My "then and now" gallery is above...
I wasn't going to attend the latest Hollywood Show in L.A. at the Westin LAX this past Saturday. I'd made up my mind that while dropping in would make all the sense in the world if I were an Angeleno, dropping in from across the frickin' country made about as much sense as the fact that Joan Collins does these things out of an actual need for cash. (See my other trips to autograph shows at #5 on this list.)
“Even my worst orgasm was right on the money.”—Woody Allen
But then I figured out a bunch of other stuff to do in L.A. and splurged, booking Monday and arriving with some goodies for a variety of the over 100 (!) scheduled stars to sign. Unfortunately, it was one of my least exciting shows, but I was still reminded of that Woody Allen quote. You know the one.
Haunting detail from a covered table
The show was meh because, for one thing, quite a few stars canceled, including some whose advertised presence had helped me decide to go in the first place. For example, I'd spent part of one day sourcing a fabulous Rene Auberjonois portrait from The Eyes of Laura Mars on eBay, then tracking it down in person here in NYC, only to discover that he'd canceled the night before. Apparently, Rene told a fellow celebrity guest, “I don't have any pictures to bring so I'm not going.”
I will get this signed by you, Rene!
I also missed seeing Dale Bozzio, the original Lady Gaga, whose lead vocals on the Missing Persons record Spring Session M are the perfect combo of pleasing and unnerving. No matter that she's since become a crazy cat lady—I love huh!
Elliott Gould was a no-show...how would he have reacted if asked to sign this?
But it's a thin line between love and hate when it comes to fandom. I overheard one attendee fuming that the gossip columnist Rona Barrett had canceled (another one I'd been so curious to meet), saying, “She canceled? What a fucking bitch! I'm dying to meet her!”
Kelli told me my friend, a former co-star of hers, would "clean up" if they did the show in tandem.
Not having as many stars to “get” made for a leisurely show. Unfortunately, it did not make for one of my favorite shows; kudos to the organizers for rounding up so many diverse celebs, but it just so happened that the ones I was most excited to meet didn't wow me. I had precious few fun encounters...well, if we're talking about the ones with celebrities.
Here they are. I calls 'em likes I sees 'em...
Sam has said he "doesn't condone" photos of his genitalia. I, however, do.
Sam J. Jones (b. August 12, 1954)
I was semi-dying to meet Sam Jones, the hunky blond lead of Flash Gordon (1980), one of the best worst movies ever made, and a staple (pun intended) of Playgirl in the '70s. I brought a couple of Playgirl issues with his fat schlong on display, figuring he might sign one of the more tasteful pages. Hey, Christopher Atkins had signed cock shots...handed to me by his daughter!
Sam said no one had ever brought him this shot to sign.
But in the back of my head, I thought I recalled him being averse to signing nudes these days, so I decided to proceed with caution.
Sam was a popular celebrity guest, so often had people around. Plus, he had a pubescent kid sitting next to him—total cock-blocker. He looks okay for 59, though I'd be more interested in spending time with the far older John Saxon...something about the blond hair now just doesn't work for me. He was friendly, but when I boldly asked him about his nudes, trying to kind of pose the question off to the side so the kid wouldn't hear, Sam said, “Oh, the Playgirl? No, I don't do that.” My friend from Baby Jane Collectibles had brought lots of prints to sell, so was going to be disappointed.
But speaking of which, my friend said that back in the '90s at a show, Sam had blanched at signing, then had said, “Meet me in the bathroom!” Then, “Flash Gordon” had snuck into a stall with my buddy to secretly sign a stash of nude photos. As incredible—and as incredibly rich, psycho-sexually—as this scenario sounds, another collector at the show told me the identical story. Apparently, Sam's a fundie now, so doesn't sign whang, not even for funds. Gross. Not surprising that Seth MacFarlane thought of him for Ted (2012), a movie I have zero interest in ever seeing.
Melody Anderson (b. December 3, 1955)
Even though Melody was all over episodic TV in the '70s and '80s, was the female lead in Flash Gordon alongside Sam Jones and even played Marilyn Monroe in a 1993 TV movie, I wasn't going to ask for her autograph, until my friend Brian loudly asked, in front of her, “Are you getting her?”
But I'm glad I did! She was not only extremely friendly, she had a sense of humor, joking about posing with the autograph in hand to make it more valuable and laughing when I told her she needed to persuade Sam to sign his nudie shots. I'm not sure, but she may also be kind of religious now...you wonder when these stars, who are primarily of interest to people for sexy or sexy-adjacent roles, sign their (tastefully) skin-revealing photos with “Blessings!”
Liked her a lot, and she's still pretty at 58. She seems like she'd be a great hang.
My second great pic-with alongside the legendary Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman (b. April 30, 1926)
I adore Cloris. I was thrilled to have met her at the GLAAD Awards last year, and to get a fantastic photo with her on the carpet, thanks to her diligent daughter. Cloris was seated with all the people who had once appeared on Twilight Zone, all extremely elderly and seeming to have a nice time chatting (I get the impression that they do these shows a lot...which would have made a great episode).
Signing for fans, and with 7o-year-old Bobby Diamond
As we got closer, we heard her explaining to someone, “I'm eighty-fucking-eight!"
Cloris was supersweet, but I do not really understand how she continues to work; she was very distracted and didn't seem all there. While signing my photos, she smiled broadly when I mentioned having loved A Girl Named Sooner (1975) as opposed to name-checking one of her more obvious calling cards.
There was no high anxiety dealing with Cloris...quite the contrary!
Upon seeing the photo I had from Daisy Miller (1974), a crappy movie (but a great picture), she said, perplexed, “I'm not in it.” Her daughter pointed her out and she happily signed.
She didn't speak much beyond that, and when it came time for pic-withs, she kept doing odd, off-to-the-side poses. In my first shot, she turned and stared directly, seriously, at me. Great, but weird, photo! Then she looked off to the side. I was happy enough with it, but some of the people I was with weren't thrilled with the inscrutable looks she was giving for $20.
Imagine the haul if she were teamed up with Young Frankenstein (1974) or Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970—1977) castmates???
Stefanie Powers (b. November 2, 1942)
I had been excited to meet Stefanie; I first fell for her in The Boatniks (1970—must've seen it as a revival) and Herbie Rides Again (1974), was weirdly into The Feather and Father Gang (1976—1977), absolutely loved Hart to Hart (1979—1984), and then in college caught up with her earlier work in the atrociously delicious Die! Die! My Darling! (1965), in which she worked with Tallulah Bankhead a few years before the legendary actress croaked.
With all of that to discuss, you'd think we'd have had a grand meeting, but alas, Stefanie was nice but more cordial than chummy. She looks great at 71, well-preserved. When smiling just so, she actually looks the same as she looked 35 years ago, no exaggeration.
What I did love was that she was intrigued by my Feather & Father still that I brought. "I remember...that haircut,” she said ruefully. “The cutter did it in New York somewhere and it was just perfect and then he disappeared and I could never find anyone to recreate it.” She was still pissed at losing that haircut all these years later, a very personal and feminine kind of regret.
My best: A reunion of Powers with John Barrowman 22 years after their appearance on the stage in Matador
What I did not love is that she didn't say yes when I asked if I could take a picture of her. She was polite, but refused, saying she only did pic-withs. We did ours and she agreed to a retake when my friend said the light behind us was messing it up.
Hugh O'Brian (b. April 19, 1923)
Hugh was before my time, his series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955—1961) ceasing production well before I was even produced and almost never rerun. But I have always been aware of him, since he was—let's just say it—an unbelievably hot piece of macho ass. (#15 on my list of hottest TV studs ever.)
Now just days from hitting the ripe old age of 91, O'Brian's sexpot days are behind him, which is more than understandable, but what was kind of disappointing was how grumpy he was, scolding the young lady assisting him repeatedly (“Would you mind telling me the next time someone wants a picture with me?” “I did!”), not really interacting and then having me take a picture of him with a friend without then following up with instructions on how to send this free photo to the friend. (The very nice friend gave me his e-mail.) It was just awkward getting my own shot, which, it turns out, looks fantastic and he's smiling away. Maybe it is, after all, a lot to ask that a 90-year-old sit around all day, make himself available and be gregarious.
I ate Reese's Pieces on the flight home and just now realized why.
Dee Wallace (b. December 14, 1948)
I had run into my pal Pierre, a producer, and his protegé Mikel, a sexy actor, before moving on to the next star in the mini-galaxy that was the Westin ballroom. Mikel, as you will see from his photo, is at least as fun to look at as any old-time actors, and is about to star in a new series called The Chosen Ones. I'm glad Mikel chose those pants to wear.
Mikel is a New Yorker who is steadily conquering L.A.
Anyway, Pierre, who is friendly with Doris Day (I missed out on going to her 90th birthday due to the expense of flying to Carmel), is great with stars and a great story-teller, so he helped make my Dee Wallace encounter memorable. The 65-year-old actress, known by most as the mom of “E.T.” (1982) but whom I remember more for The Howling (1981), was thoroughly charmed when Pierre told the story of being set up on a blind date with “the actress in E.T.,” only to arrive and discover it was a small actress who'd been inside the “E.T.” costume.
How could I not have her sign this very-un-"E.T."'s mom crop-top shot?
Wallace was herself thoroughly charming, coquettishly telling Pierre she was married now and gamely posing for us and chatting us up with no rush. I would say she is one of the most unchanged-looking actors I've encountered—she really looks about the same all these years later.
Melody Thomas Scott (b. April 18, 1956)
I have not watched soaps in forever, but when I did, I had a few favorites—I loved Brian Bloom, I loved the entire “Danny Ramalotti” story arc, “Steve and Betsy” and, of course, “Nikki and Victor” on The Young and the Restless (1986—present). I'm so glad I sprang for Melody, because she was kind, a real treat to speak with.
Glam at 57 (58 in days!), she confessed it was her first-ever autograph show, so she had no idea what to expect. We briefed her before I asked about a photo of her with Morgan Brittany as kids. I asked if it was from The Birds (1963), but it was from Marnie (1964). I'd never known Melody as a child actress and was blown away that she'd been in that twisted and wonderful flick. I asked her if she had memories of it, and she said, “Oh, yeah...even as a kid. Everyone was terrified of him, adults and children.”
We did a lean-across-the-table pic, my least fave kind, but she was right that it came out pretty well, just like all of her trials and tribulations on daytime TV.
At this point, my wood was torched.
John Barrowman (b. March 11, 1967)
The most current star to grace the Hollywood Show this year was probably 47-year-old John Barrowman, that ultimate acting rarity—an out male performer, and one you'd love to have sex with. I had had no advance warning that he was coming, so it was a thrill to actually have a surprise target after having lost so many others to cancelation.
John is as stunning in person as in photos, and was there with a helper and his supercute hubby. I was aware of their shenanigans in taking provocative photos with cute boys at events like this, but as there were none around, they were engrossed in resolving some kind of banking issue on the phone, discussing their password and security questions. This went on a bit too long for me, the guy standing around holding money.
Did they use this as their engagement picture?
Finally, when I asked about a photo op, John said he couldn't do photos at the table because he only did them at the (higher-priced) pro photo op...but I couldn't make that due to my engagement with the GLAAD Media Awards, so I offered just to pay the extra amount if he'd do it. He said no, that he couldn't do that, but he instead agreed to grab my camera and take a selfie of us.
“I'm good at this,” he said, putting his arm around me and effortlessly snapping what turned out to be a ridiculously great photo. John Barrowman for the win. (And I will also say that he told me I could take as many pictures of him as I wanted, but I didn't dare suggest a hotel-room shoot with towel and pensive expression.)
John is such a perv, I have to believe he'd smile knowing I snapped his booty.
I elected to have him sign a photo he was selling of him and his man in their undies. His husband, Scott, also agreed to sign after a brief, humorous threat to ask for more money.
That was it for the show this year, except for the fact that I wound up finding a fabulous Madonna Polaroid circa around 1991 or 1992, for a song. The dealer thinks it may have come from Alexis Arquette. The whole show was worth it for that if nothing else, but come to think of it, I really did enjoy myself. Oh, and there were some hotties around, too:
Zounds, I don't even care if he's famous...I want his autograph.