Happy Birthday to my sister Tracy.
In all the DNC hoopla I forgot to mention that PhillyChitChat just turned 9 that means a whole year of #TBT posts up to the big TEN O. When I started PhillyChitChat in 2007 , I always imagined only doing it for 5 years since I was working full time as a paralegal, I had other plans, like opening up a coffee store,
selling books and greeting cards or still being yelled at by attorneys to take their damn boxes to the courthouse.
A lot has changed since 07/07/07 when I launched Philly Chit Chat, which was only supposed to be a hobby, an outlet for my so called useless info as dad would call it, and well I was really curious about what went on at those parties I read about.
First let me tell you the name PhillyChitChat came after a brainstorming session with my friends Simon and Katie Curtis (c) of NYC. I wanted a blog that was about Philly events, but also about chatting about Philly, not a message board, but a pictorial chronicalization of the City and what and who I thought was interesting. The blog PhillyGossip was for sale, but it had a hefty price of $5,000 attached to it. Philly Media bought it for Dan Gross, and well it was perfect I didn’t want to just write about gossip only anyway. I had a lot of ideas PhillyCalendar, Philly Social Diary, Philly Social Scene, Philly Scene, but then Simon came up with PhillyChitChat and I thought that was best. I did though buy all those other names, and I still own them today. On the right are my friends Greta and Alan Greenberger. This shot was taken before Michael Nutter was mayor, and Alan was still in private practice. Greta was, and still is for a few more months, City Hall’s Tour Director. I used to volunteer at City Hall for Greta before I moved to NYC in 2005 to work for 2 years, where I met the Curtis’ and eventually became a professional celebrity photographer in January 2007. This shot was taken 7/04/07
When I moved back from NYC, and even before I started PhillyChitChat.com, I had already started blogging in 2006 with my site “Confessions of a Paparazzi” ; I was living in NYC while working on a case for the Philly law firm where I had worked since 1991. It was supposed to be a short stint in NYC, but it turned into an 18 month long jaunt, and I squeezed every minute out of it. I never left for anything, I spent nearly every holiday there and Mike was great and visited a couple times a month. At first it was just to live in NYC, which was always a dream, but then i discovered the art and fun of photographing celebrities, the cult of fandom (there’s some hardcore fans ship going on, even worse today with the internet.), and I enjoyed telling stories to my co-workers via email everyday. Like Joan above who sat in front of me at work. The email list grew, until Mike suggested I do a blog, and that is how Confessions of a Paparazzi was born. I know I used the wrong tense of paparazzi, but that word had become popular through overuse by
Paris Hilton; who visited Philly to promote her perfume in February 2007. I had become friends with Phyllis Halpern, who lived in my building, who worked at Red Tettemer, who introduced me to Matt Vlahos, a young account executive there. He was trying to stage something viral, before viral was even a term, with Paris Hilton and a guy dressed as a Groundhog. i don’t even remember the circumstances. Matt wanted me to get the photo and send it to the wireservice I worked for WENN. Paris’ people were ok with the Groundhog, made the guy stand in line for the 2hrs. When Paris saw the Groundhog in line she had him thrown out. She was not going to pose with him. It was the most bizarre thing ever….
My goal in the early years was really to find out where the celebrities were in Philly. I had just come back from NYC, and I knew from reading Harriet Lessy, Michael Klein, Stu Bykofsky and Dan Gross’ columns that celebrities did stop by Philly, and they were bigger than Alycia Lane or Monica Malpass, even though I was happy when I photographed them the first time too.
Phyllis introduced me to Thom Cardwell (flower shirt). He was the developmental director of the Philadelphia Film Festival.
Great introduction cause sure enough during the film festivals there were plenty of nearly stars, stars and past star stage.
One of the first events Thom brought me to was one where Vince Fumo greets Angie Everhart at a movie screening at the Prince Theater. This is what I wrote on Confessions of a Paparazzi of the event:
After last Thursdays premiere, it was then my responsibility to “shop” the photos to the media to promote the film. OMG how exhausting was that, calling, emailing and be rejected by a dozen papers. Finally the People Paper “The Phila Daily News” saw that one of my photos told a story (after I mentioned Vince had a red thread on his wrist – a la Madonna and her Kabbalah bracelet). The greeting of Angie Everhart with Sen. Vince Fumo as co-director Sal Mazzotta looks on. One of my favorite columnist Dan Gross picks up on this photo and tells the rest of the story…
When the photo appeared in paper they cut his wrist off, even though the story was under the photo. I could have screamed. But in time these things would happen over and over again. I’ve never gotten used to editors. **Note above where I said I had to Shop the photos. I was thinking hey that’s a great idea, I will create a wire service for local Philly photos. I did attempt to do this with my friend Chris around the same time, but it was hard to convince local media outlets that we could provide photos that would be of interest. It would be years before I was able to convince them.
It also would be a year or so before another of my shots would appear in the Daily News. The budget for the paper was smaller, as was the space. That summer I heard Michael Klein was going to a food event of Thom Cardwell’s and I told him I could go and photograph it. I was super nervous cause I was a huge fan of his, and knew my photos would fit perfectly in his column. Having worked in NYC as a celebrity photography/paparazzi for the past year or so, and having read his column Inqlings, I knew that he probably was tipped off to celebrity appearances before they went to eateries or retailers, or during their visit, so he could put them in the paper the next day. My hunch was right. My 30 second spiel worked and he gave me a shot. Here’s the first shot we worked on together. Barry Manilow. Here’s what appeared in Klein’s column at the time- Inqlings – 9/7/07:
Looks like he made it – for dinner. Barry Manilow, with sidekicks, arrives at the Saloon in South Philadelphia. Manilow was welcomed Friday in a room whose patrons included mayoral candidate Michael Nutter, Q102’s Diego Ramos, lawyer Jimmy Binns, auto magnate Frank Kerbeck, and nightclub owner Larry Cohen. Last night, Manilow played at the Wachovia Center. And that was the beginning of a beautiful partnership that went on for 4 years, until the end of his column 3/26/11 The best advice Michael gave me was to spread my wings, and not work for just one outlet. It was nearly unheard of to do that, but each of the outlets I have contracts with adhere to different audiences; I work hard to adhere to their brand and they trust me to deliver the photos their readers want.
OK each Thursday I will publish 10 shots from each year. going forward I won’t be so wordy either. We’re starting in 2007
Boyz II Men at FYE minus one. I’m going to miss FYE, sometimes they had the best acts there for meet & greets.
Michael Marsico, Renee Gillinger, Sen Larry Farnese and Mary Patel.
Matt Ray, James Duggan and Steve McCann
Mayor Street, Judge Marjorie Rendell, Cary Lowell and Richard Gere at the Marian Anderson Awards. That year Patti LaBelle performed. This year Patti LaBelle is being honored. So excited for that.
The skyline of Philadelphia in 2007