Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA, Fla. — Late last Tuesday, elbow-deep in a mess of hot pink fringe he was wrestling into a concert outfit, Cam Parker received a cryptic text message.
The Tampa artist also known as Painkiller Cam had spent the previous weeks frantically planning, painting and promoting a giant mural dedicated to Beyoncé. In the days leading up to the local stop of the Renaissance World Tour on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Parker knew he might have to hand-deliver news of the mural to the singer herself. Hence the need for an especially fierce costume.
The text message on the eve of the concert changed everything. Fast forward to Thursday morning, when Parker awoke to photos of his face and his mural plastered all over beyonce.com.
For now, Parker must keep the exact details of what that text said and how the photos came together under wraps, shrouded in the type of secrecy fans have come to expect when it comes to Beyoncé. But what Tampa Bay needs to know is this: Bey’s team saw all of you sharing, liking and taking selfies next to Parker’s mural.
Parker still can’t quite wrap his head around it.
“I’m literally starfished across my bed and it’s early and I am hungry, but I have not moved because I am just taking all of this in,” said Parker, who answered the phone Thursday morning with a voice still scratchy from singing at the top of his lungs all night.
“That was, I think, a validation for all of us,” he added. “She knows that it exists, because we all made freakin’ noise about it. And we were like, you’re not going to leave Tampa without knowing that there is an homage. There is a tribute to you that stands dang near 15 feet.”
In case you missed it, Parker painted the Beyoncé mural at 1703 N. Tampa St. as a big thank you to his idol. This kind of gift has kind of become his trademark, with him presenting artwork to greats from Diana Ross to Lady Gaga.
After completing his Beyoncé mural in Tampa, just around the corner from the one he made for Gaga, the mission was not over. Parker embarked on a full-fledged social media blitz to ensure that Beyoncé saw his artwork. There were numerous stories in local news outlets (starting with the Tampa Bay Times, then blogs and local television stations) plus a flood of TikToks, Instagram posts, tweets and more.
Parker knew he might not hear back from Beyoncé, so he purchased tickets in the Club Renaissance section of the stadium. He plotted to wear the flashiest outfit possible to catch her eye when she passed by. At once point, Parker planned to add lights to his braids and spell out “Beyoncé” with his hair.
But it turned out none of that was necessary. By the time of the week of the show rolled around, people in Beyoncé’s circle had taken notice. All he had to do was just focus on enjoying the show. Even the creative block that stood between him and finishing his concert outfit melted away.
“I started to relax,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what? I can cut the sleeves off this. I can make it short and a little flirty, and I’m gonna go splash paint on my boots.’”
As he strutted around Raymond James Stadium on Wednesday night, fan after fan stopped him to talk about the mural. Then he saw Bey’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure. She recognized him instantly. They hugged.
“I was like, ‘I’m so sorry that you’ve been tagged so many times,’” Parker said. “She was like, ‘I get it! I knew what you were doing.’”
He’s already posted screenshots of himself on Beyoncé’s website. Even though Parker must remain mum on how it came together, he didn’t want people to feel like their likes and shares went to waste.
“I just know for a fact that would not have happened without Tampa and without everybody else in the world that tagged, shared, posted, storied, re-storied, screamed and shouted,” he said. “It takes a village, and there’s no way that I could have made that happen just on my own.”