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Top 5 with Dr. Dot

by Susan Henderson on September 26, 2007

Name 5 famous people you’ve met, and tell a story about at least one of them.

This question is for all my readers, and there’s a reason I think it’s a useful one for writers to think about. If you’re like me, playing is the best way to get the creative ideas flowing. But more importantly, think about what meeting a famous person does to you or your characters. You can often discover a lot about a person’s self-esteem, motives, buttons, and more. So play, and then take what you learn to your writing.

Okay, today’s special guest, Dr. Dot, is going to kick things off with her answers. Who is Dr. Dot? She is the gorgeous masseuse to the rock stars, and her nickname was given to her by the late, great Frank Zappa. What you may not know –  even if you have already heard of her – is that she has written a sure-bet, celebrity-heavy book, BUTT-NAKED AND BACKSTAGE: DIARY OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST ROCK AND ROLL MASSEUSE. If you are an agent or publisher, you can contact me or Dot with any interest in her book or in syndicating her sex column.

Okay, Dot. Take it away. Tell us about 5 famous people you’ve met.

*

Eminem:

I met Em in 1999, when he hadn’t broken big yet in Germany. I had NO idea who he was but my kid made me go, telling me he is the next big thing. The fact that I had NO clue who Eminem was made them all open up easier to me and we all got along great. He too has a daughter and he too had a fucked up mom, like I did. He too came from a family so poor they couldn’t pay attention.

Eminem is proof, that you can not and should not, judge a book by it’s cover. I not only massaged them all, but showed them around Berlin, to the bank, clubs, cinema, restaraunts, etc. He then invited me to do a bit of the 2000 Up in Smoke tour in the USA, which I did. He treated me like a sister, always polite and generous. I turned him onto Frank Zappa on a few of our many long hauls.

Not a hip hop fan, but I am since meeting Em, an Eminem fan. He is the bomb.

Paris Hilton:

Another strong case for “Don’t be a cunt and judge a book by it’s cover!” I was backstage at Live 8 in London, massaging every star back there, but spent more time with Paris then any one else. She is so beautiful in person, it’s breathtaking. Then she hits you with her generosity and charm and you’re all washed up. She is so sweet and friendly, not fake, like one would imagine after reading Us or In Touch magazine. Paris is real and I defend her shrewdly when and if someone is slagging her off in my presence. “Have you met her!??” I bark. “NO!” is always the answer. “Then shut your fucking pie hole!” I answer back. Since when is it our choice to which parents we are born? She is making the best of what she was given. I adore her!

Roger Waters (IS Pink FLoyd!):

If you ever stumble across my MySpace page, look for the monster blog I wrote about Roger. In short, he has been a hero of mine as long as I can remember. I have met him a few times, but last June I finally got to spend quality time ALONE with Roger. I only charged him for a one hour massage but all in all, I was in his room over 3 hours. I lingered as long as possible on his body, massaging the same parts sometimes over and over, while listening to him talk about his past and present. He is a rather serious man, no goofing around with Reg, no siree. I find him so attractive in every way, I have to say, it was EXTREMELY difficult for me to stop the naughty thoughts racing through my mind during the butt massage. He is a beautiful genius and if he only knew how well I knew his music, he may have passed on getting a massage from me, as I am indeed, a fan. You don’t want to play Pink Floyd trivia with me. I would marry him in a heart beat. Nuff said.

Bruce Willis:

Again, if you want the full scoop, check out my myspace blog about Bruce. It’s LONG, almost as long as his, um, nuff said. Bruce was on a film promotion tour for the crappy film he did which probably went directly to dvd called “Breakfast of Champions” or some shit like that with Nick Nolte. I massaged him once and he then hired me to massage him on a daily basis for a few weeks. Then he flew me to Italy to massage him there while filming another BOMB called the Story of Us with Michelle Pfieffer.

He is generous and funny, but if he isn’t the center of attention 24/7, he throws a fucking temper tantrum. You gotta love it. He is a natural born entertainer. He acts, sings, dj’s, could do stand up comedy as I have seen it in his hotel room night after night in front of his “friends”. Bruce decided to put our “friendship” on ice until my book finally comes out in the USA as he thinks I may talk about some of the naughty things, but as you can see from my blog, I don’t. My blog is the actual chapter about Bruce, so the fucking cry baby should just calm the fuck down. You don’t want to make me mad. I am the rock and roll Rushdie after all.

Joey Ramone:


My first true love. Oh, I was indeed 15 and he was 29 when we started dating, but he didn’t know that. He thought I was 19, like I told him. The managers all knew in the end and that’s why my name is left out of a few Ramones books, as if eveyrone knew Joey dated a 15 year old, they would *gasp* think of him as a perv. But it was me that was the perv. Still am. So there. Joey and I had a going on for about 3 years and then I decided to follow the Grateful Dead for a couple years and had no time for a relationship. However, Joey and I were friends ALL the way up to his passing. You can read the blog I wrote about the Ramones on MySpace. It’s really long. I will always love Joey, he was so sweet, so funny, so sarcastic, so romantic and above all so STRANGE. He made my dream come true when I was in the 11th grade. He came and played in Ellington, Connecticut (a fucking cow town in the middle of NOWHERE) for my high school. I am sure they lost money for that gig, but he did it for me. Everyone in my school doubted me and gave me shit until Joey and co. finally took to the stage and blew the roof off the Country Squire (which is now called the “Hall of Fame”). Oh what a night.

*

Many thanks to Dr. Dot, who is a sweetheart. And fiesty. Just my type. Okay, now everyone’s turn to play, and then go check out her website and make her your MySpace friend.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Henderson September 26, 2007 at 12:06 am

So glad you’re here, Dr. Dot! I forgot to ask, Did you ever massage Freddie Mercury? Or Peter Frampton?

Okay, here are my answers to the Top 5. I decided to name some of the folks I was around the most growing up: Vint Cerf (Turing Award winner and considered the father of the internet), Herb Simon (Nobel Prize winner, Turing Award winner, and considered the father of Artificial Intelligence), Bob Kahn (Turing Award winner and co-inventor of the internet), Raj Reddy (Turing Award winner; he was also awarded the Legion of Honor by President Mitterand, which is how I met the French president).

The Turing Award, by the way, is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for Computer Science. In other words, I grew up around a whole lot of geeks.

Number 5 was not in my family’s inner circle, but I’ll tell a story for this one. When I was 17, I did my first-ever interview. It was in the West Wing of the White House with Jim Brady, a few years after he was shot in the head. We recently cleaned out our basement, and I discovered a very humiliating cassette tape, which not only featured me giggling my way through the interview and asking completely inappropriate questions such as, How did it feel to get shot in the head? But after the interview was over, I apparently recorded myself singing my heart out – everything from The Carpenters to Teena Marie. Listening to this tape almost killed me out of sheer embarrassment. Maybe Friday, I’ll include an mp3 of that interview on the Weekly Wrap.

Okay, play on! I’ll see everyone in the morning.

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Kimberly September 26, 2007 at 12:57 am

Top 5 famous people? I have gotten my fair share in my lifetime, but some of my recent faves are feminist porn goddess, Candida Royalle (don’t ask) and Meg – one of the early-cut models from cycle 7 of America’s Next Top Model (she was robbed!)

I can barely compete with Dr. Dot for Rock stars, but I have been kissed by two incredibly famous Opera stars, Bryn Terfel (yummy Welsh baritone) and Placido Domingo. Bryn’s was on the lips – closed mouth, thank you very much – and Placido’s was on both cheeks. He wears Farenheit cologne. I also stood in an elevator with Luciano Pavarotti in Philadelphia, and here’s my story:

So I’m working at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and I’m in this tiny, overheated freight elevator with ‘Pav’ (R.I.P.) and while you’d think the first thing you’d notice is the girth, to be honest, it was the smell that struck me first. Smell is the wrong word. So is struck.

It was a stench that bitch-smacked my nostrils into another dimension. That’s my recollection.

I was pinned between his gargantuan glutes and the rickety steel backdrop and as I tried ever-so-desperately to stop the tears from falling, (due to the sting of the stink) I looked upwards to heaven for relief, and that was when I noticed his hair.

Or at least the hair that was painted there…

… slowly slipping from his greazy bald pate and amassing into a slimy pool between the folds of his flabby neck.

But to be less than 20 feet away from the man while he sang – was truly heaven on earth.

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lance reynald September 26, 2007 at 1:01 am

Right On Dot!!!

I really don’t know what gets me more, dying to know the answer to the Freddie Mercury thing or the Joey Ramone thing!!

sheeeesh!

ok, growing up in DC my brushes with fame are just odd, mostly political and on a few I’m keeping my mouth shut until after elections and whatnot…

but, lets go with a few less political ones. and a few comments here and there.

Tommy Hilfiger- very early in his line…I was trashed at a fundraiser, buster poindexter was playing and I’m certain I said or did something inappropriate… he seemed like a nice guy though. I can’t believe how ubiquitous he seems to have become.

Sade- the woman is stunning. I was a bit undone by that one.

Chrissy Hyndes- ok. this one is crazy. a friend called and told me she was doing a PETA protest at the GAP. Cut me some slack, I love this woman, always have. She is like Punk Demi-God. So, I go over to the protest. She is even more stunning in person, really. I gawk, I stare…I leave cause I might just be creepy. I spend the better part of the day running into her everywhere… I’m amazed she didn’t have me arrested.

Sally Kellerman- she does an amazing nightclub act. Really awesome jazz standards. Lovely woman, very patient with the lunatics that showed up at her show at blues alley, me, two friends and a half a dozen Japanese businessmen showed up in the middle of an icestorm. She was most gracious when we turned up to chat in her dressing room; I just had to tell her I thought her Altman work was great (again, amazed I don’t get arrested more)

The Dalai Lama was random and on Georgetown campus years ago… I don’t even have words on this one. It has to be experienced. I will say that if any one thing in my life has carried a constant impact it was being in his presence. Everything they say he is can be felt, it’s impossible to describe; but he’s the real deal. More so than any other. It just is, and it is beyond what you think you put your faith in.

is that five?

I have one more that might just appeal to the LitWits… so I’m breaking the rules and going for 6.

I met Junot Diaz last week, he was pretty damn amazing. What he’s done with his debut raises the bar for the rest of us. But, in the best possible way.

Dr. Dot- all my best in getting the book out there!! Sounds like loads of fun! and you have some great insights into some amazing legends!

xo.

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Dr. Dot September 26, 2007 at 1:16 am

Never massaged Freddie, sadly. Peter Frampton is on my hit list though :)
x

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Nathalie September 26, 2007 at 3:35 am

Of course you are assuming that EVERYBODY has met famous people in their lives, which is not always the case…
Mostly writers or photographers for me.
I once had breakfast with one of our astronauts. Does that count ?
And meeting Neil gaiman. Twice. Last time was very nice.

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Sarah R. Roundell September 26, 2007 at 7:05 am

Dr Dot, you are super sassy and way cool! Thanks for the peek into your world and I hope to read your book in the near future.
Aside from some Canadian rockers I’ve really only met one famous person and that was Lenny Kravitz. We were wandering the East Village on a school trip and there he was with his band. Not wanting to be a pain I quietly stood back and snapped pics while all the other girls mobbed him. He was polite and sexy and cooler than one could imagine. It wasn’t very inspiring though. I think all of the writers and other creative types that I’ve met (virtually) here in the park (esp. Susan, Lance, and JKP) have been far more inspirational to me!

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Bradley September 26, 2007 at 7:41 am

Sadly, my brushes with celebrity have been just that: Almost cross-checking Courtney Cox on the U.E.S., eating lunch next to Muhammad Ali and Layla Ali, eating dinner (with Kimberly) next to Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, seeing Parker Posey in Starbucks, saying hello to Abe Vigoda on the street, and meeting Freddie Omar at a party.

But without contribution much, I’ve enjoyed this post because it awakened the pop-culture maniac that lives inside my head – a nice diversion. I’ve spent the day singing ‘The KKK took my baby Away.’ And when my boss asked me for some budget documents I couldn’t help but saying, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness. So [you’ve] got that goin’ for [you], which is nice.”

By the way, how is it possible that Kimberly says she met a feminist porn goddess (but don’t ask) and no one calls for greater detail?

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*Joe* September 26, 2007 at 10:07 am

Well this is a great topic and Dr. Dot has some really great stories. Funny, I’ve met two of the people on her list; Roger Waters (didn’t get too close) when I snuck backstage at the Wall concert at Nassau Colosseum, and Joey Ramone because either him or Dee Dee (Doug)was friends with a woman I worked with at a TV station in NYC in the early 80s. I suspect if I committed to saying it was Joey – there might be a problem since it would be at about the same time as Dr. Dot was going out with him. Uh oh.

Saying I’ve “met” a celebrity is a relative question. Being in the same room, having them say hello to me or having a pajama party and sharing our inner most secrets while we do each other’s hair and dream about the doctors we’re going to marry someday. Depends. Working in TV & radio, I met quite a few but mostly on the head nod basis or “nice day isn’t it?” in the elevator kinda deal. With many celebrities – because of the demand on their time from everyone – it depends “who” you are to them and what you want in how you are treated. Nothing bad, that’s just the nature of fame sometimes I guess. That and egos that can punch a hole in through the ozone layer.

My favorites include Barbara Eden (very nice… and … Oh Genie!), Henny Youngman who was much funnier than I thought he’d be and a really nice guy to boot, Bill Bradley who is like REALLY tall, Andy Warhol who was even stranger in person than I’d imagined and David Sedaris who is seriously one of the funniest humans alive.

Oh yeah… Dr. Dot? I never ever missed a Zappa Halloween show at the Palladium. Getting a nickname from Frank Zappa has to be like the coolest thing – ever.

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Jordan E. Rosenfeld September 26, 2007 at 10:08 am

Dot is a kick, or should I say a firm elbow, in the pants! I too was a massage therapist, but the most prominent people I ever massaged were the guy who founded 1-800-Dentist, and the lead singer for the Cowboy Junkies.

Hmm…most of the famous people I’ve met are authors from my radio days :) TC Boyle, Louise Erdrich, Aimee Bender (I’m star struck more by them)…

1. Julie Christie (this doesn’t quite count as she is a friend of the family) but she’s quite goofy and darling in person.

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman–he was doing a kind of acting camp at Bennington one of the summers I was tehre (I was there for writing, not acting). I found him to be dissapointingly aloof. Made a fool of myself.

3. When I was in high school I stopped by the gap only to see the sales girls go into a tizzy because Huey Lewis had come in (he was popular then). They accosted him like yellow jackets, pushing clothes on him. At one point he was finally alone, holding up this god awful yellow sweatshirt (it was the fashion season of horrible bright primary colors) and I sidled up to him and said, “You’d look better in red.” He bought the red sweatshirt.

4. Perhaps my most shining celebrity moment: When I was 8 I met the actress who played “Mrs Howell” on Gilligan’s island at a Palm Springs motel. She was swimming in the pool keeping her precious face-lifted skin and makeup above water. She did give me her autograph (I was a TV baby).

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Susan Henderson September 26, 2007 at 10:08 am

Wow, now this is a fun little game! I’ll be back to play after I finish an interview.

Peter

Quick announcement. Got a note this morning from Peter de Seve regarding Randall de Seve’s new book, TOY BOAT. There will be a reading and signing this weekend in Brooklyn. Here’s the info:

Sunday, September 30th at 11
Book Court
163 Court Street – a block and a half in from Atlantic Ave
(Sunday is also the Atlantic Antic street fair.)

Back in a bit!

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Casper September 26, 2007 at 11:37 am

Well let me start by saying that I grew up around rock n’ fucking roll. My mom was a rock n’ roll biker bitch.One of my step dad’s best friends was Toi Caldwell (Marshall Tucker) and a friend I grew up with’s Dad was Henry Vestine (Canned Heat, Mother Of Invention,briefly).
When I was about 8 my mom took me to a bar to meet her new beau. He was an older British man but not what comes to mind immediately. He had long hair and sported a leather jacket. I asked him questions about England and what not. Then he and my mom started playing billiards. I was little and really hadn’t played before. So he showed my how to use the cue properly, how to aim at balls, etc. Then the next day we went to see him play. He was Geezer Butler. Needless to say I was at many Ozzy concerts as a child. She dated other rock stars but that isn’t the point.
The first famous person I met and was in awe over was when I was 4. I was at a motorcycle club party in Atlanta with my mom and David Allen Coe was there. he took me for a ride on his bike. I thought that was big shit when I was 4.
Since I now work as a sound engineer and stage hand I meet famous musicians quite often. But the only ones that I become enamoured with are Grateful Dead members. Since I dedicated most of my life to following them around.
The first time I met Bobby Weir I was in Tuscon for a Ratdog show in ’96. We caught his tour bus on the freeway and just drove right behind them, all the way and parked beside the bus. Security just let us through like we were suppose to be there. I talked to him about lots of things, Jerry, what it was like to be a 16 year old in the Dead, etc. I met his wife also that day.
Another time I was on Phil Lesh and Friends Tour. We decided to skip a show and go straight to the next city (Richmond,VA) and relax at The Marriot. The next morning There tour buses rolled in. I didn’t get to talk to Phil much but I did hang out with Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes for a bit. That was actually one of many meetings with Warren (Allman Brothers, Government Mule) I have had. I smoked a joint with him when I was 15.
The greatest of all was in 2001 when I was at a bluegrass festival called Merle Fest. I traded some kid some acid for a couple backstage passes. The last performance of the festival was billed as David Grisman and special guests. I wanted to meet him badly. That day I met Dolly Parton and Marty Stewart. While I was talking to them a seen Vassar Clements (fiddle in Old and In The Way). We hit it off and he invited my girlfriend and I to his green room. Much to my surprise David Grisman (Garcia/Grisman, Old and in The Way)and Peter Rowan (New Riders Of The Purple Sage, Old and In The Way) were in there. Turned out it was the first performance of the living members of Old And In The Way since Jerry Garcia died. They let me check out there instruments and we chatted. Then they decided to run through there set. The door was closed and other than the artists it was my girl and I and 1 press guy. We got the private show. After I went and ate with Peter. Then I sat on stage seated behind Bluegrass legend Doc Watson for the show. If you are fan of bluegrass you know how amazing that day was for me.

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Susan Henderson September 26, 2007 at 11:48 am

Dot – Whenever people ask the question, Who would you most love to meet (living or dead), my answer is the same: Freddie Mercury. I just have a feeling we’d get along great. I would have liked to have heard a story of getting all those little chest hairs stuck to your fingers at the end of the massage.

Robin, you know Peter Frampton, don’t you? (Insert jealous sigh here.) Maybe you should tell him he’s on Dr. Dot’s hit list.

Kimberly – How do you know Placido Domingo wears Farenheit cologne? And tell us more about Candida.

Lance – This LitWit is pretty impressed you met Junot Diaz. I’ll wrestle those political stories out of you in private.

Nathalie – Lunch with an astronaut sounds very cool indeed!

Sarah – I’d mob Lance and Josh over Lenny Kravitz.

Bradley – I have an inner pop-culture maniac, too.

*Joe* – Oh, how I would love to meet David Sedaris.

Jordan – How funny is that to read your list with Aimee Bender and TC Boyle right next to Huey Lewis and Mrs. Howell. I love it!

Casper – Welcome! That’s one hell of a story. I hope you’re writing a memoir! (And I am a big old fan of bluegrass, yep.)

Is everyone friending Dr. Dot on MySpace? Good.

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Daryl September 26, 2007 at 12:55 pm

***blushing*** umm, hiya Dr. Dot! I’m really happy to know that there really is someone like you, out there doing what you do. I aspired to become a massage therapist to the rockstar world back in the early 90’s. Living in the SF Bay Area though instead of Hollywood was probably why I did not become one… ***sigh***

Anyway, scratching my head for 5 famous people I’ve met…

How about in reverse order?

5. Adrian Belew – met him last November in Santa Cruz when he, his band mates and their mother serendipitously relaunched my photography career.

4. Clive Barker – Twice! The closest thing to having a true , living muse in my life. I took my working manuscript to the last book signing he did here in San Francisco and asked him to bless it for me. I have pictures!

3. Bono – Met him at a house prayer meeting in suburban Dublin in 1980; before they hit the big times.

2. Mackenzie Phillips – Met her in 1977 when I was a freshman living in Malibu. Before she hit the skids.

1. Richard Nixon – I was 6 and he buzzed my city while campaigning for Governor.

{ok, shutting up now… sorry!}

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Juliet September 26, 2007 at 1:53 pm

A bit jealous about the Roger massage, Doc!

1. Jim Carrey.
Jim is my ex-husband’s best friend. My son is named after him; Jim is his godfather. Spent some fun time over the years, none in recent, though our vacation spot is less than 5 kilometers from one another.

2.Marisa Tomei:
Toronto International Film Festival. Chatted in an elevator, and then at the Four Seasons, where we were both staying. Very personable. And, as we all know, great laugh.

3. Chris Farley:
Same event. He and #4 (David Spade) came up to our hotel room after we had dinner together. He broke my heart with his desire to be funny, to make everyone comfortable and to deflect any conflict. He gave me a foot massage. It was sweet.

4. David Spade:
I thought he was smarmy at the time. He pissed me off because I felt he was dismissive to the woman with him… interesting conversation, however, about Canadian arts. By night’s end, I was actually pleased to find he wasn’t the jerk I’d feared.

5. Clint Eastwood: Shortly after my son was born, we were in LA with Jim for his hands and feet ceremony outside Grauman’s. We later went to the House of Blues where Clint was among the guests. Everyone else was partying like mad. I was carrying a three-month old in a sling. Clint came over and talked with me about children and was a very engaging conversationalist. Quite the gentleman. I saw him again that fall at an event. My husband and I split that winter, and so my Hollywood days were done.

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Juliet September 26, 2007 at 1:56 pm

*Mann’s… sorry, I’m a moron today.

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Susanna Donato September 26, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Fun way to pass my lunch hour today! I feel like I’ve met some famous people, but I don’t remember … is that a bad sign? I had several brushes with Rankin’ Roger from the Specials as a youth – he was awesome. He went jogging with a colleague of mine.

I used to love glimpsing famous people in NYC. And I think my whole list of meetings dates from a year there in 1999, working in (could you guess?) food:

1. Jacques Pepin – A very nice man who was often accosted on the subway by his TV fans.
2. Bobby Flay – Spent a dinner held in his honor making out with his girlfriend at the table.
3. Julia Child – We were all in a tizzy to meet Her.
4. Um … gosh, I don’t know any famous people.
5. Sir Ian McKellen. Some friends and I went to see Gods & Monsters. We left the theater and were standing in the Union Square subway station saying goodbye, discussing how we loved the movie, when who should walk by but Ian McKellen himself. We were all gawking and exclaiming how strange it was and sort of followed him to the platform. I finally said we ought to just go compliment him instead of stalking him. My female friend and I went and told him we’d just seen the movie (he said, “Really? JUST now?”) and he was very gracious. The men with us were hiding behind the subway map, giggling hysterically. The whole experience lent a special something to seeing him win an Oscar for that role. But I still don’t understand why he didn’t call me to be his date to the awards ceremony …

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Aurelio September 26, 2007 at 4:55 pm

What a strange and fascinating life you live, Dr. Dot! I just friended you, even though I’m not famous. Hopefully I’ll just blend in.

I’ve met too many actor and celebs from my animation days, so I’m a bit jaded when it comes to the whole celeb thing. The stand-outs were probably:

John Leguizamo – smart and funny and nuts.

Robin Williams – scary-smart and funny… and nuts.

Tim Burton – smart and scary (and hilariously funny, and pretends to be nuts.)

Angela Lansbury – every bit as sweet and talented as you might imagine. A grand lady.

Gene Kelly – probably my favorite, because he was shockingly normal despite his talents, and loved film making – he was the only celeb I ever met that I really honestly wished I could have been real friends with.

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James Spring September 26, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I don’t know anybody famous. Except NPR people and writers, and who cares about those?

My goal, as of today, is to one day inspire Dr. Dot to write filthy notes about me.

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Susan Henderson September 26, 2007 at 7:05 pm

Daryl – That’s an awful lot of blushing. Cute! Very interesting (and diverse) list.

Juliet – What did your ex do for a living that brought you into all these circles? Writers are more loyal. I’m glad you’re with us now.

Susanna – Isn’t NYC great for spotting people? My favorite thing about NY is how everyone fits in here. You can walk around in a giraffe suit and rollerskates and you’ll find somewhere that welcomes you.

Aurelio – You are a star to me. (Especially because you bought me a present in China!) P.S. I adore Gene Kelly!

James – I will count your answer as torture, which means you’ve earned a demerit today. I want to know all about Ira’s nervous ticks. Does he chew on straws? Have you ever seen him without his glasses? Does he get freckles in the summer?

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Susan Henderson September 26, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Off-topic: Where’s Jackson? I need my mid-week football fix. What do you think of the Steelers going up against their old coaches this weekend? And what’s up with the Bears?

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Michael D. Williams September 26, 2007 at 10:54 pm

This really got me thinking. I’ve met or had encounters with many famous people. I spoke with Joe Lieberman when he was running for president. It was me him and his secret service detail, he was shorter than I would have thought, but a very nice man. I also spoke with Martin Luther King III, it was only a high how are you type of meeting maybe one minuete. I fixed Dana Carveys dads fly reel in a fly shop in Ennis Montana. Kid Rock asked me for directions one time, he is a lot smaller in person. We went coon hunting with Garth Brooks before he was famous. He was an alright guy. Ashlee Simpson stared me down at an airport and as I walked by her I gave her a head nod and said hey to which she said hi. Later she walked by me again and made fierce eye contact as she passed me, she said bye and I said see you later. Marriage probably saved me from the tabloids, darn it. I discussed Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man with Barry Sanders. I’ve meet him numerous times and he is a great person. My third cousin is the songwriter Jimmy Webb but I’ve only been around him at funerals. Gene Autry is my third cousin on my dads side of the family, I never meet him but my grandma babysat him when she was young, he offered my grandpa a job in California but lucky for me he stayed in Oklahoma. There are more but they are mostly just seeing people. That was fun.

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Tish Cohen September 27, 2007 at 9:25 am

Still fainting about Joey Ramone. Love him!

Okay, the guys from the Barenaked Ladies – at a few parties in Toronto, one being a backyard party in Rosedale where they rocked the neighborhood all night.

Gedi Lee from Rush – I went to a party at his home in Rosedale (Toronto). Another time I sat beside him at a charity event and we were teamed up for some sort of dinner-word game in which we bombed.

Gene Kelly – In LA, dated his son Tim’s best friend, Steve King (not what you’re thinking…). One night we were all hanging out at Tims’s and Gene came home and asked us if he could mix us some drinks. I was about 17, the only drink I knew was Boone’s Farm wine (Blueberry Hill anyone?) so I said “Screwdriver,” not knowing what the hell it was. So Gene made me my first mixed drink. The next time I went over there, Gene saw me and rushed to get me a screwdriver–he actually remembered.

Hugh Hefner – When I was 16, I dated a guy who organized parties for Hef. My friend and I were in line at the Playboy Club on a night Madonna and Pat Benatar were performing. We were grossly underage, but my boyfriend assured us we’d get in. After a while, an old guy came out and asked if we were Tish and Kerry, told us he’d just been busted and it was his second offence. One more would shut him down. So, he asked, would we swing by the house later? It was Hef and the house was the Playboy Mansion…

Teri Garr – at my uncle’s house in Hollywood for Thanksgiving dinner when I was about 14. She sat beside me and was sweet enough to chat with me all night.

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Tish Cohen September 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

P.S.
So glad you’re back, Sue! A little bird told me some happy news about you recently…

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Juliet September 27, 2007 at 10:40 am

Susan: Television/Film Actor/comedian.
I assure you, it wasn’t funny. I’m glad to be here too.

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Terry Bain September 27, 2007 at 10:51 am

5. I met James Doohan before I knew a snit about Star Trek. But they showed some clips of the upcoming Star Trek movie at a lecture he was leading, and then I stood in line to meet him. Though I didn’t know a snit, he made me a fan just from his charm. Or maybe it was the accent. Either way, cool fella.

4. Once in awhile I correspond with Donald Hall, and I had the opportunity to meet him once, and he was every bit as genuine as I had expected.

3. Okay, most of my “famous people” are mid-list literary heroes of mine, so I’ll just keep listing them even though their “fame” is mostly in my house. But here’s one of my favorites, Rick Bass. He once tore apart a short story of mine, with scribbles and drawings and lines and notes. I changed the story soon after, submitted it, had it published in The Gettysburg Review, and it won an O. Henry Award. How cool is that? Mr. Bass will always be enormously famous to me if for no other reason than that.

2. When I went to Wordstock a few years ago, I was sitting in the “VIP” room eating bananas and drinking coffee, none of the writers seemed able to open their water. I opened water for several people there, and found out later that I’d opened a bottle for and chatted with Ursula Le Guin. Good thing I didn’t know it at the time or I would surely have been too starstruck to utter a word.

1. I was starstruck when I used a college press cred to go with a friend to interview Kurt Vonnegut. Luckily, I was there as the “photographer,” so I didn’t end up asking a lot of questions. When Mr. Vonnegut arrived, he came into the room carrying a manuscript that someone had handed him and he sat at the table before the interview, tearing into this poor person’s beloved. I mean, if that writer had been in the room, he likely would have shrunk into a golem. I was so intimidated I think I lost ten pounds.

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Tom Jackson September 27, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Well, I read where one analyst says the Cardinals’ Wiz and Grimm know the Steelers’ offensive personnel better than that Steelers’ staff do. I don’t buy it. Sure, Hines may not be playing this week (last I heard he was questionable at best because of the knee), but I think Big Ben’s will play at least as well as he did the SB year (if not better, given he has more freedom back there) and has plenty of remaining weapons at his disposal. At the very least, he doesn’t have his head up his ass like he did last year.

And let’s not forget about the Steelers’ defense. They’ve averaged wins by, what? A good 20-something points per game? I’d put any elite AFC defense against any elite NFC defense, so the chances of the Cards pulling off a game like they nearly had against the Bears last year is very, very unlikely in my opinion.

Oh, yeah… the Bears. Hey, remember how the Steelers played much of last year? With Ben making really piss-poor decisions, costing a bunch of games early on? That’s where the Bears are this year. Thus the switch from Rex to Griese. It’s amazing how much better a defense will play when its quarterback isn’t giving the ball away all the time.

So Griese ain’t exactly his dad. So what? Bears have won a lot of games the last couple of years with some mediocre QBing. Watch ’em reel off nine or 10 straight wins, starting this weekend. Remember, they’re in the NFC. They can do things like that.

Also: the Cubs are on the brink of winning their division. So until they ultimately, inevitably break my heart, the Bears are, well… not quite backburner. More like the smaller burner in the front row of the stove.

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Gail Siegel September 27, 2007 at 5:13 pm

Fascinating subject. Which begs the question, what is fame? Getting your mug in the paper? Having power?

Coincidentally, my boss (who is locally famous) is quite star-struck. After badgering me for years, I gave in to him and just mounted a photo and bio exhibit of 140 celebrities born in the Chicago area, from Jim Belushi to Justice John Paul Stevens. With an accompanying book called Sweet Home Cook County.

They were all famous; I had no idea who half of them were (especially the athletes).

Because I work in politics, I’ve met or know a lot of ‘famous’ politicians. I’ve been interviewed by or know most of the local tv news personalities. Are they famous? I don’t know. I’ve known a guy who is a local radio comic since we were kids, but since I’ve never listened to his show, I don’t feel like he’s famous, but I suppose he is, in his own world — or the world of his target audience.

Many of you probably know a lot of the same ‘famous’ writers I know, from taking their classes or workshops, or going to their readings, exchanging email etc.

But a top 5 of people I know or have intersected with: Obama, from when he was in the state legislature. Oprah Winfrey, from being on her show. Hillary Clinton, from wandering around the national portrait gallery with her, when she was checking out past presidential portraits. Rahm Emmanuel, from coming up together with him in Chicago public interest work in the 80’s and beyond.

But my favorite, who I knew the very least, was Mayor Harold Washington. He’s the only famous person I’ve seen both alive (he had a meaty hand and an impressive handshake) and dead (lying in state in city hall he looked more green than black!)

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Gail Siegel September 27, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Oh, crap, that’s not the one I wanted to tell. Is the Episcopal (sp?)Archbishop of San Diego famous? His wife is a friend of mine and he took Harvey and I out to dinner about 10 days ago. Very nice people. They make me wish I was Anglican.

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Betsy September 27, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Oh this is fun! I can’t believe two of you have met Gene Kelly! Growing up my best friend and I were huge Fred Astaire/Gene Kelly fans. I tend not to get too star-struck but that would be an exception.
I had to think about this – it’s been a while since I moved in circles like these, and the line between who I actually met and who I just crossed paths with somewhere is starting to get a little foggy (except for all the guys I dated who mysteriously but regularly turn up on Prison Break – I wish I could forget that).
But – the five that come to mind are, not in any order:
1. Susan Dey. When you meet Laurie Partridge, even if you’re pushing 30, you can’t help but feel like a ten year old dork.
2. Anthony Hopkins. Sigh. Shook his hand and looked into those eyes, those incredible blue eyes, and completely forgot he was old enough to be my dad.
3. Henry Winkler. See Susan Dey. I was long over my pre-teen crush on the Fonz by the time I met him, but it was still awesome just the same. He could not have been nicer or more – regular. And I mean that in the best way.
4. Captain Kangaroo. See Susan Dey and Henry Winkler and multiply by a bunch. He had an office where I used to work, and I’d see him there regularly, enough to say hi, but inside I was always just thinking, Captain Kangaroo! Captain Kangaroo! And I know that a lot of us around the office were the same way.
5. George Saunders. Come on. The guy’s a certified genius, and just plain nice. And I had tea with him.

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Susan Henderson September 27, 2007 at 7:11 pm

I had looong, mostly crappy day, starting from putting Green-Hand on the school bus while he was still crying to finding out all the edits I’ve done the past 2 days on my book won’t work. Onward, right?

I’m playing DMX’s “Walk These Dogs,” which always makes me happy. Poor Robin is always so horrified at my musical taste, but what can I do?

Michael – Joe Lieberman seems to go to the airport same times I do. Great stories. What did Barry Sanders think of The Invisible Man?

Tish – Tish! I’m so happy you’re here. You need to come back to NY. Tell me what Geddy Lee’s speaking voice is like. My friend almost died at a Rush concert so I suppose that gives Geddy Lee a special place in my history. I already loved Gene Kelly but knowing he remembered your drink makes me like him all the more. It means he thinks outside of himself. (Which little bird do I need to pluck a feather from?)

Juliet – We’re keeping you. No more Hollywood unless someone wants to make a movie from your book.

Terry – See, one of the many things I love about Terry Bain is that he would become speechless in front of Ursula Le Guin.

Tom – Yay! I’ll take this as your blessing on Sunday’s game! I was glad the Bears were so decisive about pulling him. Hopefully, that will do the trick. Are you going to those cubby games?

Gail – Gail, I’ve missed you! And to answer your question, I say it’s power. Power with the press, power to hire, power so that you publicly sharing your opinion can make or break someone else’s career. And for most of us, THE woman in power, even more than Oprah, is Sessalee Hensley. Wow, on your Mayor Washington story. And mostly all of this makes me want to go on another cross-state drive with you. Maybe in the spring when these book edits are behind me.

Oh, musically, now we have The Host of Seraphim (Dead Can Dance). You gotta love iTunes shuffle!

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Susan Henderson September 27, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Betsy – We must have posted at the same time.

When I was in junior high, I had a picture of Fred Astaire in my locker. And Anwar Sadat! I was one of those “different” kids. When Mr. H worked on Silence of the Lambs, I wonder if he came across Anthony Hopkins. I’ll have to ask him. He’s the most un-starstruck person I know so he never gets the good gossip. How ultimately cool to have had tea with George Saunders! I had to email him about some business years ago, and my hands even shook while I was typing. I definitely couldn’t hold a cup of tea around him.

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Michael D. Williams September 27, 2007 at 7:34 pm

I had been aquinted with him about five years and I happened to see it in his hand, being a book person I asked what he thought. He told me his sister gave it to him for Christmas about two years before and had just started reading it, but he liked it so far. I told him that Ellison had grown up in Oklahoma City in an area known as the Deep Deuce. At the time it had jazz and blues clubs, brothels and speakeasys. One thing I noticed about him, he always has a book, awesome running back, reader and a really nice person.

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Tom Jackson September 27, 2007 at 11:11 pm

My dear, I know you lower-case the “C” in “cubbies” just to get my “billy goat,” so to speak. (Cub fans will understand my reference.) But, no. I wish I were going to the Cubs games. They’re on the road, in Cincinnati starting tomorrow. I missed out on my chance to see the Cubs in Cincy around my birthday (I worked on the Batman movie that weekend, as you recall, so my youngest, Zachy Shankar, joined my brother Stever and my dad on that trip.) Being only semi-employed right now, I can’t justify the trip to Ohio now, I’m afraid. Oh, well… go Cubs, anyway.

So I bless the Bears’ QB move? Yeah. Or do you mean I bless the Steelers’ upcoming victory over the Cards? Yeah, that too. As you’ve learned over the years, when it comes to football, I’m pretty much on the money, ain’t I?

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Sarah Bain September 28, 2007 at 12:39 am

Okay, so I am just way too late to play on this question but here are my answers in no particular order:

1. Robin Williams – Met him at my college, Univ. of Puget Sound, chatted with him, showed him around the ‘press room’ that is, the little room behind the auditorium.

2. Urula Hegi – She was my thesis adviser before she was scooped up by Oprah and made a ‘Book of the Month Club’ selectee; then she moved to NY, of course. Isn’t that where all the REAL writers go?????

3. John Wayne – Okay, that might be the coolest famous person I met except that I was only 7 and I didn’t know he was famous; only that he was tall, very tall and I ran into him and I went to one of his houses for a birthday party for his daughter Marisa and we rode on a pony. And my mother taught at the school where I went to school where he sometimes dropped off Marisa and we would see him there on occasion but not often enough for me to apparently know that he was famous.

4. Tan Ajahn Buddhadasa – Okay, this is probably the most amazing person I met though he died in the 90s. He was my monastery teacher in Southern Thailand at the amazing Suan Mokkh monastery in 1987. Being in his presence was one of the most calming experiences of my life.

5. Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, and Michelle Pfeiffer – So, about twice a year for the past 10 years, I’ve had a dream that I am at lunch with Susan, Meryl and Michelle, and we are chatting and laughing and having the best time together and while I really haven’t met them, the dreams are so incredibly vivid that I would swear to you I have. If I ever see one of the in an airport, I’m worried that I’d rush up to them, give them a big hug and ask them how they are doing since our last lunch because I always catch them up on my life during those dates!

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Tom Jackson September 28, 2007 at 8:40 am

I’ll play along with the 5 famous people thing, in ascending order of my personal favorites:

5. A high five by Ted Koppel after graduating from college (he was the commencement speaker).

4. A strange serenade from Heath Ledger while on the set of a certain superhero movie filming in a certain big city this summer. Heath was in full makeup and wardrobe, in full character, and he was strolling by to set up for a shot. He was very slim and had a pronounced slouch (he looked from the side almost like a question mark) and he was singing some dirty-sounding little ditty under his breath. As he passed by me, he slowed down, made eye contact and sung a little louder, as if he were doing it just for me. As he passed, I was thinking, Geez, Heath ain’t got no ass, since it seemed minimized to nonexistence by that question-mark slouch and his general slenderness.

3. The Famous Chicken. During the 2006 annual trip my brother and Dad and I take to Cincinnati to see a weekend of ballgames, we stopped in Indianapolis to catch a minor league doubleheader. To our delight, The Famous Chicken, the greatest baseball mascot of all time, was there doing his shtick, which is still great after more than 30 years. I had him sign my baseball cap (with both his real name — Ted Giannoulis — and as “The Chicken”), and we all had our pictures taken with him biting our heads. I think Sue’s seen the picture: I look like an 11-year-old again.

2. Harry Caray. The Hall of Fame announcer and renowned lush and all around great guy. I was a reporter for a daily paper and I got the press pass to Wrigley for one day back in 1988. I brought my dad along as my “photographer,” and we went down on the field to watch batting practice up close. Harry was just wrapping up his pre-game interview with the Cubs manager, and we stopped him to say hi and that we knew his good pal Pete Vonachen in Peoria. Harry says, “Heeeey! Good ol’ Pete — did you know he always keeps a divorce lawyer on retainer because of me?” He chatted with us for about 10 minutes, until the WGN folks said, “C’mon, Harry… c’mon, Harry.” Harry was not particularly tall, and his fingers were short and stubby like those of my Uncle Paul who has Down’s Syndrome. But he was as genuinely nice and garrulous and a little bit drunk-sounding as you’d ever imagine.

1. Count Basie. I was 17 and was going to my third concert of Count Basie and his Orchestra, this one in a college gymnasium. I was wondering aloud during the intermission if they’d be playing my favorite Basie/Fred Foster tune “Blues in Hoss’s Flat,” so my dad told me to go down and ask. Since Basie’s longtime rhythm guitarist Freddie Green was already sitting on his chair, I went over and asked. Freddie looked up at me sleepily and said, “I dunno. You’ll have to ask HIM.” He pointed over by the door. “Him” was, of course, Count Basie. Short, built like a bowling ball. I went over to him and asked the same question. He gave me one of those exaggerated, slow up-and-down looks that says, “Who the hell are YOU to make a request?” Then he smiled and said, just as slowing, “I’ll see what I can do.”

I thanked him and stumbled back to my seat, realizing my question came across wrong and knowing that the Count went to his grave thinking I was just some sunburned, uppity white kid.

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Susan Henderson September 28, 2007 at 10:04 am

Michael – I love knowing that about Barry Sanders. Bookworms are sexy!!

Tom – Who loves you?

And yes, you are near 100% on your football picks. Just always pick my team to win and I’m happy. You KNOW I’m a sore loser. (And don’t tell me I’m a sore winner, too. I hate that.)

Fun list you have. I used to date the son of one of Count Basie’s trumpeters.

Sarah – Never to late to play! Here’s a link to Tan Ajahn Buddhadasa; he’s worth checking out. The dream is sweet!

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Tom Jackson September 28, 2007 at 11:00 am

: ) Never doubted that for a second. Back atcha, as well as Green-hands, Bach-Boy and Mr. H. And the sore-winner thing: You know I don’t ever go there.

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Carolyn Burns Bass September 28, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Oh, Dr. Dot. To think of the feet you’ve touched tickles my arches. I sure could use a good foot massage after walking the floor of The Motivation Show in Chicago for the last three days. (Sorry I’m late to the Park.)

Here are my Top 5:

1. I met Hobo Kelly, the host of a 1960s children’s TV show, at a Newberry’s in Santa Ana, California when I was five. I shook her hand and asked her how she knew everyone’s birthday. She told me it was magic. I’ve been searching for that kind of magic ever since.

2. I met Elvira without her gruesome garb in the women’s room backstage at the Grammy Awards in about 1984. She is a redhead by birth and one of the most naturally beautiful and smart women I’ve ever met.

3. I did a spot interview with one of my childhood heroes Joan Baez backstage at the Grammy’s. I was star-stunned in her presence and couldn’t think of any weighty questions to ask.

4. That same year I tried to connect with Bob Dylan, but he was rushed through the interview stage before I could give him my card.

5. I was a talent escort for the Academy of Country Music Awards and attached to Reba McIntyre. She was the nicest, most down-to-earth woman and chatted with me like we’d known each other for years. Later that afternoon, while I was dressed in a gown for the broadcast awards, Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd both told me they liked my dress.

I’ve met quite a few celebrities through the years, but except for a few creeps (who shall go unnamed), most of them are just folk like you and me.

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Susan Henderson September 28, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Carolyn – That is one lovely story about Elvira.

Here is where I should admit to being totally phobic about massage. No one touches my neck, the backs of my shoulders, or my feet. I have a super-violent fear response. My brother is similar. He used to date a massage therapist (probably the prettiest girl on the planet, and Mr. H agrees), and she could never once give him a massage. Now, all that said, I am absolutely nuts about having my stomach touched, especially with a mouth. I’ll stop there.

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Shelley Marlow September 29, 2007 at 1:43 am

Hey, so fun to read, everyone. I’m friends with some famous people, some who I won’t mention to respect their privacy.
But people that I don’t think would mind mention:
1. I held hands and talked with Gore Vidal at his book party in Roma.
2. My girlfriend Martha made Lou Reed laugh at her spontaneous joke when we met him.
3. Annie Sprinkle was my girlfriend 15 years ago!
4. When I was 18, I waited for Lilly Tomlin at her stage door after a show. She was very friendly, massaging my aura in the air and wanted to accept my invitation out, but her “manager” (girlfriend) said she couldn’t go.
5. I was introduced to Bianca Jagger at Ross Bleckner’s Los Angeles art opening in 1988.

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Tom Jackson September 29, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Heh-heh, wow, Sue, what a funny coincidence. My primary source of income this summer has been as tongue belly-masseur to the stars.

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Susan Henderson September 30, 2007 at 10:13 am

Shelley – That Gore Vidal is a fiesty one. There are others here who know him, so I’ll leave it up to them to tell their stories or not. I had to look up Annie Sprinkle. I didn’t realize she was the same one who did the Public Cervix Announcement.

Tom – Ha! You nut.

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Shelley Marlow October 1, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Yes, fiesty and handsome.

Aurelio, loving your pics from China!
I haven’t read everyone’s comments as I’m over extended these days… will check in again soon.
Good luck to others applying to NYFA, too.
xoxoxooxooxoxxo

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