Usually when we think of the word “escort,” we think of guys who “lift luggage” for closeted preachers. But Chris Gaida is a legitimate escort—he goes along with big-name celebrities to red-carpet functions, making sure they get where they’re supposed to and have a nice time while they’re there.
Gaida has escorted Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Betty White, Ricky Martin, Mariah Carey, Darren Kriss, Angelina Jolie and countless other stars. He’s seen the sloppy drunks, the diva fits, and the “straight” movie stars who have their hands all over the male escorts.
Now, Caida, 38, is spilling some red-carpet T with his memoir, Arm Candy, In it, he delivers behind-the-scenes dish, reveals who in Hollywood is a pain in the posterior (you’d be surprised) and shares his personal coming-out storyc.
We chatted with the walker-turned-author about his exploits, the rules of the business, and clearing up the confusion that he’s not “that” kind of escort.
How did you get involve in the escort business?
I was fresh out of college when I landed a temp job at MTV Networks in New York. One day while trying to stay busy answering phones, some random guy approached my desk and asked if I would want to escort at the VH1 Divas Live show. I told him no, as I heard about the casting couch and sleeping with someone was not the way I wanted to make it to the top.
He insisted that it was not a sexual job, so I decided to take the chance and escort at the show. From what he briefly described, it sounded cool, but also too good to be true—I didn’t want to end up in one of those 20/20 stories. You know, the ones where some kid knew something was shady and did it anyway and wound up getting murdered.
Not only was I not murdered, but it was everything I could have imagined and more. I had all access to every celebrity, and sex was not on the menu.
What’s entailed in a typical escorting job?
Celebrity escorts exist at just about every award show and there are, on average, about 20-30 escorts per show. There are a small group of us that work just about every show and then there are a few people that do it just a few times and then disappear forever. I imagine that they get frustrated because of the amount of work involved, and some get upset that they always have to take a back seat because the celebrity gets all of the attention. Other times they get fired because they do something stupid or don’t have the best interest of the celebrity in mind.
Basically we handle the celebrities experiences at award shows. From rehearsal to red carpet to the actual show, we make sure that not only the celebrities are well taken care of, but that the show producers get what they need to make the show the best that it can be. We bring the celebrities backstage when its time, handle media requests, coordinate script changes, rush celebrities past eager fans and coordinate timing and logistics for the show. I have to wear many different hats and deal with multiple personalities—sometimes within the same person.
Since these shows are mostly live, mistakes are not an option and not knowing an answer can cost you your job. Its an incredible job, though, where you are able to literally spend an entire day with your favorite celebrity. Its nice to see how the other half lives and to experience a part of Hollywood that very few people have. Even reporters and other crew members don’t have the access we do.
Do people assume you sleep with celebrities?
People always wonder about that. That’s not part of the job at all, and never expected of anyone. The insiders knows about this job and how important we are to making sure things flow properly and that the celebrities are clear in communication with the producers. A few times I have been asked out by the celebrities “people”—manager, publicist, make-up artist—but rarely has a celebrity themselves asked me out.
Who were some of the celebrities that surprised you—either with how diva-like they were or how cool they were?
Pamela Anderson is one of the celebrities who has shocked me with how different she was in person than what I expected her to be. I expected this dumb blonde, but in real life she has it all together—she’s very savvy. In my book I apologize if I’m blowing her cover! She not only seems to be an excellent mother, but an incredible business woman who knows how to work the dumb-blond image.
Another celebrity that surprised me was Queen Latifah. I escorted her back before she became a big movie star and I assumed she would be difficult. I knew she was a rap artist and was on one TV show at the time, but that is all I knew. The moment I met her though I realized how special she is. She instantly treated me as if I was her brother or as if we known each other for years. She was very welcoming and a very fun person to spend time with. In my presence she was always happy and not a diva in anyway. I still remember the expression on her face when we went to her suite in Las Vegas that production and booked for her. It was like a scene from a movie where the doors opened and we both saw this big gorgeous room for the first time. She lite up like a Christmas tree and was truly grateful for such an incredible room.
What are some of the never-break rules of being a celebrity escort?
The Number One rule for a celebrity escort is to never lose your talent. Escorts usually just have one celebrity that they are with all day and night, and they are not allowed to lose sight of them. This may sound simple, but celebrities are often pulled in many different directions and with crowds of people and people pulling an escort away by asking questions or just talking it can be a challenge. Ten seconds of giving someone directions can be a fatal mistake—because just that quickly the talent can be gone.
Other rules are to act professional at all times, don’t be late, know the venue inside and out, and be prepared for everything. An escort could be walking their celebrity to their dressing room only to find the hallway blocked. If that escort doesn’t know another route instantly then problems can occur. I make sure I know where every hallway and door leads to, because you never know when you are going to make a hasty detour.
Have you escorted any gay celebrities—or covered for any who were in the closet?
I escorted the Queer Eye For the Straight Guy cast back in 2003, at the height of their fame. It was at the MTV Video Music awards and they were all extremely nice guys. Two of the guys asked me out and I did go on dates with them both—though not the same night. No romance brewed, but it was a fun experience and I was happy to have spent some time getting to know them better.