How to Treat Celebrities, According to Celebrities
We asked A$AP Ferg, Margaret Atwood, Iliza Shlesinger, Frank Turner, and many, many others about how to be cool with them when you're just a regular person.
illustration by. Guy Torsher
Celebrities! They're just like us! Except for the fact that the success they've had in their chosen profession means that they are treated differently! And they often have more money than you! Normally to talk to a celebrity, you have to go through at least one publicist, often two, and work for a somewhat reputable media organization. Often even after you've spoken to a publicist and he or she has promised you're going to speak with a celebrity, you still don't get to.
After that, you're left to the devices of fate: running into a famous person on the street or at a restaurant. Maybe in an airport. Maybe your cousin's cousin knows somebody's roadie who can get you into the VIP. In life, these moments are rare, and you better do your damndest to make the most of them. To prepare you for these chance encounters, we put together the oddest list of celebrities we could think of to guide you through the ins and outs of talking to someone famous.
How to Say Hello
How to Ask for a Selfie
"Ohmygodohmygodohmygod, are you really, yes it's you, I'm gonna faint, I can't believe this, could I please, would you, I hate to ask but my (girlfriend's boyfriend's child's mother's father's schoolteacher) would just kill me if I didn't... I think I'm gonna throw up!" Who could resist? Only a heart of stone!"
Wrong things to say:
"My wife just loves your work. I've never read any of it, myself. Can I get a selfie?"
"You're my third favorite writer. Can I get a selfie?"
"You're a lot shorter than I thought. Can get a selfie?"
—Margaret Atwood, Author of The Handmaid's Tale
What's the Best Way for a Fan to Start a Conversation?
Don't. I mean... they shouldn't.
—BD Wong, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Keep Idol Worship to a Minimum
I think your best bet is to not let on that you are a super fan. Most conversations I have had with fans that lead with a compliment have been short. Not because I hate my fans or anything, but because being worshiped or idolized is a wholly unnatural feeling. Unless, of course, your object of interest is an egomaniacal gym bag, then by all means, shower them with compliments. "Oh my God, I love you!" is about as off-putting as it gets. Remember that even though you have the rare Japanese test pressing of their first album, you are a stranger to this person. Want a picture to show your friends on Instagram? Well, I have never had a meaningful exchange with anyone that started with a selfie, so keep your social media boner tucked squarely between your stomach and the waistband of your pants. That's not to say you can't go up and take a picture; if that's what you want, go for it. Just know that it will limit your ability to have a meaningful interaction, and at the end of the day, that's better than the hedonic treadmill of Instagram likes. I don't know, maybe it isn't. Try to converse with them like they are a stranger in an elevator, and you're trying to cut the tension of a forced shared space. Hit them with something kind of funny and then drop some Dale Carnegie mind control on them. In no time at all, you two will be alone in their panoramic view penthouse apartment, eating beluga caviar and intermingling genitalia.
—George Pettit, Alexisonfire
Make a Personal Connection
I had an encounter with a fan who had served active duty in the military and had been deployed to a war zone that he described as hell...right before he had been deployed he was given a cassette copy of our Black Sunday album, which he said he had to keep an eye on where he was based because other soldiers wanted to take it from him.
So he started carrying it with him everywhere he went... one day, while he was out on patrol in a vehicle with several other soldiers, they had been listening to that cassette when he and another soldier had to exit the vehicle to investigate something, but before he left the vehicle, he took the cassette.
Shortly after, their vehicle was hit by the enemy, and several soldiers passed away that day, and others were seriously injured, so to this day that I had met this former soldier he said to me that he still carries that Black Sunday cassette every day, and sure enough, he pulled it out of his pocket and showed it to me. He also told me listening to that album helped him heal a part of himself.
—Sen Dog, Cypress Hill/Powerflo
Understand That Personal Connection Has Very Little to Do with the Actual Celebrity
On one hand, I totally get it, because there are definitely bands like that for me. It feels really good to have bands like that in your life; it feels weird to be that person for somebody else. Because we never set out to do that. Performing for people and creating music is a communal thing, it is a social thing, and it's an expression into the universe. But we've never thought about chasing an imaginary listener's approval. The pedestal isn't something we ever sought out, and it's shocking and flattering to hear stuff like that.
—Jim Adkins, Jimmy Eat World
Don't Bug People in the Bathroom
If I just walked out of a bathroom stall and they recognize me, there's this vulnerable feeling like: Do they know what I was doing in there? What were they doing? WHO ARE THEY TO JUDGE?!
—Iliza, Comedian/Host of Truth and Iliza
Or in the Gym
If you are going to say hello, make sure you know who I am. Don't interrupt my post workout shake mixing because you saw someone take a selfie with me and your FOMO compels you to say something like, Hi, are you an actor? Or you look like that guy who plays Thor. Please don't interrupt my gains for your curiosity. Also, bathrooms are always the worst. One time a fan asked me for a picture mid-piss. I said "OK," then the dude took a picture of my back while I was still going. I thought my tone had implied, "Sure, bud, but in a few minutes." I saw that picture on Twitter shortly thereafter... real classy, bro.
—John Morrison, professional wrestler for Lucha Underground
Or with Their Family
I'm very easy to approach. Any comment or question related to my wrestling background or character opens up a conversation, and gladly ten out of ten times I interact. The worst time to be approached is when I'm sitting with my family, and we're all eating and enjoying our time together. People will approach me by saying "I know you from somewhere," but sure enough, they already know who I am but expect me to confirm by saying, "Yeah, you've seen me on TV I wrestle under the name Rey Mysterio." This could all be avoided by just asking me, "Are you Rey?"
—Rey Mysterio, professional wrestler
Try to Be Honest
Honestly, I'm just amazed and grateful that anybody would come to something I'm doing in order to meet me and say hi. I still have this weird suspicion where I don't think the internet is actually real, so it is really humbling and very cool to meet real people who have connected with my work. It's really, really, cool when people show me art that they've made inspired by what I'd written; recently somebody asked me to sign a page in their notebook where they did a drawing inspired by a tweet of mine. It was really nice, and it felt really collaborative—like we both had to exist for that specific drawing to exist. It's also really nice when people say that they relate to something I write, because I think I'm mainly writing to sort things out for myself and try to figure things out from my very confused existence in this world and to know that it also helps others figure things out is really nice; it's always nice to feel like you're not entirely alone in the world. Someone once wrote that when they found out that I was Asian, they started crying, because they never thought that somebody in the space I'm working in would look like them, which really affected me, because I don't really know of that many people working in the space I'm working in that look like me either.
—Jonny Sun, comedian/author of everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too
Know That Celebrities Lives Are Different
When you're just doing this thing, you don't feel like you've been doing it for this long. It's like not really living in the real world. It's this fantasy la la land. I just play in a band. It's detached from most normal life.
—Jade Puget/Davey Havok. AFI
But Not That Different
There are no such thing as rock stars; there are just people who play music, and some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks.
—Frank Turner, singer/songwriter
These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
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