Sunday, July 23, 2000

They're highly fond of the famous

Readers tell us of their infatuations and their brushes with celebrity

  This week, readers take on the jobs of reporters in The Enquirer's Tempo section. Sede previous stories at
  • Monday: Best-kept secrets
  • Tuesday: Pet peeves
  • Wednesday: My summer vacation
  • Thursday: Technology woes
  • Today: Kid experts reveal secrets
  • Saturday: Move over, Martha
  • Sunday: Obsessive fans
        They have their shrines. They have their dog-earred photos, their scrapbooks, their videos, their fan mags and their memorabilia.

        “They” are Cincinnatians all hung up on a favorite star.

        Weturned over a page to readers, inviting them to take over the Tempo cover for a week so we could spend our afternoons sipping lemonade at the pool.

        More than 200 readers took us up on it.

        Today's batch of writers are “obsessed” with a star. They tell us why ...

Carrot Top

        I'm a big fan of Carrot Top, the comedian. I always watched him on Comedy Central, MTV, and Regis and Kathy Lee. I would watch and read when he was on television, in the newspaper or my Entertainment Weekly.

        I attend Northern Kentucky University, and when I heard he was coming to do a show, I checked the date and time — I was ready! ( Though, I had to “cut” a few classes for this.)

        Anyway, I was in the front row, laughing with friends and having a good time. Nobody enjoyed this as much as I did. When the show was over, I was determined to meet him. So I saw my opportunity when he was leaving — got his attention, and a girl in my class happened to have a camera and snap, my favorite picture was taken.

        A few years later he came to the Taft Theatre for a show. He also signed my picture after the show through a window at the Taft Theater.

        Some people see celebrities from a distance, or come in contact with famous people, but I had the opportunity to get an education, meet my idol and get my picture taken with him and get his autograph. Now that's a picture worth a thousand words.

        — Mike Weber, 27, Monfort Heights

Secret confession of a 19-year-old
        Some people my age would rather die than admit that they gasp love the Backstreet Boys! I'll tell the world that I not only love the BSB, but I am obsessed with them! One look around my room and my obsession is obvious.

        Posters have become wallpaper, I have more books and magazines than a library. I have every official BSB video and 10 filled with TV appearances. It doesn't end with mere pin-ups. I had to see my idols in person. In 1998 I bought tickets to the Boys show in Indianapolis. Then four friends and I drove to the show. Six hours after we left (we had car trouble) we stood just 2 feet from the objects of my affection. I got Backstreet Boy sweat on me! I cried at the "Into the Millennium' tour.

        So I'll tell everyone right now, my name is Jennifer, I'm 19 and I am a Backstreet Boys fanatic. Jennifer Fulton, 19, Clifton

Annual pilgrimage to Port Charles, N.Y.
        Dining and mingling with the Baldwins and Scanlons. Hobnobbing with the influential Quartermaines. Rocking to the sounds of Eddie Maine.

(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        This is my experience when I make my annual trek to visit the citizens of Port Charles, N.Y. — otherwise known as the actors from General Hospital and Port Charles.

        For one weekend each July, fans are offered the chance to schmooze with many of the actors by purchasing tickets to the luncheons, dinners and concerts in Los Angeles. Over the past three years, I have bonded with Stephen Nichols (Stefan Cassadine, GH) about being born at Christ Hospital and have been pictured in Soap Opera Weekly with Ingo Rademacher (Jax, GH).

        My friend Hoori Sakhaii and I have not only enlarged our collections of autographs and pictures, but have also enlarged our group of friends. During our first trip, Patricia Catchouny of Syracuse graciously offered to share her hotel room with two strangers. We reunite each year to share our experiences.

        My trips often cause teasing from family and friends, but my enthusiasm endures.I can't wait to develop the rolls of memories and (write about) the experiences of my next visit. — Robin Plate, 29, Westwood

'NSync gets a day

        My daughter, Hayley, is 13-years-old and, like thousands of other girls, loves the group 'NSync.

        When she found out the date that they were coming to Cincinnati on tour, she wanted to do something special for them. She had heard of people getting days named after them and she asked me if I knew how a person would go about getting that done. I contacted the mayor's office and they sent me some information. You have to submit at least five reasons why you think the mayor should proclaim a day after someone.

        Hayley thought of a lot of reasons but narrowed it down to 11 or 12 and she sent them in to Mayor Charles Luken. She was very excited and thrilled when the mayor's office notified her that Mayor Luken had granted her request: July 14 was proclaimed 'NSync Day. Her efforts had paid off. — Cathy Jackson, 53, Anderson Township; Hayley is 13. -

Oprah Winfrey is my friend
        I scoff at celebrity. Celebrities aren't gods. Michael Douglas made the Enquirer for pointing at a fleeing criminal. Is he a hero, or does he simply have enough muscular control to raise his arm? What makes the cast of Friends deserve bonuses? Quality acting? Puh-lease. I mean, have you seen The Pallbearer? I once worked in daycare. If Jennifer Anniston could stay witty and cute in a room full of screaming 2-year-olds, then she'd have my respect. Vanilla Ice and Pauly Shore are millionaires. Crazy.

        But even I have a favorite celebrity ... Oprah Winfrey. I love her. I tape her show every day. I know the names of her dogs, her favorite foods and her life story. My friends laugh at me, but in some bizarre way, she is my friend too. I truly believe she wants to make the world better.

        Her show makes me laugh, cry, argue with my television — and my husband. Thanks to Oprah, I know I have power within. I know that my own happiness begins with me, and I am a better person for it.

        I defy you to say that of Adam Sandler. Heather Mann

Jane Fonda got me in trouble

        It was May of 1971 and the Vietnam War was still a long way from over. Actress Jane Fonda had brought her anti-war show to Fayetteville, N.C. Her mission: Strengthen anti-war sentiment within the ranks of the Air Force and Army, and disrupt Pope Air Force Base's annual Armed Forces Day celebration.

        Ms. Fonda had already been escorted off neighboring Fort Bragg several times by the military police. Rumor had it that her next target was Pope.

        I had stayed late at the Information Office to finish up a feature story I was writing about C-130 aircrews. Pete Petersen had just finished editing his weekly taped Air Force radio show. I worked for the base newspaper, The Hercules Herald. Pete was assigned to the Information Office's radio division. One of our co-workers who had left on time came running back into the office.

        “Hey!” he yelled. “Jane Fonda is down at Quaker House. You can probably get tape and some pictures if you hurry.”

        Pete and I looked at each other. We both knew it wasn't a good idea, but this was too good to pass up. Up close and personal with Jane Fonda? I grabbed my 35mm Canon and Pete snatched up a portable tape recorder and a microphone. I scooped up a note pad and a pen as we ran outside, piled into a blue government sedan and hit the road for downtown Fayetteville and Quaker House, a local haven for hippies.

        Pete pulled up in front and our uniforms and car drew the immediate attention of the crowd milling about. It looked like a mini-Woodstock.

        Here were people sitting on the ground playing guitars and reciting poetry under large trees. Worn out jeans, sandals, shoulder-length hair, and wire glasses were the fashion.

        A young girl politely greeted us. “You want to see Jane?” she asked.

        “Yes,” I said. “Do you think she would give us a minute or two?”

        The girl smiled. “Sure. She's coming out now,” she said, pointing to the wooden steps that ran from the front door of Quaker House.

        Jane Fonda had been holding court inside, and now she was emerging with a small entourage. She moved quickly across a bare lawn toward an old, black station wagon. The girl called to her. “Jane. These guys want to talk to you.”

        Ms. Fonda stopped and smiled at us and waved us over. We ran to her. I dropped my pen and pad, but cocked my camera. Pete fired up his tape recorder. Whoa! I couldn't believe it! I was standing six feet from Jane Fonda, the star of Barbarella, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Cat Ballou, and Klute. Even without special lighting, makeup, and a Hollywood hairstyle, she was gorgeous. She was wearing a tight white blouse, snug black jeans, and sandals. Patches of sunlight bounced off of her light brown hair.

        “I have to get to a rally, but you can ask a question,” she said. I started snapping pictures as Pete offered Ms. Fonda his microphone.

        “What do you think of the Air Force's decision to cancel its Armed Forces Day celebration, Miss Fonda?” asked Pete. (Base officials had chosen to cancel the event rather than risk a confrontation with Fonda and Company)

        “I think they were damn smart,” shot back Ms. Fonda. “They knew they couldn't stop us.” She winked and smiled as she ducked into the wagon's driver's side. She turned the key, put the vehicle in gear and moved slowly away.

        My captain and someone with the Office of Special Investigation were waiting for us when we got back to the Information Office. There was no punishment levied. No court martial. No reduction in rank. No extra details.

        The OSI took my film and Pete's tape. Maybe they destroyed them.

        Perhaps they still have them. I don't know.

        The captain counseled us on the inappropriate use of a government vehicle and hanging around war protesters while in uniform. We weren't ever to hang around war protesters again ... in uniform or otherwise. At least not while we worked for Uncle Sam. Then he let us go.

        We knew all of that, of course, but it was worth it. Hey, we got to meet Jane Fonda. Before he dismissed us, the captain asked, “Does she look as good in person as she does in the movies?”

        “No, sir,” I replied. “She looks better.” — Michael J. Matre, 52, Fairfield

Richard Hatch remembered me
        My favorite TV show for 22 years now has veen ABC's 1978 series, Battlestar Galactica. Its star, Richard Hatch, is still my favorite actor.

        I had discovered Richard about six months before Galactica's premiere, when he played Jan in the CBS movie Deadman's Curve. I first met Richard at a science fiction convention in St. Louis in 1989, and thought meeting him was a one-time event.

        For many years, Richard didn't make many public appearances. He is now trying to convince Universal Studios to revive Galactica, and he attends many conventions to create support for his cause. I talked to Richard for the second time at the 20th anniversary Galactica convention in 1998 at Universal Studios, and was dumfounded when he remembered meeting me 91/2 years earlier! Since then I've talked to him and heard him speak at two conventions in Columbus and one in Lexington, and am thinking about seeing him at a convention in Virginia in October.

        I think Richard is gorgeous, charming and is an exciting public speaker. Because of Richard, I am not only a science fiction fan, but am also a Jan & Dean fan, because of his role in Deadman's Curve. — Mary Wernke, 39, Bridgetown

Johnny Bench is a gentleman
        The day was Aug. 20, 1970, almost 30 years ago. I was waiting to be called to caddy at Crest Hills Country Club in Amberley Village. I was 14-years-old and would be a freshman at St. Xavier High School. And then it happened. I was picked to be a cart caddy for Pete Rose and Johnny Bench!

        For a while, the earth stood still. I was deeply committed to making sure Pete Rose and Johnny Bench didn't lose any golf balls. I was to provide the best customer service I could.

        Johnny wanted to know who I was, where I went to school, and how I thought the Reds could be a better team. Now we are talking about the Big Red Machine, which was destroying every team in the National League.

        I said I thought that maybe a relief pitcher might be a nice addition. Johnny was very polite and a very good golfer. He had hands the size of Texas.

        As we finished 18 holes, I thought that no one would believe I was really with Johnny Bench and Pete Rose if I didnt get my caddy card autographed. So I got the gumption to ask Johnny to sign the caddy card. Both he and Pete signed the card, and it's been in my scrapbook ever since.

        — Bob George, 44, Kenwood

Charles Schulz was a teacher
        When I was about 8-years-old, I had the opportunity to hear Charles Schulz speak. Before the program, I asked for his autograph. He sketched a Snoopy on my paper and signed it.

        What a prized possession.

        In the speech, he gave me an even more prized possession. He brought up the topic of learning, and how the most trivial information can be helpful. He reflected on a comic strip he drew where Peppermint Pattie and Marcy were attending a concert. The pianist comes out and plays Ravel's Concerto for Left Hand. Peppermint Pattie turns to Marcy and says, “If she'll use both hands, maube we will all get home faster!”

        Mr. Schulz commented in his speech that he had to know that there was, indeed, such a piece as Concerto for Left Hand in order to joke about it.

        It's the same for us. We may never attend a left-handed concert, but knowing about them makes our lives not only more comical, but more magnificient. — Artie Kuhn, 21, Clifton

Usher awesome, gorgeous
        I'm a big fan. My favorite celebrity is Usher and I admit it, I'm obsessed. I have a huge collection of stuff and have gone to great lengths to see this star. Let me tell you about it ... I have all of his tapes and CDs. Usher is hot and sexy! When he had a concert in Atlanta I begged my mom to buy tickets and take me. Everytime he's on TV, I pop a tape in to record his performances. He is awesome and so handsome, I mean he is absolutely positively gorgeous! — Ashley Townes, Golf Manor

People's champ is "The Rock'
        My favorite celebrity is the Brahma Bull, People's Champion, the most electrifying man in sports entertainment today: “The Rock.” He is a World Wrestling Federation wrestler. He is also a very entertaining comedian. I'm currently buying more of his posters, water goggles and anything else with his logo on it.

        — Sean McKenzie, 13, Pleasant Ridge

        Readers will rule again

        Offering readers a chance to write stories for the paper was almost a whimsical decision on our part, coming out of a brainstorming session about summer story ideas.

        But because it's been such a success, we've decided to try it again.

        We'll present Readers Rule: The Sequel in about six months. Start thinking now about what you could write for the Tempo section. If you have topic ideas, e-mail:


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