A Club Within a Club

A Club Within a Club

Kid stars are rare enough, but within this group there are the so-called (or dreaded) “Teen Idols.” If you lived the life, sang the song, drank in the screams and took all those pin-up photos, then you know who you are. On a long ago Valentine’s Day this inner circle of bubble gum stars met in icy Chicago to tape the Oprah Winfrey Show. Five of us showed up: Mark Lindsay, Peter Noone, Davy Jones (God rest his good soul), Fabian, and Yours Truly. I’m sure an enterprising person can come up with a tape of the show (Peter Noone has a photo of us up on his website), but let me tell you why it was one of the most rewarding and surprising days of my life.

First of all, we all got there early because there was a line of 40-something women out front. We all met in the Green Room. Introductions weren’t necessary. In a very few minutes we five got to swapping stories of our days on the road…and it was hilarious. Who else could we share these stories with? Automobile pursuits by manic females, cuff links and clothes lost to packed in fans…travel adventures across seven continents and more, much more. We were laughing so hard that Oprah herself, alerted by our raucous laughter, made a rare appearance in the Green Room concerned that we weren’t saving anything for the show.

She needn’t have worried. All we were doing was bonding, teen idol style. The best part, for me at least, was sharing what life had been like long after the glory days. The common thread for all of us was dealing with people who thought we’d changed, when in truth it was our fan base that had grown up and found other passions. No, it wasn’t abandonment…just reality. It’s actually funny to think of your Past-self as a hula hoop or a coonskin cap, but that’s what we’d been…and we found the humor in the situation…and shared it.

How lucky we’d been. How warm was the love in the spotlight. How fortunate we were to have survived. I’m sharing this tale today because there are current practitioners of the dark art of juvenile celebrity who have the curious notion that no one has ever been famous before them. Soon enough they are going to be part of a long line of adolescent celebrities who felt fame slip away.

I hope that down the road we get to meet…and more than that…I hope we have some fun when we do. Till then, don’t do anything stupid, at least in public. A reputation is a terrible thing to waste. We’ll be waiting for you.

Paul Petersen