Archive for the ‘Brushes with Fame’ Category

“We are presently in a pickle.” And other big winners.

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The votes are counted, and the results are in: Six-Word Memoirists write more succinct states of the union than that dude in office. In partnership with THIRTEEN, Sesame Street provider of my youth and all-around top-notch public broadcasting station, we asked you to suggest YOUR state of the union using only the sacred six. Here are the winners:

* More civility. Less violence. Greater hope. - Robin Cutler
* We are presently in a pickle. – Barbara S.
* E PLURIBUS UNUM. Says it all. – Debbie Lackowitz
* I still don’t have health insurance. – Shirelle White
* Hope is easy, change is harder. – Peter Friedmann
* We need to lower our voices – George Conduso

Hungry for more faves? Head over to WNYC and relive fond(?) memories of 2010 with our top picks for six-word summations of the year:

*Went from self employed to unemployed. - Sandi Hemmerlein
*Lost 50 pounds. Found myself underneath. - Sandi Hemmerlein
*Got masters. Moved home. Permanent intern. - Dana
*Salinger waked. Haiti quaked. Oil caked. - Coleen Goodson
*Bedbugs, earthquakes, overeating, Snooki eclipsed Wikileaking. - Janet
*Green Day on Broadway? Oy vey! - Leigh Giza
*I could not stop checking Facebook! - Janet Villas
*Kanye Tweeted all the important stuff. - Galia Abramson

Jealous? You too can feel the glory of a selected six-worder! Just tell your love or heartbreak story here, and you could be a love song or share your sorrows on stage!

Lauren Hutton

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Warm Hugs and Cold Beers with Lauren Hutton
By Albert Stern

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, he bought it and reconstructed it from top to bottom.

lauren_BIG_Cover.jpgThe fetchingly gap-toothed supermodel wanted a tour of the place—supposedly modeled on Columbus’s villa in Santo Domingo—and I was proud to act the docent. An astronomer’s observatory overlooked the verdant Spanish-style courtyard. Bas reliefs of personages like Plato, Moses, Lenin, Florence Nightingale, and Mussolini adorned the walls. Though ramshackle, the place amazed.

Lauren enjoyed bantering with Adam and me, and she joined us for several beers, regaling us with stories about the modeling industry and giving us warm hugs when we parted.

About a year later, I was changing planes at Dulles Airport, and found myself queued up behind Lauren Hutton. Why not say hello?

“Excuse me, Lauren,” I said. “You may not remember, but a year or so ago, my friend and I showed you around my place on Ocean Drive, and then we had some beers.”

Her lip curled and she made a point of looking at me in the eye, then said: “Why would I ever have done something like that?

Would that it all have been over then, but she was seated in First Class on my flight, and sneered at me as I passed her on my way to the narrow seats with less leg room.

Elvis Costello

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

By Patrick J. Sauer

“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 my selection.

ElvisC.jpg“He’s one of my Mom’s favorites,” I said, acting nonchalantly while wondering if Costello wears the black-on-black suit-and-tie every time he leaves the house, even to go to the gym or to get coffee and the Sunday Times.

He glanced at Ray Charles: Live in Brazil, bent down to eyeball the other choices and nodded.

“That’s a good one,” he said.

Sensing our brief time together was about to end, I tried to come up with a topic of conversation that could prolong the relationship. I nixed telling him I was a big fan (unoriginal and uninspiring), brushed aside asking him for another DVD suggestion (being ignored or rejected would hurt too much), considered—then rejected—telling him my favorite wedding gift was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold and two tickets to see Elvis Costello & Impostors at SummerStage (a personal anecdote I’m sure he’d appreciate, but not really anywhere to go with it) and then, just under the wire, it hit me.

“I was down in New Orleans this year,” I said.

Instant rapport!

Costello looked at me through his Roy Orbison glasses and with all the seriousness an angry young man from way back could muster, he replied,

“Wasn’t Bruce incredible?”

“It might be the best show I’ve ever seen,” I said, “and you guys were great too.”

The thumbnail is this: In 2006, Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band headlined the first post-Katrina Jazz Fest and brought New Orleans to its knees (in a good reverential bearing-witness praying-man kind of way, not like FEMA.) It was as moving and religious an experience as anything I’d ever been a part of, and I was simply a tourist come down for the crawfish etouffe.

And prior to Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Big Easy mainstay Allen Toussaint had played a set, primarily songs from their collaboration The River in Reverse. It was smaller in scope than the Boss, but no less heartfelt, as Toussaint listed everything great about his hometown. He even name-checked the Muffuletta sandwich while encouraging every local to “Come…Back…Home…”

“Thanks,” Costello said, “that was just…Bruce was amazing…New Orleans…”

He shook his head, lost in the moment. Our moment. I was prepared to leave it at that, but then he laughed and said,

“I didn’t know that was out already.” He pointed to the concert DVD version of The River in Reverse. I thought about reaching down and buying one, but that seemed way too fanboy, and concerts on television don’t do much for me. Fortunately, Costello was just pointing out the coincidence and not asking me to prove my love.

“Have you ever seen Allen over at Joe’s Pub?”

“No,” I answered, adding (honestly), “I saw he was playing there last month, but it was sold out.”

“Allen plays there a lot. Next time he’s in town, come check him out,” Costello said, “maybe I’ll see you there.”

“Cool,” I replied. I didn’t want to be a pest, so I pretended I was still shopping. A minute later, I looked around–

Elvis had left the DVD section of Virgin Records.

Patrick J. Sauer’s last Brush With Fame was about meeting Norman Mailer.

Fran Drescher

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

By Caroline Tiger

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 the smoke breaks I’d try to coordinate with those of the scruffy British guy who worked as a sous chef next door. His were hand-rolled, a bit messily. I found it amazing that he never tried to lick off or wipe away the bits of tobacco that ended up stuck to his lips.

The_Nanny.jpgThat morning I’d looked forward to lunch, when I could bring my tuna salad sandwich and can of soda to the small park across the street and pore over the latest volume of Tales of the City. I was going through one about every three days, mostly during slow periods when I’d hide the book behind the cash register and tear through it.

An hour or so after lunch, the telltale honk of The Nanny cut through whatever was going on in Tales. It cut through the haze I was in that summer, and suddenly I felt electrified. Here was The Nanny, talking like The Nanny, dressed kind of sexy like she dresses on TV, walking around my store with a tall, handsome guy. She was NN-ing and ON-ing over the same ovals imprinted with bunnies and baskets of strawberries that I stared at everyday. With a bigger celebrity I might’ve asked for an autograph. In this case I felt oddly removed, like I was inside a TV episode.

She swept in and swept out, pausing for a few minutes to admire a 10 x 12-foot rug illustrated with scenes of Noah’s Ark in nursery pastels. She handed over a charge card and dropped $1K (plus shipping). It was one of my biggest sales all summer. And it was the only day all summer when I actually had something to report to my mom when I got home.

“How was your day?” she asked.

“Fine,” I said. “I sold a rug to Fran Drescher.”

Caroline Tiger is the author of many books, including How to Behave and The Long-Distance Relationship Guide. She also runs the design blog, Design-phan.

Patrick Demarchelier

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

By Molly Crabapple

Until I saw Billy’s studio, I never suspected 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 there was more to Billy than met the eye. A short, dour Japanese man, Billy led me over to the mini-bar and opened his portfolio. I immediately lost my head around the folds and swirls of cooters, a veritable Sahara of black and white, three-foot high cunts. I doubt my boyfriend could pick mine out from the pile.

“Billy,” I asked, catching a breather from the Georgia O’Keefe action, “is this your loft”

“No. P’s.”

I gazed around at the magazine covers, books of the collected works of Patrick Demarchelier, the 20-foot soft boxes and the probable $20,000 rent, and realized that I was in the great fashion photographer’s studio.

Then Billy led me over to the bed.

PatrickD.gifA self-designed vagina photographing bed sounds gynological. It really isn’t. Rather, resplendent in red velvet, I lay back with my knees parted. Billy had also built a miraculous camera, with huge bellows and two feet pieces of film. Were my position less clinical, I would have felt like I was posing for Man Ray.

As it was, I took a deep breath. I contemplated my education. Then, I said the only thing worth saying. “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

A flash of light. I’m immortal.

I don’t model any more. I’m a bourgeois illustrator and email jockey, and I refer to my posing days with a bit of a sneer.

But sometimes, if I’m in a swank club, or surrounded by some Manhattan media vultures, I want a little bit of glamour. In that case, I just tell them I was photographed in PM’s studio.

I just don’t reveal what part of me was shot.

Steve from Sex and the City

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

By Sabrina Rubin Erdely

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 wine glasses and their witty repartee. So as I sat down at my table, I was relieved to recognize the man seated next to me. Semitic, bespectacled, nebbishly handsome—I couldn’t place him, but a wash of warmth told me this was an old friend.

“Do we know each other?” I asked.

“Maybe,” he said, playing along. “You look familiar, too.” Asteve.jpg couple of rounds of Jewish Geography got us nowhere. He smiled an impish smile—so familiar!—and threw up his hands in defeat, but I persisted: “Are you with Planned Parenthood?” That’s when his face changed to an expression that said, Oh wow, she really doesn’t know. In that instant, my brain woke up. It was Steve from Sex and the City.

My mind reeled. How couldn’t I have recognized David Eigenberg? For months I’d been seeing his face nearly every day, while catching up on Sex and the City during my daughter’s marathon nursing sessions. It had become my escape: I’d switch on the DVD player and forget for the moment all the ways in which I resembled a dairy cow, and all the terrifyingly powerful ways motherhood was changing me.

Instead, I’d plunge into a different life altogether, one that was hip and fast-paced and unapologetically self-involved—the kind of life that, I knew, I’d never have again. But even in my escape fantasies, a shred of reality had remained. Naturally, I’d latched onto the storyline of the only characters with a baby, Miranda and her sometime boyfriend Steve. The farther I’d gotten into the series, the more fervently I’d hoped these newly minted parents would get their acts together. Would they? I was nearing the finale, but resolution seemed distressingly far off.

Meanwhile, Eigenberg and I were having what felt like 50 conversations at once, because he turned out to be a madman who talked at warp speed, in one long run-on sentence: “I gotta tell ya I hate coming to Washington it’s such a slap in the face the Bushies running this country are such idiots hey are those NUTS on our salads are nuts even supposed to BE on salads—”

The night still held much in store. Later, on stage, Eigenberg would cap off a frenzy of pro-choice rambling by blurting out, “I have a PENIS! And my wife has a VAGINA!” (Polite applause followed.) Even later, it would be my turn to give a speech, and Jane Fonda would wink at me from the audience; later still, I would pose for a photograph with my tall, blond editor and the tall, blond One Life to Live star Heather Tom, with me standing between them, looking like a garden gnome. But for the moment, I had just one thing on my mind.

“Do you and Miranda get married at the end?”

Eigenberg actually shut up for a moment. “Do you want me to tell you?” he asked, cocking his head.

I thought better of it. I’d find out for myself, in my own time.

Jason Alexander

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Independent Jason Meets the Web Grrrl

By Deanna Zandt

Jason Alexander was emceeing a gala at a conference I was attending. After a friend snuck 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 this unexpected aura of hip, friendly, and-yet-you-see-me-ten-times-a-day-now-on-TV celebrity.

jasonAlexanderjpg.jpgOne of my colleagues offered to take a picture of us together, if I had a camera on me. (Of course I did.) Mr. Alexander was more than gracious and agreed to the picture right away, and then asked what I did for a living.

“I’m a media technologist,” I said, handing him my card. “I do web strategy and development for progressive media organizations.” He looked at me curiously, yet obviously a little confused, and with a laugh asked if I was one of those people who could get the network in his house working. Well, IT’s not my strong suit, I explained, but I was sure that I could.

Later, when he came out on stage at the gala, he reached into his suit jacket pocket for the speech. Instead, he pulled something else out. He told the crowd, “I went in for the script, and instead got a card from the web girl, and my Fedex receipt.”

I was so excited to hear my card mentioned, I started smacking everyone’s arms around me. “That’s my card! He’s talking about my card!” My God, the guy that you see on TV ten times a day was talking about my business card. Part of me wanted to be tweaked and righteous that he called me a “girl,” but I quickly convinced myself that he was surely using the correct spelling in his head, grrl or grrrl, and ran outside to call my mom and tell her the thrilling news. My business card!

The next week, I found out that my cousin Mike also met Mr. Alexander a couple years ago at the Chestnut Inn on Oquaga Lake, near where my dad grew up in upstate New York.

It’s really all much smaller than we ever think it is, isn’t it?

Nipsey Russell

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Harlem’s Son of Fun’s Rich Pageant
By Peter Landau

Some celebrities save lives—Nipsey Russell almost took mine. I was young, inexperienced in the ways of fame and easily star-struck, walking the streets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, tethered to Grandma’s sturdy hand. I thought I was safe.

NipseyRussell2_small.jpgMy 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 routinely slid from good taste to rude innuendo. It featured unknown stars as J. P. Morgan, Charles Nelson Reilly and Julius “Nipsey” Russell, who parsed reality in rhyme, simple and funny, so that even a child like me could understand.

Poetry is one thing, poetic license another. That Nipsey Russell would shatter the Fourth Wall and step from the set onto my street was impossible.

Nobody noticed the commotion but me. I was drawn to the sight, women buzzing around a lone black man. The outside world ceased to have influence on me. I separated from my senses, just another satellite orbiting the magnetism of Nipsey Russell. Sucked into a black hole. I was lost.

My hand slipped from the anchor of Grandma’s grip. I was adrift and rudderless. The closer I got to Nipsey Russell, the more enchanted I became. I wasn’t alone. Circling him were some of the most gorgeous women I had seen in my short life. They hung on every lyrical word he spoke, their bodies arching towards Nipsey Russell—lips, breasts and hips thrusting into the man, ravishing him. Nipsey Russell, the powerful nucleus of their desires, was emboldened by it.

Time was meaningless. Nipsey Russell was all consuming. As we passed one another I was overwhelmed by envy. I could smell the perfume and hear the feminine sighs coming from the women’s overheated bodies, feel the race of my heartbeat and almost reach out and touch Nipsey Russell.

That’s when I heard the horn and the hoarse cry of my grandma like the shrill signal of the Emergency Broadcast System. In a flash the mundane world returned, and what was ecstasy sharply turned to a near-death experience. Bits and pieces of the environment came together like an explosion in reverse, and with a jolt I realized I was standing unattended in the middle of a busy intersection. Turning my head I saw the truck bearing down on me. I was frozen, a sacrifice to the intoxicating charms of entertainment.

Grandma’s arm cut through the chaos pulling me safely to the curb. I was alive. Nipsey Russell was down the street, disappearing into the pedestrian traffic. I took one last glance at the fantastic scene: the women, the man, the power of a good punch line. I wanted that. I wanted the gift of gab, to enthrall women until they erupted in a laugh riot. In my wake I’d leave a trail of impressionable young children, littering the streets with their awe-struck corpses. That is power. That was Nipsey Russell. Rest in peace, funnyman.

Joey Ramone

Friday, April 13th, 2007

The King is Dead
By Marissa Walsh

289836862_afb540b6b1_m.jpgElly 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 it? I mean, you can’t be wrong about Joey Ramone. No one else looked like him. He was sauntering around with a big bag of souvenirs. He was wearing a Ramones T-shirt. He was visiting the King. I took his picture. And then we followed him around a bit and giggled and whispered, “Beat on the brat. Beat on the brat. Beat on the brat with a baseball bat. Oh yeah.” It became our trip soundtrack. We didn’t speak to him. He was too scary. Dee Dee and the others were there, too.

No one else seemed to know who they were.

Joey>>Flickr>>Creative Commons>>Bog King

Princess Di

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

Silent, Awkward—and Reeking of Royalty
By Earl Adams

360410325_6f10de2c57.jpgA 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 Albert Museum, London, nursing a crushing hangover. My goal was to find the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright Rooms improbably disassembled and transported there, pine panel and all, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

A frowsy desk attendant was guiding me through a large incomprehensible map when she suddenly gasped, paled considerably, and drooped into a messy curtsey. At my side, looming large, was Diana: tall, beautiful and heavily made up. She had skinny long feet and big equestrian hands. The Princess leaned in and asked the attendant for a Mr. So-and-So who was to give her a tour “of the rooms where the benefit will be.” Mr. So-and-So was dutifully summoned and there, waiting his arrival, the three of us stood, silent, awkward and, in my case, reeking of gin.

I was convinced at the time (and how right I was), that the Princess should, like all good troubled regal personages, move to Manhattan where the living would be easy and the press relatively unobtrusive. Cursing my stutter-inducing hangover, I saw my opportunity here was fleeting as a mole-like nervous wreck of a museum attendee was rapidly hotfooting it in our direction. I turned and blurted, “Look, you really should move to New York. It would be so much easier for you there…” Before I could continue to make my case, the Princess was drawn away but she did turn back to acknowledge me as she went off. We locked eyes. She cocked her head to one side and gave me that, “I love you, get away from me” smile.

The smile we recall so fondly.

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