Friday, January 16, 2009

Another celebrity story...

In the late 70s, in my early 20s, I lived in San Francisco, south of Market Street, in a warehouse zoned for commercial use. I lived there illegally (because of the zoning) with maybe 10 other artists. There was a lot of this going on in the area (this was before the Moscone Center was built). Nobody really knew who lived where unless there was an earthquake, and then we would all come out and compare our "Huh? What just happened there?"s and see who was new to the area. There were musicians, dancers, painters, etc. and we all created living spaces in the places where we worked. 

Sound romantic? HA! It was horrible. HORRIBLE. It was freezing cold (San Francisco is cold, COLD and when your floors are concrete, it is really cold. When I worked in my studio space I had to use a space heater on my hands so they wouldn't cramp up from the cold.). The place looked like a warehouse because it was a warehouse, complete with crud constantly falling from the ceiling because before we moved in, the space was used to manufacture something called Sta-Crete.

 I remember some book came out around that time about "loft living" and when we eventually all moved out, people actually came to look at the place in hopes of duplicating that "loft living" lifestyle. They were horrified. No stairs to get upstairs, you had to use a ladder. We had to install the plumbing and that looked awful. We built our own bedrooms. That was bad enough with the bad framing and drywall but the bedroom floors were covered in a bright red carpet that had been thrown out of a hotel that was being remodeled (one of the artists worked there at night). We were all very poor. But in your early 20s, that kind of thing is tolerated because you know, at that age, you are going to live forever.

Most of the artists living in the warehouse were still in art school but had outside jobs that paid practically nothing. I bring all this up just to set the tone of this celebrity story I'm going to tell. We were really poor. At least I felt that way. My boyfriend, who lived there with me, had a night job cleaning up a natural foods organic restaurant (oh yeah, that could sound romantic too but this place was SO natural and organic, when they made apple pie, they would throw everything in, including the seeds). This restaurant was maybe a 45 minute walk from where we lived. And to walk to this restaurant, you had to walk through the most dangerous part of the city-the Tenderloin.

One night Nik called from his night job because he was bored and wanted some company. Could I come up and talk to him while he worked? Well, why sure, why not. It was maybe midnight or worse and I had no money for a cab (not that we ever took cabs anyway) and there really wasn't a bus that would take me there so I had to walk. And I had to walk through the Tenderloin, at midnight or worse. 

Nik told me the only thing crazy people are afraid of are other crazy people. I kept that in mind when I preplanned my walk through the Tenderloin. This is what I did... I put on a couple outfits. Let me repeat that, I put on a couple outfits. On my final layer I wore a blue and grey plaid coat from the 50s and on one shoulder I either pinned or clipped a little plastic parakeet toy. When I entered the Tenderloin area, I started talking to this parakeet and laughing at all the jokes it was "telling" me.  I made it through the area with NO problem and when I finally got to Geary Street, which is a street with a lot of lights and restaurants and traffic, I could feel safe. But I still continued with my crazy talk with the parakeet on my shoulder. I guess I was probably getting into it at that point. Anyway, while walking down Geary Street a man approached me from the opposite direction. He had white hair and he was dressed in gray and black. We passed  each other. He looked kind of familiar for some reason.

I walked a little bit and then turned around to look again at the man I had just passed.

The man I had just passed had also stopped to turn around to take a good look at me.

I then recognized him. 




Divine had done a double take on me. 

Yes, that gave me validation that I had done a good job of dressing up all crazy because, Good Lord, Divine had done a double take on me!!!!!

The man I saw...

And the character he played...

If you're not familiar with Divine, he was in a lot of John Waters movies. Not familiar with John Waters? You're probably familiar with one of his movies indirectly. The character John Travolta played in the movie "Hairspray" was based on the musical "Hairspray" which was based on the original John Waters movie "Hairspray" which starred Divine as the John Travolta character.

Yes. This is the person who thought my outfit and behavior was a little out there. 

Ha ha ha.


Mental P Mama said...

Wow. You were stylin'!

Country Girl said...

When I was 19, we all went to see Pink Flamingos. I'm still friends with some from that old crowd back then. And to this day, we still say "eggs". "EGGS".


The bird on the shoulder was sheer genius. Cool celeb sighting.

Anonymous said...

Well, Maria - don't know what more you can share that is going to impress me more than this one ~ a Divine double take ~ that will be something worthy to share in the rest home! I wish you had a photo of you in your outfit!

While in college, I went to see Pink Flamingos with a group of 10 friends ~ only three of us stayed til the end! No trick photography as far as I was concerned!

Maria said...

Mental-you made me laugh out loud with that one. Ha ha ha.

Kate-I forgot about the egg lady. Eeeeeugh.

Julie-I know. It's some story. A story I can tell with pride. Ha ha ha.

For some reason, I am not compelled to see those movies again. When the movie "Polyester" was released, they handed out scratch and sniff cards to scratch in key scenes. One of these days I'll find which box my card is hidden in in the attic. Surprisingly the smell most often "scratched" smelled like pizza, not what you would think, being a John Waters movie.

45+ and Aspiring said...

Sounds like you were destined to have Eddy & Stella!

(Nothing like playing crazy to distract a gal from her fears!)

Maria said...

45-That's the only time I had to use that talk out loud technique. I remember seeing someone who looked completely normal, like she just got off from work, doing the same thing and I thought-is she really crazy or should I be aware of some danger up ahead? I think I made a left turn so I wouldn't find out, either way-I didn't have to know.