Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MDNA Mathematics

Math has never been my strongest skill. Simple subtraction can still be a task where I need a pencil and paper. Trying my hand in the potentially lucrative market of black market Madonna tickets was intimidating. Making money was never really my motivation. My ultimate goal has always been to get the best seat possible.

Tickets for Madonna's MDNA Tour went on sale six months ago. At that time the tour was just an event on the very distant horizon. I used my fan club membership to purchase advance tickets. It turns out that there were multiple levels of fan adoration. My level allowed me one hour after the oldest and most dedicated fans. Damn! I knew that in those sixty minutes all the good seats would be sold. I'd be left in the nose bleed seats or floor seats in section B, both of which are horrible in my opinion when it comes to the Queen. As the clock ticked down, I readied myself by loading all the necessary windows and printing out the stadium seating chart. I was ready! The first tickets I bought were in section B6, row 16, seats 8-9. Conflicting emotions! Hmm...decent floor seats, but still pretty far from the stage.

That's when my mathematically challenged mind went to work. I could buy four tickets total with my code. Why not buy two more and then re-sell them? I could use that money to lessen the burden on my credit card. I guess money partially motivated me. Of course, there was also a chance that I'd get better seats on my second chance. The second round got me section B7, row 16, seats 20-21. Eek! That's even farther from the stage, but I knew the tickets would sell out and then the demand would go through the roof.

In the meantime, my boss told me about a Yankee season ticket holder pre-sale. Intriguing! She let me use the code to purchase 2 VIP tickets in section A7, row 2, seats 1-2. Wow!! Now that's close!! Closer than I've ever been to any of my gay icon concerts (Madonna, Britney, Kylie). Perfect! I had the seats of my dreams. I put my original four tickets on Stubhub and listed them on our e-bulletin board at work. Eventually, they sold to one of our agents. He bought two and a friend of his bought the other two. Boom! profit.

The original plan was for Antonio to buy the other ticket and go to the show with me. Well, that obviously didn't work out so I was left with a $600 ticket and no one to take it. After months of having the single ticket listed for $2000 and then reduced to $1000, I still didn't have any takers. As my credit card bill crept higher and higher, I realized that I might need to make a tough decision. I needed to sell both of them! Of course, I'd be a single ticket, but I'd get some money back. I also noticed that section A7 (my VIP seat) was close to the front, but it was also on the side. I didn't know if most of the action would take place at the end of the triangular runway and I'd end up seeing Madge's back for most of the show.

After a lot of emails to our bulletin board and reducing the price of the tickets on StubHub to $1000 each, I finally sold them. 8 days from the show and they were gone! I now how a lot of money, but no seat at the show. Time to scramble! I used StubHub to buy a single ticket in section A6, row 15, seat 19 for $770. I'm actually really happy with this seat because it's very close to the end of the runway and it's closer to the center of the stage. This seat may actually be better than my VIP seat! It turns out that this seat is also VIP and also includes the all-you-can-eat dinner.

So now I am all set! I've got just over a week to wait now...

But let's do the math:

I bought:
4 tickets at $375 = $1500
2 tickets at $600 = $1200
Grand Total = $2700

I sold:
2 tickets at $500 each = $1000
2 tickets at $400 each = $800
2 tickets at $1000 each = $1700 (minus $300 commission to StubHub)
Grand Total = $3500

I made a grand total of $800 profit! I used that money to buy my single ticket for $770. So after everything, I'm going to the show for FREE and I walk away with $31 cash.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reba + Revel

Reba was first icon. She was my favorite singer as I was growing up in rural Pennsylvania. I remember being amazed when I saw her in Philadelphia in 1996. It was the first concert I went to that was a spectacle. Her band members came drive onto the stage in taxis and then a huge wall opened and Reba made her entrance by emerging from a private plane. Wow! Just wow! So when I found out that she was going to be at Revel, the newest casino to open in Atlantic City, I knew I had to get tickets.

My family was planning on meeting up in New Jersey the day of the concert anyway for L'Oreal's "Your Dog is Worth It, Too" event. I'm required to go every year to collect and carry free samples of various dog food, treats, toys, etc. Michele needs me to be a pack mule and I like to show off my arms. It's a win / win. But since we were all going to be in the same state, Michele was able to convince Mom to go with Kasey and I to Atlantic City. My mom is just like me. She doesn't like unfamiliar places, situations, etc. We both have very small comfort zones, so I was glad she decided to come. We had dinner at the Showboat, which is just down the boardwalk from Revel. Mom and Kasey argued about who was paying while we waited in line. Each demanded to pay. I calmly said, "let's just all agree that I'm NOT paying." I'm so funny. The food was great! Buffets are amazing. We don't have them in New York so it was a real treat.

We got back to Revel about an hour before the show was scheduled to start. Kasey went to play poker and we went to find our seats. After getting settled, my mom insisted we go to the bar to get drinks. I ordered a vodka and Red Bull. My mom looked pensive. She asked the bartender what she could get. I laughed and said, "Mom, you can get whatever you want." The bartender said the same thing. She got a Long Island Iced Tea. Then we had another battle over who was going to pay. The look on my mom's face when the bartender told me the total was $38 was priceless. I'll admit that it seems high even to me, but I played it off.

The show started right on time. Shocking! Reba sounded GREAT! You could tell that she was singing live, but still able to belt it out. I knew the words to just about every song she sang. I was lip-syncing along with most of them. The thing that I liked about the concert was that it was authentic. She sometimes talked in between songs and you could tell that she wasn't reading a script. She took the time to individually introduce each band member. She did two medleys, which was a great idea. She has over 30 years of songs so she can't do all of them, but you want to hear all of them. Naturally, she did Fancy for the encore. The entire audience was just waiting for it because that's become one of her signature songs. It was such a good concert, though I was a little disappointed that wasn't as big as the last time I saw her. No dancers, no video screens, no props. But she sounded great and had a great time, so I enjoyed it. I also noticed that most people were sitting down most of the time. Come on guys! Get up!

After the show, we went to buy souvenirs. My mom bought a keychain and I bought a t-shirt that turned out to be way too small. Sure it was a fitted cut, but it's just ridiculously tight. Kasey was concentrating on the giant stack of chips in front of him, so we wandered around the casino floor. My mom pointed out $3 on the floor, so that became my gambling money. We played some .$01 slot machines. You always lose and so the money goes quickly. My mom did win $1.75 on one machine. I was so excited! I'm also a dork. When Kasey left the table $600 richer, he gave me $125 worth of chips to play Blackjack. Now I know how to play the game - it is pretty easy. Get to 21. Simple enough. But the issue I have is with the counting. I'm not very good with math. One hand I got 21 and was so excited because I thought that I won all the chips that the other players bet too. Apparently it doesn't work that way. I was there for about 20 minutes before I lost it all. At least it wasn't my money. Around 2:00 am, we made it back to Michele and Kasey's house. I was super tired so I waved everyone away so I could fall asleep on the couch.

I'm so glad that my family is doing things like this. We used to only see each other on major holidays, but now we're getting together much more often. It had been years since my mom and I had done something special with the just the two of us. I'll always remember drinking and laughing before the show started. Great memories!