Monday, September 4, 2023

Meeting Lou Gossett Jr in a chat room


I don’t know how true this is, but I am sticking to it.

Way back in the early days of the social internet, probably in 1996 or 1997, I would spend time surfing the web in whatever chat rooms I could find. This was the days before organized chat rooms, before AOL or Yahoo chatrooms, and way before any social media platforms.

In these web chat rooms, you didn’t need to sign in, you didn’t need an account, and you could be whoever you wanted to be. It was total chaos, but it was beautiful. Most of these chat rooms were run via Java chat, and were what we would call “apps” on a webpage.

I saw some interesting things in these chat rooms. Of course, some people would use the rooms for adult-type private chat. But most used them for a sense of community. I even saw one group simulate an online wedding, with a user acting like a priest addressing vows to two other users. Being mischievous and young, I used the opportunity to private message the virtual groom with messages of “run” and “it’s not too late to log off”.

(If I remember right, his handle was “TheDuck” and he once told me he fought in “a small war with small people with small minds”. I have always loved that phrase.)

But perhaps the most interesting encounter I had in an late 1990s random chat room was when someone claiming to be actor Lou Gossett, Jr entered the chat. I don’t remember his screen name, but I do remember him announcing he was in fact Lou Gossett, Jr.

Upon entering the chatroom, the famous actor started talking with the people in the room, asking if the room was an adult-themed room (I don’t believe it was), and if people there could be trusted (probably not).

Then he asked the room if they had any questions for him, predating the AMA reddit trend by almost 20 years.

Having seen Alien Mine and a few of Lou Gossett, Jr’s other movies, I was familiar with the actor and was surprised a Hollywood celebrity would be in a random chatroom with other bored internet surfers. So I asked Lou Gossett, Jr why he was in this room with us tonight. Of all the chat rooms online, why this one at that time?

Lou Gossett, Jr answered that he saw his son frequenting chat rooms and he wanted to see what his son was doing and whether it was safe or not. Seemed like a good answer to me.

(A bit of research shows Lou Gossett Jr has two sons, one born in 1974 and the other born in 1977. So he did have sons, but worrying about their online behavior when they were in their 20s seems a little fishy to me. Might make a dent in the credibility of the story. But as I said at the open, I am sticking to my story.)

After a few other denizens of the chat room asked Lou Gossett Jr questions that he graciously answered, I asked one more question. I asked him why he acted in Iron Eagle 3.

I don’t remember why I asked him that, nor do I remember ever seeing Iron Eagle 3. I know I have seen Iron Eagle 1 and 2, but Iron Eagle 3 is a total blank. For what it is worth, reviews on IMDB are not good. Maybe I did see Iron Eagle 3 and chose to forget everything about it.

I could have asked him about Enemy Mine, An Officer and a Gentleman, or Roots, but I asked him about one of his worst movies.

I will never forget Lou Gossett, Jr’s answer:

“The money, Mike. The money.”

A few minutes after he answered my question, the account claiming to be Lou Gossett, Jr logged out of the chat room.

That’s my Lou Gossett, Jr story.