The above description is not a teaser for my next novel, but a sampling of the dangerous world that Kris Herzog lives in as an American security expert. The owner of The Bodyguard Group of Beverly Hills manages a team of specialist bodyguards that include honorable police officers, ex-Navy Seals, and U.S. vets.
Kris’s clients have included Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie, Jack Nicholson, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. He has also managed the security detail of several presidents, royalties, and top business people.
The perils of his thirty-five-year career include saving a celeb from an assassin’s bullet (he got shot in the course), preventing the kidnapping of a porn-star, stopping an explosive-laden vehicle and countering a sniper. Everything that Kris told me during our phone conversation sounded like how I had described the secondary bodyguard characters in my novel, Gun Kiss. They were assigned to protect a fictional movie star.
What makes Kris’s service different from the regular bodyguards is that he and his team offer a range of real-level protection portfolio. Services include threat assessments, K-9 security, protecting children, and Navy Seal-escort for domestic and international travel.
Here are some of the questions I asked Kris, which he kindly answered:
Your services include screening mails, packages, and emails. What were some of the scary stuff you found sent to celebs?
Kris: For national security purposes I can’t go into details, but what I can say is that I’ve found poison, bloodied clothes, severed penises, dead animals, and child pornography. They were sent anonymously. These sick people do it for various reasons — some are obsessed fans, others want to intimidate.
How do you protect celebs if you accompany them on holiday?
Kris: Depending on the threat level, we’ll set up a protection “bubble” every step of the way. It’s a security measure that involves every level of checking. We’ll check the background of every hotel guest staying on the same floor as our client. We’ll also make sure that we are nearby. We’ll occupy the rooms above, below and beside our client as part of that measure.
Do you hire female bodyguards? What’s the advantage of having them?
Kris: They make great undercover bodyguards. They can also accompany our clients into the restroom with no hassle.
What were some of your crazy experiences protecting celebs?
Kris: We shot a male suspect pretending to be a female in a burqa as he was about to detonate a suicide explosive vest. We also shot a sniper who tried to kill a celeb. Once, we even rammed an explosive-laden car just as it came toward us.
How did you know there was a sniper in the vicinity?
Kris: Our counter-sniper team includes “spotters” to expose the sniper’s location. That Las Vegas shooting, for example, could have been prevented. Had we been hired, we would have rolled out precautionary steps to counter any potential threat in the vicinity.
You are not a fan of the paparazzi. How do you protect your clients from them?
Kris: Protecting our clients from the paparazzi is a small gig compared to the bigger assignments that we do. However, if need be, there are many ways to dodge these guys. We disguise our clients, maybe in a waiter’s attire, or use a decoy vehicle to get away from them. At times, the assignment can be tricky as anyone can pretend to be a paparazzo. Faces change daily, so we are always on the alert; we do not want to be caught by surprise.
What kind of barriers do you set up to protect celebs at an event, for example, an autograph signing?
Kris: It’s not possible to have full barriers, but we’ve never had a client injury. In a crowd, we place undercover people or what we call “Body-Men” to look out for potential threats. We also have “movers” whose role is to ingress and egress among the crowd, checking out suspicious behavior. We also use sniffer dogs to deter anyone carrying firearms.
What if a stubborn client refuses to comply with your security detail?
Kris: We’ll assess the client before agreeing to take up the assignment. If we expect problems, the greatest tool in our hand is to ask for money in advance. It’s in their favor to listen to us. Otherwise, we’ll just tell them goodbye, and keep the money. It’s really a case where we’ll have to slap the crap or pull the needle out of their arm to get the message across.
Are you close to any celebs?
Kris: I’ve dated some of them. They do call me from time to time asking for security advice.
Images courtesy of Kris Herzog