What does it mean to be famous? The dictionary defines it as being known by many people. I am ‘famous’ here. It basically means when I go to Woolies I hear people whisper, ‘that’s Mandy Nolan’. It’s funny because it’s just Woolies and I go there every day. (Just to be recognised.)
When people I don’t know get a bit drunk they hug me, or get a selfie, or sometimes they decide to write abusive remarks on toilet walls. At first I was hurt, but I have come to find this endearing in a very parochial way. I mean someone went to the toilet with a pencil and thought of me. That’s kind of beautiful – if you don’t read what they wrote.
I used to be famous only in Byron Bay, but now I’ve pushed into postcodes as far south as Bellingen and as far north as the Gold Coast. It’s a bloody long run up to world domination I can tell you. Clearly I’m not properly famous. No-one knows me in Brisbane. If people know you in Brisbane, you’ve made it because that place is so ‘off the pulse’ it’s almost flatline.
I think my level of attention isn’t really the right use of the word famous. I’m notorious? Sounds like I wear feathers and dance in a seedy nightclub and am the Big Boss of some sort of middle-aged mafia. I wish I were. Relentless? Perhaps. I am sure there are many who could do without opening the paper or their social media and getting Mandy-ed.
Sometimes people say I’m ‘iconic’, which makes me sound like the Big Prawn. I kind of like that, in a kitch tyre swan painted white or letterbox on a stiff chain in your front yard kind of way. One day when I’m dead I’d like to think the community would raise money for a giant Mandy to put outside Bunnings. Perhaps where the hideous sculpture is now. A giant inappropriate undie-flashing old woman who was ‘almost’ famous, but sadly never made it in Brisbane.
While we’re on this, in case of my sudden death let me put this on the record, that I would like to be posed sitting up in my coffin with one leg coming out and one arm in the air kind of punching out in defiance. Of what I’m not sure, possibly everything. (And I need to be wearing something really short so I can show my legs because everyone wants to see a dead lady’s legs at a funeral.)
I’ve met lots of famous people. It’s always a bit weird because you don’t know what to say. There’s this instant power differential because even if you’re not a fan it’s almost impossible to meet a famous person and have a ‘normal’ conversation. Mainly because when you meet them you say sucky things because they don’t have the privilege or interest in knowing anything about you, because you’re not famous.
I remember meeting Bono years ago after a concert. He’d given us tickets because he’d been a close friend of my partner’s brother (Michael Hutchence) who had died only a few months before. He wanted to meet us backstage after the Sydney U2 concert. So security found us, and then led us to the private party. I was swept past Keanu Reaves and Laurence Fishburne, out for filming Matrix; clearly they weren’t famous enough to go back to see Bono. I flipped Keanu the bird. We were led to a second holding pen – a famous-person checkpoint where the security got clearance that we could go back to the third level.
We were then taken to the third level. Just a few uber-cool-looking peeps smashing tequila. No Bono here. It was like Spinal Tap. So much security! At last we made the final level. It felt like a video game. I thought this would be where the ‘real’ party was. But it was just the Edge on the phone and Bono sitting on his own. Wow, being that famous looked really boring. The medium-famous people were going off in level-one Famous. I should tell Bono. He looked like a tiny monk. And I have to say Bono was gorgeous and generous-natured; he hugged us and we sat down. I wasn’t sure what to say… ‘nice hoodie’ seemed like the obvious ice breaker. ‘I never really liked your music but you’re lovely and it’s nice to meet you’ just seemed ungracious and frankly plain rude. So I ran with the hoodie line. It worked.
A few weekends ago I met Liam Hemsworth. It’s not that weird because Hemsworths are everywhere now. (Except Woolies – that’s mine.) I’d seen Liam’s film with my 10-year-old daughter a few weeks before so I said, ‘You were great in that film with Rebel Wilson. Hot and creepy.’ It was an opener so he could say, ‘Just like you’. But he didn’t. He just laughed weirdly and then went back to talking to Glenn Robbins. (Because famous people find it easier to talk to other famous people.) Damn! I blew it. I should have said ‘nice hoodie’. Worked with Bono.