Thursday, October 08, 2009

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is currently starring in a one-woman show on Broadway. Titled “Wishful Drinking,” Carrie basically gives a summary of her life story, which is not too difficult when you consider that her life story is already pretty much open for the world to see. She has literally grown up in the spotlight, and has found success both as an actress and author. In honor of Carrie’s show, and in celebration of her birthday this month, this would be a good time to talk about my undying love for. . .I mean, my deep feelings for. . .I mean, my former relationship with. . .I mean, my deep respect for. . .Folks, it’s not easy to describe the importance of Carrie Fisher to me. But I’ll try.

Like almost everyone else in the galaxy, I first learned of Carrie as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” I was very young at the time, and she was one of many grown-up ladies that I liked. Especially in the trash compactor scene, when she raised her leg up against the wall. . .arrgh. Ahem. Anyway, I only got to see Carrie in the Star Wars movies, so while I admired her, I seldom got to see her on screen, and our “relationship” waned.

In 1983, just before “Return of the Jedi” debuted, our local newspaper ran some photos from the movie. One of them featured Leia wearing. . .practically nothing. It was my first encounter with Leia in the metal bikini. Then another magazine printed another metal bikini shot. Then another, and another, and slowly my collection was growing. . .heeheeheehee. . . Then there was that Rolling Stone cover. . .damn it, Dad, why don’t you buy THAT one? And then there was the Marvel comics adaptation of the film, which featured a scene of Leia trying to escape from her captor, straining her gorgeous. . .I’m going to stop here in the hopes that you know where this is heading. Incidentally, did you ever consider that the little boys who were six and seven when “Star Wars” came out were entering their teens when “Jedi” debuted. . .and subjected to the metal bikini? Coincidence? A master plan by George Lucas to keep “Star Wars” imprinted in the minds of its young audience? An interesting point that should be pondered at some other time.

Then People magazine had a cover story on Carrie, and included some photos of her hanging around her Hollywood home. Now here’s the most important part of this post. As I read the interviews with Carrie, I felt that she seemed like a fun person. Then I realized that I liked Carrie herself, and I liked the idea of just being her friend. This is important. Prior to this, many of the female movie and TV stars that I liked were liked for the wrong (but natural) reasons. But with Carrie, I didn’t dream of a “one-night stand.” I dreamt of a friendship. I realized that I liked her not only for her beauty, but for who she seemed to be. It was, in a sense, the first “mature” relationship with an adult woman that I ever had (or wanted to have, I know, bear with me). That was an important step. I was slowly growing up and understanding that natural attraction is only part of the picture.

In late 1984, Carrie starred in Faire Tale Theatre as "Thumbelina." And dang, she was cute. I liked that show a lot, although it was embarrassing to try to record it. Remember, there’s only one VCR in the house, and I have to beg to get permission to use it. But I remember watching it in the wee hours of the morning, and enjoying seeing Carrie as a “Disney Princess.” This was one of those times when you wished you could enter the TV picture.

For a kid who didn’t have any friends, my imaginary friendship with Carrie was something quite wonderful. It gives a guy a lot of courage when he’s always surrounded by a sexy slave girl. Well, she wasn’t always a slave girl. She usually just dressed that way for my rock band. I was lead vocal and occasionally guitar, Leia was backup vocal and occasionally guitar, and Ernie was on the drums. Bert would sometimes play backup guitar as well. Courteney Cox or Justine Bateman would occasionally take Leia’s place when she was busy. Oh, it was heaven, man. You should have heard us. I’ll have to make that compilation CD one of these days.

Prior to this, I had written a comic book story featuring Leia. It was quite a feat for me to draw a story with Leia in the bikini. It was a big leap for my cartoon stories, as this was the first “sexy” element I had ever drawn in them. It was (and is) embarrassing, and not very sexy as far as the art is concerned! But my “imaginary world” of comics now included an element of sexuality that wasn’t there before.

At the Del Mar Fair, somebody included an autographed photo of Carrie in their “Star Wars” collection. I was jealous! I wrote a fan letter to Carrie asking for an autograph- one of the first fan letters I ever wrote. A few weeks later, I received an autographed photo of Carrie myself. I immediately put it in a frame. It is one of my treasures to this day.

After “Jedi,” Carrie continued to act, appearing in many more films, most of which sucked. There’s no nice way to say it! There are notable exceptions (including a TV movie called "Liberty" that I‘d love to see again), but for the most part, Carrie’s films left a lot to be desired. It was hard being a Carrie fan, because you had to sit through so much garbage in order to see her.

In the summer of 1988, an auction fundraiser was scheduled to be held at Sea World in San Diego. Among the stars doing the auctioning would be Carrie Fisher. On the day it was to be held, I made an incredible announcement. I was going to try to attend! Then my brother said he was going to go with me! I called to reserve our places, and we drove down to Sea World. It was our first trip to Sea World without our parents. It was fun, but crowded. We saw Shamu and some other shows, waited in line for an hour to eat, etc. I had assumed that the auction would be held in a large stadium-like area at the Southeast corner of the park. But we later figured out that it would be held in a much smaller building near the center of the park.

After a few opening performances, the auction began. We saw Terri Garr and Dana Delaney and. . .there she was in person, Carrie Fisher! Be still my heart! I took several photos, most of which came out too shaky! Then the auction ended, and my brother and I did something amazing. We got up and walked up to the stage just as Carrie Fisher was walking off. There she was, right in front of me. I tried to say, “It’s an honor,” but it came out more like, “ahhhhhhhh. . .” I shook her hand. Her hand was small, and her skin was soft. She gave me her autograph, and handed the paper to my brother. We walked away from the stage and drove home. I was happy, but tired. My parents told us that evening that they had been worried sick about us. This, you see, was our first “big trip” somewhere without them. Carrie did not smile at me, nor run off with me at the sight of my handsome face. But I understood that this was too much to hope for, and I was not disappointed with our brief encounter. Once again, Carrie Fisher was helping me grow up.

Years later, Carrie would conquer the literary world with her first novel, “Postcards from the edge”, which featured an attractive photo of Carrie in the paperback edition, which is somewhere around here. . .anyway. It was loosely based on her life, which again has been covered by the media literally since the day she was born. The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie has endured the trials of being famous as well as the triumphs. She has abused drugs, and in some ways they have sadly abused her. She is bipolar, and goes through strenuous therapy to control it.

Carrie knows everybody in Hollywood. Seriously. You could probably meet just about every star you ever wanted to meet if you knew Carrie Fisher. One of my goals is to get invited to one of Carrie Fisher’s parties. It would be a star-studded event. I would probably be kicked out for asking for too many autographs.

Who do I like more- Carrie or Leia? Actually, I don’t like either of them “more”, because I don’t literally know either of them. The “Carrie” I have in my mind’s eye is different from either Leia or the literal Carrie. It is an ideal of the person who looks like Carrie that I would like to have as a friend. It is a dream.

I care very much for Carrie, and although any “romantic dreams” are pretty much history, the affection and happiness that she radiates still shines. I still would be happy just being a friend. That can’t happen, of course, but as far as imaginary friendships go, I’m thankful she is one of mine. I’m also thankful I had a very, very, very small moment with her in person. She likely doesn’t remember (especially after all that shock therapy). But she has had a role in my life that is almost as important as any of the real friends I have. At a time when nobody in the real world gave a damn about me, she did, if only in my dreams. Someday, I think we’re all going to understand that imaginary love is far better than no love at all. And Leia and Carrie makes a great imaginary lover.

I can see me now, sitting near the stage in the audience of her Broadway show. She looks down and sees me there. “Hi, Steve!” she says. “Hi, Carrie!” I reply. She turns to the crowd and introduces me as an old friend. Polite applause echoes through the theater. She urges me to stand. I do, and the light applause lasts a bit longer. I bow to the crowd and take my seat. The show continues. Later, after the show is over, I meet her backstage and we talk a bit. Then we hug and I go home. And I feel in my heart that I’m a lucky man for having a famous friend who cares about me. In real life, I won’t be able to attend the show, and Carrie doesn’t care about me this way. But it’s interesting. In my heart, I still feel that I’m a lucky man for having a famous friend who cares about me.


YAY VAL: Speaking of special girls, my friend Val became a mom this past week. She is a co-worker who appeared in my music video for “There is a light that never goes out.” Congratulations Val and family, and enjoy your complementary time off!


ON YOUTUBE: THE IMAGINARY HELICOPTER RIDE (AUDIO ONLY): Among my rare treasures is an audio recording of the famous “imaginary helicopter ride” with Maria and Bert from Sesame Street. You remember it, don’t you. DON’T YOU? Hmm. Well, even if you don’t, if you’re a fan of classic Sesame Street, you’ll enjoy listening to this. It captures some of the fun that the actors had together in the “good old days” on the show. It’s been posted by Johnnytbird and can be found in my favorites folder on my YouTube page.