Not all celebrity sightings are created equal

April 9, 2009 

There are a couple of co-workers here in the newsroom who have a little star-struck thing going on over actor James Marsters.

The Modesto native stars as evil Lord Piccolo in the film "Dragonball Evolution," opening at theaters today (Page E-6).

But it's his role in the cult hit TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" that sparked the adoration from my cohorts — and millions of "Buffy" fans, alike.

His role as Spike, the sexy, swoon-inducing, vampire-you-still-managed-to-love on "Buffy," made him rather the heartthrob, so a lot of folks would get all googly-eyed if they recognized him browsing a Modesto store — a not-so-unlikely possibility.

Marsters told Bee writer Marijke Rowland last week that he's in Modesto almost every other weekend to visit his 13-year-old son.

True enough. I saw Marsters in a store here a couple of years ago. I was fairly unaffected by it, but my "Buffy"-fan co-workers were all a-twitter at the report.

It's not that I'm disinterested in the actor. I love it when locals make good in the entertainment world. I follow Mar- sters' suc- cesses with as much excite- ment as I do those of other Modesto natives such as actors Timothy Olyphant and Jeremy Renner or filmmaker George Lucas.

But, while I might get a wee celebrity rush at seeing one of those other famous Modestans, I don't get all a-twitter over Marsters.

Why? Because no amount of celebrity mystique can overcome the image of a teenage boy in man-tights and curly 'fro.

You see, I went to high school with James Marsters. He was a year younger than me at Davis High. I recall him best as the only kid in drama whose name I could ever remember and as the only boy in dance.

Hence the man-tights.

(OK, they might just have been snug sweat pants, but my mind says man-tights).

And, of course, who could forget that helmet of curly '70s hair.

He was a cute kid and all, but the sexy Spike that "Buffy" fans swoon over?

Not so much.

Frankly, remembering even a little about him is kind of a feat for me. Most of high school is a blur best left out of focus.

But Marsters sticks in my head mainly because of one vivid thought each time our paths crossed the concrete corridors of Davis High:

"That kid is gonna get his @*# kicked."

Alas, back in 1979, a boy in dance was a boy teetering on the edge of a serious pounding. He could have fallen victim to any one of several high school cliques, including the "jocks" or the "burnouts" (ah, those oh-so-cerebral idioms from high school).

But, thinking about it in retrospect, Marsters never really seemed to care. He was a determined kid who knew what he wanted to achieve and knew what he needed to do to achieve it.

And darn if he didn't succeed where very, very few ever do.

No doubt, most of those oh-so-cool teen boys who jeered at him for his dance- and-drama escapades ended up far less successful.

Over the years, I've spotted a few of the once oh-so-cool — and, yes, once swoon-inspiring — teen boys from those cruel Davis High corridors. Most, now with thinned hair and thick paunches, aren't so swoon-inspiring any longer.

Marsters, on the other hand, has a chiseled face, a full head of hair and a buff Hollywood body at age 46.

And a career that many would envy.

So, while seeing him wasn't an event for me, I can understand why those around me were all a-twitter. But I still couldn't resist bringing in my yearbook — oh, that '70s hair! — to temper the mystique, just a bit.

As Marijke Rowland pointed out in her farewell column last week, things have changed a bit for the Scene section.

Lisa Millegan and I now share arts and entertainment writing responsibilities, keeping folks up on what's going on and what our local performers are doing.

We remain committed to a local entertainment guide, and you can help. If you know of an event or of someone who's notched successes in the entertainment world, let us know at the phone numbers or e-mail addresses at the bottom right of this page.

Remember, if you don't tell us, we don't find out.

The "Elsewhere around the Scene" notes previously at the end of Marijke's column now will be found at the end of this one. Keep us posted. We'll continue to do the same for you.

Elsewhere around the scene:

This is how we do it: by heading out tonight to the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge to see Montell Jordan.

The R&B singer, best known for the catchy 1995 hit single "This Is How We Do It," plays at 7 tonight at the downtown Modesto nightspot.

Jordan followed up his hit single with "Somethin' 4 Da Honeyz" off the same album, "Let's Ride" with Master P in 1998 and "Get It on Tonite" in 1999.

Tickets for the age 21-and-over show are $20, available at www.tickets.com. Doors open at 6 p.m.

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There's another party going on tonight, this one at Doc's Q-In Pit Stop, 421 Maze Blvd. in Modesto. A free show of comedy, poetry, R&B and hip-hop is offered at the soul food and barbecue restaurant. A host of comics, poets, music artists and DJs are slated to perform beginning at 8 p.m. in the K-CIZZL productions show. For more information, call 303-2433.

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Mark your calendars for a laugh riot one week from tonight at the Palladium in downtown Modesto. Funnyman Dennis Gaxiola headlines a World of Laughs comedy program with Yusef and Rockefeller on April 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance through www.ehpresents.com, $20 at the door. The Palladium is at 950 10th St.

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Don't put that calendar away just yet if you're a fan of country music. Mark down Aug. 1 so you don't miss a free Mark Chesnutt concert at the Stanislaus County Fair. The classic country crooner's show is sponsored by KAT Country and no doubt will feature his hits, including "Bubba Shot the Jukebox," "Going Through the Big D," "Old Flames Have New Names," and "It Sure is Monday."

Contact Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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