Akon Would Have Performed for Downsizing GQ for Free

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Akon. Photo: Getty Images

Even in light of the recent McKinsey-izing of Condé Nast, last night's iteration of GQ's annual Gentlemen's Ball seemed as opulent as ever. The event was once again held in the Edison Ballroom, which may be the poor man's Cipriani but was at least better than hosting it at Purgatorio next door. Ashton Kutcher, Mark Wahlberg, Adrian Grenier, and Josh Duhamel turned up to hand out grants from GQ's Gentlemen's Fund to worthy nonprofits and to make speeches honoring individual dudes they admire. (Well, Duhamel had to send a video instead since he's a bit tied up with other matters). Even though GQ surely had to cut its budget for this year's event (it did, after all, lay off six people just last week), it was an extravagant party, with performances by pricey artists like Kid Cudi and Akon.

Which is why it killed us a little when we had the following exchange with Akon, whose paycheck for the evening probably roughly matched what an editorial assistant at the magazine makes in half a year:



New York: You're performing tonight. Are you here just out of the goodness of your heart?

Akon: Nah, they’re paying me. But I mean, I would have been here either way, because I love GQ. They just don’t know that. I would have been here for free.
New York: So why aren't you?
Akon: No one asked me! But I would have been here for free.

Akon! These people need all the help they can get! McKinsey is on the warpath!