There just aren't enough words to describe how Barbra Streisand has influenced and impacted my life.
I was 14 when my mom treated me to a night out to the movies. It was Christmas Day 1976, and as I innocently walked into that packed movie theater, I was unaware that my life was about to be radically changed! The movie was A Star Is Born, and because of the crowd, we had to sit in the very front row. When I saw Barbra Streisand on the big screen for the first time it was a life-altering experience. I had never been so blown away by a performance in all of my life!
I can’t even describe the incredible feeling I had seeing her in that film. All I know is that I couldn’t wait to go back the next day to see it again, and I ran to the record store first thing in the morning to buy the movie’s soundtrack to hear her gorgeous voice again.
For the next few months, all I could think about was Barbra and A Star Is Born. I would take two city buses from school to the mall every afternoon just to see it again and again. I watched that film 163 times IN the theater, crying my eyes out every single time. I would go home afterwards and play the record, crying all over the album insert. I just couldn’t get over the incredible talent of this woman and my love for her just grew and grew from there.
Every movie, every song, and every word she has spoken, about so many wonderful causes, has impacted and enriched my life in more ways than I could ever convey to anyone; and if I could have ever been granted ONE wish in my entire life, it would be for me to meet Barbra to let her know how much she means to me. That was all I EVER wanted in life!
Well, I still can’t believe it, but this day actually happened!
I don’t know exactly how this all came to be, but I’m guessing it’s because I have been very fortunate to have been able to attend just about every “Barbra event” ever since she started doing concerts again, back in 1993. After seeing her in A Star is Born, I vowed to myself that if Barbra EVER did a concert ANYWHERE in the world, I would be there. I was 14 years old and started a “Barbra Fund” and I would LITERALLY put EVERY extra penny I had in it. Every friend, relative, and co-worker I had, knew that the only gift I ever wanted for any occasion would be money for my Barbra Fund. Every birthday present, every Chanukah present, every odd job I would do, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, besides paying my bills would go in there and thank G-d I had that insight because I have been so fortunate to be able to attend just about every concert she’s done since that magical New Year’s Eve at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Hubert J. Schlafly Jr., I am FOREVER indebted to you! (This is the man who helped invent the teleprompter that has helped Barbra return to the concert stage after a 27 year absence.)
Since that day, I have seen her in concert in Las Vegas, New York, and L.A. on numerous occasions, Philadelphia three times, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale twice, Manchester, England, Dublin, Ireland, London three times, Amsterdam, Cologne, Berlin, and the two historic shows in Israel!
I was also in the audience at her Inside the Actor’s Studio appearance, the Human Rights Campaign Event in 2004, The National Democratic Gala, the concert for John Kerry, The Kennedy Center Honors, MusiCares, the Lincoln Center Film Society Honor, and I flew to New York just to be outside the Village Vanguard for that historic concert. I wasn’t a contest winner, but I just HAD to be there! You could FEEL her presence just being in the street outside the venue, so it was definitely worth the trip! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
OK….I could go on and on, but fast-forward to Amsterdam, June 10, 2013…..
I was sitting in my seat at the Ziggo Dome, excited beyond belief that in a few short moments, Barbra would be making her grand entrance onto the stage again! I was living a dream and had NO CLUE just how much of that dream was about to come true! I was sitting innocently taking it all in, when all of a sudden my guardian angel from TEAM BARBRA came up to me and told me that I was going to be taken backstage after the concert to meet her. I think every ounce of blood in my body drained down to my feet and my heart skipped at least 10 beats… (literally!) I just couldn’t believe it! Ten billion things started racing through my mind and I just burst into tears. I didn’t know how this could actually be happening but I just felt like the most blessed person on the planet! I still do!!!! Thank you my guardian angel (and you know who you are!!!)
The concert was BEYOND amazing! Barbra sounded and looked more GORGEOUS than EVER! She just never ceases to amaze me!!!! The whole show was SPECTACULAR and seeing her performing with Jason and Roz was yet another dream come true! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!
I was instructed not to forget when the concert was over, to meet by the side of the stage. (Yea, right…. .like I was really going to FORGET!!!!) Still basking in the afterglow of her INCREDIBLE performance, I made my way down to the main floor where I was greeted by another one of my guardian angels from TEAM BARBRA! She was so sweet as she escorted me and my Barbra Buddies: Craig Hall, and Matt Howe and Dan to the elevator. It was so wonderful to be able to share this experience with all of them. We have all been through many, many wonderful Barbra events together and I just adore them!
We made our way into the reception area and were escorted to a room. Barbra wasn’t in there yet, but we all walked in and I was just talking casually to them because I didn’t know how the entire meeting was going to play out and what would be happening next. I was thinking that we would be there for a while. So here we are talking away, and I just glance over to my right and there she was! Barbra was standing there next to me!!!!!! I did a triple take before it sunk in because she was so down to earth! Doesn’t she know that she’s BARBRA STREISAND???!!!!! All I could say was, “OMG…. you’re here!, OMG…. Barbra, this is the absolute GREATEST MOMENT of my LIFE!!!” She looked right at me and said, “Robin, why do you spend all of your money on me? You don’t have to do that!” to which I replied, “Barbra, there is NOTHING in this WORLD that I would EVER, EVER rather spend my money on!” She said “thank you, but seriously, it costs you a fortune to follow me around the world…. you don’t have to do that”, and I said “again, there is NOTHING more important to me and nothing I would rather do with my money, trust me!” She laughed and thanked me again and then she looked at my hair and actually put her fingers through it and said “Wow, look at your hair, that’s like Farrah Fawcett, right?” I just said, yes, I guess so…. still freaking out that I had a bit of a Robert Redford moment with her! After that, I dreaded asking this question, but I HAD to…. I NEEEEEDED to have a picture with her, but wasn’t sure how she would react to my request… but I asked…. I just said, “Barbra, I know you don’t really like doing this sort of thing, but is there ANY way I could get a picture with you????” to which she replied, “Of course we’re going to take a picture…..DEFINITELY!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! OMG…. my picture with Barbra! I could die a VERY HAPPY person!!!!! My life was now complete!!!!
After that, she continued to make her way around the room. The other guests in the room were Craig, Matt, Dan, and some people from the Anne Frank House that had taken her on a special VIP Tour a few days prior. She made her way around the room greeting everyone and introducing them all to everyone there. Incidentally, I had also taken the tour at the Anne Frank House the day after her, and when I went there (decked out in my “Barbra Gear” as always), the people that worked there told me that she had been there the night before. They also proceeded to tell me that she was so sweet and so incredible to meet. They said that every other celebrity or VIP that visits there, makes their way around just to make an appearance and then leaves in 5 minutes, but they said that Barbra was so amazing and so interested in every detail that she stayed there for 2 ½ hours going over every artifact, and asked questions about everything. They said it was such a pleasure to have her there and they even gave her a special tour that no one else gets…. a private showing of the attic and special rooms that are closed to the public. When they told me that, I said, “That’s my Barbra! .... she’s the GREATEST!” and they agreed. So, when she introduced the Anne Frank people, I wanted Barbra to know what they said about her, so I probably shouldn’t have interrupted, but I did….. I just said, “Barbra, you have to know what the people at the Anne Frank House said about you”, and I proceeded to tell the story. She seemed pleased to hear it, but she must have been thinking OK…that’s enough out of you…shut up already! (Just kidding…. I hope!) I just had SO MUCH to say, and I didn’t know how much time I would have, so I had to get as much in as possible! After the Anne Frank people, she made her way over to Matt and Dan and told everyone that Matt had an amazing website called Barbra_Archives and she looked back at Richard Jay-Alexander (my guardian angel) who was also with us there, and said, “Richard, don’t we have to access Matt’s site whenever we need to find out something about my career?” She said that she doesn’t remember a lot of things that happened in the past, and that Matt’s site is incredible and that that he does a wonderful job with everything.
OK… picture time! The Anne Frank people went first, and Barbra made her way over to their group and posed with them. (On a side note, Barbra was holding a cup of water in her hands that I’m praying she drank from. Before she took the second picture with them, (she took TWO with everyone!), she looked down at what she was holding and said, “who gave me this… why am I holding it?” and she put it down on the couch. She left it there and after a few minutes, I made a beeline to the couch, picked up the cup and drank the rest of the water! My hands were shaking so much I could barely bring the cup to my mouth, but I chug-a-lugged it! (Barbra didn’t see….) and I put the cup in my bag. What an awesome bonus!) Next it was Matt’s turn for the picture and he asked Barbra if it was OK for Dan to be in the picture too. She said, “Sure, of course”, and they posed all together with Barbra between them and they said that they were making a “Barbra sandwich”! So cute!
OK… my turn! I was dying….. my EVERY DREAM was really coming true!!! I wasn’t exactly thinking straight as I approached her to pose for the camera so I stupidly walked to her left side. What an idiot I am! She said, “Uh, uh…. this side”, pointing to her right and I said, “of course….I’m so sorry”. Then I don’t know who did it first (probably me), but we put our arms around each other to pose. OMG… just thinking about this now …. I can’t even describe it! Richard was taking the picture and he said, “Robin, are you OK? Are you going to die?” I was, but I was surprisingly calm. I felt so comfortable with her. She could not have been nicer or sweeter to me. G-d I love that woman!!!! After the picture was taken, she looked right into my eyes and said, “Renata, who does she look like?” and I think Renata said “Erica?” Then Barbra said, “Yes, you look just like my niece Erica! ... and I mean exactly like her”. Then she asked where I was originally from and I said “New York…. Brooklyn….my mom is from Brighton Beach”. She smiled, and then I said, “hey, maybe we’re related”, but she didn’t laugh or respond to that…. after that we spoke about the show and just made more small talk until she had to leave to attend to other guests she had waiting in another room. She thanked everyone for coming and as I said, she was the most down-to-earth, sweetest, most genuine person ever. I’ve imagined what that moment would be like inside my head for years and years and I have to say, she TOTALLY surpassed EVERY expectation I’ve ever had! She was just BEYOND AMAZING!!!!
Needless to say, I am without a doubt the happiest person on the face of this earth….this PLANET….this UNIVERSE, and I will be FOREVER! I am TOTALLY devoting the rest of my life to every charity Barbra is a part of. I want to pay it forward from here on in. I owe SO MUCH to G-d and to the UNIVERSE for making my every fathomable dream in the world come true and I am just grateful beyond words.
Dreams do come true when you “FOLLOW YOUR HEART”!!!!
BY ROBIN LIPMAN