New toilet seats and chilled Couvoisier: Inside the pricey world of demanding divas

When I was in college, the student programming board booked Hunter S. Thomson to speak. About two weeks before the event date (and about a week before he suddenly canceled), his people sent us a rider laying out all the things that the famed Doctor Gonzo wanted. Some, like the three deli platters and the assorted rolls, breads, and condiments, were easy to obtain. Others, like the bottles of gin, vodka, and cognac, were not quite so easy. Still other items were illegal without a prescription, and we assumed that they were a joke.

Nowadays, I'm not so sure: recently reading about the various contract riders that famous divas attach to their singing contracts, I'm becoming convinced that a Rainman-level of obsessive behavior is part and parcel of celebrity. For example, Mary J. Blige apparently requires that her dressing room have a new toilet seat that has never before been touched by a human tushie. She also demands that couches be covered in fabric, drinks be held in leak-proof ice chests, and the room not contain any pork or dairy products. She requires packs of cinnamon fresh Mentos, her hotel room must be a Presidential suite with king beds, and adjoining rooms also have to be booked by the promoters.

By comparison, Amy Winehouse is relatively restrained. She only requires a large bottle of vodka, a chilled bottle of champagne, Corona beer, and a bottle of Courvoisier, all of which must be stored in the refrigerator. She must also have three "good quality pizzas," two packs of Marlboro Lights, and four lighters. Finally, her backstage crew "must be sober." Hypocrite.