I clearly remember the first time I kind of fell in love with someone from a movie. It was in the mid-80s, I was pre-teen, and the movie was “The Neverending Story.” I wouldn’t call that a celebrity crush — I fell for the character, Atreyu, not the actor — but oh, my, have things changed since then, what with all the movies and TV shows out there. My preferred area of crushing, in other words, is film, although I’m sure the reasons why celebrity crushing is good for you as a mental workout are more or less universal.
#1. All these books
Here’s a funny story: at university I read a book by Kingsley Amis. I knew he had a son and this son was as famous as his father but I’d never read anything by Martin Amis. I only started when I read an interview with my then-crush, which mentioned a Martin Amis novel. Now? Now I collect Amis the way I used to collect the albums of The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy, to mention just a couple.
I love Amis and I hate him a little bit because he’s brutal but he’s also brilliant, so I forgive him the brutality. he is, in other words, one of my favourite authors. Maybe I would have discovered him even without celebrity crushes. Maybe not. We’ll never know but I am grateful for that guy mentioning “Money” nevertheless. It’s not even the best Martin Amis book.
#2. And all that music
Do you know The Black Angels? I didn’t until a couple of years ago when the actor I was crushing on at the time said he liked them. Guess what: I didn’t know people were still making music like that. Talk about a pleasant surprise.
But things are not always so fortunate and I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression a crush means you have got to like what the object of the crush likes. That’s crap. A friend of my is a fan of an actor who loves Nine Inch Nails. She’s tried liking them. For him. She couldn’t. That’s one very sad story. I can’t remember a similar experience, which is just as well because bad taste in music (on the part of the object of the crush, of course, my taste in music is impeccable) can kill a crush very effectively and that would be sad, wouldn’t it?
#3. Yes, movies, too
There is a procedure in celebrity crushing. I suppose it varies from crusher to crusher but mine usually goes like this: detection-research (biography and filmography). The last step is risky: there are tonnes of bad movies out there and I have watched some of them because, you know, HE (whoever he is at any given moment) is in them. I recall watching a couple of movies that were so horrible I suffered vicarious embarrassment attacks. But you know what? I’m happy to say I’ve watched a lot more good stuff than bad. This, of course, is because I have great taste in men.
I’ve watched and rewatched TV shows I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, plots and acting that have almost succeeded in making me start believe in the essential good of humanity again. Movies I would never have watched were it not for XYZ but have taught me something (Did you know Denmark had a bicycle division in the army before WW2? Now you do.) or touched me in a surprising way, or devastated me: I’ve kept “Life’s Hot in Cracktown” for educational purposes for my daughter. You want to learn more about drugs, hon? Watch this movie here.
#4. Crushes are inspirational
I don’t know about you but I don’t meet a lot of people on a daily basis. I work from home and I love it. I don’t need a lot of face-to-face human interaction, I get all I need from my family and Skype chats with friends. This is a tiny little bit problematic when I have to get an idea of how a character looks. Imagination is fine but I sometimes find it hard to craft human features from thin air. Celebrities to the rescue!
While I was writing “The Lamiastriga” I discovered I had a problem with Simon, a lead character who somehow refused to show me his face. I knew how Anna looked. I later refined this idea using, yes, an actress I believe is the most beautiful woman in the world to date. But Simon eluded me. Until I got him. That is, I detected (and researched and crushed on) an actor who just was Simon. I had a face to go with the conflicted soul and let me tell you, this made writing the story easier. “Eleven Doors”, the sequel, is full of famous faces. Well, famous to me.
#5. And they are a gate to other worlds
Have you ever had an embarrassingly intimate dream with a co-worker? I have. My friends have. It’s really uncomfortable afterwards. And it’s particularly uncomfortable because of the “what-if” element (if the co-worker is someone you actually find attractive, of course). You know, life is a series of choices we make and each choice determines what happens next and so on and so forth. When you crush on someone, the “what if” is just as unavoidable. And when you crush on someone famous, the “what if” is so much more exciting.
Crushes can fuel the imagination so well mine once produced a whole novel inside three months. Not a brilliant novel, I’ll grant you that, but still 200 pages of romance (and sex, of course) that could be made good if I could be bothered to revise. This is one of the main purposes of crushes, after all, fantasizing. And it’s doesn’t even have to be strictly about sex. For me, it never is but I do have friends whose crushes are exclusively limited to sex fantasies. That’s fine. It’s just not enough for me.
I want worlds. I want alternative realities in which I’m not exactly me but someone a little bit different, a better alter ego. And the best part? It’s when I come back to myself and find out I love my life just the way it is. Celebrity crushes, if you’re lucky enough, make you appreciate what you have. Or, I guess, they might spur you into action to change what makes you unhappy. I actually know a story like that.
PS You want names? I’m not giving any away. A lady keeps her secret. Or a dozen.