Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury Like An R. Kelly Fan Scorned

Girl, please, let me tell you that I had a key in my ignition last night. On Friday while I was at work my friend D emailed me a truly earth-shattering announcement from Thrillist: R. Kelly was playing a show. An "Intimate Night w/R. Kelly" held at, wait for it, the Mansion, a former strip club that sometimes holds rave/hip hop parties outside of town.
The event poster

Now, I know Kelly. The man has never played a show in Austin for whatever reason--demographics of the city not right compared to Houston and Dallas; not enough interest in large-venue shows; too many hipster white kids who would totally attend. But I thought, what could be MORE Kellz-style than a private show in a strip club to show his Austin fans some love?

So I checked around. Friends at the Statesman, which published an announcement about the show, and on the Austin Music Commission confirmed that the event was a go. I bought a ticket. Just a $30 ticket; the lowest level. I convinced some friends to go with me. And here is the story of the night I touched R. Kelly.

When we arrived at Mansion, the $20 parking in the lot at the club was already full. People were dressed "classy and chic," as the event description mandated. The heels were high. The hemlines were short. The rhinestones were blingin'. People looked good. I bought a dress for the occasion and painted my lips. My companion wore a sequin mini and a copper leather bomber jacket. This was our one and only chance to see R. Kelly for chrissakes--we had to make sure he knew we meant it.

At 10:30 when we walked out onto the floor of the club, the VIP areas upstairs were full; the music was good; and a ton of well dressed black and white people packed the floor. The excitement was palpable. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and everyone there couldn't believe their luck. The $500 VIP level--table for 4 and a bottle of Ciroq--was sold out.

DJs Inverse, Bobby West and eventually Kurupt played decreasingly good music to try to keep the crowd interested. A promoter wearing gold aviators yelled about showing some love for R. Kelly. But by 12:30, my feet hurt and the black women of a certain age in the front were clearly about to get pissed.

The smoke machines went on; the music ground to a halt. Eventually R. Kelly did come onstage. He wore a red leather vest, black Ray Bans, and held a mostly-smoked cigar. Neither hand contained a microphone. He reached into the crowd; I was in the front and I touched his hand. Twice. It was surprisingly not sticky. The DJs kept playing music and we all started to look around, wondering how much longer we would have to wait.

He went backstage; I found a nearly-empty stripper platform to stand on and I could see he was in the VIP section, getting love. The promoter yelled to cut the music; Kells sang a few bars of "Ignition" and the crowd went wild. His voice was beautiful--exactly what we'd waited for. But then he stopped, handed the mic back.

The promoter invited "all the beautiful women" to come to the VIP; Kelly had not come all the way here, after all, to hang out by himself in this club. Many women pushed to the VIP; a lot of others were leaving. Kelly grabbed the mic again and the crowd got tense--was this it? But he said, "I want some ladies up here! All the beautiful ladies--it don't matter what you look like. As long as you got a beautiful heart and some love for R. Kelly, come up here to the VIP. Especially the drunk ones."

My friends and I, defeated, decided to bail.

The Eventbrite terms of service , section 7.2, explicitly prohibit the fraudulent marketing of events:
In addition, events must be accurately and truthfully described when Organizer submits event information to the Site. If EVENTBRITE determines, in its sole discretion, that Organizer misrepresented an event or otherwise does not comply with this TOS, EVENTBRITE will have the right to cancel the relevant event (and all other events listed on the Site) and issue a refund to all Buyers.

"Ignition", sort of
As soon as I got home, I emailed them a complaint and demanded my money back. As of this morning, I received an email from their customer service saying they had forwarded the matter to the event organizer. I'll report back here what happens. But if you too were snookered by R. Kelly and Exit Black Productions, you can contact Eventbrite and demand a refund.

Kelly, I love you, but you've got one less friend in this area code.


  1. You missed the part where he came back out and said "I'm not even being paid to sing, but I sang for you anyway. Maybe if you go buy some more drinks, I'll sing some more" And also the promoter saying something along the lines of 'let's not disrespect r. kelly. This 'hosting' thing is new to austin, I'm trying to bring you something new" ...Yikes. You also missed Kurupt sticking up for Austin and calling this show's bullshit, and immediately being kicked off the stage.

  2. just because the people of austin aren't willing to put up with being ripped off by an egomaniac, i mean a 'hosting event', doesn't mean this kind of behavior is right elsewhere. stay on eventbright, and spread the word on this far and wide.
    shame on r kelly for playing that game.

  3. i wondered how things would go down after i left around 1:40; they promised they'd be there til 4 am but i mean, seriously, were they expecting all the grown fucking people to stay and wait til 4 am to hear a few bars of songs? come on. and i was wondering what the DJs had been told--it's gotta be a huge stain on their reputation to be associated with such a total bullshit event.

  4. Damn man, I've read other blogs & this shit is pissing me off. Its not just R Kelly, its these janky ass promoters too.

  5. would you link to other posts? i'm putting a lot of pressure on event brite and the louder people are about this, the better the chances that everyone gets their money back. i only paid $30 but i am PISSED on behalf of those who paid to get into the VIP.

  6. I was going to purchase tickets but after reviewing the flyer, nowhere did it say he was performing...or did his radio commercial say anything about a concert. So I figured it wasn't worth going....
    If people were suckered in b/c a celebrity was going to be there, thats all on them. Be smart and don't assume. It was NOT a concert!! If the flyer said it was a concert then I would understand the the madness...lesson learned.

  7. unfortunately for the promoters, eventbrite agrees with me--the event was fraudulently marketed and people who purchased tickets can get their money back. you're right that the marketing materials didn't say 'concert' but they also didn't say 'hosted show.' i just hope that everyone who bought tickets through EB actually pursues this--these promoters shouldn't make off with any money from ticket purchases.

  8. The same thing happened here in Fort Lauderdale. and

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