April 24, 2012

Happy Days Are Here Again - Barbra at 70 !

To celebrate Barbra Streisand's 70th Birthday, I am reposting my most popular blog entry. The story was of me actually winning a contest to meet Hello Gorgeous, Barbra, The Greatest Star! I was so impressed with the outpour of love for Barbra & also for me on winning. I was overwhelmed with good wishes sent to me for my then upcoming wedding! My Blog was read & shared by people from ALL OVER THE WORLD... OMG, who wouldda thought?!

I've updated it slightly & added some photos & videos of my Mama saying hello to Barbra & singing her birthday greetings. Mama is a hoot & there's even a new blog about us dealing with her Dementia called "Dementia-Mama-Drama", check it out. I do hope you enjoy reading my once in a lifetime experience & the updated version... Happy Birthday Barbra & Thanks Again! You were a delight.

So what do you do when you finally get a chance to meet a celebrity you've admired your entire life? I am not a fanatic, but Barbra's career has been important & meaningful to me ever since I can recall. Lines from her movies & songs are a part of my daily vocabulary. "Don't tell me not to live just sit & putter..."

I have a connection to her through her work, since that has been the extent of it. I was never fortunate enough to see (or been able to afford) one of her rare live concerts. We both are from New York & have a similar rhythm that comes from being native New Yorkers. I learned to question things & see things differently because she made me aware of these options at a very young age, so I am forever grateful to her for that. "Papa, can you hear me? Try to understand me..."

As you may have read in my previous post, I won a contest through Sony Records to coincide with the release of Barbra's latest recording "What Matters Most". It was called The Barbra Streisand Flyaway Sweepstakes & I was chosen to meet Barbra Streisand in Vegas on the set of her latest movie - "My Mother's Curse". There was ONE winner & it was ME!!! OMG! "It's gonna be a great day..."

(Since then the film has been retitled "The Guilt Trip" & the release date has been changed to November 2012).

Sooooooooo, what the hell do you say to an icon when you finally get to meet them? I had a list of things I would say, but I was just overwhelmed with emotion & was not able to do my "checklist". The first glimpse I caught of her is when she appeared on the set. I was about 20 feet away from her & I could not believe I was actually watching Barbra shooting a scene & I was gonna meet her in a few minutes. My armpits were wet, my mouth was dry, my lips were tense & I was doing my deep breathing to help calm me down for what seemed like an eternity. "There are moments you remember all your life. There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life. This is one of those moments..."

During a break in the filming, she looked my way & rushed towards me, almost tripping over the velvet rope pointing & saying - "Ohhhhh, you must be the winner!" & she extended her hand towards me. Holy shit!!! She came towards ME & spoke to ME. (And yes her hands were incredibly soft "like butter"). I was almost at a loss for words, which is a first for those of you that know me. I introduced myself & she was "sweet as pie" to me. We talked about her upcoming album, I told her I enjoyed one of the cuts, she asked which one & I hummed a few lines. (I hummed to Barbra)! OMG!!! I wished her Mazel Tov on the success of her yet to be released CD. When I told her that SHE was my first wedding gift, she looked at me like - whaddya tawkin' 'bout, kid? I explained that my partner of many years & I will finally be "allowed" to get married & we were returning to NYC to do it! She then wished us lots of luck & said that it was "about time" & how happy she was for us. She immediately asked her photographer to take our pictures (she was truly excited for us), but he suggested to shoot on the set, since the lighting was better. We walked over to the set together, which was in Caesar's Palace lobby in Las Vegas. I said "Wait a minute, I wanna get my good side". She looked at me & said "Which is your good side"? I said "you tell me, you're the director". She laughed. OMG! I made Barbra Streisand laugh AND congratulate me all within a few minutes. She was so warm, engaging & real. 

After the photo shoot, she told me to ..."stick around for as long as I want to...". Wow!!! She liked me, she really liked me! But I was thinking -  "Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein... I'll never see her again." NOT true, I was on & off the set for the rest of the night & was even asked if I wanted to be in a scene taking place at the slot machines (OMG, yesss)! 

Somewhere in between all that, I had gathered up the courage to ask if I could get some vintage magazines autographed that I had brought with me. She not only personally signed them, she signed them in the specific color markers I requested!!! WTF? "Extra, extra I'm in love. I'm gonna thank my lucky stars above..."

At the end of the night, which slowly turned into early morning, I was exhausted. I was leaving the set when Barbra's publicist asked "are you leaving already"? I said it's really late & it was a full day for me, BUT if Barbra wants to have a glass of champagne when she wraps filming, I'll head back downstairs immediately!!! The anticipation, the preparation, the planning, the traveling, the uncertaintly, the meeting, the conversation, the photos, the laughter, all "the memories" made it truly a once in a lifetime experience & I knew that I was extremely lucky. I mean "How lucky can you get?" And as Barbra said in "Yentl"... "Nothing is impossible". She was right... once again!


  1. Wow, how exciting! Glad I caught this story, missed the original one. If Barbra reads this - you are loved & Happy Belated Birthday! Vin, your Mom is very funny, enjoyed her video. Have to see the other ones on your YouTube Channel. Thanks for sharing a great story.

    1. Thanks for your comment, the entire experience was surreal! Glad you enjoyed the story & the videos, my YouTube channel is nyc2suburbia. Please continue to check in, follow &/or spread the word.

  2. The Guilt Trip. Thanks for the update cant wait to see her on the screen again.

    1. You are welcome, I can't wait to see the movie either. From what I saw, it looked really funny & reminded me of the old comedies Barbra did in the past. Hope my "cameo" made the final cut!
      If you enjoy my Blog, please "follow" & spread the word. Thanks...

  3. OK, I'm PLOTZING. Vin that is AMAZING! Nick :o)