I always giggle a bit when someone says they never get starstruck no matter who’s around at a particular time. I firmly believe everyone has at least ONE person that makes them amazed and act funny around. I’ve even had people be starstruck around me, which makes me totally shy and embarrassed. The funniest was the morning I was having my usual coffee at the cafe across from my apartment, I liked going there because they had a plethora of magazines to read and enough counterspace to read the Georgia Straight while also eating a panini sandwich. I was minding my own business when a woman suddenly looked at me and said “You’re famous!” I said “No I’m not.” “Yes, you are! I’ve seen you somewhere, where was it?” She might have been referring to the one Georgia Straight article talking about me and several other Vancouver aboriginal filmmakers. Other times I’ve been introduced to people and they’re all “ooh, the famous Thirza Cuthand.” I’m only mildly famous and only with people who go to film festivals. Sometimes I try to pick someone up and then suddenly they hear my name (there aren’t many Thirza’s) and start talking queer film, sigh!
My friend Cease told me a great starstruck story about our friend Paul. It seems they were staying with Fairuza Balk while on their great American road trip. They were taking this whole crashing with a movie star thing in stride until Paul saw a photo on Fairuza’s fridge of her standing next to someone who looked familiar. “Who is that?” he asked Cease. “That’s Shelley Winters.” “Oh my God!”

I was going to put a picture of Shelley Winters here but I have a hard on for Fairuza so to hell with her.

I have been star struck myself on many occasions. The first time was when I skipped Art History Class to go with some friends to Kate Bornstein’s talk at the SFU bookstore. Kate was talking about the destruction of gender and people’s ability to recreate themselves as whatever they wanted and then used my hair and ambiguous gender as an example of what she was talking about. My hair was blue and yellow at the time in my favorite dye pattern that looks like a sunrise. Anyway, I immediatelyturned pink because even though I often had weird hair I preferred being a wallflower. Then she seemed to want to save me by saying it didn’t mean she wanted to sleep with me, which made me go even more pink.

Kate Bornstein: Inspirer of Pinkness

My next starstruck moment has a really boring ending. I saw Annie Sprinkle at the San Francisco queer festival, Frameline, while we were both speaking at a conference. She smiled at me and I was terrified and ran like the wind. I wish I hadn’t done that.

“Brave Sir Thirza ran away.” “I didn’t!” “Bravely ran away, away.”

Just after I got dumped out of the hospital I went to a retrospective of my work down at the University of California at Riverside. A guy was there who looked totally familiar, and he also seemed totally sweet and approachable. I struck up a conversation and discovered I was talking to James Duvall, who played Dark in Nowhere, which happens to be my favorite film. He also got his dick cut off by skinheads in The Doom Generation, was killed in May, and played the role of Frank the Rabbit in Donnie Darko. He was probably the most fun “star” I’ve hung out with, we had beers and joked about different things and talked about the profession of acting and then he offered to be in my movies. He’s a nice guy, I like him. I’d definitely work with him.

James Duvall/Dark being dominated in Nowhere

All of this culminated in my most star struck moment to date. It was my BFA grad and I had to sit through a long boring ceremony EXCEPT Sally Potter was there getting an honorary degree. Sally Potter directed the one film I watched OVER and OVER during high school, Orlando, with Tilda Swinton. In my media studies class I wrote a paper on “The Gaze” in Orlando, which was probably my best paper ever because after that I got lazy. Sally Potter did a great thank you for her degree where she proudly proclaimed that she never went to school and she didn’t think people should feel they had to get an advanced degree.
After the ceremony I was hanging out with my Mom and friends and Mom pushed me towards Sally Potter and told me to tell her how much I liked her film. So I did, I felt very shy, she was most gracious and congratulated me on my film degree.

Sally Potter’s Orlando

Shyness and being starstruck, it goes both ways. One night in Montreal me and two Finnish girls met the beloved Julie Doucet at a group show she was in. She is most well known for her comic Dirty Plotte, which we all loved. I think we just looked like the most unusual tiny fan club and it turns out Julie Doucet is terribly terribly shy.

Which leaves me with my last statement. Celebrities, no matter how they are famous or what they do, have a persona which is completely different from who they really are. I can be all radical and running around with no clothes and talking about sex, but in real life I’m too shy to ask for a kiss, have unwillingly ended up with a career of celibacy, and only run around naked with the blinds drawn unless I’m terribly drunk. So don’t assume anything about a famous person’s character until you meet them, and if they suck, well, you can always watch them on television or read their work.

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