I used to work at Kingston Mines, a relatively famous Chicago blues club, and celebrities seemed to stop there when they were in the area. Some noteworthy people I encountered were:

  • Fran Drescher, and that is her real voice. Her persona was exactly like her character on The Nanny; she nasally called me sweetheart and tipped nicely. She really is rather sexy, despite that obnoxious stereotype she portrays.
  • Soul Asylum, or at least three of its members. I am not all that familiar with the band but recognized the lead singer. They were stoned, completely expressionless, hardly moved and ordered nothing.
  • John Popper of Blues Traveller. He drank a rusty nail, tipped averagely and was extremely distracted by Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues onstage, with whom he wailed on harmonica later that night.
  • Laura Flynn Boyle, who has been in several movies and whom I remembered fondly from Twin Peaks. She appreciated the reference but ordered nothing. She smiled a lot more than her snooty entourage and is even more petite than you might think.
  • Dan Aykroyd, somewhat of a legend in the blues world thanks to his famous persona Elwood Blues. He was wearing a lowered baseball hat in an attempt at anonymity but was swamped by fans anyway and didn't stay long.
  • Jay Leno filmed one week of The Tonight Show in Chicago for some reason, as you may recall. He came to our club after being rudely shoved out of a lesbian bar across the street. You have no idea how short he really is. He drank a tonic with lime.
  • 98 degrees, a cheesy and talentless pop band whom I had never heard of and didn't recognize. They were apparently big among teens and daytime MTV watchers and were arrogantly offended that I regarded them as if they were just any old customers. They ended up being thrown out later that night for more arrogant behavior. Not a damn soul in the blues world knew who they were or gave a damn. They couldn't seem to accept that.
  • Brian Dennehey, a big screen and Broadway actor whom you may remember as the main alien guy from the Cocoon movies. He was starring in Death of a Salesman somewhere in Chicago and hung out at our club every weekend while he was in town. He is really huge and wore a white suit and matching brimmed hat. Very jovial; a Jack Daniels drinker.
  • All four members of Phish came in, but I only actually served Mike Gordon. They played three consecutive shows in Chicago last fall and came in to the Mines all three nights in the hopes to jam with blues legend Carl Weathersby. It was a really big deal; I have alot of friends who are huge Phish fans and I called them all to come in, they actually got to shoot a game of pool with Jon Fishman and thus acquire amazing bragging material for life.

I have served the following celebrities, some at Brentano's bookstore in Costa Mesa, CA but most at Bookstar in Studio City. (Bookstar is on Ventura Boulevard, right down the street from CBS and at the base of Laurel Canyon where dwell the rich and famous.)

  • Paul Reubens (Incognito. Would never have recognized him as Pee Wee Herman if I hadn't seen his driver's license. Bought a book on Hispanics in Hollywood.)
  • Morgan Fairchild (Stunning. She looks exactly as she does on TV.)
  • Claude Akins (Smelled odd.)
  • Roger Moore (Fairly twinkled with charm. Giggling girls followed him at a distance everywhere he went.)
  • Michael Caine (Seemed distracted and nervous.)
  • Adam West (Wanted to know where the restroom was.)
  • Burgess Meredith (Told me a story about sailing in Australia. Afterward I had the nagging feeling he might have been hitting on me.)
  • The older brother from Blossom
  • John Astin (Exactly like I'd imagined he might be, exuberant and friendly.)
  • Richard Dreyfuss (Harried-looking as he tried to corral his kids.)
  • Justine Bateman (Friendly and talkative. Really into the author Steve Erickson.)
  • Burt Reynolds (Funny and laid back. One time he came in looking for books by Southern authors. I jokingly recommended Deliverance. "Nah," he said. "I already know the ending.")
  • James Dickey, author of Deliverance. (He was a little tipsy. Told stories about Jack London. Said I should play the guitar.)
  • Roddy McDowall. (Nice. Polite. See his node for the account of the funny/awful thing that happened to him at our store.)
  • Michael Richards (Quiet and unassuming, yet impossible to miss. I spotted him in conversation with Dennis Miller once, which for some reason got me all excited, like it was a comedy summit meeting or something.)
  • Dennis Miller (Seemed a little dazed.)
  • Yeardley Smith (aka Lisa Simpson. She's small, and talks just like that.)
  • Tom and Roseanne Arnold (Bought mountains of tapes of old radio comedy shows. Seemed down, but maybe comedians always seem down compared to when they're "on".)
  • Laurie Metcalf (Played Roseanne's sister on her show. Seemed very, very tired. A lot of these people do.)
  • William Devane (In my favorite Hollywood moment, called me "babe".)

I work at King's Barbecue, at 2910 South Crater Road, Petersburg, Virginia. It's rather famous in the Richmond area, for what is considered to be the best BBQ around (which it is, most of the time). From time to time, film crews swarm Petersburg to use some of the many, many old buildings for some purpose or the other, usually to portray either something horrible and decrepit or to portray something grand and magnificent, never anywhere in between.

So, being one of the few places to eat of any reputation whatsoever (even as a meat joint) in the Petersburg city limits, Kings gets its share of famous, or at least people that are theoretically famous. Some of the celebrities I've personally waited on:

  • Jesse Helms, that wacky and lovable gay-bashing tobacco-loving North Carolina congressperson. Comes in every once in a while, and leaves a nice crisp one dollar bill, such a generous soul (notice the sarcasm leaking from my voice). He even has weird special requests, too. He asks for coffee, but he wants it in a plastic soda glass instead of a mug, and he wants a little cup of water and two slices of lemon to mix with it, along with a whole bunch of cream and sugar . . . what the hell is that?!
  • John Grisham wandered in once, and I recognized him because I'd seen him on the Today show a week or two ago. Very kind and courteous, as was his accompanying lady. They gushed over the apple pie. I seem to remember a pretty decent tip.
  • Recently deceased VA 4th district representative Norman Sisisky
  • Ohio 7th district (yes, I had to look that up) representative David L. Hobson, who was obnoxious enough to point out who he was to me in a manner that was about as un-subtle as it gets. The conversation went like this:

  • (me) "So, do any of y'all want to have some pie and ice cream today?"
    (mr. ohio) "What kind of pie?"
    "We've got apple and pecan today."
    "My wife back in Ohio makes a really good pecan pie. I always try to convince her to make them when I have politicians over. You know, I'm the representative for the 7th district in Ohio, so that happens fairly often."
    "Oh, er, that's . . . nice. So do you want any or not?"

    Very tacky, If I do say so myself. I think he thought I ought to be impressed, but, no.

For about a year and a half, I worked in a top London hotel as a kind of IT lackey who attended to the computer wants and needs of its guests. Most of the time it was simple stuff like connecting their laptops to the hotel's Ethernet, setting up a printer, configuring a VPN connection, changing SMTP servers... the kind of crap you can imagine doing in such a job. It was rarely challenging, but afforded me the opportunity to meet many interesting people and have a bullshit with them for a few minutes while I was sorting out their computers.

The following is a list of the people I can remember dealing with personally:

Nelson Mandela: Lovely man, a personal hero of mine, very old. Told him I took his name as my confirmation name when I was a kid. (Catholic upbringing)

Shakira: Colombian singer/sex siren, didn't talk much. Powerbook owner.

Tom Cruise: Nice guy. Gay as 10 Christmases apparently. More on him here.

Nicole Kidman: Sweetheart, always appreciative for everything we did for her. Sent me a £200 bottle of wine and a card at Christmas.

Penelope Cruz: Babe. Stunning. Didn't talk to her much. Had a good chat with her brother, iBook owner.

Jim Carrey: Really nice guy. Just like he is on TV.

Jack Black: Ditto. Powerbook owner. Wasn’t in a chatty mood.

Angelina Jolie: The woman, simply put, is an angel. The most down to earth and pleasant guest I met in the whole time I worked there. Always smiled, always remembered my name. Radiates love. Maddox is coolest little dude.

John Voight: Really great, pleasant guy. Would never stay in the hotel at the same time as his daughter though.

Greg Kinnear: Didn't actually realise who he was until I left the room. Bit grumpy, looked like he'd been travelling for a week. Powerbook owner.

Roseanne Barr: Larger than life (and most other things). Was sick when I went to her room. Not much chat out of her.

Mark Bowden: Lovely guy. Really, really smart. Had a good chat about Black Hawk Down and Ridley Scott (ya gotta keep it topical!). Big Bladerunner fan. A very interesting man.

Sean Astin: Nice chap. Hobbit-like. Good fun.

Peter Jackson: Bit of a grump. Not the chattiest of people.

Naomi Campbell: Everything you've heard about her being a complete bitch is true... to the power of infinity. A human being this obnoxious is rare. Had to show her 6 times how to turn on her television. Every time I showed her how to do it, she wouldn't listen to me. She said the remote control was too difficult to figure out (all 8 buttons) and that the TV was too complicated. Never looked me in the eye once, never said 'Thank You'. Off her head on some quack medication. Horrible, rude woman. Not as hot in the flesh either.

Kevin Costner: Cool guy, despite the entourage. We talked about Tin Cup (the best golf movie ever!) and his golf swing. Another Powerbook owner.

Liam Neeson: Gruff but decent. Get the impression that he has a bit of a temper. Not the type of guy you'd crack Star Wars jokes with.

Alec Baldwin: Pleasant enough, didn’t talk much. Powerbook owner.

The kids from School of Rock: Annoying little shits with tutors. All Mac owners.

Gemma Kidd: Another sweetheart. Very friendly. Again, didn't realise who she was until I left the room.

Kerry McFadden: Winner of I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here! (the only reason she made it on the list). Her mother and sister stayed in the adjoining room. Common as muck, wrecked the place.

Ken Hom: Famous Asian chef, became good mates with him as he was a very regular guest. Didn't know he was gay until I started working at the hotel. Always had kickass Sony laptops.

Imelda Marcos: Like an Asian version of Hyacinth Bucket, except with the cash to back it up. Had lots of shoes.

Matthew Perry: Bit of a grump, not a bit like Chandler in real life, unsurprisingly.

Cuba Gooding Junior: Cool motherfucker, full of chat. Likes breakdancing. Very down to earth.

I also met loads of Saudi & Bahraini Royalty too, but can't really remember any of their names. They mostly didn't like talking to us anyway. There were many people who stayed that I never met but who I would have loved to: Quentin Tarantino, Daryll Hannah, Uma Thurman, Martin Scorcese and Jennifer Lopez to name but a few. Can't win 'em all, I suppose.

Also met tons of minor celebrities like S-Club 7, the 'stars' of 2 Fast 2 Furious etc. but they don't really count in the grand scheme of the list!

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