Chasing fame: Skico, police shutter paparazzi
December 29, 2005
In a town teeming with celebrities over the holidays, there are bound to be a few brushes with crazy celebrity photographers. A few were asked to leave the gondola plaza at the base of Aspen Mountain last week.”They were cooperative,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. “We asked them to leave private property and not to bother our guests.”The Aspen police were called but did not arrest anyone. On private property a photographer can get nabbed for trespassing.”If it’s out in the public, you can pretty much do what you want,” said Kathy Tolle, administrative supervisor for the Aspen Police Department. “If they’re harassing them, then charges can be filed – harassment is so big anything can fit in there.”
However, she doesn’t remember any arrests in recent years. “A lot of the celebrities who come here like it because they’re not pursued,” she said. Although the Aspen police and local newspapers get numerous calls from magazines and newspapers asking about celebrities, it sometimes seems that people in Aspen like hassling photographers more than photographers like hassling people.Aspen Times photographer Mark Fox recently was waiting for some people for a photo shoot for the paper – of a kiddie harness that allows parents to ski with their children – and was forced to show a Skico “ambassador” his press card to prove he actually worked at the Times.”Are you sure you’re not paparazzi?” the ambassador asked Fox. “You can’t do that here.””We have guest services people at the bottom of the mountain looking for it,” Hanle said. “We don’t want our guests to be hassled and inconvenienced. When they’re on our property we’ll do what we can to assist in aiding their privacy.”
The one brush Mark Fox has had with a celebrity this year didn’t go so nicely. Over at Buttermilk, Fox was taking photos when singer Seal walked toward him with his snowboard gear on. So he took a picture.”How’s it going?” Fox said.”It would be going a lot better if you weren’t such a schmuck,” Seal said. Celebrity photography is big business. Aspen photographer Dan Bayer said his agent has asked him to get some shots. “I’ve been told if I could get a certain photo,” he said, “it could bring in as much as 70 grand.” In the past Bayer said he has taken a few celebrity shots, though he said there is a right way and a wrong way.
“You engage the people and if they’re cool with it, you take the photo. If they’re not, don’t bug ’em.”Bayer said he has not been interested in that part of the industry lately, though his agent even told him his photos could run under a pseudonym.”If you could have gotten Michael Jackson when he was walking around town,” Bayer said, “he was wearing crazy-looking garb. If I had moved that to my agent they could have pulled in 40 or 50 grand off it, not that I ever would go for that.”Bayer says it’s all about getting A-list, hot celebrities, especially ones with new boyfriends or girlfriends. “People sitting around watching TV,” he said, “wondering what other people are doing with their lives. They eat that stuff up.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com