A few days ago, we started watching out for Sharon Stone, as the media managed to convince us that she would be at Cannes. While this euphoria-ridden period tends to swarm with rumors, Sharon's coming no longer was one. But hearsay abounds : she's here, she'll be here tomorrow, she's coming today, she's taking a car at the airfield, she's landing at Mandelieu, we'll see her, we won't…
Everything was possible, everything was said, we just had to sort it all out.
I myself wouldn't lose my cool over this : I'd already met the star the year of " Basic Instinct "'s release, and I'd seen her again in July '92 at the Monte Carlo celebrity tennis tournament. Each time, the trend was the same : always the seasoned pro, the beautiful blonde never refused signing an autograph.
Sharon Stone has two to three different ways of signing. Sometimes, her autograph is perfectly legible with beautiful curves and pretty flows. Sometimes it gets squished, thin, " pointed ", similar to Catherine Tramell's icepick. That signature is not in the least glamorous, it becomes hurried and disappointing. My experience leads me to think that she doesn't apply herself when she doesn't like the image all that much. On the other hand, if a photo flatters her ego, she'll look at it carefully and offer the fan her most beautiful flourish. The third way to sign is simply a blend of both. It emerges when there are really too many requests.
Finally, the day arrived when the info got more serious. Officially, the diva was due to arrive at Nice Airport at 6pm, but nobody knew what route she would take.
As early as 5:30, the airport's arrival area swarmed with people. Photographers of all kinds, seasoned or casual autograph hunters, intrigued by-standers, everyone was waiting. Some didn't know who, others guessed from all the hubbub.
A little security seemed to take their marks. Among others, I saw the dangerous rascal who took it upon himself, much to my dismay, to rough me up when John Travolta arrived. Next to him was a very serious-looking chauffeur. All this seemed rather thin to withstand the riot that the American actress could very well provoke, but it allowed at least one conjecture : somebody was expected !
We waited… We stood guard…
Susanne (name changed) was by my side. We hadn't split our photographs yet. I looked at them and contemplated a strategy : " Perhaps it would be better if I gave the lighter photos to Susanne. I'll take care of the others with the paint pen… "
Then, all of a sudden, I started to panic. My buddy Thomas (name changed), along with some of his friends, had disappeared. You have to know that when Thomas disappears, better hold everything and find him. He tends to have the best intuition, always eavesdrops when he shouldn't (an all-important trait of the autograph hunter) and has become, over the years, the Mossad of paparazzo-type information. He never parts with his mobile phone, walks away from the group, clicks on his keypad, then, serenely, starts speaking into the receiver. When the conversation is over, he comes back to us and, quite the showman, announces : " I've got news, but it's gonna cost you… " We never rush him, because Thomas has some Hitchcock in him and has us waiting as long as he intends to before sharing his precious secret.
Now, where could he be ? I got restless inside and commented feverishly on this worrying disappearance.
As usual, Susanne kept her cool. Judi and Petra (names changed) were prowling the surrounding area. John and Jackie, the English couple, were also around. Their presence should have calmed me, but it didn't, for these four don't know very much when it comes to airports !
A look around informed me that there were only a newspaperman, a mike technician and a cameraguy left. The photographers also seemed to have vanished.
" Wrong feeling here, very, very wrong feeling ", I said, more and more worried. " What if all of this was a trap, some kind of sly diversion ?"
Everything picked up when reporters did an about-face and walked way with unexpected haste.
No time to speak, no time to explain, I followed them, assuming that Susanne would follow suit.
The race took me to the upper lever of the airport.
And there, what a surprise to realize that everyone had beaten me to it: photographers, autograph hunters and gawkers ! As Thomas would say : " I've really sucked on this one. " Well, not quite, because in the next five seconds, I saw Sharon Stone coming out of the VIP lounge flanked by her husband and… 9 bodyguards !
Some moments of hesitation here and there, arms that reached out shyly or avidly - according to the person - and, in the hands, photographs, scraps of paper, magazines and all sorts of things…
Let me pause at this time and open a parenthesis to tell an anecdote : Anthony Quinn had just finished shooting the last few scenes of the film " Nostromo " (which film has apparently never been released, although it had been directed by the immensely talented director David Lean), and there were two or three of us waiting for him at Nice Airport. Each of us had pretty photographs. I myself was holding a stunning one in which Anthony Quinn was barely thirty. The great actor arrived very calmly with his wife Yolanda. It wasn't the first time I'd met him, and I must say he's rather intimidating. He never really refuses to sign but never really accepts either. And he's not the type of actor with whom it's good form to insist. Nevertheless, he signed our photographs, one for each fan. Then, a person approached him with a crinkled-up bit of paper. Quinn stared down at him and asked in impeccable French : " Don't you think toilet paper might be nicer ? "
In short, I've never understood how people could bother a star to have him or her sign just about anything, which will end up in the garbage anyway. Just to show other people, and to hell with it. It reminds me of fishermen who throw dead fish back in the water.
These gawkers, when there are too many of them, spell death for autograph hunters.
At this time, I was right by Sharon Stone. Only a bodyguard was between us. I reached out with my photo. She took it, showed it to her husband, saying : " What a pretty photo ! I love it ! " and signed it. As simple as that.
That day, Sharon must have signed over fifty times. Later I heard that that autograph session was completely unplanned. But the actress, professional to the hilt, never resists her public's requests. Because after all, everyone is a little Sharon Stone's public. Everyone knows her and that's what her fame and glory is based on. Her behavior does her honor, unlike the Demi Moores, Alicia Silverstones, Jessica Langes, Miranda Ridcharsons, Barbra Streisands and Wynona Ryders of this world !
The day after, Ms. Stone told the press : " I owe myself to those who love me, for they have me under contract. "
However, on that day of 19 May 1998, the actress seemed tired, not wearing makeup. I noticed also that she had put on some weight. Let's say simply that she wasn't in top form. Far from me to criticize her, what I mean to say is that even when she's not at her best, Sharon Stone doesn't run away from looks and encounters.
Happy with my signature and with the star's kindness, I decided, after watching for a long time this delirious crowd, to go back down and tell Susanne.
At the Airtport's ground level, I stopped dead in my tracks. Another mini-riot around a car. What's happening, who's here ? I got this rush in my blood and hurried, nervous about possibly missing someone. The ulcer was fast approaching. I couldn't even see the inside of the limo.
Too many people were around it, and a bodyguard, the rascal who was standing guard over Travolta, stood like a screen in front of the car's window, which seemed slightly open.
And to think I thought this was the tension was trumped-up, that it was nothing but a diversion !
I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed Judy . " Did you see ? Farrah Fawcett just got here ! ", he said almost nonchalantly. I just about keeled over. My photographs were in the car. I had to run. Fast.
All sweaty, I came back two or three minutes later, with two photos. Luckily, Charlie's Angel was still there. I heard she signed autographs to those who reached out with photos. I'd been waiting for this moment for twenty years. A kid's dream. I dove into the crowd of people who swarmed around the car. I heard she wouldn't sign more than once per person. I put away one of my two photos and started reaching through the open window. The bodyguard nearly destroyed my hand. That just about did it. " Don't touch me " I yelled, furious. The bodyguard, a bit over his head in all the confusion, seemed stunned by my reaction. " You give me the photo and I'll give it to her. You don't run your hand through the window ", he said. I calmed down immediately. He wouldn't have people groping through the window, but he would pass the photos on. I told him I understood and that everything was okay. And then, drama struck. My photo, my beautiful photo fell to the ground. I WAS CURSED ! Someone with a magical hand (that's the only word to describe what I felt at that moment) rescued it halfway down and gave it back to me. Oh, thank you, thank you !!!
At last I could see her - or rather get a glimpse of her. She was wearing black and a beret, also black. Which was not very becoming. Her hair was all over the place and her face was dry, all bones. Her arms were also skin and bones. And muscles. Charlie's Angel really looks her age. It was a little sad to see her so skinny and ageing. I would have enjoyed so much seeing the sexy bombshell of her first trip to Cannes. All I saw now was a woman who doesn't accept her age. After all, she'd come to Cannes. She hardly showed her face there. Farrah stayed in recluse in her hotel room, swilling numerous cocktails - according to a member of the hotel's staff. Every morning, she played tennis until around ten, then went back to her room. Worlds away from Sharon Stone who was seen idling in the streets of Aix-en-Provence, 180 kms from there !
What a thrill however to see that photograph come back with a pretty signature " Farrah Fawcett ", and not " Love, Farrah ", which she sometimes writes. Thomas, as for him, got a palm drawn underneath the signature. Very original, quite a lovely souvenir.
Susanne arrived, furious. " Where were you ? I just saw Farrah Fawcett, and I didn't have any pictures. I was so frustratred ! " Very proud and quite cocky, I told her : " Not only did I see Farrah Fawcett, I also saw Sharon Stone. Meanwhile, can you go ask Farrah Fawcett to sign the second picture ? "
From Sharon to Farrah, that night, the hunter got memories to relish for a long, long time.
(An article by Thierry Angevin –Translated from french to english by Stéphane Laporte)