Somewhere in Randy Wright's well-stacked shoe box is the ticket stub from a Playboy Mansion party he attended in Los Angeles in 2010. Men had to buy a $500 (U.S.) ticket to mingle with Hugh Hefner and enjoy what he says was an "incredible" bash.
Women were told to wear lingerie and, if chosen while walking around a parking lot, gained free entry. "The men had to wear black. I wore a tight-fitting black T-shirt and black jeans. No gold chain," he stresses.
Mr. Wright, who has since married, says Playboy soirées are a thing of the past. But that hot ticket remains in his collection – one of about 400 saved by Mr. Wright, an executive vice-president at B.C.'s Harbour Air Group, one of the world's largest seaplane operators.
What started as an insignificant teenage habit has become second nature for the businessman. "I used to put the tickets in my pocket and when I got home, put them in a drawer in an old mahogany dresser. They just piled up," says Mr. Wright, whose diverse collection includes tickets from Super Bowl games and the Kirov Ballet, an Elton John show and the World Series.
Today, Mr. Wright, in his late 50s, is more conscious of his stub-mania. No longer does he forget tickets in suit jackets bound for the dry cleaners or lose them in cavernous arenas. But he maintains that it's a habit, not a hobby. "I just started collecting them and got so many. As my career took off, I could afford bigger and better offerings," he says from his office on Victoria's Inner Harbour.
Mr. Wright grew up in Victoria, and prior to working for Harbour Air, was an executive at his late father Bob's company, Oak Bay Marine Group. As his father built the Marine Group into a major tourist operation with marinas, resorts and tourist attractions in British Columbia., the United States and the Bahamas, Mr. Wright enjoyed plenty of fishing and wilderness experiences, along with the more urban type of wildlife.
"I was a concert brat," he recalls. His older brother Ron was a concert promoter, so Mr. Wright attended many rock events, including The Doors' first visit to Victoria, arranged by Ron.
Some of his most prized tickets include Rolling Stones memorabilia, notable not only for the performers but also for the escalating cost. In 1981, the ticket for The Stones Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum show had a $15 price. In 1989, at B.C. Place, the ticket cost $36.50 (Canadian) and in the same venue in 2006, a Stones tickets went for $115. Mr. Wright also has an unsold Rolling Stones ticket from the 1981 Los Angeles show which he didn't manage to scalp after a friend couldn't make the show.
Mr. Wright's Super Bowl tickets are also telling. A ticket to the 1990 Super Bowl in New Orleans set Mr. Wright back $125 (U.S.). His ticket for the 1991 Super Bowl, in Tampa, cost $150. A 2003 San Diego, Super Bowl ticket cost $400. And this year, Mr. Wright paid a scalper $3,000 for a $950 ticket for Super Bowl entry in Phoenix. Scalpers were getting as much as $10,000 a ticket for the event, Mr. Wright says.
Mixed in are tickets for the World Series, Vancouver Canuck playoff games, Seattle Seahawks games, the Molson Indy and Montreal Grand Prix. Adding some glitz to the grit are stubs from Broadway and Drury Lane plays and Las Vegas shows.
And befitting his rock and roll start, Mr. Wright has dozens of stubs from musical performances including by Deep Purple, Rod Stewart, U2, INXS, The Police, Prince, Shania Twain, Rihanna, Janet Jackson and Katy Perry.
There was one quest that went wrong for Mr. Wright. Tickets for the Spice Girls' Vancouver show in 2007 were in such high demand by many moms with young daughters, two scalpers auctioned the very prized tickets. "I knew I was in trouble," Mr. Wright says with a laugh.
The well-connected, former chair of Tourism Victoria has a reputation as a ticket source. During the interview, Mr. Wright's cellphone rang. It was an acquaintance who was wondering if Mr.Wright could score him tickets for Jerry Seinfeld's Vancouver show in November.
Larry Eade, a chartered professional accountant in Victoria, has known him since they were teenagers and shared a passion for rock 'n' roll. "I'm almost a little jealous of his collection," says Mr. Eade. "I could have done the same thing, but never did." When Mr. Eade left an event, the ticket would get crumpled in his pocket and eventually trashed – aside from one particular band.
"He [Mr. Wright] probably doesn't have as many as I have," Mr. Eade says of his three Led Zeppelin ticket stubs from shows in 1973, 1975 and 1977. One bonus of having a friend who operates seaplanes was that in 2005, when Zep singer Robert Plant played in Victoria, Plant and his band took a Harbour Air flight to Victoria. Mr. Wright arranged a backstage meeting between Mr. Eade and his rock hero.
Mr. Eade never suspected that his friend was already ferreting away ticket stubs when they met almost 40 years ago. "I knew that he kept memorabilia but I hadn't realized he'd kept them from all those years back."
Befitting his age, Mr. Wright now has a ticket bucket list. A FIFA World Cup soccer stub is a must. "And, for the last 20 years, I've been a golfer, so I'd like to see a Masters," he says.
After prompting from wife Kim Rasmussen, Mr. Wright is thinking about organizing all the bits and pieces that have documented his life and which resuscitate tales from his past. He's leaning toward an album-type book with plastic sleeves.
And now that he's father to six-month-old Braydon and Brooklyn, 5, Mr. Wright will no longer be spotted at the Playboy Mansion. "Life's changed for me, with children," he says. Already, he's got stubs from Frozen, the play he and Brooklyn attended. "I've started collecting her tickets," he says. A trip to Disneyland is in the planning stages. "I'm going to be going to a lot of different events," he says.