My Entourage Cometh: Paying for Popularity at the Armory Show

“Did she see you had an entourage with you?” asked Bobby. “Yes, she definitely noticed,” The Observer replied. The Observer

“Did she see you had an entourage with you?” asked Bobby.

“Yes, she definitely noticed,” The Observer replied.

The Observer had just had a close call on the floor of the Armory Show. Looking at two large photographs by Candida Hofer, he had been accosted by an ex-girlfriend.

“Hey,” The Observer had whispered. “It’s good to see you, but I can’t talk. These people with me don’t know who I really am.”

The ex-girlfriend fled the scene, and The Observer returned to the company of his entourage.

“It’s good that she saw you with us,” said Bobby. “She’ll know you’re not alone.”

Last week, The Observer was forwarded an email advertising the services of Entourage at the Armory. Attached was a photograph of seven artsy-seeming but not dirty young people posing before the white walls of a gallery space.

The text of the email read, “Entourage is a group of young professionals who are available to personally accompany you during your visit to the Armory Show. We are available during any of the Armory Show opening hours … for any duration of time. We hope to make your company :)”

The Observer forwarded it to a friend, commenting, “Look at these assholes.” Then he decided to make an appointment. He was advised to meet Diana at Pier 92 at the west end of 55th Street. “Please remember to bring $30 for her admission. See you there :)”

“Would it be possible even at this late hour,” asked The Observer 135 minutes before his scheduled appointment, “to secure two more Entourage people, so that it seems more like an entourage than, you know, an escort?”

“Yes, it is possible,” came the reply. “Diana, Carlos, and Bobby will meet you at 3PM.”

The word “entourage” entered the English language in 1832, when the proto-junkie Thomas DeQuincey imported it from the French to describe the changes in “external character and entourage of the imperial office” after Diocletian’s return to Rome from warring in decadent Persia. “A majestic plainness of manners” gave way to a court where guests found the emperor “surrounded by eunuchs, and were expected to make their approaches by genuflexions, by servile ‘adorations,’ and by real acts of worship to a visible god.”

Would this be the sort of treatment, The Observer wondered, he would receive from Diana, Carlos and Bobby?

As it turned out, they were late. And instead of Carlos, there was a tall, swarthy architecture student named Alejandro.

Diana found The Observer first, under the flagpole, then corralled the rest of the entourage. She asked The Observer what he did.

“I’m an independent scholar. I study ancient texts. Right now I’m working on Xenophon,” he said.

“Who was he?” she asked.

“An Athenian writer from around the same time as Plato.”

The Observer asked Diana why her cohort had started Entourage.

“It was a response to a generally felt feeling,” she said, “that people don’t want to come to this alone. Why did you want to come to the Armory show?”

“My best friend, who lives in London, collects photography,” said The Observer.

“Alejandro’s from London,” said Bobby.

“I follow him around to galleries when he comes to New York,” said The Observer. “I want to start my own collection.”

“We’ll ask how much things cost for you,” said Diana.

“That’ll be fun,” said Bobby. “You usually can’t do that in galleries, but here it’s fine. People look down on this show. It’s, like, not even curated.”

“The Independent is better,” said Diana.

“Where are you from?” asked Bobby.

“Boston,” The Observer said.

“Do you want us to walk in front of you, around you, or behind you?” asked Diana.

“Just be natural,” said The Observer.

Diana, a petite, brunette 22-year-old artist, would prove a doting entourage member. When The Observer fumbled in putting on his wrist band, she offered to help. When the aloof Alejandro drifted away in the crowd, she called him on his cell phone to impose entourage discipline.

My Entourage Cometh: Paying for Popularity at the Armory Show