In 1988, my uncle got me tickets to see the New Edition NE Heartbreak Tour at Madison Square Garden. His assistant put my name on the list for the official after-party. I was a junior at CW Post and had never been to a real music industry party. I guess it was my first opportunity to network.
The concert was off the hook, my seats were on the floor. I had hoped to take my girlfriend (now my wife) to the show, but she had a death in the family. I went with her friend. I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, her friend and I were like in-laws. We hung out and tolerated each other, but didn’t really like each other. I must give her some props because she got really dressed up, which made me look good strolling around the after-party (until she got into a deep discussion with some other dude, I want to say it was Redhead Kingpin, but don’t quote me). After the initial shock of not being hassled at the door when I gave my name, we walked in gawking and staring. Malcolm Jamal Warner shot me a curious look…I think he was checking out my companion, but I told people it was because he thought he was looking in the mirror (in those days, folks called me Theo). I can’t remember all the celebs that were there, but the highlight of the night was meeting Heavy D. We didn’t exactly spend 20 minutes chatting. He simply approached me, looked me in the eye, said what up and gave me a pound. Like I was a peer! That was the kind of dude he was, always made you feel like you belonged. And that night, being a broke college student at my first real industry party, that meant more to me than he could imagine. From that night on, Heavy D stayed in the rotation, especially the next summer in 1989, with the release of Big Tyme album. I wore out that cassette. Shoot, I watched Boston Public just to see him play the guidance counselor (or was it because Sharon Leal was on the show?).
So, at my first networking event, the best networker in the room was Heavy D. I strive to be that kind of warm presence whenever I attend or host a function.
Rest in peace, Heavy D and have a peaceful journey. Thank you for showing me how to work a party.