My friend Kyle Gustie, co-founder of 262Five, a premiere tour and event management outfit allied with Doc McGhee Management, is the Leonardo da Vinci of pranks. His Mona Lisa/magnum opus of practical jokes involves Faith Hill and a dead eel.
A few years back, Kyle worked a Brooks and Dunn/Faith Hill package tour across Canada. Near the end of the tour, Faith, in the spirit of good practical road pranks, had a thousand balloons blown up and stuffed in one of the Brooks and Dunn buses... a harmless, cute little lark. She then had her team fill opening act Wade Haye’s stage water with salt. When unsuspecting Wade took a swig to loosen up his vocal chords mid-concert, he got a throat full of salt water, which did his voice no favors. Again, it’s Faith Hill, so these cute little inconveniences were playfully laughed off, at least in public.
Behind close doors, Ronnie Dunn pulled Kyle aside and said, “Kyle, you’re a sneaky bastard. It’s up to you to get Faith back.” Always eager for mayhem, Kyle quickly orchestrated a payback. Kyle called the Wyndam Hotel in Winnipeg, where the tour was staying. “Listen,” Kyle authoritatively barked into the phone, “I’m the tour manager for the Brooks and Dunn/ Faith Hill tour. Faith goes on in fifty-seven minutes and needs a makeup bag that’s in her room. I am sending our production assistant over to get it. His name is Kyle Gustie. Make sure you ask to see his identification and tour credentials. So help me God, there will be hell to pay if you do not check credentials.” The somewhat starstruck and terrified desk clerk assured him that the “production assistant” would be able to procure Faith’s stuff.
Kyle arrived at the Wyndam with an enormous, semi-frozen, dead eel stuffed inside his jacket and asked the desk clerk for a key to Faith’s room. The Desk Clerk asked, “May I please see some identification and your tour credentials?” Kyle obliged and was given the key. Once in Faith’s room, Kyle gingerly pulled back the covers of her bed and lovingly laid the dead eel in the center, halfway down where it would be unavoidable when she slinked into bed, hopefully naked. Kyle then returned to the concert giggling maniacally as he imagined the terror the eel would strike in poor Faith.
Regrettably, Wade, who is too nice for his own good, learned about the prank and hinted to Faith that she may have a horrible surprise in her bed. Although none of us were there to witness it, the word is that Faith pulled back the sheets, saw the eel, shrieked and asked for a new room. Years later Kyle asked her about it and she replied that to this day she is creeped out in hotel beds and always pulls back the covers. The next day at the airport, a customs agent asked Kyle what he was doing in Canada. Kyle told him that he was working on the Brooks and Dunn tour and the agent revealed that he was a huge fan.
Smelling an opportunity Kyle said, “B and D will be coming through here shortly. Please tell them that there has been a call from the Wyndam hotel citing damages to a room and that they will not be able to leave Cananda until they pay $6000 in damages.” Although it’s probably an enormous violation of some international law, the agent agreed and Kix and Ronnie were nervously detained at customs until the agent traded their freedom for some autographed photos and slaps on the back. Ronnie and Kix assumed that sweet Faith had exacted her revenge on them and Kyle’s role as a double agent remained a secret… until now. Gentle reader, beware when you employ a sneaky bastard to do your dirty work.
John Bohlinger is a Nashville guitar slinger who works primarily in television, and has recorded and toured with over 30 major label artists. His songs and playing can be heard in major motion pictures, major label releases and literally hundreds of television drops. Visit him at: youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger