Profile: Professional party motivators

November 3, 2003

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BOB EDWARDS, host: If you're having a party, you can hire people to cook the food, serve the drinks, even send out the invitations. But how do you make sure your guests will have a good time? In the New York City area, you can hire someone to take care of that, too. Party motivators are people who are hired to jazz up social events such as 1)________________ and birthday parties. And they're good at working a crowd and encouraging sad sacks and  wallflowers to enjoy themselves. NPR party animal Jim Zarroli spent some time with a party 2) ________________ and prepared this audio postcard.

(Soundbite of voices)

JIM ZARROLI reporting:

Inside a rented party room in Short Hills, New Jersey , the reception for Seth Goldstein's bar mitzvah is just 3) ________________ under way. Dozens of 13- and 14-year-olds are gathered, some playing foosball, some just standing around shyly without talking very much. Twenty-five-year-old Suzy Choy plunges into the room 4) ________________a champion swimmer diving into a pool and begins to talk to the first boy she sees. She grabs him by the neck, rubbing the top of his 5) ________________ playfully.

Ms. SUZY CHOY (Party Motivator): Hi, Graham.

GRAHAM: Hi.

Ms. CHOY: How are you?

Unidentified Boy: How do you know him?

Ms. CHOY: I know 6) ________________.

ZARROLI: The boys stare at Choy with her long blonde hair and black Spandex pants as though they've never seen 7) ________________ like her. Choy is what's known as a party motivator, one of six hired to work this bar mitzvah today. Over the years, she's done 8) ________________ of weddings, sweet 16 parties and corporate gatherings. Her job is to make sure that all of the guests have a good time. She talks to the boys for a while, and then moves on. She goes to a small group of bored-looking girls sitting around a table and tries to 9) ________________ them talking.

Ms. CHOY: Do you graduate this year or do you graduate next year?

Unidentified Girl: This year.

Ms. CHOY: You grad--and then you go to high school? You excited?

Unidentified Girl: ...(Unintelligible).

Ms. CHOY: Freshman year actually was my 10) ________________year of all high school, it really was.

Unidentified Girl: ...(Unintelligible).

Ms. CHOY: Yeah, everyone says it's the hardest. It's scary for like a week and then it's just a ball. It really is.

ZARROLI: Any adult who's ever tried to draw out a 13-year-old knows what Choy is up against, but her efforts pay off. Soon the girls are 11) ________________ about what it would be like to have a personal shopper, and she moves on again. Choy has been a party motivator since she was a 12) ________________. She saw one once at a bar mitzvah and instantly knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Ms. CHOY: Well, when I was 13 I just thought they were the coolest things, I really did. I said, `Wow, these are people that love to dance, and they get paid to party. They're getting 13) ________________ to have a great time. There can't be a better job than this.'

ZARROLI: Choy, who's trained as a dancer, eventually went to work for a New Jersey company called Total Entertainment. The company has some 200 free-lance motivators on staff, but Choy is one of the most 14) ________________. Joel Goldstein specifically requested her for his son's bar mitzvah.

Mr. JOEL GOLDSTEIN: Well, Suzy's unbelievable. She is just--always has a smile on her face, upbeat, outgoing, just happy to dance with 15) ________________. And she just really keeps the party going. Just her inner self just keeps everyone happy and going, and she is just awesome.

(Soundbite of music)

ZARROLI: One thing Choy loves to do is dance, and lucky for her the Goldsteins' guests are big dancing fans. Soon everybody heads for the ballroom, a deejay begins playing a lot of vintage dance songs and the party kicks into high gear. In no time Choy is out on the floor, 16) ________________ to the beat and pumping her fists in the air, never spending too long with any one partner. If she sees a couple not dancing, she sometimes tries to gently prod them onto the floor. Choy dances a long time, but eventually she comes in for a break, panting slightly and dabbing the sweat off her 17) ________________. Her goal at parties like this, she says, is to help people connect, to leave them feeling energized and wanting more.

Ms. CHOY: You know, a lot of people sometimes are 18) ________________ by nature, but deep down within they have, you know, a wild side and they want to let go and they want everybody to, you know, be involved. And I think that the party 19) ________________ kind of take--you know, reach inside and grab that wild side of them out, because you can always tell the people that stand 20) ________________ the outskirts of the dance floor and they're just kind of bouncing along, you know that those are the people that want to be on the dance floor but maybe they just don't have the guts to go out and do it. So at least if we're there, we can, you know, kindly pull them and encourage 21) ________________ to be involved.

ZARROLI: And with that, Choy goes to pass out party favors to the dancers. The kids are a little slow to join in, but many of the parents have become dancing fools. The ballroom is filled with men and women in suits and long dresses wearing silly hats and oversized 22) ________________ and shaking their hips and arms with abandon. Choy disappears into the crowd, but every now and then you can see her pop up somewhere and look around, searching for someone, anyone who's not yet having a 23) ________________ time.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man: (Singing) That's what I'm talking about. Burn, baby, burn. Burn, baby, burn.

(Credits)

EDWARDS: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Bob Edwards.

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Questions

1. What is Suzy Choy like, according to Mr. Goldstein?

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2. Why is it important for her to be this way in her job?

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3. What does she say is her job?

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4. What does she like doing best at parties?

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5. What does she say shy people are like deep down? Do you agree?

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