How to respond to fans…

Steve Martin encounter

Being famous is not easy. Not that I’m famous, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve been famous adjacent many times and it’s not something I would ever actually want to be. Not saying I don’t want to be successful or popular, I do… I just don’t want to be famous.

For some people, though, fame is part and parcel with what they do. Some seek it out and some just accept it when it comes. But no matter how you approach it or how much you want or need or despise it, fame comes with its share of pitfalls. Case in point is the card reproduced up top. This is the card Steve Martin, world-famous banjo player, gives out when people accost him due to his celebrity status. Personally, I think that’s a brilliant way to handle things.

Then there’s Emma Watson, who famously has said she won’t pose for “selfies” with fans anymore (to be fair, she’ll happily sign autographs though). A lot of celebs just feel like they’re being used by fans who don’t treat them as human, but as signing machines that have no rights or say in the matter (and whose autographs will immediately go on eBay and up the asking of price of whatever it is).

I remember once, many years ago, when my sister and I took her kids to see a Ducks game and then waited around afterwards to get my nephew Bailey some autographs. Now, he wasn’t sure who the players were (he was only 3 or 4 at the time) but we made sure for every signature, he said thank you. (“Thanks player” was his preferred showing of gratitude) One particular player, Steve Shields, a back-up goalie, signed Bailey’s pennant and Bailey said his trademark “Thanks, Player” to which Shields stopped, looked at him and said “You’re welcome.” And then, as he turned, muttered under his breath “I wish the adults would learn how to say that.” This is a guy who wouldn’t be recognized on the street at the height of his notoriety, and yet the frustration was palpable. Just imagine the feeling of someone who was internationally known and revered by millions and millions.

Especially when that someone needs time to actually accomplish what it is they’re famous for to begin with. All of which leads me to this brilliant form letter from the late Robert Heinlein:

Heinlein's responses

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Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “How to respond to fans…

  1. Hockey Players are the best athletes to get autographs from. Football players are usually pretty cool too, unless they are the “star” of the team, and then some of them can be jerky at times. As an avowed “autograph” hound, I have set rules. I will never ever ask a celebrity for an autograph when they’re on their own time doing whatever it is they do. I have asked for a selfie only once or twice. Actually once, with Clark Gregg. In public I may engage in a nice chat with them about how much I admire their work, and then have a nice day.

    When I have had the pleasure of working with celebrities it’s all professional. No autographs. Maybe pics, but back then I didn’t have a phone camera. I barely had a phone. Talking with Warren Beatty was a highlight. Working with Tony Hawk on a skateboard jump was amazing.

    At a convention, signing, whatever, that’s when you get autographs. Or before/after practice during training camps. That’s it.

    I’d love to meet Steve Martin, I would cherish that card.

    “Celebrity adjacent” – yeah…

    I worked at Dianne Von Furstenberg’s son’s house (that used to be owned by a Bond Girl) for a Summer. Never saw DVF, but I was rather chatty with the particpants in the whole “Reggie Miller” Airplane Ad incident. Of course that never came up.

  2. AAron

    I have known people with a “I love me” wall of “selfie photos with famous people”, and I’ve met a few celebrities. Though I don’t do the autograph and photo thing, I have taken pictures of Teddy with quite a few. Teddy photobombing Neil Gaiman with rabbit ears is our favorite.

    • My cousin Michael has hundreds of pictures of himself with famous people. That’s his thing. For me it depends but there are certainly a few I wouldn’t mind. But I do love getting books and records signed – a way of saying “I really appreciate your work” or something like that.

      • AAron

        If I were in an elevator with Danny Devito I would have to say, “thank you for the film Matilda.”

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