Mike Esterman Discusses Business of Celebrity Booking at Esterman.com
LOS ANGELES — Ron Jeremy doesn’t own a computer and still uses a flip phone, but his tech challenges are a non-issue with Mike Esterman in his camp.
“Ron still lives in the Ice Age of technology,” joked Esterman, the manager and booking agent who has been setting up gigs for the most famous male porn star of all time for the past 12 years. “He still has a cell phone with a one-inch screen and he carries a jeweler’s loop to look at the ladies’ pictures that people send him on his phone.
“We like to call it the ‘Flip 1.0’.”
As Jeremy’s right-hand man, Esterman knows all of his quirks. It’s how he keeps The Business of Being Ron Jeremy going 24-7, doing everything from negotiating endorsement deals to booking him for appearances all over the world.
But what Esterman does with Jeremy is only part of his global reach as an international talent broker with 16 years of experience in direct access booking with platinum-selling recording artists, TV and movie stars, female DJ’s, comedians and other notables.
Esterman calls his home base Washington D.C., but his business knows no borders.
“Everybody can globally understand where Washington D.C. is and still know I touch Hollywood on a daily basis and I don’t have to be in Hollywood,” Esterman said. “How? Because of today’s technology.”
Esterman built his reputation connecting high-profile clientele with each other, orchestrating the celebrity presence for scores of nightclub appearances, speaking engagements, promotional deals and concerts. And if Esterman doesn’t have a particular star on speed dial, he most certainly knows someone who does.
“I try and get who you need for what you want,” Esterman told XBIZ. “That’s how we’ve grown in 16 years of connecting celebrities with those requested offers. Because of the relationships I’ve developed over the years I can touch anyone that may not be shown on a roster or represented exclusively.
“As long as the offers are within line, I can ask so-and-so who can speak to the artists directly without middle men.”
And that’s what makes Esterman.com different, he said.
“It’s very important to me to be able to deal directly. That is the big thing. A lot of people claim they can deal with the artist, but they actually deal with agents and publicists, and the rates are always higher when you have to go through Tom, Dick and Harry to get to the person. It becomes unaffordable.”
But Esterman’s network of contacts includes everyone from entertainment TV hosts to news media personalities.
“The key is taking your offer and paying your offer to the proper, direct person,” Esterman continued. “A lot of others will claim they can book ‘the world’ and really they’re just casting a net out there. They have no expertise in that area other than to take your offered amount and divvy it up five times. And that’s what we call a ‘middle agent’ instead of a direct link.
“In today’s world, the booking business has changed so much since I first started. It is based more on relationships than people who claim they have exclusivity.”
He added, “Life is all about relationships. If you do right by them, they’ll do right by you.”
It’s safe to say he’s done right by Ron Jeremy. Millions have seen the legendary performer in viral music videos for big-name artists such as Armin Van Buuren (“This Is What It Feels Like”), LMFAO (“Sexy and I Know It”) and Steel Panther (“Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World”). And his premium liquor brand, Ron de Jeremy Rum, is now available from South America to Asia.
Esterman has long been the man behind the scenes working the phones, keeping The Hedgehog on the move and ingrained in America’s psyche.
“My capacity with Ron is multifaceted,” Esterman revealed. “I deal with him as a co-manager and booking agent for mainstream only. We have a lot of upcoming, fresh stuff, including going to Australia in the first part of August for a rum tour of sorts and to Finland Sept. 2-4 for the Sexhibition Expo.
“Mainstream appearances and projects are coming across my desk for Ron on a weekly basis.”
Esterman now also routinely books mainstream artists for upscale gentlemen’s club appearances. The concept of edgier high-profile celebs headlining a strip club is a more recent trend in which Esterman is on the forefront. Finding lucrative gigs for “the bad boys of TV and film” is one of his specialties.
A typical day might see Esterman booking Dennis Rodman for a DJ set, Vince Neil for a concert after-party and reality TV star Scott Disick at a gentlemen’s club.
“It’s been a delicate dance trying to have the mainstream celebrities of today do appearances at risqué adult gentlemen’s club type of atmospheres without tarnishing any brands,” Esterman admitted. “That’s been the putting the square peg in the round hole issue that we as a go-to agency have found trying to fulfill those requests that come across my desk.”
But navigating those politics certainly hasn’t slowed Esterman’s roll. A real-life Ari Gold from “Entourage,” he runs what has become the "eBay of celebrities.”
“That’s why on my website I have a field of ‘Suggested Names’. It’s like walking into a McDonald’s. You might be thinking I want so-and-so, but you might end up seeing someone else you want. What’s on my site is just a suggestion list. It doesn’t mean that’s my only list. It gives clients a head start to figure out people they might not have thought about.”
Esterman, who grew up on the Maryland-side of the Washington D.C. area, also has satellite offices in Dubai, South Africa and South Korea with “more to come.”
He said the future looks bright, especially in terms of booking recording artists at cutting-edge venues abroad.
“What I’ve been concentrating on a lot is actually concerts,” Esterman said. “We’re growing more with the international buyers looking to do one-off concert dates.”
He recently booked Flo Rida in Dubai and has offers coming in for Sam Smith in China, Michael Bolton in South Korea and Simple Plan in Paraguay.
“And many more coming in,” Esterman added.
In terms of the porn biz, he not only works closely with Jeremy, he also has done events with Jenna Jameson, Jesse Jane and Stormy Daniels and will be starting to work with Evan Stone, Tommy Gunn and James Deen to name a few.
“And I hope to work more with them in the mainstream marketplace,” he said. “I think they have mainstream appeal.”