“I Was a Celebrity Escort”
It was the late 1990s, and an innocent temp at MTV saw an opportunity when a panicked colleague had his blood pressure boiling when he was unable to find enough workers to man the VH1 Divas awards show, which was taking place in a few hours. Curious and up for anything, the then-24-year-old Christopher Gaida agreed to the task, not ever imagining a year or so later he would be holding hands with Julia Roberts, walking red carpets, attending after-parties and escorting dozens of Hollywood’s most famous stars over his 12-year career as a celebrity escort.
His first official job as a “celebrity escort” (not a sexual escort, as one typically thinks when they hear the word, more so the logistics guy/girl who is required to be next to their assigned celeb at all times) was for VH1 Divas Live in 1999. He was responsible for Saturday Night Live’s Ana Gasteyer, Cheri Oteri and Molly Shannon.
“They were fun, but I felt like I was kind of a butler,” Gaida tells us of his first experience. “I didn’t know how to behave or what to do. So, I just stood back with my hands behind my back and would ask if they needed anything else. Very proper, not normal. They probably thought I was a weirdo because you don’t know how to behave.”
That awkwardness didn’t last for long, as it led to one of the coolest gigs in town (he’s pictured above with Donna Summer).
“I’m not mentioned in tabloids or paid millions of dollars for movie roles, yet I still rub elbows with Hollywood elite. I experience the glitz of awards shows and the glam of after-parties. And while you don’t know my name, you’ve actually seen me on television or in photos without even realizing it,” Chris Gaida tells in his memoir Arm Candy: A Celebrity Escort’s Tales From the Red Carpet (available on Amazon). “It’s okay; you were probably too busy looking at Julia, Angelina, Sandra, Jennifer, Mariah, Paris, etc., to notice the handsome gentleman walking with her. You’ve probably flipped through US Weekly or one of the many other star-stalker magazines to look at the post-Golden Globes coverage and seen my smiling face behind someone wealthier and well known. More often than not, it’s only my arm or a sliver of my smiling face in the shot. … Regardless, I was there, experiencing everything in awe.”
His book spills the tea better than Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown, as he shares just about everything from key qualities and responsibilities to being a good escort (like ensuring the night flows flawlessly) to the top five biggest divas he’s met, how dressing rooms aren’t what you think, gift lounges (not all celebs get invited to the lounge), what to wear, how to look your best and so much more.
So what does it take to be a celebrity escort? Gaida runs down 12 key qualities, including always being ready to take charge of any situation, as you don’t know what’s going to be thrown at you.
“We get to work with A-list celebrities on a weekly basis, sit with them in limos, talk to them in green rooms and even become friends with many. It’s the only job I know of where you can be a regular joe one day, then the next day be eating caviar with Tom Hanks, and the following day be walking down the street with no one ever having a clue you were at the Oscars.”
He shares a touching story of escorting Betty White at the Teen Choice Awards in 2010; when entering the auditorium, the excitement and mood changed as the crowd shouted and cheered for Betty, while Betty was confused. “I quickly realized what had happened, so I leaned over and told her the standing ovation was for her,” he wrote. “Betty was stunned and told me, ‘I don’t believe it.’ We took a few more steps and stopped again. She looked out and waved to everyone. Then she peered up at me and said, ‘I wasn’t even going to come. I didn’t think kids even knew who I am.’ She waved to everyone as they continued to clap until we reached her seat. Never have I ever experienced an audience’s reaction like this. It was a shocking and beautiful moment.”
As for Julia Roberts, his first encounter was in 2000, which didn’t go to well initially (not on Gaida’s part) but led to some fun stories. When assigned to escort Roberts for a charity event almost a decade later, he asked her if she remembered him. “You yelled at me backstage,” he told her. Roberts was surprised and asked why and apologized. Gaida explained the situation in detail and they both ended up laughing, and that’s the day he realized how “amazing Julia Roberts truly is.” His stories on their friendship and him being her “handler” fill several pages of his book, as well as countless other insider info.
One of several fun endings to his book is Gaida’s lists, one that includes “My Top 10 Nicest Celebrities.”