Last Saturday, I spent half a day at The Hollywood Show, that clusterfuck of the ghosts of celebrity past and nostalgia present, of enduring superstars, of fandom for fandom's sake, that non-stop autoerotic cabaret of voyeurism and the art of the (paid) photo op.
Met up with my sidekick Chexy bright and early and we wasted no time in wasting time; we got into a longish line for Penny Marshall, 68, arguably the #1 draw of the show. Penny's been sick for a long time and has a fortune stashed away, so I was shocked she'd agreed to do an event like this. Making it even more special, most of the rest of the creative folks behind Laverne & Shirley were there—brother Garry, Cindy Williams, David L. Lander, Eddie Mekka, Leslie Easterbrook and Carole Ita White. Michael McKean was unavailable, as he's starring in Gore Vidal's The Best Man on Broadway, but had shown up for the TV Land Awards, where the core four of the show reunited for what is undoubtedly the last time.
Luckily, the line moved quickly, and was even visited briefly at the beginning by an ingratiating Cindy. I'd prepurchased a four-shot of Penny/Cindy/Michael/David (Michael had signed 50 in advance of the show), so that put me among the first few to get the crew. Went up to Penny first. She was certainly nice considering she'd probably rather be just about anywhere else, and if you weren't expecting effusive warmth. I told her I found her to be the most relatable person on TV when I was a kid and that I wished she were my cool cousin or something. "I could be your cool cousin," she agreed, making sure everything was signed just how I wanted it. "Lot of people named Matt here today," she said aloud. I think the bluntness of my name amused her; she repeated it flatly: "MATT."
I already had David, 64, from the last show, but he was with Eddie, 59, so we went up to both. David has slowed down a lot due to MS but Eddie was feisty; he was talking about Squiggy's cousin Squendolyn when I went up to him.
I told him I liked him in A League of Their Own and he said, "Thank you very much!" When I asked how it was working with Madonna, he said, "That you very much!" A wiseguy. Off camera, he confessed she'd been "a pain" throughout filming, but had grown to like him by the end when he abruptly called her a cunt.
After Eddie, I was kind of sucked into a vortex to get Cindy's autograph very quickly; other attendees were in a separate line, but my four-shot was still leading me in a special line that went first. Cindy, 64, was flustered but very Feeney-like in her attention to detail and exchanges of pleasantries. I would have asked her about American Graffiti (1973) or The First Nudie Musical (1976), but there wasn't really a good moment.
We had to return later for Garry, 77, who was hawking his new book and who was probably the most au courant, active person at the show in spite of his age. He was kinda funny, actually. I walked up with a nice vintage press photo I had—I love having unusual images for people to sign—and he said, "That's an old suit!" He smiles like someone's got a gun to his head, but was very nice.
Was lucky enough to grab some video of Garry, Penny and Cindy posing for the wire services. There's still no love lost between the female leads; my pal Brian had tried to get Penny to sign a cursive "L" on her photo, but she refused because there was already one on the sweater she was wearing in it. When he told that to Cindy, she said, "Try doing the TV Land Awards with 'er!"
Garry's book apparently talks about how Laverne & Shirley was a total nightmare due to the girls' inability to handle the pressure and fame, and their head-butting.
Leslie Easterbrook, 62, looks fantastic for an NRA member (it's painful for me to see physical beauty in those whose values I question). She was extremely nice, and coveted the photo I brought for her to sign ("I don't have any stills of me with anyone but David and Michael.") to the point where she replied, "You should!" when I said, "I feel bad that I didn't make you a copy." I'll have to send her one if I find another.
She was also rather transparently annoyed (rightly so) that she and Carole Ita White were sort of shunned by the rest of the cast—they were in the corner and weren't even included later in the "full Laverne & Shirley cast" photo op I paid for. When that happened, I was able to be the very first person to pose with Penny/Cindy/David/Garry/Eddie. Chexy got priceless video of Penny tenderly brushing David's hair for him, ever the director (that's what Cindy's expression seemed to say) or maybe just being a good friend (that's what David's seemed to say).
Not into the "hunk" label? Say it ain't so, Joe!
After all of the Laverne & Shirley craziness, I went for heartthrob Joe Lando, who's only 50 and smokin' hot as always. He looked about as happy to be doing the show as a cat in a bath and his excitement level sank a few notches further when I told him he'd been a top vote-getter in a magazine I once did called Hollywood's Hottest Hunks.
He did seem to enjoy the photo I brought, of him in the tub with his dog. "Oh, that's from People," he volunteered, signing his name and IDing the pooch as Rosie. Got a good picture with him, which I said was as good as we could do without a tub or a dog. Crickets.
Another hot piece of ass was Ms. Tanya Roberts, 56. Julie of Charlie's Angels fame (she's my first Angel!) and Sheena, she's still more appealing to me as the chick who spent time with Marc Singer in The Beastmaster (1982). She looks surgical but still ravishing, and has a salty humor that doesn't match her pretty exterior.
When I told her she hadn't changed, she was like, "Uck, believe me, I've changed." I liked her a lot, and felt bad knowing she'd lost her husband a few years back. The real husband, not the one she married at 15 before it was annulled.
Laraine Newman just turned 60 but looks fabulous, even if as an SNL alum she was supposed to be more of a clown than a glamour girl. She liked the vintage poster I brought, showing her dressed up in KISS gear.
Miles O'Keeffe of Tarzan, The Ape Man (1981), is unrecognizable at 57. He was like a perfect model back then, and now is more of a dude. Not that he looks bad, he just is not attempting to hold onto his prettyboy past. At all. I of course misspelled his name in the video I uploaded, but he's going to have to forgive me—it's too hard to fix.
I'd heard a rumor that he wouldn't sign anything with Bo Derek on it. Expecting that mean he hated her guts, I asked only to find out it was really because she allegedly brought legal action against him in the past for something like that. Which sounds just insane enough to be true. So I just chose a shot of him in the skimpiest possible loin cloth. Supernice.
Forty-three-year-old Danny Nucci was the sexiest motherfucker there, by a lot. He was seated next to his Titanic co-star Frances Fisher (60 in a couple of weeks). His table had lots of great photos of him, including many recent. I chastised him for not having any skin. He immediately showed me a photo that was sort of hidden that featured him with his shirt open and a crop of pubes peeking out from his jeans. I like a man who gives the public (the pubic?) what it wants.
Dazzling smile and very warm. He did a great photo op with me that shows how in love with him I am. He's more than indulgent when it comes to gay attention—my buddy Roy of Baby Jane sold a naked shot of him to a fan and he gladly signed it, "Enjoy!" We would love to. I might have to mail him a butt shot for personal inscription.
Lovely Nastassja Kinski (she's reverted to the "j" from the "i" spelling), 50, was very shy with photos, often using her hair to cover her face. She needn't have worried—she's not Tess (1979) any more, but she looks good.
Nastassja probably signed 100 images of herself with that damn snake, so hopefully liked my image—a real art shot of her with a statue—as a break. She was very grateful to Chexy for his targeted raving about her luminescent performance in Tess, which she noted was recently screened at Cannes. "That means a lot to me," she said convincingly.
Only at this kind of show do you go from Nastassja Kinski to Kathy Garver, 66, best known as Cissy on A Family Affair. I think she looks fantastic and she was really eager to speak with us, especially because I was sporting a photo she'd never seen. She couldn't get over it, saying, "I was pretty cute!" (I love when stars say stuff like that; Tanya Roberts had also said she used to nitpick her appearance but looks back now and thinks, "Wow, I had it going on.")
Kathy also told us her mom wanted her to go to college for back-up because she wasn't too bullish on the acting thing. Thanks, Mom!
Lorenzo Lamas, 54, was next. He had brought his cute daughter to handle the money, so that made it hard to rush up and scream, "I used to masturbate to pictures of you!" Lorenzo looks too surgical for my taste, and while he was polite, he seemed really defeated to have been at the show. I hate when the stars don't have fun with these shows; the only reasons to do them would be to have fun, to give back to their fans or to raise money (for charity or for survival). I don't believe he could be desperate for cash, though he's probably no Penny Marshall, so I really think he might not do these again based on his demeanor.
I did tell him, when his daughter wasn't paying attention, that he'd been my first crush. He said, "Thank you very much." True story, too; I had a picture of him saved under my bed and did watch Falcon Crest half-heartedly for glimpses of him. I had two smokin'-hot photos for him to sign. A tablemate made fun of the '80s headband look but it worked for me.
Later, I had a pro shot done with Lorenzo. He did it without much enthusiasm, but was a true professional, offering to sign it for me afterward even though I had to wait out a long cell call first. Mixed feelings, but none of them hard.
Best encounter of the show had to be Melinda Naud of Operation Petticoat, who must be about 56. She's had work but looks really pretty still (even though fuck if she doesn't remind me almost exactly of Kristine De Bell!). When I walked up, she was rarin' to go. "It's nice meeting you, but I don't think I'll ever do one of these again—so enjoy it!" This was what she led with. But it was funny, as if we were close pals and she didn't fear offending me. "I was supposed to do this with Henry Winkler and printed up all these photos—don't you think they should have told me he canceled???" (She'd been on Happy Days with him just about 30 years ago.)
Winkler, 66, wasn't the only cancelation—we also missed out on Jonathan Winters, 86 (broken shoulder), and no-shows Brandon Cruz, 49,and Jeremy Licht, 41.
But back to Melinda—I agreed with her, but changed the subject by stating that I hadn't even been into women back then but always thought she was a babe. She liked that, saying it was okay because she'd had a lot of gay boyfriends. "Dack Rambo was my boyfriend," she said. Poor thing! She signed her photo to me, "I love you, Matt!" to confuse my friends, but forgot to sign it until I pointed out her oversight.
She then did some great poses for and with me and was an all-around fun hang. I bet an evening with her would result in outrageous stories of the '80s. She hadn't worked since '85, but was apparently out of the country having a life because at one point she said, "I don't want to be doing shows like this, I want to be in a sitcom now that I'm back in the country. I could play someone's mom."
She was next to Bernie Kopell, 78, The Love Boat's Doc. He was in his uniform/costume and everything! When I showed him the photo I brought, he immediately said, "That was the best hairpiece I ever had."
Keir Dullea, a dapper 74, is best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but I brought him a shot from his stint on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which he loved. He immediately turned to anyone who'd listen and tried to get them to guess his co-star in the photo (it was Fred Gwynne).
I was intimidated to approach Sally Kellerman, also 74, having heard she was "not nice." This can mean anything in the world of starfucking, from literally not nice to "She wasn't having a good day when I met her" to "I stalked her until she called the police." But to my surprise, she was a charmer, happily signing for me and chit-chatting. When we did our photo together and asked if she wanted to see it, she let out a self-deprecating, "No. Please."
Before dashing off to my GLAAD event, I was determined to get every last star done, so I went for Robbie Rist, 48, the infamous Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch. Liked him a lot more in person than on the show, but that's because the show was a corpse by the time they hail Maryed by adding him to it.
I had for him a great still with Butterfly McQueen from Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid (1979), which he loved seeing. He said she was already "a bajillion years old" then (in reality, she was only 68!) and that he'd never met her because all of her contributions were done on a TV screen so had been filmed separately. He didn't seem overly fond of the movie, either, inscribing my photo, "Man, I had to learn ballet for this!"
I wrote about her earlier, but my final snag was Carole Ita White, 62, aka Big Rosie Greenbaum from Laverne & Shirley. She was loads of fun, had me retake my photos to be sure they were flattering and has accepted an invite from some of my starfucker buddies to be taken out to Sizzler next trip. "I love Sizzler...all you can eat!"
The following day, I had only to get Aileen Quinn, 40, known for starring in the movie version of Annie (1982). I told her my sister had an Annie cut at the time, causing my dad to play with her curls and sing off-key versions of songs from the show, complete with incorrect lyrics. "Bet your bottom dollar, she's a scholar..." That's why she apologized for the torture I'd endured in the photo's inscription.
She was squeamish about taking money directly (her helper was gone), but not as squeaming as I am handing it over in the first place, so she did get paid.
I forgot to mention I'd gotten—against my better judgment—another signed photo of Louisa Moritz after leaving the first one on her table at a previous show. She's really quiet and charges $40 since she's naked in most. Not really the definition of glam-ooour.
Of course, no show's complete without hanging around with my new-ish buddy Roy and his new-ish buddies Tom & Todd at his table. He was making out like a bandit, selling a suit worn by Barbra Streisand, a shirt worn by Steve McQueen (to a collector who's apparently some kind of solider of fortune—aren't we all?) and more, but he also buys things to keep his inventory up. Next to him was Al, a guy who's collected autographs since getting an in-person from Billie Holliday. He's always good for some laughs and has the cutest assistant in history in the form of fresh-faced Spaniard Francisco. I arranged for them to have a picture taken—cute as buttons. Francisco is so hot Chexy had him sign a banana, but I don't think that's the banana we were all wanting to peel back.
The second day was dead otherwise, and lots of the stars left early. It wasn't the most fun I've ever had at one of these, but it's become an old reliable good time, like many of the familiar faces who show up to take your money.
Wound up walking past Angelyne's car (with her in it), but got a much better look at night when it was parked at The French Quarter. Sorry, A—couldn't resist one last starfuck: