Warning: capitalization (and swearing) will be used excessively in this segment because SQUEEEEE!!! OMG
I should preface all of this by saying I never stalked anyone, I never did anything illegal, and I certainly didn't do or see certain things because I thought Famous Guy wouldn't approve of it or something. My brain simply needed something of an escape from complicated shit. Today, I feel compelled to discuss…the Imaginary Celebrity Boyfriend (ICB).
I am officially taking credit for that turn of phrase and too bad if you don’t believe me. Eye hemorrhage-inducing perusal of the Livejournal I kept between 2003 and 2010 suggests that I seem to have first used it in an entry dated February 15, 2004. MEANWHILE, I collected and cultivated ICBs like one might tend to a bonsai tree – with care and endless dedication. My first true pretend love was John Taylor of Duran Duran, of COURSE. There was no man my 13-year old self wanted to jump on more (as if I truly understood what that really meant at that point in my life) than good old J.T., who was (and, frankly, REMAINS) almost terrifyingly good-looking, all slender and angular. I started reading Isabel Allende because of John Taylor. I learned to play the bass because of John Taylor. And if you think for one red hot second that John is all looks and no licks (holy SHIT I NEED TO COPYRIGHT THAT SHIT NOW), think again – the cat can fucking play. I…well, I can play…to a certain level. I cannot play at a John Taylor level. I can sort of play at a Sting level, depending on what song, I am mostly competent when it comes to a Simon Gallup of the Cure level and I could most likely jam out with my clam out if I suddenly had to play bass in the live version of Nine Inch Nails. BUT ANYWAY
My childhood bedroom was an absolute museum to the glory of John and Duran Duran as a whole. I had to share this room with one of my sisters, so there was a significant line of demarcation between my area and hers. Her walls sported a couple of tasteful Don Johnson and Clark Gable pictures. Mine was an out of control, massive collage of rapturous celebration of Duran Duran in both fivesome and threesome status with a decided concentration in John Christing Taylor. If there was bare wallspace, I was slapping up a carefully snipped picture from Tiger Beat, Bop, or Star Hits (the US version of UK mag Smash Hits) of John looking happy, pensive, moody, sad, thoughtful while walking, posing, running, jumping, fencing. This genial lunacy continued up until my brain really decided to short out a few more synapses and the Duran collage gave way to a more generic collage of actors and musicians I found intriguing – none more so than...
THE CURE. Ohhhhh, no one spoke to my shriveled little teen soul more than Robert Smith. When “Disintegration” was released, I embarked on a mission to BUY AS MUCH SHIT AS I COULD THAT WAS CURE-RELATED. Posters, magazines, imports – weekly trips to the Turntable, a local record store that specialized in imports and rarities as well as merch, merch, merch were made. The back catalog was purchased in a flash. Seeing the Cure for the first time in August, 1989 came shortly after I had my first kiss with a guy that I was convinced I was deeply in love with and couldn’t imagine my life without. Of course, he didn’t love me back. So when the lights went down and the massive fogbanks rolled out and those first quiet windchimes started to play from “Disintegration”’s opening track, “Plainsong”, I had what can best be described as a psychobilly hissy fit. I sobbed so hysterically that people were looking at me with concern. I didn’t heave those kinds of tears when I saw Duran Duran for the first time in 1987 and again in January, 1989. Those dandy motherfuckers had been the center of my universe. However, Robert Smith had a direct line to the baffled, fucked up battle for survival that was happening in my brain, he was singing exactly what I felt as a 17-year old girl who couldn’t understand why she wasn’t worthy of a boy’s love and why the fuck it was so awful and painful. (I assure you that once “Plainsong” concluded, I wiped away my tears and returned to earth to enjoy the rest of the show.)
I discovered another ally in my internal war not that long after in the form of a deliciously angry fellow named Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails. A cursory search of Wikipedia tells me “Pretty Hate Machine” was released in October, 1989 and “Head Like a Hole” came out in March, 1990, so I would wager that “Pretty Hate Machine” served as my soundtrack for high school graduation and beyond. If you’re a NIN fan, I’m sure it’s easy for you to guess what became my signature song as my fruitless pursuit of the guy I wanted to love me back continued. Go on, guess.
OF COURSE IT WAS “SOMETHING I CAN NEVER HAVE”. OF COURSE.
I mean, come on. The fucking lyric sheet in the cassette should have had “This one’s for you, Jane!*thumbs up*” (If you’re not familiar with the song, Google it and then you shall have insight into my tear-stained teenage heart). I damn near wore that cassette out. Of course, in retrospect (and in light of Trent’s later, mind-blowing work) “Pretty Hate Machine” sounds terribly dated and very much of the late 80s/early 90s. But mercy, that was my jam and, though it sounds cliché, the anger and “fuck you” that that record stirred up in me helped me to get through some mighty shit times that resulted from the abortive attempt at love I experienced. It helped me to get through a serious brush with suicidal ideation – though having a massive ego that refused to die also helped in that regard. As a result of such hardcore imprinting, I remain just so in love with Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor in general. Trent has had a strange way of making records that supply soundtracks to exactly what sort of fuckuppery/discombobulation I might be experiencing at any given time. Going to a Nine Inch Nails show was the ultimate release of rage and anger and frustration. I found that out almost too late, since I never made it to a NIN show until 2006 (being agonizingly broke got in the way before then). Great, now I just want to sit in a window and sigh while rain falls.
In 1994, I found another object of affection – one that would help to trigger a massive outpouring of creativity that…went…nowhere, but still, being creative is good, it’s a good thing. I stayed loyal (in that batshit crazy way) to this ICB until he decided to marry someone that wasn’t me. That Unidentified Foxy Object (GET IT) was…David “Red Speedo” Duchovny and, by extension, “The X-Files”.
Recently, I convinced my husband to travel down the “X-Files” rewatch path with me and I felt a little sad that the mountains of useless trivia I used to know about the show and David Duchovny had finally exited my brain. Because let me tell you, if you wanted some minutiae science dropped on you back when “The X-Files” was in full swing, I was your woman. I had to know absolutely everything and I had to know it immediately when I figured out it was a show right up my alley (it didn’t quite take in my brain until the second season). The internet was starting to come to the fore, but I didn’t have a computer at the time. However, my father did. So on Friday nights, I would trek out to the suburbs (I was living on the north side of Chicago at the time), watch and tape the show, then proceed to sit in the AOL X-Files chat room for six or seven hours discussing the show and bullshitting with folks. It was a good time, a strange time, trying to navigate this “internet” and finding one bonding with other people in other parts of the country (or even the world!) over a freaking TV show. My first internet-inspired transaction was a bootleg VHS tape of gag reels from the first three seasons. I couldn’t tell you what her screenname or even her location was now, but I can remember thinking just how neat the internet was.
My methods of “collecting” changed with the internet as well. Instead of plastering Duchovny pictures cut out of magazines all over my walls, I accumulated massive files of jpegs and gifs and BMPs (yes, even BMPs) of him. I could read interviews from magazines published in faraway lands like England and learn every single factoid under the sun that was available. I began to write spec scripts as well. I had started writing screenplays towards the end of my abortive attempt at going to college (three and out, WHOO), and when I wasn’t writing Mrs. Jane Duchovny on my trapper keeper, I was writing. In the beginning, my screenplays were crap. Lord love a duck, they were crap. But as I kept doing it, I kept getting better (I don’t toot my own very often with any semblance of seriousness, but bitch can write a screenplay), and when I was in full “X-Files” thrall, I began to crank out spec scripts. And then, I started sending them to the production office of executive producer Chris Carter in Los Angeles. I received some very nice notes from the office’s assistant and one of the scripts got to the point where network readers actually looked at it (I had to sign a release). Sadly, I can’t say that I had a “50 Shades of Grey” moment, but at least I have some cool souvenirs of…stationery.
In 1998, I caught wind of a comedy festival and competition taking place at a local theater and, even though I hadn’t performed on a stage since high school (despite attending a fine arts school with theater and improvisation training under my belt) I decided to enter it. I had a title before I had the text:
David Duchovny (Or the Socio-Economic Implications of a Celebrity-Hungry Society)
Rather amusing, I thought. I’ve always been a fan of ridiculous titles for things. But the title turned out to be just the spark I needed to put my years’ long fandom of celebrity men and things in general into something resembling perspective. A goofy title turned into 45 minutes that started as a generic autobiography and then morphed into a poke at fame and the sort of strangeness it breeds in those of us who are decidedly not famous. I was reviewed in the Chicago Reader, where it was tagged “ingenious” and I figured I would wind up winning the theater’s grand prize, which was a two-week run of one’s show at the theater. And then I was finally going to be heading down that road to fame and fortune and all the things I had dreamed of for so long!
I totally didn’t win. The show that did win was pretty anemically reviewed. I was “INGENIOUS”. The winning show…wasn’t. But at least I got up on stage and…did…I…did stuff…right? Right? Well, back to the apartment and my coterie of musicians and actors who will make me feel less failurey!
Having ICBs helped me cope, to be honest. I spent my 20s and a portion of my early 30s a genial mess. I isolated myself much of the time – when I wasn’t at work, I was either around family or alone at home, writing away and dreaming of a life that would never exist for me. My ICBs were like pets – non-judgmental, no conflicts, ever adoring. Yes, even though the CBs were I. I’d lost my touch for interaction with actual humans, and it wasn’t until a wander around the internet brought me to a website for (get ready) JOHN TAYLOR that I started to re-learn that being around people people was pretty all right.
I don’t have any ICBs to speak of anymore, not really. My husband and I have mutual ones, like Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, and Jason Mantzoukas. He is sad, though, because he’s going to miss out on something monumental: my seeing John Taylor as part of his publicity tour for his autobiography, “Into the Pleasure Groove”. There’s a slender chance I might actually get to meet John Taylor (I’m sort of in love with writing “John Taylor” instead of just “John” right now) which makes my 40-year old heart pitter patter just a smidge because OH MY GOD JOHN TAYLOR IN AN INTIMATE SPACE (not my intimate space whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat). There’s a Q and A and I don’t know that I could manage to Q him because I would be too busy just gazing lovingly at him like a precious china doll. I’d like to think I will be suave, clever, charming – but the 13-year old is itching to emerge and let out one last eardrum-piercing shriek.