“Good, good… But can you try again, this time with a bit more feeling?” the cameraman shouted at us, as we broke out laughing and leaned in for a second time. “Good! Do exactly that — and nothing else — when we go live,” he urged.
That’s right, kids. Those dramatic midnight kisses you love to watch every year on TV? They're just as staged as Lady Gaga’s performances and Ryan Seacrest’s jokes. This is show business, after all, and in show business everything is perfect and...maybe not entirely real.
The fact of the matter is, the thousands of people who show up to Times Square and stand on their feet for 12 hours in the freezing cold, rain, and snow — with little access to food, booze, or bathrooms — are not exactly the people you want fronting your international broadcast. They’re tired, red-faced, frizzy, irritable…and, maybe worst of all, unpredictable. Add on all the paperwork, and it’s probably easier to just hire some extras.
That’s where I came in. As a “New Year’s Eve Reveller,” my airtime was planned before I even hit 42nd street. I showed up camera-ready, signed a bunch of release forms, and hung out in a green room with snacks and hot chocolate before it was time to go live. They ushered me out to dance along to the performers' songs, then back to the warm room to take off my stilettos. I’d run out to stand behind the hosts while they helped a couple propose (thankfully, not fake), and then back inside to inhale a few slices of pizza. And, of course, at the end of the night I’d deliver “The Kiss.” All in all, I spent about 30 minutes total in the street, but everyone watching at home would have thought it was hours.