Friday, April 08, 2005

I checked in at my mom's house today to see how the construction was progressing in the kitchen. They are in Mexico and I'm on house watch. I didn't plan to stay, but turned on the TV to see that ironically, Once Upon a Time in Mexico was on HBO, and just starting.

If you haven't seen it, put it on your list. One reason is Johnny Depp's performance. The man can just bring it to the table. Not to mention, still manage to look hot when he's had both his eyes ripped out. Granted, in real life the man's fashion sense is wanting, but for crying out loud, give the guy a wardrobe specialist and it's magic.

A while back, when I lived in Los Angeles, my friend Shannon and I went to a David Bowie concert at the Universal Amphitheatre. Shannon had photographed the wedding for Bowie's keyboardist, Mike Garson, and the two had hit it off. Shannon and I both grew up big Bowie fans, and when Garson hooked Shannon up with killer seats, press passes, and VIP backstage passes for the David Bowie concert, Shannon naturally asked me to go. That got us in before the general admittance, and all kinds of access. Bonus, was that Shannon got to photograph Bowie up close during concert. It was so cool, seeing Bowie on stage and the silhouette of Shannon and his camera as he photographed him. I was such a proud friend at that moment.

After the concert, the backstage pass holders lined up, and we noticed there were a lot of them. At first, we mingled with a couple hundred other people in an open air patio area, dismayed that being backstage wasn't really that special. That is, until I noticed something.

"Shannon," I said, "Our passes are a different color." We knew what that meant. Different color, different access. Turns out, we had the passes to the celebrity studded party in a secluded room in the back. We walked up to the entrance, guarded by two burly security guards, showed our passes, and were waved through. Like butter.

The area was much smaller and intimate. However, it was still easy to maneuver and left plenty of elbow room.

There was an odd mix of celebrities. Jimmy Smits, Naomi Campbell, who looks much slighter in person, and the cheese ball of all puffed cheese, David Hasselhoff. I had seen Hasselhoff earlier when he walked to his seat a couple rows in front of me. Before the concert, Shannon was finishing up the details of his photo shoot, and I sat and watched as people made their way to their seats. I giggled to myself, because he is such a tool. He was dressed head to toe in black leather, including black pointed cowboy boots. And man, he had a bad case of square ass.

In the VIP lounge, he was sitting next to his silicone stuffed bleach blonde wife, also head to toe in leather. Both looking like total cheese whiz. Shannon went to look for Garson, and I went to the bar, where I grabbed a drink and made my way back to the smaller outdoor patio area. It was then that I saw him.

Johnny Depp.

Holy fucking shit.

Johnny Depp, the Johnny Depp, had on a tan leather jacket and a blue bandana tied around his head. His hair was pulled back in a pony tail and he had rings on his fingers. He sipped a drink and looked over it in almost a demure fashion as he spoke to an older woman. He stood in a corner, talking quietly, not making a show of himself. It wasn't out of celebrity affectation, but almost what seemed like insecurity in a party setting. Swear to God. As I was walking around looking for Shannon, I managed a nod and exchange of hellos, which was the best I could do when I was crapping my pants. At the time, Johnny Depp was in his late thirties, but I saw not one sign of age on his skin.

Once I found Shannon again, our hilarious people watching began. We were killing each other with laughter, especially when we compared David Hasselhoff to Johnny Depp.

"Look Shannon," I whispered. "Look at Johnny Depp, then look at David Hasselhoff. Two completely different examples of male. They might as well be different species."

"Anne, can you imagine Hasselhoff firing one out in those leather pants?" Shannon whispered back. When Shannon and I refer to "firing one out," that means cutting a fart. That sent us both into hysterics. We were discreet, of course. For all people knew, we were laughing because we'd just sold our screenplay for a million bucks. The rest of the night, all I had to say was "Hasselhoff" and it would set us off in a fit of laughter. Because yes once again, it was that funny.

Needless to say, Hasselhoff and Depp never acknowledged each other's presence. Or should I say, Hasselhoff was probably too embarrassed to stand in front of an actor that actually had a career and talent, and didn't feel he had to dress up in a leather clown suit to attract attention.

Funny how talking about that movie brought back those fun and yet poignant memories. Poignant, I say, because I remember at the time wondering if Johnny Depp had done a lot of drugs, and found myself looking at his arms and hands to see if there were signs. I'd heard that he had, and wondered what stories that small framed, diminutive pretty boy could tell. In a way, he frightened me. Not because of his star status, but because of his willingness to "go there." Sure, he was gorgeous, but there was an intensity and erratic quality there as well that had me asking myself if I had to also "go there" to unearth my true voice in my craft, whatever that was going to be. I cannot explain what I mean by that. It's a feeling and scene that you have to experience, to feel the danger of exposing yourself and be on that edge. To be willing to crumble every bit of your being and rebuild it for your craft. I knew that Johnny Depp was that kind of artist, but before me stood an understated man. David Hasselhoff on the other hand, who was trying so hard to be overstated, was not even an artist.

I will never do drugs, and never have. That's not what I mean. But, would I feel safe with the kind of people whom one may encounter in order to take that next step? The kind of people he endured and encountered? To publicly dig to a dark level and hold up that writhing, hideous demon for every one to see, knowing that it came from me. To be that vulnerable? And, to risk putting my life and humility in the hands of so many people who can destroy it, hoping to come out relatively in one piece on the other side?

In his case, hanging around with fast people and hard partiers and crazy, wild women, being yanked in so many directions, meeting so many screwed up but brilliant people and trying not to become a casualty. Oh, but it's so different for a woman. So many men try to score with you and abruptly lose interest when they see that's not what you are about. And I was so not about that. I don't understand women who do that to get ahead, no matter what treasure lies at the end of the rainbow.

I remember thinking at the time, that Johnny Depp was at a stage in his life where he had complete creative freedom and respect in his craft. At the same time, I wondered what he had put himself through to dig down into those deep caverns and excavate them to the surface? How much had he risked? And what kind of person was willing to go through that? Was I? In what way? And was I strong enough?

That's what I mean, when I say that Johnny Depp frightened me.

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