Published January 2011; The Daily Meal
Celebrities may get the third degree when it comes to who they date, what they wear, and which rehab facility they’ve checked into (this week), but one of the best ways to judge the crazy factor of your favorite A-listers is by examining their riders — requests presented to a venue when celebrities tour or make appearances.
Lisa Morris, president of Road Concierge Inc., has firsthand experience. “To handle celebrity clients you need patience, accessibility, contacts, flexibility and discretion,” she explained. “You must be available 24/7 as changes can happen in an instant and you have to be prepared to deal with it. You just have to have the attitude that nothing is impossible. I once had an entire party booked at a hotel and then the celebrity decided he wanted to throw the party at a different hotel and had to rearrange the entire thing with less than two hours notice. If you cannot handle constant changes to all the work you have done, do not work for a celebrity. Your job is to make sure that whatever they wish for, they get.“
We tracked down 10 intriguing food requests from celebrities like Lady Gaga, Steve Martin, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and more. Excerpts from each celebrity’s rider were extracted from The Smoking Gun, which obtains and publishes public documents and mugshots, then cross-checked with other established publications like Entertainment Weekly and the New York Daily News.
1. If we didn’t know any better, we’d assume Jordin Sparks was pregnant. (She’s not to our knowledge. That’s how rumors get started.) But among a number of healthy snacking options on her backstage rider—like Clif bars, baby carrots and instant oatmeal—is a lone jar of kosher dill pickle spears, not accompanying sandwich makings of any sort. Hey, everyone has their vices.
2. A woman who wears slabs of meat as a costume to red carpet events may seem high-maintenance, but surprisingly Lady Gaga’s rider requests have gotten more low key the more time she’s spent on the road. During her The Fame Monster tour two years ago, Gaga’s requests included a full bevy of soft drinks from Dr. Pepper to Ginger Ale to Orange Crush. But today, the artist only gets by with four Coke Zeros—and a kettle of organic ginger and lemongrass tea to soothe her singing voice.
3. Musicians aren’t the only ones with demands. Even politicians, like former presidential candidate John Kerry, have them. But while Kerry’s rider outlines specific dishes like “Szechwan string beans” as must-haves, perhaps more interesting is what he omits. “NEVER order: Tomato based products OR sandwiches,” Kerry’s rider explicitly said, which is made all the more humorous by the fact that his wife became wealthy from the $550 million she took away from her first marriage to the heir to the Heinz fortune.
4. Banjo-plucking funny guy Steve Martin sticks to healthy options. His rider outlines a buffet, which includes a platter of cold cuts; six-packs of canned beverages (“for Steve to compare his abs to”); 12 coconuts, hollowed and split in two (“for the musicians’ bras”); one whole roasted chicken (“for Steve to use as a dancing puppet”); one packet of Lipitor; and a tray of iceberg salad (Steve notes: “iceberg must come from Scandinavia, Canadian or Russian Arctic. Artists do not like the taste of Antarctic icebergs”). While some think Steve’s rider was leaked to poke fun at other artists’ absurd requests, we take amusement in his caveats.
5. What do the guys behind Tenacious D snack on while on the road? Well, it all depends on the day of the week. If it’s a Saturday, they’ll probably be dining on “Thai, stir fry or Indian dishes.” Tuesday means seafood or steak. On Sunday, the suggested menu is “blackened fish, or chicken dishes.” (The daily menus are accompanied by a full feast of other foods the guys require, like assorted chocolates, protein bars and large loaves of “good quality hi fiber wheat and white breads.”) Who took the seemingly laid-back Jack Black and Kyle Gass for such sticklers to routine?
6. He’s barely out of grade school, so it should come as no surprise that teenybopper Justin Bieber likes gummy candy when he’s touring. If in the United States, it’s Swedish Fish for the 16-year-old crooner; while in Canada, he asks for Big Foot.
7. While Eminem may do his best to play the role of “bad boy,” his rider suggests he really might just be a kid at heart: The rapper’s long list of requests includes peanut butter and strawberry jelly, as well as Lunchables (“three turkeys and three ham with cheese”).
8. Sugar-sweet starlet Taylor Swift’s rider is bound to induce diabetes. While a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and a pint of Chocolate Brownie Frozen Yogurt were regularly demanded on her 2008 tour, Swift also had a “by 11 am” addendum, which included a grande iced caramel latte with two Sweet’N Lows, a grande iced Americano with two Sweet’N Lows and soy milk, and a slice of pumpkin loaf. With as many miles as she logs on tour, Swift may single-handedly be keeping Starbucks in business. She also keeps a hearty supply of chocolate milk and Kraft macaroni and cheese on hand.
9. A current rider for Britney Spears may be unavailable, but we’ll go on the record and say the pop star’s eating habits during her early touring years were downright toxic. With a buffet of Cap’n Crunch, Fruit Loops and Pop Tarts from which to choose, we’d like to know: Just how did she manage to keep a six-pack? (And we’re not talking about beer here.)
10. A lot has changed since Mariah Carey’s five-octave-range heyday—and it’s not just her singing style (or the fact that she’s not married the same man three times). Rather, the musical diva who once demanded Cristal champagne in her dressing room before every show has downgraded—to a $200 bottle of Opus One cabernet sauvignon (and three bottles of any old chardonnay).