What? Why? I don’t even know where to start, what to say or how to begin. Anyone who knows me knows how much they meant to me. Yes, Alan more than David, but David also. It’s so difficult to explain why a 47 year old married woman with 4 kids would have such an attachment to these……CELEBRITIES. In fact, women like me are often the punch line of some very judgmental jokes – because, really, what is wrong with a person who needs pretend celebrity boyfriends?
I’ve been spending some time thinking – trying to figure out WHY I’ve always had this need. And I think I’ve uncovered some stuff.
So….you may or may not know that my biological dad left when I was four. After that, I didn’t really have much in the way of male influence in my life. I read A LOT, so I gleaned what I could about males from stories, mostly. A little from my brother, but he was not a typical male figure. More like very angry, completely unpredictable, filled with chaos, and prone to violence. I grew up having zero idea how to interact with the opposite sex. I didn’t know what they wanted, I didn’t know how to have friendships with them, I didn’t know how to have a normal crush, I didn’t know how to choose someone. I didn’t know how to flirt, I didn’t know how to date, I didn’t know how even to TALK to them if I had any interest (and often even if I didn’t). On top of that, I was naive and only really knew about the world what I’d gleaned from my books.
So when puberty hit, I was LOST. Seriously. I’d had my childhood crushes on Donny Osmond and Scott Baio (shut UP), but no real interaction with human boys. I didn’t even really know what I LIKED in a guy. Talent was good – I liked a talented guy. I knew I liked dark hair. But the rest was a mystery. And because I didn’t have any freaking idea what I was doing, I found myself drawn to boys that I now know were “safe”. They weren’t really a threat to me. They weren’t bigger than me, they weren’t more talented than me, and, in retrospect, they weren’t really going to require more from me than I was willing to give. In fact, as I’d discover, they would require about as much as they were willing to give, which was minimal.
See, I was afraid. I was terrified of anything that really had a strong cloak of masculinity about it. Here, let me give you an example:
In high school, there was this one guy. He was our one true bass vocalist. The kind of bass that created…..um….vibrations through your seat when he sang. Deep, low, strong, and very, very masculine. I wasn’t exactly terrified of him, but when occasionally my mind would wander in his direction, my brain would shut that down QUICK. Because nothing about me was ready for that. I don’t know – he could have been the nicest guy ever in the whole world & utterly safe – but to me, the testosterone coming off him made me scared I’d pass out. It was too much. I wouldn’t have known what to do with someone like that. What he expected, what he wanted, how to “please” him in whatever way that was. So I went with the tenors. The high tenors. The ones whose voices were about as masculine as mine. And, ironically enough, the ones who ended up being gay. Probably subconsciously, I knew that, and it made it even more safe to be interested in them. (And for those who were there, I say “them” because there has been more than one gentleman I’ve been interested in who has been gay.)
It went like this through high school and college. However, after I graduated high school, something happened. This is going to sound so stupid, but it’s how I worked.
One evening, a friend and I went to see the movie Labryinth. I’d heard Bowie’s music before and I liked it, but from the first moment he stepped on screen as Jareth, I was hooked. Here was this man, undeniably masculine, but unafraid of appearing feminine, singing with that VOICE, and wearing those PANTS that made it impossible to ignore. The man oozed sensuality. I was blown away. I found myself rooting for him, wishing Jennifer Connelly’s character would just give him the damn baby and move into his castle. And at the end in the Escher castle scene, his desire was palpable. It was….woah. I left that theatre with my head reeling. I hadn’t experienced that before and it floored me.
Later that evening, we met up with many more friends for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror. I hadn’t been before and was very excited. But I had NO FREAKING IDEA. As I sat there staring slack-jawed at the screen, this elevator came down with a sparkly platform heel keeping the beat…..it was making me a little uncomfortable, but I was eager to see what would happen. When the camera hit on Frank N. Furter’s face and he started singing, I was transfixed. Everything about him – his voice, his face, his mouth, his movements, his eyes, everything – was sex. Dripping down the screen. And when he hit that throne and threw off his robe, I think I became a woman. It’s weird, I know. But that moment in that movie brought me to life. I drank up that movie like a Big Gulp. That night and those 2 movies changed my view of myself and my sexuality forever. But, I still needed safety. So, instead of taking my newfound stuff into the real world, I stayed safe. I became obsessed.
It was still too scary to open myself up to a real guy. I’m sure those who remember me from the late 80s thought I was totally freaking insane, but I channeled all these new feelings into the characters/actors that awoke them, but who I wouldn’t have to really interact with. Tim Curry, Bowie (a little), but mostly Tim Curry. Then I saw Die Hard.
Here was this striking, sexy, confident, Brit (playing a German, but who cares) who just came in, took what he wanted, and committed to everything. He was just as snarky as Bruce Willis with none of the boring stuff. When I discovered who he was, again, I was hooked. HOOKED. Every time this man opened his mouth, it was like someone was pouring warm molasses all over me. It was soothing, mesmerizing, rich, vibratory, intimate, confident, and powerful. It was a baritone/bass that I could lose myself in. I wanted him to always talk to me. And, at this point, I wasn’t afraid of the masculinity anymore. He had strong hands, a gorgeous nose, that deep rich voice, a mouth that seemed to have extra muscles in it because he could move so many parts of it independently. He stunned me.
For the first time, ever, I could connect with a masculine man. Not a man in women’s clothing (no matter how sexy), not an androgynous man, not someone who posed me no threat. But a man who, if he wanted, could be a threat to me. I could accept all the masculinity he exuded and I reveled in it. I could listen to what his voice did to me and not be afraid of it as I’d been in high school. I had a new obsession.
As my obsessions often do, it manifested in my needing to see everything he ever did, hear everything I could get my hands on, look at pictures, etc. Unfortunately, this was pre-internet, so getting my hands on things was difficult. Once the internet arrived, I found movies I’d never heard of, recordings of Shakespeare sonnets, gallery upon gallery of photos. I believe I’ve seen every movie Alan Rickman has ever done. From the good (Mesmer, Truly, Madly, Deeply, Blow Dry, An Awfully Big Adventure) to the outstanding (Rasputin, Closet Land, Close My Eyes, Dark Harbour, Dogma, Galaxy Quest, Texas: In Demand video (oh my freaking GOD)), to the awful (Robin Hood: POT, Quigley Down Under). And my very favorites: Sense & Sensibility, Harry Potter, Love Actually, Sweeney Todd. I love them all. Every one. Even the freaking Kevin Costner debacle.
As the years progressed, I of course added Jason Isaacs to my “list” as well as Mads Mikkelsen and a few others. But no one has ever had the spot that Alan had in my heart. You see, he gave me something. He gave me the ability to discover who I was. To see men as more than a threat or something to be afraid of. He helped me find the part of me that I had denied – no, been TERRIFIED of – all my life. This might be weird to say, but you don’t know my journey. You don’t know what I’ve overcome to become what I am today – even if it is kind of fucked up. Without Alan Rickman, I don’t know if I ever could have discovered what I’d pushed down and run away from. Yes, he’s safe. I would never have met him and even if I had, he never would have been interested in me. But watching him, listening to him, even obsessing over him allowed me to grow from the scared and fearful little girl who ran away from the high school bass vocalist because OMGWOMANFEELINGS into a woman who isn’t afraid anymore. Not of that anyway.
When I got the news Thursday morning, it was a punch to the stomach. Especially after losing Bowie. It was as if the universe was telling me that my “dreams” were dying and therefore so was what’s inside of me. Now I’m too old to feel sexy or sense desire or be overcome by a good bass voice. Alan’s gone, so all that’s left for me is grey and dust and boredom and depression and cold. I know that’s not the case – in my head. The rest of me is feeling kind of dead inside. It’s not like I’ve had much. Lots of obsession, some fantasy. (Yes, I have a wonderful, loving husband. Please don’t think I’m discounting that) But Alan woke something up inside of me that hadn’t been allowed out before. He made me realize that those feelings are okay. That being attracted to a masculine man isn’t terrifying or unsafe. That desire isn’t something to be ashamed of. That discovering what’s down deep inside of you can be good and right and wonderful. It’s taken a long time for me to get here and it’s taken some unusual methods to get here as well. Others might find me weird or insane – whatever. I don’t care anymore. I used what I had to use to find myself. If that makes me weird, then you can go hang.
Thank you, Alan. Thank you for continually giving of yourself, artistically, in order to create such a diverse and amazing body of work. Thank you for always committing to everything you did. Thank you for using that voice so beautifully. But, personally, thank you for what you never knew you did. Thank you for helping a damaged, wounded, and terrified young woman find what she needed to bloom. You did so much for me and I cannot even express it.
Thank you for Severus. Thank you for Colonel Brandon (my God, thank you for Col Brandon). Thank you for Hans. Thank you for Jamie. Thank you for the guy in the Texas video. Thank you for Judge Turpin. Thank you for Anton. Thank you for Rasputin. And even thank you for Nottingham. You made that tripe bearable.
I hope you’re in heaven and you’re able to see how very much you meant to so many. That you could see our wands raised to you. That you could hear all of the “Always” being said. That you can hear my tiny voice calling you “the kindest and best of men”. And that you can give a hearty “Yippie kai yay, motherfucker” to us all down here.
Thank you. You will be sorely missed.