"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Monday, 7 March 2016

Question of the Month: Meeting an Idol

Hi there! Once a month, a bunch of us take part in a bloghop called Question of the Month. It's where we answer a question... of the month. Does that make sense? This month's question is

"Have you ever met a hero/idol/major influence? How did it go?"

I pick these questions every month and yet I've somehow picked a question that I find quite difficult to answer. Idolising people is not something I tend to do, which I think is sad.


I'm actually jealous of those people who can find ecstasy in something like that. I'm also jealous of the people being idolised, but that's a psychological analysis for another day.

I can think of two situations when I've had contact with someone whose work I really admire. The first came in about 2010 when I want to a talk by the man who's by FAR my favourite author, Matthew Reilly. The story of Reilly's first novel is well-known among his fans. Rejected by every publisher in Sydney, Reilly decided to self-publish it. Then, a short time later, most of the copies were stolen from the back of his car. These days, if you find a first-edition copy of Contest that book will be worth hundreds of dollars.

During his talk, Reilly mentioned that he had three copies of the book left to his name. It gave me an idea. After the talk, when Reilly was outside doing book signings, I asked him for a favour.

'Mr Reilly, I'm raising money for Movember.'
'That's great!'
"Thanks! But I was wondering if I could buy one of your remaining original copies of Contest so I can auction it off and donate the profits to the cause?' There was more to it than that - I was certainly going to do what I said, but I also wanted to be able to say that - at least for a little while - I owned a first edition copy of Contest. Reilly smiled at the question.
'That's a very gutsy question and I admire that, but I'll have to say no. One I plan to keep forever and the other two will have to go to very important people. But again, well done for asking. That's very gutsy.'
'Thanks,' I chuckled. 'It was a pleasure to meet you.' I started walking away, then turned back around and with a host of fans and attendants still watching, I asked 'Would you like to make a cash donation?'
The surrounding people laughed as Reilly sighed and fished out his wallet from his jeans pocket. He slammed a $20 note down on the table with an annoyed but amused "Here."
'Thanks, would you like a receipt?' I asked, being way too bold under the circumstances.
'No, that's fine,' said Reilly turning back to the line.
I kind of wish I'd kept the note he gave me and replaced it with a 20 of my own. I'd love to have it framed and put on my desk - the cash that I bugged a celebrity into giving me. But that contradicts my I don't idolise people" claim.

The other person I can think of whose work I really admire is Wil Anderson. He's an Australian comedian who's known for being a rebel and a voice for the progressive side of politics. He's intelligently provocative and forever evolving. And he's also achieved the amazingly difficult task of being at the top of mainstream media while also retaining indie credibility. The only other person I can think of that sat in both extremes so completely was Kurt Cobain.

I had two very small but embarrassing encounters with him. The first came shortly after I got Twitter for the first time. I realised that Twitter may be a way to reach celebrities and had a go at Tweeting a few of them. When I got to Wil Anderson, I said this:
"Hey Wil, I'm about to see a Batman Dark Knight triple-feature. It'll be a nine-hour love-in. Jealous?"
This was a day before the release of Dark Knight Rises in Australian cinemas and one cinema had arranged to show all three Batmans in a row, finishing with the premier of the the third one at midnight. I knew from listening to Wil's podcast that he absolutely loves the Christian Bale Batman movies, so I figured that would be a good in.

The movies we watched the movies and I forgot about the tweet. Then the next day I met my old friend Rusty.
'Hey, I saw you got a Tweet from Wil Anderson. Good job,' he said.
'I did?' I asked. I hadn't been notified. I had to do some searching, but I eventually found that he had indeed sent me back a reply.
"I saw it already at an exclusive viewing at iMax. Jealous?"
"Really? You saw it before it came out?" I tweeted back. I was jealous - the iMax in Sydney I believe is the biggest theater screen in the world and it's curved to give you a more immersive experience. It also has the best sound technology available.
"Yep," was all he tweeted back.
"Did you notice that you and Charlie were almost spot-on about a back-story for Robin?" I ventured. On an earlier podcast, he and his co-host had speculated that if Robin were to be introduced to the series, there would have to be a certain way it was handled. They came up with an origin story that ended up being remarkably similar to what Joseph Gordon-Levitt did in the film. They would have been ecstatic about that.
"Look, I don't want to spoil anything now," said Wil. "But we'll definitely talk about it on the podcast."
That's when I made my mistake - I tried to be funny.
"Go on, tell them how he kills Alfred!" I said. The next time I looked back to see if he'd replied, I couldn't find the conversation. He must have deleted it. Woops.

A few years later, I bumped into him in person. I was looking after the front desk at a community radio station called Fresh 92.7. It was during the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second biggest arts festival in the world after Edinburgh. Fresh had been getting acts to come in for interviews during the festival and on this day in particular I learned that Wil was coming in. I stuck around for an extra half-hour after the front desk closed so I could meet him in person and say hi. He came in with his manager and humbly, even somewhat nervously said
'Hi, I'm here for an interview. My name's Wil.'
'Oh really?' I said in a confrontingly sarcastic way, implying that I of course knew exactly who he was. There was me trying to be funny again.
He gave a fake laugh and I took him through to the studio. I tried to tell him I was a big fan of the podcast, but he seemed quite uninterested. Either he was very tired or he decided he didn't like me after that sarcastic comment. Either way, it ended with an awkward "Well... enjoy." And I left to go home.

If you want to join us on this Question of the Month campaign, there's a list you can join below. Next month happens to be the A-Z challenge, so I thought I'd make the next question a weird one that ties in with it. You can participate in both at the same time.

"What's your favourite thing that begins with the letter C?"


32 comments:

  1. I remember your first story about Wil.
    That's funny you bugged Reilly into giving you a twenty. Too bad you couldn't get a book out of him.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Haha have I told that one before? Uh oh, I'm repeating stories...

      Delete
  2. I wouldn't try to be funny in front of a celebrity, but my husband would in a second. And he'd get away with it too!

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  3. haha awesome you bugged him into giving it to you. Agree, no idolizing people for me.

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    1. It's a shame, I'd love to get that excited over just being in the same room as someone.

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  4. You're a ballsy guy alright, Michael. I'd be horribly shy and tongue-tied in the presence of any celebrity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I was a lot less intelligent back then :P

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  5. You do have guts to ask Reilly for a copy of his book. He probably wasn't sure you'd actually auction it off. That's pretty cool that you managed to get a $20 out of him!

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    1. The temptation was very strong to just buy it and keep it, but even back then I was a man of my word.

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  6. I haven't read Reilly's most recent books but my son loves his stuff. That was bold!

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    1. I'm yet to read The Great Zoo of China, I think that's next on my list. My friends were all reading him in high school so I gave it a go and fell in love.

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  7. I agree with Sherry: you have guts!

    I don't have an idol but I do admire several people who inspire me. I picked one of them for my answer.

    P.S. There are several links on the list for the hop that haven't posted anything for QoM since they signed up. You should cull the list every now and then. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear, I'm looking forward to seeing it!

      Yeah the last time I asked Alex to cull the list was a few months ago. Need to get back on top of that :P

      Delete
  8. You are much more outgoing than I am. I wouldn't know what to say if I met someone famous.

    http://www.anapeladay.com/2016/03/question-of-month.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe you should plan a set of questions for that eventuality ;)

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  9. I remember the story about Wil too. Funny that meeting an idolized celebrity is never quite the magical experience we think it'll be.

    BTW, your question reminds me that they recently had a thread on Reddit where they asked what was your saddest celebrity encounter and it's definitely worth the mile-long read.

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    1. Ah good, I was just thinking I don't have enough reading to do today ;)

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  10. I have never wanted to meet an idol, although I don't really have idols, but if I did not sure I would like to meet them because when you meet them they may be in a bad mood, they may be rude and then you can never really like them again.

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    Replies
    1. Or... they could be amazing and you could like them even more.

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  11. Celebrity encounters can be kind of weird. You've got some unique stories to tell here.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    Replies
    1. I do like that I have those stories now.

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  12. I'm impressed with the donation, lol.

    I had one fun encounter that I didn't mention on my blog; this happened years ago during a concert tour called the Classic Superfest featuring older bands of the 70s and 80s.

    When the lead singer of The Grass Roots walked out on stage, I noticed he bumped his leg really hard and I turned to my pal, Terry, and said, "OUCH, he really hurt himself."

    Later, as we were leaving the concert, you had to walk by a tall wooden wall. It was on either side of the stage in this outdoor arena. Noting a huge door, I laughed and clowned around by knocking on it and saying "Performers afterparty? I'm here."

    Much to my horror, as I walked away the door opened by a crack and a guy said, "Nurse?" Well, I was a nurse but they absolutely weren't looking for ME to arrive. Still clowning around, I said "sure!" and they let me and my friend in and walked us straight over to the lead singer. He sat with his pants leg pulled up, revealing a huge bruise on his leg. Nurse? I can do that. I checked his leg out, asked for ice and elevated it on a chair.

    My friend Terry nearly passed out from that encounter; she was totally star-struck. We got to talk to a lot of musicians from the older bands that night and it was a thrill, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, Elvis Costello, The Turtles, Bill Medley, Mark Lindsay... Everyone was polite and respectful.

    The singer was Rob Grill and he was super nice. A few years back, I saw that he had passed away. :-(

    My son and I have talked to Weird Al Yankovic too many times to count. It makes sense if you think about it...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's a fantastic story. I had one that was similar but not quite as cool. I'll talk about it on your blog.

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  13. I don't think it's sad that you don't idolize anyone, celebrities are people just like us and they probably appreciate the fans who treat them like normal human beings. And wow, you were bold with your encounters!

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    1. A lot of the time that's difficult to do. Due to the movies and interviews we see them in, we feel we already know a lot about them before we've even met. That can be off-putting.

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  14. i either don't understand that what kind of emotion plays behind such enthusiasm and shouting ,

    since my youth i was very normal in such situations though sometime i forced myself to show some sensation just to look like others or if they will think me abnormal

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    1. Did you feign excitement for people you actually didn't care about or did you at least like the person?

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  15. That Taylor Swift meme has me rolling!!! Lmao probably because it's something I would totally say. I should have guessed your pick would be a comedian. That story is too funny!!

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    1. Hahaha thanks. It was embarrassing, but it now makes for a great story.

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  16. I think it's good that you don't idolize anyone, but not sure about bugging famous people. I'm glad it worked out for you though. Some famous people can be a little crazy- but then, can't we all at times.

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    1. I think it's only the uber-famous people like your Kim Kardashians that are nuts.

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