I'm a good story

Don’t touch the idols

There was a quote I read once that said something along the lines of “Never touch your idols because the gold rubs off on your hands.” I don’t remember where it came from and Google is not turning anything up, but that was the gist of it – don’t meet people whose work you admire.

This has happened to me three times in my life, this not touching my idols business, most recently being last week, and I’m starting to believe that the Universe really doesn’t want me to meet the few people in show business who I actually admire. I’ll take it as a sign.

Time # 1
When: 2000
Where: Maui
Who: Prince
What: I was visiting my friend Merika in Maui on my spring break in university. Her step-dad was a musician who played in local jazz bars around town. The morning after I flew in, he called to tell her Prince had been in the night before and jammed with the band until the early hours. Prince had told her step-dad “I’m going to be back tomorrow night. I want this place filled with my kind of people.”

Considering Prince is my all time favourite musician, this was big news. The next day, we got on our skimpiest outfits, found a babysitter for Merika’s daughter and headed to the restaurant where Prince had descended upon the night before.

We ordered dinner and waited. It was clear that word had spread as the restaurant was filled with people who were unmistakable Prince fans (women in skimpy outfits – like us, and men dressed in purple and walking with canes despite not having any visible disabilities.)

After dinner, we meandered for a while, ordering a few rounds of drinks. The hours passed by and no Prince. Merika started getting cranky – she was a single mum who wasn’t used to being out so late.

Then, two hours after we’d finished dinner, an Escalade pulled up in front of the restaurant. A pair of beefy men walked in and cleared out the top of the restaurant. The band, now on their fourth set and visibly exhausted, continued playing. Then Prince walked in, bodyguard in tow, accompanied by a slight Egyptian princess-looking woman. The people in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and parted a path for him, as if he were an actual prince, then burst into applause. He walked through without making eye contact. With stilettos on, Prince was my height (5”1) and decked out head-to-toe in chiffon. I wanted so badly to race up to him and tell him how much he meant to me, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. He went upstairs and looked down as the crowd danced to the live band, desperately trying to coax him to join in. After about seven minutes, he left. I guess we weren’t his kind of people.

Time #2
When: 2009
Where: Toronto
Who: Will Oldham
What: In the middle of my year of sheer emotional hell, I retreated to Toronto to deal with some heavy and dark issues. While there, my second favourite singer of all time, Will Oldham, was playing a show. He’s the kind of musician who has at least three songs on every album that speaks directly to me, particularly through my dark times. I am in love with the man. The opening band on that tour was Lightning Dust, a fantastic group from Vancouver with whom I am friends (they let me use one of their songs as the theme to my podcast.) Of course I was going to go.

After the show, I met up with the band and we hung out for a bit. Will Oldham was a few feet away, chatting with fans and friends. Ashley Webber, one of the members of Lightning Dust, could tell I was eyeing him up, and knowing how much I admired his music, asked if I wanted to be introduced. I enthusiastically told her yes. As she took my hand and led me over, Mr. Oldham finished talking to the group who had cornered him, turned away and disappeared. I didn’t want to bother him and just acknowledged that maybe that moment wasn’t the right one to meet this man who I so deeply admired. Maybe there never will be a right one. I have to be okay with that.

Time #3
When: Last week
Where: A block from my house
Who: James Franco
What: For about two weeks, the prequel to “Planet of the Apes” was filming a block away from my house. I walked by the set several times a day, and gradually got friendly with a few women in the costume department who went absolutely apeshit (teehee) over my dog Dutchie. I asked them if anyone worthwhile was going to be filming and they told me James Franco. Here’s the thing. I watch on average maybe four movies a year, one of which is maybe in a movie theatre. I don’t own a TV. Hollywood stars mean very little to me. They don’t excite me in any way. Except if they’re James Franco. He is the only movie star that gets me excited. And it’s all based on his role on “Freaks and Geeks” (ok, and “Pineapple Express.”) He’s a quirky heartthrob whose, er, brain I’d like to devour.

I got my new friends in wardrobe to fill me in on when he’d be shooting. They gave me a rough schedule and I made note. It wasn’t like I was going to be hanging around set (seriously) but I just wanted to be kept in the loop in case Dutchie needed walking.

I’d forgotten all about it until one night when I was returning home from a night out. I was in a cab, which had to take a detour around the block they were filming.  I remembered it was a night when James Franco was meant to be on set so I got the cab to let me out where the street was blocked off. I was wearing high heels and a short dress. The street was lined with excited girls who were there to watch filming. I tried to walk by but the PA told me they had to shoot one last scene and I had to wait for a few minutes.  I watched as they poured fake rain on the street as James Franco drove a car half way down the block, parked it and carried some groceries into a house. He had that powerful presence that people who are used to being watched have. I wondered if he noticed me staring across the street, in my short dress and heels. I started to get excited. When the scene was done, I was allowed through. I watched James Franco pose with some fans then booted it to my house, in my heels on cobblestone, to get my dog. There was no way I was going to ask him to pose with me for a photo. I’d feel more comfortable getting him to pose with my dog. I ran back, doggie in tow, but he was gone.

I wasn’t terribly upset. I thought about that presence he had, the attention he was used to being showered with and realized, there was no way that I would have felt comfortable interacting with him in a normal, nonchalant way. There is no way we would have been on the same level.

After all, idols are simply representations of gods made in their likeness, objects used to worship. They have a job to do. I would never want to get in the way of that.

July 21, 2010   9 Comments