I was awakened Saturday morning by a phone call from, Dominick, the Amtrak conductor who found my lost wallet, telling me what train was bringing it back to New York and when it was due to arrive. At the appointed time I walked from the hotel to Penn Station, arriving at 11:45am, just moments after my wallet did. I picked it up at Customer Service and yes, everything was still in it! Thank you, Amtrak and Dominick! I took a cab from Penn Station to Brother Jimmy's and made it just in time for Jessica Leccia's luncheon which started at noon!
The first time I walked into Brother Jimmy's, the weekend of Crystal Chappell's fan luncheon last fall, I was a little nervous about meeting people I'd only “met” online, although I had interacted with many of them daily for months. This time I felt like I was rushing to a family reunion. I wanted hugs and photos and laughter and lots of each of them. I wasn't disappointed.
I quickly found Denise and Lynn who had saved a place for me at their table. I set my coat and bag down, grabbed my camera and started shooting. A few hugs and pictures later I heard someone say that Jessica had just arrived. She had slipped in quietly and was halfway across the room before most of us noticed her! Sneaky! I started taking pictures as she began to make her way from table to table, greeting people, giving autographs & hugs and smiling for photos. She was meeting some for the first time while others were like old friends, having attended several other events, too.
I did my best to get some pictures of her as she was making her way around the room. I always prefer shooting candid photos without flash whenever I can but because of the low light and the arrangement of the tables I did have to shoot with flash more than I had at Crystal's luncheon. I'd much rather slip in and out among the crowd taking candids than to have people pose for my pictures.
When it was my turn to talk with Jessica I told her I'd brought something for her and she said, “Oh, Donna! What did you do?!” She and Brian both loved the Dimples design I'd done with Jessica's smile (I'd sent a t-shirt and buttons for her last year when I couldn't attend the luncheon myself). This year I gave her a “My Life is a Soap Opera: What Would Ani Do?” t-shirt I'd gotten from my Zazzle shop and some buttons and magnets I'd made with the same design. She took out the t-shirt and held it up for pictures. When she said her mama would want some buttons and magnets I gave her my business card so she'd know where to find more if needed. She signed the 8x10 photo that was included in the packets we'd been given when we arrived and she also signed a “My Life Is a Soap Opera... What Would Natalia Do?” graphic for me. (Thanks for this photo, Lynn!)
While she was at our table, someone presented her with a stuffed bunny rabbit and when you squeezed its foot, the ears wiggled. Jessica loved it and kept making the ears wiggle over and over. We're pretty sure the batteries were dead by morning!
Next was a gift of Jessica's favorite Girl Scout Cookies, Peanut Butter Patties. She wasted no time tearing into the package. It takes more than one picture to show how much she enjoyed that gift!
Questions had been submitted ahead of time for a Q&A session and we learned a little bit more about Jessica. We found out that if she hadn't been an actress she'd want to be a meterologist or an obstetrician, despite the fact that she isn't good in Math or Science. She said she does audition for theater roles but feels more comfortable with television.( If you were there, please leave a comment here and tell us what your favorite questions and answers were!)
Jessica's husband, Brian Malloy, came downstairs to our meeting room after the Q&A. Brian, the manager of the Brother Jimmy's location where the luncheon was held, is a darling man who has a fan following of his own as Jessica's fans have made Brother Jimmy's a favorite meeting place in New York City. From time to time he stopped in to see how things were going, posed for a few pictures, then gathered up the gifts people had brought for Jessica and set them aside for her. This time I made a point of having my picture taken with Brian since I'd forgotten to do that the last time I was there.
Next came the scene re-enactments, but those will have to wait for Part Three! Coming Soonish!