In 1990, I became obsessed with the ABC series, Twin Peaks. Besides being a huge David Lynch fan, I was drawn to this quirky nighttime soap because I had never seen anything like it on TV before. All the characters and storylines were surreal and bizarre, two traits usually linked to Lynch, but never to network TV. Some people loved Leland Palmer or the Log Lady, but for me, the best character was the midget from the dream sequence. Now, I know the term “midget” is politically incorrect, but back in 1990, no one referred to him as the “little person” from Twin Peaks, so shut it.
For a full year, I replayed the scene where this height-challenged man, played by Michael J. Anderson, spoke backwards while dancing in a red-curtained room. Friends knew whenever they came over, they would have to sit through this scene as I sat on the couch in my parent’s paneled basement, repeating, “I’ve got good news. That gum you like is going to come back in style!” It was easily the best sequence on television, ever.
As fate would have it, Michael started making appearances at New York nightclubs at the height of the show’s fame. I found out from Michael Musto’s column in The Village Voice that he was slated to appear at The Building one Friday night. The club, located in an old warehouse in Chelsea, was large and cavernous, but had just one VIP lounge. I knew finding him would not be difficult.
The night of his appearance, I got to the club around midnight and started my search. I checked the VIP lounge, the dance floor and each and every bar, but he was nowhere to be found. Around two a.m., I asked a few of the bartenders if “the midget from Twin Peaks was there,” only to have them stare at me like I was speaking Indonesian. Apparently, the rest of the world did not share my latest obsession.
An hour later, I made my way back to the VIP lounge for one last look. As I passed the velvet ropes, I scanned the room and saw….Michael J. Anderson sitting on one of the couches! I ran over to introduce myself, and within seconds, he whipped out a joint. “You wanna get high?” he asked. I could not believe what was happening. I was about to get high with the midget from Twin Peaks. We shared a joint and I told him how much I loved him. “You are my favorite character to ever appear on television, with the obvious exception of Rerun from What’s Happening!!, I told him “Well, I’m glad to know I’m in such esteemed company,” he replied.
I asked him to autograph a picture I had taken of him off the TV, and he readily agreed. He grabbed it and wrote, “To Greg, There’s always music in the air! — Little Mike.” I pocketed the picture and excused myself, thanking him profusely. To this day, I have yet to have a more exciting celebrity encounter, and I doubt I ever will.
Sure, I meet celebrities and musicians every week at SNL but now I’m jaded and couldn’t care less. The last time I had a thrilling encounter was when Lady Gaga was the musical guest back in 2009. On the day of the show, she decided to change one of the songs she was performing, and I had to go into her dressing room to talk about what she would be doing so I could relay the information to the director, who would be shooting her performance sight unseen.
After telling me what song she would be singing and describing the choreography, she took one look at the lightning bolt pendant I wore around my neck, turned to her manager and said, “It’s going to be alright! He has a lightning bolt! The universe is on our side!” At that moment, I realized Lady Gaga was a straight-up Aries flake like I was, gave her a big smile and told her it would be indeed be alright.
Celebrities. They’re just like us!
Greg Scarnici is a comedic artist (some confuse him with Fire Island personality Levonia Jenkins) and musician who currently works as an Associate Producer at Saturday Night Live. His first collection of humorous essays titled I Hope My Mother Doesn’t Read This is now available as an ebook. Find out more about his work and connect with him via his social networks on www.gregscarnici.com.