Society / The Seen

Inside Rolling Stone’s Remarkably Unique Super Bowl Party

Mega Celebs, Bored Stars & a Surprise Shutdown

BY // 02.06.17
photography Jenny Antill Clifton

The much buzzed-about Rolling Stone Live Houston celebration produced by Talent Resources Sports the night before Super Bowl LI at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston kicked off the storied magazine’s mega-milestone year — Rolling Stone is celebrating its 50th birthday.

Noticeably absent from such a celebration? The legendary magazine’s co-founder, editor and owner Jann Wenner. When PaperCity asked publisher Michael Provus if Wenner was in attendance, he gave the strange answer, “I’m not at liberty to discuss that.”

Perhaps tellingly, Wenner’s 26-year-old son Gus Wenner was in attendance. The 26-year-old Brown graduate — wearing his usual uniform of a white long-sleeved tee and jeans — and former bandmate of Scout Willis is parent company Wenner Media LLC’s head of digital operations and is poised to take over the company this year, amidst legal troubles at the magazine.

But no matter the occasion, the stars will always turn out for a Rolling Stone party, especially during the biggest weekend in football. The red carpet was held in an isolated location in the back of the museum, away from the hoards of onlookers that flocked to the Museum District (it was one of the most buzzed about parties) in the hopes of a celeb sighting or two. In fact, it was so quiet on the red carpet that some stars, like Bachelorette Andi Dorfman, wearing sequined hot pants of her own design — “I hot glued them together; don’t look too closely!” — teased reporters for being so reserved.

Environmentalist/Entourage star Adrian Grenier spoke passionately about saving the oceans, while comedian J.B. Smoove, looking ready to party with a cigar in hand, and Finesse Mitchell hammed it up for the press. NFL stars brushed off requests for game predictions. Athletes ranged from NFL greats like Hall of Famer Warren Sapp to young stars like Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who joined his teammate Dak Prescott, at Prescott’s urging, onstage at the Wortham earlier that evening when Prescott won NFL Rookie of the Year honors.

Inside, the MFAH was transformed into a nightclub with big screens and leather banquettes in the VIP lounges. Grammy-nominated artist Big Sean took the stage first, while DJ Cassidy spun tunes in between sets. Rapper Nas —the celeb the athletes on the red carpet were unanimously most excited to see — performed a career-spanning set including songs from his debut Illmatic through his 2012 album Life is Good.

It wouldn’t be a Rolling Stone party without the trademark smell of marijuana. Yes, partygoers were lighting blunts in the revered Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — which was not formally involved as an institution with the party and merely rented out the space — as if it were an outdoor festival.

Headliner Diplo, who revealed to reporters on the red carpet that he loves crawfish so much he has a crawfish tattoo, took the stage around 1 am and quickly brought down the house of revelers (many of whom shelled out a small fortune to attend — ticket prices started at $750). He performed a few songs as Major Lazer.

On the red carpet, it was rumored that Fergie was making an appearance around 12:45 am, but she was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Diplo’s surprise guest was Busta Rhymes, who performed his Diplo-produced hit “Look at Me Now” and sprayed the crowd with champagne (don’t worry, no fine art was harmed in the making of this Vegas-style blow-out).

Sponsor Budweiser had a Dan Flavin-inspired fluorescent light photo booth that produced Boomerangs for guests to share on social media, while sponsor Mercedes Benz acted as a chauffeur for the more A-list VIPs and encouraged guests to create their own vehicle designs with a 3D projection mapping system.

While some celebs arrived early and stayed late, other celebs seemed a little bored with the festivities. Cynthia Bailey and NeNe Leakes of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame only stayed inside for about 20 minutes before sauntering right back outside into the balmy Houston night air. Grenier stumbled out on to Bissonnet Street around 11:30, looking a little confused, and cringed when he was immediately recognized by a group of excited oil and gas bankers.

Security guards abruptly shut Diplo down at 2 am, as shown in this clip that surfaced online. A fan asked Diplo, “How does it feel that you just shut down the Super Bowl party?” Diplo, who didn’t seem too disappointed his set was cut short, responded “Man, I hope I just warmed up for the Falcons tomorrow.”

Seen: Houston Rockets Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell; New York Jet Darrelle Revis; New York Giants Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, who gamely did his trademark salsa dance for 1.5 seconds upon PaperCity‘s request; Black-ish star Anthony Anderson; Houston rapper Slim Thug; NFL legend Eddie George; model Chanel Iman; actress Alyssa Milano; Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles real estate agents Josh Altman and Matt Altman; former Miss USA Olivia Culpo, in town to support her boyfriend, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola.

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