Ever join any fan clubs? Write fan letters?

I was thinking about this guy I know who’s out in Hollywood trying to make a go of it as an actor (he just played the corpse in last week’s “The Closer”) and out of nowhere it popped into my head that I should start a fan club. Popped in there without a tinge of irony, which is surprising. Not that I plan on starting it but it got me thinking about my fan club/fan letter history. Pretty sparse but I:

Joined the Rocky Horror Picture Show fan club. I saw the movie at a theatre in Chicago and it was a quarter (the cost of a stamp at the time) to sign up so I did. I got a membership card and a couple of newsletters.

Wrote a fan letter to Richard O’Brien. I had found some old movie called “Riff Raff” starring Pat O’Brien and I wrote asking if it was the source of the character name. He sent back a postcard saying that it wasn’t but thanking me for alerting him to another irony of coincidence.

Made a valentine for Dorothy Hamill when she won the gold medal in 1976. I got back a letter and an autographed picture.

Wrote a fan letter to Mercedes McCambridge. I had picked up her autobiography at a used book store, noticed it had been published over a decade earlier and assumed she was dead. Then she showed up at the Oscars, alive. I wrote her in care of the Academy but never got a response. Later I found out that AMPAS doesn’t forward mail.

Years and years ago, I was a member of the R.L. Stine Fan Club set up by Scholastic. (I think I was 12 at the time.) For $4.95 a month, I got 1 Fear Street book, 1 other teen thriller/horror book, and a little horror based prize, such as a keyring with a holographic skull, a book of Halloween stickers, a skeleton light switch plate, etc.

I kind of miss that one. I wish they still had it going.

I’m so glad you included what you got back after writing, that’s so interesting to see what different people do.

As a little kid, I wrote a fan letter to Mr. Rogers. My mom even tried to prepare me for disappointment, explaining that he probably got a lot of letters, and possibly couldn’t respond to them all. But I did get a form response back, along with a little kit with coloring pages and a photograph of Mr. Rogers. I was too little to get the distinction between a personal response and form letter, so I was tickled pink by getting mail from Mr. Rogers.

As an adult, I wrote fan letters to two children’s authors, the gist of the letters being that I wanted to express appreciation for their work which had been very important to me while growing up.

Madeline L’Engle sent back a fairly dense form letter, almost like a newsletter, with updates on various things she is involved with, like the St. John the Divine foundation. I think she had a (mild?) stroke a few years ago, and this would have been just before that, when she still had a few projects going on.

Daniel Pinkwater sent back a few lines he had written himself, personally, and I was so thrilled by this. For years, I kept it tucked into one of his books, but while we were packing for a move, it slipped out and when I found it, I put it in a pile of papers to “deal with” later … and then lost track of it. I always hope I might still come across it one of these days.

I wrote letters to a great many TV personalties in the mid-sixties. In return I got everything from postcards of the Flipper gang to personally signed 8X10 glossies of Don Adams, David Hedison, and Ernest Borgnine. I also wrote letters to the NASA and the individual astronauts, and received a treasure-trove of photos and packages of media material. I was a member of the Alice Cooper fan club, The Kiss Army, and the The Who Fan Club. My most cherished letter is a short note from Pete Townshend on his embossed stationery.

In the late '70s I wrote fan letters to David McCallum, Robert Fuller, and James MacArthur. I received autographed 8 x 10 glossies from each. Good times.

I also wrote Martin Sheen in the same time period, twice, in case he didn’t get the first letter. He never sent me nuthin’. Nuthin! Bastard.

I wrote a fan letter to Vida Blue somewhere around 1971. No answer. I still liked him.

I remember as a kid writing one or two letters to comic books. Of course, they weren’t published. Later, I realized that most letters (real or not) pretty much had to make comments on the inking and artwork to see the light of day.

I joined the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Info Club by writing a letter to the show. They sent me a membership card (I’m MSTie #54297) a few newsletters.

Oh, I almost forgot one: I had a big time crush on Sal Mineo in the 70s and I wrote him. Not only did he send me a glossy he made it out to my first name! Whoo. Take that President Bartlett.

On edit I see that most of the ads are for troubled teens. Is that a kick in the pants?

As part of a class project in the 7th grade I wrote to Marguerite Henry, author of “Misty of Chincoteague”. I got back a letter on wonderful pony-decorated stationary. It still makes me mad the the teacher kept the letter to do a wall display and I never got it back.

Not a member of a club, but I once wrote a letter to Bette Midler. I didn’t get a response.

SCL that pretty much sucks. Since it was a school project I can see the teacher keeping it displayed until school year ends, but (s)he really should have given it back to you afterwards.

I think you should hunt her down and pummel her and then we’ll go after Marty Sheen.

I tried to join one of those once (think it was for the Babysitters Club). Never got a damn thing.

Lately I’ve sent a few fan mails to web-comics. Sometimes I hear back, sometimes not. The most recent response was one to a letter I’d sent months before, when the artist was going through a hard time and not sure if she wanted to keep going or not. She thanked me for the words I’d sent while she was dealing with that turmoil. And while she had taken the site down, she’s decided to continue working on the project.

I joined that too as a kid, I think I had a lower number but I’m not sure. In addition to the newsletter, you got the MST3K Wacky Rolling Action Figure, which is a pattern on paper that you cut out and tape up into a cone shape, and then you put a marble under the cone. (Tape and marble not included.)

Back in the 50’s, I wrote to singers and movie stars, and usually got a nice glossy photo in return. The only personal note I got was from Neil Sedaka.

In the 80’s I wrote a fan letter to T.E.D. Klein after reading The Ceremonies. He wrote back. I wrote to Stephen King and got a typed response on a postcard, but I think it was from his secretary.

More recently I’ve e-mailed some authors and received personal responses – Dan Simmons, Charles Dickinson, Christopher Moore. Chances are that if an author has a website, they’ll answer their mail.

Once wrote a letter to Mark Dacascos and got a signed picture back.

Wrote a letter to the Rankin Family and got a card back from their mother (they were on tour at the time, this was before she passed away. Mid-90s I guess.).

I talk with EE Knight mostly online, but he’s sent me stuff (ARC’s of his Age of Fire series) and wrote me in to Valentine’s Rising in a bit part. Nice guy, good writer.

I hadn’t considered emails but for me then add:

Gabriel Romero. I emailed him to tell him that I admired his work and to ask his permission to add a picture from his site to the Wikipedia article I was writing on him. He responded with permission and, after I’d done the basic article, to let me know he appreciated it.

Jim Bentley. Mid-level porn star from the mid-80s to mid-90s. I ordered his autobiography online and included a nice note in the order. Never got the book and his only non-canned response was when I had the credit card charge reversed.

And technically, add the guy I mentioned in the OP. I’ve sent him congratulatory notes on various things he’s done and he’s generally responded with some thanks. I’m not sure if he remembers from one email to the next that he connects me to the email address.

I joined a fan club for the punk/goth band AFI. It was a few years back and I was absolutely obsessed with them at the time–they had/have a cult following an active website and messageboard, which just fueled the obsession. I think it cost like $20 or $30 and it was for life. In return I got a tshirt, a newsletter, a wristband, etc. You also got special posting privileges on the message board and you could buy tickets for their concerts early. In addition, you could go to pre-concert meet ups with the band, so I got a picture with myself and two of my favorite members, and a signed CD cover. It was pretty exciting at the time, but I haven’t listened to an AFI song for ages.

Back while I was just getting out of boot camp in 1989, I was in need of some laughs. I picked up the latest issue of Scott McCloud’s Zot!, and busted a gut laughing. It was one of the more silly issues, and it really satisfied something that I’d needed.

So I sent him a letter c/o his publisher. I never got anything directly from him, but the letter was published in a later issue of the comic, and he said some very nice things back to me.

I’ve emailed a few authors and one publisher since then, (Dave Freer, Jane Lindskold, and Jim Baen) usually writing notes about how much I’ve enjoyed thier works, and maybe asking questions about upcoming projects. I’ve always gotten back nice email replies that really seem to have been personally written by those involved.

As a kid I wrote to Stephen King and got back some photocopied articles on the art of writing and a page from his assistant thanking me for my interest. Or something. It mentioned the Dark Tower series, which I hadn’t mentioned and had no interest in. Boooo.

There may be others, I don’t recall. My brain likely won’t let me remember because they’d cause me to die from embarrassment.