In January of this year, I won the chance to take a cab ride and grab some pizza with the actor Bobby Cannavale. I was home in NYC on winter break from drama school in LA and made a donation to a Syria relief fundraiser that offered the hangout as a prize. We got some slices in the West Village then sat in a park and talked about everything from acting to how one gets a girlfriend like Rose Byrne. It was a dream come true for me as he's long been an actor I look up to. In fact, it was a particular performance of his in a Broadway play that convinced me to go to college specifically for acting. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to tell him that in person. He also did his part in persuading me to move back to NYC after graduation to start my career, which I wound up doing. I do not regret it for a second.
Not a spend a day thing, actually even better. When I was nine, Devon Sawa came to my house! This was at the pinnacle of his stardom when he was young and hot and all over Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines. I had posters of him plastered all over my bedroom and watched Casper and Now and Then probably a million times. My two cousins and I were obsessed and in love with Devon Sawa. Turns out my uncle went to high school with him and they were friends. He finds out how obsessed we are and plans to bring him by my house the next time he's in town. And he did!!! Imagine your biggest celebrity crush when you're only nine years old coming over to your house! We all screamed like idiots when we saw him and my uncle pull up in a red convertible. He was sooo nice and just as cute in person. He sat with my uncle and my mom on our patio, drinking beers and just hanging out while we brought out poster after poster for him to sign and had our pictures taken with him. Eventually my mom told us to leave him alone and stop bringing out posters lol. When he was leaving, we cried and gave him roses and my one cousin said, "can I keep you?" (His famous line from Casper). He was all smiles and hugged us all goodbye and told my mom we were too adorable. Just a genuinely cool dude who was willing to let his buddy he probably hadn't even seen in a while drag him to a modest townhouse out in the suburbs to make a couple kids' days while he was probably pretty busy because his career was going great at the time. I'll never ever forget that.
In elementary school I was one of the winners of a competition to "Spend the day at the State House." Where we got to go tour the State House, and then spent four hours ,one on one, with a state senator. But instead of the being assigned to a state senator, I got assigned to the Lieutenant Governor who at the time wasJoe Kernan. It was the funnest day of my life. We hung out the entire 4 hours. He ordered me pizza, let me sit in his chair and watch sponge bob, talked about being a POW in Vietnam and let me see all of his war memorabilia, and then let me ride in his car as we went to get coffee and ice cream. On the way back, everyone told me how they essentially got relegated to sitting in the corner and watching their state senator/congressmen do office work. He eventually went on to be the Governor for a short time, and it still really makes me happy thinking about that day.
Got to meet Drew Barrymore as part of her promotions for Whip It --- the roller derby movie. She was on a national tour and I got to help arrange things with my roller derby team for a local screening and a select group of us to sing the 7th Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field with her. (One teammate had been Kristin Wiig's body double in the film too.) After the film screening we were ushered out a secret back exit from the movie theatre to a parking lot where we stood in a circle and chatted with Drew while being filmed. She is very sweet and verrrry small. She is like a human smile emoji. We then were put into large black SUVs with livery plates ("ohhhh THIS is who uses those cars...") . We then SPED to Wrigley Field, where we took another back route up to a sky box fully catered with Chicago style hot dogs and beer (yessss) and Drew came in and hung with us again. She admitted she didn't know all the lyrics to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, so we all practiced it a few times together, and one of us taught her the extra Chicago Cubs version of it. Very fun and surreal. Then we all (7 of us plus Drew!) were led to the press box to stand right at the front where the crowd can see you - honestly to me this was the coolest part and I am not a baseball fan - and the announcer introduced her and us. We were packed in there like sardines and sang the song and then promptly left so the media could actually see the game again. We said goodbye to Drew somewhere along the way and the rest of us were free to eat, drink, and enjoy the remained of the game from the sky box. I have no idea how the Cubs did that day, but it was 2009 and they probably lost.
My buddy won a contest to meet Stan Lee last weekend. It was a breakfast and he could bring one friend. I sat a foot away from him for about an hour and a half. We got to share stories about travel and we had 1 or 2 nerd questions for him. He is a really down to earth guy. 10/10 would do again.
Won a charity auction on ebay to get to hang out with the Dropkick Murphy's over St Patrick's day weekend. It was for 2 people to go to all 4 weekend concerts, a breakfast at a bar, and a Bruins hockey game. First night was given 2 all-access laminates, and taken back stage to meet the band, they were all amazing and even though I was super nervous they did their best to make us feel at home insisting we help ourselves to food and alcohol back stage. When I told Ken about my plan to bring a different friend to each thing he said no need to do that and told their manager to bring me 2 more laminates so that all 4 of us could come to the shows. My friends and I had the time of our lives that weekend, from drinking more of their beer than they did to us all pilling in Ken's car with his family after the hockey game and him giving us a ride to our hotel. They are just about the best most down to earth people you could ever hope to meet.
Back in '99 I got a chance to go through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to meet Stone Cold Steve Austin, which to 7 year old me was a big freakin' deal. Anyway, me and my family drove all the way from south Alabama to Greensboro, NC (I believe cause my mom refused to fly) and got to hang out backstage with him before the show. The problem was I was so scared/starstruck that I refused to talk. But he was really awesome and signed a t-shirt and took pics with me and my mom.
My mother won tickets to a Rick Springfield concert here in Orlando a few years ago. The venue wasn't large and had standing room only, so we made sure to get there early, but so did a bunch of other attendees. We were about 4 people away from the stage, but it was still pretty close. My mom had brought an album of Rick's she's had since it came out in the 80's. While we had no idea how to get it signed, we had it at the ready with a sharpie. At the time I had an app on my phone which allows you to flash or scroll words on the screen, so with the album I held it up flashing, "Hey Rick, Please sign?" Rick Springfield walks out onto the stage, sees it (along with the other few posters and stuff there) and laughs, pointing between it and himself as if to say, "look at the difference between the cover and me now!" Concert goes on, we have the album still at the ready, but in the meantime I decide to use the app to continue 'chatting' with Rick. I'm putting up song quotes, retorts to song lyrics, funny gabs, etc. And every time I change it, Rick squints past the stage lighting to read my phone and sometimes has to laugh around his singing. It gets to the point that people notice him squinting, in front of me people turn around to read it, behind me people tap on my shoulder for me to turn the phone around for them to read it. At almost every concert, Rick plays a song of his called "Human Touch" and he ventures out into the audience. We didn't know if he was going to do it, but we hoped so. Time comes, the song starts, he gets into the crowd and makes a B-line right for mom and I! She's got the album supported by her hands, I'm gripping the top of the album so it doesn't get snatched, he signs it and hugs my Mom and I in his passing through the audience. We put the album in a bag we brought and the concert continues on with me getting recommended lines to put on my phone to show Rick. It was seriously a strange and funny thing, because I essentially used my phone to text flirt with Rick Springfield during his concert, just so I could get my Mom his autograph. All in all, I'd say that Rick is a cool guy, just from that experience.
I won a radio concert to have a semi-private concert with Jason Mraz. I got to request a song for him to play, he was 15 feet away from me sitting on a stool with his guitar. I'm pretty sure I requested "Sleep All Day" or "Too Much Food". Afterwards, if you were a contest winner you got to meet him, get an autograph and take a picture with him. His song "The Remedy" was written about a friend who was fighting cancer. I asked him how his friend was doing, his face lit up and said he was doing really well and was traveling with them on tour. I also gave him two sunflowers because in "The Remedy" video he puts a sunflower in a soldier's gun. I did this basically in hopes that when I told this story 13 years later, he would remember me and think I was awesome.
I somehow won a contest to meet the cast of Spider-Man 3 (I think it was on a promotional site for the video game). It wasn't an all day thing but we were supposed to be able to meet them backstage for a bit, take pictures, etc. I remember sitting down next to a guy and watching him play Spider-Man 3 on PS3. He was complaining about not being able to kill random people on the street to some PR guy from Activision. At one point he turned and looked at me and I realized it was James Franco. I never ever thought I'd be the kind of person who would be star struck but it goes a bit beyond that. I completely froze in place and was unable to do or say anything. He may have said hello but it's all a blur. It was a completely involuntary reaction and I'm not sure how long the exchange lasted but I think he got uncomfortable and turned around. He left pretty shortly after that. Over the years I've learned that I can't see a famous person in real life without shutting down. Even obscure D list people or reality TV people. I saw some lady from Survivor in a Costco once and I turned into a human statue until she left the aisle. I do wonder if James Franco remembers getting stared into submission by a creepy fat dude in NYC though.
Not a whole day but when I was 15 I got an invitation to spend an hour with my favorite band Staind before a show. I started a small fan site for the band and the night before the concert I got an email telling me to turn up at X time and place and bring some sort of ID.I was babysitting that night and happened to check my email there and almost woke the kid up screaming with excitement. I went the next day and a group of around 6 of us got led to a back room in the venue and soon the band walked in, we got to spend an hour just hanging around talking, they signed a bunch of stuff for us and we all got a photo with them. Afterwards they let us into the main concert area before the opened the door so we all got to stand right at the front on the barrier. During the show the singer was singing while looking right at me, and kept leaning over to grab my hand, passed me his used guitar picks and did pretty much everything he could to make that night super special for me. Every girl in that place wanted to kill me that night as most had a crush on him. My mother also loved the band so she was at the concert with me and also came back stage - she had whispered into the singers ear telling him that I had been struggling with depression for years (Diagnosed aged 4) and used the bands music to help and thanked him for writing it - so he spent the whole night spoiling me to try and help. It had me on an upper for months afterwards and was pretty much the best thing anyone could have done for me. The band was Staind btw, just realized I never mentioned it.
Two years ago I placed in a programming competition in San Francisco. The guy who won got five backstage passes and photo sessions with the "Alabama Shakes". Since the winner was competing solo and was attending without his peers. They just let the top three programmers go (me included). Backstage passes were awesome as far as food and unlimited top shelf liquor. I was disappointed that the photo shoot was literally a handshake from the male performers and a hug from the female performers. Totally disappointed we didn't get high with the performers.
Absolute best experience of my life. I ended up running over Bruce Willis. If you ever get a Make-a-Wish, ask to meet Kevin Smith. I was a bald, chemo-ey f*ckin' mess, my dad contacted Make-a-Wish, the came out and asked me what I wanted, I said him, and within a week our tickets were bought for us and our trip was planned. (Usually takes weeks/months for celebrities to get back to Make-a-Wish) Kevin had us whisked out to New York to meet him on the set of Cop Out (then called A Couple of Dicks). He met me with the biggest bear hug of my life. He was the nicest, sweetest most genuine celebrity I could ever imagine. I spent the entire day on set. Met Tracy Morgan, Bruce Willis, man-handled all the equipment they would let me touch, and in the middle of it all Kevin says, "Hey, you wanna be in a movie?" "Yeah I wanna be in a movie." "Okay, I'm gonna have you run over Bruce Willis." "Thanks, Kevin Smith." So if you watch Cop Out, I'm the student driver that runs over Bruce under the El-Train. At the end of it all, he invited us back to his penthouse overlooking the Statue of Liberty and let us see the rough cut of Cop Out. I spent all day and night with him. My life has been miserable in comparison ever since.
Last year, I wrote an essay to nominate my employer for Yankees HOPE Week, and, as luck would have it, she won. The Yankees organization, or to be more specific, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, and Jenny Steinbrenner (It was initially supposed to be Mark Teixeira) visited our workplace. What initially started as a short seminar on teamwork became an invitation to go to the Yankees-Twins game that night. Chase Headley later announced that my boss and I were going to throw out the first pitch. As far as meeting the Yankees Organization, it was fun. Girardi was a very nice guy, and he really loved being at the theater. Everyone else had a blast. I chatted a lot with Headley and Steinbrenner, and basically they were all very chill people. I gained a lot of respect for the Yankees after that (I'm a Mets fan). When we were at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees head of PR basically outed me as a Mets fan, and asked me who I wanted to catch my first pitch. I was initially hesitant and listed off some names of players who I later found out weren't there. I then asked for Masahiro Tanaka, who I guess agreed to catch my pitch. At first I'm like, "Holy sh*t, Tanaka is going to catch for me", and then I panicked because I thought that Tanaka doesn't speak English. So one of my coworkers, who is fluent in Japanese, coaches me on how to say "Nice to meet you, my name is..." So while I'm waiting for the first pitch, I'm running the phrase through my head. We go out to the mound, and I throw the pitch and I'm still thinking about it. I then meet Tanaka, and proceed to flub the line. He responds, "Nice to meet you, by the way, I do speak english." It was funny and relieving at the same time. All in all, fun experience, and definitely something I will cherish.
My best friend won a Blackjack with Nickelback concert in Vegas. I was fortunate to be invited. He could take 5 total. Each had a Room plus cash to gamble with. We did the set up time with the band to play Blackjack...which was just awkward...but they where extremely nice about it. Backstage passes where really fun...getting to see all the goings on behind the scene...hung out with the crew/roadies. People give them shit, but they put on a good show. The after party was really fantastic --- free booze and you could just stand there and talk to them and a few other celebrities such as Carrot Top. We spent around 8 hours or so with them...and can I tell you I have never been so drunk in my life it was a great time.
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