The KKing and I … Finally Meeting My Childhood Hero, Kris Kristofferson.
In honor of Kris Kristofferson’s 74th birthday today, I share with you the story of getting to meet the man that set me on a long long path of looking for unusually wonderful men … And he’s a tough act to follow.
A lifelong dream came true for me last night when I met the man I have loved since the age of seven … Mr. Kris Kristofferson! Well, if I were to be a completely honest … the little girl’s dream will only be REALLY true when we marry, have five kids and own a Smurf factory … but for now, I am over the full moon happy.
I was somehow up late as a little kid and the movie of the week came on … A Star Is Born – the KK/Barbra Streisand version. I was stuck to the t.v., sitting on the floor with my knees backward, riveted. Tears streamed down my face at the end (“JOHN NORMAN?!?!”) and from that moment, Kris Kristofferson was the man for me.
Then, when I grew a little and became a more proficient reader, I came to find out that he had been a Rhodes scholar and had his Masters in English Literature. He had been in the Army, so knew how to fly helicopters, which skill he later used to borrow a chopper and land in Johnny Cash’s yard to get his attention and deliver a tape of the songs he’d written! He has always written and performed songs that take you through a story, ones that stick up for the common man and speak to the deepest yearnings of love, and the pain of hate. All while being the smoothest, most attractive charmer (“Silver Tongued Devil”) that had ever crossed my radar.
And so it happened that last night I was invited by the Sweet and benevolent D (who shares my ardor and is my partner in this crush) to see KK’s show last night at Pepperdine. It was an eerie drive up the newly re-opened PCH (blame it on the fires), inching through the thick pre-Halloween fog … only such a show would have found me on this road at this time. Sweet D had the same problem, so she was late. I sat in the lobby and waited, and each time the door opened, I could hear the strains of The Man’s gravely voice lift up from the theater – and when the door shut again, the muffled cheers from inside. I was gnawing at my lip.
My lovely friend finally ran inside, excitement intact, and we were presented at Will Call with two tickets … and BACKSTAGE PASSES. Sweet D and I exchanged a look that was akin to Charlie finding the Golden Ticket. No. WAY! We were late, so we slunk into our seats and soaked up the glory for just a few songs until intermission. He is such the consummate raconteur – his stories between songs as rich as the material within them. I love the way he just suddenly ends his songs, with none of the song stopping strums or flourishes you normally get, just blam, done, “Thank You”, before launching into a new one. Smooth. Smooth. Smooth!
At intermission we met up with Cameron Strang (and his lady, Tori), President of KK’s label, New West Records. Sweet D knew him and he has seen us at the Royce Hall and Troubadour KK shows in the last year or so too. So he HOOKED US UP! We moved into THIRD ROW seats for the rest of the show, and had the after-party backstage laminates clutched in our hands to remind us of what was to come. It was almost too much. WE LOVE CAMERON!!!!!
The rest of the show had old classics (you know he wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” for his former lover, Janis Joplin, right?), among them my favorite, “A Moment Of Forever”, and new classics from his latest/perfect album, “This Old Road”. Both Sweet D and I swore he was looking at us during many key moments. After “Silver Tongued Devil”, one woman yelled out, “I Love You, Kris!” (though I’m sure she had no concept of what that really means), and he answered, “See how she is …”, all rascally. After a harmonica bit, he said, “It ain’t Dylan, but it’s all we’ve got”. He gave “Go Break a Heart!” shout outs to his contemporaries – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Steve Earle, June and Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Shel Silverstein among them – about how he and they go out there to do just that when they perform, in his song, “Final Attraction”. He is 71, but in all truth, it does not get better than this Man.
After his last song, the crowd was on its feet, clapping, whistling, unabashedly appreciative for the life and legacy of this Wild American’s life and music. I had chills. I also had a BACKSTAGE PASS!!!!
We let Jackson Browne out of the row (I’m mad at him because he told KK his shows are too long – WHAT?!?!), and giddily school-girl skipped (practically) over to the art museum where the meeting was to take place. We faked like we were super into the art, got the once-over from Suzanne Somers, and waited around, aimlessly talking while casting furtive glances towards the door. When I finally decided to actually pay a little time-killing attention to the art, I suddenly felt a press on my hand from Sweet D. He had entered the building!
We eased our way to the end of the room where KK held court, trying to act very casual, when actually we admitted in a whisper to each other that we were, in fact, sweating. I have worked on a bunch of movies, live in L.A. and see celebs around all the time, and for years have said that no one has really fazed me that much, but I had a feeling if I were ever able to meet Kris Kristofferson, I might not be even a fraction cool.
I was correct. I stood there and watched him greet a couple people, take a photo (“OK, THEY took one, we HAVE to!”) or two, and suddenly he was walking over to US. He shook hands with Cameron, who said he had some friends he’d like to introduce him to (WE LOVE YOU, CAMERON!). Snippets of my life and his flew past and all of a sudden … KRIS KRISTOFFERSON was shaking my hand and looking me dead in the eye with his blue sky eyes, that now have perfect laugh lines around them. I honestly cannot remember much of what I said, but we were having a conversation! I know I told him I had cried to his songs since I was 7 years old, and he said, “Thank you. Thank you for your spirit”. I may have also told him that he had ruined me for normal guys ever since. I know he laughed! I know it was a rare instance of meeting someone you’ve admired and having them be MORE than you expected!
Then Sweet D had a photo! Then he held out his arm and put it AROUND ME for a photo. John Norman Howard from A Star Is Born! His hand under my hair and resting on my shoulder, while laughing at something I said … and I have a photo of that dream come true moment! Right here!
Cameron then said, “Hey Kris, you gotta give Sweet D. a kiss.” He answered, “My pleasure” – and though her back was turned to me, she later told me that it was full on the mouth (while freaking out later in the parking lot, I asked her to show me, of course). One of those kind of wonderfully loaded kisses, that said to both parties, Man, if things were different right now … it would be ON. I was about to suggest a threesome when I was introduced to his lovely wife, Lisa. I wanted to challenge her to a duel right then and there (Parking lot. NOW!), but she was too lovely and welcoming. Grrr.
He was so gracious, appreciative, warm and OK, damn sexy … all day I have spoken of little else. The only thing that would come close to comparing is if I meet Jeff Buckley through a medium, but that might not count. Sigh. I’ve written a part in a script of mine expressly for him, and now that I’ve met him (!!!), I am going to pursue this like mad. He is perfect. Come on, Kris! We’ve got so much in common to talk about! Didn’t you act us out with your dolls too?! I even have a beloved pair of pants, known to many as my “Kris Kristofferson pants”!
Honestly, it was just so truly special to meet him, I can check off one of those life’s list things now, and feel honored the rest of my life. But Kris Kristofferson really says it best:
Was it wonderful for you?
Was it holy as it was for me?
Did you feel the hand of destiny
That was guiding us together?
You were young enough to dream
I was old enough to learn something new
Im so glad I got to dance with you
For a moment of forever
Sometimes when youre cryin, youre happy
Sometimes youre just cryin
I know. I know.
Come whatever happens now
Aint it nice to know that dreams still come true
Im so glad that I was close to you
For a moment of forever.
… And dreams still really do come true.