Just about every girl, at some point in her life, has a major celebrity crush. Nowadays, Justin Bieber is all the rage, but when I was in my early teens, I only had eyes for Leif.

Ah, Leif Garrett. The blonde beauty who seemed to be famous for absolutely nothing. I cannot recall how I began to lust for him. I may have been doing something as simple as leafing through an issue of Tiger Beat, but at some point in the late 70’s, Leif absolutely captured my heart.

I think his major success was when he was a child. He was in episodes of everything from Family Affair to the Odd Couple, But I am not sure what made him so popular in the mid-70’s. He wasn’t a regular on a television show. He wasn’t in a hit movie. But he was about to put out an album, so the teeny bopper magazines were full of Leif-a-licous photos and interviews and pin-ups. I began to collect his photos and tape them to my wall. After a year or so, this got completely out of hand.

By the time my Leif obsession was at it’s zenith, I had over 950 photos of him on my walls. Each month I would take whatever money I had and buy every teen magazine there was…if Leif was in it, and the photo was new, I bought it. I’d rummage through the couch, my dad’s coat pockets, anywhere to find spare change so I could feed my fever for Leif photographs. Somewhere there is a photo of me on my bed, clad in tan corduroys and a satin shirt (cringe) surrounded by hundreds of photos of Leif on my walls. I would’ve included that photo as proof of my crazed teenage compulsion, but alas it resides in the land of the lost.

What’s going on in those pockets?

His first album came out in 1977 – I was 12. I begged my mom to drive me to Sam Goody’s at the Garden State Plaza so I could buy it. The album was a total piece of crap that had nothing but bad covers of old songs, but I wore the fucking needle on the stereo down to a nub listening to it. A few months later, my friend John read an article in the paper that Leif was going to appear live and sign autographs at a K-Mart out in East Orange, New Jersey.

East Orange is quite a bit away from where we lived in Jersey, but I was determined to get there. I begged and begged John to accompany me because neither of my parents were willing to drive me there, but for some unknown reason, they were more than willing to let me go with John by bus. Either that or they forbade me to go but I totally lied and just took the bus there anyway. Who remembers those details.

I do remember it was cold and rainy that day. We got to the K-Mart way early, and with the exception of this one girl and her brother (probably forced along like my friend John was), we were the first ones in line. The day dragged on and more and more girls began to show up. When the hour that Leif was to appear drew near, the crowd started getting a wee bit frantic. The barricade separating the hundreds of frenzied girls from the Leif Zone was quickly beginning to crumble. Girls began to push forward, and we were starting to get crushed.

The promoters threatened to cancel the appearance, and I began to seriously panic. I had taken 3 buses and sat all day in a fucking K-Mart clad in my best “I Love Leif” T-shirt, and now it was all going to be for nothing? I think I turned and screamed at the girls to quit it or they were going to blow our big chance, but once a crowd gets going, it’s hard to stop it.

The announcement came over the loud speaker a little while later that the appearance was cancelled. I was crushed beyond belief. A few minutes later a bunch of girls ran up breathlessly waving autographed albums. Seemed they had been hanging out in back and managed to meet Leif as he got into his limo. I was seething and green with envy. I was second in line and a bunch of East Orange whores had kept me from meeting my dream man.

To add insult to injury, the buses back to our neck of NJ had stopped running, and I had to call my mom to come pick us up. She was not happy. Not only am I denied the chance to bask in the glow of Leif, I was in for a good, long lecture.

I saw everything I could that he was in, good, bad or ugly. Try to remember, back then there was no DVR, no on demand, hell, you couldn’t even set the VCR to tape a show. His big project back then was a made-for-TV movie called “Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion.” I read about it for months in the magazines, but alas when the night came for it to air, I had to miss it. I think I had play practice that my mom would NOT let me skip, but whatever the reason, I never got to see it.

I watched him on “Wonder Woman”, and he had a role on a couple of episodes of “Family” playing Zac, Kristie McNichol’s boyfriend. I remember thinking, “yeah, right. Like she’d ever be able to get Leif. He was in a movie called “Skateboard” that I managed to see, but I’m not sure how. I think I forced my friend John to show it to me when it came on HBO. But the absolute worst humiliation I put poor John through during my Leif years was taking him to see “Sergeant Pepper.”

If anyone here remembers, back in 1978 Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees did a movie version of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was notoriously bad, but I had to see it because at the end there is a scene with a crowd of Hollywood stars, and Leif was among them. I dragged poor John to not one, but several showings of that awful movie just so I could scream when Leif had his 1.6 second appearance on screen.

How do you spell Lame-o?

Sometime during my freshman year of high school I sort of gave up on Leif. Perhaps it had something to do with the severe beratement I suffered at the hands of several quality students in my high school. I can remember coming into the locker room from gym one day to find my Leif T-shirt torn to shreds and thrown on the floor. My cousin Bob had drawn black eyes and talk bubbles saying shit like “I’m playing pocket pool” on many of my posters.

Loving Leif had become embarassing. So the photos came down, and I spackled and repainted my room. Then I saw a commercial with 4 of the New York Rangers wearing Sassoon Jeans and I had found my new crush.

    Ron Duguay.

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