Julie Halston and Libby Whittemore on the fine line between being a fan and becoming a stalker.
I've probably mentioned my ongoing Osmond obsession in this column before, but it's certainly not a topic I tire of. (You might feel differently.) During the heady, glamorous heights of The Donny and Marie Show, I was never seen without my requisite purple socks--a dead giveaway of a true Donny fan. I wore them in both my real life and on stage. The socks must have been an interesting visual addition when I essayed the role of Perchik in Fiddler On The Roof.
My fascination was not limited to Donny, mind you. When Marie spun-off into her own weekly series, I sent two-dozen yellow roses to the studio. I had never sent two-dozen yellow roses to anyone, let alone someone I had never met, but she seemed like a good person to start with.
Years later, when I was on the road as executive associate to Liza Minnelli, I would witness first-hand the flip side of fandom. I saw some beautiful and touching moments between fans and their idol...but also some bizarre and rather alarming behavior. Women who dress and cut their hair like Liza. Men who dress and cut their hair like Liza. Comments like, "Remember when somebody screamed 'I love you' from the balcony of the Winter Garden in 1974? That was ME!"
A theater security guard told me that he is always on the lookout for a fan who is shaking and perspiring profusely. That pretty much describes everyone I know, but he thought it was a pretty good sign that an enthusiastic fan had crossed over into wacko territory. I brought this concept to two brilliant performers whose talents make me a bit trembly myself, and here's what they had to say:
(Actress and hostess of the 2001 MAC Awards at Town Hall)
"I was totally in love with Bill Irwin, the great performance artist and clown. A clown with a MacArthur Grant, I might add. When I found myself in an elevator with him, I wept openly and declared my love. The very next day, I stepped onto the #1 train and saw him sitting there. We were destined! I sat down next to him and said, "I won't hurt you!" I actually said this to Bill Irwin. He bolted off the train at Delancy Street, which was clearly a mistake, but do you blame him? Two years later, I met my future husband, Ralph Howard, and no longer felt the need to stalk clowns. No one was happier than Bill."
(Singer and owner of Libby's--A Cabaret in Atlanta, GA.)
"A few years ago, I was at home watching TV at around 3am because I have no life. All of a sudden, I caught the last several minutes of Eddie Izzard's special, Dress To Kill. I was immediately struck by his physical presence. He calls himself "an executive transvestite," and he was in all his glory: lipstick, eyeliner, nail polish and heels. He turned out to be so intelligent and hilarious, and I found myself laughing my butt off. During his bit about puberty, turning 15 and chatting up a girl, I became insanely in love with Eddie Izzard! He could have been Attila the Hun; I was totally, head-over-heels (pun intended) in love. I'm 45 years old and have never joined a fan club--not even my deep, abiding love for David Cassidy made me do anything like that. Yet I'm constantly visiting Eddie's website and on e-mail lists and chatting with other fans online. It's such a bizarre feeling. How do you know when you've crossed over from being a fan to being a stalker? I actually flew from Atlanta to Boston to see his one-man show. I didn't go backstage because I had a cold. I knew that, once he saw me, he would immediately recognize me as the love of his life, but I didn't want to pass my cold on to him. At least I'm a sensitive stalker! I know that sounds nuts, and will probably look even worse in print. It's not like I have his posters taped up on my walls or anything, but I do have T-shirts. I'm hoping that Eddie comes to Atlanta on his next tour...and there will be no stopping me then. I'll go every night! He'll have no idea, but it will be the thrill of my life."