Stuck in an Elevator With….

October 8th, 2005 by Larry Smith

How does a magazine about storytelling cover celebs? It’s a question we’ve been struggling with since the beginning of this idea more than three years ago. SMITH is much more interested in real people than celebs, but celebs are part of the world we stew in.

I was at this Who event last night at the Time Warner center (a truly delightful pox upon NYC) for the release of Tommy & Quadrophenia on DVD that somehow Samsung is doing rather than a record label; (btw, an interesting development for music/media) and all these Who freaks were slobbering on Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend clamoring for an autograph (one extremely smelly guy swiped a gift bag early, got the band to sign his DVD, and was then kissing it, somewhat maniacally; uh-oh). Then the other day Piper was in a funky little noodle place in the E. Village and Mario Batali sits next to her at the counter and she’s just not sure how to play it (Mario ordered loads of food and Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, soon joined him) so she just sits there eating her duck noodles and leaves him along. Meanwhile my friend Ty was in line at a cabaret at the Algonquin Room right behind Philip Seymour Hoffman (who, confirming the rumors, had bad BO, but that’s not why Ty decided not to strike up a conversation with PSH, he was just trying to play it cool and leave the guy be) and they all (well, not the Who crowd) said the same thing: it feels really dumb to talk to a celebrity, even though you kind of want to if it’s a celeb you truly dig.

And so … one of the only ways to have an interesting conversation with a famous person is if you’re both stuck in a situation which calls for equal footing, or equally weird for both of you (like maybe you ran into Dustin Hoffman in a store dressing room, as did my friend Dave. “How are the jeans,” Dave said he asked Dustin. “They fit,” Dustin replied) or being trapped in an elevator. So perhaps we find the nicest elevator in NYC (or wherever the celeb is) and try to do the piece from that perspective.

Which is a long way of saying: which celebrities interest you?

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