Sunday, November 30, 2014


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.


Carola said...

Good advice!

Gary Alan Henson said...

How very true, Em!

Once in a while I wonder why I'm spending so much time writing at night after I come home from a full day at work. I wonder if I should spend money to put my books 'in front' of more people.
It's hard, sometimes, to work so hard to create good (I hope) books that so few are reading.

Maybe if Opra or Ellen or some celebrity would read my books, like them, and put me on TV/radio/internet, then my work would get noticed and all that effort would be worth it.

Then I get a single sale of one of my books and I'm happy for a days! A single sale and I feel like it's all worth while ;-) Strange. It really takes so little to remind me I'm doing this because I truly enjoy creating.

Sure, like you, I'm hoping. I dream about what it would be like to be number 1 on Amazon's or Barnes and Noble's list of indie writers.

So I keep writing. I keep creating new worlds and characters, writing and publishing as often as I can.

I'll pass on the easy ways to be famous. ;-) I'd like to have my honor and dignity intact when I get there.

Thanks again for all you do.


Cara said...

Your passion and determination to do what feeds your soul make you amazing, Em, famous or not. Me? In all I pursue, I aspire to one thing: to be the best possible me I can be. Fame is a double-edged sword that I would neither chase nor evade.

Dustspeck said...

The burden of worldwide recognition of an individual being is best for those who only have regard for the artificially lighted places that they will inhabit and clamor that seldom subsides when amongst many. Velvet Brown's wish for peace for her Steed; though only part of a story; is more what I need. MSD's out to pasture, for the most part anyway, sez Dustspeck.

Unknown said...

As a child I always wanted to be a fireman .finally as an adult I was.never felt famous or name wasn't well know .but the feeling of accomplishments made me feel so good inside, just as I feel every week reading em's talkery.Cant wait to hear from you and favorite of all famous people.