When I was living in West Hollywood, my mother called every Saturday morning and asked "How many movie stars have you met this week?" Like most people who have never been to Los Angeles, she thought that about 30% of the population consisted of celebrities, so you would run into them everywhere, at the French Quarter, at the laundromat, at the gym.
There were a lot of professional actors around. But most were famous only to their fans: "Look, there's Greg Rikaart, who plays Kevin Fisher on The Young and the Restless!"
Or not actually famous at all: "Look, there's David Greenan, who starred in the low-budget horror movie Silent Madness!"
And if you did see a really famous person, you probably wouldn't recognize them. They look different in real life.
But I have managed to meet a number of celebrities and semi-celebrities. Usually just a fleeting conversation. Once in a while, a friendship. Or a relationship of another sort.
Here are the 20 that made the biggest impression on me. Can you figure out which I've dated? Or hooked up with?
(I'm skipping my celebrity boyfriend, since he's still closeted.)
1. Michael J. Fox, star of Family Ties. Had lunch in the summer of 1985.
2. Scott Valentine, who played Mallory's boyfriend on Family Ties. Had lunch later that year.
3. Robin Williams. Met at a party.
4. Richard Chamberlain. He tried to steal my date one night at Mugi.
5. Lou Ferrigno. He used to come into the office at Muscle and Fitness with Bill Bixby. They acted a lot like a couple
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ditto.
7. Rob Lowe. On the pier in Santa Monica.
Muscle and Fitness quite often.
9. Ernest Thomas, star of What's Happening. He was walking down San Vicente, carrying a large package to match his large package.
10. Adam West, TV's Batman. He appeared at lots of benefits, auctions, and events, including the AIDS Walk.
12. Former teen idol Frankie Muniz. Met him in Paris, of all places.
13. Nate Richert, star of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We met at the Rage, but I didn't know who he was. Until later.
Jeff MacKay, who starred in Tales of the Gold Monkey, the cutest of the lot. Met at the Gold Coast; didn't know who he was, either, even after he told me.
15. Douglas Barr, who starred in Designing Women. Married, but showed up at parties by himself.
16. John Amos, who starred in Good Times and played the older Kunta Kinte in Roots. I often saw him at the gym. Lots of guys couldn't keep their eyes off him. His physique -- and Kielbasa+ -- was amazing.
17.Teen idol Jimmie Walker, star of Good Times. Obnoxious guy holding court every night at the gym. He was gifted beneath the belt, too.
18. Richard Dreyfuss, a fellow fan of the paranormal, met browsing at the Bodhi Tree. One day we got coffee, and I tried to subtly determine if he was gay or not.
19. Cesar Romero, heartthrob in 1940s movies, later a Batman villain. He sold me a love seat. Turned out to be the most uncomfortable thing ever (the love seat, not Cesar Romero).
20. Tom Wopat, star of Dukes of Hazzard. I cruised him at a party while everyone else was fawning over Andrew Lloyd Webber instead.
Hint: they were cute, my age or a little older, and not obnoxious.