This letter was postmarked Aug 28, 2003.
Though it's not really meeting Larisa, since it's a rare occurrence I'm going to include Larisa's response to my first fan letter. Actually I think she's answered a fair number of letters but the total volume makes the response percentage low. With my letter I also included a CD I made of 80's hits by female artists. I have a copy of the CD and still listen to it from time to time. I wonder if Larisa still has the CD that I sent her. The letter itself detailed the reasons I could not propose marriage to Larisa. I thought it was one of my funnier bits and someone else must have thought so too since it got answered. I'm familiar with Larisa's comments on Dr Drew about these responses but I still treasure it anyway. It sits in a little gold frame on a desk in my bedroom.
If feel like an introduction to my story is required. The main audience at the Nickelodeon "Girl Power!" seminar in NYC was kids and their parents. There was also Larisa who just turned 18 and a few older fans in their upper teens and lower twenties. Then there's me at 39, older than many of the parents and already a Larisa fanatic for many years. Though rather lame my meeting story is broad self-parody mixed with actual observations about Larisa and the event (and a bit a Larisa parody thrown in :-). One more thing. Larisa has seen Larisa.com and even the message board. As of June 1999 she's OK with what we've been doing. Hopefully she'll let us know somehow if that changes. Larisa obviously has a good sense of humor.
Unlike a usual news story I'm actually part of the seminar event. This means I get to give my opinions and basically overanalyze everything. Nothing I say should be construed to mean I actually know what I'm talking about. Oh, this message is way too long.
THE FANS: Brian, Dan, and myself were there. Dan drove from North of Boston to New York, I drove from just south of Boston. A four hundred something mile round trip.
THE SEMINAR: The four panelists discussed girl power in a very intelligent and interesting manner. None of you are interested in that so we'll move on.
WHAT DOES LARISA LOOK LIKE IN PERSON (yea!): Larisa is definitely very thin. She's taller than I am, shorter than Brian is. Maybe around 5'8". In person Larisa is beautiful and cute beyond belief. Her smile is like the shining sun. I know I sound like a (bad) lovesick poet but I'm actually trying to present objective facts.
WHAT DOES BRIAN LOOK LIKE (what??): Brian is cuter than I thought he would be which isn't saying much.
HOW DOES LARISA ACT IN PERSON (that's better): Let's see. Imagine an older Shirley Temple singing "The Good Ship Lollypop" at ten times the normal speed. Imagine Alex Mack talking 3 times faster, laughing continually and making jokes throughout a whole episode. That's Larisa. I'm kidding, … sort of; … well I'm not kidding actually. Larisa is a high-energy person. She laughs a lot and shows a lot of enthusiasm. She is also smart and funny. To really appreciate her humor you have to be there, she uses a lot of vocal inflection and body language. She is also very sweet.
LARISA NEWS: Larisa is going to be working for the next year and then will be attending college full time at SLC (Sarah Lawrence College) in New York. Looks like a great school. As well as acting Larisa is interested in writing and producing.
THE ALEX MACK AUDITION TAPE: It was worth the trip just to see this tape. In the audition Larisa reads a scene from the first Alex Mack episode. At the seminar Larisa seemed so embarrassed about the tape. But it was great. In the audition Larisa is rushing her lines but I could see exactly why they chose her. Larisa had been struggling with auditions for 3 years. The uncertainty and vulnerability that Larisa felt came through in the audition, exactly the feelings Alex Mack was having at the same age. I'm not the first person to notice this connection but I never saw it so strongly before. At the same age Alex Mack and Larisa were both given powers that changed their lives. Larisa's power was a staring role on a successful TV show. However Larisa is not Alex, Larisa had to tone down her personality to play Alex, which she did very convincingly. I just have the feeling that after playing a scene as Alex, Larisa had to run around the studio for a while to release the pent up energy. :-)
I'm going to stop the story for a moment to make an editorial comment. I think this is what lies at the very heart of our fan universe. Alex Mack was never ordinary, even before the accident. There are very few among us who could handle the power given by the accident without causing great harm to self or others. In fact there's an entire episode about how badly things would have gone if Ray had received that power. There was something in Alex's heart and soul that gave her that ability. Larisa is the same way. She was "fortunate' to receive such an opportunity but she's the one who made it work. Larisa handled her own power and fame in an admirable way. Finally, if Alex chooses (or is forced) to take the antidote: What is the rest of her life like with those memories? What if Larisa chooses (or is forced) to take the antidote?
MEETING LARISA: I was quite disappointed to find that Larisa did not really know who I was. Damn it, how many obsessed middle aged male fans does that young woman have??? Apparently too many to keep track of. Anyway I'm in this line behind a bunch of eight-year-old girls. When it's my turn I hand Larisa my first edition Alex Mack book to sign. Larisa just acts very nice like this happens all the time. In real life I'm a very shy person. I've been doing the Larisa fan thing for years now so this was a big deal for me. So I was terrified. If I had been 14 rather than 39 I very well may have stammered or cried creating a truly memorable Larisa moment. But over the years I've learned to hide most of the symptoms though I still tremble a bit. I can smile and put together simple sentences but that's about it, my mind is really blank at that moment. So the only thing I said was that I'm David from Larisa.com and this is Brian from Larisa.com. I had no other comments or questions as I stood there like a grinning idiot.
THE MESSAGE LARISA SIGNED IN MY ALEX MACK BOOK: I handed Larisa the Alex Mack book and Larisa asks me what I wanted her to sign. Now I'm totally confused at this point, isn't she supposed to decide what to sign? Of course looking back I can see that Larisa was probably trying to find out if I was having the book signed for a daughter or something which would have made sense under the circumstances. I don't remember what I said but it didn't make total sense anyway. So Larisa turns to Brian and asks "is this for both of you?" to which Brian very quickly replies "no, it's just him". Now it turns out that Larisa had looked at the Larisa.com message board recently (no joke!). Apparently she noticed some rumor post about a current boyfriend she supposedly had and found that quite amusing. Brian and I have tried to discourage that kind of posting for 2 years. So Larisa has this in her mind and she vaguely knew I was from Larisa.com so the message she put in my Alex Mack book is: "Thanks for all the support. Keep the juicy rumors coming!" Ironic, don't you think? By the way, Larisa prints quickly and well with a very distinctive style.
I've been a Larisa newsperson for a while and she has now given me permission to go all the way (journalistically speaking). This is going to be great. I hired a private detective today and results are already coming in. Based on information from one of Larisa's hairdressers it turns out Larisa is really dating Drew Barrymore! I'm just so jealous of both of them. From Larisa's chauffeur comes the bombshell that it's really Larisa who's carrying William Shatner's child! Gee, and I already hated that guy for pouring punch all over her. In tomorrow's news, does Larisa "roll", "fold", or "bunch"?
Anyway I'd like to avoid the same kind of trouble I got in after the infamous "Kooshlings - Honey-Comb" post in 1997. The silly rumors are made up. I don't plan to start doing tabloid journalism. Everything else in this post is true. It was definitely worth traveling 400 miles to see meet Larisa. I hope those of you elsewhere also have the chance to meet her someday.