flabby. Instead, position them slightly away from your body, at an angle—they’ll look slimmer that way. And if you’re feeling extra sassy, putting your hands on your hips is even more flattering.

2. It’s getting to be a cliché, but seriously: Smile with your eyes as well as your mouth. (Do this by pretending you’re on the verge of laughter as the photographer snaps.)

3. When it’s a seated shot, scoot all the way to the edge of the chair so your thighs and rear don’t expand and spread. That’s one look that doesn’t work for anybody!

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