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Oct 06 2014
You Had Me At HELL, NO: The Return Of The Courts Autograph Show Comments (0)
  Katherin-Helmond-then-now Danny-Pintauro-then-now Dyan-Cannon-then-now Jack-Coleman-then-now
Billy-Warlock-then-now Clyde-Kusatsu-then-now Diane-Baker-then-now Hal-Sparks-then-now Jonathan-Lipnicki-then-now Then-now-Don-Murray Monica-Lewis-then-now

 Check out all the then-and-now shots from the show in the above gallery!

Yet another trip to Burbank for an autograph show, but this time it was for the return of the Courts. The Courts created The Hollywood Show in 1991, then sold to the current owner, signing a non- Joan-Crawfordcompete clause that was in effect for a number of years. When the period was up, they decided to come back and compete in the market again. The results were mixed—they knocked down some big names (Dyan Cannon, Katherine Helmond), but they weren't able to promote the show properly (or these shows are dying even faster than genuine stars are) so it was sparsely attended.

Still, I had a good time seeing the people I came to see, finding Danny Pintauro from Who's the Boss? advertising himself as a horny vers sex maniac on Grindr and arguing over one photo op in particular as if I were Ron Galella and the subject were Jackie O. (I'm not, she's not; the title refers to this encounter.)

Here are my impressions of the stars I met...

Jack-Coleman-Dynasty-autograph

Jack Coleman, 56

I was hanging out with my pansy posse, Brian (big personality, from Atlanta, not afraid to announce he's gay the moment he meets a star) and Rich (horror fan, dies a thousand deaths when Brian points out how gay he looks standing with his hand on his hip in photo ops). Together, we are the gay caballeros, haunting former hunks and putting them on the spot about what masturbatory kindling they once were.

Jack-Coleman-Matthew-RettenmundKeep it up, Jack!

Jack-Coleman-gay-Dynasty-Stephen-Carrington-shirtlessIn the case of Jack Coleman, gay “Stephen” on Dynasty, he's still a hot piece, and displayed a droll sense of humor about the situation. Some stars are cringing the moment they hit the door at an autograph show, but he seemed to take it in stride, filling Brian in on some of his classic Dynasty scenes and accepting Brian's withering criticism for having been so blasé when the love of his life was slain in the Moldavian Massacre. (He said any display of affection wasn't in the stars back in the '80s.)

Jack-Coleman-hot-assDidn't take this purposefully (it was a video snippet), but...nice (Dyn)ASS(ty)!

Coleman was seated with Andrew Stevens, whom I'd already met at Chiller and who tried to siphon off some of the attention. Stevens was really funny, joking that Brian was too tall to be gay, standing on a stack of books for his photo ops so as to seem taller and telling one nosy fan (not me this time!) that he hasn't seen his mom Stella in years but hears she's fading. Bummer. We talked a bit about his brazilliance in The Fury and I got him, Coleman and pocket crush Billy Warlock to pose together.

Andrew-Stevens-Jack-Coleman

Andrew-Stevens-Billy-Warlock-Jack-Coleman
Andrew-Stevens-Brian-Boyle-gay-LGBTWhere the boys are

Then was told by the handler I needed to pay $30. That's not really how it works; most stars don't charge $10 for a picture of them. But whatever. It was a threesome I'd dreamed about since their shirtless Teen Beat days.

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Billy-Warlock-autograph

Billy Warlock, 53

Billy, a soap star who I was interested in not for his TV parts (including Baywatch) but for the parts usually kept under wraps by clothing, was a little shell-shocked by the gay clique descending upon him, but adapted quickly by speaking our language—he immediately expressed his admiration for Kathy Griffin's humor and her bikini body. Instant honorary gay.

Billy-Warlock-autograph-show

Billy-Warlock-Matthew-RettenmundBilly little thing called love

Supercute and quiet, he was perfectly polite and was into it when my pal Rich presented him with some materials related to his role as Craig in Halloween II (1981).

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Dyan-Cannon-autograph
Dyan Cannon, 77

Being cheek-to-cheek with someone who's given oral sex to Cary Grant is increasingly rare in L.A., and when the person in question is a woman, it's downright unique. I was dying to see and meet Dyan Cannon (ex-Mrs. Grant) and shocked to discover that because the show was ill-attended, she couldn't get arrested at the venue...and was trying!

Dyan-Cannon-Matthew-RettenmundMrs. Graaaaant!

I'd heard she was controlling about photography, but the only sign of that was when she directed me (firmly) to shoot from above when I took a picture of her with a friend. Otherwise, she was a total delight. Literally the moment she entered the banquet hall, her famous laugh began, and it didn't end until we'd left.

I don't understand how we are living in a world where Dyan Cannon is 77, but she is now just five years younger than Grant was when he died—and didn't it feel like he lived until he was 100? She looks both non-credible and incredible—whatever she's doing, she definitely photographs like a million bucks, no? Also, she could tease Bethenny Frankel about being fat.

As we talked with her, she gamely recalled the filming of The Last of Sheila (1973), remembering that Raquel Welch had started a rumor about terrorists on the months-long shoot, then she kibbitzed with some old friends between signing autographs.

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Hal-Sparks-autograph

Hal Sparks, 45

My friends didn't find Hal Sparks sexy as hell on Queer as Folk and Talk Soup, but I sure did. Plus, he's a straight ally nonpareil. We had another nice chat (had previously quizzed him at a GLAAD function), during which he agreed to sign some naked pictures—I always ask stars first before thrusting their privates under their noses to sign.

Hal-Sparks-Matthew-Rettenmund-Queer-as-FolkMe and my Hal

“Would you be okay with signing some nudes of yourself?” I asked.

“Sure—which ones?” Hal asked warily. I loved this answer.

Hal-Sparks-autograph-nudeSparks flew!

When he saw the screen captures my friend at Baby Jane's Collectibles had sent along with me on a dare, he was more than happy to sign them, and to reveal that the scene had been shot on a cold spring day so was not nearly as sensual as it appeared.

He might be too much of an ally...he even signed one picture: “Be Proud!”

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Danny-Pintauro-autograph-Whos-the-Boss
Danny Pintauro, 38, & Katherine Helmond, 86

I always liked Who's the Boss?, mainly because I had a painful crush on red-hot (see here!) Tony Danza. I missed meeting Tony recently, but have met the wonderful Judith Light. Now, it was time for Danny Pintauro and Katherine Helmond from the show.

Katherine-Helmond-autograph

Danny was a bubbly li'l guy, beyond flirtatious (he kept grabbing Brian's nipple) and easy to talk to. He told us he'd felt iced out by Alyssa Milano on the show, but said it was probably more about their ages (she the cool teen, he the awkward kid) than anything else. He predicted she might do an autograph show...in 10 years.

Danny-PintauroDanny boy: He's so young he had no idea who Dyan Cannon is!

He was so open I felt comfortable asking him if he wouldn't mind posing with Helmond when she arrived (she was hours late). He happily accepted, saying he hadn't seen her in 10 years and hadn't seen her husband in 20.

Danny-Pintauro-Matthew-Rettenmund-Whos-the-BossWho's the Boss?-y bottom

Katherine finally arrived, beaming at the warm reception fans gave her. She was clearly the #1 draw at the Fan Fest, and was the sweetest person to talk to, telling us she hoped she wasn't a disappointment for us (since we'd traveled so far to greet her).

Katherine-Helmond-Matthew-Rettenmund-Whos-the-BossSoap...Who's the Boss?...Brazil...so love this lady!

I filmed Pintauro going up to her for the first time (she at first didn't recognize him, introducing herself before getting misty and giving him a big hug), then took some shots. Her handler waved me off, then said, C'mere. I wanna talk to you.

He was uncomfortable letting me take pictures. I told him I was a paying customer; just because the camera I was using was professional, that shouldn't make a difference. I submit my shots to an agency, but who cares? Anyone could do the same. What was the issue? He said Helmond and her husband are well off, don't need to do autograph shows and had to be persuaded. He didn't want a tabloid story to emerge (unless Helmond and Pintauro left the show and shot the president, I couldn't see what that story would be). I had to promise it wouldn't be on the cover of any magazines (!), and he finally, when I urged him that a shot of them together should at least exist, he said he'd let me shoot them together...the next day.

Katherine-Helmond-Danny-Pintauro

Katherine-Helmond-Danny-Pintauro-reunited“Mona” & “Jonathan”, together again!

The next day, the handler wanted Helmond to sign for her fans first, finally saying, “Okay, okay, let's give this guy his shot so he can sleep tonight.”

He was actually pretty nice after all the interference, so I hope my shot won't end up on the cover of Hustler after all. I respect that he was protecting his friends, but there was no logic in trying to block me from shooting—every fan got shots they could just as easily have posted.

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Diane-Baker-Straighjacket

Diane Baker, 76

I wasn't immediately familiar with Ms. Baker, so I awkwardly had three mini-encounters with her, first meeting her, then getting a picture, then finally returning for an autograph. Once it dawned on me that she'd made three films with Joan Crawford and was the psycho daughter in the outrageously campy Straitjacket (50th anniversary this year!), I couldn't resist!

Diane-Baker-Matthew-Rettenmund

Baker looks fantastic and was supremely gracious to us, answering questions and offering info. Of Crawford, she said the icon had come across as a bit sad to her; she was always a pro, always knew her lines and was on time, but could be a bit of a terror, too. She said it was obvious Crawford was having a hard time at that point in her life. Her comments were an intriguing mixture of sympathy and chilly respect.

When I presented her with an image of herself with Crawford and director William Castle, she told me Castle was so trustworthy that she would change in front of him—he had not one ounce of lecher in him. I found that amazing considering how perverse his films were.

Speaking of sexual perversity, Baker ran out of images from Silence of the Lambs (she plays the senator), so my pal Rich had to go have one made at another table.

One tidbit: Somehow FDR was brought up and she muttered that she wished he were president now. I assume that means President Obama isn't liberal enough for her, or it might just be that she admired FDR's leadership and that the remark had nothing to do with liberal vs. conservative.

When I asked to take a picture with her, she threw her arms in the air. Best picture ever!

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Jonathan-Lipnicki-autograph-shirtless-muscles
Jonathan Lipnicki, 23

Not much to say about the li'l star of Jerry Maguire; he's cute, buff and has a surfer-level engagement. I asked about when he had his hair in a Mohawk and he said, Yeah, dude, it was just somethin' to do.

Jonathan-Lipnicki-Matthew-RettenmundWe look like we had each other at good-bye!

My pictures with him (two) turned out kinda bad. He has a smile that looks like you smell bad and should move away. But again, still very cute. And unlike in his many shirtless images for sale, he has some chest fur now.

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Don-Murray-autograph
Don Murray, 85

I'd met Murray once before, but he had such amazing vintage photos I couldn't resist a second meeting. We didn't exchange more than a few words, unfortunately.

Don-Murray-Matthew-RettenmundHe looks great, right?

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That's it! Except for this snap of soap actor Kin Shriner, 60, on his cellphone:

Kin-Shriner

...and—my gift to you—the magazine tear sheet I was going to have Craig Sheffer, 54, sign if I'd made it to the concurrently occurring Days of the Dead across town. Unfortunately, he canceled due to a sickness in the family. But we'll always have this:

Craig-Sheffer-Greg-GormanPhoto by Greg Gorman, body by oh-my-fucking-God!

I'll check in soon with more autograph-show low-down, including a maybe-trip to The Hollywood Show, a maybe-trip to Comicon and a definite visit to Chiller Theatre (Marion Ross! Teri Garr! Tatum O'Neal!).

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