You know I am a celebrity whore. To my credit, I'm not the sort who makes a jackass of herself when in the presence of a famous person, nor would I pull some bush-league stunt like interrupting someone's dinner or private moment. Still, I confess I have long kept a running list of celebs I have met, interacted with, or at least been in the presence of, like:
1. Paul McCartney
Needless to say, he remains the most famous person I've ever met and probably always will be. It was at a party that Linda McCartney's American publisher (she authored a series of vegetarian cookbooks) hosted in her honor at an art gallery in Chicago. Now, Paul was not mentioned on the invitation, but My Beloved and I knew that they always traveled together, so right away I had to fight the hope that he'd accompany her to this thing. The gallery held maybe 150 people and we arrived on time, but Linda had yet to put in an appearance. MB and I were chatting with some people near the front door and then suddenly there they were, framed in the doorway, and I am not exaggerating when I say that all the oxygen in the room was instantly depleted by the audible collective intake of breath as everyone realized it was Really HIM. He had on a suit with sneakers, and she had on a long dress, no bra, no makeup, and hair still damp from the shower. Shortly thereafter, we were introduced to them and got to actually speak with them for a few minutes. I shook the hand that had played the piano on "Hey Jude," Paul told me he liked my skirt (a teeny-tiny flowered satin Betsey Johnson mini which I no longer wear but will keep forever), we talked about not eating meat, and that was that. It was so emotional for me that I had to wander off into another room of the gallery so I could quietly cry. It was Paul McCartney! Paul McCartney who had burst onto the world stage and into everyone's lives with his pals and changed the world forever, like when in "The Wizard of Oz" everything snaps from black and white to color, in an instant.
I still have the party invite with both Linda and Paul's autographs, framed, on my dresser, to remind me of one of the best moments of my life.
2 Allen Ginsberg
At a publisher's luncheon, I finagled a way to get myself seated next to my favorite American poet who, along with Jack Kerouac, was a founding member of the Beats, as you know. Oddly, I have no recollection of what we talked about during lunch, but it was in his later years and he was already ill, although I wasn't aware of it at the time. Actually, I had been to a reading he gave a year earlier, where he not only signed my copy of his collected poems, but also made some little drawings all over its title page. What a thrill it was for me to sit beside this quintessentially American poet and cultural force of nature. I'm ever grateful to the person who switched seats with me that day, so that I could have that unforgettable honor.
3. Chaka Kahn
Ok, I know. WTF? But I have to throw her in here for comic relief, not that I dislike her or anything. 'Member her big hit, "I'm Every Woman?" So, MB and I were at a national booksellers' convention that I guess she was attending to promote her autobiography (!!!) or whatevs. Now Chaka is a big gal who is not about to let that stand in the way of her sporting some flashy, skin-tight, revealing togs, bless her heart. Anyway, we're walking down one of the aisles at the convention center when suddenly I see her approaching from the opposite direction. Sotto voce, I say to MB, "Wow, that's Chaka Khan......she's every woman!" "Yeah," replies MB, "and several of them are in those pants."