Friday was the premiere outing of Val Kilmer’s 7 year passion project Citizen Twain, a one man show about writer/lecturer/1st stand-up comedian Mark Twain. Obviously, I’m a huge Kilmer fan and not even a ginormous gay couple with perfect posture sitting in front of me like two ogres or a man in the seat next to me playing Words his Friends on his phone throughout the show’s entirety could ruin the experience. When Kilmer came down the aisle during one of his monologues his jacket grazed my shoulder and I could only regret what a shame it was that I wasn’t shirtless so that it could have kissed my immense forest of shoulder hair.
My excitement could barely be held in check at that moment, but then I unearthed that he would be signing autographs at a table after the show. During the Q & A session, I snuck to purchase a picture of him as Twain for his John Hancocking purposes. And then my mind thought a thought, a interesting thought, a well thought out thought, a thought that had been thought many times before, but finally came to the forefront. Mr. Kilmer was about to be asked to sign my picture as “ICEMAN.”
I told my brother of my vision for signature greatness. I joked about actually preferring that Val just give me a sample of his DNA so I could clone him (btw tell these jokes when large bodyguards aren’t around). I was in one of those “I am great” moments when everyone behind you in line and around you has nothing that could trump your contribution to society. But this would not last as my brother became so visibly nervous that it drained my gung-ho initiative as his morals began to infect my brainwaves.
His thought was one we often have, “Does a star get tired of hearing all his bullshit about past roles and obsessed fans who want him to sign things as something he’s been detached from years ago? Isn’t it just one total dick move?”
Yes, he had just spent 7 years of his life dedicating himself to learning about Mark Twain, and yet I couldn’t get my mind off of a often dismissed performance of the volatile, bleach highlight, volleyball playing, sexually diverse Iceman from years ago in Top Gun.
Val took a while getting to the table, which gave ample time for my fears to mushroom into full-blown paranoia. Do I want to be the guy on the YouTube video that Val yells at? I felt the same fear amplifying in my stomach as when my Dad told me to go meet Billy the Blue Power Ranger at Universal Studios Hollywood. The same fear that gripped my throat this summer when I got the actor’s autograph who plays the funerary home director in The Big Lebowski, I made him sign a can of Folgers’ coffee. I knew the man, he taught me acting for five weeks, but even then I was terrified and experience what a mouse must feel when it sees a cat for the first time.
It’s interesting; in the hypothetical meeting a celebrity sounds like the cat’s pajamas, but in reality it’s a horrifying proposition. Of course, some celebrities are entirely more accessible and friendly than others, I met Lewis Black and we talked how we hated our high school coaches and shared a laugh in how when I was asked to take a picture by an Asian girl. I asked her if she wanted Lewis in the picture as well. For some reason I felt a comfort in meeting another funny person, but in the face of Val Kilmer it was different. Kilmer is a serious man, a serious actor, who has “And this is nothing new: Kilmer walked off the set of his first job because he could not get into his character's motivation.
The job was a television advertisement for hamburgers. Kilmer was 12. He told the director he couldn't pretend to like the hamburgers he was advertising.”- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3614594/A-solitary-man.html
How many times in your life do you get to meet a movie star? One that you grew up with when you were a little kid? He was your Batman in a way that Christian Bale could never be. He drove the Batmobile that lit up blue on the inside, the same version that your dad bought a phone of for your cousin, but you convinced him to let you have instead. I had Batman Forever every thing, The SNES game, the toys, by god I went as the Riddler for Halloween.
In addition, I watch Top Gun all the time with my friends. We quote the movie like we are breathing air. I think The Doors and Tombstone are unbelievable performances. If I had walked away from that table without asking for him to sign it as “Iceman,” I would have always regretted it.
I don’t have many profound things to say about life, but my one maxim is: “Make a good story.” No one would have cared about the time I had Val Kilmer sign a paper, not me, not you, not Val. I think since I have assumed the identity of the Hollywood Defender, I take more chances, I go for the good story and I do the things I used to just keep in my head. I took a chance and I think I earned my brother’s respect as well.
I am not sure what I did took balls or craziness, but when you talk to celebrities you never know what to say because you don’t want to be “that person or “that guy”. Because those that sit at the table talking about, “O I’m sure he gets bothered all the time, he deserves to lead his own personal life, he’s at dinner. I’m sure he gets tired of getting ask for his autograph” are just as obsessed with the star as the guy they criticize. In fact the star sitting at the next table monopolizes your conversation anyway and it’s all you really talk about or try to dissect fan culture.
And that used to be me. I was terribly embarrassed when I heard that my Dad at a restaurant told Pierce Brosnan “Bond James, Bond.” We call him lame, we call him weird, but in a way we kind of idolize him. We never want to be the person who worships someone, but let me tell you from experience that person gets what they want, they get the autograph, they meet their hero, and though it may not seem like it, they are much happier than those who sit at their table and never ask for an autograph. Life and getting autographs is about doing because they can say they talked to or met a star, while the rest can only say they saw.
And so I said,
“Hi Mr. Kilmer. Would you sign this as Iceman, unless you think it’s like you know”
Of course Val wrote, “Iceman-Not” which seems to suggest we shouldn’t ask, but that ruins the story and the point.
The Hollywood Defender