There is more to a great show than the singer or actor. Numerous people in the entertainment industry are often overlooked, but the Mercury is out to celebrate them.
From the glory days of the Oxford Tavern to people sneaking into Hawks’ games in a wheelie bin, security guard Ross Hush has seen it all – and met many celebrities along the way.
The 56-year-old started his career in 1988 and has since ejected many from the Harp, the Oxford and WIN Stadium and Entertainment Centre.
“Back in the old days you’d get in there with the biff and everything, whereas these days you’ve got to have people skills,” Hush told the Mercury.
“You’ve still got to get in there but you can’t throw them like you used to.”
He’s met big names like Keith Urban and Lady Gaga and is on a first-name basis with John Farnham – who is apparently a lovely person.
“You get to meet a lot of these guests and that, because I usually meet them at the back door ... They normally say ‘hello’ – most of them are pretty good,” Hush said.
“But you speak to them when they speak to you.”
Not so with everyone as some personalities demand for all staff to be banished from the corridors while they enter their dressing room. Meanwhile, nobody at all spoke to Elton John.
The mega-star had a van waiting for the arrival of his helicopter, ready to drive him 50 metres from the field to his dressing room at the back of the sheds, then again post-show.
“He was gone while everyone was cheering, the helicopter flew over the top,” Hush said.
Lenny Kravitz was another memorable meeting, but more so because he nearly fractured the security guard’s nose in 2012.
Kravitz was walking through the crowd singing and Hush had the task of walking closely behind, making sure fans didn’t maul the star.
“Somebody grabbed at the microphone and he’s [jolted it back] to pull it away from them,” he said. “I was standing too close and it hit me straight between the eyes.”
A loud thump was heard by the audience as the metal gauze on the end of the mic gnarled at the skin along Hush’s nose.
“He stopped and said, ‘are you alright?’ and I said, ‘just keep going’,” recalled Hush.
By the time they got back to stage blood was dripping everywhere.
Getting your security licence has changed significantly since the 1980s. Hush took a short course at the Master Builders Club which entailed everyone breaking for lunch and a few schooners before heading back in and finishing up.
He’s heard every excuse under the sun for people trying to scam their way in – “I lost my ticket” or “I just need to see a friend” are common.
One day after a Hawks game, he was chatting to someone who was boasting about always getting into the basketball for free.
“He told me ‘we come in through the back door, my mate wears a black shirt and I get in a [wheelie] bin and he wheels me in’,” Hush said.
“Eventually they got caught because they opened their mouth to too many people.”
The loading dock is a lot more secure these days.
The most intense crowd he’s ever seen were revelers at a Parkway Drive concert.
At one point a fan of the metalcore music jumped on- stage with so much excitement he dropped his pants. While later on all security had hands on deck after being alerted to a “crazy” brawl in the middle of the dance floor.
“It wasn’t a fight, but we’re all in there going ‘where is it, where is it?’” Hush said. “[Patrons] were all running up and going bam.”
That was where the security team was acquainted with slam dancing, an intense take on moshing.
At a more subdued concert, Hush had the awkward task of escorting two females from the stands who had both become so excited by the concert they had to take some clothes off.
Another awkward incident was when a fan insisted on bringing her dog’s bones in to give to her favourite singer-songwriter.
This woman had dug up her deceased canine’s bones as a present, because she felt the star had had a deep connection with her pup.
Enter Hush who saved the day again, by explaining there was no way because the singer was flying to Brisbane the next day and she wouldn’t be able to take is as carry-on luggage.
Shenanigans and celebrities aside, Hush said the greatest part about his job is meeting people, and it shows.
“You’ll be working the scanner with Ross at a Hawks game, and he’ll be scanning people’s tickets and greeting them by their first name as they come in the door,” WIN Sports and Entertainment Centre venue manager Marc Swan said.
“You can’t get away with much because he knows everyone.”
This was the final in the Behind The Curtains series.