Aug 14, 2010

Kind Of A Long Story: Kathleen Crush


My little sister Kathleen has been the object of her fair share of crushes. Certainly plenty of girl crushes. You know, like when you see a girl in the airport or getting coffee and she's got this effortless, scarfy, messy-hair, ballet-flat style? Those are the girls I want to be. Kathleen gets that, but she's never wearing anything quite as pedestrian as just a scarf and flats. She's got a little more edge to her outward persona, so to speak.

You can see other young women trying to casually give her the once-over without being detected. You can see their brains ticking. "Is she really wearing those tweed short-shorts with riding boots?" "Can I wear tweed shorts-shorts with riding boots?" "Yeah. No. I don't think so."

Sometimes if we're waiting in line somewhere I might see a little girl checking her out. They don't bother to be so inconspicuous. They just flat out stare at her. Consuming her with their eyes. Committing her to memory. Making a mental blueprint for their future selves, "short-shorts with riding boots, here I come."

One such time, the tables were a little turned, in that Kathleen was the one noticing this eight-year-old while we were waiting to board a plane (back to the airport here, but I find my people watching is uber-heightened in airports and on planes). This very put together little girl had on lots of layers – boots, black leggings, legwarmers, a short denim skirt and some sort of zip-up track jacket. Kathleen turned to me and said, "do I dress like an eight-year old?" because her outfit was identical. Kathleen was doing the staring this time, and the little girl finally flicked her eyes up at her and quickly back again as if to say, "what?... I know it."


Kathleen is notorious for her changing hairstyles. Most of these photos are by Simon Hurst or David McNeese, two rockin' photographers we've worked with on advertising shoots. Kathleen always gets some "test shots" in before we actually start photographing the actual subjects.

Then there are the people that see Kathleen everyday. Her family. Her friends and coworkers. There are probably some solid crushes mixed in there, too (boy and girl). But we mostly find entertainment in just waiting to see what she's going to walk in wearing that day. If you follow her blog, you too can actually see what she's wearing today. You can even get a comprehensive breakout of all the components of one of her favorite outfits.



From Kathleen's blog, Jeremy & Kathleen.

So now, anyone can have a crush on Kathleen if they want.

But let me tell you about Kathleen's ultimate crush.

I mean the person that she is most obsessed with. This is not a girl crush (you know, like Chloe Sevigny or SJP or Meryl Streep, even) this is a full-on boy crush. Although he is a bit androgynous. We get that from our mom. She always had crushes on girly-men celebs like Steven Tyler or David Bowie. When we were kids she would literally rewind that scene in Labrynth when Jennifer Connelly goes to the masquerade ball with David Bowie, and the lense is all foggy and it's all bubbly and dreamy and David Bowie is like this fairy king (uh... hello, Mom?)

More on our mom to come in the future, but for now, back to this crush.

Now, I could easily be referring to Brian Boitano here. That was Kathleen's first big-time celebrity crush when she was about seven years old. Remember the Olympic ice skater? But it's not rhinestone-studded-unitard-clad Brian I'm referring to here.

However, as a side note, once as adults Kathleen and I went to Celebrities on Ice when it came through on tour. I scored us some free tickets and as we sat in the crowd full of bow-headed tweens and their moms, we kind of stuck out like sore thumbs. Mostly because whenever Brian would skate by, like as he was building up speed for a big jump or russian-named arial trick – the triple-pembchenko, let's say (I just made that up) – the crowd would be hushed in silence, the roaring applause saved for the actual trick, but Kathleen would belt out this screeching "I loooove you Brian!" into the frosty dark anticipatory silence of the arena, and all the bow-heads and their moms' blonde bobs would turn in angry unison toward us.

It didn't really phase Kathleen, since I forgot to mention the other side effect of her "edgy" style, is that sometimes instead of getting jealous, curious, or admiring stares when we're in public, she sometimes get straight-out hateful, evil stares. From total strangers. Usually in the shopping mall. No joke.


Beyond the Bow-Head. Kathleen at eight or nine years old. When she really first started to assert her style. On school picture day no less.

Back to the crush. You may or may not recognize the name of Kathleen's unrequited love, so it may be anticlimatic for you. But his name is Alan Cumming. I could actually hear Kathleen sighing somewhere by sheer telepathic instinct, as I typed his name. He plays a lot of strange characters. In mainstream movies he's probably best known for... hmmm... it's hard to say... that blue Nightcrawler guy from X-Men? (X-Men 2, actually). Or maybe as the demented children's TV show host on Spy Games?

But Kathleen first got her crush on him in her teens, when he played the slimy, weasley, uh... thwarted rapist... in Circle of Friends. You know, that Scottish movie when Minnie Driver was kind of chubby?

Then, in the later nineties, he got some big-time Broadway fame as the Emcee in the revival of Cabaret – our family's favorite, favorite, favorite, musical. We grew up watching movie musicals. And we especially loved ones that had a bit of cross-dressing, Cabaret, Victor/Victoria, Jesus Christ Superstar. What? Jesus wore a dress.


Alan Cumming in Cabaret. Kathleen's favorite Alan Cumming movie, Anniversary Party co-starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. And, no, that is not Alan Cumming in the bottom right-hand corner. But I think Kathleen's preteen precursor to her lipstick-wearing Alan crush may have in fact been Pee Wee Herman. That is not an insult. My kids have recently been getting into Pee Wee Herman, so I've been watching him a lot lately, and he's kind of, I don't know... charismatic? Maybe this post should be about my weird celebrity crushes.

So a couple years after Cabaret, Alan (we'll just go first-name-basis here) was starring in Threepenny Opera on Broadway. It was a total bomb. But we were in New York City at the time, so we had to go see it. Especially since we had just barely by-the-skin-of-our-teeth missed Alan's Emmy-winning run in Cabaret. He had literally just left the role the month before we went to New York and Michael C. Hall was playing the emcee (you know, Dexter?) He was great, but he wasn't Alan. Which, in hindsight, was fortunate, or there probably would have been a panty throwing incident.

Okay, so we go see Threepenny Opera, which was also costarring Cyndi Lauper. It was cool and all, but the real goal was to wait at the stagedoor after the performance to see if we could catch a glimpse of Alan, and maybe even get an autograph or something. Well, since the show wasn't very popular, we were like the first people in line at the stagedoor. "Line" is a gracious word, since it was literally like four people, in addition to me, Donny, our mom, and Kathleen. Kathleen, who was a ball of anxious energy.

It was raining. It was dark. It was 11:45 at night, and we probably stood there for a good forty-five minutes. I think a few people even gave up and left. Kathleen was convinced that patience would persevere – that Alan was probably just doing lines of coke or something in his dressing room and we just had to wait it out.

So finally the stage door opens, a few people kind of trickle out and then all of sudden, there's Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper. Together. Like they were pals. 'Cause, you know, no one likes to do coke alone.

Alan had on a green zip-up American Apparel style track jacket, horn-rimmed glasses and a little mohawk. And Cyndy had the cutest cropped platinum blonde hair. And can I say? Her skin was flawless. She was adorable. And she was like, fifty. She looked thirty.

So Alan sort of shyly, awkwardly turns toward his... uh... six fans waiting at the line. He signs maybe a couple Playbills, and then gets to Kathleen.

This part is a blur. Mostly I remember chatting with Cyndi Lauper while Alan and Kathleen had their exchange of words. Kathleen's first husband, Travis (gasp!) Yes, there was a first husband, was actually the one talking up Cyndi, who thought it was so darling that Kathleen had this paralyzing crush on Alan. I mean, Cyndi was actually leaning on the line barrier with one elbow, her chin on her hand, casual-as-can-be admiring Alan and Kathleen, and sweetly waiting for her friend (who may or may not have been her "coke friend" ) to say his goodbyes to his stalker.

I pulled out my camera and got a great picture of them. As I raised it up to get the pic, I remember Alan saying he loved my bracelet (it was like a big bunch of stretchy fake pearl bracelets), and then that was that.

Oh. Except, then... he hugged Kathleen.

Oblivious to how momentus this was to my sister, Ms. Lauper and Mr. Cumming then smoothly stepped into their car and drove away in the drizzling rain. We then simply started walking down the street toward the subway station. Finally. And Kathleen cried all the way there. She was all red-faced, and shaky... and literally weeping.


Alan, Kathleen and Cyndi (miss-Lauper-if-you're-nasty). Kathleen's brain is literally about to explode. Look how she's all flushed and crazy-eyed.

This Broadway encounter was not our first, but I believe it was one of our last. Just because we never had the motivation to hang around a back alley again, plus our theatre-geek-out phase sort of tapered.

I did get Matthew Broderick to sign my Playbill in the stage door line after The Producers once. I asked him to sign it "Mr. Carrie Bradshaw." He just slowly looked up at me with his big brown mousy eyes (way up, the guy is petite to say the least) with the blankest of blank stares. I think I really pissed him off, but I was the only person he even acknowledged as he made his way scribbling autographs down the line (this was a true line) as frat-guy-types who probably visited the lobby bar one too many times, and were just there because their girlfriends or wives just had to see The Producers as it was all the rage from Manhattan, Kansas to actual Manhattan – kept stupidly hollering "hey Ferris!" from the back of the crowd.

Once we ran into Ben Vereen by sheer accident as he was stepping out of his show at the time, Fosse. We told him we grew up watching All That Jazz, and with a tip of his purple fedora (which matched his floor-lenght purple trenchcoat... and these were his real clothes, not his stage costume) he said to our mom "smart mom" and gave her a charming devilish wink.

Those were cool moments, sure.

But to Kathleen, none could compare to her close encounter with her eternal... crush.


  1. 1. Donny called me from NY about 5 years ago when he was working at a theater and said "I just escorted David Bowie and his model wife to their seats. When he left I grabbed his half-empty water bottle. I've saved it for you." From there I had visions of bathing in David Bowie's bottled water. Really.

    2. And again, Donny called me from NY a year or two before I met Alan Cumming and said "I've found out where Alan Cumming walks his dog every morning. Get up here ASAP!" But really, I'm not the if-I-can't-have-you-no-one-can kind of crusher. So stalking is out of the question.

    Needless to say - if I take my crushes seriously.

  2. I wonder if Donny could find out where Paul Reubens walks his dog? Then me AND my 2-year old could stalk him.

  3. Is Alan Cumming the guy from the Spice Girls Movie, and Josie and the Pussycats? Weird Wally the albino?
    Just a sec, I'll IMDB it...
    Yeah he was.
    Any brooding mysteriousness and edginess this post may have conjured has officially been terminated by my memory of him as Weird Wally!


  4. This is great. I'm trying to think if there's any celebrity that could make me weep..hmmm.

  5. Purple Custard: I think any mysteriousness and edginess was probably nipped in the bud way before that at the mention of Brian Boitano.

    Ashley: your coyness makes me think it's someone really crazy, like, uh... well, hmmm, I guess it's harder to get crazier than Pee Wee Herman or Alf.

  6. Great story! Alan Cummings was in some 80's movie that I loved...can't put my finger on the name, he's one of those actors you remember but can't quite catch the name of what he was in.

  7. ps
    now i keep hearing the Southpark song
    ' cuz that's what Brian Boitano'd do! '

  8. It's Romy And Michelle's High School Reunion, I bet. Oh my gosh and they do that dance routine to "Time After Time"... by Cyndi Lauper!? How could I forget that. Thanks for reminding me, Maggie May (even if that wasn't the movie you were thinking of).