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POP EYE

June 08, 1986|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

ON THE TOWN: We all know that Prince's "surprise" appearance at the Wiltern Theatre last weekend was the hottest ticket in town. After all, celebrity guests on hand included Eddie Murphy, Raquel Welch, Muhammad Ali, Lionel Richie, Rosanna Arquette, Herbie Hancock, Eric Dickerson, Ray Parker Jr., Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore (we even spotted Billy Sparks, who played the manager of the fictionalized First Avenue Club in "Purple Rain"). But the real action was in the ticket lines outside the Wiltern the morning before the show, where as many as 600 to 700 fans stood in line, some as early as 2 a.m., hoping to get a pair of prized tickets.

While box-office officials sold tickets in a random fashion, hoping to discourage ticket scalpers (the last kids in line, for example, got many of the best orchestra-pit seats), area ticket brokers still got many of the best seats. The pay-off was lucrative--at least one broker reported selling front-row seats for as much as $1,000 per ticket. As one eyewitness explained: "A lot of kids in line were anything but Prince fans. Just judging by their T-shirts, you could tell they were young heavy-metal fans, hired to stand in line and buy tickets by the brokers. One girl said she was going to sell her Prince tickets to a broker in exchange for a pair of front-row seats for a Stevie Nicks concert. Actually, it was pretty ironic--they looked like the same type kids who booed Prince when he opened for the Rolling Stones in 1981."

The Prince show was such a lucrative ticket opportunity that Good Time Tickets owner Brian Harlig said he personally stood in line, "scuffling with everyone else," to obtain tickets. "We had about 80 seats for the show, which we sold for anywhere from $85 per ticket for mediocre seats to a high of $225 a ticket for killer seats fifth-row center," Harlig said. "There was so much demand that I even sold my own seats. I guess everybody has his price."

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