Dario Dalla Lasta

My Star-Studded Super Bowl Past

My Star-Studded Super Bowl Past

As a queer man with a vast distaste for most sports, it might shock you to learn that I have some pretty interesting ties to the Super Bowl.

Unless you’re a gay man more clueless than me about football, you would know that Super Bowl LIII recently occurred on Sunday, February 3, 2019 with the New England Patriots succeeding over the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 for their fourth title as champions. Now, I honestly had no clue who was even playing until the day before the big game; to say that I don’t follow football would be like saying I don’t eat pussy; it’s just not in my wheelhouse. Of course, I never have a problem ogling over tight buns and bulging…pecs, if I happen to catch any football on television. (And let it be known that I certainly have no problem whatsoever with women’s vaginas either! Heck, I’m the G and the B in LGBT.) But like I said, I’m not a sports fan.           

What I am, however, is employed in the entertainment industry, which means I’ve somehow ended up being linked to this famous sporting event at different times in my career. Take this year, for example: I am now gainfully employed at Nickelodeon, the children’s network famous for discovering Amanda Bynes and Ariana Grande, as well as bringing the loony madcap cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants to life for the past 20 years. Created in 1999 by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg, this animated series revolves around an adorkable yellow sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants, his best pal Patrick Star (a starfish, naturally), and the perennially grumpy octopus Squidward Tentacles. Mr. Hillenburg passed away late last year, so Nickelodeon’s parent company Viacom wanted to establish a tribute to him, and somehow it came about that there would be a little blip of this world-renowned cartoon shown during the halftime proceedings at this year’s Super Bowl. I work for the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, and my boss reports directly to Nickelodeon’s President, Brian Robbins (former actor from Head of the Class), which means that I was able to view this clip before the television audience and anyone in the stadium. In fact, I knew about this the week before but kept it so quiet that I didn’t even inform my husband. (Needless to say, he doesn’t care about football either.) Then after the halftime entertainer Maroon 5 came on and sang their hit “This Love,” and right before rapper Travis Scott was announced, the clip of SpongeBob SquarePants was shown. In it, Squidward announces something like, “And now, welcome a musical genius!” as though he’s announcing Maroon 5’s musical guest; instead, SpongeBob appears and wigs out because he’s so excited to be chosen, leading Squidward’s shoulders to deflate with a heavy sigh. Apparently, SpongeBob “stole the show” (see here). It was a super cute clip that played for only like 15 seconds, but since my boss gave it the green light, I had a small part of that being shown. Pretty cool, right?

Curious as to my other connections to Super Bowls in the past? I am too! It’s been so long that I had to pull up my resumé to find the years that I worked as a Production Coordinator for the Super Bowl entertainment while employed by the estimable William Morris Agency (WMA) in Beverly Hills, California: 1998, 1999, and 2000. Long time ago. A lifetime ago. Let me do some snooping to acquire some more details…

1998 – Super Bowl XXXII

Green Bay Packers (24) vs. Denver Broncos (31) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA

National Anthem singer: Jewel

Jewel’s Makeup Artist: Kevyn Aucoin

Memories: I vividly remember having Jewel sign my white Super Bowl windbreaker and shyly talking to her famous make-up artist Kevyn because I was obsessed with him; he died only four years later in 2002. Kevyn worked with hundreds of supermodels and celebrities, such as Cindy Crawford, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Cher, Liza Minnelli, and many more. Check out the 2017 documentary Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty & The Beast in Me for more on this fascinating man.

25 Jan 1998: Singer Jewel sings the National Anthem before the start of Super Bowl XXXII between the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31-24.

Fun side note: My estimable boss Rob Heller (SVP of Personal Appearances at WMA) is pictured in the far left side of this photo with glasses and a headset. I have no doubt whatsoever that the person in the white baseball cap next to him was none other than little ol’ me. 🙂

1999 – Super Bowl XXXIII

Denver Broncos (34) vs. Atlanta Falcons (19) at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL

Pre-Game Entertainment: KISS

National Anthem singer: Cher

Memories: Shadowing Cher for two days with my boss was a trip. Her song “Believe” had just blown up, so one day we escorted her to a pride event in a park where she lip-synched the song, followed by a very late night trek to a Miami gay bar where she showed up and surprised the hell out of hundreds of screaming gay men. The day of the big game, as we were escorting Cher underneath the stadium to sound check, who should walk by but Gene Simmons, the tongue-wiggling bass player of the band KISS. If you recall, the two used to date. Watching those famous ex-lovers stop to say hello in the bowels of the stadium is one of my top celebrity moments of all time.

Additionally, silly me tried on Ace Frehley’s silver power cuffs in the dressing room and there’s a picture to prove it (which I have yet to locate, sigh). They looked damned good on me too.

2000 – Super Bowl XXXIV

St. Louis Rams (23) vs. Tennessee Titans (16) at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA

Pre-Game Entertainment: Tina Turner and Travis Tritt headline “Great American Music of the 20th Century” hosted by The Smothers Brothers

National Anthem singer: Faith Hill

Memories: Chilling in the VIP box during the game with Faith and her husband Tim McGraw, both of them so sweet it made my teeth ache. Mr. McGraw had performed beautifully at the Major League Baseball private Tailgate Party the night before, so I was yearning to catch this cowboy up close and personal. Ladies (and probably some gentlemen like me), lemme tell ya – he was so friggin’ HOT.

On a less sweaty note, I had worked with The Smothers Brothers a lot by this time, so hanging with Tommy and his wife Marcy was always a hilarious escapade in and of itself.

WOW. I mean, I have been a part of football history. After all, I played an integral part in getting those anthem singers out on the field and making sure nothing went wrong, wearing a headset like a boss, and acting all nonchalant around the likes of Cher and KISS.

I’m sort of impressed by myself, and that doesn’t happen too often.

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