Brush with celebrity

Published August 5, 2013 by Betty

This post was inspired by an exchange I had with Hippie Cahier in the comment section of her recent post.  I made reference to an encounter I had with musician Nick Lowe in the early 80s.  Hipster politely asked for details.  It made me smile to recall the moment, but it also spurred on memories of other “brushes with celebrity” I’ve had. It happens to ALL of us. This post includes my Nick Lowe story, but it also includes other random meetings.

Martin Chambers, drummer and original member of one of my all-time favorite bands, The Pretenders.

It must have been 1980. My friend Roxanne and I headed into New York City for an evening at the Palladium.  I think we were there for a New York Dolls concert, or whatever form of Dolls David Johansen represented at that point (he definitely was not yet into the Buster Poindexter stage – we wouldn’t have gone for that.)

The main act became irrelevant when I was approached by a handsome man with a lovely British accent who complimented my rockin’ black punk-ish jacket.  I’d actually borrowed the jacket for the evening from a co-worker who was much more hip.  Ever alert, Rox and I immediately recognized him.  He then asked if I wanted to trade jackets with him.  Does a bear….? But it wasn’t my jacket, so it was only a temporary swap.  When we parted ways an hour later, we swapped back.

A New York Yankee’s relief pitcher from the early 80s.

(This is the only one who will go unnamed.  You’ll realize why when you read the story)

During the summer of 1981, I spent a weekend visiting a college friend in Boston. On Saturday night, my friend and I went to Daisy Buchanan’s on Newbury Street.  It was pretty late in the evening and I was heading toward the restroom.  Suddenly, a man stepped into my path and said, “Why didn’t you call today?” HUH?!

Since I had immediately recognized him as the NYY pitcher, of course I turned around to look at the person I presumed stood behind me.  There was no one there.

He then asked, “Aren’t you Barbara? Weren’t you in here last night?”

Me: “Uuuuuhhhhhh, nooooooo.”

Him: “Oh.  Well, do you smoke?”

Me: (looking down at the cigarette in my hand that I’d just taken a drag and realizing he doesn’t mean nicotine) “Ummm, yes.”  (Don’t judge, it was 1981.)

Him: “Wanna come back to my room and smoke?”

Me: “Sure!”

Him: “Okay, look.  I’m staying at the Sheraton in room #123.  Let me leave first, then come on along five minutes later.”

Discretion should always trump drunk.

Call me naïve, but I (correctly) did not at all get a sex vibe from the invitation.  It was completely just, “let’s get stoned.” And we did.

One Year Later: New York Yankees starting pitcher, Ron Guidry.

With the information I’d gleaned the previous summer, my two die-hard Yankee fan best friends and I booked a room at the Sheraton Boston during the Yankee-Red Sox series, as well as tickets to a game.

After attending the Saturday afternoon game, we excitedly prepared to hit Daisy Buchanan’s, hoping that it continued to be the Yankees’ Boston watering hole of choice. After dressing in our 80s best (with appropriate makeup), we boarded the elevator to head for the bar.

We descended a couple of floors and the elevator stopped for another pick up.  My friend Lisa was blathering away as the new passenger stepped inside.  My other friend Roxanne and I quickly recognized the passenger as Ron Guidry, aka Louisana Lightning, aka Lisa’s FAVORITE PLAYER EVER.  And Lisa continued to yap, clueless to her hero’s entry.

With eyes nearly popping out of our skulls and heads making movements necks aren’t made to accommodate, we finally silenced Lisa and directed her attention to the new passenger.  She noticed, then asked and was granted permission to feel his finely muscled left arm.

Mr Guidry was indeed headed to the same destination.  While at Daisy Buchanan’s, another Yankee icon, Graig Nettles, bought us a drink and we also met Lou Pinella, among others.

Nick Lowe.  1983-ish??

As the video posted by Hipster reminds us, in the Teacher Teacher video Nick Lowe repeatedly runs his hair back from his face with his fingers.  After a performance at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Lisa, Rox and I went downstairs to try and talk our way into the dressing room.  We succeeded. When we met Nick, I asked and was granted permission to run my fingers through his hair.

Note: when Googling to do some checking for this post, I discovered that Nick Lowe is playing at a small theatre in nearby Fairfield CT on August 23.  The show is sold out, but I am second on the waiting list.  I’m hoping for a repeat.  But I suspect his hair is a lot different than it was in the early 80s.  I know mine is.

The New York Rangers – the entire team and broadcasters.  Super Bowl Sunday, January 1984.

I was working in the group and incentive division of a travel agency. I had to go to Toronto for a hotel site inspection.  The Saturday night I was in town, the Rangers were playing at Maple Leaf Garden.  My favorite team? An iconic hockey venue? I had to go.  For $20 Canadian, I scalped a ticket that had me in the last row of the venue with a partially obstructed view, but I didn’t care.  The people sitting around me could not have been more kind and they indulged my Ranger-mania.

The next morning, I hustled to the Toronto airport for my early flight back to LaGuardia.  As I sat at the gate, I looked up at one point to see two guys walking toward the seating area.  I thought to myself, “Hey, that guy looks like Phil Esposito…..wait a minute, the other guy looks like Sam Rosen.”  At the time, both were the broadcast team for NY Ranger games on MSG network. Well, at their arrival, I thought the cake of my weekend had just been iced!  But it wasn’t over yet.

I continued to check out the flow of beautifully fit young men gathering in the gate area as my brain fired:  Oh my god, THAT’S DAVE MALONEY! THERE’S BARRY BECK!  ANDERS HEDBERG AND THE REST OF THE HOT SWEDES!  And so on…  If you were a Rangers fanatic in the early 80s, you know those names.  To me, at that time in my life, it was a big deal.

After we boarded, I found that I was on an aisle seat smack in the middle of the whole flipping team.  I had Rangers in front of me, Rangers beside me, Rangers behind me.  Many of you know I now have a severe fear of flying that developed in the early 90s.  But at that moment in the mid-80s surrounded by every member of my all-time favorite sports team, if the plane went down I would have died wearing the biggest smile of my life.

Some other random but fun brushes I’ve had include:

Ivan Lendl.  Mid-80s.

He played in a squash tournament at the Southport (CT) Racquet Club.  Afterward, I approached him in the parking lot for an autograph.  I’m pretty sure he sneered at me and gunned his Porsche to knock me over as he sped out of the lot.

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes.  Totally fuzzy on the timing of this.  Could have been anywhere between 1978 and 1984.

They played an outdoor concert at the now defunct Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton CT. There was virtually no post-event security for the band.  After the concert, my friends and I wandered to the band’s trailer.  We hung out drinking beers for a while with a few of the Jukes, including Southside himself.

Ice-T & Coco.  The Las Vegas Hilton, June 2010 .

I was walking through the hotel lobby with my colleague after spending nearly 12 hours working at the convention center.  As we headed toward the elevators, I spotted a couple walking toward us in the direction of the casino.  I said to my friend, “LOOK, there’s Ice-T and Coco!!” In her ever so delightful and polite sounding British accent, she turned and promptly chased them down:  “ICE-T!  ICE-T!  EXCUSE ME!”  Ice and Coco couldn’t have been more polite as they smiled for photos through our blundering efforts with newly acquired mobile technology.

The only actual photographic evidence I have of any of the encounters

The only actual photographic evidence I have of any of the encounters

Not me.  But shortly after I met Ice in Vegas, another friend ran into him in NYC.

Not me. But shortly after I met Ice in Vegas, another friend ran into him in NYC. He gets around.

Anthony Bourdain.  Craft Restaurant NYC, April 2012.

While dining with my friend May, Bourdain entered the restaurant and walked by our table three times while we simply gaped.  This man is my fantasy husband.

Jackie Mason.  Scarpetta Restaurant, NYC, April 2013.

Again, I met May for our annual dinner in Manhattan.  After exiting the taxi and struggling to identify the location, looking up toward building numbers, I suddenly realized I was in front of the restaurant and veered left to enter.  In doing so, I accidentally walked behind a woman also entering.  In doing so, I also cut off her companion following about ten feet behind her.  I looked at the old timer, apologized, and thought to myself, “gee, that looks like Jackie Mason.”  As the three of us approached the maitre d’ desk, several staff gathered and greeted him by name, wondering if they now required a table for three.  Nope, so sorry for the intrusion! May had not yet arrived so I took a seat at the bar.  When she joined me, I told her about my faux pax.  Because I have about a dozen years on May, she wasn’t old enough to be exactly sure who Jackie Mason was.  But once we were seated, she pointed to the table next to us and said, “Is that him?”   Indeed. May and I wonder who we’ll see at next year’s dinner.

I know that everyone has encounters like this.  I’d love to hear about your brush with celebrity! Please share.

5 comments on “Brush with celebrity

    • After the Vegas meeting, I sent the photo that did include me to my aunt in Massachusetts. She shared it with co-workers who zeroed in on Coco, not noticing there was even another woman in the photo, and said to her, “oh dear lord, that’s your niece?! Bring her in for a visit!”

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