Thursday, October 28, 2021

Of sauna, honey, and cheese – Billy Ocean’s diva demands

Western celebrities have always been notorious for their outrageous demands prior to performances or appearances.  When appearing on the BBC’s contemporary music show ‘Later’ in 2013, controvercial US rapper Kanye West is reported to have demanded that his dressing room carpet be ironed by an assistant as it was “too bumpy.”

During her famous Super Bowl performance in 2013, pop singer Beyonce’s demands behind the scenes would also attract just as much attention as her on stage performance. The Single Ladies diva reportedly insisted that her daughter with rapper Jay Z, Blue Ivy, had her own nursery backstage, scented with rose-petal candles.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell once asked, unsuccessfully, for a flight from London to Los Angeles be delayed after one of her bags went astray.

Gaborone’s Hamptons Jazz Festival promoters found themselves on the receiving end of ‘diva’ demands when UK soul singer Billy Ocean was in town recently.

The multitudes of his fans who braved the scorching sun as they waited to see their star on stage at Duma FM Grounds on that Saturday, April 28 afternoon had no idea their star’s performance hung on a mere scoop of honey and a cheese grater. 

“Just when I was busy at the venue relieved that everything seemed to finally fall into place, my joy was quickly cut short when I received a concerning call from my grounds producer Ortell Phillimon begging me to come back to the hotel because Billy Ocean was about to cancel his appearance,” promoter Debbie Smith tells Lifestyle.
“I flew back to the hotel where the manager told me that if Billy does not have honey, ginger, a grater, cheese board, sharp knife, and two mugs they would cancel the performance, due in two hours’ time.”

Smith says she went off looking for the stuff in the hotel before running back to the presidential suite where the singer opened the door in his gown to politely receive his demands. “To be fair to him he was so polite, grateful and really down to earth,” Smith says, speaking to Lifestyle on the phone from her day job in the UK.
And the honey and cheese were just a drop in the ocean of ‘The Color of Love’ singer’s demands. The singer had also requested a sauna which the hotel he resided at, Avani Gaborone Resort & Casino, did not have.

“Billy was also not happy that as in accordance with his contract the hotel did not have a sauna,” Smith says, “Starr Ngwenya (Hamptons co-founder) explained to them that there were no hotels in Gaborone with saunas.” She says they had to run around town looking for a place with a sauna which they finally found at Jack’s Gym, i-Towers (CBD). “Yes, Billy Ocean came here to use our sauna which unfortunately is currently out order so he used our steam room instead,” Jack’s Gym’s Bonang Seotshabeng told Lifestyle.

Smith says whatever they did to meet their artists’ demands never seemed enough. “The most important thing however was the sound and technical rider,” the Hamptons promoter says.
“We all know how this is important following Seal cancelling a BTO event on tech riders. Our provider was from South Africa and even there engineers and sound providers did not have some specifications of Billy’s back line so our provider went all out and bought some of the backline items.” She says R500, 000 later he upgraded his own equipment to give them the best sound,” Smith tells Lifestyle, adding “We were expecting Billy’s team to go ‘WOW! This is amazing’ but instead they went ‘yah it’s ok!’.”

The Hamptons Jazz was initially scheduled for the  March 24, 2018 but was later postponed after what Smith insists was the revoking of their original permit by the Gaborone City Council.

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