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Centereach man buys ticket to the Grammys, ends up backstage

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the LGBT Network,

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the LGBT Network, takes a selfie with Cyndi Lauper at the Grammy Awards, held Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, at Madison Square Garden. Credit: David Kilmnick

Even though he spent $4,000 on tickets to the Grammy Awards, David Kilmnick still thought he’d be sitting in the cheap seats.

The Centereach man never expected he’d end up five rows from the stage next to some of the biggest names in music.

Kilmnick, 50, said he was star-struck when he first arrived at Madison Square Garden Sunday and stepped onto the red carpet, which he said his ticket granted him access to.

There was Ryan Seacrest among a wall of other members of the media and Rihanna and Lady Gaga and DJ Khaled, who Kilmnick managed to snag a photo with, he said.

“I was just in awe,” said Kilmnick, the CEO of Long Island-based nonprofit the LGBT Network. “I’m not a fan boy but I love all their music.”

As he was taking everything in, Kilmnick said he wandered into an elevator with singers Shaggy and Sting, and before he knew it wound up backstage. He said he never expected to be so close to the stars but now that he was, Kilmnick saw an opportunity to lure some talent to Long Island.

Kilmnick was thinking ahead to Long Island Pride, an annual celebration put on in part by the LGBT Network. Last year the event featured a performance by Rachel Platten, and Kilmnick was hoping he could convince another big name to take the stage in Long Beach.

“It can be hard to book people on Long Island, because managers will say they can’t come, they’re already going to be in New York City,” Kilmnick said. “So I thought if I had the opportunity to speak to some of the musicians and make that connection I’d have a better shot.”

After watching Lady Gaga perform from backstage, Kilmnick decided to take his seat. Kilmnick’s ticket, which he said he bought through a connection in the recording industry, had him sitting near the back and pretty far from the action.

Instead, Kilmnick said he was directed by a producer to the fifth row, near Cyndi Lauper and one row away from Bruno Mars, who took home awards for best album and song of the year.

At the show’s close, Kilmnick approached Lauper, thanked her for her role as an LGBT rights activist, told her a little about the LGBT Network and invited her to perform.

Kilmnick said Lauper couldn’t immediately commit to anything but she did take a selfie with him and his organization has reached out to her to see if she’s available to appear at the Long Beach event.

Kilmnick also briefly mentioned Long Island Pride to Nick Jonas and Andra Day, he said.

“It was a VIP experience,” Kilmnick said. “I feel like I won a Grammy that night.”

A representative for the Grammys did not immediately return a request for comment.