SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- Walk past the doormen at any of Milwaukee's swankier dance club / lounges on a weekend night and you are bound to find an army of men dressed like hip-hop stars or the guys from "Entourage" and a smaller number of women trying to look like those freakishly pretty girls from "The Hills."
It's the same thing at the Super Bowl, with a rather significant exception:
Those folks dressed like hip-hop stars, the guys from "Entourage" and the girls from "The Hills"? They really are hip-hop stars, the guys from "Entourage" and the girls from "The Hills."
The Giants' stunning 17-14 victory over previously unbeaten New England on Sunday will place Super Bowl XXII near the top of the list of great games in NFL history.
For thousands of people who descended upon the Valley of the Sun last week, the game took a backseat to velvet ropes, red carpets, stretch SUV limos and celebrity stargazing.
There were close to 60 parties during Super Bowl week. Magazines like Maxim, Playboy, Penthouse and 944 threw parties. The NFL threw parties. ESPN and Sports Illustrated had parties. So did Nike, Oakley and Victoria's Secret.
Some of the hotter parties -- like those thrown by Maxim and Playboy - drew higher scalper prices than tickets to the game at University of Phoenix stadium.
"Over the years, it's become quite competitive among the other magazines and companies who throw parties," Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner told The Associated Press.
"It's all turned into something beyond just celebrating a football game. It's an entire weekend event."
Hefner, who hosted a gigantic party Saturday night in Chandler before returning to the Playboy Mansion in California Sunday to watch the game at his annual party, said the guest list was key to a successful party.
Among those making the rounds this week were LL Cool J, Kid Rock, Tom Petty, Sean Combs, Larry David, Adam Sandler, Carmen Electra, Kevin Dillon, Heidi Montag, Kim Kardashian, Mario Lopez, Stacy Keibler, Jenny McCarthy, Alyssa Milano, Snoop Dogg, Kate Hudson, John Travolta and a number of current and former pro athletes.
"You have to have the right mix of celebrities, athletes and girls," Hefner told the AP. "The most defining part of any party is the right combination of food, drinks, ambience, entertainment and good toilet facilities. A bad party is a party where you can't find a john."
OnMilwaukee.com attended a handful of the bashes during Super Bowl weekend and offers this recap from inside the velvet ropes:
NFL Commissioner's Ball
CAF Arizona Wing Aircraft Museum, Mesa
This gigantic party, hosted by Commissioner Roger Goodell at the Air Force museum at Falcon Field, featured thousands of guests and free-flowing food and beverages, but the celebrity quotient left a little to be desired. Unless, that is, you get excited about seeing NFL owners, team officials, broadcast executives and their spouses eating sushi and fancy desserts.
The coolest thing about this party may have been the Lombardi Trophy, which was guarded by two beefy guards in dark suits.
Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale
Traditionally one of the tougher tickets at Super Bowl week, this year's Maxim party marked the opening of the Stone Rose Lounge, a poolside nightclub opened by mogul Rande Gerber (aka Mr. Cindy Crawford).
The late-arriving crowd was a sign of the A-List guest roster as well as the traffic bottleneck getting into the resort.
If you didn't go in a limo or have your wristband ahead (not many people did), you had to park on the grounds of the hotel, trek to a large white tent, wait in a long line, show ID and receive a wristband. Then, you had to walk back to the party to have the wristband inspected.
In order to reach the bar / party areas, you had to walk through a tunnel of TVs that captured live images in a psychedelic way. The bars were packed and bartenders poured a seemingly endless stream of Patron Tequila while passing out cans of Heineken.
Surprise musical guests Akon and T-Pain performed outside, but much of the action was inside, where Adam Sandler, Grant Hill, Emmitt Smith, Chuck Lidell and others mingled in the lounge. (We gained admission to this exclusive area the old-fashioned way: by pretending to be with a group of five pretty girls who were walking in).
One reason the lounge was crowded -- the weather in Scottsdale was unseasonably cold. With temperatures in the mid-40s, many scantily clad women spent time huddled around propane heat lamps.
Tom Petty, who headlined the Super Bowl halftime show with his band of Heartbreakers, attended the Maxim party with his wife, Dana. We missed seeing him and Ryan Seacrest, having to settle instead for a collision with the actor who played McLovin in the movie "Superbad."
Gridiron Greats Party
The Hotel Scottsdale
Founded by former Packers guard Jerry Kramer, the Gridiron Greats is a non-profit organization established to provide financial assistance and social services to retired players who are in need due to inadequate disability and / or pensions.
The party featured a number of former players like Mike Ditka, Kyle Turley, Joe DeLamielleure and others. Brewers third baseman Bill Hall was on hand, hanging out with his former teammates Geoff Jenkins and Richie Sexson.
The star of this party was the food, which included roast pig and a chocolate fountain, and the music. Former Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers fronted a group that included E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren and special guest "Soul Man" Sam Moore.
It was literally impossible to get a ticket to this party.
There were no tickets.
You had to be on the guest list for this event, which was held at a spectacular nine-acre private estate and was site of the Audi Forum, a showcase for the luxury carmaker, and private parties for jet companies and other high-end outlets.
One of the hotter (and smaller) nightspots in Hollywood, the Hyde Lounge doesn't have a VIP area. Neither did this party.
In order to get to the party, most guests trekked to a large church parking lot to check in, receive a wristband and take a shuttle bus to the venue in a mountain.
There were indoor and outdoor bars and fire pits, a DJ and celebrities like Ludacris, Kate Hudson and Milwaukee native Kato Kaelin, who was in good spirits with his girlfriend, Amber.
Here is some footage of the Maxim party:
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.