I recently had the pleasure of reading my friend Suzy Soro’s new book Celebrity sTalker. You may know Suzy from her blog Where Hot Comes to Die or from Twitter where she’s always hilarious (@hotcomestodie). Anyway, Suzy’s book is about all of the celebrity encounters she’s had over the years—everyone from Johnny Carson to The Rolling Stones to Bea Arthur. And what makes it so entertaining is that Suzy is completely unafraid to engage any famous person in conversation; a habit that’s led to some really cringe-worthy moments. Like when she burst into tears in front of Angelina Jolie in a grocery store. (And it wasn’t because Pax threw an apple at her, either.)
I really enjoyed this book because Suzy is a very funny, very good writer, but also because it made me think back on all of the celebrity encounters I had when I lived in Los Angeles. There were probably hundreds of them, however my celebrity encounters differed from Suzy’s in one big way: I never talked to a star unless I had to.
This hands-off approach wasn’t exactly my idea at the start. In fact, it only came about after I first moved to L.A. and was working in the bedding department at the Bullock’s department store in the Fashion Square mall. One day Ray Parker Jr.—the guy who sang the smash hit “Ghostbusters”—came in and I helped him choose linens. I was extremely nervous around him, even though he hadn’t been on the A-list in years, but I kept my cool until he was checking out. Then I very sweetly handed him his receipt, politely smiled and blurted out, “I AIN FRAIDA NO SHEET!”
Two minutes later I was in the back room being given a lecture on “how to handle celebrities without embarrassing the company” by Jill, our assistant manager who smelled like vitamins and Vicks VapoRub. Needless to say, when I helped a member of Whitesnake choose a comforter that “didn’t show stains” a week later, I was a complete professional.
Mortification aside, it was a lesson that helped me later on when I went to work on the Walt Disney Studios lot and saw at least one famous person a day. And also when I worked at E! Entertainment and The Gersh Agency in Beverly Hills. And, most especially, during the years I worked for an executive vice president at Warner Bros. Pictures—a job where it was completely normal to look up from your computer and see Al Pacino standing in your doorway. Exciting, yes, but just one little “Hoo-ah!” or “Attica! Attica!” and my boss would have sent me packing. We had to be respectful always.
That said, one of my favorite things that has ever happened in my life was when Ben Stiller came in for a meeting. As per my duties, I went down to the lobby, greeted him and walked with him down the long hallway to my boss’ office. Usually this was a good occasion to make small talk with an actor, but let’s just say Ben isn’t quite as jovial in person as he is in the movies, so I was feeling pretty tense. We were just about ten feet away from my office and I thought the uncomfortableness would soon be over, but then my co-worker Jeanne suddenly burst out of her office with a penny stuck to her forehead and screamed, “LOOK AT ME I’M ABE LINCOLN’S INDIAN PRINCESS!” Oh, yes, she did. And it was even worse than the time Kevin Spacey saw me using a Thighmaster in the hallway and dryly said, “Yeah, I’m not sure that’s working.”
At any rate, Jeanne then noticed I was with Mr. Stiller, paled, made a garbled choking noise, and immediately ran back into her office to hide. The only thing I could think to do was turn to an unimpressed Ben and gravely whisper, “That’s Jeanne. She has…a lot…of issues.” I’m guessing that experience is why he’s never made a lot of movies at WB, but hey, you didn’t hear it from me. (Two months later, when Jeanne was getting married, we gave her a cake with a giant penny decoration on it and threw handfuls of coins at her when she walked into the room. She’ll always be my Indian Princess.)
I’ll save my other stories for another time, but if you enjoyed reading about that strange little encounter, you’ll love the ones in Suzy’s book. It really is a fun read. And just to prove it to you, I’m giving a copy away to a random reader! Woohoo! It’s like Christmas all over again!
Just leave a comment telling me about one of your brushes with a celebrity. Or, if you don’t have any, tell me the celebrity you’d love to meet some day and where. I can’t wait to read all of your great stories and I’ll pick the winner next Monday, January 7th. Good luck!