Sunday, March 25, 2007

Brushing Starz

Wearing sunglasses a lot while recuperating from this eye business makes me feel a bit like a movie star, going incognito among the nameless people who haven't a clue who I am, and could flatly give a damn. And sometimes, I wear them inside trying to disguise myself from my cat, who knows who I am and doesn't give a damn either. Movie Star.

I've brushed up against a few in my years. Some of them were before your time or just names barely recognizable except to the few aficionados of Hollywood hoopla and hype. When I say I brushed against them, I'm talking close encounters of the third kind without much interaction for the most part.

I spent the night talking to Fran Allison of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame telling her story about how she lost most of her face on the windshield of a car when she was younger and how she became the doyenne of the toddler set during the 1950s with her puppet cohorts. She talked about radio and mourned it's passing. We talked about how radio made the listener being entertained use their imagination. She said it was often more inventive than anything that t.v. had to offer by showing you the action. I was a make up artist in Las Vegas at the time, living in a house on the Sahara-Nevada golf course owned by the president of the company I worked for. Buddy Hackett was the next door neighbor. Jerry Lewis hit errant golf balls out of the back yard by the pool, there were stacks of painted canvases by Leroy Neiman, Chris Rosamond, signed Norman Rockwell prints. My boss who owned the house, had a wife who was a serious art dealer and atelier back in New York. Various celebrities would stay at the house in one of the many bedrooms.

Rock Hudson was perfectly groomed, very polite, generous when he tipped and surrounded by a bevy of the most beautiful men you ever saw when I was a cocktail waitress in Atlanta during the late 1960s. The Midnight Sun restaurant was a posh and exclusive restaurant with a Scandinavian theme, since closed. When I served drinks to Forrest Tucker , he was flirty, funny and stood up next to me so the restaurant owner could take his picture to add to the celebrities wall. I remember how big and tall Tucker was.

When I was a make up artist based in Las Vegas in 1976, I was invited to do a demonstration of chiaroscuro makeup for a local T.V. show. The guest was Bob Crane, best known for his role in Hogan's Heroes. I 'aged' Bob, 'broke' his nose, turned him slightly femme and then stuck a makeup brush in his eye for a finale. He was murdered a few years later.

I got to go back stage to the Green Room and hang with Tom and Dick Smothers. Tommy bit my bosom in a bit of vaudeville shtick. I got to meet their father - a rather rakish ancient specimen with a girlfriend a fifth his age.

Bill Cosby stuck his nose in my face at a Las Vegas hotel lobby. My ex-boss thought it would be funny to get me stoned on some hallucinogenic drug mixed into a cocktail to see if I'd 'relax' a little. He didn't bother telling me what was done. It wasn't funny and it wasn't relaxing to watch pancakes in the restaurant get up and dance on the plates to Camelot music.

I also met Jimmy Carter before he was President of the United States at a barbecue fund raiser in Marietta Georgia. He tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around. I had to look down a few inches because I was a bit taller back then and had on ridiculously high platform heels. He looks you straight in the eye when he talks to you and his face becomes mostly teeth when he smiles.

There have been others, minor and major names I've brushed against - some literally, like peeing in Hillary Clinton's toilet at a local political rally during an early 2000s visit. Having asked staff for directions to the ladies room in a maze of sectioned off corridors and locked doors, I saw the sign for the women's restroom and went in. Didn't realize it had been specifically set aside, gussied up, and secured for Mrs. Clinton until I was stopped on my way out by three Secret Service men who told me that I couldn't be in that part of the hotel and who let me go when I explained my errand was to search for a restroom. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had already been there and done that when they told me I couldn't use THAT one.

I haven't had any celebrity's love child, nor have I had rendezvous, my pictures taken with them on the cover of the National Inquirer, intense friendships and communications on a daily basis with them. No one has asked for my DNA in connection with a movie star or celeb. I'm actually not sure of the reason that I've met so many of these people. I believe everything in our lives is put there for a reason. But what I can tell you honestly is that I've never been agog about them. I like to think it's due to my observer mentality.

We're tempted by the siren's song of being entertained by celebrities as a substitute for experiencing life ourselves. What I think is that we really are all somebody already. We're asked by our culture to live outside ourselves in a fantasy of entertainment and media mania where we get to live someone else's lives as voyeurs while hardly ever living out our own. Life by proxy.

Being truly engaged in your own life is something really stellar. When we give up that engagement with life and ourselves for the plastic and ephemeral glamour and allure of the famous, fame and near fame, I believe we are giving up on ourselves. Not dealing with one's own shit while being distracted by the famous may be easy, but in the end it's a paltry substitute for personal growth. And unlike crying at the movies, real tears brought on by real crisis is a 3-D, Panavision and Technicolor experience.

Shine at what you do and do who you are well. Even if you never get to see your name up in lights or win an Oscar for it.


Pam said...

Great post! I have often thought that within our own family and friends we can also be famous and fabulous to them. We all SHOULD be engaged in our own lives, rather than living through others (such as celebrities).

queenlint1 said...

So true! I say my friend's names reverently and promote them shamelessly!
Coincidence that Dr. Phil had people on his show yesterday who would do anything - even the most disgusting - to be on t.v.!


Pam said...

Ugh, I would rather remain anonymous than be on tv. I don't like too much attention!