Unknown and loving it

After a week in the coal mines, I needed to unwind. So I reached for my iPad with thoughts in my head of playing some cribbage or Googling old girlfriends, which I’ve heard is a popular pastime for baby boomers.

But instead I decided Hollywood could provide a healthier diversion. So I began looking for a movie to watch, and after 100 or so titles, I came up empty-handed.

My tastes are pretty specific. I watch only G-rated movies and only when I can’t find something like The Little Mermaid will I lower my standards and watch a PG or, in the worst case, a PG-13 film.

What can I say? I live a sheltered life. No sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll. For me it’s a life full of walking the dog through the fields, staring at the clouds, exercising, reading Plato, and growing blueberries.

I finally found a film that seemed harmless. It was titled Dracula — Dead and Loving It, and it was directed by Mel Brooks in 1995 with Leslie Nielson. That might not have been your first choice, and I suppose I could have chosen something critically acclaimed like Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, but why get depressed and tense, especially before walking the dog?

Anyway, after 90 minutes of watching a 17-year-old film that got a ton of bad reviews, I researched its history to figure out how the heck it ever got made. I also researched the characters to see what became of their careers. Some actors went nowhere, others became monumental successes.

Lysette Anthony, who was one of Dracula’s victims, was a famous actress in Great Britain. At an early age, she was well known in the entertainment industry and labeled “the face of the 80s.” (That was 30 years ago and a lot happens in 30 years.) She was a stunning woman whose résumé included TV shows, a Playboy centerfold and some films that were worse duds than Dracula.

Then I read how she and her third lover ended up in court last year after she accused him of assaulting her over an affair. He, however, claimed the bruises were caused when he stopped her from jumping out the window in a suicide attempt.

The court ruled in his favor and she had to pay his legal fees. But in a subsequent interview she denied trying to kill herself and talked about her disastrous love life and a few other disasters, which I suspect were self-inflicted. The reporter noted that she still “had her looks” even though she was about to turn 50. That’s surely a consolation for any celebrity.

The celebrity lifestyle is so contrary to the way the rest of us live. If having good looks, being born into money, achieving worldly success, and becoming a celebrity can’t bring you happiness, what can? When I looked at the wreckage of one life that seemed destined for greatness by the world’s standards, I was glad I was a nobody.

So before closing my eyes, I said a prayer for Lysette and said a prayer of gratitude that I wasn’t cursed with fame. I was glad that I wasn’t Lance Armstrong or Lindsay Lohan, or Lindsay Lohan’s father or mother, for that matter.

Then I went to bed and awoke the next morning to a sunny day. I walked the dog across the fields, stared at the clouds, exercised, and pruned the blueberry bushes. But instead of Plato, I read a book about dog tricks. (I needed a change of pace.)


Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected].

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