As a performer, an email starting with Aloha is exciting and its exactly what I got from DeSilva DMC, a Hawaii Destination Management Company. Entertainment was needed for several days for a corporate event incentive being given by Zillow to their top sales teams from across the US and DeSilva DMC wanted me to be the main headliner for a Luau event on final evening of the teams stay.
This was such a treat for many reason. First, it would not only be my first time in Hawaii, but the first time I would be bringing my character “Bruno Mars” to his neck of the woods, his people! Since this was going to be a real special trip I really wanted to plan it carefully. First things first, the perm! I love getting my hair done. Next, it took about three weeks in preparing my outfit. By using various images rarely seen of Bruno Mars, then searching all types of stores in Los Angeles, visiting embroidery stores, using apps like OfferUp and Letgo and also shopping online, I was able to put together the amazing outfit I was looking to create. I even got myself another bottle of Versace Dreamer, a cologne I use personally and also when I am meeting fans to give guests the extra touch of finesse needed to portray Bruno.
I also didn’t have ANYTHING in my closet beach related (surprisingly evening being from Los Angeles) so I went out shopping on Melrose to find vintage Hawaiian shirts. I love shopping on Melrose because of the many vintage gems you can find in so many stores in between La Brea To Fairfax. I found myself several colorful shirts, took them to get cleaned and got my shorts, tanks and sandals at the mall. Simple, fast and easy. I felt I was ready.
When I arrived to The Big Island and was getting off the plane, I immediately noticed the weather was perfect! I wish I was better with words to be able to explain how perfect it was, but it was… PERFECT! The only thing on my mind at that moment was how would the warm water I hear all about combined with the amazing weather feel like. As I got off the airplane and headed towards the baggage claim area where I was greeted by a driver holding a sign that read “Johnny Rico”. He helped me not only find my heavy luggage, but grab it for me as we spotted it on the conveyor belt and lifted it liked nothing was even in it, walked me to the car and off we went. He was the most laid back, open and funny Hawaiian I met. He gave me a lot of history about the areas I was viewing on the drive, which I was very intrigued with. As we arrived to the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, where I’d be staying, I walked to the lobby area and the view was spectacular. Views that I only saw in movies was right in front of me and I was simply stunned. All this excitement was the perfect fuel to use when performing and I already wanted to perform!
After putting away my belongings, it was about 4:00pm, sun was still out, ocean still looking gorgeous, and I decided to kick back. I also didn’t want to go into the ocean because I didn’t want to mess up my perm. Now, I know it sounds funny, but hey, my hair was looking good and I didn’t want to damage it especially since I didn’t have any curly hair shampoo or conditioner. I then decided to walk the beach with my hair wet (recommend by my hairstylist) to prevent it from getting damaged, and went from one end of the beach to the other. I saw at a distance a whale come out of the water and make a big splash. I’ve never seen that in my life and glad I got to see it, at the distance I’d prefer 🙂 To finish the evening, I had myself stake and lobster with pasta and a white wine, why not.
The day of any performance always seems to go in slow motion for me. Hours are longer and sometimes I start to overthink things like my vocals, the event, the audience or even levels on the music track and mic. It can get nerve wrecking and can be the cause of mistakes on stage if one doesn’t learn to control it, but hey, we’re all humans and even the best I’m sure feel what I feel. Knowing this, I use the excitement as fuel and all I have in mind at that point is “get me on stage” and “let’s do this”. It helps melt away the natural overthinking feeling I get sometimes.
That day, I also decided to stay in the resort to prepare and get into performing mode, which means vocal exercises and listening to Bruno Mars Music, Justin Timberlake, James Brown and dancing silly, yes, dancing silly. Prepping also means making sure I watch what I eat and drink to be at my peak. Plenty of water is a must and I drink plenty the day before and day of any performance. During prep time I also have the habit of laying out my outfit on the bed to make it look like I’m wearing it, putting the necklaces on the outfit, hat near the neck of the top and shoes near the bottom of the pants. I build it up all day and when I put on the outfit, I am Bruno Mars. It’s a funny little thing I do, but it helps prepare me to become the mega superstar everybody loves.
I got the call I was waiting for at 4:00pm to be picked up and sent to Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for sound check. A lady named Linda had picked me up in a golf cart and was in smiles as she saw who she was picking up. I told her why I was there for, took a picture with her and was now handed off to Tanja. Tanja was in smiles too because she immediately saw the resemblance to Bruno Mars and she also let me know she recently helped in a big way putting together a private event where Bruno and Pitbull had been hired to perform just a few months back. After soundcheck, I was given a green room, which was the Rockefeller Boardroom, like a Boss! Now, it can sound fancy being in a green room before you perform and all, but keep in mind, you have to perform so I try and not get to comfy.
Lauren, of DeSilva DMC was the next person I was handed off to and at that time was responsible for me getting me to where I needed to be and on time. As we waiting for my cue and having two ladies on each arm to escort me on stage, I just hear the MC say “!Bruno Mars!”. The music played and out we came. In the beginning, it was silent, and I get this from time to time. When it gets silent in the first few seconds, it’s a stunned and confused look from the audience. From what I’ve been told is that it takes a while to realize what’s going on because you don’t really know whether or not Bruno Mars is on stage. What proceeds afterwards when people begin to recover from a slight shock, all I see is phones immediately come out and people start to either go live on Instagram or Facebook, or just recording for personal purposes and take photos. It’s a funny sight to see and I smile big every time it happens, which makes it more exciting for the audience cause they see more of the resemblance.
I performed three songs and the last song happened to be a song not requested, so as it played, I looked over at the DJ for a second with a face that read, “this is the wrong song!”. I couldn’t do anything about it, especially when you’ve got a crowd right in front of you, so I just performed it. Then crowd didn’t have an idea whether those songs had been planned out or not, but I did and so did Lauren. Ah! How could this have happen. It was my fault for sure. I had sent the DJ the wrong URL to download the music. Damn you copy and paste! So because of my error I offered to perform another song, which they loved and ended Zillows private event that evening on a higher note than expected for everyone.
Thank you to everyone at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort in Hawaii that made my stay such a pleasant one and to everyone that helped produce such an amazing event from DeSilva DMC, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, The Zillow audience, Ainahua Florals, all Luau performers, the DJ and everyone else in between I might have forgotten. I will see you soon Hawaii! Mahalo.
As a special treat I’ve gone ahead and created a compilation of videos of my performance from guests at the event that evening. Enjoy!
If you’re an event coordinator, event planner or work for a destination management company in Hawaii and looking for entertainment for your next event, Johnny Rico is available as Bruno Mars! Email : BrunoImpersonator@Gmail.com