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Living Large When You're Not: How To Live Like A Rock Star On A Budget

You've finished your encore; underwear litters the stage and everyone's standing up screaming - on tables, on the bar, on their boyfriend's shoulders. You're ushered offstage where - what's this? - French 75 cocktails and Turkish cotton hand towels wait to quench the fevered sweat from your exhausted bodies. The smell of a hundred lilies perfumes the normally-stuffy backstage air. What's this? A brand new, gold-plated phone, a gift from a hopeful corporate sponsor, is there to distract you while you wait for the entourage to show up? AWESOME!

…What's this?

Before one champagne drop crosses your lips, you're whisked away - out of the headliner's dressing room and back into yours, which has a half-drunk carton of chocolate milk in the corner, a box of moist towelettes, and the seductive scent of stale farts.

You, my rising star, need to learn how to live LARGE while on a budget - or under any circumstances.

The First, Last And Most Important Thing

Are you ready? Here it is:

Always act like a king, whether you're broke or bursting with bling.

Corny? YOU BET. But you'll remember it, and it's important, because it's the fastest freeway to living the large life. (I'll stop the alliteration and rhyming now.)

If you act like you’ve already got a million dollars, people will want to give you more. From having absolutely nothing, to moochville to buying your own damn lilies for your dressing room, here are the steps to fulfill your dreams of diamond guitar picks and velvet-lined limos.

When Your Money Only Makes Music (Because It Jingles)

You know that scene in Arrested Development where Carl Weathers is obsessed with taking home spare chicken legs from a craft services table to make a stew? Don't do that. Remember the rule and prove you're, like, totally rich and stuff by doing these awesome and almost-free things:

  • Announce to the room that eating is SO last year. Everyone's taking pills (vitamins, that is) to stay full (and healthy!). When no one's around, enjoy nummy, cheap (and healthy!) ramen soup - only fifty cents a serving!
  • Sweaty? Need a shower or at least a towel? No you don't - you're doused in the water of rock! (Seriously, think about it. The most epic rock stars-the best of the best-always look desperately in need of a wash...sometimes while still onstage. They glow - and now you do, too! Besides, if you sweat it just means you're passionately committed to your ART. And a scoop of hair gel usually solves any remaining greasy coif issues.)
  • Think you need designer jeans and D&G tops to look the lush part? Nah. You can't tell the difference onstage (trust me: NO ONE EVER HAS) and there are plenty of cheaper alternatives that will get you labeled:
    1. Arty (vintage suits and dresses)
    2. Sexy (leotards, bike shorts) or
    3. Edgy (Set your shirt on fire, stamp it out and rip off the bottom hem. If anyone asks, say it's a one-of-a-kind from an undiscovered designer - Broque.)

When Your Money Makes No Sound (Because It's A Ten Folded Up In Your Wallet)

It's been a few months and you're playing better clubs, the ones with less vomit-acting-as-floor-wax and more private alcoves with velvet ropes and surly-looking bouncers. You, rising star, have graduated to the world of fine mooching, where you may enjoy some of the nicer luxuries of the music lifestyle - at no additional cost to you!

  • Need a lift with some style? Nothing beats the allure of a loud engine, crimson paint and gleaming chrome - nothing, that is, unless that ride is also FREE. Ten minutes before you're due at the club, have the merch girl (who’s already there) pull the fire alarm. When you hear the bells, stand on the corner down the street and get ready. When the fire engine passes, hop on. Your fans will love your audacity, and you get even more bonus points if the press, annoyed at showing up for a false alarm, stay on and end up covering your show!
  • The lone wolf thing only works for so long. You're going to need an entourage, and this one is a no-brainer: make your friends do it. Call them all up - and get them to call their other friends too! Ask them to dress alike, or at least wear matching sunglasses. Nothing says "mountains of money" more than having a crew that’s bigger than the club's maximum seating capacity (and because they "work" for you, they get in for free!)
  • Don't have cash for makeup? Cruise down to your neighborhood drugstore and "try out" (wink!) the samples. Bonus - you can try all the eye shadows at once and be worshipped even more for your avant-garde stage style!

When Your Music Makes You Money (NOW We're Talking)

You're finally starting to get notice - and money - from fans, from gigs, from CD sales. The van's gas meter no longer perpetually points to "1/10th Full" - you don't even HAVE the van anymore. (That old summer camp bus is ALL YOURS.) Now's your chance to establish yourself once and for all as a star worthy of the luxe life!

  • Ditch the club and start doing mansion gigs. If movies have taught us anything, it's that there will ALWAYS be wealthy latchkey teenagers with parents vacationing in Europe and a desperate need for live entertainment at their house parties. You might not get paid, but your dressing room will probably end up being the master bedroom. There's probably a Jacuzzi in there, and maybe even a wet bar. Make sure your friends take plenty of pictures of you doing power slides under a crystal chandelier. You'll be labeled a libertine in no time!
  • When you get to the hotel, airport or whatever, always do the following: when you're given your ticket or room key, raise one eyebrow and say, "That can't be right, can it darling?" Offer them an autograph. You'll probably get an upgrade, or maybe they'll just call security. Either way, your legend increases.
  • Two words: Award shows. Two more words: Gift bags.

That's all you need to know. Keep doing gigs and the simple steps I've listed above, and soon you'll be living the large life, and have more than enough dough to buy a small castle-which was always the goal, right? (The acoustics in those stone towers are EPIC!)