- James Bond Experience
It’s a slightly overcast Thursday morning, and I’m feeling a bit … giddy. It’s hard not to, as in a few minutes I’ll be picked up at work in a $400,000 Ferrari, whisked off to fire some automatic weapons and, finally, fitted for a tuxedo. If this sounds like something James Bond would do, well, that’s exactly the point.
Three companies—Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car, Machine Guns Vegas and Stitched—came up with the concept last month as a way to tie their products together in one over-the-top package. And with this week’s premiere of the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, the timing couldn’t be better. As Bob Seger says, at times we all feel like just a number, but for one day you can be the number—007. And I’m here to tell you, it’s worth every penny.
Ordinarily, the James Bond Experience would include me driving the car, but because this Ferrari is brand spanking new, no can do. (The car is so new, in fact, that it has no plates, and senior sales and marketing executive Christopher Bell is stopped by the Nevada Highway Patrol on the way to get me). As we peel away from the curb in the Ferrari 458 Italia—V8 and 560 horses—Bell explains we’d normally be in an Aston Martin Vantage, but it’s unavailable today because a member of the Royal Family is using it in LA. Something tells me James Bond wouldn’t sniff at the Ferrari.
Machine Guns Vegas’ Sara Bovi escorts me to the VIP lounge, where customers are pampered before firing 10 different weapons. I’m given three weapons to shoot, chosen by my “gun girl,” Natasha Schweitzer, who has a Glock 19 strapped to her thigh. Bond would approve.
Range instructor Chris Sackett, an Army veteran, takes me through each firearm. I don’t know much about guns, other than to say these make even a novice feel like an expert marksman. I haven’t fired a gun in 30 years, yet I rip apart Osama bin Laden with my Glock 17, obliterate a ski mask-wearing terrorist with the HK MP5 (I had to switch to an M4 9mm after that gun locked up) and nearly save a hostage with the M249 SAW. I hit her in the shoulder, but Sackett says, “Just get her to the hospital, she’ll be all right.”
Maybe it’s the combo of the car and the high-powered assault weapons, but by the time I get to Stitched, I’m ready to look the part of a secret agent. Managing partner Tony Maddox makes me feel like I belong in this luxury, and even though I’m not getting fitted for my own for-keeps tuxedo today (my ethics professors might have something to say about that one), Maddox expertly eyeballs what I need to look good. Within minutes, I’m putting on trousers and a shirt, although I need some assistance with the button studs and cuff links. Hey, even Bond has off days (or so I tell myself).
As Maddox helps me tie my bow tie, he quips, “Bond would never use a clip-on.” Looking at myself in the mirror, I suddenly feel the urge to hit a baccarat table. Once the coat is applied, I’m feeling like … someone else. Normally the photographer would have to tell me what poses to strike, but I’m hitting my marks all on my own, just remembering the Bond films of my youth. I’m poised, confident, suave—basically, the opposite of who I am in real life. Even the photographer comments that he’s noticed a change in my demeanor.
But just as quickly as the transformation happens, the moment’s over. The lingering effects, however, are undeniable. As we walk back to the Ferrari for the trip home, Bell glances over at me and says, “Man, look at you! You can’t stop smiling!”
How very un-Bond.