Allison Plean: Almost famous

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Courtesy of Marchele McEntee

Matt Costa and Allison Plean at the free concert Aug. 11.

OK, I may have been a little bit of a groupie at Matt Costa's free concert. So I'm a Matt Costa fan. Sue me. But I prefer to think of myself as a hard-working, dedicated journalist and passionate reporter.

The security guards wouldn't let me go backstage before the show despite my press credentials and the fact that I spoke to Costa's manager the day before, and, and, and - well, you know.

I was not happy.

I knew I was rapidly approaching being labeled as a "band-aid," and it was a slippery slope to groupie-ville. Still, I took advantage of the opportunity to ride in Costa's rented minivan after the show to escort the band around town.

What is it about musicians and celebrities in general that makes otherwise normal people act so strange?

How many celebrity gossip magazines and tabloids line the checkout shelves in our supermarkets? How many TV shows interviewed Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes after they fell in love in record time?

For whatever reason, we care that the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston failed. We want Kate Moss to get fat.

In our society, celebrity too often defines perfection and success. Perhaps that's why we celebrate their flaws - we want them to be like us.

After you get past the good looks, the fame and the fortune, celebrity isn't all that appealing. I know - I couldn't have one decent conversation with Matt Costa at Sunpie's Bistro because people kept coming over to talk to him.

How's a groupie supposed to get some quality time?

I've had many celebrity sightings over the years. I saw Reese Witherspoon in Banana Republic off Rodeo Drive and Woody Harrelson in Venice Beach. I didn't want to bother them because I didn't really have anything to say.

Now, if it was someone like Jane Goodall - who studied chimpanzees in the wild for 30 years - I would ask her a million questions. But all I got was an autographed book because it was a mob scene after her lecture.

Celebrity photographer David Michael Kennedy said that when working with celebrities, you tend to know a lot about them and bring preconceived ideas to the table. They also tend to always give you their celebrity persona.

How sad.

They can't be themselves because they have to pretend to be the person people expect them to be. They're always "on," and we never see the real them. That's why we love watching shows about what happened to those one-hit-wonder bands of the '80s - we get to see them when they're old and real, without the hair spray and Spandex.

I got to sit next to George Gaynes on a plane from Geneva to Miami. (He played Punky Brewster's father when Punky Brewster was my favorite show.) He was a sweet old man who was traveling with his wife just like a regular person.

I'm not sure what gives stars their "star quality." Even if we don't know why they shine, they always make us look.

On Friday night, I eventually charmed my way into the hearts of the free concert security guards. And I got to hang out with the band.

All I wanted from the experience was a picture to say, I was there - with Matt Costa.

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