Okay, the title of this post is hyperbolic and somewhat misleading, but I've always been a huge fan of the model-turned-actor-turned-director, known for appearing in such films as Breaking Away (1979), Making Mr. Right (1987), Die Hard (1988) and the miniseries War and Remembrance (1988-1989).
I fell for him when I saw the twisted thriller Apartment Zero (1988) at my college film forum. The movie, directed by Martin Donovan (b. 1950), is set in Argentina not long after the death squads, and weaves a complicated, gleefully sinister tale steeped in the gay male fascination with the movies. It is not the type of film Vito Russo (1946-1990) would have cheered — I don't think — but I loved its gay elements, and Hart, now 63 and around 30 at the time of filming, was my exact type.
The movie also starred Colin Firth (b. 1960) in an early starring role. See it. You must.
Anyway, I was so draw to Bochner I sought out his other work and referenced him in my novel Boy Culture. More recently, I was way too excited to discover suggestive pics of him in his prime yachting with Barry Diller (b. 1942), which — let's face it — Yachting with Barry Diller would have been a great sequel to Apartment Zero.
I did send him a photo to autograph once, which he did, but otherwise, he's never done an autograph show.
Enter Cameo.com. If you are a fans of the stars of yesterday (and today), it's a brilliant service I am pissed off not to have dreamed up myself. It lists thousands of famous names, all willing to send you brief videos more or less custom-made to your specs. Want Debra Messing (b. 1968) to send you birthday wishes? Well, $250 later, you got it! Always wanted Dick Van Dyke (b. 1925) to warble a line or two from "Chim Chim Cher-ee"? Well, $500 later, you got it!
In my case, I was stunned to see Hart for sale for $100. I snapped him up and within 12 hours, he sent me a sweet video chatting about Apartment Zero and even indulging me with a reading of the line I can never forget: "You're making me feel weird."
Check out Cameo.com. Some of the stars are doing it to make bank, but a lot of them are doing this for charity. Autograph shows may never exist again. Hugging will, handshaking will, theater will, but I do not foresee old celebs being eager to be breathed on and touched and to pose with hundreds of fans in a short period of time over the course of a day or two ever again.
RIP Vito Russo. The Celluloid Closet should be read by everyone at all interested in how LGBT people have been represented (or misrepresented) onscreen. We’ll never know what he would have thought about Apartment Zero, no doubt he would have had an interesting take on its connection between gay attraction and murder. A shame he died before the explosion of queer cinema starting in the 90’s, he is much missed.
You may be right about autograph shows, they may never come back, both because of coronavirus and because younger fans are moving away from collectibles like autographs and towards mass-produced items like sneakers. Many younger people have never addressed a letter or used a stamp, an autograph on a printed photo probably seems quaint to them.