[Note from Mark: This list is written by my girlfriend Miki, celebrating her eccentric mom.] My mother is celebrity crazed. She burst into tears at Graceland... while still in the parking lot. She has a "Nash Bridges" poster signed by Don Johnson hanging in the kitchen. She considers any trip to Los Angeles where she doesn't see at least 3 celebrities to be a failure. She knows more movie trivia than anyone else I have ever met, except for Mark Tapio Kines. During my childhood, I was often dragged along on her celebrity hounding adventures. Here are my favorite examples:
- Carol Channing. My mother and I were standing outside of a Broadway stage door in the late '70s, an all-too-frequent occurrence in my childhood. Suddenly, none other Carol Channing squeezed past us to enter the door. Her big, plastic head about scared the pants off the 6-year-old me, and started a lifetime of fear and loathing of Carol Channing.
- Liberace. Not many people under the age of 40 can claim that they saw at least 8 Liberace performances between 1977 and his death in 1987! My mother was a huge fan of Mr. Showmanship (which isn't surprising, as she is certainly the first huge fag hag that I ever knew), and she never missed an opportunity to expose me to his fabulous world of virgin fox capes, sequins, pink limousines and boy-toy chauffeurs. In 1980, one show had some deal that if you bought a $35 painting of Liberace, you'd be allowed backstage to actually have Lee personally autograph it for you. I will *never* forget his creepy voice saying "Hi Miki!" Of course, I'm reminded of it daily, whenever I see the best piece of kitsch ever... a Liberace painting that says "To Miki, Love Liberace, 1980" which proudly hangs in my living room.
- Ben Vereen. We were eating at a fancy restaurant in Aruba when my mother spotted Broadway superstar Ben Vereen eating at the next table. Mr. Vereen had not been recognized and was probably enjoying his peaceful and anonymous dinner. My mother put an end to that by loudly exclaiming "Hi Ben!!!" Ben mumbled "Hi" and proceeded to hide his head in his hand, and every other head in the restaurant turned to look at him.
- Aileen Quinn. So, I was a big fan of "Annie" as a child. Imagine my glee when my mother woke me up in what I perceived to be the middle of the night (it was probably about 10 PM in reality) and dragged me right to where they were filming the movie Annie. Strangely, the mansion scenes were filmed about 3 miles from our New Jersey home *and* my mother's friend did all of the flowers for the mansion set. So I got to stand around, sleepy and confused, and watch them film an uninteresting take over and over again. While I did not encounter Carol Burnett or Tim Curry or Bernadette Peters, I did have a fleeting moment with Annie herself, Aileen Quinn.
- Dustin Hoffman. My mother spotted him eating in a deli on a family vacation to Los Angeles in the early '80s. She somehow managed to keep her decorum while he ate, as she knew that you're not supposed to bother celebrities in Los Angeles. But when he finished his meal, she walked over to his table and took his straw. When she proudly showed my father and me her new souvenir, my father replied, "Yuck! He probably has syphilis!"
- Danny DeVito/Rhea Perlman. Danny DeVito and I both hail from the greater Asbury Park, NJ area. My mother always got her hair done at the beauty salon operated by his sister and cousin (a little known fact is that "Mr. Danny" was a hairdresser there as well, in his pre-Taxi existence), and they became rather close friends. And whenever Danny and Rhea returned to Asbury Park, you better believe that my mother took me right over for a visit. As a result, it was not unusual for me to randomly end up on outings with Danny, Rhea and their kids.
- Larry Storch. My mother and I were walking along in New York City. Apparently, my mother had a piece of toilet paper stuck to her foot. A man came up behind her and started heckling her about it. She turned around to confront the jerk, but instead exclaimed, "Larry Storch!" Yes, my mother's heckler was none other than F Troop star Larry Storch. I'm sure that he is STILL beaming over the fact that he was actually recognized.
- Jon Bon Jovi. Thanks to the aforementioned Danny DeVito connection, when Throw Mama From the Train had its premiere in Asbury Park, my mother and I were in attendance. Although Billy Crystal was not a part of the festivities, we did have encounters with several celebrities that evening... Anne Ramsey, Christopher Reeve, Celeste Holm, Captain Lou Albano(!)... but it is the photo of me and Jon Bon Jovi that amuses me the most. I mean, take 1988 and add it to New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi and lots of hair. Classic.
- Richard Simmons. During the Deal-a-Meal era, Richard Simmons was fond of donning his little red and white shorts and delivering his message right to the people... in shopping malls. Of course my mother brought me to the mall for such an important event! I thought the whole thing was pretty amusing initially - I was a teenager and a bit of a fag hag in my own right at that time - and when he asked for people over 50 to get on stage and dance with him, I wasn't even too embarrassed when my mother was the first person to spring up onto the stage. But when he then called for teenagers to go up and she physically forced *me* up on the stage, well, that's when the event became clearly mortifying. Yes, there are photos of this. Yes, I'm as surprised as you that I've never needed therapy as a result of any of this.