Today we’re sharing a guest post from the other author of CRUSH, Dave Singleton! CRUSH is available now in hardcover.
About the Book:
Swoon-worthy and unforgettable, the essays in CRUSH will leave you laughing, make you cry, and keep you enthralled—just like your first celebrity crush.
“Celebrity Escape Ladder”
I was miserable at home in Virginia, a thirteen-year-old with curly dark hair and ugly glasses I’d soon trade for blue-tinted contact lenses. Puberty felt like bitter molasses, as slow as my parents’ acrimonious and endless split.
One stifling day in 1974, I couldn’t take their arguing, so I headed to Giant for Doritos, solace and escape. There it was! The first issue of People magazine in the checkout line. I snatched my copy with cover girl Mia Farrow smiling as Daisy in the film version of The Great Gatsby and headed home, a little bit of magic in my hands.
Seeing Mia in her sequined flapper dress was like the first sight of a red, lit exit sign after roaming lost. I wanted to skip the tense, plebeian dinner waiting for me, and head with her to Gatsby’s mansion, where jazz blasted, champagne poured out of ice swans, and Robert Redford called me “old sport.”
I told no one. I saved my celebrity escapes for late nights alone in my room after exhaling goodnight to harsh reality I drew in during the day. People magazine was new, but my behavior wasn’t. A couple years before, I devoured Teen Beat under the covers with a flashlight, imagining I was The Partridge Family’s missing brother, the one my first celebrity crush David Cassidy would like better than TV bros Danny and Chris, and maybe even come save.
My dreams of escape morphed into full-fledged fixation when People’s cover featured Liza Minnelli, Elizabeth Taylor and Halston, touting the carefree revelry of New York City and Studio 54. I was obsessed with “Studio.” I wanted Liza and I to ride a white horse into her birthday party, past black velvet ropes, a mirrored disco ball overhead. I wanted to be worthy of entry into the exclusive VIP section, which, as I discovered later, was a filthy, blue-lit basement.
Since then, I’ve seen David Cassidy in concert, where I tried to make eye contact and reconcile the remnants of my teen idol behind crow’s feet and age lines. I waved at a very un-Daisy Mia Farrow buying pasta at Fairway on the Upper West Side near where I lived, and she waved back. I met Liza several times, including once sitting next to her at Eighty Eights piano bar in the West Village. “Hi honey,” she said, glancing over like a neighbor.
I couldn’t have known when I was a teenager that the seeds of my celebrity escapism would one day grow into a beanstalk that led me into the fringes of the world I’d dreamed about.
Back then it was enough to breathe easy and dream while reading about David and the Partridges, Mia and Liza. They were the first times, but certainly not the last, that celebrity was my ladder to escape.
Want more? Read the guest blog post by Cathy Alter, Dave’s co-author for CRUSH.
You can read and excerpt and order CRUSH here.