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Rick Springfield threatens to take off his pants (sort of) and wrestles with Mr. D

May 2, 2011 |  6:29 am


If you were at the Festival of Books on Sunday to see Rick Springfield, you had better have planned on staying until the end. “You! You, where are you going? Am I boring you?” he called. “I’ll take my pants off if you stay.” He was on his feet, unbuttoning his pants to moon the deserter before anyone could grab a camera -- and sitting back down, chuckling, before anyone realized he was faking it.

In the hour-long interview with Alex Cohen, Springfield unbuttoned the top button of his pants twice (both times to lure back wayward fans), bowed three times, confirmed that he would neither reprise his role of Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera "General Hospital" nor appear on "Dancing with the Stars," and revealed that he did not, in fact, ever get "Jessie’s Girl."

“I didn’t, but if I did, it would have been a short relationship,” he said. “The song and I have had a much longer relationship.”

Though the pants didn't come down, Springfield had already revealed much more of himself in his memoir, “Late, Late at Night.” Springfield wrote his autobiography in present tense, and, much like the person, the narrative is a varied, detailed and candid account of his rise and fall from fame -- from a difficult, friendless childhood to his lifelong struggle with depression.

“I thought if I was going to tell the story of my life, I’d be truthful,” Springfield said. The truth includes Mr. D -- the character of Depression who walks and talks and has conversations with Springfield. “Mr. D has a pretty good sense of humor. He’s sitting there in that vacant chair,” said Springfield, pointing to the back row, “telling me what I jerk I am.”

Mr. D may have been heckling Springfield, but Springfield wasn’t shy about heckling his audience, like those who left for other panels, the woman who asked a repeat question, and the eager gal who asked him to sing a line of “Jessie’s Girl.” Which, grudgingly, he did … but only a line. “You gotta pay me if you want me to sing more.”

For true fans, nothing scandalous was revealed: He collects "Star Wars" toys, is something of a dog whisperer and dreams of starring in his own TV show. The rest of the dirt, the narrative that prompted Entertainment Weekly to dub him “kind of a creep” -- well, that’s in the book. 

-- Megan Kimble

Photo: Alex Cohen, left, and Rick Springfield. Photo credit: Megan Kimble