By Davy Rothbart | 31 March 2016
THE CALIFORNIA SUNDAY MAGAZINE — The text message says to show up at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel at 11 a.m. on a Monday. But through some combination of traffic and my own chronic lateness, I find myself rushing into the lobby at 12 minutes after, aware that it’s not a good look to be late for work, my first day on a new job.
I’ve been hired by a company called Crowds on Demand. If you need a crowd of people — for nearly any reason — Crowds on Demand can make it happen. Now it has taken me on as one of its crowd members, although the specifics remain a mystery. It’s an odd sensation to be headed into a gig with no idea what task I’m expected to perform. All I know is that I’ll be making 15 bucks an hour.
In the hotel lobby, Adam Swart, the company’s 24-year-old CEO, is greeting a dozen other recruits. Handsome, fit, sporting slacks and a button-down shirt, Adam bears an uncanny resemblance to House Speaker Paul Ryan, though he’s more than 20 years younger. He circles around us with manic energy, as though jacked up on six cups of coffee. While he gently reprimands me for my lateness, I take his tone to mean, You’re off the hook this time, but don’t do it again. He leads us downstairs to a ballroom in the basement and gives us the lowdown.
The Marriott, Adam explains, is hosting a conference for life coaches from around the country. As these folks arrive in the ballroom to register and pick up their badges, lanyards, and gift bags, our job is to treat them like mega-celebrities, to behave like a wild throng of fans desperate for their love. As it turns out, this is one of Crowds on Demand’s most popular services.
Before the “celebrities” start filing in, Adam and his talent coordinator, Del Brown, a joyful, exuberant woman in her late 30s, provide each of us with roles. They post a young, energetic guy from South Central named Lloyd Johnson closest to the door where the life coaches will enter the room. Lloyd’s assignment, as Del puts it, is to completely “lose his shit” each time someone walks in. Lloyd laughs. “You want me to get all white girl wasted?” he asks.
“Exactly,” says Del. […]
Paid protesters? They’re real — and a Beverly Hills firm that hires them stands accused of extortion in a lawsuit
By James Rufus Koren | 21 October 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES — Paid protesters are a real thing.
Crowds on Demand, a Beverly Hills firm that’s an outspoken player in the business of hiring protesters, boasts on its website that it provides its clients with “protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts.… We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas.”
The company has hired actors to lobby the New Orleans City Council on behalf of a power plant operator, protest a Masons convention in San Francisco and act like supportive fans and paparazzi at an L.A. conference for life coaches.
But according to a lawsuit filed by a Czech investor, Crowds on Demand also takes on more sordid assignments. Zdenek Bakala claims the firm has been used to run an extortion campaign against him. […]