Having been in this game for a long time, there’s no escaping the occasional psycho fan. Every entertainer has dealt with them. Few will admit to it. It can be a very delicate situation. There is one crazed fan who stands out in my career. I don’t have any idea what I did on and off the air that triggered her. It might be the result of me being an open, friendly guy and making myself too accessible both on and off the air. Here is the story … In respect for her safety (and mine), I am changing her name slightly.
In the early to mid-1980s while on KROQ, I had a rough ordeal for more than a year dealing with a 15-year-old girl who somehow developed a fixation with me through listening to KROQ. That was OK, but what was not OK was her resultant behavior. It was quite disturbing as well as very traumatic. She would show up unexpectedly at locations where I was working–and even at my home. Even more disturbing, she would arrive with razor blades and slash her wrists in front of me. I have very vivid memories of separate incidents involving “Suicidal Samantha” that I will relate to you. There were numerous others that I can recount as well, but the following will suffice.
Some instances occurred when I was a DJ doing the all-night radio shift at KROQ. The KROQ office was on the second floor of an ugly building at 117 South Los Robles Ave., Pasadena. On the first floor was a business called The Uniform Circus. At night, the front door to the building was locked. We got in by going around the back of the building in the parking lot and up wrought-iron steps to a small metal platform surrounded by graffiti spray painted on the back brick wall. There, we let ourselves in through a thick, locked metal door with our company key. Visitors would ring the back door buzzer and identify themselves through an intercom.
On several occasions, Samantha showed up at the radio station during my all-night air shift. The buzzer would ring, and there she’d be with crusted bloody wrists and blades. She lived in Orange County and would take the bus by herself to KROQ. She was very quiet and petite, maybe 5-foot-1 and 100 pounds, pale, and she always wore a purple windbreaker. She was a fan of Duran Duran, and when she did speak, it was softly with an affected English accent. After she would arrive at the back door, I’d let her into the building where I was broadcasting alone usually and ask Samantha to give me the razor blades as well as her parent’s phone number. This was way before personal computers, cell phones and social media. She was always very cooperative and compliant. She would sit in the studio while I phoned her mother, letting mom know that her daughter was at KROQ after midnight. Her mom would then drive from the OC to Pasadena to pick up Samantha. The mother was very pleasant and thanked me on every occasion. She also did not seem shocked that this was happening. It was almost as if she had dealt with this kind of behavior before with Samantha.
As mentioned, Samantha showed up elsewhere. She found out somehow where I lived. I’ll never forget looking out the window of my beach pad on 26th Street in Newport Beach on a hot 90-degree summer’s day and seeing Samantha in her purple windbreaker peering into my house from across the street. At the time, Dr. Drew was visiting me. Samantha was standing there for maybe an hour before she suddenly walked up to the door. I don’t remember if she knocked or rang the doorbell. We the door opened, she held out her arms. They were streaming with blood from freshly slashed wrists. Dr. Drew took her into my house and treated her wounds. He put her arms under the faucet in my kitchen. Thank God, the cuts weren’t too deep. They never were. After we removed the razor blades from her person and Dr. Drew put bandages on her wrists, I phoned her mother once again, explained what had happened and asked her to come and pick up Samantha. I’m sure we tried our best to explain the value of life. The wait until mom arrived seemed like an eternity.
Lastly, Samantha showed up at a public venue. This time, it was chilling. I was hosting a nighttime gig inside Knotts Berry Farm with several DJs at Cloud 9, an all-ages dance and music venue. There must have been 5,000 people in the crowd as I waited to be introduced on stage. Suddenly, resident DJ “Hot Toddy” got on the mic and told the crowd, “Here’s the Poorman from KROQ!!!!!” The crowd went nuts, and I approached the stage. Right before I hopped up to greet everyone, Suicidal Samantha emerged from the shadows in her purple jacket and said in her soft, English accented voice “Here, I want you to have these.” She then placed a collection of five well worn razor blades into the palm of my hand. Ten seconds later, I was waving to the crowd on stage, freaked out with a handful of blades. I did not see her again that night.
The good news is Samantha has reached out to me on several occasions during the 30 something years since. She obviously never committed suicide. She even Facebook friended me several years ago. I didn’t accept, possibly worried something might start again. I’m sure a psychologist would have an insight as to what a 15-year-old girl was dealing with at the time. In all honesty, at this point in my life, I would talk to her and wish her the best. I am curious to see how her life has evolved.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.