Friday Fluff: Chatting up celebrities

I would like to wish a very happy blogiversary weekend to the wonderful Miss Conduct, who is not only a consummate advice columnist but also one of the brilliant minds behind the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (which Dan will be joining as soon as I can get his luxuriant hair and his rather awe-inspiring experiment into the same picture). If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve see Miss Conduct’s comments and you know that this isn’t the first time I’ve plugged her blog, because basically I luff her. She’s an advice columnist with her head screwed on straight about fat! She’s an advice columnist, period! (I’m a bit of a connoisseur.) She’s funny! She’s a huge nerd about science! Her blog almost never allows comments, so I can avoid the “Web 2.0 can fucking suck it” white-hot rage I go into almost every time I read comments anywhere on the web besides the fatosphere! She likes Aunt Fattie! She dislikes Cary Tennis!

Anyway, in honor of Miss Conduct, I’d like to proffer a Friday Fluff that jumps off from one of her recent posts. She writes:

Meeting celebrities is an awkward thing and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a handle on it. I have figured out, at least, a working theory for why it’s awkward. See if this makes sense to you:1. To show polite respect for someone, you are supposed to let them talk about themselves rather than talking a great deal about yourself. This is a cultural norm.

2. However, there is also a cultural norm that knowledge is power, and that the more “important” person in an interaction should know more about the less important person than vice-versa. (E.g., your doctor knows more about you than you do about her; teachers know more about their students than their students know about them.) So you are also supposed to show respect by allowing people their privacy.

Now, when you meet a celebrity, by definition you know more about them than they do about you. So the #2 dynamic is unbalanced. But you can’t rectify that imbalance, because that would violate rule #1.

There’s more musing, but it would be rude to quote at more length; instead I suggest you go read it. Then come back here and tell me: Have you met any famous people? How did you approach talking to them? Did you talk about yourself? Did you establish yourself as a fan? Did you treat them like a normal person? What celebrities would you really like to meet, and what would you say to them if you met them?

Miss Conduct already quoted my answer to this question in the post:

I’ve found with the celebrities that I’ve met that I end up talking about the same things I talk to anyone else about — food, alcohol, family, politics. Probably in that order. After of course establishing that I am a fan. If I want to be sneaky and let them know that I am a fan because I have a more sophisticated understanding than all their other rube fans, I will sneak in something like “So how do you feel about fans who only like you because x, and not because y?”

I will also add that the only person I’ve actually tested that last part out on is Jonathan Coulton. (Turns out he appreciates the geek type fans who just like Code Monkey and the other novelty songs, but he feels that people have a fuller appreciation of what he’s trying to go for if they listen to the more serious songs as well, which is why he plays them at shows even when they’re not necessarily what people want to hear.) Truly, though, we mainly talked about drinking, New York, his kid, science… the kinds of things you talk to people about. I’ve applied the same theory to Jim Watson, Katha Pollitt, and… um… what other famous people have I met… Kate Harding. And Dava Sobel. I meet really, really nerdy famous people, okay?

I’d like to meet John Hodgman. I think we’d talk about how I know I can’t possibly say anything funny enough to make me worthy to talk to him, and how I am humbled by that. Not really though. I think we’d probably talk about pie.  And possibly Linnean taxonomy or something.  I feel the conversation would bestir itself in a nerdly direction.

Also, I know I think four people who have all met or at least corresponded with former members of The State, and I haven’t, and that’s not fair.  So I want to meet them too, and probably talk entirely in State quotes until they all look really uncomfortable.  (Especially if I’m quoting the excellent “Sleep with the State” sketch from Season 2.)

Also, I would like to meet Miss Conduct and her husband.  Seriously.

98 thoughts on “Friday Fluff: Chatting up celebrities

  1. (WordPress isn’t letting me log in, so now I’ll finally see my monster! Wahoo!)

    I think the only famous person I’ve talked to for more than a second is Rufus Wainwright, and my friend did most of the talking. This was, of course, before I knew that he was a vampire whose image ruins your photographs and also possibly your camera. If I had known, I might have asked him about that.

    I’ve met famous writers, but it’s always been in a mentor-student situation, so I don’t think that counts.

    I’ve met Joy Nash! We talked about FJ’s skirt!

  2. I would like to meet the SP crew! And Joy Nash!

    I would also like to meet Philip Seymour Hoffman ’cause I “want to marry him and have 10,000 of his babies”. I am also in deep love with Jack Black because we write similar music.

    I met (ok, not really met…said one sentence to?) the lead singer of Feist, Leslie, a couple of years ago at a bar long before she was super famous (woo hoo! She rocks!). I told her I loved her show that night. She said thanks and touched my arm. It is still warm.

  3. Oh yeah, for sexytimes I totally want to meet Philip Seymour Hoffman. And Hugh Laurie.

    If I met Hugh Laurie I would be all “so how do you feel about fans who only discovered you because of ‘House,’ but don’t own the entire Jeeves and Wooster and Fry & Laurie back catalog?” Oh, the apparently patented sneaky FJ “I’m a better fan than all these rubes” move!

    I forgot to mention that I have also met Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman but did not get a chance to talk to either of them beyond “willyousignmybook?”

    Also James Gleick, but now I am being nerdy again.

  4. This is weird because I was just talking to my coworker about meeting famous people in random situations and what we do about it. I’ve been in the same room with a number of famous people (with a few exceptions, by “famous” I mean “people my mother has never heard of but who are famous by some limited metric like the internet or indie rock”) and generally, unless the reason I am in the room with the person is so that the person can talk to people, I don’t say anything. So like I went to a reading that Katha Pollit gave and I approached her afterward and gushed my little heart out. And once I was in a bar in DC and saw Interpol and I was druuuuuuuuuuuuuunk so I talked to them. Like, at length. But I’ve seen bands in bars and said nothing (the only one I regret is the time I could have drank with Guided by Voices and was too shy to join the party), and once I worked out next to David Faustino (he is a total grunter) and decided to let him sweat in peace. I was at a Bulls game sitting in front of Joan Cusack once and didn’t even recognize her until they put her up on the diamond vision screen and she started making faces (I actually looked up and thought, “Why are they putting that kid behind me on the big screen?” and then I figured it out). Also, I get really star struck if it is someone that I actually like and admire, like with GBV, and then I can’t think of anything that I might say that would be either interesting or not make me sound like a raving goof.

    So yeah, the short answer is: nothing.

  5. John Hodgman is my rabbi’s best friend

    OMG I’M GOING TO TELL COULTON

    YOUR RABBI IS STEPPIN’

  6. All the times I’ve been in a celebrity’s sphere it’s been in a generally organized fashion (i.e. I’ve met Penn and Teller a couple of times because after every show, they stand in the lobby and sign autographs, take pictures, and chit-chat with fans). I did dash across a street in New York City to shake Stephen Rea’s hand (it was when “The Crying Game” was THE thing and he was on Broadway in “Someone To Watch Over Me” as well as nominated for an Oscar) and I just said “I enjoy what you do–and goodluckattheOscars!!!!”, shook his hand, and ran away.

    I didn’t technically meet Hugh Jackman, but my sister and I stage-doored after seeing “The Boy From Oz” and wound up getting our programs signed thanks to really cool fellow fans who were up against the sawhorses and kept passing other people’s programs up so he could sign them. He is just a delight–he was so gracious and friendly to folks, thanking everyone for coming to see the show and apologizing for having to leave after having stood out in the January cold for 20 minutes to say hi to people. I did get some good pictures, though. And threw the horns at him as he was driving off in his limo. I’m sure he’ll never forget the fat girl throwing him the goat horns.

  7. Here is my ridiculous celebrity encounter story:
    This one time, at Disney World I was on a ferry boat from my hotel to Epcot. All was peaceful, I was sitting with my sister, some dude with dyed red hair was sitting behind me with a big titted blonde on his lap. Suddenly young teenagers are scouring the boat for pens and paper, and I hear them whispering that N’Sync is on the back of the boat. Like OMG.

    So of course, I take this moment to LOUDLY proclaim how much N’Sync completely sucks and how they have no real musical integrity blah blah blah I hate Pop.

    Well it turns out the guy behind me was actually IN the band.

    I rule.

  8. THE STAAAAAAATE. I LOVE THAT SHOW.

    Uhm, anyways, I meet at least a dozen famous people once a year when I go to Dragoncon They’re are so many guests there that you can run into them anywhere. Last year I was behind Richard Hatch in line at the Starbucks. (Hyuk hyuk, Starbuck was at the Starbucks.) I’m absolutely terrible around celebrities. If I try to talk to them I go completely stupid. It’s pretty embarrassing.

  9. As for who I would like to meet right now – Mary McDonnell. And I would even speak to her because I am such a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica and admire her so profoundly as an actor that I think I could pull off a random encounter without sounding creepy/batty/stupid. OR I would just touch her arm and grin and go “Buh.”

  10. I’m not much with the celeb interaction….the closest I can come is the time I talked to awesome ass-kicking fiddler Casey Driessen backstage at the Old Town School in between sets. Generally when I’m in a backstage situation like that, I go with the “Hey, I’m a musician, too, and let’s talk about the really cool stuff you were doing in this song, and this technique you used in that other song, etc.”

    So, I did that; I was all, “That pecussive bow technique you use is something I’ve never seen. Let’s discuss how innovative it is to bring rhythm to a string instrument!” And he was all, “Yeah, thanks, bye.”

    Apparently I either came across fangirly, or he’s an asshole.

  11. I met Bill Clinton, before the Monica thing happened. I clasped his hand and pumped it up and down, kissed him on the cheek and said “Bless you, Mr. President!” I have never in my life said “bless you” (except, you know, when someone sneezes).

    Then, a few days later, I also ran into – really, I physically bumped into him – a member of a band I was hugely obsessed with in my early twenties. He signed a map I was carrying. I made up a story about having a list of people I wanted to kiss, including him. He kissed me. He asked who else was on the list. I, a terrible liar, couldn’t think of anyone and said “Bill Clinton”. He laughed heartily. I died inside.

  12. When I was 8, my parents took me to meet Eleanor McGovern, wife of George, who was the Democratic nominee for President that year. I hardly remember what I said, but my dad said I talked her ear off for what seemed like weeks and the entire room was waiting for me to shut up already. Aspie shit, I guess. (And back then there was no, “You’ll have to excuse her, she’s Aspie” stuff — it was all BE NORMAL ALREADY WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO TO GET YOU TO BE NORMAL ALREADY?)

    I met Ted Kennedy for a second during a softball game. Didn’t really get to say anything but “nice to meet you.” I met Dar Williams and Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin when they were just starting out and they were exactly how you’d imagine they’d be from their music. (But does it count if they’re not famous yet?)

    The most interesting was the time I got to meet New York Mets announcer Bob Murphy and pitcher Rick Reed, both on the same day, about 9 years ago. I got to tell Murph that “I’ve been listening to you all my life!” (which was true, he was a Mets broadcaster from 1962 until the year he passed away, in 2004), and he laughed and said, “All your life, my goodness!” Reed, interestingly enough, happily chatted with me about his deaf cat but seemed a bit put out when I asked him how his pitching arm was feeling. I guess he was tired of answering baseball questions all the time.

  13. I have a few. The movie Reservoir Dogs premiered at a theater in Hollywood that has these huge escalators that go up from Hollywood Blvd to the box office three stories above. I wasn’t there to see Reservoir Dogs. I was there because I broke my foot and my friend wanted to take me out to see Last of the Mohicans which was also showing there. On the ride up the escalator I lost my balance and accidentally bashed the woman two steps below and behind me with my crutch. It was Drew Barrymore, and she was completely sweet about it.

    Once we got upstairs my friend and I decided to have a smoke in the rotunda and this funny looking spastic guy came up and bummed a smoke off of me. He hung out and talked for a little bit, basically about nothing. A week later the movie was a huge hit and my friend and I recognized Quentin Tarantino on TV.

    Around the same time frame I went to see a student play at UCLA about the Arab-American experience in Los Angeles. There was a guy sitting in front of me who looked vaguely familiar. I didn’t realize who it was until he started talking. It was Casey Kasem. We chatted a bit about the play. He had a relative who was one of the performers. Very nice guy.

    My best story, bar none, is from work. I worked my way through college dispatching tow trucks for AAA. Let me tell you, famous people drive some very expensive, very shitty cars. Offhand I can remember conversations with Gary Busey (drunk off his hiney), Gary Sinise, Dick Van Dyke (drove an RX-7 with a down battery, I talked to him every day for a week before he got it fixed), James Caan (supreme dickhead of all time), and Jane Seymour. Most were no better or worse than anybody else suffering from car trouble.

    The best one of all time was a call I had to make. This was before cell phones. I got a call on the radio from a tow truck driver who had been sent to pick up a limo with a busted axle and he asked me to call a cab for the passenger and then to call her husband to let him know that “she would be late, but that she was fine”, and I said OK. So he gave me the number and said “That’s the Friar’s Club, ask for Milton Berle.”

    me: Guh.

    Mr. Berle kept me on the phone for half an hour. He was quite tipsy, happy that his wife was on the way, and completely fascinated with my life. He just started asking me questions about how I liked my job, and then about being a student, and what I was studying. It was hilarious. He was funny, sweet, and genuinely interested in talking to me. Best ever. Period.

  14. So I “quasi”met David Cross once. He had a comedy show here, and he invited anybody in the audience who was fast enough to get on stage and sit behind him for the show. Someone kept bringing him shots and he kept giving them to me. We talked a little about Bob Odenkirk and then his friends came and my husband and I left.
    I have a problem because in general I prescribe to the “leave them in peace” idea, but I have a handful of people who have touched my life so profoundly that I feel like if I saw them I would HAVE to tell them thank you for it, and that would just be weird.

  15. Oooooh, OTM! Mary McDonnell. I would love to meet her and tell her just how much her role on BSG has meant to me — and how SCARY accurate her depiction of a woman with terminal cancer is. Those scenes are so, so hard to watch, OMG, because it’s like seeing my mom all over again.

    I’d also like to meet Tamoh Penikett, but he goes on the list with Tom Welling, Steven Strait, Travis Fimmel, Wentworth Miller, Tom Jane, et al; all people I’d love to meet, but we wouldn’t be talking, if you know what I mean.

    I have met authors, mostly, and I once spoke to the singer of my favorite band on the phone — and I totally spazzed out.

    At no point have I had the chance to talk to any of them long enough to involve them in chitchat. I would most likely ask them about the same stuff I ask anyone: pets, food, music, books, blah blah blah.

    I have found that if you only have a couple of seconds, it’s always taken really, really well if you can say “X thing meant a lot to me because of Y.” Saying that they inspire you or that something of theirs has had a positive effect on you is always appreciated.

    I have made a point of thanking authors whose work is important to me when I meet them, by telling them that they inspire me, or that their work helped me somehow, either by getting me through a really hard time or by inspiring my own and making me want to write. That’s always been taken well.

    I’d like to meet Michael Sheen (Lucian, Underworld), Marco Hietala (singer, Tarot), Roy Khan (singer, Kamelot, I only got to talk to him for a minute), Kurt Russell, Lisa Gerrard, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Jacqueline Carey, TANITH LEE OMG, Joss Whedon, Bruce Timm, Ursula LeGuin . . . there’s a really long list; I don’t think I could hold it down to under two dozen.

    I really wanted to meet Heath Ledger, he always sort of headed that list, but there’s no chance of that now. I should have written him that fan letter thanking him for A Knight’s Tale. Once upon a time, that movie kept me from hurting myself in an ugly way, and I have always felt that I owed him something for that.

  16. Oh yeah, and I spoke to Don King on the phone once (he was calling for my boss). He was kind of an asshole. I think you can tell so much about someone by whether or not they are nice to people serving them (like servers, secretaries, bell boys, taxi drivers etc. Can you tell I live in Vegas?)

  17. It definitely helps if you’ve been introduced to someone. I think getting to where you’re actually speaking to a celeb is the hardest part. After that, a simple, “I really enjoy your work,” is often enough to acknowledge you know who they are, and then you can launch off into other areas. I met a lot of rockers that way when I worked at a radio station in college. Context helps a lot, too – when I met Richard Dreyfuss it was at a political rally, so it wasn’t hard to find a place to start chatting.

    I’d actually love to meet Hugh Jackman (so I’m jealous, Jane!). :)

  18. Then, a few days later, I also ran into – really, I physically bumped into him

    I did that with Michael Ondaatje TWICE. (Once at an Ani DiFranco show, when I got pushed into him in a crowd, and once in the Random House of Canada office when I booked out of the kitchen without looking where I was going.)

    I also talked to Billy Corgan and James Iha in the audience at a My Bloody Valentine show when I was a teenager, but it was pretty much just “ZOMG UR AWESOME, HUH HUH!” Since then, when I’ve seen celebrities, I’ve generally gone for not saying anything, which I now realize is because of exactly the etiquette dilemma Miss Conduct describes. I just can’t imagine what conversation we could have that would actually make the encounter any more valuable as a story later (which is all these things are really good for) than just saying, “Oh, hey, I saw Minnie Driver/Mark McKinney/Jill Hennessy on the street yesterday.” (All actual sightings.)

    I did, however, enjoy having dinner with Joy Nash TWICE (squee!), and I would also like to meet Miss Conduct.

  19. I saw Tamoh Penikett at Dragoncon last year or the year before. He was totally drunk and flailing around on the dance floor with his entourage. It’s kind of funny when you see stuff like that, makes you realize that they’re really just regular people (with money and/or fame, of course)

  20. Now, when you meet a celebrity, by definition you know more about them than they do about you. So the #2 dynamic is unbalanced. But you can’t rectify that imbalance, because that would violate rule #1.

    Brilliant summation. I used to work media cons in Denver back in the 1980′s, so for various reasons I’d end up being on the same elevator with a star or otherwise in their presence outside of a presentation or signing autographs situation, and I was always excruciatingly aware of the fact that I knew all these random facts about them but they knew nothing about me. Very uncomfortable.

    Although I wasn’t necessarily a fan of said stars, either – I may idolize their character but I rarely idolize stars. My brother’s an actor and I’m told that growing up with him has made me “immune to charisma” (I suspect my aspie tendencies have something to do with it, too), or maybe I’m not into actors because I used to see so much of them when I was hanging out with him a lot, I dunno. Anyhow, I really never saw the point to interacting with actors much and if they initiated conversation I was polite but unenthused. (One exception – Mark Lenard has the most incredible voice, and I totally would have done whatever it took to keep him talking if I’d ended up trapped with him for any length of time, which I did not, alas…)

    I do idolize production people and writers, though, and there I’ve had conversations on our mutual interests (i.e., on world-creation and other authors or books with science fiction author C.J. Cherryh when we were stuck in a car together driving down from a Mountain Con to the Denver area; food and people management skills while talking to a radio-show producer, etc.). But I don’t know if that’s because I found them interesting and so I made the effort to find mutually agreeable topics; if they were good at doing the same; or if I was comfortable enough to talk to them because I really didn’t know much about their personal lives.

  21. I’ve met a number of celebrities over time, mostly authors (science fiction and otherwise) and celebrities of the computer science world (and Usenet way back when). What we talked about depended a lot on the circumstances of the meeting – were we introduced, part of a social group, or was it a random meeting in the hall? Sometimes I did ask some questions about their work that I’d always wanted to know the answers to – and surprisingly, I received a lot of the answers!

    One of my favorite unexpected celebrity stories: I was at a science fiction convention where Harlan Ellison was the guest of honor and was doing a reading of his latest “short” story. I was sitting in the back of the room next to another gentleman who was also enjoying the reading. Afterwards, we started chatting a bit about the story, I mentioned I’d never heard Harlan read before, the gentleman said he does give good readings, stuff like that. I read his name tag, but didn’t recognize the name or anything, and eventually he wandered off to another panel.

    It was only after Babylon 5 came out and made such a splash that I was able to connect the gentleman’s name with the J. Michael Straczynski of the series. I’m very sure he doesn’t remember, but I’m still amused.

  22. One night long ago in a pool hall my friends were getting me to put back-to-back U2 songs on the juke box. I’d gone out without my glasses on; turns out Bono and some of his Rattle and Hum entourage were playing the next table. He came up to my loudly singing-along fool self as he was leaving and said “You look like you are having a great time – good night”. My eyes didn’t focus until halfway through that sentence and then OMG BONO! Then – OMG THE JUKEBOX/SINGING *cringe, shoot daggers at friends*

    Got ripping drunk on champers at a v. fancy party in London and told Jade Jagger not to worry about some bad press after her appearance in a fashion show – at least 2 years after it happened. Thanx 4 teh memoreez biatch LOL

  23. p.s. also met Star Trek:TNG actor Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) in a bar in Key West. He bought me a drink, sat and chatted for a while with me and my guy friends and was totally hotter in person than on TV. He and Chakotay were apparently the ones who pulled bigtime on that series, although I’ve got a girlfriend with a major Patrick Stewart crush LOL

  24. Sony, I used to work for AAA, too. No celeb stories from my time there, although I did get a call from Tom Clancy at another customer service gig.

    At the moment, I’d love to meet Katee Sackhoff, so she can realize we were meant for each other and we can run off together. Only I’d probably just wet myself if I actually did meet her.

    I used to do some LOTR fandom stuff, and had the occasion to meet several of the cast and crew from that. To a person, they were all absolutely delightful, especially Richard Taylor.

    The best was Ian McKellen, though. We were at a post-show cocktail thing and I sidled up and asked him about his habit of tearing Leviticus out of hotel Bibles, and whether he’d ever been given hell by studio publicists for talking about that. He snorted and grinned at me and said, “well, fuck them, really.”

    I also had an amazing experience with the lead singer/songwriter of a band I was into for a while. They were playing a dive bar, and there was only a handful of people in the audience. We talked for a long time on the sidewalk in front of the bar, and then when the show was over, he came down and put his arm around me and rubbed his sweaty head all over me and kissed my forehead, thanking me for being at the show. I was absolutely floored.

  25. Also, as regards the rules above: I’ve found that the best resolution of the problem is to ask them about something they like. No need to talk about oneself, or to talk about them, specifically. Just talk about a subject of shared interest.

    For instance, with one celeb, we talked about a band we both liked. With another, we got to talking about Eddie Izzard. Another time I asked one about the very cool shoes he was wearing, and where he got them.

    It’s a great way to have a nice shared moment without oversharing about oneself, or putting them on a pedestal, which can be annoying for some.

  26. The only “celebrity” I’ve ever met was Olympic gold medalist Florence Griffith Joyner (better known as FloJo). She was doing a benefit thing for the group home I was living in at the time (you Chicagoans might have heard of it – Mercy Home for Boys & Girls) and she came over to the house to meet with us before taking us out on a practice/fun run that was filmed by NBC. So not only did I get to meet a “celebrity,” but I got to be on TV, too. At 15 years old, that’s a pretty big deal!

    She was really cool, though. We were all sitting in the TV room, and she went around the room asking US questions about OURSELVES. She seemed really interested, too. I don’t know how much of that was for show and how much was real, but it gave (all of us) a really good feeling. (We talked about it for MONTHS afterwards, as you might imagine – we were all teenagers, so it seemed like a REALLY big deal at the time.)

  27. Oh DUH I can’t believe I forgot that I met Al Gore. I, uh, told him I liked his policies. I did!

    My cousin claims that Michael Stipe used to be known for headbutting fans who recognized him. Not sure if this is actually true, but I like spreading this information either way. ;-)

    He snorted and grinned at me and said, “well, fuck them, really.”

    So much Ian McKellen love!

  28. I’m totally the person who goes to lectures or book readings or the like and sits in the back and can’t think of a single question to ask or comment to make. I did meet Tamora Pierce, whose books I’ve worshiped since I was a kid, and said something dorky about being sad her next book wasn’t out yet and then felt bad for making it look like I expected her to be writing all the time. Then I think we compared notes on being owned by our cats, which is probably better. :-)

  29. Ha! DowntownVenus beat me to it! Back in the early eighties, when I was in junior high, I loved music, (U2 was my favorite!), along with writing and recording my own and my friends’ bands. But I also loved drawing and painting. I was starting to center my school curriculum around art and planned to eventually go to art school, when a day trip to NYC ended with a random run in with Bono on the street. He was so kind and gracious, and from that moment I knew I wanted to ditch art school and become a recording engineer instead. Which, ummmm, as incredibly corny as it sounds, is exactly what ended up happening.

    I do get to work with famous people sometimes, but more often than not in those situations, between all of the work that has to get done in the studio and all of the career wrangling that happens during down time (interviews, meetings, photo shoots etc), it’s not like we always get to hang out and get to know them. People aren’t stuck up really, but they can have their guard up and it can be pretty uptight and stressful! I find it a lot more thrilling when someone I’ve never heard of comes in and their music is just stunning and suddenly I’m their newest number one fan.

  30. Ages ago, before I saw Ian McKellen in a bunch of movies, he was doing a one-man show on Shakespeare (my subject) and I volunteered to be an usher. Was watching the show from the back when he did a thing where he is going to do a speech from Henry V but wanted audience volunteers to play dead soldiers on stage. I was one of the ones who ran quickly up there and shook his hand as I took my place as a dead soldier. I was SO excited. After the show I saw him briefly in the hall and he came across as really great. I’ve loved him ever since.

    I’ve had other brief run-ins with actors (including literally running into Robert Foxworthy when I rounded a corner too fast and knocked him over) and have had several more extended conversations with author Clive Cussler (and yes, my husband and I talked about ourselves, and topics we had in common with him like love of a certain children’s book series and old cars–but he is VERY approachable and friendly and even called us once and sent us a book). My uncle (by marriage) is an actor and I don’t seem him very often so I sometimes feel as awkward with him as with other celebrities (you know, do I mention I saw his latest guest spot, etc.).

    It can be so silly sometimes. I’m sure it makes celebrities’ lives rather awkward with all of us stammering around. I never know what to do because seeing them act gives you the false sense that you know them.

  31. The only one I’ve met is Roscoe Orman, better known as Gordon from Sesame Street. He came to my college doing a one-man show of the history of Africa wrt slavery, which was incredibly awesome and moving. Unfortunately, the student affairs office billed it as “Meet Gordon from Sesame Street”, so no one came. Really. There were 5 people in the audience, three of whom were faculty. I met up with the stud. affairs chair who was taking him back to the hotel and hung around long enough to meet Roscoe for a minute and shake his hand. I apologized for the low turnout, feeling completely embarrassed for my entire school being such impolite creeps. He was wonderful about it, and said that he did the college circuit and knew that attendance was dependent on whether there were reruns on tv that night and such. Fabulous gentleman. I managed, with great stress to myself, to refrain from telling him that I had a Fisher-Price doll of him when I was little.

  32. Oo I shook Al Gore’s hand! SM was there!! I also bought a CD from and spent a minute talking to Andy Creeggan of BNL once. Uh, I’ve met some famous geologists.;)

    My dad had dinner with Leonard Nimoy once. It was a barbecue at the house of a mutual friend. My dad said his voice was even deeper than he had realized.

    Someday I might meet Kate Harding!

  33. I grew up in DC and had friends whose parents were in the news and on TV and had reporters camped out on their front lawns. (And who camped out on people’s lawns.) My mom tended to be good at signing up for interesting events where we ended up meeting interesting people.

    I’ve had later jobs where I got to hang out on movie sets and deal with movie people over the phone. I found that saying how I liked their work, and asking what books or movies they would recommend was a reasonable conversation gambit. I’m sure you run into egotistical assholes, i’ve had good luck with it.

    These people really do keep up with their field. You can either ask about new stuff you should keep an eye out for, or what older stuff influenced them.

    BTW – Movie director Allison Anders is the coolest famous person I’ve met. Despite getting huge amounts of guff for it, she gives screen credits to her child care providers. She is a large and lovely woman who is friends with Duran Duran!!! Put all her stuff in your Netflix queue.

  34. Okay well this is pretty geeky, but I have actually met only one celebrity and it was at a fan convention but he’s a good one so I’ll share.

    Last year I went to Dragoncon SPECIFICALLY to perv on James Marsters and I was NOT the only one. Wow he has a lot of fans! Well one day I decided to get a picture with him and Juliet Landau, because Spike and Dru together is so classic (I’m a season 2– it’s like your Buffy starsign, which season you identify most with). So anyway I had actually dressed up. I had some nice black leather heeled boots, black pants, and a shirt I’d made myself that said “Vampires Suck”. Look based off an entertainment weekly shoot of Sarah Michelle Gellar. There was also a wig but I didn’t wear it for the picture. Anyway since I was being photographed with both of them they did us first. It was obvious they were happy to see each other and in a good mood. I went in and it was all “Hi” “Hello” etc. and smiles. I posed in between them, but then James Marsters looked at me again and said “What does that say?” And then James Marsters careened his head around directly in front of my chest. JAMES MARSTERS PERVED ON ME! (he’s actually known for this but whatever it was awesome). So I laughed happily and he said “Oh” with a grin and Juliet Landau was like “what does it say?” and he said “vampires suck!” and she said “oh!” and laughed. I kinda shrugged and said “sorry!” Then he leaned in real close to me and said veeerrrry sexily “we do suck you know”. And then we took the picture and then we all waved and I floated out of the room like I was full of helium.

    It might have been the best day of my life.

  35. I got a kiss from David Lee Roth from Van Halen back in HS… my grandma works at the TV station in Mexico City and I got a kiss and he autographed my album.
    I also met Nick Verreos and Robert Best from Project Runway. Both were so nice.
    Nick is very size-positive. I had a thorough “talking” with with Robert about the shiteous dress he produced for the “Real Women” episode.
    I mean I am plus size too and I was in front of him wearing Vivienne Westwod and knock off Rock and Republic and Alexander Mc-freaking Queen! And he could not do better?
    He designs for Barbie!
    Thalia Sodi, Tomi Mottola’s wife who was in the Dr. Pepper commercial went to school with me in Mexico City. She is very nice.
    And I met ballet dancer Fernando Bujones when he went to do Giselle in Mexico City. Angelically great guy.
    I also met Stewart Copeland from the Police in Fort Worth when he was staging his opera “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”.
    I was dragging a real coffin into the theater because I was directing “Dracula”. He was lovely.
    Malan Breton and I are pretty good friends, He is amazingly wonderfully sweet.
    Hugs,
    Milla

  36. Here’s my Chris Daughtry encounter:

    I had a job to do in a grocery store in Oak Ridge, NC (a suburb of Greensboro, NC, where both he and I are from). I came out, hot and sweaty and gross from setting up a merchandise display. I see a cute bald guy walking toward me across the parking lot. He looks terribly familiar. I ask a bagboy who’s rounding up carts, “Is that Chris Daughtry?” (Thinking my eyes must be deceiving me.) He said, “Yes ma’am, it sure is. He lives right around the corner.”

    I WAS TOO CHICKENSHIT TO APPROACH HIM! All I could think of was that I was red-faced and my hair was plastered to my head and I’d be too embarrassed to run into anyone I knew, let alone anyone famous. And there was that nagging voice that I’d be bothering him – intruding on his privacy.

    He must have noticed me staring at him – he may have even heard what I asked the bagboy. He got into his car (silver Lexus SUV) and just sat there for a minute or two. Looking back, I think he may have actually been WAITING for me to work up the nerve to approach him for an autograph. A friend in the music industry who has had dealings with him tells me he’s a super nice guy and loves his fans, so it’s very possible.

    But I didn’t. I waited in my car until he started his and drove off, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. (My 11 year old daughter is none-too-pleased with me, either. The first words out of her mouth were, “And you didn’t get me his autograph???!!!”)

    I continued to look for him and/or his car everytime I went back to that shopping center for work, which was twice weekly for the next 4 months – but I never saw him again. Dammit.

  37. I’ve met a handful of people from Sesame Street and I think even Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers, because my dad used to work for a PBS station and I was a cute kid on demand. “Look! We need a cute kid for a photo op! Ken, where’s your daughter?” No real discussion happens at age 4.

    More importantly, I’ve met Charles de Lint twice. He’s the nicest guy on the planet; pretty reserved, though. If you have a chance to hear him read from his books, TAKE IT. He remembered me over a period of six years! I was impressed. No, we didn’t talk about anything interesting.

    Other star encounters include . . . well, I’ve sold bagels (Panera) to a vast amount of Cleveland Browns, but I generally only knew it was them when they whipped out a giant roll of money to pay for a French Toast bagel and left Panera to get into a tricked-out Escalade or a tiny buy noisy convertible. Oh, and then my coworkers would say, “THAT WAS SO-AND-SO!” Of course, afterwards I’d realize that not that many six-foot-seven-inch-tall people, say, worked at the hospital across the street, but still. It was the morning shift! It’s really easy to sell bagels to famous people when neither of you is awake.

    I’ve also met a boatload of famous-ish classical musicians, but unless you-all know who Helene Grimaud, John Browning, and Vladimir Ashkenazi are, that might not impress-a you as much. Generally with classical musicians, you end up praising the composer or the piece they just played.

    My fiance pushed Jay Leno’s car out of some mud with him once. (They were at a car show.) He was ten or eleven, and didn’t say anything to him at all. (This is not out of character.)

    OH! Last, but not least, I got my name and picture in the paper because I was the last person to get my copy of Revolution from Within signed by Gloria Steinem when she came to Toledo in, um, 1993, I think. It should be noted that I was ten years old at the time. Yes, I’ve been a feminist that long. No, I didn’t actually say anything to her.

    OK, no more bragging.

  38. Ok, most jealous of Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, and Garret Wang!

    Talking to celebrities is actually one of my superpowers, surprisingly enough, considering my social anxiety! Let’s see…I went to a lot of Star Trek conventions in jr. high/high school and thus hauled ass to find Marina Sirtis a bottled water and talked rather extensively to Wil Wheaton without squeeing audibly, among others.

    In college I worked for the women’s studies office and got to talk on the phone to Mary Daly and bell hooks, both rather unexpectedly, when we were making arrangements for them to come to campus to speak. I also met Bob Dole when he was there.

    More recently, I met the guys from the Goo Goo Dolls briefly after a show, and have drank (grammar? that just sounded wrong) with Big City Rock, Constantine from American Idol, and Swati, who also gave me a drunken makeover. Also, I know Heather from Rock of Love’s mom. My favorite is one that I’ve mentioned before, though–my semi-famous indie rock bassist. I started off as a pitiful fangirl, but now we’re pretty good acquaintances and he is my rack of doom’s number one fan (in a cute, noncreepy way). Mind you, I’m still a pitiful fangirl, but I’m completely upfront about it now!

  39. I can’t believe I forgot my main celebrity-meeting encounter! It’s actually somewhat scandalous.

    I’d gone to see the Proclaimers. (You know, “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more”? From Benny and Joon?) Afterwards, heading to the bar to get a drink, one of the guys from the band invited me and my friend to party with them at another local bar later that night.

    We went, and for a long time didn’t recognize anyone and stood around pretending to not be lame idiots. We’d decided to leave when the band and related folk descended on the place. My friend started chatting with a very cute roadie. I continued to feel like a lame idiot. Then, somehow, the lead singer was next to me and was chatting me up. An important point: He is Scottish, and has a very, very thick accent. I could make out maybe one of every eight words. Nerd that I am, we ended up talking about Scottish politics and the independence movement. For HOURS. We closed down the bar.

    The mildly scandalous part: By this point, the flirting was hot and heavy. (Another important point: This man? Not really my type. Did I care? I did not.) He invited me back to his hotel. I said no. Why? Because I’m not that kind of girl? ? No. I did not go back to his hotel because I had not shaved my legs. (My mother WAS right!) I did, however, make out with him, just so I could have a story to tell my grandchildren.

  40. I pretty much haven’t met anybody famous. Well, I met a couple of major league baseball players once, but they weren’t overly famous. (Luis Gonzalez and Darryl Kile, if I recall correctly, when they were both with Houston. I was about seven years old, and didn’t say anything.)

    This is completely off-topic, but I feel the need to share it:

    I still weigh myself every day. I’m very new to FA, and while I totally agree with the ideas behind the movement, I haven’t personally hit a point where I can stop caring about my weight, or where I can look in the mirror and think “cute” instead of “whale”. So, yeah, I weigh myself–two or three times a day, usually. And this evening, when I got back from my bike ride (which I do whether or not I’m trying to lose weight, because I love riding my bike), I hopped on the scale as usual. Then I sat down at my computer and opened Firefox, and while I was staring at the screen, it occurred to me: I couldn’t remember what I weighed.

    That is…groundbreaking. That is something that hasn’t happened since…well, ever. I actually couldn’t remember. Instead of having my mood for the rest of the night–and my meal plan tomorrow–completely defined by the number on the scale, I forgot it. Baby steps are what it’s all about, I guess, and I think I just took one.

    (I got back on the scale a few minutes later, by the way; and yes, I did have a mild attack of “OMG I ate too much for supper I shouldn’t have eaten that much.” I’m not there yet. But I’m beginning the journey.)

  41. COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO CHATTING UP CELEBRITIES:

    They just released the pictures of the Doctor Who Series 4 Action Figures (wave 1) and TAKE A LOOK AT THE ADORABLE ADIPOSE BABIES!!!

    Seriously. This is one of the only times I’ve ever felt the inclination to purchase action figures. They need to release a plushie. I would buy seven.

    (as far as meeting celebrities, I haven’t really, so no stories to tell. I did IM an author who I loved when I was in high school, before he was more well known and when he only had one book. We chatted off and on for about six months, mostly about how high school sucks and how writing is awesome. Ned Vizzini. He’s kind of cool. One of his books was made into a play which I hear is doing pretty well in Chicago. I bet he doesn’t even remember me now. I have a signed copy of his second book that he sent me, though. I also met Larry Estes at a film promotional thing once, and even wound up sort-of-interning a bit for his next movie [with the director, not him], but I knew next to nothing about him when I met him, so it wasn’t that weird. We mostly just talked about why we like making movies and what I should do if I want to succeed in my career. Wheeee. That’s about as big as I get.)

  42. This is perfect timing for me. In about a year I’ll have an opportunity to meet one of my favorite performers on a tour, one that I thougth would never ever happen and is quite literally my wildest dream come true. I’m trying to figure out what to say that won’t let out my inner 14 year old. “OMG you are so hot please can I have a hug and a picture have I mentioned you’re omg so hot” is probably not appropriate. All true, but I’m wondering how not to spazz in front of him.

    I have some ideas now, at least.

  43. I have some ideas now, at least.

    Yeah — make out with them so you have a story to tell your grandkids! (And us.)

    Oo I shook Al Gore’s hand! SM was there!!

    Was this that time that you guys were dressed up like cats? Why didn’t I go to that? I probably had a meet or something.

  44. Ok, I’m totally cracking up at the image of meeting Al Gore dressed as cats.

    Wooohooo, fatgirlonadate! I have exactly one making-out-with-a-bandmember story, but can’t tell it because it involves the drummer of a smallish band and thus would probably show up in google results. *pout*

  45. I have often imagined myself running into Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek on a plane or something. There was a while when I was watching exactly 2 television shows, and my favourite characters from each were married to one another. And then it turned out that I didn’t just love Josh Lyman, because Whitford himself is a decent and intelligent guy (unlike, say, Michael Moriarty, who played Ben Stone, also one of my favourite characters.) I like to think we’d talk about parenting, but it’s more likely I’d yell “the president’s secret plan to fight inflation!” and collapse in a fit of giggles.

    I’ve met a lot of astronauts, and am related to one who had his own 15 minutes of national fame. A former US Cabinet minister, and a barrier-breaking one at that, stalks the halls of my workplace. Another relative is moderately famous, in that I can ask a certain demographic if they’ve seen a certain show, and they get all nostalgic, and I say “yeah, that was my cousin.” I had a horrible, horribly sexist hour or so with a politician running for leader of a national party, and who was unlikely to win. I worked for his competitor (who eventually won), and because the campaign started out bare-bones it was headquartered in his home. So I vaguely got to know the candidate and his wife, and the candidate once changed clothes in the room while i was on the computer, so I saw him in his boxers.

    Wow, I’ve had more connection to celebrity than I thought.

  46. I meant to say, of course, that the actors playing my favourite characters were married to one another, not that the characters themselves were.

    Though that would be an interesting cross-over episode. Lois from Malcom in the Middle leaving her family for Josh Lyman of the West Wing. I’m sure there would be all sorts of zaniness required to make it work. And promised educational reforms.

  47. but it’s more likely I’d yell “the president’s secret plan to fight inflation!” and collapse in a fit of giggles.

    That would be awesome. I love the episode where he starts posting on the Josh Lyman fan board and they turn on him — a great (fictional) example of the strangeness of interacting with famous people.

  48. Yeah — make out with them so you have a story to tell your grandkids! (And us.)

    I made out with Koko Taylor’s bassist once, but it’s not quite the same.

  49. camel had a sombrero, that’s all I really remember about dressing up for Al!

    More very geeky famousness, but I totally forgot to say that I had lunch with Vera Rubin (she discovered dark matter) and saw her around a lot over one summer. She is fantastic and a feminist and the best role model ever.

    I posed for a picture of Ruth Simmons, and she left me a voicemail telling me to fill out my census forms.

  50. OH I also exchanged a long series of emails trying to get Harrison Schmitt, the last person to walk on the moon, to come give a talk here. He ended up backing out, but he totally knows my name!

  51. Ah, ah, Jonathan Coulton!! I love that you’re a fan too! And so jealous you met him! But I DID meet John Hodgman (at BEA last month – check out my blog for actual PICTURES of him I took with my own cell phone!) and (he he) we talked about Jonathan Coulton!

  52. I’m a poet in an MFA program, so I’ve had sort of quasi-famous experience. All of our faculty are published poets, of course, and some of them are Big Names, but even if you’re famous among poets, you’re not famous in the wider world. And just because they’re a Big Name doesn’t mean I’ve read their work, since I read mostly dead poets.

    Sharon Olds attended one of the faculty readings, and since I’ve read her work I was all “That’s Sharon Olds!” But I didn’t talk to her, because I just don’t like trying to Strike Up Conversation. Famous poet or not.

  53. fillyjonk, not to make things worse for you, but I met Ken Marino at a screening of The Ten, and he was super awesome. I somehow managed not to repeat every single State skit back to him, but I did tell him how much I loved him on Veronica Mars. Which was my sneaky way of demonstrating my above-average understanding of his fine work.

    I manage to meet a handful of famous people (of varying degrees of fame) because of my job; my favorites have been Alan Alda, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Simon Schama. I always want to find a way to strike up a fantastically interesting conversation and make an impression on them, but I usually wind up with not much more than “I like what you do on the teevee.”

    On the top of the list of people I’d like to meet are Paul Auster, Stephen Hawking, and Thomas Calabro (who played Michael Mancini on Melrose Place).

  54. Okay, I didn’t bring this up before because 1) I didn’t think they were officially “famous” 2) I didn’t think anybody but my little group of highschool friends had ever heard of them and 3) I figured they were long since defunct. But I just googled ‘em and found out that they are still very much together and working.

    http://www.enuffznuff.com/liv/

    As a Senior in highschool, I met Donnie Vie of Enuff Z’Nuff (I met the other band members, too, but Donnie is the only one I remember actually talking to me). My best friend Liz was actually friends with the band – as in, they talked on the telephone, she’d been to his apartment in Chicago (and I’d lived only blocks away from there 2 years before), etc. We went to a gig and she introduced me. We even went back into their dressing room to talk to the band. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a picture of her and Donnie together that *I* took that night.

  55. I went backstage after a Saul Williams show and got to meet him, but there were a lot of people back there and he was mostly just sitting back and watching everyone else talk. There wasn’t much of a conversation, but still, Saul Williams!

    When I was 16 or 17 I saw the Gossip open for Le Tigre. During Le Tigre’s set, Beth Ditto came out and stood RIGHT behind my sister and me. We asked if we could hug her, and she was totally lovely and excited, and hung out and danced with us for a while. That was a fun show.

  56. I “met” Terry Pratchett at a book signing once. He thought my name was nice and asked what its origin was.

    My mom played violin for Archie Shepp, a jazz saxophonist, for years. Archie is my brother’s godfather. And through Mom I’ve met a bunch of jazz musicians. I’ve only ever had one person recognize any of these names, though. *g*

  57. I went to summer camp with one of the State members. As I recall, we often discussed which of our bunk-mates was hiding a boner under his blanket in the mornings.

  58. I live in NYC and work in on of “the industries”, so random sightings and meetings are fairly common, so I’ll just share some of the nicest people I’ve met whom I didn’t expect to be nice because they were so breathtaking.

    Denzel Washington has consummate manners and is exceedingly polite even if your brain short circuits and you literally can’t speak when you first look at him.

    John Turturro is 20 times better looking in person than he is onscreen and will be beautiful until he is about 180. (And he’s really tall.)

    Steve Vai is a consummate businessman as well as a staggering musical talent and is probably the best looking man I’ve ever seen in my life. Ever. Ever.

    Ever.

  59. I have not yet met Kate Harding. Every time she comes to town, I am not here.

    I will keep trying.

  60. DUDE MY MONSTER IS HEART SHAPED.

    Iz jealus. Mine is a purple bunny head with stick figure arms and legs, rah.

    I also met Stewart Copeland from the Police in Fort Worth when he was staging his opera “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”.
    I was dragging a real coffin into the theater because I was directing “Dracula”. He was lovely.

    Major jealous now. When it comes to drummers I often prefer Larry Mullen, Jr. and David Van Tiegham, but of my three faves I’d most like to meet Stewart Copeland. A friend of mine hung out with him some around the same time (went to the opera premiere in… Cleveland?), and she thought him all kinda cool.

  61. For the record, I believe I have seen photographic evidence of SM meeting Al Gore.

    And my brushes with fame include Michael J. Fox, twice. First time, he came through my checkout line at the old Grand Union in Woodstock, VT, back when he owned a farmhouse outside of town. I didn’t recognize him, but we had a pleasant exchange about Halloween candy. I kicked myself afterwards. And saved his receipt, for years. Second time, he stopped by our drama club rehearsal for a while one day and was REALLY AWESOME and talked to all of us about acting and stuff.

    I’ve also met Emily Saliers, who is super nice, at a meet & greet after a show they did at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. My gf at the time had met her dad down in GA. She told us any friend of her dad’s is a friend of hers. Amy Ray, however, wasn’t inclined to talk to us…she was impatiently waiting for someone named Jennifer to arrive. ;-)

  62. I married a local (international if you move in the right circles) celebrity, but I met him when he was nobody from nowhere*, sleeping in a friend’s basement with $50 in his pocket and 26 stitches in his head, so that probably doesn’t count. (Besides, his first words: “DAMN, dude, you told me she was ugly but you didn’t tell me she was THAT ugly” kinda broke the ice…)

    He, in turn, is BFFs with people I didn’t know actually existed except on the radio, which is really a fantasy land played out by the tiny rock band living inside your speaker cabinets. I don’t talk much at those get-togethers. :)

    *Except being a former U.S. road racing champion, or something like that.

  63. Oh, my brother used to work at the Guitar Center in Brooklyn, and therefore met all sorts of interesting people (including Bruce Willis, to whom he sold fourteen harmonicas). Luckily, he’s not a gushing sort.

  64. i recently met my first famous person. ok, he’s only a semi-celebrity… but everyone starts somewhere right?

    i met him through my job. and since he’s a semi-pro fighter (and i luvs me some mma!), i ended up talking to him more about his work than anything else. i decide to basically be a fangrrl and follow his career online. turned out to be a big mistake! as i may have mentioned on here, i’m kinky. not just tickle mr. raven w/a feather kinky either. heh. well it turns out that this guy was into bdsm also and wanted to play w/me. it could have been fine if he’d agreed to my terms (hubby would be there too, both men would get to play, no sex w/mr. famous dude) but he didn’t want that. he wanted just me AND wanted sex. did i mention mr. famous is married? so he wanted to cheat on his wife, wanted me to cheat on my husband, didn’t really want to take no for an answer, and ended up calling us disgusting. um… yeah…

    i’m completely put off meeting famous ppl for a while. i’ll take normal ppl w/o the inflated egos, thanks.

  65. I’ve met Neil Gaiman, twice. Both times he was really, really cool and encouraging to a fledgling writer and total fangirl, and the second time I heard him reading from Coraline, which was both amazing and in places hilarious. (While a thunderstorm raged outside the bookstore, which was kind of appropriate.) I think I fluffed by later writing him a not very well thought out and rather gushing fan letter which I hope, if I ever meet him again, he’s completely forgotten about.

    Also, Jonathan Raban, whom I saw reading from Surveillance at the Seattle Public Library last year. I think we were the only British people in the audience, and we had a nice chat about Norfolk, where he’s from originally and my husband is also from. He’s one of those very British people who seems to be immune to picking up a US accent despite having lived there for years.

    Also, when I was going through a dinosaur phase some years back, paleontologist Jack Horner (that was short and sweet, a huge signing line and everyone being pestered by TV crews because Jurassic Park had just come out). And Sir David Attenborough, who’s like, the God of BBC Natural History Programming over here in the UK. He was very civilised and soft-spoken, and much taller than he looks next to a gorilla.

    I managed to not quite meet Regina Spektor – we hadn’t been able to see her play the Crocodile Café (again in Seattle, in ’05) because she was on the night before we were due to fly home and we knew we’d have to be up early, but we dropped in at the Croc to buy Croc T-shirts, like you do, and my husband told me afterwards she was sitting at a table having breakfast. Eyeing him up. He says.

    There are umpteen people, writers and musicians mostly, I’d like to meet but never seem to manage to be in the same place at the same time. Re Gaiman, above, I discovered that he and his chum and artistic collaborator Dave McKean happen to share a taste for one of my favorite Mexican restaurants (in Canterbury, Kent), and every time I walk in there (which isn’t nearly often enough) I have this faint hope that they’ll be sitting in there together and that I can somehow contrive to get talking to them and have a good old chin-wag about comic books. Never happened yet, though.

  66. I met Richard Hatch (BSG, not creepy reality show guy) at a sci-fi con I attended. We talked about Star Wars, of all things. I explained the Law of Conservation of Ninjitsu to him (there is a finite amount of ninjitsu available to each side in any battle, so if there are one hundred ninjas, they will all be meaningless cannon fodder, but if there’s only one ninja, he or she will be completely badass) and he complimented me on my hat.

    That would be the only time I really talked to somebody famous. I’ve been close to famous people before. I almost got to shake Tori Amos’s hand, but my friend tried to eat it (It’s a long story. Well, no. It’s a very short story that makes no sense.) and I missed my chance.

  67. My husband and I spotted Hulk Hogan a couple times when we lived in Clearwater. The second time we saw him, we were within speaking distance, so my husband shouted, “Hey! You want my autograph?” (Yes, hubby’s a jerk. And I’ve never met anyone else sufficiently famous that anyone would have heard of them.)

  68. About 10 years ago, I met Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day in the grocery store. His wife grew up in the neighborhood I was living in at the time, and they were visiting her family for the holidays.

    I was busy unloading my cart onto the belt, looking at magazines, and then I looked at the couple in front of me and realized who he was.

    My jaw dropped open, he chuckled, I closed my mouth and gave him a little “chin tip” sort of nod of respect, and he nodded back. I couldn’t come up with anything to say, and they walked out a moment later.

  69. Hey, Toni, we must live near each other.

    I keep remembering funny stories:

    - Ok, so I’ve said before that I was a total groupie for the Barenaked Ladies, right? So, yeah, I’ve had lots of embarrassing moments (and a few cool ones) with all of them.

    - I’ve, uh, “met” the horse that Kevin Costner rode in Dances with Wolves. Shut up. I was 12. It was way cool.

    - My sister used to date a guy whose brother was, at the time, dating Gwenyth Paltrow. My sister looks somewhat like Gwenyth Paltrow, and the two brothers look extremely similar, so there were some entertaining moments of confusion. (From afar; I never met any of them, not even my sister’s boyfriend – she was living on the East Coast and I was living in the Midwest.)

    - A guy I used to date is about to be famous. Well, his movie is about to be famous. He probably won’t be.

    - I went to school with Rachel Leigh Cook, who was briefly famous in teenybopper movies (e.g. “The Babysitters Club,” “She’s All That”). We were friends. She wrote in my yearbook something about remembering her when I was famous (at the time, I was convinced I was going to become an Olympic horseback rider).

    - I also went to school with Josh Hartnett. We must have been in classes together, maybe even the same social group, since we were both drama nerds, but I don’t remember him at all.

    Whee!

  70. I’ve met Mandy Patinkin and Scott Bakula as a high school student (MP after his concert and SB when he was signing autographs) and inducted them into the F Society. I also met Martin Sheen when I was living in an activist group house thing in DC and one of our community’s members was friends with him and they’d go play basketball when West Wing was filming on location in DC….

    HEY! You know who is a total hottie and associated with Martin Sheen? His lawyer. I think his name is Joe Cosgrove. AND he’s read my favorite theologian. He and I chatted a bit at Phil Berrigan’s birthday, which, again, I only got to go to because of my association with that activist house.

    Also, Eric Nenninger, from Malcolm in the Middle, I directed in a play in high school. Before he was famous, though, obviously. As I recall I was kind of a bitchy and bad director, so I’m glad I didn’t sour him on acting.

    I really really really want to meet Bradley Whitford. I LOVE HIM. And you’ll notice from the preceding that I have two potential connections to him, Martin Sheen, and Eric Nenninger (the mom on Malcolm in the Middle is Bradley Whitford’s wife).

    And also I’m mostly typing because I’m a little bit drunk. Post-cousin’s-wedding.

    (But, for real, Bradley Whitford is a great actor and wrote an amazing op-ed once, and for real Martin Sheen’s lawyer is hott!!!)

  71. fatgirlonadate: I was all groupie fangirl for the Barenaked Ladies too! I met them a few times, but it was back when I was like 17-19, so I had nothing to say to them but ZOMGLUV!1! Now I live in Scarborough ON (coincidence), and apparently they all live around here somewhere, but I’ve never seen heads or tails of them, (or anyone else Canadian-ly famous for that matter.)

    My favorite celebrity meeting story was when I had dinner with John Glenn at a Chi-Chi’s in Toledo, Ohio. A couple of friends and I were mowing on some chips and salsa when John Glenn and his friends came in, and we were like, John Glenn! ZOMG! He was extremely gracious and friendly. It was during the ’04 US presidential election, so I started talking politics with him, and he invited us to sit down with him and chat! It was awesome. I couldn’t resist but to ask, “Space: awesome or super awesome?” He said it was pretty neat . :)

  72. Oh god, meeting celebrities is bad, at least for me… A friend of mine from college is married to a pretty famous (in the UK, anyway) comedian. Going into the church for their wedding was the only time I’ve ever been papped, which is a very weird experience (we kept yelling “we’re not famous!” at the photographers but I guess they shoot everyone and get rid of the pictures of the plebs later). The wedding was half my friends from college and half who’s who in British comedy/acting. As it was a wedding, I couldn’t just sneak off and avoid talking to the famous types, which I would normally do (I’m not good with celebs, as I have proven to myself numerous times) – it would have been rude. I did talk to the husband of a famous woman at the wedding who said in his experience the best thing to do if you’re speaking to a celeb was just to say “I love your work” as it never goes down badly…

    I find one of the most difficult things in talking to celebs is that in most social situations you ask people about their jobs. With celebs, you generally know what they do already – and if you don’t, that’s almost an insult in itself. I’m never sure how the “So, I read in Heat that you’re doing another series of X – how’s that going?” comment comes across – does it make you sound like an obsessed fan (“Oh my god, I read everything ever written about you!”) or is it a cunning way to get past the “I know a lot about you which rules out the normal conversation openers, but am interested in listening to you” awkwardness Miss Conduct raises?

  73. Fatgirlonadate, I am SO impressed that you made out with one of the Proclaimers!!! (I owned their cassette with the 500 miles song on it, and I wore it out.) But, wait, you said you made out with the lead singer… Which one is the lead singer? Aren’t they twins?

  74. I once saw Alan Rickman queuing at passport control. I knew that if I did go up to him, a) I’d have no idea what to say and b) people would think I was trying to jump the queue, so I did nothing. I’m sure there are other near-meetings of celebrities I’m forgetting. I’ve been to a couple of cons, so I’ve also almost met various authors. I did meet Neil Gaiman at a signing and because I was pretty much the only other Brit there (it was in Israel) and he spotted my accent, I actually got to chat with him for a couple of minutes even though the signing time was almost up. And it turned out he’d lived in the neighborhood I grew up in for a couple years when he was in his twenties. He was very cool, and an excellent speaker.

    My most significant brush with celebrity is somewhat more than a brush. I found the email address of my favourite author on the net ten years ago (wow, can’t believe it’s been that long). I emailed him (mere ‘fan’ doesn’t really describe it, I was more like an ardent worshipper), a correspondence ensued (somewhat to my amazement), and two years later I ended up building the authorized website on his work in collaboration with him, which I still run. So ten years down the line, we’ve been friends for years, corresponded for years, I’ve met him numerous times whenever we’re in the same country, and I’ve been mentioned in the acknowledgments of his last two books. And he’s an internationally bestselling author. Weird, the things you get used to, when I can still remember the visceral and stunned reaction I had to my first readings of his books, which I’d read and reread for eight years before I found his email address.

  75. veganwobbly, I love your name.

    Sarah, I made out with Craig. I wasn’t really sure I should tell the story at all and then the first draft of my comment – yeah, I write drafts, shut up – didn’t say what band it was, but the story got too convoluted. And so then I didn’t say which twin. But THEN I googled them (after reading some comment on here about how someone couldn’t tell their story because it would show up in google results, and I got all paranoid) and turns out Craig’s messing around with fans is, err, not unique to me. So anyway.

    Charlie was there briefly and was very pleasant and shy and had a beer and then went back to the hotel (alone) and generally seemed like a normal guy.

  76. I kissed one of the Cribs in a toilet before he was famous. And it was a unisex toilet, before you ask.

    I meet boys in bands a lot, after gigs. I’m not usually star struck because they’re the type of bands who are generally thrilled people have turned up, so I usually just say how great they are. I did tell Carl from the Libertines that he had changed my life (which is true, I became a fan and really turned a corner), which made us both feel good, really.

  77. fatgirlonadate wrote: I’ve, uh, “met” the horse that Kevin Costner rode in Dances with Wolves. Shut up. I was 12. It was way cool.

    Well, if horses count, I met Misty of Chincoteague and her famous offspring Stormy when I was five. I loved the Marguerite Henry books and my family spent our summer vacation that year at Pony Penning Day on Chincoteague Island, and not only did I meet Misty (who was very old at the time), but fed her some hay. My parents still have a picture of me feeding her.

    Several of the folks I went to HS with went on to become celebrities of one form or another, but I don’t think that counts as meeting celebrities, because they sure weren’t famous when I knew them!

  78. I know I’m late to the party, it’s been a long week. :D However, I actually have a story to share, and it’s odd, because I had a similar conversation with someone else the other day.

    Anyway, I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. So, there are certain folks you just get used to seeing (or did at the time, I haven’t even visited there since my Gramma dies 6 years ago. ). The first is former IU basketball coach Bob Knight. While I never have understood the need to be so agressively belligerent, he was always very friendly to me (I was a kid, though), and everyone talked about how nice he was (except my dad who still says he was an asshole on the golf course. lol), the other is John Mellencamp.

    See, if you lived in Bloomington in the 80′s-early 90′s, you just got used to seein’ him and his family around town doing normal people stuff. So it stopped even being worthy of note, you know?

    But the only time I ever spoke to the man was one summer day, I was sitting in the College Mall with my younger brother, I was 18ish, so my bro would have been 14ish. He was ranting, vigorously and at great length about how all the hot girls ended up dating gross dirty guys. And in the middle of his speech, he pointed at a couple walking towards us and said, “SEE?!” I looked up, and without thinking just said, “John, Elaine, how’s it going?” And Mr. Mellencamp was all, “Good, it’s going good. You kids have a good afternoon.”

    My brother is *Still* mortified by that whole incident and it was almost 20 years ago. /laugh

    But otherwise no famous folks for me. *shrug*

    And you folks going to Dragoncon!! I’m jealous!! For the sole reason that my current fave band, Emerald Rose, is gonna be there, and has been there for several years, I guess. I <3 them a lot, in a completely weird fangirly sorta way.

  79. Oo! I’d love to meet Neil Gaiman! And Hugh Laurie. :)

    I haven’t been friends with any famous people, but I’ve run into a couple living in NYC and I’ve met and chatted with some at organized events, like cons.

    (Although I do have some friends who semi-famous in ‘net and computer science circles.)

    I’ve run into (almost literally) Harrison Ford, Moby and Tom Green.

    I’ve chatted with Joss Whedon (he signed my Buffy yearbook “Have a nice summer”), J. Michael Strazinski, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes (both awesome), went on a cruise with Christine Lavin (folk singer), and met Harvey Keitel at a cocktail party. (Just told him I like his work.) I’ve talked to Elizabeth Bear in email (she’s a sci-fi writer) and a super nice person.

  80. I got stuck in an extra long security line at LAX because the guy who played the dad on Malcolm in the Middle was in front of us and held everything up.

    Plus I saw Doug Wilson from Trading Spaces on the street not that long ago. And I think I saw Rami from Project Runway in DSW in Union Square but I’m not 100% sure it was him, he squeezed past me while I was waiting and I didn’t get a good enough look to be sure.

    Other than that…I’ve seen Broardway shows with famous people in them…John Lithgow, Ben Vareen (sp?) and Clay Aiken. Plus I went to a Daily Show taping so I was like 10 ft from Jon Stewart. And Howard Dean, cuz he was the guest.

    I was at the 100th Anniversary celebration for Milkbone (I’m cool) and they had a Charm City Cake (Ace of Cakes, anyone?) shaped like a dog biscuit. I walked past Geoff and said “I love your show” and he said “Thanks.” I squeed because I love that show. And the cake was really frickin good.

  81. Oh some people are counting letters exchanged with celebs, and I have a fabulous story that totally counts in that case!

    My older sister and I were both teenagers that read a lot of books and talked about them all the time. I went through a sci-fi/fantasy phase around that age and read almost everything our library had on the shelves. So I read a lot of the Piers Anthony books that were out at the time. But I was maybe 12 and didn’t get that the Xanth series was intended to be, well, satirical; I just thought it was silly but didn’t really pick up the deeper layers. So around that age I started learning more about sexism, and as one does, I started noticing it everywhere around me. And suddenly I realized that these books I had been reading were blatantly mysogynist – all the women were stock female stereotypes (as were, of course, all the other characters). I was so mad I stopped reading his books entirely and never bothered to pick them up again.

    So my sister and I wrote a *scathing* letter to Anthony, calling him a sexist pig and citing specific examples from some of the Xanth books. I am not even joking, we totally called the guy names (and our vocabulary at the time was not very advanced for that sort of insult-flinging, but we did our best! It was, I am SURE, a hilariously teenaged letter). And he WROTE BACK. Somewhere I still have his letter saved, maybe in a box in my parents’ attic… Anyway, he was a very good sport about two young teenage girls calling him a sexist pig, and he explained that the books were intended to be satirical. I never went back and read more of his stuff to see if I bought that argument, but it’s not like my critical readings were very advanced at the time anyway… And then he gave us the mailing address of a Piers Anthony fan club president who was our age and had written to him on the same day, because he thought we’d have interesting conversations. ha!

  82. I read those books at the same age and also never figured out they were satirical, so I do kind of wonder . . . if the target demographic isn’t getting it. But I’m glad it sounds like he’s a gracious guy!

  83. I had to come back and squee over Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. Also, I forgot that I’m fairly sure I saw Chris Klein at a bar on Halloween in NYC.

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