Los Angeles is a hotspot for celebrities, influencers, creators, and those alike, but one new trend that has arisen among them during the COVID-19 pandemic is going to BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Nearly half-a-dozen paparazzi line up anxiously to get their photos and videos turned around for a quick profit.
Wil Roberts, known as “The Paparazzi Gamer” on YouTube, is one of the frontrunners in the L.A. paparazzi industry, with over 12 years of experience in photography and videography.
Roberts has photographed celebrities from Charli D’Amelio, to Elon Musk, and his work has been featured in Daily Mail, TMZ, People, and Entertainment Tonight.
On Friday, Sept. 25, I met up with Roberts at BOA Steakhouse in Hollywood to see what all the hype was about, and why these public figures go there. Was it for the experience or was the food really that good?
Robers told Scriberr that the “industry of being a paparazzo has changed so much, especially with COVID.”
“I went from shooting huge celebrities, to now mostly shooting influencers,” he said.
It was nearing 9:15 p.m. and I was losing hope, but I remembered what Roberts said: “The Influencers/Celebrities will come when you least expect it.”
Moments later, I spotted YouTube personality Richard Bengston, better known by his internet name, “Faze Banks.”
The paparazzi sprung into place and flashes lit up the sidewalk adjacent to the restaurant, like lightning.
Immediately after the paps, dozens of people swarmed Faze to get selfies and Snapchat videos.
I asked Faze, “Why is BOA your restaurant of choice”? He responded: “I really like the food here, and I am always bumping into colleagues and friends new and old.”
“So, it’s not just to have your photo taken?” I asked.
“Everyone loves being interviewed and getting a photo or two taken, but I’m coming here two to three times a week because the atmosphere and food is really good,” Faze replied.
After Roberts was done with his first interview, I had some time to catch up before the next celebrity arrived.
I noticed that some of the other paparazzi had their laptops opened with a connected hotspot and in between would upload photos and send them to major media companies to try and sell them.
I asked Roberts why paparazzi are so focused on sending these photos out before others do.
“The other paparazzi think that by sending the content to try and get them sold a couple of hours before others do that they have an advantage, but I don’t worry about that because I have never had a problem selling my content,” Roberts said.
What the public does not know is that 80 percent of the time, interviews are organized. I asked Roberts further about this.
“Of course my messages are filled with DMs on Instagram with influencers and celebs saying they will be at this place at a certain time,” he said.
It was almost 9:45 p.m. before Thomas Petrou, manager of the creative-collective TikTok Hype House, emerged from the restaurant. He seemed like he didn’t want to be interviewed, but a hunch told me that was just a stigma.
After a few seconds, Petrou was bombarded with questions while his fellow house members Alex Warren, Kavor Annon, and others walked out.
As Petrou was being interviewed, Roberts abruptly ended the interview and left the other paparazzi in the dust.
This was a smart move on his part, because he spotted Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla & Space X, while exiting his car with his two kids and an armed security guard before any of the other paparazzi, who were still interviewing the TikTokers.
When the other paparazzos realized there was a bigger star making his way over, they joined Roberts in snapping photos, and once again, the sidewalk was crowded with people.
“In my eight years of being a paparazzo, I have never seen Elon. That was huge,” Roberts said.
So, why do public figures favor BOA Steakhouse over their local restaurant?
In my opinion, it is really the experience they enjoy, everything from the food, atmosphere, friends, experience, service, and most of all, the paparazzi.