I’ll never forget when, in my teeny tiny childhood, I wrote an admiration letter to Lucille Ball, and I actually received a signed headshot in the mail as a result. Whether Lucy herself had anything to do with that, it showed that her machine was well greased enough to dole out the tokens of gratitude that reflect positively on true stardom.
Years later, when I started writing for a living, I sent letters to my journalistic idols at the time, Liz Smith and Rex Reed, giving them kudos while begging for advice. I was astounded when they both wrote me back with thoughtful messages–a lesson to me in how to act when desperate newcomers want to feed off your glow and wisdom.
But along the way there was that baby-voiced jazz singer and also that cult theater performer who never answered my gushy, handwritten letters! Not a word, even though I’d bared my soul in detail about how they meant more to me than pancakes! Would it have killed them? Indirectly, I think it did, actually.
Anyway, my point is that if a fan is being appreciative in a non-Misery-Chastainish way, the star–if humanly possible–should acknowledge that with as much graciousness as they can muster. If that’s so difficult for them, they should try to remember back to their waiting-tables days, when the only compliment was the occasional correct tip.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 31, 2009