By Hucky Austin
You may not think it, but celebrities, for all their fame and money, are just like us–they have personal problems, too. Problems/habits can include addictions ranging from drugs to alcohol to sex. Some engage in illegal activities, or exhibit immoral behavior. Because these individuals are famous, when they stumble, often a bodyguard is the one to catch them when they fall–and therein lies one of the real dilemmas of this line of work–the fall can be very public and very damaging to everyone around them. (Think Michael Jackson, Britney, Anna-Nicole).
Sadly, it seems some of the rich and famous have distorted views of themselves, in which they are above the law. They often expect those closest to them (including personal assistants, bodyguards, drivers and the like) to turn a blind eye to their various unethical or illegal proclivities, and in some cases may even ask employees to participate in procuring drugs or prostitutes.
Once a celebrity has been busted, some bodyguards breach the “confidential” aspects of a client’s lifestyle, in hopes of a high pay-out from the tabloids. It is greedy, mean-spirited and two-faced. If a bodyguard has taken a job and been witness to or participated in illegal or immoral activities–and accepted a paycheck–then (s)he was paid for their silence.
It isn’t a pretty picture, but it’s the truth. It happens all the time.
So where does a bodyguard with a conscience draw the line?
In July, 2007 a “Protective Services Ethics Questionnaire” was posted online, asking for EPS/Bodyguards to answer a variety of questions relating to an employers request that the bodyguard participate in either ethical or illegal issues on the job. Of particular interest are the possible answers:
- I would remain on the job and do as requested
- I would remain on the job, but reject the request even if it risked my job
- I would discreetly quit
- I would quit and report the protectee’s request to the authorities
- I would need more information in order to make this decision
I think that it is wise to think ahead of time about what you need to do to “protect” yourself so that illegal or immoral requests made of you do not force you into having to make one of these choices.
How do you do this?
Know your personal code in advance, and discuss this with your potential employer to avoid problems down the road. AND STICK TO IT. If participating in illegal activities is not acceptable to you, be sure to state that. If you are uncomfortable with lying, or covering for your employer with issues of morality, let him/her know that. If being around drug use makes you uncomfortable, state that. It is important that you “interview” your employer to a certain degree, with the utmost tact and diplomacy. You can let them know what will work for youâ€¦or won’t. You are subjected to a good deal of the celebrity’s personal lifestyle, and it needs to be the right fit with your boundaries. This is a very individual thing, so you need to know what is and isn’t acceptable to you.
Remember, not only do you have to live with yourself, but you may be held accountable and find yourself in legal trouble if you don’t make it clear what you will and won’t do for the celebrity. Don’t let yourself get caught up in thinking that because your employer is famous that you possess a “get out of jail free card.”