Since 1995, I've been teaching an animation class off and on at Loyola Marymount University. And whether I teach beginning animation or character design, the thing I always stress is character. Sure, there are tons of amazing artists out there, but it takes a lot more than great technical skills to create a character that can make an audience "feel." So (transition to blog topic), since I'm constantly trying to help students find ways to flesh out seemingly ordinary characters, I thought, why not do the same with this blog? Why not write about seemingly ordinary objects that have special significance to my career in animation? Thus began my excavation through the "boxes of stuff" that have survived my countless office moves from studio to studio. (The experience was fun, but it made me feel like I was on an episode of "Hoarders!")
At first, I called these posts, "Fifty Cool Things" (nice round number), but since I've got this new website, I've decided to loosen things up, make it more open-ended (it could be 50, it could be more), and call these posts, "Stories About Funky Fun Things!" So, without further adieu...
Like most kids who grew up in the 70's, I had a huge crush on Farrah Fawcett. But as much as I was crushing on her, I didn't feel the need to use her shampoo to make my hair feel soft and bouncy. (Filipinos don't do soft and bouncy.) I actually bought this after it was discontinued. The funny thing is, I didn't spend hundreds of dollars at some collector's show for it. I actually found the bottle on a shelf at a neighborhood San Francisco drugstore in the 90's! (I'm guessing that restocking wasn't one of their strong points.)
The bottle usually sits on my shelf at work, nestled in between all the happy meal toys and photo frames. As far as the autograph goes, it wasn't me who got it from her. My friend, Robert Ramirez, actually directed her on "The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars" and had her sign it for me. On the bottle, she wrote, "Van, I have another one for you. Love, Farrah Fawcett. 1995." I was like, "What does that mean?" Robert told me that, at the time, I guess she was thinking about releasing a new line of hair care products. If you Google it, I'm sure you'll find that that never happened, but it's fun to think that it was in the works.
Anyways, knowing that she was willing to voice a cartoon, it dawned on me: working with Farrah Fawcett was an attainable goal! After writing her a nice letter and sending her a tailor made script, we ended up working with both Farrah and her son Redmond on the episode, "Johnny Bravo Meets Farrah Fawcett." In the episode, Farrah shows up at her cousin Suzy's birthday party to work the kissing booth. The whole afternoon was a whirlwind, but one of the things I remember her saying was, it was the script that really convinced her to do the part (Thank you Michael Ryan!). After she got into the studio, everything went so well, that I got her to pose for a "Charlie's Angels" picture with us!
From left: John McIntyre (director), Michael Ryan (writer), Farrah Fawcett (Jill Monroe), & me
For this photo, she positioned her fingers like a gun, held her arm out straight with her palm facing down, and said, "I've always wanted to hold a gun like this." Apparently it made you look more tough. As you can see from the photo, she was the only one that held her gun that way. And she looked the toughest. (I also notice that it was a big sweater day.) She capped off our time together by autographing one of my Charlie's Angels photos...
Thus ended my afternoon with Farrah Fawcett.
FUN FACT: Farrah's assistant videotaped segments of the session to use for her upcoming special, "All Of Me," where she showcased her painting talents. I never saw it, but I hear that none of the footage from our recording session made it into the special.