Inside Club Dream on August 21, the pressure was palpable. The Miami Beach night spot had been converted into the set of a $150,000 music video for Slip-N-Slide rapper Pliess hit song Hypnotized, which features — who else? — Akon. The days shoot began at 12:30 p.m. and kept the high-profile industry execs, dancers, camera crew members, and bodyguards in the surreal Hollywood-style atmosphere into the wee hours.
The extras were mostly model/actress types from Miami hoping for their break. Until then, they lounged in a makeshift upstairs green room, with catered food and beverages set up on one of the club's bars. The video's executive producer, Slip-N-Slide CEO Ted Lucas, introduced me to director Gil Green. After that, as I began taking pictures of the set, a gaggle of scantily clad women graciously gathered and posed for your humble reporter.
They wanted to see the photos immediately.
"I'm Kandi from Opa-locka," one said as she put her arm around me.
"Here's my card," insisted another.
But as Plies approached, they momentarily stopped. "Whoo, he is so fine," one gasped. Some attempted to get close to him as he passed with his entourage. He put his arms around two of the ladies and walked off toward a couch in a dark corner of the room.
Back downstairs, the assistant director, Dayo, had been working tediously on the same scene for more than an hour. "Shower the money! Action!" he yelled. The actors did as he said, slowly dropping handfuls of fake hundred-dollar bills onto the floor. "Cut! Let's do it again!"
Dayo pointed to the actor standing in the middle: "You. Step up. Right there." The man seemed confused, so Dayo grabbed him by the shoulders and positioned him. As he returned to his perch to adjust the camera, crew members quickly collected the fake money from the ground.
Another call for action, and the scene's cast "showered the money" for the hundredth time while looking into the camera. "Cut!" Finally. Meanwhile "Hypnotized" looped continuously over the club's sound system. "You got me so hypnotized," Akon's distinct nasal voice intoned, "the way your body rolling 'round and 'round...."
Around 3:00 a.m., the crew was still filming, this time a shot of Akon himself, lip-synching in a yellow Ferrari. A producer assured me they would be there "till the sun comes up."