How to Party at Sir Richard Branson’s House

4 Sep

Some people have never heard of Sir Richard Branson, world-famous entrepreneur and philanthropist… which is surprising, seeing as how he’s world-famous and all. But even if you’d never heard the name “Sir Richard Branson”, chances are you have interacted with at least one of more than 400 of his companies, all part of the Virgin group. So, whether one has heard a musician who’s recorded on the Virgin label, or flown a trans-atlantic flight with Virgin Airways, or simply spoken to someone with a Virgin Mobile phone, this laid back, broad-shouldered gentleman has quite literally touched the lives of billions.

We had most certainly heard of Sir Richard Branson, but cooler to us as far was we were concerned was that he had heard of us, and wanted us to perform for his daughter Holly’s birthday party… on his private island. HOLY MOLY! Or in Lisa’s word’s, WOWIE ZOWIE!

It was quite an adventure simply getting our equipment where it needed to be; it’s not like the average gig, where you pull the tour bus up to the loading dock and wheel your equipment through the kitchens and out the door behind the stage. This time, we had to adventurously transport our cases containing lighting and sound equipment, our instruments, and ourselves via large rubber rafts. It was fun… and wet. Luckily, Pink Flamingos double as excellent tarps, and we managed to keep our equipment relatively dry on the journey. And awesomely enough, there were sea turtles on the way, cheering us on.

As far as the show went, those Bransons know how to partaaay! During the night, we were even graced with a Coldplay song, with an original styling by Holly Branson herself. Imagine the setting; a private unspoiled private island with the musical prowess of the Pink Flamingos equals one heck of a party…so much, in fact that at the end of the night, Sir Richard asked us to stay the night after we were through.

As much as we would have liked to have a Pinks Sleepover at SRB’s house, we had a flight to catch to get home. So, he gratefully offered the use of the large rubber rafts to get us back to the main land. It was even more interesting on the way back; it was pitch black. The kind of black that is so disorienting that it’s actually easier to close your eyes! We were very fortunate to have excellent raft navigators helping us get home. Thanks to their know-how, it only took about 30 minutes to arrive at our destination.

Exhausted, wet, and glowing from the performance, very tired flamingos went to bed in the wee hours of the morning thinking of an interesting exchange between Sir Richard Branson and the audience:

He asked the audience what New Mexico was famous for. Most native New Mexicans, when asked what their home state is famous for, say green chile. Probably, Richard was expecting to hear the new spaceport. The answer that had us grinning as we drifted to sleep was,

The Pink Flamingos!


Life as a Rock Star…

27 Aug

The famous Joint Logo

Tour bus  arrives at the Hard Rock Hotel in mid morning… Head to check- in in what seems to be a club atmosphere in the middle of the night.  The lights are dim and you are assaulted by overwhelming sights and sounds. I try to get into the Rock star head- space since we are here to perform at The Joint! The Same stage that has had some of the most incredible performers on it , the same stage where Guns and Roses just signed on for a several week performance.

I spend several moments being entranced by the huge moving billboard, showing all of the most incredible Rock Stars, behind the beautiful check in people and by the beyond cool musicians filing through with their instruments. I am distracted by the glass cases of the costumes worn by the actual performers. There is Cee Lo Green’s bejeweled black outfit with the space age shoulders, Britney Spears’ see-through- skin colored- tiny dress, Madonna’s hip- flamenco style dress and bolero jacket and of course  James Brown’s kingly cape and crown. Much to the horror of my band mates I am starting to fantasize about a new costume look for The Pink Flamingos!

Cee Lo’s crazy costume

Lucky for them, we get our rooms and head to them. Everything about this hotel is so Rock and Roll. The elevators are like road cases with famous lyric quotes inside. The lights are covered by Zyldjian Cymbals and there is a chandelier made  completely of saxophones! My room is fit for a rock star with colors of  muted silver and grey’s and framed photos of  The Monkey’s and Kurt Cobain. I am definitely going to have Rock Star dreams tonight!

Cool Steve Vai’s Rock Guitar!

Paul McCartney’s bass! (Need I say more?)

We head down to The Joint to set up our gear. The stage is amazing with an incredible lighting rig that looks like an otherworldly space craft is descending on us.  The sound guys are super professional and sound check goes smoothly and quickly.

Pre-Gig stage with amazing lighting rig

As the costumer, I get to spend the bulk of setup in the dressing room – a REAL dressing room with actual make up mirrors and a professional costume steamer! There are posters plastered all over the wall of every rock n roller you can imagine. I am daydreaming that I am using the exact same steamer that Mick Jagger’s costume mistress used for Mick’s costumes when I hear it’s time for sound check. Before I head down I pass through the Green Room where I try to sit on every couch and touch every item that Rock Stars have touched – hoping that their super-star power may rub off on me.

The Hard Rock Dressing room

Time to come back to Earth – Show Time!

Maybe it was the steamer or the super star vibes from the couch or standing on the same stage that infamous Rock Stars have stood on or maybe it was just plain hard work –  but that night, at The Joint, I became a legend in my own mind and had my 15 minutes of fame!

Mine (and Joey’s) 15 minutes of fame!


Ms. Manners Says Etiquette Still Matters

17 Aug

Richenbacher’s Rules: Etiquette Tips for Meeting Planners 

Most of you already know this…but here’s a quick refresher

Have you ever experienced an embarrassing etiquette quandary? You need to introduce your CEO to a big client, how to you do it properly?

Old School still rules!

Or, you’re at a formal dinner and you don’t know which fork to use for the salad…and the pieces of lettuce are really big, do you cut them with a knife? Then there comes a soup in a cup with handles, do you drink it or eat it with a spoon.

These and other dilemmas were the subject of a recent talk by Colleen Richenbacher (CMP, CSEP, CPC and Co-founder at Global Protocol, Etiquette & Civility Academy) at a recent Meeting Planner’s International New Mexico chapter luncheon.  According to Ms. Richenbacher, ‘even in today’s more casual workplace, it is imperative that we still “mind our manners”’.  With the uncertain economy and the competitive job market, how you appear and how you treat people is more important than ever.  If you don’t obey the unspoken rules, it could hinder your career and prevent you from gaining that really important client.

In an entertaining 73 minute whirlwind presentation, Ms. Richenbacher packed in over 15 years of etiquette training.   Here are a few of her tips:

Business Lunches:

  • Whoever invites, pays.
  • Handle paying for the bill prior to the lunch i.e. leave your credit card with the restaurant first.
  • If you are the host, and your guest doesn’t want desert and coffee (even though you really, really want desert), conclude the lunch.
  • Don’t have the bill brought to the table.  Handle it after your guest has left.
  • Don’t ever:
    Put lipstick or lip balm on at the table, chew gum or use any device (including a fork, sugar packet or toothpick) to clean your teeth.
  • No slurping, clanging, or any other natural sounds


  • Wear your name on the right side
  • If you are at a meeting and you get up to speak or have a photo taken, take off your badge.
  • Have 10 things to you can talk about
  • Keep your elevator speech to 10 seconds.  As she says, ‘I want to know where you work and that’s it’.  If you really want their business send a note and brochure the next day.
  • When shaking hands, keep a distance of about two and a half feet and shake 2-3 times

Hearing Ms. Rickenbacker’s talk was actually a little reassuring and I realized that perhaps I’m not much of an etiquette bumpkin as I expected.  But, just to be on the safe side, I purchased her book Be on Your Best Business Behavior.  Well, it really wasn’t for me… I thought it would be a nice thing for my office mates. (No offense guys).

It’s not as though the Queen is coming to dinner…but what if she did?


Yes, to using a knife to cut salad.

Yes to the soup – it is permissible to drink a soup if it is a consommé or thin soup. These types of soups may be served in bowls with handles.

When introducing people use “HOW”:

A person of higher rank is introduced to one of lower rank
An older person is introduced to a younger one
A woman is introduced to a man.

In the case of the introduction, the big client would get introduced to your CEO.

Time to step up to the plate

You can learn more about Colleen Richenbacher and purchase her books at