The Celebrity Oasis — Virgin Megastore
As stated in my previous story, Virgin Megastore was my first job living in LA back in 2005. I quickly learned Virgin was a celebrity hotspot. With the closing of Tower Records a few blocks down the strip, Virgin became king. Sitting at the bottom of the Hollywood hills on Laurel Canyon blvd and Sunset blvd, it was the perfect location for celebrities to shop, close to home, with other locals to not be bothered. There was Amoeba in proper Hollywood but it was too close to tourist central so Virgin was the place to be.
When I walked in for the interview, I was nervous. No, it wasn’t because I was nervous about the job itself or the duties I’ll be called upon to do, but I NEEDED this job financially and it had such a great vibe. I was a guitarist in a band in Dallas called Confined. It was my identity. Music and the music scene. The Sunset Strip called to me, hence why I tried to get bar tending jobs up and down the strip, but now I was realizing, maybe the start of the strip, where the music lived, was where I belonged. My start to LA.
So, I’m sitting in the waiting room to get called in for my interview. Nervous, as stated before and then I heard my name. I walked in to the managers office and had my interview. She was asking me about my background and what brought me to LA. We talked music, a lot of music. It was going great and then she said, “I’ll be in contact but I’m thinking the DVD section upstairs.” I was shocked. Film? But I’m a musician! Then I took a breath and remembered, no, new beginnings. I am an actor now and film is where I belong. A few short days later, I got the call and was hired to work in the DVD department.
On my first day, I was excited! Never had a job like this before but was ready. I walk in and meet my manager. Now to paint a picture of this man. He was a legend in the music shop venues of Hollywood. You name it, he worked there. In the 80s, he would run around with the likes of Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp. He’s a brilliant actor and was a good manager. The legends name is Mark Mayes. Mark became my second friend I made in LA and to this day, he still gives me shit. Mark would always be the guy that wouldn’t let my boyish charm and cute looks distract him. If you ask him how I was as an employee, he would say “Talk talk talk talk talk talk is all you do!” Can’t argue with that. :p So Mark is walking me around the store and asking me questions about myself and what I was into. The more we talked, the more he learned I was into music. “Why did they put you with me up here?” he asked. “I have no idea.” I responded. Our relationship was off to a great start. He finally introduced me to my trainer. A glorious man named Mike who had never left LA… ever. Born and raised in LA and was the coolest guy. We would work the majority of our shifts together during my time there. Although I probably was a headache, he loved working with me. We made a great team. I, the young, stars in my eyes little turd and the older wise native. I would make Mike laugh, it’s all I would try to do. Throughout my first week at work I met everyone that worked there and we had the most unique staff I’ve ever worked with. These people were amazing and one of a kind… all of them, but we had a little gang up in the DVD section. It was a small crew while all the rest worked downstairs in the music department. I would sneak downstairs from time to time just to see how different it was. It was as if we had two different stores.
Now, the real reason you’ve read this far; the stars. Yes, I quickly learned that this place was crawling with celebrities. Actors, musicians, directors, producers, anybody who’s anybody shopped at our store. The funny thing is I cannot tell you who the first celebrity I met was. All the stories are a blur now but a select few are as ingrained in my memory as the day they happened. Those specific stories will get there own articles but for now I’ll go through a small story. It was the time I met Will Ferrell and yes, he was one of the first.
I was doing shop back. Shop back is when you return the DVDs that customers didn’t take home with them to the right spot. As I was putting some DVDs back in place I felt a presence next to me browsing. “Can I help you find anything?” I say without averting my attention to my task at hand. “You work here!” This excitable, childlike voice screams out. I recognized the voice instantly. I got nervous, my hand started shaking and I turn slowly and arch my neck up to make eye contact with the 6' 3" Will Ferrell. He looked down at me and smiled and I said, “Yes! Yes I do!” and he said, “Great! Can you help me find …” Look, it’s been 15 years, I can’t remember the movie he was looking for but I reply, “Absolutely!” I go back to the computer system and tell Mike. “Will Ferrell is here.” and he says, “Yea, he comes in. You’ll get used to it. Everyone comes in.” After Mike said that my star struck self completely lost the excitement. Huh, I guess this isn’t a big deal. Well, we didn’t have the movie and I had to go back and tell Will. I gave him the bad news and he said, “Shoot. Thanks anyway!” and that was that. Not the most amazing story but one I learned from and carry with me to this day. I can admire and respect those that came before me but in the end, they’re just like me. A man with a dream that saw them through. Still though, it was pretty great to meet Will Ferrell and my friend Valerie back home in Dallas loves him, so I called her and told her what happened. She was so excited!
After my first week I was back at school telling Sinatra about my new job. He tells me, “I’ve been trying to get a job there but they won’t call me back!” So I used what little pull I had, talked to Mark (he loves me no matter what he says) and got Sinatra an interview and ultimately a job. Sinatra getting a job set up the craziest holiday season I ever experienced and the most insane story I ever experienced during my time at Virgin, the time I blew off David Schimmer for Frank Darabont. Want the story… check out my next post. :)