Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Celebrity fan mail -- the ultimate cry for help

One of the most amusing and utterly terrifying benefits of being on staff of a show is having access to the viewer “fan mail”. Oh…my…fucking…God! You can’t believe the crazies that are out there. And they’re fans of YOUR show.

There are many varieties of loony mail. First off, viewers think the characters they see on television are real. So they address their letters to Niles Crane, Sam Malone, Diane Chambers, etc. And since they don’t know Sam Malone’s address they’ll just write c/o Cheers, Boston, Mass. Or Hawkeye, MASH, Korea. In the latter case, they assume (a) Hawkeye exists, (b) no last name is necessary, and (c) mail can time travel. I’d bet my house that Homer Simpson gets fan mail from registered voters.

I mean, it’s cute when your five-year-old sends Santa Claus a letter to the North Pole. But when it’s some fifty-year-old dashing off a note to Clark Kent in Smallville, that’s a little strange.

The letters themselves are beauts. Marriage proposals, invites to Thanksgiving dinners, pictures, drawings, handmade gifts, and my favorite – seeking advice.

Diane, should I change my major?

Pam, there’s this guy in the office where I work who I think likes me. He’s kind of dorky but nice. Should I give him a blowjob?

Jeff, who do I send my transcripts to to get into your community college?

Generally however, their requests are for autographed pictures, locks of their hair, their home phone numbers, and shoes.

Sometimes they’re angry letters. They feel betrayed because their favorite character wore a purple scarf.

Liz Lemon, I used to like you, but you are a whore!

Other times the missives are warnings.

Jim, Pam is a dirty little slut and will CHEAT ON YOU. Get out now!!

Alicia, your husband fucked Kalinda!

The letters addressed to the actors and actresses are only slightly better. For addresses they seem to feel “CBS” is sufficient. Or “Must See TV, U.S.A.”. The inquiries are the usual requests for pictures and adoption. And this is my favorite. Two out of three letters include this: (I’ll use Amy Poehler as an example.)

Hi, Amy. Everyone says I look just like you. You know what would be great? I could play your sister on the show . I’m sending a picture of me so you could see. We might as well be twins!”

The enclosed photo is then of a fat Haitian woman who’s at least sixty with a missing ear. These pictures look NOTHING like the stars they claim to resemble. Ever.  I want to know just who these “everyones” are that think they do. How far does the dementia spread?

I think it’s lovely that if there’s a celebrity you admire you want to take the time to let them know. I can't think of one star who doesn’t appreciate adoration (if not crave it). But some guidelines if you hope to ever actually reach them. Because usually fan mail is screened by a staff member or assistant, and only a select few are passed on to the celebrity. To be one of those:

Be brief. A thirty-page handwritten rambling treatise just screams “Cliff Clavin”.

Other than a picture or autograph, don’t ask for anything. They don’t know you. Why would they send you their underwear?

Don’t give them anything. And especially don’t give them anything for their kids if they have kids. That’s off-the-charts creepy.

Spell their name correctly.

Type.

Don't draw cartoons or doodles on the letter. 

If they’re on a show, find the location of the show and address the letter to them, in care of the show, with the street address of the studio that produces it.

If they’re a movie star, they probably have either a fan site, or a publicist, or agent. Send to the star in care of them.

Don’t address the envelope in crayon.

Provide a return address. Include the cell block number.

You may think you know them because you read the National Enquirer. But you don’t. Avoid writing anything really personal or intimate.

Don't mention that you have a shrine dedicated to them.

Don't reveal your sexual fantasies that include them.  

You do not look just like Amy Poehler.

Do not send photos of you or Anthony Weiner portions of you.  

Probably the best thing you could do is not mail them at all. Instead, they must have fan sites on social networks. Follow them on Twitter. Drop them a quick note on their Facebook page. Trust me, More than a long effusive letter, the object of your admiration will far greater appreciate a simple  click on “Like”.

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