Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Beauty of the Broadway Flea Market

'Tis a wonderful event.

Every September, theatre freaks from around the world (or, at least, the New York City area) gather in Shubert Alley for the Broadway Flea Market.

I wrote this entry about the Broadway Flea Market a while ago, and I shall post it again to get everybody (all four or five of you reading this) in the Flea Market Spirit as they continue reading this entry:

Seriously, who doesn't love Delta Burke? If you weren't moved by tears by the episode of Designing Women when Suzanne was dieting because she wanted to be thin for her high school reunion, went to the high school reunion, was ridiculed for gaining weight, and then met a little starving Ethiopian boy who told her she was beautiful and she realized she was worried because she had TOO much to eat...then you just have no heart at all.

And, she gained my eternal respect several years ago when she was in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She went on Regis and Kelly and said in front of the whole world that Sutton Foster was an amazingly talented woman and that she is somebody everybody that should be a huge star and should know the name of, and not Joe Millionaire and the likes. Right on, Delta Burke. RIGHT ON. We all know my feelings towards Sutton Foster, and Delta Burke immediately became a kindred spirit when I heard her say that.

Four years ago, at the Broadway Flea Market (my favorite day OF the year) Delta Burke was in the celebrity booth. Wouldn't it be funny, I thought, if I got a photo with Delta Burke and put it on my fridge?

(Well, to me, anyway.)

Because then people would come over my house and see my fridge and go, "Is that a picture of Delta Burke and yourself?"

"Yes, it is," I'd say.

So, I got on line and gave a donation to BCEFA and took my picture with Delta Burke.

Delta chewed my ear off.

She stared at my Celtic cross and told me it was beautiful and asked me if I was Irish. She wanted to know if I was an actress, and I told her I was a writer (well, I am). She wanted to know what KIND of writing. She told me I was just lovely. She told me she always dreamed of having a girl just like me play her daughter in a Lifetime movie. (Maybe that's not what she said. Maybe I misunderstood that part.)

The photographer yelled at her to stop talking to me so much.

We were holding up the line.

She put her arm around me and tilted her face against mine and we smiled. It is a lovely photo.

At last year's flea market, I spent lots and lots of money on things I never knew I wanted.

I got an All Shook Up martini shaker. (Shook...shaken...get it?)

An original Fantasticks playbill (from 1960! With Jerry Orbach's name in it! I almost began weeping in the middle of Shubert Alley.)

Masquerade fans from Phantom. (I have an ever-growing collection of odd Phantom memorbilia...including beads from the ORIGINAL CHANDALIER and signed toe slippers.)

A beach towel with this past year's logos on it.

Stuff I needed.

Stuff I really really needed.

And then I saw it.

A Steel Magnolias bathrobe.


It was only $10. Long, white, soft. How often do you FIND a bathrobe that is only $10?

And then I heard those magic words:

"Delta Burke wore that bathrobe backstage."


A Broadway star wore this as she sat in her dressing room and had her makeup done. HOW AWESOME IS THAT!

And what makes it even MORE awesome is the fact that that Broadway star was the one and only DELTA BURKE!

The only way it could have been better was if it had been worn by Valerie Bertinelli in a Lifetime movie.

I didn't know what I was going to do with this robe.

I thought of washing it in bleach so it was nice and clean and wear it after showers. (But that would involve washing off Delta's blush stains. Delta's essence would be gone.)

I considered blowing up the picture of Delta and myself and framing it and hanging the robe over it.

Or I could just wrap the robe around my clothed self a couple of times and watch Designing Women reruns every night.

Whatever happened to that robe, it just goes to show you how magical the Broadway Flea market is.

One moment, I didn't have Delta Burke's bathrobe. And now, I can't imagine life without it .

I wear my Delta Burke robe often.

Maybe her shoes will be on sale at the next flea market!

Diana Rissetto

This year did not disappoint.

For the first time in the years I have been attending the Broadway Flea Market, my mother chose to join me. Now, I was nervous about this, since there is a science to the Broadway Flea Market and it can be quite overwelming for newcomers.

However, I lost my mother within ten minutes (the Broadway Flea Market is a crowded, dangerous thing) and trusted that she would fend for herself. She did, after all, grow up in New York City. (but she did NOT grow-up in Shubert Alley during the Broadway Flea Market.)

You just never know WHAT is going to happen at the Broadway Flea Market or who you are going to meet.

When I was a youngster, I loved Hollywood Squares.

Loved it.

My favorite square was Mr. Jim J. Bullock.

He was so funny and such a lovable goofball on that show! An absolute joy! I loved Jim J. Bullock!

(I think my affinity for funny gay men began at a very young age.)

In fact, I wrote my first fan letter ever to Jim J. Bullock.

My parents never mailed it (probably because they thought it was really cute and funny, or just flat-out odd), but kept it in my childhood photo album.

In my letter, in my childish (yet rather neat) scribble and writing on the wrong side of the looseleaf paper, I told Jim J. Bullock that I loved Hollywood Squares and watched every night and that he was my FAVORITE on it. I also told him my age (six) and gave him my phone number. (Why?)

Today, at the Broadway Flea Market, I spotted Jim J. Bullock, now headlining in Hairspray.

I went right over to him and said:

Diana: I just want to tell you, I wrote my first fan letter every to you!
Jim J. Bullock: You did?!

Mr. Jim J. Bullock was a sheer delight! He shook my hand and asked my name and told me how great it was to meet me "after all these years."

Not going to lie, that exchange made my day, as that little first grader Hollywood Squares that I was many years ago never really died!

Thank you, Mr. Jim J. Bullock!

Other memorable flea market purchases:

-an AIDA opening night bathrobe. Now, AIDA is my all-time favorite show. This bathrobe wasn't worn by Delta Burke, so it's not quite as special as my Steel Magnolias robe, but I was still very happy that I snagged it.

-a signed button with a picture of my wonderful and big-star pal, Cheyenne Jackson, on it, looking quite evil with "HUZZAH" written across the top. (See? You never really realize what you want to waste $10 of your hard-earned money on until you actually SEE it. A signed button with a picture of my wonderful pal, Cheyenne Jackson, on it, looking quote evil with "HUZZAH" written across the top?! Just what I never knew I always wanted.)

-about 32 old Playbills from shows I never saw, just so I can marvel at the very dated advertisements and future superstars, then unknowns.

-a Grey Gardens t-shirt. The little girl who played Lee Bouvier was selling the shirts, and she told me they "only had extra-smalls...but the extra-small is pretty big on me, so I'm sure it will fit you." (Okay, how old is this child??? You're not supposed to know anything about clothing sizes! You wear whatever your mom buys you!) She was adorable.

My mother told me that after attending the 2007 Broadway Flea Market, she doesn't think I am as crazy as she always thought I was when it comes to theatre. In fact, she says that after pushing through crowds of the most devoted of the Broadway fan community, she now considers me quite normal and calm.


Miracles DO happen at the Broadway Flea Market.

Diana Rissetto

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