MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s a celebrity secret – red carpet escorts for rich and famous women.
As important as the dress, the shoes and the jewelry, the most essential red carpet accessory is one you wouldn’t even know.
“It was this whole world nobody even knew existed and I’ve never heard about,” said celebrity escort Chris Gaida. “And one show led to another and I’ve been celebrity escorting for 14 years now.”
Gaida has appeared on the arm of some of the biggest stars in Tinseltown including Julia Roberts, Betty White, Cameron Diaz, Angelina Jolie and Mariah Carey.
He recently wrote a book “Arm Candy: A Celebrity Escort’s Tales From The Red Carpet” that gives the inside scoop on the business.
“The term celebrity escort sounds very scandalous but it really isn’t,” said Gaida. “It’s a professional job that’s existed for decades that’s one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood.”
It’s a secret because stars want it to appear like they merely arrive at award shows and float through the evening, when in reality it’s a carefully orchestrated affair.
“I say we have a dual responsibility. One with the producers to make sure the timing of the show is good and also with the celebrities to make sure they’re relaxed and let them be the stars that they are,” said Gaida.
However, problems can easily arise and ruin everything.
Gaida was set to escort Marg Helgenberger down the 2004 Grammy’s red carpet, but she never arrived.
“I found out her limo got stuck in traffic and she missed all of her media opportunities,” said Gaida. “A fun fact is the limo company and driver gave her free limo service for a year.”
It’s good to be a celebrity but what makes a great celebrity escort? Gaida found out the hard way.
“It’s funny because I didn’t know how to behave as a celebrity escort. There’s no manual or there’s no college class of what to do, so I acted like a butler.” said Gaida.
He said like many celebrities escorts, he was discovered and asked to escort Molly Shannon who went easy on him.
“She loosened me up and teased me and then I realized I just needed to be myself,” said Gaida.
Soon he became a red carpet staple for a job he almost passed on, a job that now pays hundreds of dollars a night.
“I was temping at MTV and a random guy came up and said ‘Hey, do you want to escort?’ I said ‘No, I don’t sleep around, I don’t do this casting couch thing’ and he reassured me it was legit,” said Gaida.
He took a chance and scored an all access pass to award shows, red carpets and celebrity friends becoming the ultimate wingman.
“Being a celebrity escort is like being a stage manager, best friend, publicist, security guard all rolled into one,” said Gaida.