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Oct 29 2012
Warming Up To Chiller: Killer Heat, Scorching Celebs & S-s-s-s-samantha FOX! Comments (6)
Tom Wopat
Adrienne Barbeau
Andrew McCarthy
Lisa Loring
Bronson Pinchot
Barbara Carrera
Joan Collins
Lee Majors
Martine Beswick

  Valerie Harper
Samantha Fox
Virginia Madsen

A gallery of then-and-now

The celebrity clusterfucks are coming fast 'n' furious now, with Chiller Theatre going down in Parsippany just weeks after my most recent Hollywood Show experience.

*Joan Collins unflatteringAs THS is about to do, Chiller just moved to a new venue, from the Parsippany Hilton to the Parsippany Sheraton. Unlike with that brought by President Obama, I'm not sure this is change I can believe in.

The new venue looks like a castle, but the space inside was more cramped than ever and as hot as some of the careers inside were cold. As my friend Brian pointed out, Joan Collins, 79, began to melt the moment she arrived, even after discarding the fur-lined coat. Taryn Manning, 33, stripped down to what looked like a body stocking. I'm not sure, but I think a few of the celebrity guests may have wound the evening down in body bags.

Joan Collins art"Daaahhhling!"

My first mistake was banking on Andrew McCarthy, 49. Considering all of his Brat Pack movies hinged on Molly Ringwald (or someone else when she wasn't available) deciding between Andrew McCarthy Joan Collins fanand a more reasonable choice, I should have learned from that. Instead, I parked in his long but do-able line at around 5:30PM, thinking I could get him out of the way before venturing into the far longer line next door for Samantha Fox, 46, or what I assumed would be a nightmarish wait for Lee Majors, 73.

Let me tell ya, Joan Collins—who came from England—arrived before Andrew. Penny Marshall, 69—who came back from the grave (and looks healthy and happy now, BTW)—arrived before Andrew. Andrew showed up just past 6:30PM, a full 90 minutes after the pre-show and 30 minutes after the main show opened.

Andrew McCarthy autograph

Andrew McCarthy fanMcCarthy alert: He should be so Ducky

Andrew McCarthy Matthew RettenmundBut did I rip him a new one? Of course not. He was as charming off screen as on, and is still sporting voluminous hair. No baseball caps for him! (I'm talking to you, Tom Wopat, 61, and Jeremy London, 39...we don't care if you're thinning, we just wanna see your whole head for photos.) Andrew was hawking his new book, which I didn't get, instead taking a nice still. I told him I'd see him around my neighborhood, but he has apparently already pre-emptively moved. "I don't miss that Food Emporium," he noted.

Samantha Fox fan
*Samantha Fox fan 2Wham, bam, thank you, Sam!

Next, I just had to get Samantha Fox out of the way. It's not that I wanted to check her off a list, it's that meeting her was weirdly important for me because of the time I—highly uncharacteristically—memorized her hit "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" and lip-synched it to my high school class while in provocative Sam Fox drag. I was such a wild dame! But truly, doing that brought me out of my shell in a big way. It changed my life. So meeting Sam Fox in the flesh was a big deal.

Her line was also a big deal. Later, talking with a friend of hers, I pointed out that she had the second largest line there after Joan Fucking Collins. Who knew there were so many naughty "girls" who needed her love, too?

Samantha Fox Matthew RettenmundLittle Foxes

FanAs we approached, she asked aloud, "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?" Honey, you're hot, but it's not just you—the room was an oven. All the stars and their (largely unshowered) fanboys were bathed in a glow that came not from within so much as from their pores. Somehow, I don't look like a complete mess in my photos, but it was not for lack of trying on the part of the Parsippany Sheraton.

When I got up to Sam, I had Brian video our encounter.

Samantha FoxI told her about my lip-synching and showed her my godawful pose as her and she immediately remembered that she'd seen my video—I tweeted it at her a while back. She was gracious (especially considering my performance, while rooted in respect, could have been seen as a bit of a send-up). She signed my original (second-place, grrr) trophy for me free and several 45 sleeves, then we posed together. "You look so smart!" she said of my buttoned-up denim jacket.

Sam Fox autographI also had her sign the limited-edition poster sleeve

Samantha Fox autographSam is my trophy wife

Samantha Fox autographsSpeaking of fashion, Sam said she'd gone to a store in NYC this week for a new outfit and it wound up being one she'd gone to in the late '80s. The same clerk was there and remembered selling her the outfit she wore (I think) on her "I Wanna Have Some Fun" single sleeve. There's a joke in there about "the '80s called and they want their outfit back," but no joke—Samantha Fox looks fantastic and fit.

Will Bethencourt shirtlessSam's foxy helper

Her helper is sexy Will Bethencourt, an actor who I didn't realize until after we Facebooked was one of the stars of BearCity. Every star has their gay helper, except for the ones who are icked out by gays. More on that later.

Fab-looking Connie Stevens, 74, was nearby, but ever since she supported Allen West in Florida, I can't even fathom approaching her with money for anything.

Morgan Brittany fanMichael Baldwin and Morgan Brittany workin' their tables

Next, I had to do a little Brian time, so we went to chat with his buddy Morgan Brittany, 60. Morgan was resplendent in red and was saying how she wants to donate all her proceeds to the military (I think she votes Republican, BTW). She's really smart and personable and looks beautiful. It was surreal hearing her ask Brian, "Have you seen Morgan Fairchild lately?" (And she meant it literally.)

Valerie Harper laughsValerie...the same girl she used to be

Valerie Harper Rhoda poster Looped
Valerie Harper fanValerie is now 20+ years older than Nancy Walker was when they did Rhoda

We also spent time with Valerie Harper, 73, who's every bit as nice and bubbly, and who was working a Audrey Landers tattoofull-on Rhoda look.

Spotted Audrey Landers, 56, again, this time missing her sister Judy (the flu) but still rockin' her green sequined party dress. Hey, it works for her, and it works for me. The camera loves it.

And one of her fans reallllly loves Audrey—he was sporting a huge tattoo of her face on his arm. That's devotion.

Audrey Landers fanWhen Judy's not around, is she just Audrey "Lander?"

Caroline Munro fanThe area we had moved into was so unforgivably hot I wondered if we'd taken a wrong turn into a crematorium. Buxom Bond babes Caroline Munro, 63; Martine Beswick, 71; and Valerie Leon, 68; were fighting the good fight against the temperatures. When a dude in a maintenance suit walked by and pointed what looked like a raygun at the ceiling, Audrey Landers asked hopefully, "Please tell me you're doing that in order to do something about the temperature...?" He said, "Yup. This room has 50% too many people in it." Great to hear! And the windows had bars.

Caroline Munro fan 2A little Caroline Munro—to go

Chiller Theatre atmosphere
Its a Wonderful Life fanKarolyn Grimes, 72, who played "Zuzu" in It's a Wonderful Life

Lisa Loring, 54, "Wednesday" from The Addams Family (and "Cricket" from As the World Turns) is looking fantastic. She's lost 25 pounds! But it was all due to stress from a terrible injury to her leg, so she wasn't exactly jumping for joy about it. But she did jump up to take photos for everyone who asked.

*Lisa Loring autograph

Lisa Loring Matthew Rettenmund"Wednesday"'s child wasn't full of woe (but that wallpaper was—egads!)

Lisa told us that the late Carolyn Jones was a fabulous person, remembering a day she spent with her shortly before her death. Nice lady, and more than a little bit of a Julianne Moore-meets-Julie Brown look-alike.

Virgina Madsen Matthew RettenmundEscaping that inferno, we were back to the main room (which now felt like an igloo in comparison) for some we-time with radiant, laid-back Virginia Madsen, 51.

She looks stunning and was praising me for taking photos from above. This ain't my first time at the celebrity rodeo, darlin'—I know that shots from above are always more flattering, even if you start out looking as good as she did.

Virginia Madsen autograph
Barbara Carrera autograph

Barbara Carrera, 66, seemed sad to me, very quiet and distracted. I think this setting is not for her; it's not for everyone. Still, it was fun to share air with Bette Davis's Wicked Stepmother (1989) co-star.

Barbara Carrera Matthew RettenmundSimply Barbara (Carrera)

Lee Majors Matthew RettenmundLee Majors had a really short line, methinks because he was the priciest person there at $40 for an autograph plus $40 for a photo op. But you don't see "Steve Austin" every day, so I had no problem ponying up [insert bionic jumping sounds].

His hot young wife was doing photos for people who needed it, but we didn't even realize who she was at first so a friend blurted out, "Glad we didn't say anything bad about Lee!" She assured us, "Believe me—I've heard it all."

Lee Majors autograph

Lee seemed happy to play along as Brian flirted with him, noting that "a tall gay man is kneeling before you...which part is bionic again?" It made for some joyous-looking photos. He was fine with the provocative, open-shirted shot I brought him. They're not always.

Bronson Pinchot autograph

Bronson Pinchot readingA Penny (Marshall) for his thoughts

Bronson Pinchot Matthew RettenmundI decided to nab Bronson Pinchot, 53, next door even though I never saw an episode of his series and have read unflattering things about him since. He was perfectly nice but acted drunk (not saying he was! disclaimer!) and weirdly signed the picture of himself right on his hair and head. Bronson also wanted to borrow Brian's Penny Marshall autobio, which he flipped through with great interest. I'll say this for him—I bet he's got enough stories to fill a good book himself.

Tom Wopat autograph

Tom Wopat Matthew RettenmundTom Wopat was a bit of a let-down. One of the hottest men E-VER, he kinda cringed at the shirtless photo I'd unearthed. But it was basically good-natured. He signed it "Niiiiice." Tom struck me as not wildly into being an object of gay lust, at least in public. I praised him for his appearance on Broadway in Sondheim on Sondheim, but he didn't really seem to know what I was talking about. I guess I was vague, or he was shocked I didn't babble on and on about The Dukes of Hazzard, which I watched but only to scope out the Southern fried baskets.

Adrienne Barbeau autograph

My final celebrity encounter was my favorite—Adrienne Barbeau, 67. Ensconced in an air-conditioned room away from the crowds, she had a long, steady line of gaga fanboys who probably jerked off to her more times than Bea Arthur did double-takes. A guy in front of me had full nudes of her but was told politely by her helper that she would not sign those. I'm not sure why—she's never not looked hawt.

Adrienne Barbeau Matthew RettenmundAnd then there's Adrienne

The first thing I told her was that as great as she's been in so many things (did you catch her short appearance in Argo?), if she'd never done anything but Maude, that would've been enough. She liked that and accepted my praise about her unchanging good looks.

Adrienne Barbeau fanIt's a swamp thang

Adrienne Barbeau Pyramid Farrah FawcettThe best thing she did was tell me, in response to my query about her $25,000 Pyramid days, about an evening she spent recently at the house of one of the new Pyramid judges—the guy has created an entire indoor area for playing the game! Not only that, but he had Barbeau, Teresa Ganzel, 55; Michael Spound, 55; Heidi Bohay, 52; "Martha Grimes" (maybe Martha Smith, 60?) and others over recently to play. I am available for your next game night, "David," whomever you are!

After all that, I barely had time to stuff my fat face with a turkey burger across from my friend Rich (there with his pal Jaime) before bolting for the shuttle. I'd left my apartment at 2:30PM and walked back in the door at 12:30AM. Sure, I was gonna miss Danny Glover, 66 (who was only at the show Saturday and Sunday), but otherwise, I'd come, I'd seen, I'd conquered.

Zombies Chiller TheatreChiller chicks