Secondhand Celebrity!

Michele Debreceni
New media geek by day. Aspiring writer, comedian and food critic by night.

Celebrity Encounter: The Party

Who are The Party?

Gotta get up, gotta get up, gotta get down...gotta get up and have some fun.
Gotta break away, gotta break away, gotta break a summer va-ca-tion.

You may not recognize the lyrics to "Summer Vacation," but your ears would certainly recognize the tune. This Dr. Dre produced (yes, West Coast chronic-lovin' Dr. Dre) song was all the rage in 1991. The Party were pop music at its finest, and five young Mickey Mouse Clubbers -- Albert Fields, Tiffini Hale, Chase Hampton, Deedee Magno and Damon Pampolina, collectively known as The Party -- were the proud artists. After the success of their smash debut "Summer Vacation," they recorded classic covers of Elvis Costello's "Peace, Love & Understanding" and Dokken's "In My Dreams," which went on to flood FM radio and MTV airwaves.

Michele and The Party
A Photoshop reenactment of the meeting by Sarah Feuquay.

The Encounter:
It wasn't until my summer vacation of 1992 that I became an official Party fan. It was a sunny July day when my friend Sue and I traveled to Riverside Amusement Park in Agawam, MA to see our then favorite band, Color Me Badd, in concert. After about three hours of waiting in the sweltering summer heat, a mysterious young woman with a "The Party" backstage pass around her neck approached us. She got right down to business, and made an offer we couldn't refuse: Hand out a few fliers to concertgoers after The Party leave the stage...and in return, we could attend a meet and greet with the members of the group BACKSTAGE!! What?? Heeelll-lo!! Although this meant missing some of the Color Me Badd set, it was totally worth it! I mean, how often does a 16-year-old get to hobnob with A-list celebrities?

After watching The Party's incredible, high-energy performance front and center (yes, we made it to the stage!), Sue and I reported to duty. Handing out fliers wasn't the most thrilling event, but about a half hour later, we, along with about ten other lucky fans, were led by the mysterious woman to the place where dreams are made....that's right, backstage! There was a quick, empowering, shuffle past the security gate, and we were herded into a white tent behind the stage. There we were handed an 8x10 glossy photo, and politely told to sit and wait.

Those are real signatures!
10 years later, this is still a treasured possession.

I could barely stand the anticipation, when suddenly...Deedee walked in. While I wasn't a big fan of the girls in the group, she was very nice, modest and Asian -- much like me. So she got my respect. But then the boys came out, and modesty -- at least for me -- went out the window. First came Chase. More than being tall and cute, Chase was funny! He mimicked Sue and I after overhearing us ooh-ing and aah-ing over catching a glimpse of Color Me Badd, which I thought was just so unpretentious of him...ya know, being such a HOT celebrity and all. Although I probably only spent about 4 and a half minutes of my life with him, Chase captured my heart forever. And then came Damon... hot diggity dog! He was wearing a plain white T-shirt, white baseball cap and jeans -- average, everyday clothes by most people's standards, but not on him! Our moment was brief, yet very beautiful. I handed him my glossy, and he put his signature on it. And then he winked at me -- ME, little ol' Michele Debreceni! Even to this day, this memory makes me gush!

(Unfortunately, Tiffini and Albert never made an appearance. But I didn't hold it against them. I'm sure they had some "biz-ness" to take care of.)

How did meeting The Party change your life?
After a brief, yet blissful hour, I returned to my normal life in Connecticut. I purchased their album, and continued to watch the Mickey Mouse Club for a few weeks, reminiscing over the good times. But my love faded along with their career, and before you could say M-I-C-K-E-Y, The Party vanished from my world.

What celebrity would you most like to have an encounter with now?
Bill Murray, because he's an incredibly talented actor and comic genius. And besides, no one can wear a proton pack like him.

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