Charming socks off since 1981

April 8, 2008 § 1 Comment

Or “How I got Michael Ball to wear those silly ears.”

Not even the man himself can resist the siren song of Panda of the Week…

When I began approaching the Rock guys with the ears, they all told me that they would be happy to pose, but all media images have to be approved by team management (hear that? I’m “the media.”). They pointed to the Rock PR liaison and I turned my charm up to 11 and headed on over. PR Man Sean was very nice, checked out my little blog on his blackberry, either didn’t see or chose to skip over the post implying that I was beaten by one of his riders and told me that while it looked fine to him, really we’d have to check it with Michael and could I come back in half an hour when he arrived?

Suddenly I had an appointment with Michael Ball.

I waited thirty minutes, noted the media frenzy surrounding his arrival, then moseyed on over. Turned out my appointment had to be pushed back a bit because Michael (we’re on a first-name basis, don’t you know?) was on the phone, and when I returned a third time Michael was over by the Rock merchandise bus. Sean decided that I should probably just go talk with him directly.

He was buying kettle corn. I introduced myself, explained my dilemma and asked if his guys could be Panda of the Week. He was amused by the concept, thought for a second and said that as long as the riders were cool with it then he was cool with it. He let his guard down a smidge and I saw an opportunity.

– “And since you’re right here, maybe you would like to…”
– “No.”

(photo credit: Mary-Ellen Ash)

He had two guys flanking him, and one elbowed him and teased that Michael doesn’t take photos, but that he would wear the ears for me, and that did the trick.

– “Well fine, if he’s going to wear them then I’ll wear them…”
– “What a coincidence, I happen to also have with me both these ears and a panda hat!”

So Michael Ball gave me exclusive approval to photograph his riders for my blog, posed with my silly panda ears on and offered me some of his kettle corn. When I showed up to their team area the next day (inside the ropes, natch) and it became obvious that “I would pose for you, but you’ll have to get approval first” meant “I don’t want to wear your stupid ears”, Michael, ahem, encouraged his guys to pose for little me with my point & shoot while the big-time photogs watched from outside the ropes.

So I don’t know who is doing these notorious interviews for him, but the Michael Ball I met was very pleasant, polite and willing to make a little fun of himself…

And perfectly coiffed.


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