But, judging by the number of applicants, the most popular of these fantasy camps isn’t about striking out Barry Bonds or playing 18 holes with Tiger Woods. Instead, many vacationers are living out their adolescent longings by spending a couple of weeks pursuing dreams of power, money and rock n’ roll.
Make no mistake about it. Concert industry fantasy camps are big business. These summer resorts, where men and women live out their childhood dreams of booking dates for Motley Crue or managing acts like Velvet Revolver or Oasis, attracted more than 750,000 people last year, a figure that’s projected to double in 2005.
“Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed of working for William Morris?” asks world-famous booking agent, Al Floss, founder of Agents Of Fortune, one such fantasy camp specializing in contract negotiations. “Here you can live the dream. You bicker with promoters, drive the Mercedes and spend countless hours haggling on the cell phone with promoters over appearance fees for Morcheeba and Less Than Jake. You’ll spend your days doing power lunches with the managers for Flickerstick, Arcade Fire and Paul Brady, while you spend your nights ignoring your spouse and family as you head out to the clubs in hopes of discovering the next Bob Dylan or Hot Hot Heat. After two weeks you really will believe you’re a booking agent.”
But Agents Of Fortune represents only one of several fantasy camps dedicated to preserving those concert industry dreams of youth. Probably the most popular in the genre is the camp where men and women spend two weeks living out their fantasies of being authentic rock n’ roll roadies.
“We have it all,” says retired roadie Ian MacTavish, who runs a camp named after his own personal mentor, legendary stage pyrotechnics expert Thomas “Two Fingers” Horwitz. But Tommy’s Holiday Camp is more than just an opportunity for concert industry fans to hobnob with their favorite guitar techs and lighting crews.
“Our customers spend two weeks lugging amps, ripping duct tape, handing out backstage passes to groupies and punching out local Teamsters,” says MacTavish. “They move equipment once used by Jimmy Buffett and Dave Matthews Band, and, as part of their graduation ceremony, Elton John flies in and personally subjects them to one of his famous hissy fits. Tommy’s Holiday Camp is THE ultimate concert industry fantasy.”
But MacTavish and the other concert camps face stiff competition from the rising number of fantasy resorts specializing in other popular professions, such as prison security and mob enforcers. In fact, one such camp, Abu Ghraib Land, is already sold out through 2006. However, camp operators like MacTavish and Floss are far from worried.
“They’ll be back,” exclaims Floss. “Sure, they might try a summer learning how to be Mafia hitmen or Clear Channel Radio execs, but they’ll be back. After all, when it comes to fantasy, nothing, but nothing, beats the concert industry!”