I'm a Big Fan
August 20, 2004 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever had any success in trying to express, to a famous artist, your appreciation for their work, be they author/actor/musician, whatever? What did you do?
posted by scarabic to Media & Arts (54 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I stood there looking up at him and realizing that the years of drugs had changed his speech patterns to an uninteligible jumble of words. Good thing he's a computer science teacher too.
posted by Derek at 3:35 AM on August 20, 2004

Back in the early nineties I once had a single front row seat to a pretty small, indoor Bob Dylan concert where he appeared with his band. I must have been about 22 and was surrounded by a fairly older crowd. When the band broke out "Desolation Row," I stood up in my little miniskirt and tights and mouthed every single word along to that gynormous neverending anthem of a song. By the time they got to the middle, Tony Garnier the bass player was grinning openly at me, and the couple of times that Dylan looked up from the microphone, he actually smiled. I felt like I had communicated to Bob and the band that his music still spoke to young people, even though I never said a word to him.

(This may not be the kind of story you were hoping for, scarabic, but it's all I've got. Cheers. :)
posted by onlyconnect at 3:41 AM on August 20, 2004

I walked out of my gym in Copley Square (Boston) one late October morning intending to shower at home. I was sweaty, oily, unshaven and wearing a ridiculous high-pile beige polarfleece top and running shorts.

The square had been empty when I entered the gym, but 90 minutes later when I left it there was a crowd assembled. I heard music that I recognized as folk classic "rally round the flag." Then I heard the lyrics and realized that it was Bragg's "Power in A Union." And then I realized that it was Billy Bragg singing it from a little platform.

After getting brought up to speed about why he was there (to support Boston's striking janitors) and what he'd played from an awesome middle-aged hippie couple, I decided to go to talk to Billy. I approached him as he walked off the stage, shook his hand and put forth a stream of verbal diarrhea:

"You're my favorite artist ever and you have been since I was in high school and I had no idea that you'd be here because I just walked out of the gym and you were here and I can't believe it. I wish I had been at the concert last night but it's so awesome that you're helping the janitors while you're here. You're an inspiration to a lot of people and I will remember this day for many years to come and I'm sorry that I'm filthy."

Billy replied "Thanks. I could see you weren't dressed for it." If he remembers meeting me, he thinks I was a homeless guy.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:03 AM on August 20, 2004

I got to meet Jack Kirby about a year before he died. I shook his hand and told him how much I appreciated and respected his work. He was this gruff grandfatherly kinda guy with an indefinite waistline, and just wanted to talk about how proud he was of his grandchildren. A sweet guy. Then I bought a page of his work from his wife, Roz, which I prize to this day.
posted by jpburns at 4:54 AM on August 20, 2004

When I was much younger, I wrote to Bad Religion and gushed about how I'd been introduced to them by a friend and how I thought they were the greatest band e v a r...

And to my surprise, Jay Bentley (bass) wrote me back!
posted by black8 at 5:26 AM on August 20, 2004

I've been lucky enough to meet many people whose musical work I appreciate, and a few whose writing I found expert and soothing, both in a country where mediocre talent too often receives more acclaim than it deserves.

So I figured out a long time ago that the best thing to do, for me, in order to make it sound sincere, to avoid me-tooism or sycophancy, is to praise what they've just done: the book they just read from, the concert they just gave, the idea they just revealed. "Great show." "Thanks for a cool set." "I enjoyed the book." "I'm looking forward to the next time/book/show." A handshake or hand wave goes along with the words.

These lines have the same effect as a good pick-up line: they let the talented person either say thanks and walk away, or they give them an opening to have a conversation. The talented person is spared the embarrassment of lavish praise and idol-worship; I am spared possible rejection because I look or sound like a slavering fanboy.

About half the time we find out we know people, places, or works in common, and some connection is made. It's nice.
posted by Mo Nickels at 5:39 AM on August 20, 2004

About 8 or so years ago, a friend of mine asked me to go with him to dinner in a small restaurant in Oxford. He had helped organise the campaign for Oxford's Lesbian & Gay Centre, and was on the supervising committee at the time. They were having a dinner to celebrate 'x' years of opening [can't now remember how long it's been open].

Anyway, this famous actor called Ian McKellen was the speaker at the celebrations, and also came to the dinner. I say 'famous actor', cos I had hardly heard of him at the time. He hadn't yet had a blockbuster hit movie, and I wasn't a big theatre goer.

I thought of ways to bluff it, and realised I couldn't carry it off in such a small do. So I told him I'd never seen any of his stuff: he was very gracious and made nothing of it.

We had a good meal and he went on to be a superstar. I like to think I played some small part in that....
posted by dash_slot- at 5:49 AM on August 20, 2004

I told the woodshop guy he ran a nice shop the other day (in the art department) out of genuine appreciation. He laughed in my face and walked away. He's somewhat of a badass.

Later he walked by and said my sculpture looked really nice, tho. I guess he isn't famous, so nevermind.
posted by pissfactory at 5:50 AM on August 20, 2004

I'm really bad at this. This group I'm in at school organizes shows, so I usually get to be around lots of performers each year. Worst ones:

Tim Kasher of Cursive is hanging around after a show while everyone's cleaning up. I tag along next to the two other students in my group who are in charge as they talk to him, but I can't really make eye contact and don't say anything at all.

Then, at a different show, Ted Leo is taking a break in the room where we're feeding the artists and he grabs his little vegan dish and sits in the corner by himself. He's a really friendly and smart guy, but I was too scared to even walk over and say "hello your music is wonderful."

posted by themadjuggler at 6:09 AM on August 20, 2004

Weird. I'm doing just this right now: exchanging IMs with a damn fine writer who I admire. For what it's worth, it's going well, but this only counts if your definition of "famous" is "wrote a book that some people heard of."

Similarly, when my mom did a stint as pulp scifi author Robert Sheckley's typist, I got a chance to meet him and express my admiration, and ask him to sign an old 1950s paperback. He was very stoned but showed me a little bit of his writing process.
posted by majick at 6:14 AM on August 20, 2004

I once met actor Robert Urich at a Spenser For Hire cast party in the eighties. I made of a point of telling him that I really enjoyed his work in Courtship of Eddies Father, and he glared at me and walked away.

So open scorn and derision aren't really the best strategy.

He died a couple years ago; we never reconciled.
posted by luser at 6:26 AM on August 20, 2004

(mimi smartipants rocks, majick!)
posted by onlyconnect at 6:38 AM on August 20, 2004

I read On The Road to Bagdhad by Guneli Gun and wrote to her c/o Virago Press to tell her how much the book kicked ass. I got a delightful handwritten note back a month later thanking me for my rather thoughtless comment "I enjoyed it so much I didn't realise it was a feminist piece until I checked out the publisher".

Now I always write to people if I enjoyed their book/ music, if they're little-known (so are unlikely to be bombarded with breathless fanmail).
posted by Pericles at 7:12 AM on August 20, 2004

I emailed Ken Nordine abouthis word jazz. He was great. He sent me a very lengthy reply full of words of encouragement, and a poem he had written. I think it's the best email I've ever received.
posted by nthdegx at 7:19 AM on August 20, 2004

I emailed Chris Vadala once, and got a great personal response including an invitation to his next show. That was cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:37 AM on August 20, 2004

Oh, and Dave Barry (well, his assistant, anyway). That got me a mention on his site, which was WAY cool.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:39 AM on August 20, 2004

I find a simple "Thank you" goes a long way. You don't sound like a psych gushing fan but you still get the message across that you have been affected by their work.
posted by bondcliff at 7:39 AM on August 20, 2004

I was once at an art show that I just sort of walked into. I was working in the building at the time and had just showed up late one night to do some more printing. Anyway, walked around the show and took in the sights. Started talking to a professor and it became clear after a moment that one of the other people in the group was one of the artists.

He pulled me aside at one point, ostensibly to show me some subtlety in one of his pieces (which I really liked) but really to tell me my fly was down. We got to talking and had a great time, discussing my full time work and his (which is computer science related).

After the show I tagged along to the talk that came after the opening. He goes up to the stage and starts talking and showing some older slides and BAM, it hits me in the face, this is Adam Licht, a photographer that I really had sort of an art crush on. I'd spent the whole evening talking about trivialities. I emailed him later and explained the whole thing to him, he thought it was rather funny, and we exchanged a small set of emails.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:42 AM on August 20, 2004

I manage to meet a fair amount of well-known writers working at library gigs, and I find the Mo Nickels approach works well. Make a connection, give a compliment, leave open a window, don't sulk if it's not forthcoming. For people I haven't met in person, I frequently write letters [on paper] and send it to them at their home address or c/o their publishers if I really liked something they did, or it had an effect on me, or even if I had read something else that reminded me of them. For anyone but the biggest superstars, I often get email or a postcard back. I recently put a fairly glowing link to a new song I'd heard on my web site and got a really effusive email back from the musician thanking me for all the traffic I'd driven to his site. For smaller artists, just sending a person or two their way to buy their book/album/art can be a great service.

I remember sending email to Adam Curry back when mtv.com belonged to him and was still a gopher site and he wrote me back a very nice email which I wish I had archived someplace.
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 AM on August 20, 2004

I say mostly leave people alone. If you run into someone and you can't hold back, or they're put face to face by circumstances, a simple "I enjoy your work" will suffice. Then, drop it. Don't bug people when they're eating. Don't stop them getting in a cab.

If it's a promo/meet-and-greet thing they are doing a thing and are into respond to platitudes mode so go for broke there.

If you'll be talking to them in a more social situation don't be obsequious. Ask them about their lives in the same way you'd talk to any new person. That makes for a more authentic connection.

I've dropped email notes to people who've written article I've enjoyed, but never put anything in them that would suggest that I expect a response, and never to anyone who's a superstar. Leave Steven King, Cornell West, and Bono alone.

The big exception, as I understand it, is that sometimes you can get invited onto your favorite rock star's tour bus and get to know them really quite well if you're open-minded, dress right and hang out in the alley behind the club.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:00 AM on August 20, 2004

Any chance I've had to meet famous people (since we're name dropping: Stanley Jordan, Cyrus Chestnut, Victor Wooten and Jimmy Herring—not all at once, but I'd go see that band) it was just a post-show handshake and thank-you, no gushing. Except the Victor Wooten run-in was pre-show, and he he had approached me to ask me to take a picture of him with some friends/family or something. That was odd, but I didn't mind. The only other exception was the time I got to interview Bruce Hornsby before he played a solo performance. And I was terrified of David Copperfield when I met him as a young'un after waiting in line with my parents for about an hour after a show.
posted by emelenjr at 8:09 AM on August 20, 2004

I saw Tom Jones on the street and was going to say hi when my co-worker (who was a HUGE fan) got all self-concious and wouldn't even let me talk to him.
posted by KathyK at 8:09 AM on August 20, 2004

A friend of a friend makes a hobby out of meeting celebrities. His technique is very simple. He says, "Hey [name of celeb]! Nice to see you! I loved you in [name of last project].

This works really well because celebrities have to promote the last thing they did, and they have to be nice.

One time the guy met William Shatner. Shatner was at a low point in his life then, had just done a series of commercials with his wife, who then proceeded to depart from their marriage with a large part of his net worth.

So buddy said, "Hey, Bill Shatner! Great to see you! I loved you in that Dominion commercial!"

Shatner looked at him for a few seconds, said, "Fuck off," and walked away.
posted by orange swan at 8:16 AM on August 20, 2004

A friend of mine met Tom Robbins last year, told Robbins how much he admired his work, and was extremely flattered when Robbins proceeded to hit on his girlfriend right in front of him.
posted by COBRA! at 8:18 AM on August 20, 2004

For whatever it's worth, most people express their admiration for ME by just ignoring me.
posted by coelecanth at 8:21 AM on August 20, 2004

Early 90's, bathroom break at a fantastic Pretenders show in NYC. Who is that familiar guy standing at the next urinal, clutching bags of freshly bought records from seemingly every record store in the Village? Fred Schneider of the B-52's. To answer your question, he kept looking straight ahead.
Later that night a cab discharged us at the Continental. I open my door and nearly ran into Joey Ramone. Drunk with overpriced alcohol and having lost all sense because this was actually someone I wanted to meet, I blurt out something stupid about when's the new album coming out. My mouth did not ask my brain for permission because Joey reminded me they had a new one out 6 months previously... Ugh. Beat the retreat time for me.
For penance, I paid to see White Zombie because The Ramones were the opening band. We left after 38 minutes and 18 songs. So did they.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 8:43 AM on August 20, 2004

I tend to adopt the Chris Farley approach:

"Remember the time when you were in [insert move title here]? .... That was awesome!"
posted by marcusb at 8:46 AM on August 20, 2004

I once found myself next to Dave Bidini at the bar when they were finished playing a concert (he was ordering a white russian or something to drink while contemplating an encore.) Instead of gushing like I wanted to I said "thanks for getting Stompin' Tom to come out of retirement". He then played Bud the Spud on accoustic guitar sitting on the barstool.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2004

posted by Space Coyote at 9:02 AM on August 20, 2004

remember when Moby's personal e.mail address was published on the web? well, i like his stuff and i was dissapointed that he was being trashed by all the eminem fans at that time, so i sent him a nice one.

he replied, saying that it was nice that not everyone hated him, thanked me for my time.

it made my day, i have to say. bless him.
posted by triv at 9:14 AM on August 20, 2004

Miguel e-mailed me once. So did madamjujujive. That was cool.

Generally, I follow Mo Nickels' approach, and sometimes say I enjoy their work or am a fan, but only if I also have a specific thing to point to. (Preferably something either very recent or fairly obscure.) And it could also be because I haven't really talked to any serious megawattage.

Garrison Keillor: I complimented him on his Salon advice column, "Mr. Blue", and told him that I could understand why he'd stop writing it, but that I missed it. He was very nice but seemed incredibly shy.

Ben Stein: What you see on TV, etc. seems to be pretty much him. I asked him about his Slate.com "Diary", a book of his from 1979, and some other writing he'd done. He was very enthusiastic and down-to-earth, and we chatted for a little while.

Treasury Secretary John Snow once poked his head into my edit bay and asked me all kinds of questions about what I was doing and what kind of software I used. I asked him some things about CSX (he's the former chairman, and my stepfather worked there for 20+ years.)

When I met Elvis Costello (he was doing some publicity for his latest album), I asked him about the just-published NYT review of a recent concert. We talked about Jon Pareles's writing for a very brief time, but it was kind of a "thank you, goodbye" sort of encounter. He was pleasant, but kind of distant and sort of brief. Which I can understand, by the way; hearing about how you're the greatest thing since sliced bread every day would, I'd think, really get on the nerves of any well-adjusted person.

(I've totally been the fanboy when meeting a few artists. Ralph Stanley was very nice and chatted for a while, John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants was busy and distracted but friendly, &c.)

I saw Richard Holbrooke in a DC bookstore. Since I'd been planning to get his book "To End A War" for some time, I went and got it off the shelf and asked him if he'd sign it. He totally blew me off: ignored me, turned away, and walked out of the store. So I decided to buy the book used and deny him the royalties.

And I ran into Michael Moore on the street. I asked him what he thought of the just-published New Yorker profile on him, and he replied that he hadn't read it, and asked me what it said. So I found myself in the odd position of summarizing a magazine article to its subject.

I just want to know how adrober does it.
posted by Vidiot at 10:05 AM on August 20, 2004

I managed to get tickets to the two-night Magnetic Fields show (all 69 Love Songs performed!) at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center a few years ago. Sat next to this lanky, unkempt-looking guy in a black leather jacket. He was there with his wife and their three kids, the youngest of whom was really just too young (7?) to be at that sort of event. She kept doodling on a notepad and showing it to her mom and playing tic-tac-toe and kicking the seat in front of her and was really distracting when you're sitting right there and trying to watch soft, wistful music by your favorite band in expensive seats.

I was really tempted to say something semi-nasty to the family--one of my absolute all-time pet peeves is people who talk or make noise at theatre events. But I held my tongue. And at intermission, I kinda had a brain flash and realized who the guy was and how very, very, very glad I was that I hadn't bothered him:

It was Neil Gaiman.

I didn't say anything to him or his family--I didn't want to disturb them. I figured the last thing he needed was yet another girl gushing and telling him how cool Sandman was and how much I admired him. And I vaguely remembered that he was friends with Claudia Gonson from the MF, so it made sense that he and his family had flown into NYC for the show.

I saw sat next to him again for the second night for the concert. Didn't bother him, valiantly ignored the fact that now he was the distraction, not his daughter.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:06 AM on August 20, 2004

Back in my Neil-Gaiman-is-god days, I made him a mix tape of songs that reminded me of his Sandman series and gave it to him at a book signing. I don't know what possessed me - I've never done anything like it before or since, but for some reason it just needed to be done. He sent me a really groovy postcard thanking me, and he remembered it the next time I saw him.

/blushing fangirl

(on preview: Asparagirl! OMG - you, like, sat next to his family? OMG!!!1!! ; ) )
posted by widdershins at 10:16 AM on August 20, 2004

I'm always surprised by how often my very rare email to an author or such-like yields an appreciative, non-form-letter response, which I think makes both parties Feel Good.

Other than that, you really can't go wrong with offers of sex and/or showing up at their house with mumbled explanations of how you know they're speaking to you specifically with their work.
posted by freebird at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2004

my first job required a fair amount of celebrity-wrangling, so i mostly got over my fangirl stuff.

except the time i ran into stanley donen at the quad theater in the village, and stammered something along the lines of "sir, your work has meant a great deal to me, thank you."

otherwise, i find that "dude! you totally rock!" goes a long way.
posted by judith at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2004

I've met tons of people I admire and am usually pretty calm about it. Here are a few:

Sidney Pollack

I used to work in the mail room of a chi-chi travel company and one day Sidney Pollack stopped by and hung out in the kitchen (he was in town for the Toronto Film Fest and had travelled with us many times). Most of the younger people in the office seemed to vaguely recognize him and know that he was "important" but beyond that didn't know shit. I shook his hand and said, ''I just wanted to thank you for making two of my favorite films." He looked at me like I was full of shit and said, "And what would those be?" and I said "They Shoot Horses and Condor" and he lit up like a Christmas tree.

He sat in the kitchen for a while telling stories (the best one was about working with Kubrick where he said that he insisted from day one that he would not take his shirt off in front of the camera and then somehow, without knowing how, he was half naked on the day of shooting. The way he told it, and with the obvious awe he had for Kubrick, was great.)

Quentin Tarantino

Back in 92, before Tarantino had had anything come out theatrically, he was at the Toronto Film Fest with Reservoir Dogs. I'd seen the film at the industry screening but it hadn't played yet. Tarantino was all by himself and I kept seeing him in lines for the same movies that I was checking out. I let him bud in line for something that had one of those mega-lines and he was extremely grateful. People hate him for many reasons but holy shit is he the ultimate film buff. He'll talk to anyone about any film under the sun. Amazing.

Michael Haneke

For my dollar, Haneke's the greatest living filmmaker. I met him in a hotel lobby after seeing Funny Games, a masterpiece of a thriller. He doesn't speak much english and I speak zero german/french so it was a little awkard. Previously, at the screening for his film, I'd asked (through an interpreter) about his use of the frame, citing shots from three of his early works. He seemed happy someone in the audience knew who he was. Someone else asked "Why didn't you show any of the violence?" (All but one scene of violence in the film occurs offscreen.) Haneke looked exasperated at the ridiculousness of the question.

So we meet in the hotel and talk briefly. I thank him again for his early work and he remembers me from the screening and then his face changes when he remembers the other guy with the dumb question and we stumble over words and he says "what you call him..." and I say "Idiot?" and he stands up straight, smiles, and says, "Yes. He was idiot." We shook hands, laughed, and parted.

Jean-Luc Godard

This story is pathetic. I see Godard shooting pool at the Sheraton in Toronto. Alone. I'm sitting on a barstool watching. He gestures for me to shoot with him. My mind boggles at the thought of shooting pool with him and I decline (I know, WTF?!). He continues to shoot alone. I finish my drink. When I leave, , I say "Thank you!" with enough enthusiasm that I hope he knows I mean it for Breathless and Contempt and not for asking me to play pool.

Hal Hartley

I ran into Hal in Toronto after seeing every one of his early films. We talked film nonsense and he seemed to remember me year to year. The sixth time he's got something at the fest (Henry Fool), I don't see him anywhere. I go to see the film, hate it, and walk out mid-screening to go see something else. I of course run into him in the lobby. Oops. He shrugs in a "No problem" sort of way and I mouth "sorry". He shakes his head not to worry. I haven't run into him since.
posted by dobbs at 10:51 AM on August 20, 2004

Great stories, all. I think I'll have to start writing those little appreciation letters. How do you figure out how to address them? An author is easy enough, I suppose. Just send it c/o the publisher. But what about musicians or film/TV-industry folks?

pissfactory, luser, and orange swan all made me laugh!
posted by scarabic at 11:13 AM on August 20, 2004

Michael Moorcock

Started corresponding with him via his website, and eventually conducted a long interview, which was great fun. It's always interesting when the person you're talking to uses the twin themes of incest and massive drug abuse as the pillars of their art.

Ian McKellen

Unexpectedly introduced to him while doing a set visit on X-Men 2 (post LOTR-1) - I was utterly, utterly tongue-tied. I believe I even stammered.

Doug Naylor of Red Dwarf

I interviewed him in conjunction with the first RD DVD release. We got into a long wrangle about SF and uses of metastructuring devices to move the narrative in formal ways. He cited Borges. It was cool, a moment of deep geek.

Harvey Pekar

Another phone interview. "Oh, sure, you can call me anytime, about anything!" Harvey came across as exactly what you see in the film or elsewhere. He was very open and gracious.

Less-well known artists

I have had wonderful shared experiences with a few quite obscure artists whose work I really admire. A key to developing the relationship was my ability to share a detailed, personal, critical interpretation of their work. An artist's wish is to prompt personal experiences derived from their output; if you think you have something worthwhile to say about the artist's work, say it!
posted by mwhybark at 11:49 AM on August 20, 2004

Johnny Rotten: cut up his gold card (Mr J Lydon) when serving him at the Virgin megastore in London when his credit was refused because he hadn't paid his bill in six months. Didn't say anything to him because he was too busy swearing down the phone at the credit card company. A final nail in the coffin of punk.

Ed Vulliamy (who he? ex-Guardian journalist, did a long series on the war in Bosnia): again at Virgin (a great place to star spot when working), thanked him for his work when giving him back his CD, and he literally did a double-take. I guess print journos aren't used to being recognised (he'd been on tv the night before). I told him we went for beers after work, would he like to join us - and he did and regaled us with anecdotes about war coverage and plenty of libellous detail on various politicians.
posted by humuhumu at 1:15 PM on August 20, 2004

I saw John Kerry buying sushi at Dean & Deluca a few years ago. I didn't say anything, 'cause, hey, who knew he'd amount to anything?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2004

Back in my Neil-Gaiman-is-god days, I made him a mix tape of songs that reminded me of his Sandman series and gave it to him at a book signing. I don't know what possessed me - I've never done anything like it before or since, but for some reason it just needed to be done. He sent me a really groovy postcard thanking me, and he remembered it the next time I saw him.


Uh, I did this too. In 1989 or thereabouts, at Zanadu Comics in Seattle. It wasn't a mix tape of Sandman-inspired stuff, though -- I think it was a mix of local bands I liked. He was very nice but I didn't get a postcard. Then again, I was probably too stupid to include my address. ;)
posted by litlnemo at 2:49 PM on August 20, 2004

But what about musicians or film/TV-industry folks?

Musicians c/o the record label. Film/TV people you can often send mail c/o the production house or even the distributor. Basically whoever needs to send these people money [i.e. royalties] will usually have a way to contact them. When in doubt, talk to the nice people at the public library, they can solve these problems.

I'm lucky somtimes in that the people that I think of as "famous" are often just high-profile librarians/activists/indie rockers who are really not that set upon by fans. In these cases, it's often just great to say "oh hey, I LOVED that thing you did..."
posted by jessamyn at 3:01 PM on August 20, 2004

I've been to a lot of book signings for people I admire, but I've never said much beyond "I really like your stuff". Same goes for every musician I admire that I've also met. I can never get the courage up to say much beyond that and usually I'm a quivering nervous mess.

I got backstage at a Crowded House/Richard Thompson show ten years ago, got to tell Neil Finn I dug his work, and at one point I was standing next to Richard Thompson and no one else was talking to him so I chatted him up and told him how amazed I was at his performance, and how I hadn't heard his stuff before. He was very gracious and after buying boxset after boxset of Thompson's work in the years since I feel like a doofus for not listening to his stuff earlier.
posted by mathowie at 4:04 PM on August 20, 2004

I worked in the music industry for many years and got to meet more musicians and celebrities than I can keep track, but my favorite run-in was when I worked at a Record Town in a mall in Connecticut in my late teens. There was an older man in the back of the store rooting through the classical, and by the time he was done he had quite an armful of CDs. As he made his way to the register I realized that something about his appearance was familiar, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. So he pays for his CDs with a credit card, and embossed there was a name that sent me back to when I was five and eating a bowl of Quisp while watching TV in the morning: Bob Keeshan. All I could do was gasp, "you're the captain!" He gave me a knowing wink and told me to stay dry (it was raining out). I still get teary eyed thinking about it. *sniff*
posted by kittyloop at 4:59 PM on August 20, 2004

so I chatted him up

A couple of non-North Americans made fun of me when I talked about "chatting someone up."

Apparently in the UK and NZ, it means you're hitting on them.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on August 20, 2004

I purchased their works (book, film, music, etc). That's how I show my appreciation.
posted by davidmsc at 6:45 PM on August 20, 2004

There's a line in some Douglas Coupland book how you should just corner them and say "Mister Celebrity! I've got all your albums!" Even if they're not musicians.
posted by Vidiot at 10:35 PM on August 20, 2004

I purchased their works (book, film, music, etc). That's how I show my appreciation.

Heh. I know what you mean. Isn't it odd how that used to be a pre-requisite to even knowing their works at all?
posted by scarabic at 11:17 PM on August 20, 2004

I was in an elevator with David Bowie at the Bayshore in Vancouver, back in '83. I had a brutal wine hangover and a sprained ankle from the festivities the night before, and didn't even bother trying to talk to him. Meh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:47 AM on August 21, 2004

Douglas Coupland : At a signing session for Microserfs, he asked me 'What do you do?'. 'Computers', I replied, awestruck; 'What do you do?'
The ground did not, unfortunately, swallow me whole.
posted by punilux at 2:39 AM on August 21, 2004

Johnny Rotten: cut up his gold card (Mr J Lydon) when serving him at the Virgin megastore in London

That's hilarious. Getting to do something like that to old Johnny must be a pretty rare thing I'd imagine :-D
posted by wackybrit at 7:15 AM on August 21, 2004

I have the email addresses of two famous writers I admire and I've never had the balls to send them a note. I think I will now, just for the hell of it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2004

I attended a David Brin reading / Q&A session at a bookstore here in northern Virginia a couple of years ago. He read from the opener of what became Kiln People (a novel I have only recently got around to reading - it's... interesting). I stuck around afterwards, just listening to him talk to other people while he signed books. I hadnt brought anything to sign, so I dont know why I hung around.

After the last book was signed and the store was closing, it turned out that somebody had dropped the ball, and he was stuck at the bookstore at 12:30 at night with no ride back to his hotel. So I drove him back. It was a weird experience. Onstage, he had been ON! BABY!! But once we got to my truck, he seemed to deflate somehow. I'm sure he was exhausted, and he was very clearly worried about being alone in the truck with some crazed fanboy, so I kept the conversation normal, the way I would with anyone else new I met. I think he appreciated it, but he was glad to see his hotel once I dropped him off.
posted by Irontom at 4:55 AM on August 23, 2004

Hilarious - I just had this happen to me last week. I went to see Sebadoh play and before the show saw Jason Loewenstein and Lou Barlow hanging out and selling tshirts and stuff. I was completely starstruck - I have ADORED them for years and years.

I stood off to the side of the merch table reciting over and over and over what I would say to Lou: "Hi, Lou, I'm Amy and I just want to tell you that your music has meant so much to me for so many years and I really appreciate you." Simple, I went over it like 500 times in my head.

What did I actually say to Lou? I can't recall verbatim but it was something like "Hi, uh, Lou....I, uh...I want to thank you....uh, for being awesome...and I've loved you forever...now you're old, and I'm old, and uh...thanks...I can't breathe."

Yeah, I actually said "I can't breathe." Dork.
posted by tristeza at 4:21 PM on August 23, 2004

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