Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’d be very aware that Neighbours’ Jarrod “Toadfish” Rebecchi has had a couple of huge weeks on old Ramsey Street, with the apparent return of his first wife Dee Bliss, back from the dead after a tragic post-nuptial cliff dive and some 14 years of hibernation. Even for Neighbours this was an exhilarating and unexpected turn of events, with many long time fans finally learning what really happened to this series favourite (or did they?). But for actor Ryan Maloney this amazing career high couldn’t possibly have compared to the night, ten years ago, that he briefly partied at a city nightclub with some of Perth’s most eligible bachelorettes and the random dudes they’d just befriended.
Yes, that’s right. Your beloved Fat Housewives are pretty much besties with the Toad. Well, we met him at least, had a bit of a boogie, took a few happy snaps as evidence and pitched him some pretty inane plot lines for Australia’s longest running soap. If a storyline involving “a mentally impaired prostitute who works the Ramsey Street cul-de-sac and whose life is turned around when Dr Carl Kennedy adopts her” hits the small screen, you know who to thank. For the record, he was a really nice – and patient – guy. Aaahhh. Minor celebrities. Aren’t they just the best?
I have always been into stuff and things and the people who create them. I have a uselessly incredible memory of pop culture trivia – mainly music, TV and movies – and it’s gotten me absolutely nowhere, except as a feared competitor in the board game version of “Spicks and Specks”, a reasonably valued member of a quiz night team (for one category anyway), and a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” aficionado. You see, while I often don’t remember details of my everyday life (which makes writing a blog about it kind of hard), I can certainly remember the music I was listening to when it happened. And this love of the arts seems to extend to meeting the most insignificant of celebrities.
Not long after the Toady encounter, a night of relatively uneventful drinking turned into an explosion of lame-claim-to-fame fandom when we met Stephen Curry AND Callan Mulvey AND Badly Drawn Boy within minutes of each other. If you’re not quite sure who these people are, you’re not alone. An excited phone call to my parents the next day confirmed that these guys were very B-Grade. “Oh that’s nice. Should I know them?” Well, ever heard of a little movie called The Castle, dad? Yep, rubbing shoulders with Dale Kerrigan, we were. And what about DRAZIC! You may not know him, but a legion of Australian women who were teenagers in the ’90s will. Let me tell you, we did not approach Heartbreak High‘s Drazic quite so confidently as we did Toady. And Badly Drawn Boy? Oh, forget it.
My fangirling was piqued in the mid ’90s when a group of friends and I went backstage for the first time (don’t worry – totally G rated). As a teenager growing up in country WA, celebs weren’t exactly accessible. Put it this way – big name artists barely visited Perth, let alone the regional areas. We didn’t even have a cinema until I was well into primary school. But now and again we would get a visit from a relatively well known band that would set the Leisure and Aquatic Centre – and the hearts of many a teen girl – on fire. Tex Perkins and The Cruel Sea were one such band. We were surprised when the bouncers allowed – encouraged even – us to step to the side of the stage and into the small room where the band were assembled post-gig. We actually didn’t say much, had very few questions to pose these mainly middle-aged men, and probably came across as a little bit loser-ish, truth be told. But they were kind enough to dole out their drumsticks, boxes of crackers, and several set lists to this bunch of bumpkins, because they knew, as we were learning, that meeting any kind of person of note can leave an indelible mark on a young girl’s psyche.
What is this excitement associated with meeting people of any level of notoriety? Fame is such an abstract concept – why are we so exhilarated by the merest whiff of it? I know I’m not alone in this phenomenon – I’ve had an acquaintance fairly excited to tell me they’d been introduced to one of the guys from Ship To Shore, and most people are pretty impressed when they learn I’ve taught several AFL players (my gosh, I’m old). I guess I’m just a rather predictable product of a culture that worships fame, but to be honest, I’ve never actually pursued celebrity encounters – I am just disproportionately excited when they occur.
A job in street press in my mid-twenties allowed for the opportunity to kick my star-spotting up a notch. Intermingled with interviews of alt-country crooners and weird computer artists, I managed to get up close and personal with the likes of Amanda Palmer (of Dresden Dolls fame and spouse of the very excellent Neil Gaiman) and Liam Finn. And then an interview with RUFUS WAINWRIGHT was dangled in front of me – I am a long time fan so this should have been the stuff dreams are made of. But as soon as it was offered it was taken away. And to be honest I was so, so glad. I don’t want to have to know what I’m talking about. I don’t want to have to be prepared. I don’t think I can handle big time fame. I just want to gawk and make stupid jokes and think, “You’re kind of famous and you’re actually just like me.”
Give me Toady any day.
Oh and if you are one of those random guys from that fateful night, I have an EXCELLENT photo of you and Toadfish you may just want to get your hands on.