So today is a shitty day. I was supposed to be prattling on the rerelease of some old Incredible Hulk TV movies, but as I started to write it, I was reminded of the photo Lou Ferrigno signed for me when I was a kid. After digging it out though, I've discovered something awful, the autograph's a fake. My emotions are a blur, a miserable mixture of anger and sadness. It's confusing and I don't quite understand what I'm feeling; I just know that a little piece of my childhood just died.
[caption id="attachment_14788" align="alignnone" width="551" caption="Me (in the middle), my podgy brother, and my best friend playing superheroes. It was easy to dress as The Hulk. Don't know why my brother's only wearing one shoe."][/caption]
I was six, and my cousin, who was 18 or so, had a boyfriend who worked for Universal in London. She took me to meet him in his office and I was wowed that you could have job relating to The Incredible Hulk. I was even more wowed when he surprised me with a gift - he'd got Lou Ferrigno to sign a photo for me in America and send it to him. I was so excited, and I treasured it for decades.
A few years ago it crossed my mind that I had no way of knowing if Ferrigno had actually signed it, but I didn't look into it. Today I did though, I looked at various examples of Ferrigno's autograph online. They're all the same and not like the one I have at all. This is a real Lou Ferrigno signed photo:
And this is mine:
As you can see, fake. Not even close. Clearly, my cousin's boyfriend was a liar out to impress my cousin with his generosity and I imagine he got a sweet blowjob out of it. All I got was a promotional photo ruined by a fake signature and some dreams made of shit. At least I know now I suppose.
I loved Ferrigno in my formative years and I've kept tabs on him ever since. I’ve ranted about his movie, Pumping Iron, with Schwarzenegger on Viceland before and the new Hulk DVDs stirred up my Ferrigno love again. Bill Bixby, who played David Banner in the series, directed these shoddy, (yet somewhat endearing), TV movies in the late '80s, six years after the series had finished. This is about the size of it:
Since then Ferrigno's done more TV, cameoed in the last two big-ass Hulk films, enjoyed a brief body-building comeback, become a Deputy Sheriff in LA, was Michael Jackson's personal trainer, was nearly a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, (they snubbed him at the last minute), and last month starred in a TV ad for Butterfinger chocolate, (alongside Erik Estrada from CHiPs). But what interests me most is his interaction with his fans.
Lou is really quite easy to get hold of, (for a small price). Here are the many ways in which you can meet him if you stump up the cash.
LOU WILL MEET YOU AND SIGN SOMETHING OF YOUR CHOICE
Lou does his fair share of convention appearances. Lou's next appearance is at the Chicago Comic Con in August, along with William Shatner, Adam West, Terminator 2's Linda Hamilton, The Exorcist's Linda Blair, Shaft's Richard Roundtree, and some wrestlers. It’d be cool if you got to have a dinner party with those people, but you don’t, you get Lou signing a photo, shaking your hand, taking your cash and putting your cash in a tin. Like this:
LOU WILL TELEPHONE YOU
A kind of creepy website that looks like it was designed in 1996, HollywoodIsCalling.com will, for $19.95, have one of the celebrities on their books call you for up to 30 seconds and wish you Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas, or whatever you might request. Lou is top of their list, by far the biggest name they have. I find the site a rather uncomfortable place to visit. The introductory video from The Blue Lagoon's Christopher Atkins has the look and feel of a hostage video. "There's no better way to impress a client, sweetheart or a friend then [sic] to use HollywoodIsCalling.com", the site says. I don't know, if I got Diff'rent Strokes' Todd Bridges to call my girlfriend on her birthday, she'd just be confused. The site's FAQ are pretty good though.
Q: Can I specify the date the celebrity calls on?
A: No. The celebrity will call within approximately seven days of your order date at a day and time of their choosing.
LOU WILL COME TO YOUR PLACE OF WORK AND GIVE A MOTIVATIONAL SEMINAR
As Lou wrote on Twitter last week, he really enjoys public speaking and motivating people to better their lives. Lou is 85% deaf as a result of a hearing infection when he was a kid, but he overcame bullying and low self-esteem to become a world champion body-builder and TV superstar. He now gives motivational seminars on how to maximise your potential and become successful. I don't know how much he charges but you can email him directly via his website to book him.
LOU WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE (!) TO GIVE YOU A PERSONAL TRAINING SESSION
Again, I don't know the cost, but Lou works as a personal trainer, (as do his wife and kids). You can go TO HIS ACTUAL HOUSE, or he will come to yours, for a one on one session. Again, you can email him directly for a personal consultation.
Being a journalist, I get to meet all the celebrities I want, for free. I spoke to Lou once, using his cameo in Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk film as an excuse to have a chat. It was awkward. He said he had too much going on in his life to talk for more than 10 minutes, ("I have to ship books, I have clients to train, I have three kids, I have a wife, I have a whole life, I have so many other interviews to do, radio and TV, I just can't give you time"), and when I asked him if he was Michael Jackson's personal trainer he said, "Yes I was. People can get hold of me at LouFerrigno.com". Still, he answered all of my stupid questions, and I hear he's a lovely chap.
So I have an idea, and all I have to do is earn loads of cash and move to Santa Monica. I reckon if I utilise all the services he offers, I can purchase his friendship. I'll pay for twice-weekly training sessions, I'll hire him to give me weekly motivation seminars, (I don't care if he says the same things each time, I have a terrible memory), and I'll pay HollywoodIsCalling to have him phone me every day. And of course I'll pay him for a signed photo - a real one, this time.
This could actually work. I'm going to do it. I'm going to buy Lou Ferrigno.