Jake Szufnarowski runs New York City concert promotion business Rocks Off, booked CBGB's last 100 shows, occasionally has pink hair, and inspired a song about a unicorn having sex with a dolphin. Additionally, he's an avid blogger of his generally unsafe exploits. With his permission, as the Cannes Film Festival 2013 begins, we now reprint perhaps his finest tale of all, the story of going to Cannes for a U2 movie premiere, and ending up spending the night with Kid Rock (who, it turns out, is kinda the coolest ever) and all sorts of other special guests.
This is the story of how me and Kid Rock fell in love
So Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro called me and said, "The U2 3D Concert film that I produced is having its world premiere next week at the Cannes Film Festival. Saturday night at 8p at the Palais des Festivals. The biggest and most prestigious theater in Cannes. U2 is going to give a surprise concert on the stairs of the theater. Because we have a new baby, my wife is bailing. You wanna come as my date? Just get yourself a tuxedo and get to Cannes next weekend." No way was I gonna pass on that
Cannes is in the South of France -- there aren’t a ton of flights going there. And since every rich asshole who fancies himself a film producer just needs to be there that week, the flights are ridiculously expensive. Especially on short notice. I pulled out a map and picked a few major cities within a reasonable driving distance, and then Googled motorcycle rentals in those places. About 20min later, I had a flight booked to Milan and a reservation made for a BMW R1200 GS motorcycle. I went to Saks Fifth Avenue and bought a fancy tux on the cheap thanks to a friend and an employee-only 60% off sale, and was prepped to turn myself into Jake Bond for the weekend. I stuffed that tuxedo, a few t-shirts, and some changes of socks and underwear into a backpack and headed for the airport
When I landed in Milan, I went straight to the bike rental joint and picked up my partner in crime for the weekend. I somehow managed to explain to the rental agent that I was trying to get to Genoa, which was due South of Milan and on the Mediterranean. He directed me towards the motorway, and off I went. A few miles down, I stopped at a service station and took a look at a road map encased in plexiglass. It looked pretty simple to me. Keep South on the motorway 'til I got to the Mediterranean, and then make a right and hug the coast until I made it to Cannes. I had three days to make that happen. No need to buy a map. No sweat
The ride was gorgeous. I spent three days just cruising at a leisurely pace, stopping every hour or so for a glass of wine and a few scraps of food. This was 2006 -- the dark Bush years -- so I just told everyone I met I was from Toronto and had no problem making friends. On my second night, I pulled up to a hotel in a small seaside town and got a room. I inquired about where to find some fun and they pointed me towards a casino, and warned that I would not be welcome looking as I did… how convenient, then, that I had a tuxedo. I wasn’t yet in Monaco, but this place was straight out of a 007 film. This was nothing like Vegas, Atlantic City, or Indian casinos. This was a full-on palace stocked with white-haired men in black tuxedos and their trophy wives in gowns and gloves. Even in my tuxedo, I was pretty sure they would smell the stench of my pauper’s underpants. I played a few hands of blackjack before I realized this wasn’t the kind of place where I was gonna find the sort of Mediterranean magic I was looking for, so I wandered through the town until I found the Italian Riviera equivalent of a “dive bar” and got to drinking
I’ve never really had a problem finding trouble. I’ve had a nose for it ever since I was a kid. Or maybe trouble just found me? Either way, we are like the North and South ends of magnets, always being drawn towards one another. After a few drinks, the bartender clued me in to the fact that there was a "secret" strip club upstairs. Normally, titty bars aren’t my thing, and the only titties I like to touch are the ones I use my brain and booze to barter for, not the ones I buy my way onto, but, well, being in Italy I wasn’t about to pass up on this kind stranger’s invite to their exclusive flesh fiesta. The scene was more like a brothel and less a typical strip club. I went upstairs and it was just me and a gaggle of disinterested gals sitting around and listening to some lousy space-age funk. I ordered a drink and the girls approached me one by one to ask if I would like to go to a private room for some “dancing”. I picked the girl who spoke the most English… which wasn’t much at all. We went to the back room and she told me it was 50 euros for three songs of “dancing” in this room. When in Italy, right?
I pulled out some cash… then came the hard sell… 100 euros for a handy, 150 for a bj, and 200 euros to bang her. I’m all for rewarding hard working members of the service industry, and have been known to be a pretty good tipper, yet having this girl service me for cash just didn’t feel right… buuuuut, I had been drinking all day. I had to have some sort of fun, right? That’s when I noticed the string peeking out of her panties, and my mind went into overdrive. After a heated negotiation that found me trying to use every variation of “yes, I'm serious”, we struck up a deal: 50 euros for her to take her panties off and dance in front of me, while I slowly removed the tampon from her body. To this day, it stands as one of the most erotic encounters I’ve ever had with a woman in a foreign country who barely spoke English. I felt naughty at the time. But when I woke up the next morning and found the tampon wrapped in a napkin in my tuxedo pocket, well then I just felt dirty. And I love feeling dirty
I hit the road early that morning so I wouldn’t be in a rush to get to Cannes, and had one simple instruction: get to this specific hotel NO LATER THAN 5p to pick up my credentials for the film premiere. There’s no feeling like piloting a world-class motorcycle over the rolling seaside hills along the Mediterranean. Part of me wished the road would just go on forever, but knowing I had such an intriguing destination made me savor every piece of pavement as I rolled over it. When I got to Monaco, I had to make a detour and ride through that city / state / country? They were preparing for the Grand Prix, so I just followed the grandstands and imagined ripping up those roads at over 200mph with all the spectators, and could almost hear their cheers over the revving of my engine. That was a great side trip, but it was getting late and I needed to make a dash for Cannes. That’s the great thing about motorcycles -- they are perfect for leisurely rides, but can transform into rockets when you need to make up time… I wasn’t too stressed. Before long, I saw Cannes in the distance… it’s pretty built up compared to the rest of the coast in that area, which was lucky for me since I didn’t have a map, a GPS, or even a cell phone. All I had was the name of a hotel that Shappy had told me was “right in downtown Cannes -- you can’t miss it. Just be SURE to be there by 5p, before they close the office for the day and you won’t be able to get into the screening.