My brush with P. Diddy — the very definition of a Hollywood tale

John Wight
9 min readApr 1, 2024

Tonight’s assignment as a suited and booted security guard with Pro Active Security in Hollywood was an MTV Awards after party being thrown by the rap artist and music producer variously known as Puff Daddy, Sean Combes and/or P. Diddy. The location was a Bel Air mansion that had been specially rented for the occasion. The MTV Awards were being held in LA this particular year and the guest list for the after party comprised a who’s who of major celebrities from the worlds of music, film and sports.

We’d been instructed to meet up in a quiet side street on the edge of Beverly Hills, where Hal, one of the two owners of Pro Active, broke out the radios and gave us a rundown of what to expect when we arrived at the venue. There were only eight of us working this gig, which clearly was a very small squad to work what was in anybody’s language a high profile Hollywood event. It all made sense later, however, when Hal informed us that five security firms had been hired to provide security for this particular gig. In recognition of our quality, he went on to stress, we were assigned the all-important task of controlling the entrance. If the desired motivation involved in telling us this was to get us all fired up, it worked — or at least if the puffed out chests and clenched jaws that manifested in response were anything to go by.

Up to the location we headed in a convoy of beat-up, secondhand cars and trucks, following Hal in his split-new freshly polished black Suburban four-wheel drive with tinted windows. Hal had worked in the security business in Hollywood for some years and was well known and respected. As for Dennis, Hal’s partner, he had a career in the US Secret Service and afterwards personal security assignments for a variety of high-end clients to his name. Dennis also had a firearms permit and carried a gun, as did a couple of the other guys, and I resolved to be anywhere but there if and when the bullets started flying.

We arrived at the location, which was not so much a mansion as a massive residential compound set in acres of land, and pulled up on a piece of wasteground set aside at the back of the house as the designated parking lot for those working the event. Once parked, we entered the compound via a gate at the rear and from there proceeded to walk to the front of the house through a long underground passage that put me in mind of some medieval castle. Stacked on either side behind a wire grill were countless bottles of wine, clearly of the high vintage kind. We finally emerged out into a large courtyard, surrounded on three sides by ostentatious castle-like architecture, complete with turrets.

Rooting the opulent surroundings in the here and now was the array of top of the range luxury vehicles parked off to the right. A massive fountain, baroque in style, stood pride of place in the middle of the courtyard, and it was obvious that the owner — the original owner who’d had the place built, that is — had attempted to achieve a French chateau-type elegance in both layout and design. In this he had singularly failed. Vulgarity not elegance was the word that immediately sprang to mind.

The size, luxury and ostentation was way over the top, and I couldn’t help thinking how outrageous it was that one human being could live in such comfort and with such wealth while just a few miles away on the other side of the city, in downtown LA, thousands were bedding down for night in doorways and back alleys amid filth and rats.

Hal led us in the direction of the front gate amid the hustle and bustle that was unfolding everywhere you looked. Three massive marquee tents had been set up in the grounds and scores of waiters, catering staff, bar tenders, managers and security guards were rushing hither and tither, busy preparing for the guests to start arriving. The event’s promoters, three of them, were standing in a huddle at the gate engrossed in conversation. Hal instructed us to wait while he went over to speak to them, taking Fredrik, all 6'6" of him, with him for effect.

While the rest of us waited my eyes feasted on the amount of food that had been set up on long tables close by. It was a spread to rival any you would have found at the court of Louis XIV.

“Wow, look at the size of that mothafuckin’ spread,” one of the guys announced, as if reading my thoughts.

“Maybe we’ll get some later,” another commented.

“Don’t hold your breath, man. They got dogs and cats to feed first.”

“Should be some fine lookin’ bitches coming through this place tonight.”

“Yeah and none of ‘em interested in eating at Burger King either.”

“Fuck you.”

“You’ll have a better chance of fucking me than any hotties at this party tonight asshole.”

Hal and Fredrik returned a few minutes later and we gathered round to receive our instructions. Along with two others, I was assigned to work the shit-detail. This involved being stationed at the bottom of the long winding hill that led up to the main gate, providing back up to the two girls who were doing the guest list down there. The idea behind doing it this way — checking off the names of arriving guests while they were still in their vehicles at the bottom of the street instead of allowing them to drive all the way to the top of the hill, park their vehicles and then arrive at the front gate before being checked off the list — was to prevent a cluster fuck of people at the main gate. It was an idea that sounded good in theory.

I say this because in no time a long line of vehicles had formed in the street at the bottom of the hill as people descended on the party en masse. The occupants of said vehicles soon became agitated at the length of the time they were being forced to wait while the girls checked to ensure the people who’d shown were on guest list. The resulting frustration was articulated in a crescendo of car horns and some of them screaming out their windows for us to “hurry the fuck up!”

A high proportion of those who were on the guest list had brought people with them who were not. When this was pointed out to them a torrent of abuse ensued, with those concerned demanding to talk to the promoter, demanding that their guest or guests be allowed into the party regardless with statements like, “Do you know who the fuck I am? You’re just a two-bit security guard and you’re telling me I can’t get in?”

This was bad enough. When people began getting out of their vehicles to make their way up the hill to the house on foot, bad gave way to disastrous. At a certain point the trickle of those doing so became a flood, whereupon we put the call out for reinforcements. In response, moments later, Gabriel and four of the other guys came running down the hill to help us try and stop them.

It was too little too late.

Despite forming ourselves into a thin line at the bottom of the hill, the crowd managed to break through and we found ourselves in the ignominious position of following them up the hill to the front gate, defeated and bedraggled. A couple of the guys, including Fredrik, took it personally and got themselves bent out of shape and ready to fight. I thought the whole thing hilarious; the sight of so many people so desperate to get in to a party they were willing to trade their dignity in the process.

At the front gates the crowd swelled, pushing and shoving against the crash barriers positioned outside. All the guys on security were now standing behind the barriers in a last line of defense. Dennis made futile attempts to get the crowd to disperse with announcements through a megaphone to the effect that only those on the guest list would be allowed in. Nobody budged an inch. Instead they stayed put and shouted him down. Next, one of the promoters grabbed the megaphone and also tried to get the crowd to disperse, again without success.

Finally the guys who was in charge of the house, overseeing things on behalf of the owner, appeared and announced that the party was closed, that they were at capacity and that no one, whether their name was on the guest list or not, would now be getting in and to please disperse.

It still didn’t work. In fact, worse, the crowd responded by surging forward in a last ditch effort to break through. If the cops hadn’t arrived when they did people would have been hurt. As it was, I ended up with a sore face as a result of a wild punch thrown by someone in the melee.

The cops immediately declared the party closed, instructing the organisers to turn the music off and the guests to vacate the property. It turns out there’d been a deluge of complaints from residents living in the same street about the noise and general mayhem. These residents were very rich and therefore influential people and the cops had shown up in force and were taking no nonsense.

Gradually in small groups out they came, a who’s who of A-list movie actors, celebrities and sports stars: Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Beyonce, Samuel L’ Jackson, and many more.

The manner and extent to which people fawned over them, the way the valets ran around like maniacs to get them their limos, Rolls Royces, Mercs, luxury vehicles of every description, was nauseating. It was a scene straight out of Caligula’s Rome. I noticed how even the cops were deferential to these celebs, thinking to myself that if this was a party in, say, South Central or East LA, frequented by poor blacks and Latinos, it would be a completely different story. In that scenario you could guarantee those cops would adopt a far more heavy-handed approach, ready to use force at the drop of a hat — and maybe even lethal force at that.

It was now that P.Diddy appeared in front of me.

“Yo, you.”


“Where’s my car?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where the fuck you from — Australi?.”


“Where’s my fucking car?”

“I don’t know.”

“You working here.”


“So where the fuck’s my car.”

“I have no idea.”

Driving home afterwards along a decaying Sunset Boulevard, I was filled with mixed feelings. Was this really a culture that I wanted to be a part of?

I parked in my usual spot in the parking garage and walked on through the alley leading out to Sycamore Avenue. It was a typical night in Hollywood, replete with the ubiquitous police chopper hovering overhead, drug dealers standing on the corner, people spilling out of bars and clubs, and a pungent aroma of decay exacerbated by the summer heat.

Outside the entrance to my apartment building a small group of guys were sat on the steps drinking and smoking weed. I made my way between them to the door, opened it and entered. Over the stain-covered carpet I walked to my apartment.

By the time I walked in, switched on the light and surveyed my living quarters, I was depressed. A secondhand mattress on the floor was my bed. It was augmented by a secondhand writing table and chair, a secondhand armchair, a TV that didn’t get proper reception, a small CD player, and a laundry basket in the corner. I had one room, a tiny kitchen area, shower and toilet. The beige carpet on the floor was way past its best and no matter how hard and often I cleaned the place, a musty smell refused to budge.

I undressed, had a quick shower, read for half an hour, then switched off the light. I drifted off to sleep wondering if I would be able to stay the course.

I didn’t think so.


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John Wight

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