Our Matinee Idol
Pontiac, MI - March 28th 1999
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The following was written by Skye, a devoted fan, who had the pleasure of seeing Rufus live a number of times. Here is one of her reactions.
3/28/99 Pontiac, MI - The Seventh House, 9:00 PM
~*Looks down at the thick black X in the center of her right hand*~
I am never going to forget this night as long as I live... Even after I
die, this legacy of a night will prevail in the hearts of those that
know me. Err, I'm getting to poetic, sorry!
 
My dad and I started our 2 and a half hour venture to Detroit at around
1:00 PM yesterday. As soon as we arrived at our destination, a crummy
Motel 6, we skidaddled across the street to Speedway to call my mother
and tell her we got there safe and sound. Around 4:00, I suggested to
my dad that we drive down to the 7th House just to get a general feel
of what it's going to be like later that night, where it is, etc. Well,
we ended up staying there until the show ended...
 
We easily found our way and even crept inside the big threatening doors
to be greeted by a black man with a camera, reading an article on
Rufus.
 
We started chatting with him and I found out that he was to interview
Rufus later on that evening!! But to my extreme disappointment, I also
learned that this guy was so totally clueless about Rufus that he
didn't even know he was gay... so, as a joke, I cheerfully said "Well, I'll
interview him for you!" - and the guy took it literally!!! He said
that he would love some help since I know so much more about Ruf than he
does and because his interviewing partner had backed out for that night.
Needless to say, I was totally speechless - afterall, it was meant to
be a joke! So, for the next 30 minutes or so, my dad and I carried on a
conversation with the man and he was sooooooooo amazed at what a big
fan I was. He couldn't believe I'd made the shirt I was wearing and his
jaw nearly dropped to the floor when I showed him that I'd gotten Rufus a
gift.
 
At about 4:45, the man sadly announced that he had to leave to head on
out to another job in Detroit, and that Rufus hadn't showed up early
enough so the interview idea was out. I was somewhat relieved,
actually. I didn't really want to interview Rufus - at least not so
spontaneously! As the guy was leaving, I met two young men (who I
assume were gay) outside the doors that were just, well, stunning. The
one guy, Jeff, looked about 19 or so and was, to my recollection,
decked out in dark dress pants, a purple velvet vintage coat, an antique black
vest, and a crazy polka dot tie - his Rufish style dark hair and
sideburns were to die for. I swear, all he needed was a top hat and he
would have been a dead ringer for Oscar Wilde! Why do I always fall
for boys I can't have?! Anyway... The other boy, a blond, whose name I
didn't catch, was dressed much more conservative in jeans and a
Unionbay T-Shirt. But they were both equally adorable and charming and we got in a small playful fight about who was a bigger fan. I won when it was
pointed out that I'd brought a gift for Rufus and they hadn't!
My dad was getting hungry so I finally gave in and walked across the
street to a small deli with him. I had absolutely NO appetite, but
bought a large chocolate chip cookie, anyway.
 
Returning from the deli, I asked my dad what time it was - about 5:00.
Rufus was supposed to arrive within the next 45 minutes or so. Wow.
All of a sudden, Imogen Heap walks in the door! Not really knowing if
it WAS her or not (I'd only seen a couple of pictures of her before), I
yelled out this really STUPID "Oh my God! Are you ImoGEEN?!" - not
realizing until later that her name is pronounced "ImoJIN". She softly
replied "yes..." and then I continued with a dorky "Wow! You're the
opening act!" And she quietly agreed. Then she asked me where the gig
was being held and I pointed up the stairs. She smiled and said thanks
and then I basically keeled over of humiliation for being so immature
sounding. I mean, how much more tacky could you get?! About 10
minutes later, she walked down the stairs and said goodbye to me as she exited
the building.
 
My dad and I camped over by the big windows to watch for a limo, but
gave up after about 20 minutes. Then, all of a sudden -- brace
yourselves, folks -- the door opened and in walked a very tall and
lanky figured man with sideburns, beautiful shiny brown hair, eyes to die
for, and a lovely rainbow plaid shirt accompanied by dark denim jeans and
the same boots that were sported in a holiday GAP commercial. Yes, that's
right, swift walking, beauty talking Rufus Wainwright was just 7 feet
away from me.
 
Immediately and without thought I shouted "Hiiiiiiii!!!!!!!" and he turned to me and said "Hello!!" and walked towards me... I squealed "Oh my God, Rufus - I'm like, your number one fan!!" and he immediately greeted everyone in the room, that being just my dad and I, with his signature laugh. I picked up the giftbag and held it out to him and said "I have something for you..." and Rufus
just sort of gave questioning glance to the bag as he said "Really? Wow!"
and then I handed him the bag and he looked inside and read aloud
"Raising a Ruckus Over Rufus..." and then laughed again.
 
He asked me "Is it a T-Shirt or something?" and I told him that it was and that I'd made it for him - At that point, I unzipped my gray jacket and flashed
him the same one that I was wearing. He said a really enthusiastic
"Wow... Thank you!" and I immediately asked him if he wouldn't mind
posing for a picture... With Rufus' arm around my waist and mine around his -- and only coming up to about his shoulders -- my dad snapped a photo of the two of us together. He smelled nice... Well, he didn't really smell like
anything, but he smelled clean. Like he'd just taken a fresh shower.
He was so lovely. If you think Rufus is beautiful in the pages of a
magazine, you have to meet him. I can honestly say that he looks 10
times more gorgeous in person than he does in picture... his skin is so
soft and smooth, his eyes and lashes are so defined and inviting... his
itty bitty waist, I wouldn't say more than 25 inches, gives him the
appearance of a very gentle and childish man. And don't even get me
going on the sideburns and hair.
 
And that's not the only place there's a massive amount of hair... At the time I met him, I'd say the first 3 or so buttons of his shirt were undone, and I swear, I could barely see any skin... it's practically ALL hair! This boy is butch... err, J. After the picture, I said thank you and I asked him if he could sign
something for my mother... I explained what had happened to her, that
"She fell on the ice". He must have misheard me because he replied
back "Fell IN the ice?!" but quickly corrected himself with a "Oh... Oops.
She fell ON the ice!". As I told him that my mom had broken her leg
and wrist and really wanted to come because she was a huge fan, but was
stuck at home with this temporary invalidity (is that a word?), an
expression of sympathy and "Oh my God - Ow!" came over his face.
 
I then pulled out the little stuffed animal terrier and explained to him that
after my mom had listened to his album, she'd bought this dog and named
it Rufus! He laughed and proceeded to try his hardest to scrawl his
autograph on the hairy thing with a thick black magic marker. He asked
about her name and when I told him "Pamela", he asked if "Pam" was
alright because it was tough writing on that thing with the marker. I
said "Uh-huh!" and when he was finished, and this is so stupid of me,
he tried handing me the marker back, but, well, I developed instant
Parkinson's at that moment and was shaking out of my wits. My dad says
he didn't notice it at all, so Ruf probably didn't either, but I was
certainly aware of my uncontrollable twitching! So of course I missed
the marker as Ruf laid it in my hand and I realized afterwards last
night that I'd been afraid to touch him. I don't know why... I think
it's just the typical fan nervousness, but even though I exuberantly
wrapped my arm around him in both photos, I was afraid to initiate or
respond to any other contact!
 
As the marker dropped, he muttered an "Oop!" and we both bent down to retrieve it, but I ended up grabbing it first.
Then I handed him my copy of his CD (the cardboard kind) and he signed
the booklet for me in red pen. Yes, I was stupid enough to let him do
it with red ink! It barely shows, but if you look hard enough, you'll
see a "TO SKYE" in one corner, and his illegible signature in the other.
I said thank you and took the pen successfully and even managed to
touch his hands and fingers this time...
 
Then, remembering that signs upstairs demanded a "State or Federal ID"
and I only had my school I.D., I mentioned to Rufus my dilemma. He
listened with total concern and I suggested that it'd be great if he
could please mark my ticket or something to signify that I would get
in, but he said "Nah... Let me put you on the guestlist!". So one of the
bouncers, Mike, wrote my name down on the guestlist - which later I
found out only 3 other people had been included on, me being the first!
Then he turned to pose in a picture with another (male) fan that had just arrived.
 
After that, he was just about to take off up upstairs
for his soundcheck, but I asked for a picture of him and my dad together.
Instead, he suggested a picture of all three of us, taken by his
"Tattoo Teddybear" Dewy! So with Rufus in the middle and his arms around both my dad and I and our arms around him, another snapshot was taken...
afterwards, he handed the camera back to me and I just turned to him
and I said sincerely "Thank you so much for just doing what you do and
being who you are..." and he smiled, laughed, grabbed my gift, and ran up the
stairs.
 
I have never met a more charming and sweet man in my entire life...
NEVER. Watching Rufus from interviews, I'd been terrified that he'd
turn out to be this self centered and totally arrogant prick, but he
was incredibly understanding, cooperative, sweet, friendly, and happy!
After meeting Rufus, I went upstairs to wait in line for the show which
was to start in FOUR HOURS. There were two other girls ahead of me - I
ended up being 3rd in line - who's names were Lisa and Amanda and
they'd driven all the way from the U.P. to see Rufus! We basically avoided
each other for about 2 hours since we'd never met, but I suddenly asked
"Did you meet him, too?" and that was it. Conversations took off and
didn't stop until the show started! She showed me the autograph he'd
given her (Lisa, that is) and I basically discovered that neither of
these girls were totally educated in Rufus Ed. So, I gave them little
lessons and soon we exchanged email addresses and whatnot... Also
during that time, we got a little taste of the soundcheck. Although the doors
to the room were shut, we could defiantly hear Rufus. Altogether, I
heard bits and pieces of "Danny Boy", "Imaginary Love", "Matinee Idol",
"California", some song that was totally in French that he did not
perform later that night, and some of the other new songs - I think
"Leaving You" was one of them. About an 90 before the show, one of the
roadies came out and plastered posters of Rufus on the doors... it was
the same picture that is featured in the current Seventeen Magazine
album promo, by the way. Lisa and I asked the roadie if there were any
posters inside for sale, and he said "Wait a second, I'll get you some."
 
So all three of us received FREE Rufie posters! It's now taped to my
closet door... Oh, about 15 minutes after the poster scene, Rufus walked out the door and smiled really big and said "Hello everyone!" as he walked down the steps. I suppose he was leaving for dinner... he never returned
(visibly, at least) until his performance. By this time, about 10 more
people had arrived and were standing in line.
Soon after, Imogen walked around the corner to start her soundcheck and
I apologized for mispronouncing her name and she said it happens all
the time and not to worry about it. I should've gotten a picture with her
or at least an autograph, but of course I was stupidly infatuated with
nothing but Rufus at the time!
 
Finally, it was time. My dad got a wristband put on him because he
wanted beer and I just BARELY got my hand X'ed! The roadie didn't
believe my "I'm on the guestlist, though!" plea and had to go back and
verify it with Rufus... five minutes later, he returned and marked my
hand. And then we were in...
 
Being third in line, my dad and I immediately ran to front row center.
The venue was SO incredibly small! I mean, of course there was a
balcony, but still, I wouldn't say over 300 people were there. I
signed up for the Rufus snail mailing list and bought the black shirt and
returned to my seat just in time to see Imogen. She was FANTASTIC! On
the way up the stairs to the stage, she tripped and nearly fell over,
though! I'm blaming the platform vinyl boots she had on...
 
Her set ended at around 9:55 and it was about 25 minutes afterwards
that Sir Rufus appeared... oh, but during the setup for Ruf, dear Bonnie
managed to find me! And what a sweetheart she is. It was GREAT meeting
her - She was so warm and friendly! I tried to find her after the show
to get her picture, but she were nowhere to be seen...
 
Ok, Rufus. He appeared on stage in the same black denim jeans, the
same colorful plaid shirt, the same GAP boots, but with a tightly plaid
green suit jacket, too. All throughout the show, he apologized for his
broadcast bad behavior that he'd projected the night before at the
Chicago show... he mentioned that he'd swore too much and things of the
sort and told us that for what hilarious material he was lacking in
tonight defiantly made up in song quality. And as an added bonus, he
even proclaimed to us that he'd woke up fully clothed that morning!
 
Ok, here goes nothing -- I'll try to remember as best I can!
 
The setlist:
Before anything started, Rufus said "Wow! There's so many cute people
in Detroit!" and then someone corrected him that he was only NEAR
Detroit, not there. He said it was great to be near Canada again and
mentioned Chicago being close to Canada, too, which is totally whack.
He also asked if this was an all ages show and proceeded to say "I hope
everyone here is over 18!".
 
1. Danny Boy -- This song was INCREDIBLE. You could just feel the beat
inside your body... his voice was so beautiful and strong and clear and
flawless, it was enough to knock me over. I wanted to sing along, but
I thought that it might annoy the people around me.
 
2. Matinee Idol -- He mentioned River, of course, and this was just
fabulous! It sounded even better than the album version and not a
single mistake was made... WOW.
 
3. Damned Ladies -- He gave a detailed explanation of this song
beforehand and then went on to give a tear jerking performance of it.
~* Also, sometime near the beginning, I can't exactly recall when, it
was noticed that Ruf was receiving a LOT of feedback... he jokingly
said that there must be one powerful whistler in the audience and at that
point, a couple of guys gave the signature "You're Hot Stuff"
whistle...
I thought that was hilarious! *~
 
4. California -- He gave a brief but not nearly as graphic explanation
as the night before about this one and strummed his little gee-tar for it.
~* Between California and the next song, Rufus was JUST about to start
his performance when he backed away form the mic, made a fist under his
mouth like he was going to cough, but let out a baby burp instead!
Everyone cracked up and Rufus said "I usually do that in the mic, but..." *~
 
5. In My Arms -- You know, I've never seen Rufus get so emotionally
into a song before, but the ending and beginning was just horrible. He
looked as if he were on the verge of tears during the entire performance
and even raised his arms in the air and ran his fingers through his
hair dramatically, but he plucked his strings too hard on the first and last
note and created a nasty, bitter clang... he didn't seem to care, but I
think it sort of brought everything down a notch. But that's not to
say that it still wasn't AMAZING!
 
6. April Fools -- Imogen joined Rufus on this one and couldn't quite
get the harmonies or lyrics right, but it was better than having no backup
at all! Ruf played guitar for this, too. Beforehand, he explained
that Martha was recording her own album and would be joining him on tour
again starting the Houston, TX date, and some person in the audience
shouted something about Martha but Rufus didn't quite hear and it took
him about a minute or so to coax out of the person what they'd said.
As it turns out, all they had said was "YEAH MARTHA!". Anyway.
 
7. The Greek Song -- Again, he explained the story, but nowhere as
graphically as the night before in Chicago. I love this song. Guitar!
 
8. Baby -- Ahh! This was cute! He started the intro and then stopped
completely and said "No! No! Too fast..." and then he started again,
slower, of course.
 
9. Millbrook -- No intro, way too fast, wonderful.
 
10. Leaving You (The Cowboy Song) -- No mention of cows, no mention of
cowboys in love, just "Forbidden Love". Oh, but how could we forget
his Michael Douglas comment! He told us how he'd just seen "A Perfect
Murder" and that if he saw "Kurt Russell" - we corrected him by
shouting "Michael Douglas!" naked one more time, he was "Going to get married!" - don't ask me what that means cause I don't know. But he just continued about how ugly Michael Douglas' nude body was and that it simply
"Wasn't pretty!". It was actually quite funny, but poor Mr. Douglas!
 
11. Imaginary Love -- What more can I say? My favorite song. Perfect.
 
12. Barcelona -- He played guitar for this one, of course. It was just
angelic! This is the point where I almost lost it. I hadn't cried at
all the entire night, but I felt the tears welling up in my eyes at the
point where he sings "But I fear it's a long way down...". I'm not
exactly sure if it was his presence or the cigarette smoke that was
making me tear up, but I managed to NOT cry, which is good or else I
would have looked like a clown with mascara and eyeliner smeared all
down my face. ~* I THINK after this song, Rufus turned to his bassist and asked him if his bass had cracked again, cause he'd heard something breaking during the song. The bassist said no and Rufus said something like "Oh...
well, I just thought that with the overwhelming beauty and power of my
voice, maybe it'd cracked... It happens all the time!". I love him.
 
13. Beauty Mark -- No intro, just the song... but it was gorgeous!
~* At this point, Rufus took the guitarist's cigarette and smoked about
2 or 3 drags from it while introducing the band... he referred to the
stagehand Dewy as his "Tattoo Teddybear" and acted bummed that he
(Dewy) wasn't single. He then started to hit on the guitarist, asking him
"What are you doing later tonight?" but then remembering "Oh yeah, you
live with me!" - and then he laughed, referring to the fact that they
all room together on the tourbus. He didn't really say anything like
that to the drummer or bassist, but he was still very appreciative of
them. He also told us that we were an amazing audience and that he was
sure to come back very soon! At that, he said "Love ya!" and moved
onto...
 
14. Foolish Love -- No intro and a "Thank you, goodnight!" afterwards
as he blew a kiss to the audience and took off. After only seconds of
hooting and hollering, he returned for an encore. Some girl in the
balcony screamed "SALLY ANN!" and Rufus said that's what he was going
to do and he referred to her as the "Gallery Girl". Then the girl
screamed "THANK YOU!" and Rufus started Sally Ann. Ahhh... he played guitar on this one.
 
15. Sister -- Explaining that he was Mozart singing about his sister,
he lunged into this one and then blew kisses at the audience once again
after it was over, left the stage, and that was it.
Do I dare not mention Trent?! However much he wants to deny it, he's a
sweetheart. I remember him saying he'd be up front, and before Ruf
came on, a bunch of people went and sat on the ground in front of everyone,
but I couldn't tell which one had the spikier hair... a clue he'd given
me to identify him! I actually called Trent's name a few times but he
must've never heard me - though it turned out a few minutes later when
he called MY name, that he was sitting right in front of me! After the
show, Trent and I both lunged onstage for setlists and succeeded. Then
Trent's faghag proceeded to snap a picture of him, his boyfriend, and I
with our arms around each other - totally engulfed by Rufessence.
Oh, and Rufus wore two rings... one on the middle finger of his left
hand and one on the pinkie finger of his right hand. Also at the
beginning of the show, he asked Imogen if that was her bracelet that
was sitting on the piano and it was, and he sarcastically exclaimed that he
was bummed out that somebody hadn't placed it there for him! "From now
on, jewelry on the piano for me is welcome!".
In a state of eternal bliss,
Skye