Sunday, November 30, 2014

HOW TO GET FAMOUS


Have you ever pondered, yearned, prayed, wished you were famous?

I did, when I was a very little girl.

I poured over a book about Anna Pavlova, a great ballerina. I pasted pictures of Pavlova on my wall. I devoured the stories about Isadora Duncan, a barefoot dancer who danced to "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony," and had lots of lovers, and danced all over the world.

It occurred to me that the spirit of Isadora was in me. At the library, I took out books about transmigration of the soul and reincarnation; then palmistry, and studied my palm. 
Wowy! My head, heart, success, travel, and relationship lines were great. I kissed my hand. The big, strong, deep crease smack-dab in the center of my palm, my fate line, said, "GO FOR IT" 

I went for it.

Later, after I became a dancer, something of a name -- I was rising in the dance world; my picture had been on the dance page of the NY Times, as well as Dance Magazine -- I put my mind on what I could do to become a big name.

I'd been in an automobile accident, broken my back, and recovered from partial paraplegia. What about using that?

No -- I didn't want people to come to my performances with binoculars and be distracted from what dancing really is, which is d a n c i n g -- movement that conveys joy, sorrow, curiosity, laughter, wonderment, fear -- any, or all of those feelings.

My husband, John Cullum, was already a name on Broadway. Yes, we said, when Newsweek contacted us, and photographed and featured us in a half-page article. It was progress. We weren't famous but our parents and relatives were very impressed.
  
"Encore --The Private and Professional Life of Emily Frankel," the book that a sports writer wrote about my recovery from paraplegia, was published. I hired a press agent. She arranged a dozen interviews with TV and radio hosts and told me to gave away a lot of books. I did, and did a "benefit" for the Lincoln Center Library -- danced -- performed for two nights at Lincoln Center.

It didn't make me famous. It made me feel ... what? Lucky to be alive, lucky to be able to use my husband's earnings to pay for a press agent -- lucky to be a dancer, who'd danced at Lincoln Center.

Hey, if you want fame, don't be naive, be skeptical. My dictionary says: "famous, (1) known by many people. (2) honored for an achievement. (3) synonyms: renowned, celebrated, noted, notorious, distinguished, eminent, illustrious."

If you want to be really famous, put your mind on shocking us -- doing something utterly outrageous in an utterly inappropriate place. Consider being naked in a Lady Gaga half-on, half-off outfit, or screaming something scary at a public gathering, and creating a panic. That will get you for 15 minutes of fame, which might include a minute on TV's "Entertainment Tonight," and more than likely a fine, possibly jail time.

Advice, from a un-famous, would-be famous-er: Do your work. Do one of your dreams -- build, make, create something -- or be magnificent, amaze yourself -- just jump in and help someone or some project with all your heart and soul and physical energy.

That's all you have to do. The rest is selling, promoting, hoping for good luck -- being at the right place at the right time. And hoping.

Hey, I'm still hoping.

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