Sure, fame has its perks. But there are more problems than you might imagine. The glamorous life isn't really that glamorous.
First of all, you're never home. You live out of a suitcase. Every personal relationship you have suffers and ultimately, ends. No one loves you for you anymore--even if they think they do. The moment you're no longer in the public eye, just watch...things change. Or, when you're between "gigs" and the money is running out, suddenly, "forever and always" becomes, "I need space."
You get treated better in restaurants, on airplanes, and, most of the time, in hotels. But, not always. When people recognize you, it may not mean something friendly. Speaking of friends...you have none.
People you considered friends will not be happy for you--not really. Jealousy, envy, and a sense of entitlement will replace what you once considered real friendship. You'll find yourself becoming more and more reclusive. More isolated. Alone. And yes, lonely. Despite exes coming out of the wood-work like so many hungry carpenter ants. But they're not really looking for you. They're looking for a Band-Aid. A distraction from "real" life. A chance to travel a little. Have other men (or women) look at them with envy in restaurants and movie theatres. They don't really love you. Because, the moment you start to love them, they disappear. Fall off the proverbial map.
Everyone wants something from you. Everyone. No one sees you for who you really are. Nor, does anyone care. You can never be good enough because you'll never match your own ideal. People who put you on a pedestal expect perfection, not the human being you are. Every pore, every scar, every extra pound, even the slightest imperfection will be noticed, and, noted.
I know what you're thinking...that the money is worth it, right? And yes, it is awesome. Until it stops. And, it always stops. Getting another gig is not easy either. You can go for years without getting so much as a nibble. It's not like a famous person can become a manager of a Walmart in between either. No one wants to hire you...for the very fact that you are, or were, famous. You can't hold down a "regular" job anymore. Other employees will hate you. Morale will take a dive. Fame ruins your life in that way. Because, at some point, it ends. Way before you do.
There are the lucky few who get work consistently...but that's rare. There are too many people out there looking to do what you do. Too much competition.
You know who was a total #RockStar? Vivaldi. His "Four Seasons" is one of the most recognized compositions in classical music in the 21st century. He did okay when he was a younger guy. Always had work. Until one day, it dried up. He was so poor at his death, that he was buried in an unmarked grave. And yet, today, he's one of the best-known classical composers of our time, next to Mozart and Beethoven, that is.
Herman Melville was a total #RockStar, too. He wrote what is arguable the "Great American Novel," Moby Dick. There are more screen adaptations of his work than almost any other American novel. But he wasn't famous for that book in his day; he was famous for others...that is, until Moby Dick came out. He lost his fan base when it did; the Victorian audience did not understand his turn from popular travel writing to a whale of a metaphorical tome full of philosophical musings. Melville fell into depression. Abused his wife. Lost his house and farm. Lost a son to suicide. And died working the docks in NYC. No one he worked with even knew he had been a famous author who hung out with Presidents and diplomats. No one knew him at all.
2016 has seen an inordinate number of deaths in the Entertainment industry. But most people only know about guys like Gene Wilder, whose iconic roles in Mel Brooks films like Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles earned him generations of fans. The majority of Hollywood greats who passed this year died quietly, in relative obscurity. For every star on the Walk of Fame, there are thousands of other talented people whose names will never be there, even if they were "famous" at one time.
No, I think being a #RockStar is overrated. In fact, I know it is. In order to stay relevant these days, you have to shove yourself into veal-booths and sign autographs for fans for two days before getting on an airplane, squeezing into your seat in coach and flying back to your depressing life where everybody knows your name, but no one likes you any better for it.
Chris Claremont flew home with me once. As in, the comic book writer of X-Men fame. His characters and storylines are famous. And, everyone who's anyone in the comic or film industry knows who he is. But he sat on the floor in the airport with me as we both waited for our connecting flight after attending the same event in the Pacific Northwest--because no one would make room for him to sit down in a chair. People were rude to him. Looked at him like he was garbage. I was amazed. Here sat a comic-book god, and no one gave a shit.
I met Willie Mays at a Giants game a few years ago. We were in the elevator together. There were other people, too, but no one recognized him. In case you don't know, Willie Mays, "The Say Hey Kid," had 660 home runs, 3,283 (yes, I know that's another #511) hits...I mean, he was one of the greatest players to ever grace the field. Freakin' Willie Mays! But no one knew who the fuck he was. Treated him like some random old guy taking the elevator because he was too feeble to take the stairs.
You can be your own #RockStar. You don't need the sycophants and stalkers and users and abusers and conmen that come with even a modicum of fame. Be a #Rockstar parent. A #RockStar spouse. Have nieces and nephews? Make them feel like the most special children on the planet. No matter where you work, be the very best at whatever you do. Don't wish for fame or the so-called fortune that goes with it. Do you think being a Kardashian is easy??? Jen Aniston? Brad Pitt??? Who is divorcing Angelina, by the way. Halle Berry hasn't had a successful pairing yet. Heidi Klum, known as "The Body" in the modeling world, was abandoned by her partner when she was pregnant with her first child. Successful relationships with any fame is nearly impossible. When you need bodyguards just to go shopping, and can't take your children to day care without photogs flashing in your face...there's no amount of money that is worth it.
Everyone thinks they want to be a #RockStar...even if you still believe you can "handle" the fame, there are things that come with the fame outside of your control. Christina Grimmie is just the most recent example. Poor girl wasn't even the winner of "The Voice"; she took third place...two years ago. But in June 2016, at a small concert event, a deranged fan stalking Christina succeeded in killing her. Traveled miles with multiple weapons to do so. Grimmie wasn't even a household name. But she's dead today because she was a minor personality on TV for a single season.
Paranormal TV stars have one tragedy after another, most recently, Ryan Buell's arrest. Buell, who was on "Paranormal State," scammed fans for years, even claiming he had cancer to con people out of money. Before Buell, Brian Harnois from "Ghost Hunters" tried to commit suicide after going bankrupt, and then, there are the Constantinos. Debby and Mark from "Ghost Adventures" separated after their brief stint on the show. Two years later, when Debby finally filed for divorce, she was kidnapped and killed by Mark, her ex-husband and co-star. Mark killed Debby's friend, James, during his kidnapping of Debby, then, while holding her against her will, killed Debby after police tracked him down, before killing himself--that just happened one year ago. It's funny, but...none of these people had this level of problems before their 15-minutes of fame.
Look at the "stars" in the #Nickelback video below. Those Playboy bunnies are nobody today; the former "friends," who claimed to be in a polyamorous relationship with Hugh Hefner, are all struggling after their reality show ended, turning on each other through public criticism and tell-all books. Joss Whedon-alum and my friend from the Comic Con circuit, Eliza Dushku, is in the video, too. She's done amazing work throughout the years, and is tremendously talented, but moved back to Boston two years ago to be near her family. She wanted to go to college and remove herself from LA-life after her long-term relationship with sports-star, Rick Fox, ended. "E" has been famous since she was 10 years old, when she starred in True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Today, she's in her mid 30's and despite being on big and small screens alike, finds helping poverty-stricken people in Africa and studying international policy more fulfilling than living a life of constant rejection and scrutiny.
By the time Hollywood is done with you, you barely recognize yourself in the mirror. Julie Bowen on "Modern Family" has more fillers in her face than ever before. Look at her in Happy Gilmore and you'll see what I mean. It's not just aging that accounts for her facial changes. She's had serious work done. Her face looks like it recently had a few tweaks between seasons, too. The show has seen most of it's stars go under the knife in one way or another, even producing hyper-insecurity in a minor seasonal character, Dylan, played by Reid Ewing, who went public with his addiction to plastic surgery as a result of appearing on the show.
Still want to be a #RockStar???
Fame is bullshit. It's not real. But at the same time, it is. You're just you. But people follow you around and want your autograph. Until suddenly, you're no longer on a stage or screen. Then, you have to go to specialized conventions to get recognized. Otherwise, you're just some random guy in an elevator, or an old man in an airport. You may have been the darling of silent Hollywood film--the very reason actresses have jobs today--but no one goes to your funeral when you die. Famous writers, musicians, sports stars...doesn't matter. At the end of your life, the only people who are going to love you, who are going to see you as a #RockStar, are the people you treat like celebrities yourself.
My nephews are celebrities when they're with me. My son has been a #RockStar his whole life. I've treated students like #RockStars. Loved ones, friends, neighbors--it's about gratitude, not attitude. And, usually, the people you treat like stars love you for it. Though, it's not always the case....
You're a #Rockstar when you actively make other people's lives better. No one has to ask for your autograph or follow you in the grocery store for you to be "famous." Strive to be famous with the people who really matter. And, you'll find the kind of celebrity status you crave in your every day life. Minus the relationship problems, plastic surgery, drug addiction, and stalkers. If you're not happy with your current life, do something to change it. Stop playing the lottery, and start playing the stock market. Even $100 can be invested. You don't have to be rich or famous to start making small changes...you just have to not give up on yourself, or, your life.
After all, how do you think #RockStars become #RockStars??? It's not by wishing their life away, or wondering about what could have been. I have regrets. Many. But I have a future, too. It may not be the future I envisioned, but whatever it is, it will kick-ass. Because, I do. Outside of any stage or screen.
You only have one life. Live it.