I had an odd celebrity run-in last week that resulted in some great photos, yet I'm feeling a little conflicted about the experience. I was woken up Wednesday morning at around 3am by a rambling, somewhat incoherent message on my voicemail. At that time of night, I figured it had to be an emergency, so I dragged myself out of bed to listen. Waiting for me was a message from Warren the Ape!
I briefly met Warren a few times through friends that worked on his now-cancelled MTV show, but I still have no idea how he got my number. I tried calling him back a few times, but got no answer. His message and bizarre invitation to Malibu piqued my curiosity, enough to motivate me out the door with my camera bag in tow. I figured that I wasn't going back to sleep anyway.
Fog combined with my fatigue to make the pre-dawn drive to Point Dume seem otherworldly. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived, or even how I'd find Warren once I got there. I had heard plenty of stories about his recent exploits and wild behavior (seemingly confirmed by the voicemail). As I got closer, I wondered how I'd figure into this latest tale. Most of my photo subjects don't talk back...or throw heavy objects in displeasure.
The beach was empty except for a lone figure standing near the water's edge. I parked, grabbed my bag, and headed across the sand. As I approached I could clearly see that it was Warren. He turned and acknowledged my presence with a half wave of the hand. Before I could say hello, Warren quietly said, "Get your camera. I want to show you something."
We silently walked the wet sand as the fog burned away and the first hints of orange appeared in the sky. Warren paused occasionally and looked while I grabbed a quick photo or two. We continued on until he abruptly stopped and said, "I think there's enough light now." As I watched, Warren stripped off his clothes and walked towards the water. Turning back he asked, "Are you ready?" Without another word, he slowly took off his helmet and dropped it at his feet.
It took me a few moments to understand what I was witnessing, longer still to remember the camera in my hand. As far as I knew, this was the first time Warren had ever truly been naked. The helmet was literally a part of him, or so we all thought.
I watched as Warren swam through the surf and floated just offshore until the sun began to peek above the horizon. With a calm that's hard to describe, he walked back up the beach and thanked me for being there. I took the hint, said goodbye, and walked back to my car. I looked back before pulling away, and Warren gave me another half wave just before turning back towards the ocean.
This was not the manic ape I had been expecting. True or not, the stories I heard of Warren's debauchery don't reflect who he really is, or at least, who I saw that day. Clearly, he was going through something. I'm glad that Warren called me to document the moment, and I look forward to seeing what his newfound perspective brings.
I'm excited to reveal some of my upcoming plans during the talk. For everyone that's been asking (and can't attend), I'll be sharing details soon afterwards on the project's blog. Thanks to all of your continued support, I resume production in the Fall!
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