The Authentic Experience
I had a doctor friend in San Diego call me once and say “Dustin Hoffman just showed up. He’s here visiting his brother who is in the hospital. If you want his autograph, hurry up and get here.”
I grabbed my Graduate album soundtrack and headed over. I pulled into the parking lot before I said to myself – what are you doing? This guys brother could be dying, and I’m gonna show up with an album for him to sign? I turned around and left.
Here’s how much of a nut I am, in regards to not wanting to bother these people. Justin Timberlake was playing a small show at the House of Blues in San Diego. It was bizarre for him to play at such a small venue, as big as he is. My friend got his autograph in L.A. and Timberlake said to him, “You’re an adult male. Why are you asking for my autograph? Are you gay or something?” My friend laughed and said no, and Timberlake smiled, before signing the autograph.
I’m not the biggest Timberlake fan, but I had a Rolling Stone magazine with him on the cover from a few months earlier. I knew the side door the musicians use, and went down there. There was a huge line around the other side of the building. I saw a bunch of security guards start coming out, talking into their hands like they’re the Secret Service protecting the President. I hear one say “He’ll be here in five minutes, be ready.” With that, I popped the cap off my Sharpie. I kept it in my pocket, because the worst thing you could do is draw attention to yourself. This puts security on the alert, and they do their best to keep you away. The Rolling Stone was open and I was reading it, also to not look like I’m standing with a future eBay item.
A black SUV pulled up, and four security guys got out of that, with him in the middle. He looks at the huge line, and they don’t see him. He walked right by me, kind of slowly, and I freeze up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not star struck. I just thought about him giving a hard time to another adult male asking for his autograph. There was so much security, that I over thought the situation. The worst they could do is say “No!” Yet, with just me standing there, surely he’d reach over and sign. He smiled at me, I nodded, and he walked in the club. Right before he got in, the crowd went nuts. It was like those scenes you see when The Beatles showed up at the airport, or on stage at Shea Stadium.
I walked away thinking to myself – you wasted an hour of time, on an artist you’re not a big fan of, and you didn’t say anything. As I got in my car, I noticed the Sharpie I had opened (to be prepared…nothing like a Sharpie that won’t open and that two seconds of delay for the star to say “I don’t have the time” and leave you high and dry). I had made a big black Sharpie stain on my front jean pockets that didn’t wash out.
Yet knowing me, I’d see him at a funeral and ask him for an autograph, to make up for an incident that ended with no autograph and a pair of jeans that went to Goodwill.