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During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philly, I actually worked for the Republicans. At 2:30 each day of the RNC, I turned my donkey tail and ran a few blocks south to a defunct armory, where I bartended at the Republican party’s parties.

The highlight of my week of double shifts came on the day Jeb Bush spoke during an afternoon party. The governor of Florida looked like …

A decade ago, when Princess Diana was still alive and in the midst of her ignoble divorce proceedings, I happened to find myself in the lobby of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, nursing a crushing hangover. My goal was to find the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright Rooms, which had been improbably disassembled and transported there, pine panel and all, from Pittsburgh.

A frowzy desk attendant was guiding …

Elly pointed out the window of the Graceland shuttle bus and shouted, “That’s Joey Ramone!”

We were done with our tour and were about to disembark back at the souvenir shop/parking area when she came through with the Beach MTV Call of the Day. That was how we spoke back then, in college, when we did things like go to Graceland.

But how much of a call was …

Some celebrities save lives. Nipsey Russell almost took mine.

I was young, inexperienced in the ways of fame, and easily starstruck, walking the streets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, tethered to Grandma’s sturdy hand. I thought I was safe.

My worldview was narrowly illuminated by the nurturing glow of television. At the time, one of my favorite programs was _Match Game,_ a game show of minor celebrities that …

Jason Alexander was emceeing a gala at a conference I was attending. After a friend sneaked me into the VIP reception room right before the show started, I turned around to find myself standing next to him.

He was nothing at all like any of the personalities I’d seen him play. (Remember the smarmy best friend in _Pretty Woman_? I sure do.) No, instead, he radiated an unexpected aura …

Two years ago, not long after I returned to work post-maternity leave, I found myself at a Planned Parenthood gala in D.C. I felt like a tourist. Having just spent five months in my sweatpants, speaking in baby-rhyme with an infant hanging from my boob, I might as well have been an alien among these well-dressed people, with their wineglasses and their witty repartee.

So as I sat down …

Until I saw Billy's studio, I never guessed at his highfalutin' connections. But when I exited the service elevator to see a sweeping Chelsea loft, bedecked with blown-up _Zink_ covers and cardboard Cindy Crawfords striding off to some invisible tomorrow, I began to suspect that there was more to Billy than met the eye.

A short, dour Japanese man, Billy led me over to the minibar and opened his …

It was one of those perfect beach days. My last day off had been foggy and rainy, a total waste of a day. This combination of factors always made me especially resentful of my retail gig selling overpriced hand-hooked rugs to the bloated summer populace of Nantucket. As an old camp pal would’ve put it, my days were dead…dead as a doornail.

The highlights of my eight-hour shifts were …

It was the summer of 1989, and I was biding my time before leaving Billings, Montana, for the renowned academic powerhouse Marquette University in Milwaukee. I was socking away minimum wages for my collegiate experience at Best Sporting Goods, quietly whiling away my afternoons selling rifles, lawn furniture, fly rods, and Weber grills. At best, I was an average salesman, but I spent half my time on the phone arranging …

My friend Alex was working for the as-yet not officially announced presidential contender John McCain. He hooked me up with an invite to a cocktail party at Bloomberg News to celebrate the release of McCain’s memoir, _Faith of My Fathers._ It was a star-studded affair with luminaries sipping champagne and eating shrimp wrapped in bacon as the author signed books and greeted well-wishers.

As I looked around at my …

“Ah, Ray Charles—it doesn’t get any better, does it?”

I looked up from a crouch to see who was offering unsolicited opinions on my holiday shopping, assuming I would give a friendly nod and move on down the aisle, when lo and behold…

Elvis Costello wasn’t watching the detectives. He was watching me peruse the music DVD selections at the Union Square Virgin Records, and he approved of …

I met Lauren Hutton in front of my apartment building in Miami Beach, about 15 feet from the spot where, a few years later, Gianni Versace would get shot. She sat with my friend Adam on the coral rock veranda of the Amsterdam Palace—an edifice with a singular, irreproducible charm that so beguiled Versace that he bought it and reconstructed it from top to bottom.

The fetchingly gap-toothed supermodel …

Mick Jagger never "pissed in my refrigerator":http://www.smithmag.net/brushes_with_fame/story.php?did=50, but I did take a shower with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1981 on Venice Beach. I almost shot a handgun with Sylvester Stallone in Hollywood the same year, but a bad drinking problem got me dismissed from that scene.

Angela Bowie cooked me breakfast once. I got into a fistfight with the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls. Boy George told me …

I was coming into a hotel the other day, and who should I run into checking in at the front desk but that Earl guy from _My Name Is Earl._ I nodded to him, and then I stood there waiting for the elevator.

But I noticed that that Earl guy kept staring at me. What, is he waiting for me to acknowledge him? I wondered. To ask, “Hey, aren’t …

A few years before they hit the big time singing the theme to _The L Word_ and getting their own off-Broadway show, the ladies of "Betty":http://www.hellobetty.com/ were musicians playing clubs and touring. I’d been to a few shows and enjoyed their music a lot. One winter night during the holiday season, I was in a nearly empty train car with my family on our way to Brooklyn when I saw …

A couple of years ago, after an improv class at the _Upright Citizens Brigade,_ some of my fellow improvisers and I went to a nearby watering hole for grub and imbibements.

One of my friends was talking about how his wife's friend Jessica was in town auditioning for some Broadway play, and let on that she would be stopping by. When she came in to meet us, imagine my …

I lived in Duluth, Minnesota, for a while in the late '90s and used to go to a bar in an area near the bridge that separated the city and the island on Lake Superior. I can’t remember any names now, but I was in there and I saw Jack Nicholson!

He was there with his agent and some studio guys scouting for a movie (the one with Diane …

The "Magic Castle":http://www.magiccastle.com/, atop a hillside overlooking Hollywood, is a mecca for professional and amateur magicians, as well for as those guests—it’s members only—who are fascinated by sleight of hand. (How _do_ they do it?)

This is especially true in the small rooms, where it’s harder for magicians to disguise the trick. So I consider these practitioners even more skilled than David Copperfield, with his pyrotechnics and the backstage …

I was in Thailand when I got a frantic email from my friend, a photographer I had met on a press junket a few years earlier, about signing a release form. She said she didn’t think I had ever signed it for photos she took of me floating in the Dead Sea off the coast of Jordan.

Since she was in such a panic about it, I signed. I …

I was in a bar in New York about six years ago with several friends who had all traveled with me from San Francisco. We were sending off a buddy of ours who had decided to join the Peace Corps and as a result were terribly drunk, as we had been barhopping for several hours all over town.

One of the gang spotted Janeane Garofalo in a corner, quietly …
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