No matter who you are and in whatever circles you may travel, at some point you're probably going to come face-to-face with a celebrity. It may be Lindsay Lohan removing the hair from her naughty bits with a blowtorch behind the local Shoprite, or perhaps Oprah Winfrey sucking on a bag of pork rinds in order to get that last bit of deep-fried pork fat, and maybe even Bruce Willis trying on a purple Afro wig in some drag queen supply store on Santa Monica Boulevard. Anything can and usually does happen in this wacky world, so you'd damned well better have your camera at the ready.
What follows is my own gallery of my brushes with greatness, most of which I was not expecting but happily have recorded for posterity through the medium of photography, so away we go!
Here's my friend Dawn and myself with Stan Lee at a Marvel Comics Christmas party, somewhere around 1993. Note the cracker crumbs around Stan's mouth.
And speaking of Marvel Comics luminaries, here's John Romita Sr. — considered by many to be the definitive Spider-Man artist — and his wife (and my one-time boss) Virginia. John's probably the only guy in the entire comics biz that no one has a single unkind word for, and I can tell you as gospel truth that he's one of the most talented and kind people I've ever met or worked with. The very definition of a professional. And the cool dude with the pompadour and shades in the background is none other than Jim Steranko, he of NICK FURY, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. fame, another alright Joe.
Here's my pals Eddie and Hughes on the night when we met Clarence Reid, the master of filthy musical parody better known as Blowfly, perhaps the only recording artist on par with John Valby for sheer raunchiness. The guy's a fucking genius, and came up with the immortal line "Now I want to fuck you from dusk 'til early morn/'cause I love pussy like a hog loves corn." (From the timeless classic "Show Me A Man Who Don't Want To Fuck You (And I'll Show You A Faggot")
And a shot of just yours truly with Blowfly. Believe it or not, this human facory of utter vileness is a staunch Born-Again Christian!
In the late 1990's I had the opportunity to try on a couple of the actual onstage outfits worn by members of the comedy metal band Gwar. Here's me in the armor of Beefcake the Mighty,
as well as having my features obscured by the head of Balsac, the Jaws of Death, while the lovely Jewish Warrior Princess lends (im)moral support.
This nasty old man is the great S. Clay Wilson, the legendary underground cartoonist whose work introduced me to the concept of "felching," a vile act which I'm simulating on him in this shot.
Here's former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach. I would like to officially go on record and declare Bach to be the single nicest celebrity ever to visit the Marvel Bullpen. A total sweetheart who doesn't get half the respect he deserves.
The wooly-headed leviathan standing next to me in this one was probably the celebrity I least expected to meet. He's Danny Lilker, bass player for the seminal thrash-metal band Stormtroopers of Death, and he just happened to be among the attendees at a friend's birthday party when I worked at the barbecue joint. Another total sweetheart.
Pretty much unknown to recent generations, this is Geoffrey Holder, a famous Trinidadian choreographer, dancer, and actor who kids my age knew for his string of 7-Up ads ("The Cola Nut...and the Un-Cola NUt!") and for his memorable turn as Baron Samedi in Roger Moore's first outing as 007, LIVE AND LET DIE (1973). I just happened to run into him at a gallery show back in 2001.
Pro-Wrestler Hulk Hogan has to report to Marvel Comics each year to renew his licence on use of the name "Hulk," and here he is with me and my Bullpen brothers Ed Lazellari (front) and Dave Sharpe (the tall fuck in the back). As you can see, the reports of Hogan's height are somewhat exaggerated for TV, considering that I'm barely six feet tall.
And what better moment to end this stroll down celebrity lane with than the time I got my picture taken with the Pope of Trash himself, John (PINK FLAMINGOS) Waters? It wasn't the first time I met him, but it's nice to have a visual record of being in his questionable presence.