The Date: Sept. 20, 2007
The Crowd: Professionals willing to spend a buck-fifty to attend a reception with John Legend
The Venue: Joe's Pub at the Public Theater, downtown Manhattan
The Food: Plates and plates of hors d'oeuvres like goat cheese with caramelized onions
The Bar: Not just well drinks, not just wine, but a fully stocked open bar
The Swag: Copies of GQ's 50th-anniversary issue, a big black book, Lexus promotional information and a copy of "Once Again," John Legend's sophomore album
Freeloader had already seen John Legend in concert and was excited by the opportunity to "Get Lifted" with the singer, who is the spokesman for GQ's charity, the Gentlemen's Fund. The concert was to benefit Justice for Children International, an organization dedicated to stopping child trafficking throughout the world.
In order to purchase a ticket to the event, co-sponsored by Ray-Ban, Miller, Citi and Lexus, you had to receive a notice from either GQ or Citi and relinquish $150 to save your spot. Citi cardholders were allowed in half an hour earlier to imbibe and snag better seats. There was an after-work lounge vibe, with cozy tables and couches throughout the venue. GQ50 logos were framed on the wall, and a little Lexus candleholder adorned each table.
Freeloader arrived at the lounge early and entered before 7:30 with the Citi-card crowd. The bar was crowded, but waitresses also served cocktails throughout the night. Waiters also brought around several plates of hors d'oeuvres before and after Mr. Legend's set. Freeloader was feeling a little under the weather, so we opted for a glass of ginger ale, but the other patrons looked satisfied. Maybe it was for the better, because Freeloader wanted to be in the clearest state of mind in order to remember the night with Johnny (we refer to each other by nicknames now).
The evening started out with some words from GQ Publisher Peter King Hunsinger and more information about the charities the Gentlemen's Fund sponsors. The initiative is part of the magazine's 50th-anniversary celebration. Mr. King explained that the sponsorships meant the money from ticket sales could actually go to the charity, not just cover the event.
GQ then treated guests to a performance by Lamont Heibert, self-described artist/abolitionist and one of Justice for Children International's founders. It was one of the saddest songs Freeloader has ever heard, and we know music. There were almost tears as Mr. Heibert started describing scenes from the music video as he sang about enslaved children.
Freeloader did not remain sad for long, because Johnny and his band came onstage. They performed a 10-song set that included some of the best songs from the first and second albums. Because Freeloader smartly snagged a seat at the stage but behind the piano, our view for most of the night was of John Legend's back. This allowed for some bad pictures and video but a great view of the crowd and the backup singers' shoes. Freeloader was also able to note some of Johnny's amusing characteristics, such as his tendency to kick up his left leg while playing the piano. Needless to say, Freeloader was thoroughly entertained, even if we didn't hear our favorite song, "Number One."
When Freeloader asked Mr. Legend about the charity, he seemed excited to be doing the work and enthused that GQ has raised more than $1.1 million so far. Freeloader was just enthused to hang out with a Grammy winner. Thanks to the free CD, Freeloader will be having "Another Again" with Johnny for weeks.