Crazed Fans and The Entertainment Industry
"You Can't Fall So Hard, You Can't Lose Control, You Can't Break Your Heart, For Someone You Don't Even Know."
These are lyrics from a song "You Can't Fall So Hard" that I wrote in 1998 after witnessing many crazed fans freaking out for famous people that I happened to know very well. I can not say that these experiences did not change everything about me because they did. I once sat in an acting class with Sean Penn, Eric Stoltz and Nicolas Cage. We all sat in a circle and everyone spoke one at a time as we voiced our ultimate goals in the entertainment industry. At the time I was dating my highschool sweetheart who had a very famous father and I was beginning to show deep signs of neurotic behavior and I was slowly becoming very "paranoid." My "ex" eventually landed a big part on a famous show and did quite a few films. As time went on, I could not help my "paranoid" behavior because a lot of the people I knew were in the public eye and fans would do shocking and crazy irrational things.
When Sean Penn spoke, he talked about having a career in the business but he just wanted to "work steadily." Eric Stolz who had just done "The Mask" had wanted to be "famous" and he did not care about the work at all and he was disrespectful to women. He hit on every single chick in my class including me and he did not have a "subtle" word in his vocabulary. Nicolos Cage was also a bit of a "nutter" and we had some scene study together. He proudly announced that he wanted to be "mega famous" and make lots of cash. So, out of these three, one sort of disappeared (Stolz was a bit of a bastard so no loss there), but Penn and Cage definitely knew where they were heading and their careers today reflect their "choices." I once went on a few dates with Sean Penn's brother Chris who was in the movie Footloose but at the time I knew him in college he was trying to quit booze, was in top form as a kickboxer and was "out of his mind." Needless to say that it did not last long, but I got to hang with his brother Sean quite a lot. He once told me how to really get into "character" and told me a really good exercise while researching a role. When they got to me and a few others sitting around I didn't really have a clear picture of what I wanted in my acting career. When I was younger I loved to perform, but as I started to experience "the entertainment" business at such a "high level" it sort of "put me off." Fame was no longer about the work anymore and the rest of what I witnessed just took all of the fun out of it.
One of the "breaking points" for me happened in Atlantic City at a famous Casino Hotel. I was standing with my ex-husband with the famous father and we were all standing in a crowd. Since I was paranoid and my anxiety levels grew in crowds anyway, I was constantly looking around. It was at that moment I saw her making a beeline for me. I just knew it by the way she moved and when she got closer, I saw her holding a sharp object like a letter opener. Her eyes were crazed and she wanted my husband and nothing was going to stop her. I turned around and yelled and started to run away but could not get out quickly enough and when she got close, my husband stood in front of her as she glared at me. I was in shock, I couldn't sleep for days and she was still out there even though the police took her away. I thought about a particular "fan" letter that I received when I was on television where it had a wedding photo of me from the trash mag called "The Globe" with writing across it that said "Die *&^% Die." Sometimes fans did not know the difference between "reality" and "pretend." I still get fan mail where young boys think I'm still 24 years old because they watch the shows in syndication.
Neurotica my friends, Neurotica.
I knew the moment that I did not want to act anymore. I had gotten the "Viewers Choice" Award in Canada for my role on a hit show. Bob Hope presented it to me and when I went to collect my award and give my speech on live television, I knew that I was done. The industry had taken it's part in destroying what I loved or enjoyed. My first marriage fell apart, I ended up playing the same sort of parts for different television shows, and I no longer cared about any of it.
I ended up diving into music full force and formed my first band that played the Sunset Strip a couple nights a week for months. My guitarist and co-writer had a major drug problem (he played with the Doobie Bros. at one time and also dealt drugs) and as the story goes, things sort of went "bad" quickly. I had label interests from ATCO and A&M Records, but I was not ready to become "Janet Jackson" and because I was a good dancer, they all wanted me to "go there." At the time my band was wearing army gear, a parachute was hanging from the ceiling and we sounded like all of the bands in the late 60's and early 70's. A bit before my time, but it was interesting to see how the labels had to put me in a nitch.
Looking back, I'm happy with my choices and have accomplished a lot with my music.
I eventually recorded and released my own music that has played on various soundtracks. I also produced music for various TV shows and films so I still got to do what I loved most, being in the studio and creating great stuff. I have released two records on my own label and intend to release more while I'm also working on my writing career.
Looking back it seems that I was always attracted to some sort of extreme, funny, handsome "child in disguise" with a huge EGO. Most of the men that I dated were truly self absorbed. I often wonder about my choices in life and part of me thinks that my upbringing played a big part in my decisions. I'm not sure anyone who is "normal" would have ever lasted long with me because I have already experienced what it is like to be with "extreme personalities." I do long for a more peaceful existence sometimes (I love yoga;), but I'm still drawn to succeeding in the things that bring on the rest of the chaos if success were to come my way. Writing definitely is a better career to "hide in." Some of the fan mail I received in the old days and now is truly scary and let's not forget folks that the show I was on was about twenty years ago. I still get a lot of mail for my music, but it has been ok so far and I have not had any problems YET.
Because of my background and experiences, I retreat. I do not perform "live" much anymore and I spend my time in the studio and pitching my music to the media when I'm not writing my novel or for a few publications. When it comes to it, I never felt comfortable being "upfront" and the career of a "writer" feels a lot better to me right now. Signing autographs and getting treated like royalty was fun for a while, but you learn in this industry how things change really quickly. When you are on top, people give you everything and when you are not you get nothing. I have seen this happen to people who were way higher on the ladder then me. My experience was just from a small role in a hit show and by then I had no interest in pursuing it anymore.
I always try to tell young women my life experiences before they choose a career in the entertainment industry. I tell them all of my crazy "casting couch" stories and tell them the reality of the business so they do not walk into it like a deer caught in headlights. The one thing I always say is "You have to really want it."