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Inside the Maxim Indianapolis 500 party

May 28, 2016

What happened at the the Maxim Indianapolis 500 party on May 27? Well, that depends on your perspective. Here’s mine.

9:30 En route to Maxim party at Pan Am Plaza after watching the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra/Indianapolis Opera’s “Crescendo” concert at White River State Park. Let it never be said that I don’t embrace contrast. Helping my spirits: Finding free, on-street parking on race weekend. And, no, I won’t tell you where or how. I’m not stupid.

9:43 Checking in at the party, very aware that, even though the doors opened at 8:30, we are arriving much earlier than the cool kids. Very aware, too, that, short of the announced David Letterman and Chris Pine appearances, I doubt I will be able to identify many of the people who now have the title of celebrity. Also, very aware of the barriers set up to keep the $500-a-ticket Maxim party attendees apart from the no-admission-charge Burger Bash visitors also on Pan Am Plaza. For the record, except for a press ticket, I didn't request or receive any special treatment, opting to experience the event as just an average, ordinary attendee.

9:45 Entering the building after three separate wristband checks.

9:46 First site on entering: A trio of women on a small stage dressed only in "artistically" placed black and metallic tape shapes. Music is, of course, blasting, but conversation is possible and the place is brighter than most clubs. If you are dressing to impress, you have to be seen. Side note: I expect no one to be impressed by what I’m wearing—or even notice me. Side note 2: I am not wearing duct tape.

9:48 Scanning the many silent auction items. Alas, nobody, though, has yet placed the $975 opening bid on the framed Chevy Chase/Bill Murray-signed “Caddyshack” poster. But it’s still early.

9:49 Taking a lap around the floor, most of which is sided by roped-off, not-so-private VIP areas, where, for $17,500, high-rolling tribes of 15 earned tables of champagne, vodka, tequila and attention from hostesses in very tight faux-race garb. This does not seem like David Letterman’s scene—although PR folks said he would be here.

9:53 Perusing the desert bar, which isn’t particularly popular among the squeezed-into-outfits set. And nobody is touching the stuff in the urns. Why take a chance on mystery drinks when there are open bars?

10:00 Pondering the deejay-as-entertainer phenomenon as Deejay Irie takes the stage. Trays of Steak ‘n Shake burgers make the rounds (Biglari Holdings owns both Maxim and Steak ‘n Shake). Body-taped dancers join Irie on stage, stunning women continue to file in, and I’m wondering if Tim Durham is somewhere, weeping at having missed this.

10:22 Noticing no bids yet on the “Caddyshack” poster. But other memorabilia has attracted a bit of interest. In a surprisingly amateur move, the organizer’s have placed bid sheets that ask for phone numbers. Wouldn’t those numbers be valuable to someone? Steak ‘n Shake fries make the rounds. I recognize some of the servers from the downtown location. Hope they are making overtime.

10:25 Wondering about the Cirque-ing of America as attention focuses on a dancer dangling from a long silk and wrapping herself around a faux chandelier. I text photos to my daughter. Her message back: “So it’s slutty “Fuerza Bruta”?” Side note: proud to have a daughter who can make “Fuerza Bruta” jokes. Still no “Caddyshack” poster bids. But the Marshall Falk-signed football is up to $500.

10:43  Like most of the crowd, I’m not complying with Irie’s instructions for us all to put our hands in the air. Nothing against him, I just have a notebook in one hand and a Steak ‘n Shake slider in the other. Andrew Luck enters with his entourage. I like to think he’d rather be home playing Catan, but I don’t really know. Irie makes an unintelligible request but the music does inform us that the ceiling can’t hold us.

10:55 Observing an increase in pockets of dancing happening among small groups. Perhaps alcohol kicking in? I imagine that many of these women believe that, under the right circumstances, they would be Amy Schumer’s best pal. “Tainted Love” is tossed into the mix, perhaps to appeal to those who came of age in the ‘80s and actually paid full price for tonight’s tickets.

10:57 Taking a rest room break, I’m wondering what the purpose is of pre-flushing a urinal. Seems wasteful.

11:02 While much care obviously has been spent on what women are wearing here, I’m coveting at least six jackets on the men even though I’m well aware that I couldn’t come close to pulling them off. Also wondering if anyone actually still reads Maxim. I head outside for a break.

11:30 Listening in on a conversation between two photographers near the party entrance. “Those aren’t celebrities,” says one. “Those are just randoms.”

11:34  Returning to the party to find that a $1000 bid has been placed on the “Caddyshack” poster. The evening is turning—although there are no bids on the Manning-autographed deflated football. Irie tells us that “It ain’t where you’re from. It’s where you are.” Nice, Irie.

11:45 Googling rapper Flo Rida when I learn that Flo Rida is in the house. He performs “My House” and it’s a blast. Party seems to have upgraded a note. I’m punched in the hand by a spastic, non-pro dancer. It kinda hurts. But it’s refreshing to realize that the room seems to be completely free of irony. And that’s kind of refreshing.

12:00 Increasing respect for Irie, who continues to enthusiastically empower the group, making Indianapolis seem like the only place to be this weekend. “This party is going to another level,” he declared, introducing headline act, Tiesto. The music pumps up The lights dance. The crowd starts to move. Folks seem to be having fun.

12:10 Calling it a night.No fault of Tiesto--or whoever is doing the remarkable job of orchestrating the lighting. 

11:00 a.m. Saturday  Contacting a rep from Karma International, the group behind the party, to follow up rumors that many of the women in attendance were either hired models or given special $25 tickets if the passed an attractiveness text. Her response: Karma is one of the few companies that does not pay models to attend our events. Over the years our events have created a high demand and while we know a tremendous amount of models they request to attend.” As to the discount: Because of the success of our events we have many sponsors that as part of their sponsorship can sponsor some beautiful people to attend. For this event because of sponsors like Budweiser, Red Bull and Karma International we probably had about 800-plus.”  

Okay, so authenticity may not have been the Maxim party’s strong suit. Did anyone expect it to be?

She also said that David Letterman and actor Chris Pine did attend. And that the party went on until 2 a.m.  

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