Backstage: Hard Rock Live's Ana Lanzas on Steven Tyler, Kim Kardashian, and More

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions, and observations about the local scene. This week: Insights into the stars who grace the Hard Rock stages.

Because this column is branded as "Backstage in South Florida," it seems appropriate to delve deeper into the backstage haunts of some of our South Florida venues. Hard Rock Live in Hollywood hosts some of the biggest names in the biz -- musicians and comedians alike. But being that their audiences rarely get an offstage glimpse of the performers who appear there, we thought we'd ask public relations director Ana Lanzas to give us her impressions of some of the headliners she's encountered in the two-and-a-half years since she first assumed her gig.
For the most part, Lanzas seems unimpressed by celebrity stature. Her evidence is that prior to Roger Daltrey's recent appearance, during an afternoon meet and greet, she wandered into the proceedings and was practically standing next to him before she realized who he was. "Most of them are just ordinary, down-to-earth people when they're not onstage," Lanzas insists, citing Jay Leno, the Jonas Brothers, and Drew Carey as among the nicest. 

Mostly, though, the stars seem to veer away from the preening prima donna persona that often comes to mind whenever big names are mentioned. Joan Rivers was as funny offstage as she is on and seems to be a shopaholic to boot. Donna Summers wasn't only agreeable to taking photos with fans but also went out of her way to learn the names of the fans whom she's posing with. Ringo Starr came across as decidedly down-to-earth and apparently is quite a kidder. For that matter, so was Steven Tyler. Lanzas remembers him checking into the hotel for Hard Rock's Bikers Bash and climbing into the bellman's luggage cart to avoid being seen. Hidden by hanging garment bags, he likely could have been wheeled to his room while remaining hidden from view. Instead, Lanzas says he suddenly jumped out in the middle of the lobby and blurted out, "Do you know whom I am? I'm Steven Tyler!" 

So much for modesty. 

Actually, we expected that the stars would be more demanding, but Lanzas explained that most had very simple requirements. Kathy Griffin, for example, asked for vitamin water, whereas Bill Cosby always brings his own water with him. Lionel Richie likes yogurts and grapes. Comedians ask for the local newspapers (New Times, we would presume) so as to catch up on topical material for their performance. The testiest artist may have been Van Morrison, who insisted that management prohibit liquor consumption in the audience during his performance. Mariah Carey, true to her image, likes her dressing room accented in white, along with pink roses, Frosted Flakes cereal, and mineral water. 

Somehow we suspected that. 

Our biggest surprise was that Weird Al Yankovic is a vegetarian. Who would have guessed? We were also surprised to learn that Kim Kardashian isn't the diva we thought she was. Lanzas recalled that when she was the grand marshal of the Hard Rock's 2009 boat parade, it rained so hard that she literally got drenched. Yet despite having her hair soaked and getting her clothes dripping wet, she carried on and proved to be a real trooper. That seemed something of a revelation. 

As for extracurricular activities, Lanzas reported no cases of the usual show-biz debauchery. Paul Anka and Lewis Black enjoyed frequenting the casino. Rod Stewart played soccer behind the theater. And it seems Bill Cosby was so fixated on one particular song he had heard on a previous visit that he asked his Hard Rock handlers to call every local radio station until they uncovered which one it was. Sadly we didn't get the name. 

Lanzas was generally impressed with the artists she's met, and if there are any who displayed less-than-exemplary behavior, she certainly wasn't saying. She did drop a hint about one particular comedian that they hosted at the Improv who exhibited at what can only be described at schizophrenic. "He was only too happy to allow the photographers to take pictures while he was touting himself to the press prior to the gig," she says of the unnamed performer. "But once he was onstage, he went ballistic once the photographers starting snapping photos. He immediately ordered them all out." 

Lanzas also cited Dave Chappelle's performance at the Hard Rock this past July when the comedian reacted to hecklers in the front row and refused to continue, instead sitting on stage in silence. "He was a nice guy, but once the crowd started in on him, he went through the roof," Lanzas recalls.

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