OH MY GOD I'm still on Cloud 9!
How did I meet him, you ask? When? Where? Why?
I don't even know where to begin. So how about the beginning? lol
Yesterday, my dearest and most wonderful TRISH texted me saying that Mr. Richie Sambora would be at The Grove in L.A. on Tuesday doing an Extra! interview with Mario Lopez. Mario does all of his interviews there now, and it's an open, fan-friendly experience, so I was immediately excited and decided to try it.
Now, I've been in countless situations where I've TRIED to meet members of the band - to no avail. So I had to calm myself and will myself not to get my hopes up too high, because this would probably be yet another of those times.
I dragged along my coworker and friend Sophia, thinking we could see the interview, hopefully see Richie, then hit up the excellent shopping and Farmer's Market afterward - and it's always more fun with a friend.
The interview was scheduled for 1pm, so we left around noon and got there in plenty of time to find the place - the big cameras and spotlights were big tip-offs. :p There weren't that many people there, so we mingled and asked around, and secured our spots on the other side of the red carpet so we'd have a better view of the actual interview location. (I'm vertically challenged, so being in the back of the crowd wasn't ideal!)
I figured I should as a crew member if I'd be allowed to ask for Richie's autograph/picture once he came through, because I didn't want to get in trouble. And I am SO glad I asked him! Because he said I should definitely be over on the other side in the crowd - not only would I be better able to get an autograph, etc., but I could ask him a question on air. o.0
Ask Richie a question? On air? Me?
That's what the guy said. I chatted with him a bit more to find out details, said I was worried about not being able to see, but he insisted I get over there and have my chance. He was so nice, I couldn't believe it!
So we relocated and found a pretty good spot by the stage, and heard the crew saying that Richie was very late and they were going to do the other guest interviews first. I heard the crew director asking people in the front of the crowd if they wanted to ask Richie questions, and she assigned them numbers - I was a few people back, so I raised my hand and got her attention, and she asked if I had a question too. Then the other crew member who had talked to me before came over and told her I had one, so she assigned me to number 6!!!
I said thank you and then stood there, stunned. Was I REALLY going to be up there asking Richie SAMBORA a question? On camera? Which would be aired on national television? I think the prospect was so beyond my realm of reality that it didn't sink in enough for me to freak out. So I was eerily calm on the outside - but you can bet my heart was pounding, and my fingers were shaking on the outside!
So we waited and got established (Sophia took my things and camera and moved back across the red carpet to get better pictures), and after some waiting, the first guest arrived - some director I don't know. I watched her interview and saw Mario Lopez two feet from me (first note of excitement!) and saw how the process was going to work.
Then we heard Hilary Duff was coming out next, and after another maybe 15-20 minutes she arrived - very cool for me to see my childhood favorite, the Lizzie McGuire star! LOL She is absolutely beautiful, but much shorter than I thought. haha
She was very nice, talked to Mario about her recent marriage and her book, acting and singing, etc. They lined girls up to ask the questions, and when I saw that they stood front row and then got on STAGE, took the microphone, faced Hilary in person, and asked their questions, that's when I started freaking! I would be doing that to Richie!!
Insert pounding heart, turning stomach, sweaty palms, heavy breathing, and of course, now I had to pee.
Hilary's segment was maybe 10 or 15 minutes long, and she gave out free books afterward to the audience. People CROWDED like crazy, so I didn't even try - I wanted someone else who was a bigger fan to have a chance, but I still didn't want to lose my spot for Richie. ;)
By then, I saw that Sophia had returned to the crowd behind me so she could see better. Apparently the other side of the red carpet wasn't as good a view as we thought.
When Hilary was done with the segment, talking to Mario, doing autographs, etc. she left, and the crowd cleared almost instantly. Then the crew director said Richie was next, and would be on in "two minutes."
The other crew guy found me in the crowd around this time and made sure that I was set up to ask Richie a question. I said yes and thanked him so much for helping, and then the director started gathering all the question-askers to the front of the crowd along the stage.
I was placed RIGHT up front - I'm talking less than 10 feet from the cameras and VERY hot spotlights, so close that the stage was touching my shins. That's when I started shaking! The other question-askers around me were so friendly, and I chatted a bit with the woman next to me who was so sweet and excited, and I never got her name. :(
Sophia was joking to keep me calm, and we were laughing like crazy while the crowd behind me filled up. The director briefed us on how the process would work, and gave us numbers - I was now #3.
Mario then came back out and talked to us a little bit, doing kind of the same thing as the director. Then that other crew guy came BACK and I heard him asking the director if "that one girl who wanted to ask Richie a question" was here, and then he saw me and said "Oh good, you're here!" OMG I could have hugged him, he was so sweet.
I barely had time to catch my breath or get to know my neighbors before I heard "here he is! He's coming!" and then I thought I would just pass out right onto the stage. LOL.
I couldn't see over the crowd behind me, so I had to wait until he appeared on the side, but I could follow the screams to figure out how close he was...and then BAM!
There was Richie Sambora, clad in black and sunglasses, looking so handsome and rockstar-ish that my heart stopped. The cameras were on us, so I clapped and cheered as directed, and then he took the stage RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME with Mario and Nikki Lund...and I had a view of his nonexistent ass the entire time. LOL!!
I was almost glad he stood right in front of me and blocked me from the cameras, because a) his back was to me, so I could get used to being right in front of Richie Sambora before I talked to his face, b) I was so damn nervous I was shaking and probably would have looked uncomfortable on the camera. :p
He was literally so close I could touch him without extending my arm. I had to lean slightly back and fold my hands so I wouldn't feel him up! LOL!! And he smelled. So. Good.
The first part of the interview went well - Mario asked about the White Trash Beautiful clothing line and got input from Nikki too (who is also very nice). They talked about Ava and growing up, and Richie said in two years he'd be in trouble - HA, I think he's in trouble already! He was SO good-natured and funny, he kept making jokes and cracking up, and was generally in a fantastic mood.
Then, before I was ready, Mario said the fans had some questions. He asked who wanted to go first, and I immediately turned around and offered it to the girl next to me. I was forgetting my question already! LOL
So she got up and said her piece - I can't remember for the life of me what she asked - and then, again all too soon, she was getting off the stage and Mario looked right at me.
"You want to go next, hon? Come on up!" and he took my hand, helped me onto the stage, handed me the microphone....and I was face to face with Richie Sambora.
Oh. My. God. If I tried the rest of my life, I couldn't find words to describe that moment. I was thrust up on a platform, all eyes of the crowd, Richie Sambora, Nikki Lund, Mario Lopez, and the camera crew on me, and I was holding the microphone. My favorite guitarist, one of my heros, someone I had dreamed of meeting for years, was smiling at me and awaiting my question. In the flesh. RIGHT THERE. His attention on me, and only me, not a million other women at a concert.
Thank GOD that all didn't run through my head at the time, or I would have fallen right on my face!
I amazingly kept my cool and my voice was pretty steady (though I have NO IDEA how). He said, "Hi!" So I smiled and said "Hi!" back. (It's only polite. ;))
Then he asked my name, and I said I was Becky. Then it was my turn to talk. So I started with - "First, I feel compelled to tell you that my boyfriend and I met through Backstage, the fan club." Richie thought that was awesome, and said something about having his own social network, lol.
I told him Bjorn lived in the Netherlands (I don't think he heard me), and he said "And how is it going?" I said it was VERY well, and that it wouldn't have happened without the band, so thank you to Richie and the other guys. He was very sweet about it, but I didn't want to take up any more time so I started right on the question: "When are we getting a solo album from you?"
Ahhh, Richie. So sweet and gracious, yet so rehearsed. He said something about him being very busy and how as long as he's still selling out stadiums, he's going to keep doing that.
Okay, thanks, I already knew that! LOL
The actual dialogue is in the video below (black and white by accident, LOL), and even I can't remember exactly what was said. Richie thanked me and Mario took the mic, helped me offstage, and took up the next interviewee.
HOLY CRAP! So then I was standing on the ground behind Richie again, feeling like I had just descended from a cloud. Sophia was smiling and saying I did great, and the woman next to me was hugging me, and I was too stunned to do anything but smile and nod. I had just talked to Richie! On TV!!! And Mario Lopez had his arm around me! AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Once the questions finished, I knew we'd have a chance to ask Richie for autographs and pictures (when the cameras stopped rolling.) They did a quick standby and some woman attacked him for an autograph (not physically, but she sure was forceful lol), and Sophia and the woman next to me joined forces to get me mine next. I remember telling Richie that it was for my boyfriend ("the one I told you about earlier" --LMAO, as opposed to my other boyfriend?!) and that he was his hero, and thank you so much. I don't think he heard me, because he just asked if I had a pen, LOL.
I found my Sharpie and handed it to him, and then he handed it right back to me. I remember staring for a second before I realized it was cap-forward, so he needed me to take the cap off. LOL! I did, and he signed my paper, and I took it with trembling hands, and he smiled and I thanked him, and then...he stole my Sharpie. :p
He signed other autographs with it, but he DID return it, contrary to his reputation! LOL
He signed a bunch of people's papers, CDs, arms, sleeves, etc. and then Sophia reminded me about the picture - so I figured I'd better do it now, while I was on a roll, before I chicken out and lose my chance. I asked him if he wouldn't mind doing any pictures too (I was right in front of him while he signed and talked to other people, so I had complete access to him!), and he said he did have to get somewhere else. I said okay, that was fine, I didn't want to bug him.
I felt slightly put out, though, because of his tone - I wondered if maybe I was bugging him (when I'm nervous I talk a lot, but I didn't think I was THAT bad with him...), but Sophia insisted that wasn't the case, and I'm sure it wasn't. There were a ton of people so I'm sure he was just overwhelmed.
But then someone else asked for a picture a minute later, and he hesitated, but then said "sure, real quick" and posed for the camera. Then someone else asked, and then another, and then I decided I was going to try again! The woman behind me asked me to take the picture of her with Richie, so I did - and then she gave me the opportunity by asking if I wanted one in return.
YAYYYY!!!!! Richie agreed and smiled, and she took the picture....and I forever have an amazing picture of Richie Sambora and me. I've ALWAYS wanted that - never had it!
So by this time, I knew I was done. I didn't want to bug him anymore, but I wanted to stay and soak up the time being so near him before he left, even if I was getting slightly trampled. Finally he had to leave, but he blew us all kisses and then disappeared, leaving me standing there with a stupid smile on my face.
I arranged with the VERY kind woman (who worked for Extra, apparently!) to email me the picture, and if she's reading this - thank you sooooo much again! (Check out her work - http://www.celebmagnet.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Celeb-Magnet/130292956981491)
Then she left too, and Sophia and I were left standing in the middle of the walk, the crowd clearing rapidly, no one but the camera crew and Extra people...and I was holding an autographed piece of paper. I looked down at it and smiled, and then BAWLED.
I didn't cry as hard as I did when I met Jon, but I was too in shock from the whole thing to really comprehend it. So I stood there and cried, and laughed, and jumped up and down, and hugged my autograph, and Sophia hugged me, and I couldn't say anything except "Holy shit, I met Richie Sambora."
Finally. After years of dreaming about it, I never thought in my wildest dreams THIS would happen, but I got to meet Richie Sambora. And I got his autograph. And I got a picture with him, which I can blow up and frame and keep forever. And I got to ask him a question on TV - something very few can say they've done.
And to think - I had been fully prepared this morning to come home empty-handed and disappointed again.
So HUGE thank yous go to TRISH for notifying me about this (because it never would have happened without you!), the camera lady who sent me the picture, the wonderful crew guy who helped me to have that experience, and especially SOPHIA, for standing by me and waiting for three hours while I got the experience of a lifetime, and for documenting it all with so many pictures that I can relive it through them.
And to Richie, for making this young fan's day - my whole year. :)
Apparently he wasn't looking, LOL
(Sophia got this one!)
(This was after the part about Bjorn, and when I asked about his solo album. And I didn't realize at the time, but Mario called me sweetheart! AHH!)