I worked for a software company eight or ten years ago and had a trip to a small island nation. Rather than leave on a Friday, I decided to take the weekend for some R & R. I checked into a beach resort on Friday afternoon. After having dinner, I went to the lounge. I saw this woman right away. Not a movie star but very prominent on TV, and known for her good looks. Hair done, in a sun dress, great shoes. I said “Oh My God.”
Then the next day I was by the pool and she came by in her swimsuit. It was so obvious that she had had work done. Her body was completely out of proportion. She would have so much more beautiful without the “work.” She was also not at all nice. I said hello, but we had maybe a dozen or so words exchanged in 48 hours.
OTOH, I went to a convention in the mountains once. A local celebrity was there to give an address one night, but a surprise snowstorm blew in, closing the roads, and making her extend her stay for two nights. She was just as beautiful as on TV without the makeup, and much smarter, funnier, and sassier than her TV persona. She even came to my hotel room to hang out one night. Nothing happened, despite copious amounts of wine being consumed. She saw me at a baseball game the next summer, called out my name, and ran up and gave me a huge hug, which made my buddies insanely jealous. She was so cool.
In college I was in a local magazine shop in Westwood. It was only me and the proprietor until a limo pulled up outside. Out popped Prince an assistant and a mammoth bodyguard. The bodyguard blocked the entrance so no one could enter.
Prince proceeded to walk around the shop pointing out which mags he wanted. His assistant handed them to the shop owner who in a few minutes had several dozen…mostly fashion mags. He paid and his crew jumped back into the limo and departed.
Prince was a small man dressed somewhat like Jack Nicholsons Joker. I wasnt impressed.
Kind of a reverse one, I went to a wedding back in the 90s and Tom Arnold was there. I figured he would be a jerk and standoffish but quite the contrary he was nice and engaging. He was hounded by the other guests all night to “tell a joke” or “make me laugh”, and although I could tell he only wanted to be left alone and not be “on”, he never lost his cool or got snappy with anybody.
I had a brief stint working at a book store in Daytona Beach, Florida, where I felt like the only person who didn’t care about Nascar. One day, Jeff Gordon was going to be signing books, and there was a long line of people happily waiting for several hours to meet him. I was slipping out the back when he was sneaking in (I had volunteered to do the bank deposit, since nobody else wanted to leave the store), and we exchanged nods.
Despite his accomplishments as a professional race car driver, Gordon is not at all imposing in person. He’s a slightly built guy, short in stature, with a very mundane appearance. You certainly wouldn’t peg him for an athlete with passionate, devoted fans.
As I once posted here, I met Jeff Gordon in New York’s Central Park on Thanksgiving morning several years ago. He and I were both taking our kids on the carousel at the same time.
In some Sun Belt cities, he’d have been recognized and mobbed. But in Manhattan, hardly anyone follows NASCAR, so he was able to walk around unnoticed. To most people who saw him, he was just another ordinary, nondescript Dad pushing a stroller!
I haven’t had many celebrity encounters and most of them have been about what I expected. But back in the early 00s I saw two Red Sox pitchers together, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield. I thought Lowe would be an arrogant jerk and Wakefield a likeable down to earth guy. It was completely opposite. Lowe was chatting with people and signing autographs while Wakefield was having none of it. Maybe just caught him on a bad day because I’ve heard nice things about him.
I work in entertainment and have for almost 35 years, so I’ve met hundreds of celebs. Most of them are cool; the key is to treat them as people and not as celebs; most of them seem to really appreciate that.
When I worked in a fast-casual restaurant many years ago, I served lunch to Ken Shamrock more than once. The only thing I really recall that made him stand out compared to any other customer was that he drove a really nice vintage pink Cadillac.
I don’t know whether he counts as a celebrity or not outside of his subculture, but I had a brief conversation with MC Frontalot after a concert a few years ago and he struck me as a very down-to-earth guy who you’d just think was Somebody’s Dad if you ran into him at the grocery store.
But I think NYC also has another thing going for celebrities, locals actively try to not react or notice celebrities. They try to show their NYCness by not gawking. I’ve always suspected that was an additional reason why so many celebrities choose to live in Manhattan and now Brooklyn. Andrew Dice Clay stated in an interview that especially with his family around he didn’t want to be approached but would try to nod to acknowledge, “Yes, I am him”, if someone made eye contact.
My own interpretation of Lamar Mundane’s statement of celebrities being “not all that” was more about their sizes in general. Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Rudy Giuliani, and Toby Maguire were all easily overlooked simply because their small stature did not measure up to their big screen personalities.
But I have to say that as a group, SNL performers have always been awesome people in my experience. Perhaps it is because they are just starting to make it big. Cheri Oteri, Chris Kattan, Molly Shannon, and others were very friendly when I crossed paths with them (often at early breakfast on Sunday mornings which I presume was still their Saturday evenings). Will Ferrel helped me carry a stroller up out of the subway and then complimented my daughter on her Halloween costume.
I sat next to his brother Frank Shamrock on an airplane once. Besides being a lot smaller than I imagined, he was very articulate as we discussed the business of his sport. He had way more depth of knowledge into the business of MMA than I would have thought a fighter would.
Back when he was working as a sportscaster for NBC, I once sat next to Ahmad Rashad on a flight from Chicago to LA. He was talkative and friendly and had a number of laugh out loud funny sports stories to share. He asked me for an address and offered to send some NBC goodies for my boys. Sure enough, about 3 weeks later, a big box arrived with caps and jackets and other items from Ahmad.
I’ve met a number of celebrities in the sports world, but other than this encounter, they were always in sport-related contexts. This was the only unexpected encounter I ever had with a celebrity, and happily for me, it was a good one.
Most ex-ball players are pretty much as you’d expect - at least, those I spent time with were a lot like both the generic baseball player model and their own well-developed images. Vida Blue could crack up a table for hours straight. Rich Aurelia was simply one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. One or two others were… just about as full of themselves as they were in any interview.
It was a brief encounter, but I came face to face with radical lawyer Tony Serra once. I wasn’t sure who he was until I asked someone, but his sheer force of presence almost knocked me off my feet. It put credence to everything I’d ever heard about him, news and semi-fictionalized.
I was on a set where Adam West was the guest star. He is a total jerk. Aloof, hired a house to use as his dressing room since the one supplied wasn’t good enough, wanted nothing to do with the kids who were the stars. I’m not sure I ever considered him all that, though.
Iggy Pop, who was the guest star for another show, however, is totally cool. He hung out on the loading dock with the workers, and when someone told him he couldn’t smoke on the location was apologetic.
I used to work at a hotel by the Indianapolis airport. We used to have many WWE wrestlers come there to stay the night when they were in town for a show. They were all pretty cool, from what I saw.
I worked in the hotel gift shop and there was one weekend when Meryl Streep was in town to visit some family. She came in to the gift shop to browse around with a family friend. She was very nice and a genuinely kind woman. We had a brief conversation about the Beanie Babies that our shop was selling. It was pretty cool.